"Tastes like hops dipped in candied sugar and rolled in dark chocolate nibs." That is what you'll find printed on the neck label of the Flying Mouflan. It certainly sounds delicious. Flying Mouflan is Tröegs' Barleywine style beer, an extreme version of their highly regarded Nugget Nectar. This bomber has a yellow and red label with a winged bottlecap in the center. A Mouflan is a breed of sheep, which I why I thought this would be a Bock or a variation on the Troegenator Doppelbock. I'm guessing the reference is lost on me, oh well...
The last several Barleywines I've had have been fantastic. This is a style of beer I really got off on the wrong foot with somehow. I often tell people the same thing about Brooklyn Brewery, we just got off on the wrong foot and I was hesitant to try many of their beers after that. In the past couple of months I've picked up several Brooklyn beers and I've really enjoyed what I've had so far. Brooklyn and Barleywines have both impressed me recently so I figured I'd give this Brooklyn Barleywine a go.
Belgo Old Guardian was one of just a couple Stone beers I recently picked up in a visit to Colorado. Knowing that Stone was already in talks to bring the bulk of their line up to Missouri, I wasn't looking to stock up on their beers... but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to grab a few of their seasonal and limited release beers. I always wanted to try the Old Guardian Barley Wine, and honestly had never heard of the Belgo version, so I decided to pick up a bomber. Barleywines are great, most of the time... I'm a little apprehensive about Stone's take on the style, but I'm willing to give it a try. I'll try anything if you add a little Belgian yeast to it.
This bottle of Mad River's John Barleycorn has been in my basement for a while now. Honestly, I'd forgotten about it... I picked up this bottle in mid-Summer 2010 while out of state. I really didn't know anything about the beer itself, it was just something I couldn't get back home... so I picked up a bottle. The label is pretty plain, it's black and white with an etching style image of a scene from the folk song. One thing I did notice on the label this time around that I must have missed before is that this beer is "Celebrating the harvest of 2008" ...so it's got a little age on it. At 9.1% alcohol I'm sure this Barleywine has held up, but this is a style that can be really hit or miss with me so I'm anxious to try it and see how this California Barleywine stacks up.
My relationship with Lagunitas got off to a rocky start. The beer I tried out of Petaluma was their Pale Ale and I really, really didn't like it. I went on to try a couple more small bottles of their beer and I found a common thread through all of these beers was a really bitter hop component that I just didn't like at all. I decided to give Lagunitas one last try a few months later and went with the Hop Stoopid, a beer that was supposed to be hoppy. I thought it was a great beer and it warmed me up to trying more Lagunitas beers again. Since then I've found a couple more bombers of Lagunitas that I thought were quite good, now it's time to try the Gnarly Wine.
At one point of another I drank each of Avery's beers at least once. Well, most of their beers at least once. I've even visited their tasting room in Boulder on three different occasions, but somehow there is a year round beer I seem to have over looked. I can't say it was entirely by accident... it's their Barleywine. Barleywines are beers I feel like I should like, but they always leave me a little disappointed to say the least. Hog Heaven is Avery's attempt at a Barleywine and I'm hopeful it is the Barleywine that will sway my opinion of the style.
I've had a handful of Heavy Seas beers now and I'm pretty much smitten. Well, smitten may be a bit strong, but I've really liked what I've had. I picked up this 2009 bottle of Below Decks Barleywine about six months ago. I didn't really intend on keeping it in the basement until its one year birthday, but that's how it worked out. Part of the reason I haven't opened this beer yet is because, well... I haven't had that many Barleywines that I've genuinely enjoyed. Sure, I've had a few that have been be good, but nothing that's changed my opinion on the style as a whole. I've got high hopes for this Heavy Seas Below Decks, it has a great pedigree and might just be the Barleywine I've been looking for.
Being Kansas City based has its ups and down. While we get a lot of great Colorado craft beers, we aren't a big enough market to draw some of the more limited release beers those breweries produce. India Barleywine is one example brewed by Odell, a brewery who sent just about everything else out this way but for some reason didn't send this particular beer. I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of India Barleywine from the nice folks at Odell and am eager to give it a full review, so let's get to it shall we...
Boulder Beer's Killer Penguin is the non-Barleywine Barleywine... It has a double digit alcohol by volume percentage and smells a little boozy, but it doesn't have that thick dark flavor/texture that I've come to expect from Barleywines. That's not to say the Killer Penguin isn't a good beer, it has a lot to offer if you're willing to cut this lighter, mellower Barleywine some slack. While pouring this beer from it's wax dipped bottle into my snifter, I noticed the aroma was much lighter than I was expecting. The first thing I noticed was the crisp and sweet cherries and grapefruit on the nose. There is plenty of malted goodness in this beer but it doesn't stand out as much as the other flavors because it isn't roasted or super sweet. This isn't a complaint, but it contributes to the overall blendedness of this beer.
Today is the Winter Solstice so it's only fitting that I crack open a bottle of Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's Solstice d'hiver. This beer is a 9.8% Barleywine, a style of beer that is almost as big on flavor as it is on alcohol. I haven't had much luck finding a Dieu Du Ciel beer I've liked so I'm holding out hope that this is the one. Barleywines are a style of beer I drink rather sparingly because of their incredible richness and double digit ABV. Will the planets align today, on the shortest day of the year? Will this Canadian Barleywine be a hit or a miss?