Today, Peaks & Pints presents our annual toast to barleywine and the holiday spirit, “A Barleywine Carol,” inspired by the classic Charles Dickens holiday tale A Christmas Carol, the festivities held at Mr. Fezziwig’s and Bob Cratchet’s, and a glass of Christmas cheer for the holidays. From open to close, we’ll have eight barleywines on tap. 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. We’re also offering an all-day, in-house flight of barleywines, which we’re calling, Peaks and Pints Beer Flight: A Barleywine Carol. Bonus: Tim Ensign of Steeplejack Beer in Portland, Oregon, will be in our event room chatting with the Grit & Grain Podcast at 4:30 p.m.
Peaks and Pints Beer Flight: A Barleywine Carol
10.4% ABV, bottle
Hair of the Dog Brewing founder and head brewery Alan Sprints hasn’t fully accepted his retirement and subsequent brewery’s closure. Apparently, if you receive a call from Block 15 Brewing to collaborate and help launch a new series of barrel-aged beers for the Corvallis-based brewery, aptly named Pick of the Litter, then you get a wild hair and search your closet for your brewing boots. It’s what Sprints did; Block 15 even named the barleywine after his brewery. The beer, Hair of the Peach, blends Sprints’ 2015 Peach Fred stored in bourbon barrels with fresh Block 15 Brewing barleywine and then re-fermented in the summer of 2023 on Willamette Valley apricots from EZ orchards. Expect notes state that the beer offers layers of peach leather, almond pits, and apricot flesh, with malt complexity.
12.1% ABV, draft
Ex Novo Brewing opened its original North Portland brewpub in 2014 in a unique business model that directed profits toward non-profits/charities with the tagline, “Drink Beer. Do Good.” They let their annual barrel-aged black barleywine sit in barrels for a year before releasing Nevermore. The barleywine is fermented with house-smoked figs and and aged in whiskey barrels for one year then steeped with cocoa nibs from Cru Chocolate. The cocoa nibs shine, as does vanilla, cherry, berries, and smoke.
13.1% ABV, draft
Since the beginning of time, people have slightly misinterpreted and reinterpreted each others words … and beers. The study of words’ original intentions has always been a thing — see Yaska, Sanskrit Grammarian circa 7th century BCE. Same with beer, which leads us to the question — what exactly is a barleywine? Etymology is a blend of two very different but equally delicious variations of barleywine — One a rich, toasty, black barleywine (Etym) and the other a classic, barrel aged American style (Ology). After months of study and reflection, Fort George Brewery blended the two with a third, younger American barleywine to create this bold, caramel beauty with a smooth whiskey finish.
13.7% ABV, draft – bottle in cooler
Three Ryes Men is Reuben’s Brews‘ US Beer Tasting Championship Grand National Champion, Craft Beer & Brewing Top 20 of 2020, FoBAB Silver-winning, and GABF Gold and Bronze-medalist barrel-aged barleywine. The English-style barleywine is brewed with multiple types of rye and aged in whiskey barrels, featuring a full body with malt driven caramel and chocolate notes, and layers of warming complexity. Adam calls it a “liquified ROLO.”
14% ABV, draft – bottle in cooler
Pelican Brewing‘s Mother of All Storms was originally released back in 2008 under the name “The Perfect Storm” but due to a copyright issue they changed the name to Mother of All Storms in 2010. Oh, mother, either way it’s a fitting name for this Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged beast. The 14 percent ABV English-style barleywine surges with Golden Promise, Munich, Melanoidin and Caramel malts as well as Magnum, Glacier, and Mount Hood hops. The beer then spends several months aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels before being bottled and kegged. The Storm opens with a straight on bourbon slapped in the face before hints of dark fruits, toffee, and oak start to appear. The bourbon returns on the tongue before other flavors begin to emerge: toasted malt, bourbon, vanilla, toffee, and caramel with a smooth oak finish.