Type: Barley wine
After a long stressful study day, there is nothing like unwinding with a big high alcohol barley wine. Really helps you to completly forget everything you learned. Now before I go into the review I want to give a little back story. It was my last night in Boston a few months ago, and I had picked up a bunch of cool beers (probably too many to take back). I had read about a cool bottle shop but it was way far away from my hotel downtown. Since I was still looking for a few whales on my wishlist i decided to venture out in the pouring rain, take the train for 40 minutes, to check this last store out. I was really glad I did as i found a few of my most wished for beers. I also found this beer. Had never heard of it. After I read the commercial description though…well it made it instantly into my already overloaded suitcases. I am putting in the description below, I think you will see why I had to take this off the shelf just based on the ingredient list.
Vast in character, luscious & complex. Brewed with peat-smoked barley, this strong ale is brewed with organic juniper berries, vanilla & maple syrup. It’s aged on oak and fermented with a blend of English & Belgian yeasts.
Pours a nice clear copper color with a small but tenacious offwhite/semi-tan head. Not a whole lot going on in the aroma. Surprising with all that stuff listed up there I expected more. I can smell the Belgian yeast, fruity and metallic, a little touch of spicy smoke and oak, but that is about all. Not the massive nose kick I expected. The taste is a little more complex and satisfying. I actually intentionally aged this one for a few months as I read online after buying it that it can be pretty boozey. Not sure how effective my plan was, as this beer is still hot as hell. It is an intensely sweet malty beer, as many barley wines tend to be. The oak barrel, vanilla, and smoke malt combine together to give this beer a rich and complex background flavor that is really great. What is not as great is the huge blast of alcohol and hot solvent. This is a big beer, 11%, and you can taste it.The alcohol is omnipresent in this one, all those amazing ingredients distract from it, but they can't totally hide it away. Two things I did not really get in this beer are the juniper berries and maple syrup. The maple syrup i can understand, mostly lost in the malt sweetness. Juniper though I was really hoping to taste. I have had a few other juniper beers, the best of which has been To Ol's Baltic frontier. Loved this beer so I had high hopes for this. I have read other peoples reviews who say they taste the berries. Maybe I let mine age too long and the taste faded out. Oh well it is still a great beer. Mouthfeel is syrupy and full, total mouth coater. it was not perfect for me, but still a really interesting beer that I don't regret picking up.