Despite its name, the barleywine is indeed a beer but at wine strength — ranging as low as 7-percent alcohol by volume in British versions and upwards of 15 percent in American interpretations. Despite its name, barleywines aren’t made with tons of specialty grains, as one might assume. Historically, barleywines are brewed with pale malt, the same malts used for pale ales. Brewers achieve that rich caramel flavor that’s expected in barleywines by extending the length of the boil, which caramelizes the flavors and imparts that deep color. Yeast and hops vary between English-style and American-style barleywines, but either way, the barleywines we drink today are expectedly bold, yet surprisingly complex. Today, Peaks and Pints presents five, 5-ounce pours of barleywines in our Craft Beer Crosscut 2.12.17: A Flight of Barleywines.
Scuttlebutt Brewing has re-released its English style barleywine. It’s still deceptively subtle with strong hints of raisin, cherry, maple, vanilla and black currant all working together in pleasant harmony.
Tawny copper in color with a sweet, toffee like malt character, 7 Seas Brewing’s Vintage Ale Series Barrel-Aged Barleywine is two-thirds of its 12-month bourbon barrel aged barleywine and one-third Strong Stock Ale. The result is rich and smooth on the palate, with notes of caramel, raisins, and sweet whiskey. Mild tannins from the barrel and mellow alcohol lend a pleasant and harmonizing dryness to the finish.
9.9% ABV, 60 IBU
If your cognac habit is outpacing your bank account, switch to barleywines and you’ll never look back, especially the Great American Beer Festival 2016 Barleywine silver medalist Dick’s Brewing Barley Wine. Yes, Dick’s pushes the malts and hops to balance extremes. Expect a warm, nice burnt caramel flavor with a slight hoppy bite at the end.
Hair of the Dog’s bold barleywine Doggie Claws has been a winner since it debuted 15 years ago. Bottle conditioned, it hits the tongue similar to the aroma with more toffee, raisins, bananas, molasses and honey.
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
9.6% ABV, 90 IBU
Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi founded Sierra Nevada in 1979. For nearly a quarter of a century, the brewery has been adamantly pushing their delicious craft offerings through the crowd of generic conglomerates. The timeless Bigfoot Barleywine Ale introduced many from the craft community to the style. Expect a balanced infusion of bitter hops and caramel malts, great carbonation, which make for a dangerously slick and easy-drinking brew.