It was a coolish afternoon on Saturday, and I found myself at work. We just moved offices and I needed to get set up. After a week of living with limited functionality I needed to take some time to unpack fully and set up my new workspace. I also have a number of deadlines bearing down on me so I also did a little work as well. About 3 pm I decided that I had donated enough of my Saturday and that I would head to the local watering hole. Around here the best meeting place is Brewforia. Great beers on tap, a huge beer cooler and over 600 beers to choose from.
I came across this barleywine that I was very interested in. I love barleywine, and when the temps begin to change is when I begin to think about the warming aspect of a good high ABV Barleywine. I have also been intrigued by Uinta Brewery down in Salt Lake City, UT. Utah recently changed their laws to allow ABVs to go up to as high as 14% from what was arguably the lowest ABV restriction in the nation at 3.2%. Uinta Brewery seems to have been first out of the gate with high ABV offerings to the marketplace. This particular barleywine was 11.1% ABV, a respectable warmer.
This brew was also barrel aged for a full 6 months in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. That is usually a good thing, but perhaps it could have been a bit too long…
The pour was very nice looking. I must say that barleywines seem to have about the widest variety of colors of just about any beer style. I’ve seen them all the way from a deep amber, almost purple color to a very light brown, and just about every shade in between. This barleywine poured a deep brown that lightened as the level in the glass went down. It almost had a sheen to it that looked a little metallic. Thankfully there were none of these flavors in the glass.
The flavor was big and very good. It started out with hints of vanilla and woody barrel flavors, much like a woody tasting bourbon, then went to a dark fruit like dried cherries and plums, and then finished with a hop bite on the backside with an integrated alcohol flavor that left no trace of a burn. Easy drinking without very challenging flavors, and I would call this a very good barleywine, but I thought it could be more.
See leaving some beers in wood for 6 months does them justice. I’ve had some that got sweeter and more mellow the longer they aged in the barrel. However this particular barleywine might have spent a tish too long in the barrel. I got a very woody and astringent flavor on the front end that I thought detracted from the wonderful sweetness and full bodied nature of what the barleywine could be. I left thinking had they taken this beer out of the barrel at about 4 months that would have been perfect.
But every palate is different, and where I tasted astringency others might find a cloying bitterness that would be appreciated. Still this is not a fatal flaw by any stretch. I highly recommend giving this barleywine a try. If you find it buy it and let me know your thoughts.