Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Birthday Barleywine

So I turned 33. It was a pretty stressful month, and thinking about my birthday was not a priority. However, I had a wonderful birthday. Primarily due to a very lovely person in my life giving me thoughtful gifts, time and attention, and many delicious things. One delicious thing was Funfetti cupcakes with homemade lemon frosting. Seriously. Another delicious thing was Short's: The Wizard, an American Barleywine. Barleywines are strong, fruity, intense beers; the American Barleywine tends to be much hoppier than the British style. That being said, I don't think I've had a British Barleywine. (I'd like to change this status. Feel free to recommend some.) The aforementioned lovely person drove me to a beer store and told me to pick out beer for her to buy me. (So yes, she is amazing and you are jealous).
The Wizard has kind of this old school-looking packaging. A kinda...Campy looking Wizard with a magic ball and a black cat. Not much information on the label except, "Barleywine aged on raisins. Brewed on Devil's Night for 6 hours and 66 minutes." This is a Winter seasonal that comes out in December, has over 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and 11% alcohol. That's pretty bitter and pretty boozy.
The Wizard poured a murkey dark brown with reddish highlights. As it warmed up (I let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. Not by choice! I don't have that kind of willpower), it almost looked more red. And a later pour produced a much larger sudsy head.
The smell? Upon opening the bottle I got a whiff of alcohol. Then it mellowed into a milder fruit scent, mostly raisins. And the taste: Primarily sweet dark fruits, definitely raisins, but also cherries. Sweet malts, but a little bit of bitter hops and just a little noticeable alcohol. A substantial body, soft-feel, and just a little alcohol warmth.
The flavor is strong, and the alcohol is noticeable, but this is a very drinkable Barleywine. I put a couple of bottles away for aging. I will have to use will-power for that.


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