“The 20th limited-edition beer in our Vintage Ale series, Vintage Ale 2016 is a rich, smooth Barley Wine that promises a distinguished drinking experience. Packaged in our signature Vintage Ale gift box, it’s a special beer inside and out, perfect as a gift or to add to your own collection. Brewed to 8.5% , Vintage Ale 2016 brings together classic British ingredients with the aromatic Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand – used here both for bittering and as a dry hop. The global combination of ingredients gives rise to a rich and complex amber beer, with aromas of sherry and Cognac, and a flavour profile that picks out toasted grains and sweet cherry Bakewell Tart.”
Glassware: English Pint.
Appearance: Quite a muddy number this one. Kinda light brown centre working out to rusted amber edges. It forms a thumb of light tan head which slowly retracts. Spotty and wet lace trails it down.
Aroma: We’re noticing that as we go further back in this spectacular vintage series the more Barleywine-like they become. This ’16 vintage is certainly showing some residual sweetness along with hearty toffee/caramel, buttered bread, marmalade and yeast-driven fruit esters. For this vintage they’ve added Nelson Sauvin hops (apparently!?). They’re very hard to detect but there is a very subtle hint of white grape coming through.
Flavour: So satisfyingly English. And so savoury! Oodles of residual sugars and caramel malts, toffee, doughy bread pudding, toast, buttery biscuits, marmalade and golden syrup. There are some fleeting hints of earthy hop but the typical attributes of Nelson Sauvin are pretty much MIA. Raisin is as close to grapes as we can get. That aside, it’s still an absolutely amazing flavour profile.
Mouthfeel: Sticky and gelatinous, medium-full body and soft carbonation. Like past vintages the 8.5% ABV is remarkably well hidden.
Overall: Brilliant. We reckon it’s safe to say this is our pick of the bunch so far (between the ’16-’20). It straddles the line between English strong ale and Barleywine and the result is outstanding.