Style: Barrel Aged English Barleywine
OG: 27º Plato
FG: 4.7º Plato
Yeast: House British Ale
Malts: Munton’s Pale, Crisp Maris Otter Pale, Munich, Dark & Light Crystal, Chocolate
Hops: Bittering—Bravo; Late Kettle—East Kent Golding
From: Paso Robles, CA
Brewer’s Note: “Big boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combined with soft chocolate malty undertones. Complex malt flavors framed in oak, with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, coconut and just a touch of dark cherry. This is definitely a sipping beer, best served in a brandy snifter. This ale pairs well with dark chocolate and sturdy cheeses.”
I love the classiness of the Firestone Walker labels, and I love how they up that classiness for their bigger beers. The information provided on the front of the label is hugely helpful, and very conducive to cellaring, which is exactly what you should do with this bottle (note: I’ve never had it before and figured I’d try it before buying one to cellar…). Sure the label is a little cluttered, but I actually like the text on this bottle a lot more than I like the standard Firestone Walker label text. My one complaint with the text is that the information regards OG, FG, IBU’s, etc… is a little hard to read, though it does look nice. This bottle is worthy of scrapbooking, and is certainly worthy of looking at on a shelf, though it would do better in a cellar. What makes this label/packaging even better, though, is the box that the bottle comes in. The box is honestly unneeded, but it does help with light pollution, and it just looks classy as fuck, and I really appreciate. I would keep the box on my shelf too.
The beer pours a dark murky red, and sits in the glass as almost black, but when you put it in the light it glows a gorgeous ruby. The beer’s body seems clean, but surprisingly full of carbonation bubbles. The beer pours with a decent sized white head that seems to be turning khaki colored. It mellows down to a half of a finger’s width as the beer sits in the glass. It features nice legs of alcohol as you swirl it in the glass, and leaves little dots of thin slippery lacing on the glass wall.
On the nose, the beer smells big and boozy with wonderfully complex notes of plum fruit, toffee, slight raisin and bourbon sweet notes, and even some brown sugar notes. On the tongue, the beer tastes wonderfully sweet and complex with boozy alcohol and lovely mellow toffee and oak notes.
The beer begins with caramelly malt that moves into toffee, light bourbon and then explodes into a medley of all those flavors, adding coconut, light oak, very faint char, raisins, dates, and brown sugar. The finish is a little harsh with booze, but also features a maple syrup sweet taste that travels into the sticky aftertaste. You can definitely feel this travelling down the back of your throat, but I think with a bit of age it could be beautifully mellowed, and as is I find the flavors wonderfully mellow while still being big and complex. As it warms up, this beer definitely builds in booziness.
On the mouth, the beer feels thick and chewy, but soft and very mellow almost fluffy with the carbonation, almost syrupy. Its body sits on the mellower side of heavy. The mouth is left slightly dry with alcohol and sticky dry saliva.
Overall, I’m definitely a fan of this beer. This is one of my favorite Barleywines right now, and I would love to find another bottle and set it away for a couple years. This stuff is thick, boozy, and complex, and definitely a sipper. You should try this beer.