Archive for the ‘Barley Wine’ Category


Day #359 – Real Ale Sisyphus (2011)

December 26, 2011

I realized very recently that I had not yet reviewed this beer for my blog, and it was another shocking discovery. This is one of the only mass distributed barley wine that is made regularly in Texas. I’ve had it several times before, including a vertical tasting from 2004 – 2009 (excluding 2006 where it was not produced) which was incredible. Today I have picked up a fresh bottle of the 2011 batch.

Real Ale Sisyphus (2011)


As I mentioned before this is a barley wine from Real Ale Brewing Company out of Blanco, TX. The ABV ranges anywhere from 10% to 11.5% depending on the batch, but I believe this year’s was 10. Barley Wines are usually best when aged, but often times can have desirable (albeit different) characteristics when fresh. Since I do not have a year to age this one, I’ll enjoy it tonight.

I let this warm up to room temperature before trying it.

This beer pours a very slick burnt orange color with light carbonation. The bubbles are small and thin that makes a short lasting head. That’s alright and matches the style.

The aroma has lots of woody characteristics but also a fairly large hop profile. That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned that a fresh barley wine has different characteristics. You can definitely smell the alcohol as well.

The flavor is woody, dark fruit with a hoppy bitterness and light sweetness. There is a noticeable tingle on the tongue from the raised alcohol content. This beer is certainly not for the faint of heart!


7 to go…


Day #224 – Samuel Adams Utopias

August 13, 2011

Today is a very special occasion so I am featuring a very special beer. I attended a bottle share with some very cool people in Dallas. It was a bottle share hosted by local Beer Advocate members. I had previously only met a few of those people but I met lots of people today! Several folks brought some awesome beer to share, and this one in particular is well worth talking about.

Samuel Adams Utopias

Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company) created this badboy a few years back, and it only comes out on odd numbered years. I had previously tried the 2009 version, and today had the great fortune to try the 2011 batch. Utopias is a barley wine, and it’s a HUGE barley wine at that. 27% ABV huge! This beer also comes in limited quantities, so each bottle sells for around $200 a pop. Yeah, so this beer is rare, high in alcohol and very pricy. The bottle itself is a collectors item. It’s made of metal and resembles the shape of a copper brew kettle. Annnnnnnnnd it’s awesome. You’ll see why.


I swirled the hell out of this beer and there was no head to be found. Pours a very pretty reddish orange color with drippy sticky legs that stick to the side of the glass. This looks more like a brandy than anything.

Huge alcohol nose. Smell that curls the nose hairs. After that there is candied sugar, raw apple and snozeberries. Thick rich legs. Very alcoholic on the nose. I’m also pulling lots of lovely maple syrup notes, it’s incredible how syrupy this is. Very nice! I seriously smelled this for a long time.

Taste is incredibly complex. Huge flavors of brown sugar, black cherries, alcohol and oak aged wood fill the palate. Literally my nose is tingling every time I bring the glass up. Insane. Like waffle syrup on the nose, but hot. Damn. Large taste of maple syrup also. Drips down the throat. This is fantastic. A sipper no doubt. Hot hot hot as it warms.

If you ever have the opportunity to try this beer, I HIGHLY recommend it. Absolutely one of the best beers I have had in a long while.



Day #188 – Avery Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale

July 8, 2011

WOOO do I have a big beer planned for today!! Lucky for me however, I have someone to split this beer with today which will make this MUCH easier haha!

Avery Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale

Avery came out with a big beer series several years back that featured high alcohol beers, and they all featured devilish names. They called this the Demons of Ale series. This particular beer is a Barley Wine at 15.53%! It has also been aged in oak barrels to further the complexity of flavor. Samael is otherwise known as the Prince of Demons, or the Angel of Death. I am excited and anxious to try this beer again as it has been many years since.


This is a very pretty beer. Poured into the Avery stemware, I can easily see why this glass accentuates the features of the appearance. The color ranges from a light orange-yellow color at the very bottom that melds into orange, copper then to a deep red near the top. A frothy beige head sits on top of this beer as well. How elegant.


The aroma is definitely complex. I can smell notes of wood, banana type fruit and an interesting powdered sugar smell. Alcohol can be both smelt and felt. Intense. Bready also.

The flavor is very intense. Sweet malts, sugars, wood and dark fruit. There is a big alcohol burn down the throat on the finish. Very sweet, but absolutely a sipper. It’ll probably take me an hour to finish this half glass, but I’m ok with that. This beer is for savoring.




Day #141 – Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

May 21, 2011

Well I didn’t get raptured so I suppose it’s time for a beer. I’ve got a BBQ tonight and a Mavs watching party for the big game tonight. I’ll be bringing this lovely beer along with me to drink and enjoy at my friend’s place.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

Bigfoot is one of Sierra Nevada’s most sought after release. It is a big barleywine that comes in at 9.6%. It is a favorite candidate among beer geeks for aging as it continues to develop and evolve over several years. I will be trying it fresh as this is the 2011 batch. I’ve heard good things about it fresh as well.

My buddy didn’t have a snifter so a Rahr glass will have to do. I let this bad boy warm up for quite awhile before approaching it.

The appearance is a lovely reddish orange hue with a foamy off white head. The head stays for just a bit before receding.

Aroma has LOTS of fresh hops. It smells fairly sweet with caramel malts and sappy notes. Hops still play a major role in this. No alcohol can be detected but it smells fairly heavy.

Flavor is again with a large hop presence. Sappy hops but also has a tingly mouthfeel where the alcohol can certainly be felt. This has a nice sweet caramel malt backbone.

Excellent. Till next rapture folks!


Day #130 – Dogfish Head!!!

May 11, 2011

Well I’ve made it to Day 130. It’s a rainy gloomy day but I decided to do something special today. I get REPEATED requests to feature more Dogfish Head beer on my site all the time, but as I have mentioned several times before their beer has become increasingly difficult to come by. The success of their show “Brewmasters” catapulted them into a new mainstream beer market in which the demand was far greater than their production levels. Since then, I have only seen a few DFH bottles available locally and a few more options on tap. They even pulled their distribution model out of 4 states and several countries to match demand in their other markets. Texas was lucky not to be on the chopping block, but we did lose access to some of their more limited offerings.


Well I received a text from a friend of mine today while at work alerting me to a lovely opportunity to grab some rare Dogfish Head beer. The only problem was, it’s being held at the Meddlesome Moth. You may recall this location from one of my previous posts found HERE. I was very impressed by them the last time I went and feel it’s worth it to head on out there again. They are tapping 5 different beers all brewed in 2007. 2 of these beers I have never had before and am excited to try. So for all you Dogfish Head fans, here’s a 5 for 1!


Dogfish Head Red and White

2007 Batch.

The Red & White is actually a blend of two separate fermented drinks. It starts as a Belgian wit and is blended with Pinot Joir wine juice. It then gains the classification of Belgian Strong Ale. A small portion is aged in Pinot Noir barrels and then reblended before packaging. This is where the name comes from; a blending of a white beer with red wine. At 10% ABV, this is the lowest in alcohol beer I will have tonight. Yes, you read that correctly. 10 is on the low end.

This beer pours a cloudy reddish orange hue with a light amount of off-white head. Slight lacing on the glass.

Aroma is woody right off the bat, with a fair nose of wine grapes. Very light spice but not much. While it was brewed with coriander it seems time has faded most of it off.

Flavor is a fruity burst of flavor right off the bat. It has a sudden tingle on the front edge of the tongue that leaves a warming sensation that snakes down your throat. It also has a woody, clay type flavor. The wine aspect of this beer has most certainly taken over and has moved it into a more fruity barley wine flavor. It’s very good but I know this was not the brewer’s original intent.


Dogfish Head Burton Baton

2007 Batch.

Burton Baton is a blend of and English Old Ale (of which I have yet to rate this individual style) and an Imperial IPA. They initially ferment these beers separately then blend it in oak barrels to age and develop in flavor. Classified as an Imperial IPA. This also comes in at 10% ABV.

This beer pours a murky, ruddy orange color with a fine beige type head. Small amounts of lacing.

The aroma is woody, musty and earthy. I remember this now the first time I tried this beer. It took me and my buddies ages to finally decide what the aroma was like. Granted this was the first beer of this type we had come across, but we decided on wet ad rotting wood, that when you step on it it crumbles easily. That’s exactly what I smell. Certainly outdoorsy and aged. No real fruit to speak of, or vanilla as the description suggests.

Flavor is immediately sweet sugar and browning fruit. The hops provide a bitter touch and mouthfeel with no real impact on the flavor. Not surprising as hop flavor fades considerably with time. It has a large woody flavor with, yes…vanilla. Wow, this one also has a tingle down the throat. Man this is SO much better than the first time I had it. This ages very well with a dry type finish.


Dogfish Head Immort Ale

2007 Batch.

Immort Ale is one of the only distributed Barley Wine that DFH makes. They have some others that they’ve experimented with but this one remains one of the 2 that I can think of that they distribute. The description includes maple syrup, peat smoked barley, juniper berries and vanilla. This one is also aged in oak barrels. 3 of 3 for the night thus far. 11% ABV….getting stronger!

This beer pours a bright reddish color with small bits of sediment floating around. Not much of a head to speak of, even after agitation.

Aroma is hmmm. Prepare yourself. Hay, barnyard, manure, wood, and a touch of band-aid. I’m believing this might have an infection from odd yeast. Literally this is like walking into the animal pens at the stockyards. This beer is close to room temp by now also as I’ve been here for an hour.

Flavor is also smacky band-aid, sharp flavors, a huge mix of maple and smoked malts with a large burning on the tongue. Maybe a little sweetness hiding but this is not good. I’ve had this beer before and it tasted nothing like this. Definitely infected. Sometimes infections come from wild yeast getting in the beer, but that usually results in sour flavors. Band-aid flavors come from either poor sanitation or a high presence of initial yeast produced phenols. Gross.


Dogfish Head Raison D Extra

2007 Batch.

Raison D Extra is a amped up version of one of their best-sellers, Raison D’etre. (Which I have yet to review) It starts more or less as the same brew but they multiply the ingredients to make this beer HUGE. The ABV of this sucker is an astounding 18.5%! Damn! Now you see why it’s taken me an hour to drink 15 ounces of beer. This is classified as an American Strong Ale.

This beer pours a dark maroon color with very little to no carbonation. Looks heavy.

Aroma is very raisiny with sharp notes of vinegar and alcohol. This has developed a bit of a tart nose which I also do not recall from previous tries. Slight hint of maple in this.

Mouthfeel leaves a HUGE tingle on the tongue. Holy crap this is super warming. Definitely a maple and raisin flavor with a touch of wood. Finishes with a sweet flavor that tingles like hell. This is fairly solid. (minus the vinegar smell)


Dogfish Head Fort

2007 Batch.

Fort is another 18% beer, this time being a Fruit Beer. It says it was brewed with a ton of pureed raspberries, and I’ve got a feeling this is no hyperbole. My buddy raves and raves about this beer but only after it sits for several years. For this reason I have always shied from trying it as I have little patience for cellaring beers. However, now that I have the opportunity to try a 4 year old version of this, I’ll jump right in!

This beer pours a super murky brownish-orange red. Like all the colors of beer mixed together to create this. Not much carbonation or head either.

Aroma. Holy crap aroma! So at this point I’ve been sitting at the bar for an hour and a half with these five beers in front of me and every so often I would catch a whiff of something ridiculously fruity. Well turns out it was this beer. The aroma is a gloriously intense raspberry, all the way. Very nice and fresh. Wow!

Mouthfeel provides a familiar tingle but the flavor is great. Lovely tart raspberries with a solid sweet flavor. Dries out the mouth considerably however but still remains fantastic! I’m very glad I saved this one for last. Now I can just relax and savor it.

Special note: I finally reached the bottom of this glass and it has sediment like crazy!

So there you have it folks! I’ve gone Dogfish Head crazy for this post!


Holy crap. So I was seriously about to walk out of this place and post my blog when the manager comes by and drops this gem in front of me. “It’s only a taste” he says but when I see what beer it was I could care less.


Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

So if you have seen the first episode of “Brewmasters” you will know it is about this beer. It goes through the life of it, from the planning stages, research and production of it. I’m very pleased to see this beer tonight. It is an Imperial Stout at 9%. Aw I guess that means this is now the lowest ABV beer I’ve had tonight. 😦

This beer pours a very very dark brown color with a nice heavy brown head. Very pretty.

Aroma is first off roasted malts big time. It has a roasted chocolate and smoky nose. Sweet nose and very lovely to smell. I hesitate to say this but…….peppermint? Perhaps in the slightest!

The flavor is super roasty with again a spearmint flavor. Not sure where that is coming from but I kinda dig it. It’s different. Roasted chocolate malts that feel rather bitter on the palate. For being the lowest in alcohol beer I’ve had, it’s certainly the slowest drinker I’ve had tonight. Funny how that works. This is really good also. Man I have been pleased with (most) everything I’ve been served tonight.

A most deservedly CHEERS!!

EDIT: Again before I walked out I ran into the official DFH rep that was here and was able to chat with him for a bit. He asked my favorite and I replied with Burton Baton. He absolutely agreed with me and had lots to input on the beer and how it typically ages. What shocked me was when he said his favorite was the Immort Ale which I completely despised. He really digs the smoky flavor and the sharpness that comes with it. Well I’m doubtful he had my particular bottle but, to each their own. It’s been a great night.


Day #72 – Lagunitas Olde Gnarly Wine

March 14, 2011

We’ve got a big beer on the menu for today, and boy is it a big one!  I have been looking for this beer for several years and I finally ran across it the other day.  It’s a barley wine style in a 22 ounce bottle at 10.6% ABV.  Wooowee.  I’m going to try to find someone to split this with because if I am to finish this myself, it would be bad news.  Remember barley wines are very heavy, carmelly and malty with lots of residual sugars and are typically high in alcohol.  I’m assuming this will be no different….but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.

Lagunitas Olde Gnarly Wine

Lagunitas is based out of Petaluma, California.  I reviewed another barley wine from them several weeks back which was their Brown Shugga.  That beer originally started out as a Gnarly Wine but something went wrong with the recipe and it turned into a beer all it’s own.  Today’s beer is that base recipe.

Here we go…

I set the bottle out on the counter for about 30 minutes to let it warm up a bit.  I want to try this beer at around 55 degrees, that way all the lovely aromas and complex flavors won’t be masked by cold liquid.

It’s difficult to see from the picture, but this beer pours a very brilliant clear ruby red color with a nice smooth foamy head.  Very pretty indeed.

The aroma is heavy on aged wood characteristics, with dark fruit and raisins mixed with some sugary notes.  Lots of caramel and natural roots.

Wow big tingle over the tongue!  Great flavor.  Tastes like cherry lifesavers.  Lots of woody sweet notes with some caramel notes.  Finishes like a warm vanilla donut. Sweet and very tasty!

Screw it I may just finish this bottle myself if no one else comes to visit me….You hear that folks?  You’ve only got 1 hour from the time I write this to come over and try some of this beer.  I can’t tell you the real time because daylight savings time has got me all kinds of backward.



Day #27 – Lagunitas Brown Shugga

January 28, 2011

Another California company tonight, this time from the community of Petaluma. Lagunitas is a swiftly growing brewery that has a wide distribution across our area. They were founded in 1993 and consider their IPA to be the flagship beer.

Today I am reviewing their Barley Wine, named Brown Shugga. The story behind this beer was they started making a batch of another beer they make, when something went haywire. Lucky for us, it turned out to be a good mistake, and they bottled this new barley wine recipe as the beer you see before you now.

A Barley Wine beer is not actually a wine at all. It is a very high gravity concoction brewed with high amounts of malts and base grains. They are usually characterized by woody flavors and aged dark fruits. As it is very high in alcohol, this style is highly praised by beer enthusiasts everywhere. It should be served in a snifter glass.

Here we go…

Lagunitas Brown Shugga

It pours a very pretty color of amber red with a nice foamy white head. It appears to be sticky and viscous.

The aroma is pretty nice as well. It starts with a fair balance of biting hops and woody notes. There is also a fair amount of sweet malts and sugar on the nose. Not as upfront sweet as I was expecting.

The flavor starts off with a kick. The hops provide a sharp bite along with the higher alcohol levels. Sweet malts and brown sugar come through after with a fair mix of woody notes. It finishes much the same but is quite good.

Barley Wines are certainly to be enjoyed, but they must be enjoyed responsibly. Please take your time and sip on it, like you would a fine scotch or sherry. It will continue to change in complexity as it warms. No need to rush through something this good! My girlfriend likes it, and so will you. 🙂