Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (review)

Beer Review #142

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Zinneke Belgian Style Stout (review #135) from Smuttynose Brewing Company's "Big Beer Series."  Many months prior to that I reviewed Gravitation (review #82), Rocky Road (review #76) and Scotch Ale (review #75) from the same series. My completest mentality dictates that when I see Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale....i drink it.

If you are unacquainted with the Barleywine style, this wikipedia article is a good place to start. I had my very first Barleywine on October 15th, 2015 (review #49) and since then the style has quickly grown on me.

First brewed in England, these potent, malty monsters were frequently aged before being put into small bottles and sold as strong beers or even medicinal tonics. The American version has been blown up with more alcohol, larger bottles and more hops.

Smuttynose Barleywine straddles these two branches of the barleywine tree. When you taste it, you’ll notice deep, rich caramel malt flavors, balanced with hop bitterness. Fruity hop flavors act as a garnish for its amped-up but classic flavor. For a more refined experience, tuck a few bottles away for a year or two. The alcohol will mellow and the hop aromas will fade into the background, leaving the luscious malt to shine on its own.
Weighing it at a massive 11.6%ABV, Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale may pour a bit lighter (cloudy orange) than most of the barleywines I've tasted (and quite syrupy), but beneath the surface it is a malty behemoth.

The aroma is SWEET, as in honey, raisin, fig and date.

When you finally get down to having a taste, you'll notice a heavy mouth-feel, but then you could see it coming in the thick pour.

The company claims 65IBU's but bitterness and malty sweetness seem present in equal parts. This beer manages to be bitter and sweet at the same time without being bland or obnoxious. This is quite an achievement in extreme-balance, as most beers that claim to be 'balanced' are tasteless and boring. This one, however, is full of flavor - and possibly my favorite barleywine to date, and yet also difficult to describe. There is a warmth to it, but more like cinnamon than alcohol, and also fruit (plum?) and unrefined sugar (brown sugar, molasses) This is an exquisite, complex beer that should age well, and change overtime. Its worth putting a bottle away....

Twin Tiers Beer Trail:
-Twin Tiers Craft Beer Club (Sayre)
I-86 Beer Trail
The Jolly Farmer, Waverly (Waverly)
Bluestone Brewing Company (Sayre)
- Diversion Brewing Co. (Chemung)
The Grille at the Train Station (Sayre)
River Rat Brew Trail (Central Pa)

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