Friday, February 1, 2008

The Session: Barleywine Makes Life More Interesting

This month's Session is presented by The Brew Site, discussing Barleywine.

I got nothing. Really. What more can be said? Bigfoot aged four years is one of the world's greatest delights. Thomas Hardy aged for 10 years... you won't forget. Avery Hog Heaven, fresh, will alter your mood and make the world a better place. Midnight Sun makes a barley wine that you'll be sure to look out for, wondering if perhaps a trip to Alaska is warranted. English versions (the malt-centric type) go so well with blue cheese and pear tarts. The American versions (sure, they're malty, but holy hop-monster!) seem to beg for anything grilled. Barley wines are nothing short of an experience.

You want to have a day you'll not soon forget? Set up a barley wine tasting with friends, like we've done the last few years and are getting set to do again this month. Last year we gathered as friends (the SOBER group) and tried more than 20 barley wines blind (Anchor's Old Foghorn won out in the end). If you'd like, take a listen to the 2007 Barley Wine event.

Still want more? Be at the Toronado on Feb 16th for their Barley Wine Festival - there simply aren't enough words to describe the mess of humanity and all the goodness found on tap.

Many brewers (too many if you ask me) have taken to aging barley wine in barrels that once held spirits - most commonly bourbon, although I suspect many will try to emulate what Tomme Arthur's done with his brandy barrels. I'm not the biggest fan of barrels these days, it seems too many folks are intent to let the flavors of the barrel overwhelm the beer... but the guys that do it well, do it really well!

I used to be pissy about double IPAs bleeding into the barley wine categories. In fact, some days I still feel that way. Why? I don't know, it just happens.

You know what I'm hoping for? The world's first Imperial Barley wine. Mr. Avery, you reading this?

Why don't we call the massively malted and alcoholic Belgian strong ales Belgian Barleywine... and on that thread, can we all make up our mind what a real "Quad" is going to be? Please? At least the color, let's start there.

Cooking with Barley wine... James Spencer did a video on making a barley wine fruit cake, and damn that looked good. the video | the recipe

Speaking of food... the Homebrew Chef has a recipe for barley wine prime rib that will make you drool just to read. Wow! Then of course, you can check out his recipe so you can make your own damned barleywine (this too is an impressive recipe).

So, in closing, may I say it is clear that Barley Wine makes life a bit more interesting.

"If you don't like Bigfoot, you've just got small feet." - Mike Sober