Sunday, November 2, 2008

Group "Leftovers" Barleywine - First Tasting

I thought it was time to revisit our group parti-gyle barleywine since it is more than a year old now. I hadn't enjoyed the last bottle a few months back as part of a tasting for Basic Brewing Radio, so I didn't have high expectations for this one.

Appearance – Brilliantly clear reddish brown. Sticky off-white head, with great retention and lacing. Some age has really cleared up what was once a pretty hazy beer.

Smell – Dark fruit (plums, raisins), burnt sugar, and a whiff of alcohol. The hop aroma is almost completely gone, just a faint resiny note remains, but I think the beer is better off without it. The alcohol is a bit more than I want, but it isn't fusely, just boozy.

Taste – Still has an assertive bitterness, but it counterbalances the caramel sweetness well. I get a bit of oak in the finish, which is strange because this beer doesn't have any oak in it. As it warms up the malt complexity shows itself, lots of toasty bread and cinnamon buns (minus the cinnamon).

Mouthfeel – A bit more carbonation than I would aim for, but it isn't over the top. The body is thick, but the carbonation keeps it from being coating.

Drinkability & Notes – I had almost written this beer off a few months back, but it has really turned a corner since then. I normally don't like the oxidized character that big hoppy American beers get with age, but this one is pretty good where it is, I wonder if the fact that it wasn't dry hopped helps. It reminds me a bit of Hair of the Dog Fred, which is very aggressively hopped and ages very well.

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