Category Archives: Barley wine

Brooklyn Brewery 2012 ‘Monster Ale’ Barleywine


22815539_765032450347569_3237719762857128468_n“Brooklyn Monster Ale is a classic barley wine, a style of ale originally brewed by the butlers to the English and American aristocracy. It is brewed from three mashes of heirloom British malt and spiced with aromatic American Willamette, Cascade and Fuggle hops. After four months of aging, it has a magnificent burnished copper color, an aroma redolent of sherry, citrusy hops and fruit, a soft, warming, complex palate, a spiritous finish, and a strength of 10.3%. It is vivacious when young, but will age gracefully for many years, becoming more complex over time.”

Served in a snifter. She pours a somewhat rusted bronze/chestnut hue with a wispy cap forming on top. It reduced back to the edges with little signs of lace as we indulge.
The nose is oh-so-rich. Driven mainly by the super sweet dark fruits like raisin, dates, fig and apricot. Toffee, caramel and butterscotch also hold a big presence. Lots of residual sugars, nutty malts, booze (rum, Sherry and port), stewed oranges and an undertone of vanilla. It’s interesting as we keep getting flashes of imperial IPA characters so the hops, although dank, are still well alive after five years.
Very complex in flavour. It’s rich and boozy with this big impression of burnt orange and brandy. The 10.1% ABV definitely isn’t shying away. A somewhat sharp and plummy note develops with a subtle tip of the hat to dried dark fruits and treacle. Sharp, bitey and dry as it rounds out the finish with incredible length.
The texture is dense and chewy but also rather dry and warming. Full bodied and the co2 is kept to a minimum.
We pulled this out of the cellar after holding on to it for about a year and a half. Of course it already had about 4 years on it and it’s still drinking with a bit of immaturity. It will be very interesting to see whether it has improved with another couple of years on it.

Bell’s Brewery ‘Third Coast’ Old Ale (Barleywine)


21617561_750410778476403_2062480755628173381_n“Third Coast Old Ale starts with a rich, caramel base, and finishes with a heavy hop bitterness. Sharply intense at first, it will age gracefully, adding complexity and subtlety in your cellar. Go ahead, test your patience.”

Served in a snifter. It pours a murky chestnut hue that’s capped off with a short tan head. It collapsed to a halo which posts inconsistent rings down the walls of the glass.
Monstrous aroma! Like a glass full of syrup and fortified wine. This is the 2015 release so the hops have all but dropped out, although there still is a delicate hint of pine and grass hanging around. Loads of sweet dark fruits like prune, raisin, plum and figs. Relentless wafts of toffee, caramel, butterscotch and treacle with earthy and somewhat cocoa powdery undertones. So many dimensions.
The flavour backs up perfectly with super sweet (but far from cloying) notes of port, dark fruits, spice, alcohol and hints of earthy tobacco. Feeling a bit of heat with an assertive bitterness through the mid as it rolls in to quite a well balanced finish that boasts a gentle dryness with lingering malt sweetness on the back end.
The texture is dense and chewy with low co2. 10.2% ABV presenting firmly. Slightly drying on the rear.
The brilliant flavour and aroma certainly makes up for the drab and boring old strip. We would love to see how this would go fresh because it is drinking pretty damn fine right now (even without the hops). So obviously it’s a beer that would age well, good thing we have a few left in storage!

Deschutes Brewery 2014 Reserve ‘Mirror Mirror’ BA Barleywine


21463193_748795898637891_1743194503447251062_n“The Reserve Series romance all began with our first release of this limited-edition brew. Mirror Mirror, born of a double batch of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, is an inspired barley wine ale layered with intriguing nuances. Explore this latest incarnation and enjoy its delicious complexity in every sip. (Released March 2014)”

Served in a snifter. Pours a bit like muddy swamp water with a two finger head forming on top. Retention is good with a wavy lave pattern following it down.
Phwoar! That aroma. The complexity, the intense sweetness, the brilliance of a well brewed and well aged barleywine is not only 2nd to none but would easily challenge a dessert wine as an indulgent after dinner aperitif or night cap. With all that toffee, port, raisin, apricot, gingerbread, fig, residual sugar, fudge, brandy and sticky vanilla this is the epitome of opulence! Outstanding stuff.
It doesn’t shy away in flavor either. Big and extravagant notes of port, caramel, fig, brandy, brown sugar and raisin are given an almighty boost by the 11.2% ABV which injects prickly layers of belly warming goodness. It’s only subtle but we can detect a vinous accent from the hefty aging process it undergoes in American red wine barrels.
The texture is dense and syrupy with enough lift from the booze to save it from being edible. The co2 is mild but effective…also very important in the overall balance of the beer.
Oh jeebus! What an amazing beverage we have laid before us. Holier than thou. We’re not worthy! What we’re trying to say is this is down right incredible. Top 5 material without a doubt.

Epic & Steam Brewing ‘1000’ Anniversary Barleywine


20900582_737160649801416_8113171472924988939_o“Limited release vintage Barley Wine celebrating Epic’s 10th Birthday and their 1000 batch brew at Steam brewing. Complex layers of dried fruit, sherry and spice, will age a treat! Hand wrapped and sealed with wax.”

Served in a snifter. It hits the glass with that sexy mahogany hue that’s covered by a wispy overlay. It peels back to a ring which leaves a streaky lace sticking to the walls of the glass.
And bam! That extreme, but never cloying, sweetness fills the nostrils with gingerbread, port, raisins, toffee, spice, apricot jam, fig and super sweet residual sugars. To save us from writing an essay we’ll just say that once it begins to come up to room temperature it really opens up about its complexities. Ooph! What an aroma.
It’s not often that the flavour of a beer upstages the aroma but we’re almost certain that’s the case here. It initiates with this absolutely heavenly caramel/toffee sweetness that’s supported by fortified wine, spice and stewed stonefruits. The warmth from the booze (10%) hugs the palate midway and coaxes out a somewhat sharp hint of Mead along with dates, maple syrup and caramelised sugars that extend far past the finish. Incredible length on display here.
Super sticky texture, almost chewy in the mouth. Full body with low co2 and a very well concealed 60 IBU.
Quite a remarkable barleywine indeed. We’re actually confident in saying that it is the best barleywine we’ve ever had the luxury of drinking….simply can not fault it. One word of advice to the brewers….. drop the bloody wax seal tops! OK they look impressive but we value our fingers way too much!

Bacchus Brewing Co ‘Islay Reserve’ Smoked Barleywine


image“We’ve taken a grist of 100% heavy peated distilling malt sourced from Scotland and used a reiterated mash process with a 2.5 hour boil to produce a beer with incredible depth and flavour. Maturation in Octomore whisky barrels has rounded the beer beautifully, adding another layer of complexity.”

Served in a beer tulip. She even looks dangerous….like a wife with a knife! Copper coloured with a wispy head that vanishes before the bottle is put back down. We can literally smell this beast as it sits there on the table. We can’t actually work out where the beer ends and where the whisky starts. Behind that chest pumping and warming whisky character lies extremely potent notes of wet ash, residual sugars and bush fire smoke. Stand by for complete intoxication.
Let’s not mix words here…this beer devastates the palate. Low co2, low IBU and maximum alcohol (16%) burn. Medium body.
It’s all Islay whisky upfront: smoky, ash and molasses with a lick of rich toffee to sweeten up the deal a little bit. The unmistakable flavour of ash carries through the mid and finishes on a smoky and charred bacon note that endures a life time on the back end.
Wow. As novice whisky drinkers we almost can’t find the distinction between the two. Don’t let this small and unassuming bottle fool you, this packs one serious punch to the face. Our advice is this….if you LOVE whisky then this is the beer you’ve been waiting for….if not, then leave this well alone.

Garage Project ‘Hellbender’ Barleywine


image“You are about to be tested. Hellbender is a leviathan of a beer made with over a tonne of malt and a mountain of American hops. You know it would taste great right now, but a beer this big will only get better with age. What will it taste like in a year? Two years? More? Will you ever get to find out or will it be too much for you? Can you delay the gratification, or will you yield to temptation? Which will it be? Your time starts now.”

Served in a beer tulip. This monster pours a deep amber colour with strawberry red highlights. It dons a short wispy cap that deconstructs and forms a halo that works a healthy lace down the walls of the glass.
Holy moly! The nose on this bad boy is ridiculous. It’s super complex and so layered we could be here all day trying to isolate each scent. The main players include caramel fudge, toffee, fig jam, caramelised pears, pot pourri, spice, residual sugars, alcohol and blood plums. Wow….. Just wow!
It is deceptively dangerous in the mouth. Incredibly smooth and almost chewy with low co2. Medium bodied with that 11.2% ABV unbelievably well buried.
This barleywine serves up an absolute banquet of sweet and decadent flavours that range from gingerbread, glazed cherries, figs and toffee to warming booze, spice, dates and earthy herbs. The other aspect we love about this is that considering all of the really sweet flavours it still finishes slightly dry which adds that crucial balance on the back palate.
There are so many words to describe this beer but none of them would do it justice. The conplexity on offer is simply amazing. The aroma, flavour, drink ability…all of it is so intricate but so fine tuned. we could only imagine what a few years cellaring would do to this already magnificent beer. We are going to have to lay one down and find out.

Murray’s Craft Brewing Co. Anniversary Ale 10


18268215_688519614665520_3182280505792414276_n“It’s our tenth birthday and the tenth release of our Anniversary Ale series. Always big, bold and oak aged – but this year matured in Lark Distillery whiskey barrels for 8 weeks combining rich malt aromas and flavours with a distinct vanilla oakiness and subtle whiskey character. Cellar for up to 10 years – AA10 will just keep getting better and better with age. Or drink now if you can’t wait! Continuing the artist series labels, this year created by Newcastle’s Bridie Watt.”

Served in a beer tulip. We’re met with a murky brown hue that’s covered by a two finger tan head that gradually peels back. It establishes a wispy film that produces a significant amount of lace as we imbibe.
As expected this barleywine is expressing some rich and super complex aromas. The most distinct would have to be the heaving malt base along with the rich toffee, figs, plum jam, raisins, clove and brown sugar. Not a great deal of oak coming through but a cognac-like note certainly presents stronger than the whisky. Incredible concealment of the booze too.
Unbelievably palate friendly for a barrel aged barleywine weighing in at 10% ABV. The texture is dense and chewy with full body and low Co2. So smooth for its size.
Holy moly, the taste buds are in a frenzy trying to isolate this onslaught of flavour. It’s like a tidal wave of malts washing over the palate imparting a concoction of spice, dried fruits, toffee, raisin, oak, vanilla, ginger bread and hints of whisky. Finishing with a residual sugar sweetness and a kind of dry, oaky tannin in the tail.
After a year of aging we thought it was high time we cracked Murray’s 10th anniversary ale. Although it’s a superb drop we would have loved to see more of the whisky come through, just falls a bit short there in our opinion. Especially when we’re dealing with a quality distillery such as Lark. Anywho, a robust offering…Just not their best.

Hawkers Beer 2016 BA Barleywine


17953007_681835085333973_3508967958899592107_n“Aged in bourbon barrels. Rich auburn in colour. Aroma of toffee, hints of spice and fruit cake. Bourbon oak character, caramel and an assertive hop bitterness which leads to an outstanding dry finish. Designed to be cellared for 5+ years.”

Served in a snifter glass. This monster offers a murky and somewhat dark rusty hue. It pours with little head with what was managed peeling back to a ring which laced surprisingly well.
The nose feels like it’s holding back a little. We get sticky toffee and caramel undertones with subtle oak, bourbon, aniseed, buttery biscuits and sweet caramelized malt but it does appear to be slightly restrained. Although in saying that the 12.5% ABV is remarkably well buried so it works both ways. Still, very well balanced and absolutely luxurious aroma.
Ooph! Nothing is being held back in the mouth though. The sharp, piercing alcohol is somewhat softened by the smooth decadent malts. The body is on the fuller side with low Co2. Very extravagant drinking.
The palate is treated to a complete flavour sensation with the rich caramelized malts, toffee, bourbon and prickly booze on the front. It really intensifies during the mid before it all settles in to a sweet warming finish that goes the distance on the back end.
We’ll admit we were a little uncertain at the start but this barleywine keeps going from strength to strength. Love the subtle oak and bourbon complexity. Super sweet but never cloying and amplified by that belly warming booze. Hawkers do it again!

8 Wired Brewing Co ‘Lord Of The Atlas’ BA Barleywine


17757185_674376236079858_6223664314961212395_n“The newest release from 8 Wired’s Barrel programme is an absolute stomper! Layer upon layer of complexity, oak integration is perfect and the higher abv is hardly noticeable.”

Served in a snifter glass. This barley wine offers a remarkably clear burgundy complexion with a finger of cappuccino foam topping it off. Reduction is steady, eventually establishing a wispy film that works a wavy lace down the walls of the glass. The aroma is unbelievably complex. As expected the oak comes through with some dominance but the dank and super sweet fruits counter it magnificently. Tucked in right behind are super sticky notes of port, dates, maple syrup and residual sugars that have this somewhat earthy licorice note flowing through. Booze, chocolate, molasses and a trace of ash brings up the bottom end and ties up an incredible aroma. Wow.
The mouth feel is sharp and warming yet sticky with a velvety smoothness. Co2 is mild and the body is medium. It’s aggressive but also slick and sophisticated.
It offers an absolute arsenal on the fore: we get a fusion of dark fruits, toffee, oak, port, dates and fig that leads in to a dry and warming middle. The alcohol intensifies as an oaky wine tannin makes way for a dry, prickly and somewhat malty sweet finish. Excellent length offered on the back palate as well.
As mentioned at the top of this review it’s a seriously complex little number. Masterfully executed with ingredients that cover almost all corners of the globe. It just takes a bit of brewing brilliance to bring them all together and that’s exactly what they’ve done here. Top shelf stuff from 8 wired.

Hunter Beer Co. No.1 2015 Vintage Barleywine


13680165_547958068721676_7121998868601797648_o“Oak aged Barley Wine. Rich, fruity, sweet with the potential to age for at least 3 years.”

Served in a wide rimmed tulip. This 2015 vintage barley wine pours a rusted copper hue with a thin sheet forming across the top. What little head there was quickly diminished and leaves a ring around the edge of the glass. To our surprise though, it still manages to weave some wet and spotty lace as we imbibe. Our first impression of this aroma is just rich and cloyingly sweet. The dominant scents are caramel and toffee with a pronounced port character to back it up. Very heavily layered with sweet residual sugars and then again with sweet dried fruits like apricot, dates and fig. An evident alcohol warmth further intensifies the somewhat fortified wine characters and reinforces the fact that this is a beer to sip slowly on. The beer rolls over the tongue quite easily we must admit. It’s not watery or thin but it does have a flat tannin that features when drinking wine. A little sticky in texture as a reasonable alcohol (9.5%) warmth develops after the swallow. The front palate offers an intricate marriage of woody oak, chewy toffee, subtle spicy notes and fortified wine. An alcohol warmth emphasizes them all and carries a residual sugary sweetness in to the mid. Hints of port, dates and rich toffee prevail and lead to a robust finish that provides a lightly toasted, sweet and caramelized aftertaste on the rear. Initially we were a little put off by the intense artificial sweetness but as it warmed it developed a more complex and robust oak and fortified wine flavour. We’ve only laid this down for a year and even now we’re thinking we popped it a bit too prematurely. If you still have one unopened our advice is to leave it and return in another year. Another twelve months will surely reward it.

Nogne O ‘#100’ Barleywine


13427798_531133893737427_2565741278866158685_n“Nøgne Ø’s 100th batch, brewed for the enjoyment of the brewers, but popular demand forced us to release it commercially. Most enjoyable in a comfortable chair in front of a roaring fire.”

Served in a beer tulip. She presents a mahogany body which reveals edges of crimson when held to the light. If you want to keep the yeast in the bottle then watch your pour as we see swirls of fine suspended sediment laced through. A healthy three finger head forms on top, gradually receding to a thick blanket with oodles of brick work lace clinging to the glass. Our first thoughts of this aroma are just dank, piney and boozy. A lovely caramel sweetness takes the edge off the alcohol (10%) and hints of marmalade and vinous hops work in nicely. We get suggestions of cocoa powder that has this dry and earthy mustiness to it while the olfactory’s also sense a slightly spicy licorice accent. So multilayered but so harmonious, brilliant aroma. In the mouth it’s medium-full in body with a creamy texture. Really coats the palate well as it progresses languidly in to the swallow. There’s a bit of a prickly burn from the alcohol but the substantial malt profile eventually smooths it over. Really complex flavour here – this contrast been sweet and sometimes toasty malt and the vinous hops is delicious. Rich and earthy notes of tobacco, licorice and chocolate are cut through by hints of citric orange peel that reinforces the astringent alcohol burn and overall dryness in the finish. As it comes up to room temperature hints of burnt toffee and residual sugars begin to open up. Really, really complex drop this one but they have it working, none of the flavors clash. We love these Norwegian brewers and this is exactly why. Rich, heavy and intricate with a tonne of flavour and aroma. Cue the applause.


Murrays ‘Anniversary Ale 9’


imageAaaah murrays. Where do we start. We have a fond appreciation of this brewery. We bought this bad boy after Kane’s wedding in February 2015 and we have been aging it until now. This brew has been oak aged in red wine staves. It’s 10%  alc vol and we are salivating at the prospect of murdering it.

After wrestling with the wax coated covering, we finally popped the cap and the olfactory was on alert. We get oak, we get resin hops, we get stewed fruits, and toffee malts. We can tell this has been aged for some time. Poured into a pint, there was a big bubbly head that faded quite quickly leaving a dark amber looking beer with some carbonation bubbling up. You can smell this beer sitting on the table! Can get the stonefruit elements of peach and/or apricot now in the glass. First sip is huge. This is a full bodied barley wine. You almost chew it its that heavy. There is a balance of astringent alcohol and bitterness from the hops used, with a lingering stonefruit flavour and bitterness sitting on the backplate that seems to coat the mouth now. Moderate carbonation in the mouth. We get that mild sourness that red wine can yield upon imbibing. We love the fact that half way through the glass, the smoothness for 10% alc vol is really impressive. Some beers the imbalance shows up majorly but not here. As the beer warms, you get more sweet stewed fruits, and really nice peach and apricot aromas with a big swill of the glass.. The oak is well consumed by the hops and toffee malt backbone. There is a mild spiciness now clinging to the uvula. So rich, so tasty, so complex. This is a heavy beer and not for the faint hearted. We have a serious head buzz by the end of the pint. Like a good wine, it gets better by the end. Craft beer lovers will really savour this. This is almost a 10/10.

Alesmith Brewing Co ‘Old Numbskull’ Barley wine


12242994_452541438263340_6573102203122310195_n“A West Coast style barley wine. A huge malt profile and a very aggressive dose of premium domestic hops give Old Numbskull a tantalizing complexity, from the aroma to the aftertaste. Aroma starts with toasty, caramel notes and a pleasant hop character. Colour is deep amber, with tan head and impressive ‘Brussels Lace’ that clings to the sides of the glass.”

Served from a 750ml bottle in to a beer tulip. The somewhat rusty bronze appearance is capped off by a foamy three finger head that casually recedes, settling to a thin overlay with a tonne of spotty lace being shed. This here certainly has the hallmarks of an American barley wine. As our glass sits idle we get intermittent wafts of resiny, piney hops teasing the olfactory’s. Our first big whiff uncovers a plethora of caramelized malts, toffee, dates, fig, cocoa, molasses, hints of vanilla, nuts and ground nutmeg. Absolutely divine! Kind of reminds us of a rich, alcoholic, liquid sticky date pudding in a glass. Magnificent aroma we just can’t get enough of it. Once we get past the brilliant nose the next thing to indulge in is the amazingly smooth texture in the mouth. Nice and full with a developing warmth from the 11%ABV. Highly palatable for a beer of its size. The palate opens with a light toasted malt character that’s balanced by a hint of Cointreau, sweet, dark fruits and a good warming from the ABV in the background. A rich toffee sweetness binds the mid as the alcohol burn crescendos, leading on to a considerably dry, somewhat warm and slightly spicy finish. Excellent length on the rear too, very well drawn out. Well, well, well! Have we just discovered our best barley wine? Considering the complexity, the drink-ability of this brew is simply genius. It’s 11%! One could go postal on this and hey, who could blame them? Friends, if you’re interested in this style then don’t even think twice this is a magnificent drop.

Stone brewing co ‘Old Guardian’ 2013 Classic Release Barley wine


image“Barley wines are traditionally hefty brews, but ours is downright excessive. The huge maltiness of this beer is only tamed by an equally prodigious addition of hops, creating a rich, slightly sweet, caramel-hued ale infused with assertive bitterness and bright hop notes, all culminating in a pleasing dryness. While it will evolve into an even more glorious brew with age, this beer’s delicious onslaught of flavors will seriously challenge your ability to wait any longer to drink it.”

What we thought was going to be this years barley wine has actually turned out to be the 2013 classic release. Score!! No need to age this beauty, the work has already been done. Served from the bottle in to a beer tulip. The appearance offers a muddy, light mahogany with a soft honey hue. A short off-white head develops over the top but it slowly reduces to a fine film which still manages to release a fair amount of lace. The first thing we notice and are quite amazed by is the balance between crisp hops and slightly rich toffee/caramel malts on the nose. Even after all the years of being bottled it still provides a punchy hop presence. As she comes up to room temperature the heavier residual sugars, malt sweetness, toffee and alcohol begin to reveal themselves but there’s always that gorgeous hop freshness there to lift it. Excellent balance. Very classy aroma. In the mouth it’s extremely dry with an aggressive hop bitterness (our guess would be around the high seventies). As expected, a stinging alcohol burn (11.6% ABV) is certainly felt on the tongue. Mild-medium Co2 with medium body. Very pronounced alcohol burn upfront. Plenty of chewy toffee and sticky, sugary sweetness injects itself to counter it though. The hops really come alive through the mid, providing that strident bitterness that endures through to the back palate. The finish is dry and bitter but a subtle sweetness that does pull the surging hops back into line. Oomph! This is a mean mother! It’s one that should only be taken on by an adventurous beer drinker. As budding barleywine fans, this is nothing like your normal barleywine. This one is hop-charged, bitter and potently strong. Proceed with caution.

Six string brewing ‘two’ anniversary ale


imageFrom this quaint little Central Coast microbrewery comes their second year anniversary ale to celebrate two years of business. Great to see. This brew is a behemoth…12.5% alc vol of Belgo-IPA goodness! We love the artwork stencil and that its served in a champagne bottle for extra consumption. This bottle is 269/860 brewed so we pumped we snagged one.

Pouring a golden Amber/mahogany with a fair bit of carbonation and a head that slowly subsides but leaves a bit of lacing on the glass. Beautiful aroma of caramel, toffee, honey, fig, and stewed tropical fruit, with that Belgium yeast component. Yum. Flavour is immense. Very powerful alcohol burn on the palate , and more honey and stewed tropical fruit. The Belgian component really shines here and we get a bit of banana and clove. Body is full here and we do get the bitterness on the back palate but it’s overshadowed by the estery Belgian yeast. Jeez this a powerful glass and we feel the effects of the alcohol. We love the fact that this brew can be cellared for years but if interested in drinking now, it’s $30 and available at the brewery. A definitely worthy drop.

Murray’s brewing co. ‘Anniversary ale 9’ Barley wine


imageThis Barley wine marks the 9th year of class brewing by Murray’s Craft Brewing Co. An institution to us, as it is a brewery we have visited probably a dozen times. It has actually been a long time coming because this is the 2014 anniversary ale and we carefully cellared this for about 6 months.

Very regally capped off by wax, we toiled through and finally popped off the cap and served into a snifter glass. Our eyes are met with a deep copper appearance. Crowning it is a short beige head that eventually settles to a fine collar without much lacing. Since the new head brewer has taken the reigns there has been a very welcome introduction of US-inspired beers packed full of US west coast hops such as Fred, Skully and the latest session IPA…Ed. This barley wine seems to have similar inspiration with a slightly hop-forward aroma that mainly consists of grapefruit, passion fruit, toffee and residual sugars. What we love about this style is it’s similarity to wine so as it warms we pick up these faint undertones of caramelised pear/apple, booze, dark fruits and wood. Perfectly complex. The mouth feel is silky smooth with an oily texture. Carbonation is low and the body is medium. Quite an interesting flavour profile here, it doesn’t really unfold in stages….it’s more like a burst of alcohol warmth, toffee, caramelised sugars, rock melon and apricot that initially takes hold of the taste buds and refuses to leave. The only noticeable shift is a slight alcohol warmth on the rear-palate…bringing with it really good length. As most barley wines do, this monster offers a slight head buzz and this one is weighing in at 10% ABV. Here’s cheers to 9 years!! And hopefully there are many, many more to come.

Evil twin brewing ‘Freudian slip’ Barley wine


image“Did you also at some point in your life get seduced by promising words like ‘probably (not) the best in the world’, ‘it (doesn’t really) work every time’ etc. This American Barley Wine says it how it is. It’s intense, attention seekingly hoppy and definitely your kind of beer. A beer with a big ego, drive and a huge thirst for recognition”.

As we mentioned in our last review for this brewery, it’s really positive to see these guys branching out and brewing some creative beers like this. Big ups. Served in a beer tulip the light brown/mahogany pour produced a small tan head that settled to a rim of foam around the edge of the glass. Despite the lack of head retention the lacing was still OK. The aroma is big on malts with a strong, earthy reference to port. Hints of raisin, jaffa, toffee, fig, nuts, alcohol and licorice are well balanced out by a firm herbal hop presence. We weren’t sure if we were keen initially but we think we’re coming around. The mouth feel is quite silky with a full bodied flavour. Mild carbonation. Upfront a sharp booze burn is accentuated by an aggressive hop bitterness which subsides during the mid-palate. Toffee, dough and cognac form quite late just before a rich, creamy finish moves in and displays brilliant length. A solid booze sting (10.3% ABV) on the back end completes an overall potent and dynamic beer. We found this bad boy got better once it warmed up, so best leave it out of the fridge for about 10-15 minutes before drinking. Bottoms up!

Rogue beer ‘old crustacean’ barley wine


imageReally eye catching bottle here. Loving the swing top. The latest quirky and very crafty series by rogue hitting the shelves are showcasing everything from hyper pink to bright yellow to black and all that in between. Very smart marketing. Let’s just hope the flavour can match the awesome bottle because we dare say this wasn’t cheap ($42).

Served in a tulip glass the murky brown pour produced a dense 1 finger of off white head that slowly collapsed. Off the nose we can sense a dank and boozy beer. Plenty of cognac and sherry-like aromas are on offer. Considering this was brewed in 2013, whether this is an effect of oxidation is questionable, because they do work. Hints of brown sugar, raisin, toffee and caramel malt add an extra level of complexity to an already robust aroma. The mouth feel is quite creamy with low carbonation and full body. Upfront the sharp cognac-like flavours along with an astringent booze burn fill up the mouth. A slight hint of toffee and booze in the mid-palate moves forward into a dry and bitter finish. From beginning to end the high ABV (11.5%) is well evident. This is definitely better enjoyed as it warms up, so best you leave it out of the fridge for about 20 minutes before drinking. Be prepared for a buzz because this is one potent beer. Go easy, but enjoy, it’s actually quite a nice barley wine.

Mikkeller & Three Floyd’s ‘Hvedegoop’ Barley wine


imageWell, winter in 2014 is fast approaching so we thought we would mark the occasion with a rich and hearty Barley wine.

Served in a tulip glass the deep copper red pour produced a big bubbly 2 and a half finger head that retained very well, omitting a tonne of lacing as we imbibe. The aroma is a complex and astringent array of dank alcohol, dates/prunes, sherry, plum, jaffa and residual sugars. Slightly musty with plenty of sweet and bready malts that adds some extra depth to an already powerful aroma. Medium carbonation with a slightly acidic mouth feel. Initially an astringent mix of stinging alcohol, fortified wine and canned fruits invades the taste buds. A suggestion of grain develops late before a sweet and sugary mid-palate is finished off by a sharp, dry finish with a lingering hint of fleshy fruit sweetness on the back end. 10.4% ABV is well evident but compliments this beer’s complexity. Wow, far from a sessional beer but definitely 100% quaffable. If we were to sum up a really good barley wine it would be this. Hats off to these guys, we aren’t big fans of barley wine but you have the thumbs up from us. This would be a perfect winter warmer that would pair well with medium strength cheeses like smoked cheddar, gruyere and edam. Really nice brew.

Murrays ‘AA8’ 2013 anniversary barley wine


image“This beer marks a milestone in our business, with the expansion of our brewing operations at Port Stephens,” said brewery owner, Murray Howe. “Our eighth birthday comes at a time when craft beer is really flying high. The craft beer scene is innovative, experimental and set for further growth in the years ahead. It’s a very exciting time.”

The Anniversary Ale series changes subtly each year but is always oak aged, always big and always a very limited release of 1000 bottles. Murray’s eighth Anniversary Ale goes back to its roots, reflecting the original recipe brewed to launch the company on New Year’s Eve eight years ago”. Fresh from Bobs Farm in Port Stephens comes this 750ml 2013 anniversary barley wine. Dark brown pour with a thin head and minimal lacing on show. On the nose we detect a firm waft of alcohol, oak and malt mixed in with scents of pine and citric grapefruit. Astringency aside, it’s actually warming and very rich with complex hints of dark dried fruits and some cognac undertones. This baby is 10% ABV and its evident in aroma and flavour. The carbonation is quite mild with a high initial bitterness on the front-palate. Stinging alcohol, gamey meats and ash in the mid-palate is completed by a dry, hoppy finish. No where near a sessional beer but a definite quaffer. This is only a seasonal brew so get down to Murray’s in Port Stephens and see their amazing range of beers.