Old 2012 Strong Barley Wine Tasting Notes

Original Post: Old 2012 Strong
Style: American Barley Wine
Brew Date: February 11, 2012
Tasting Date: September 23, 2014
ABV: 9.6%
IBUs: 50? Seems much higher, even at over two years old…
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First of all, I was not planning on doing this today. I was going to do tasting notes for Fruit Spectrum IPA, but I was using an old bottle of this for some pulled chicken. This beer tastes good, but most bottles didn’t carbonate, which means it isn’t the most enticing to drink, but it’s great for cooking and that is what I normally use it for. When I opened the bottle that I planned dump in the crock pot, it popped with that familiar sound of a carbonated beer. So here I am at three in the afternoon on the first day of Fall with a glass of two year old Barley Wine. Okay, now… let’s have a sip.

Yes, this is really sweet, but has a good bitterness as well. I might like to see the bitterness a bit higher to balance how sweet it is, or ideally, have just not be quite so sweet. The finishing gravity was very high on this, 1.036, but there is also some perceived sweetness from the oaky flavor.

This is the only beer I’ve ever aged on oak chips and their flavor definitely comes through. In the nose, I get the oak and some biscuity maltiness. It actually smells great. After that great aroma, taking a sip is a little disappointing.

The sweetness is the main problem, but it is also just very muddled. There is a lot of good stuff going on, but it doesn’t come together. There is almost no hop aroma and not a ton of flavor, but the Chinook does come through. If it weren’t fighting so hard to be noticed, it may be a bit harsh, as it is it balances fairly well but doesn’t add much of a flourish.

I forgot until looking at the label that there was honey in this. Two pounds is a decent amount, but with everything else, I don’t think it adds much. I would have hoped it would help dry it out a bit, along with the corn sugar addition, but I guess the yeast was just too taxed to finish the job.
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This beer is far from perfect, but I have to say, I’m enjoying it more than I expected. I can only remember finding a couple other carbonated bottles. Prior to getting into the routine of drinking the extremely over carbonated Evergreen IIPA after working midnight to noon on Saturdays, my standard procedure was to take a bottle of this, un-carbonated and overly sweet, and mix it with a dry, maybe dull carbonated beer.

Finding this carbonated bottle was a real treat. It would have been ideal to find it on a cold Winter night, but I’ll take it where I can get it. There is a boozy finish that would pop better with a lower gravity, but it still keeps things from getting too sticky.
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These tasting notes are a blubbering, disjointed mess… much like the beer. To review, though: it has a great malty and boozy aroma from Biscuit Malt and bourbon soaked oak chips. The flavor upfront is dominated by sweetness, with almost enough hop bitterness to balance it. The longer it stays in the mouth, boozy, vanilla-y oak character comes out and is confronted by hints of Chinook hops. Upon swallowing, the sweetness lingers, but is cut by alcohol heat.

Why didn’t I just say that to begin with? Anyway, I’m just about finished with this beer. Time to wrap this up. I still have quite a bit of this beer (somewhere around thirty bottles…) so hopefully I’ll find some more carbonated ones. In the mean time, that second un-carbonated bottle is tenderizing my chicken in the crock pot. And there will be more of that, more barley wine chili, more barley wine chicken fajitas, more barley wine glazed pork tenderloin…

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