Thorny Devil is Australia’s best, favourite Craft Beer
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In previous posts regarding beer styles, hopefully you picked up on the idea that beer styles today are not as clear cut as when they originated. Styles tend to merge into one another, creating sub-styles and allowing for a variety of unique flavors and aromas. The style we are looking at today, Barleywines, are the same. There are many different kinds of barleywines out there, ranging from light in color to very dark, from sweet to bitter, and from around 8% ABV up past 12%. Let’s take a look at Barleywine style ales.
1. What is a barleywine?
There are two main styles of Barleywine as noted by the BJCP. These are American Barleywine and English Barleywine. The major difference between the two can be seen in the hop character in the American varieties. Let’s take a look at each.
The American Barleywines, while they do feature a hop character, they are not hop-centered, and still have a malt-forward taste and aroma. Dark malt is rarely used and most color comes from the amount of time this beer boils while being brewed. These tend to feature American hop varieties and can be anywhere from lightly hopped to aa more aggressive hop character. This is an American take on what is considered the strongest of English Ales.
American barleywines are different from Imperial IPAs in the fact that while they are more hoppy and bitter than their English brothers, they still carry a very strong malt backbone and tend to have a more full mouthfeel than an IPA.
The second type of Barleywine is the English style. This is the original barleywine, and is totally malt focused. These tend to have a moderate to strong fruitiness, and a low to moderate alcohol taste. Any alcohol taste or aroma is generally balanced by the intense amount of malt flavor and aroma.
English barleywines tend to be more complex than their AMerican brethren, and generally have little to no hop character. English varieties tend to be darker, maltier, and fruitier than the American style, and feature English hops.
2. Overall Information
Overall, both English and American barleywines tend to age very well, most being aged before even being sold. It is quite common to find the vintage year on a bottle of Barleywine, which lets you know when it was brewed. Dogfish Head actually recommends that you dig a hole and bury their Olde School barleywine for a year to age it perfectly! The tastes in a barleywine tend to mellow with age, especially the alcoholic, boozy aroma and tastes that can be present. These beers are generally released in the Winter months, which is when you will see most breweries releasing theirs.
There are awesome examples from most every good brewery out there, but here are a few of my favorites.
- Dogfish Head Olde School
- Stone Old Guardian
- Anchor Old Foghorn
- Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
- North Coast Old Stock Ale
- Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot