Recently I took part in a Barleywine Tasting with a group of fellow NY’ers I met via Beer Advocate. See below for the reviews from that tasting
Goose Island- King Henry
Somehow this past week has been good to me in terms of King Henry. I had this beer twice, once at my Bourbon County Tasting, and once at a Top Hops bottle share. A week ago, I found this beer at a restaurant with some buddies of mine (I tried to buy it to take home, but no such luck), and we able to try two or three bottles, so seeing this beer again was quite the treat, especially within the same week. This beer, aged in PVW 23 year old barrels pours a nice mahogany color with strong aromas of oak, caramel, toffee, and vanilla. The taste follows the nose on cue, and it’s nice to see the carbonation has held up nicely since its a 2011 bottle, there is no case of oxidation, this beer is everything you want in a barleywine. One could only hope Goose Island releases this again, however in the meantime, the 2013 BCBW is outstanding, and to me might be the second best barleywine I’ve had after this one (100/100).
Alpine- Great 2009 and 2013
This was a beer I have tried to trade for multiple times, and failed multiple times miserably. After knowing this is a 12oz bottle, I decided to just give up. This beer was originally named “Good” and then was aged in JD barrels. The 2013, which has been aging for only two years is incredibly smooth. It has strong coffee and caramel notes, with barrel characters from the JDaniels. You can see that the two years aging has really smoothed the beer out (98/100).
The 2009 beer is much different, the extra aging has transformed this beer and IMO not for the better. I can taste the wood on the barrel on this one. In addition it tastes a bit oxidized (92/100).
Anchorage- A Deal with the Devil (ADWTD)
Luckily this beer has hit distribution in the past few months, or perhaps unlucky for me. I had traded for two of these guys a week before they showed up in NYC. Batch one of this beer was quite tough to come by, but after batch two hit a decent distro, it should no longer cost you too much to find one, and that’s to all of our benefit because this beer is fantastic. The cognac barrels really just create so much sweetness for this beer. I get an explosion of sugar and caramel on the nose. The taste is incredibly smooth, and drinks well below it’s ABV. I get caramel, toffee, and a bit of butterscotch (99/100).
This is my second try with this beer. The first time I had it at a share, I had too high of expectations and a shot palate. This beer has an absurd amount of booze on the nose. It is super smooth, but for some reason, it has this lingering aftertaste which bothers me a little, as does the majority of the group. At the end, while this beer is really good, it has just a little too much booze on the mouthfeel (95/100).
Kuhnhenn- BBBW 2014
I had this beer once before at my recent “whale” share, and was lucky to pick up two more via Michigan buddies. This beer pours a nice brown color, the nose is definitely much nicer than my last bottle. I get a lot more molasses and toffee on the nose, while on my previous bottle I got just booze. While this beer could use another year or so to age before it hits it’s prime, it’s still a very nice barleywine (95/100).
Hill Farmstead- Aaron
This beer was also at my last share. I know I last described this beer as a drink “I could imagine my grandfather having by a fireplace in the winter.” It’s just that smooth BA barleywine you imagine an older person drinking, I really don’t know how else to describe it. It is incredibly balanced, pours a rich mahogany color, rich barrel notes on the nose, but extremely balanced. Very light on the carbonation for this bottle, and a little bit of that muted barleywine mouth-feel, very smooth (97/100).