Original Post: Grimmuss
Style: English Barley Wine
Brew Date: February 6, 2013
Tasting Date: August 27, 2014
This bottle looked like it wasn’t quite as full as it should have been. From experience, I had a feeling that that would mean it was over carbonated and while it wasn’t a gusher, it did take a couple pours to get it all into my glass with the copious tan head.
I get a strong licorice aroma when I sniff said foam. This is a much more aggressive aroma than I’m used to from Dry Stouts. The aroma comes through in the flavor of the first sip, but the smooth roastiness also arrives.
This feels a bit heavy for a Dry Stout. There is more coffee and more malt, along with the licorice than the ubiquitous Guinness. This could be good or bad, depending on your preferences, but either way it doesn’t line up the style guidelines.
I’m not sure where the licorice is coming from. I remember that, even stronger, in my aging bottles of Val’s Portly Porter but I credited that to the molasses in that beer. I don’t remember this flavor in this beer when it was young.
The beer was a bit too hoppy for the style when it was fresh and I thought that it improved after about six months of aging. I was hoping it would still be aging gracefully, but this is definitely way past its prime. This beer was never great and it’s still not terrible. Despite changing more than expected over time, it has remained thoroughly middle-of-the-road.
I mentioned coffee. It tastes a bit stale. Not fresh, starting the day coffee, more just trying to get through the long afternoon several hours old coffee. And it is behind the licorice.
I believe this beer did finish fairly dry. Although it does get extra mouth feel from the flaked barley, I don’t remember it being this thick. It isn’t mouth coating like Maggie Moo’s Cocoa Cream Stout, but it’s not an easy drinking Guinness, either. The foam is right on target, though. It may have been a bit too voluminous in the beginning, but an appropriate amount has stuck it out down the the bottom third of the glass and it tickles on every sip. It is the best you could hope for without nitrogen dispensing.
The initial anise flavor threw me for a loop, but as the beer warms a bit (not too much, I didn’t give it much time) and I am now braced for it, it isn’t as bad as I thought. This beer is definitely past its prime, but as I’ve just shown myself, it is still quite drinkable. Beyond that, though it is very interesting to see how it has changed.