Category Archives: Barleywine/Wheatwine

Hawkers 2021 BBA Barleywine


“Rounded and polished by months of rest in ex-bourbon barrels, this barleywine is an exemplary amalgamation between a rich malt profile and complex barrel characters. Drink now or cellar for a rainy day—the choice is entirely yours, however there’s nothing like having one now and cellaring a second one for later.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: It displays that classic light brown colour with rusted reddish hues. A wispy overlay on top and a fair bit of suspended sediment. Healthy lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: We can pick up the alluring notes of bourbon oak from a metre away! Under the nostrils it intensifies but also shares the space with gorgeous wafts of rich toffee and caramel, tonnes of dark fruit i.e dates/prunes, raisin, fig and blood plum. Port, residual sugars, herbal tea, tobacco, maple syrup and an undercurrent of mixed earthy spice also. Man that is bloody impressive!

Flavour: Holy moly before we even start we’ve gotta hand it to them for hiding the near 13% ABV…it’s insane how well buried it is. It follows on from the nose with this rich and luxurious marriage of toffee, caramel, dark fruit sweetness and the kinda spicy bourbon oak. It never takes a backward step either, finishing silky smooth and drawing out well.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and gelatinous. Low-ish Co2, full body. As we’ve already mentioned…that 13% ABV…oopht! Where is it?!

Overall: This is an absolute ripper. By far the best beer Hawkers have put out for a while. We recall trying Bommen & Granaten by De Molen not long ago and this would surely beat it. Outstanding drop.

De Molen ‘Bommen & Granaten’ BA Barleywine


“Barley wine aged for a year on whisky & wine barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours a deep burgundy hue with a short head which snaps back to the rim. Minimal lace as we go.

Aroma: We’re getting a tonne of the classic rich malty sweetness but it’s the flamboyant fusion of whiskey and wine that has piqued our interest. It’s so well integrated we can’t tell where the whiskey starts and where the wine ends….then right in the centre is this decadent concoction of dark fruits, rich caramel/toffee, Rosé Port, burnt orange, caramelised sugars, soy sauce, vanilla, mixed spice and botanicals.

Flavour: Pretty much the same reaction we gave the aroma…wow! Bourbon, wine barrel, warming booze, rich sweet malts and dark fruits rush the front palate. A slightly bitter burnt orange note mixes with hints of Brandy and Rosé Port midway then leads into an intense finish of burnt sugars, toffee, orange rind, caramelised pear and red wine.

Mouthfeel: Dense, chewy and gelatinous. Low-ish Co2 but full body. The 13.1% ABV is ridiculously well concealed.

Overall: Even though it only comes in 330ml bottles our advice is to share it. Not only for the sheer weight of it but the extremely rich flavour profile. Very very complex but very very nice!

50/50 Brewing ‘Annularity’ BA Barleywine


“The FiftyFifty Brewing Company has done it again by releasing another delicious brew unto us, the craft beer loving masses. The Annularity is a rich Blond Barleywine with hints of brown sugar, citrus, carmel, and honey that can be tasted through each and every satisfying sip. The beer ages gracefully in oak barrels, which lend a slightly bitter quality to the overall taste, keeping the sweetness of the sugars in check.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Muddy bronze to light brown with a rapidly vanishing head. It leaves nothing but a very fine halo which struggles to lace.

Aroma: Oh wow, when barleywines are done right they’re such a beautiful thing. The intense sweetness is only rivalled by the bold and rustic barrel characters which provide old, musty and woody oak notes. Plenty of toffee/toffee apple, candy cane, fruit cake, rich honey and maple, subtle spicy whiskey, dark fruits and a lovely earthy-ness which lends it overall balance and bottom end. Brilliant aroma.

Flavour: Like an explosion has been set off on the palate. Big, rich and hedonistic caramel, musty oak, toffee, rye whiskey, honey and earthy spice. Just a gentle warmth from the booze in the background. Hints of dark fruits like cherry, plum and raisin before another good dose of rye whiskey leads in to this perfectly balanced finish.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and gelatinous. Medium-full body with low Co2. The 12.5 % ABV is ridiculously well concealed.

Overall: Can you expect anything less than perfection from these guys? They’ve cemented a spot in our top 5 all time breweries without a doubt. Remarkable beer from a remarkable brewery.

Dollar Bill 2020 ‘Winter Parlay’ BA Wheatwine


“Dark fruits, plums, layers of berries and almonds finishing dry and spicy. Flaked spelt and oats fill out this Wild Fermented Wheat Wine blended with sour ale and Mourverde pressed whole bunches.”

Glassware: Teku.

Appearance: Pours like dark Ribena! But with a creamy light purple head. Retention is ok…some patchy lace here and there. Looks intriguing!

Aroma: Trust DB to come out with something incredibly unconventional. Initially it’s all berries and tart dark fruits with subtle touches of raw nuts i.e almond, cashew and pistachio. Definitely picking up a vinous character…soft tannins and lees then looping back around to berries again. Cinnamon, yoghurt and complex oak also fused through.

Flavour: Not like any Wheatwine we’ve ever tried before. It kicks off with a discernible lacto sourness which quickly turns to wine. And we mean wine…it actually tastes like a good medium bodied red with its tannic qualities, spice, earthy-ness and almost salty/olive-like notes. This just goes on and on…and on!

Mouthfeel: Nice and sharp. Some acidity to it but the pucker rating still sits at a decent 3/5. Light spritzy Co2. The big one is the 9.3% ABV, ridiculously well hidden.

Overall: These guys continue to impress us. The edgy-ness and outright complexity of this beer demands respect. Kudos DB!

Mother Earth ‘4 Seasons’ BBA Barleywine


“A big American Barleywine is something to behold and a style every respecting brewer seeks to perfect. We are bringing sexy back to a traditional English style with the addition of pecans and American oak. Expect a mahogany beer with a big body, buttery texture and caramelized pecan finish. Bourbon barrel-aged.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Attractive chestnut brown with two fingers of lightly tanned foam perched on top. Good retention and lace as it subsides.

Aroma: Displays rich caramel, toffee and butterscotch with the pecans adding a subtle yet defined nutty sweetness that ties in beautifully. Then there’s the hallmark bourbon accents that throw out vanilla, spice and somewhat floral tones. Aged oak also getting amongst it as well as sweet dark fruits as it warms. Superb.

Flavour: Follows on from the nose with a wave of decadent caramel and toffee then spiked with a vigorous shot of bourbon which provides the quintessential spice, vanilla and residual sugars. The pecans are evident from the beginning, playing more of a structural role in the background. Slightly cloying as it finishes sweet, spicy and nutty. Excellent length.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, sticky and well rounded. Medium-full body. 12.1% ABV! Unbelievably well hidden.

Overall: Exceptional way to kick off proceedings with this Idaho-an (??) brewery. On point and very well executed. Gonna have to get our hands on more from these guys.

Goose Island ‘Bourbon County’ ’18 BA Coffee Barleywine

71509204_1183449631839180_8071866205008297984_n“Working with our friends at Intelligentsia, we flew down to Guatemala to source some of the world’s best coffee to use as we release the first-ever Coffee Barleywine. The beer is an English-style Barleywine, meaning malt forward, and aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels before adding La Soledad coffee beans right before packaging to retain a bold coffee aroma and flavour.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: A real muddy brown kind of affair. It forms a wispy head which vanishes instantly. No lacing whatsoever…as expected.

Aroma: Seriously rich malt-driven number with the coffee and bourbon barrels taking centre stage. Nicely supported by the barrel adjuncts – vanilla, toasted coconut, spice. Lots of chewy caramel, molasses, toffee and butterscotch…even picking up distinct port and cognac traits which are driven in further by a heady presence of dark fruits i.e prunes/dates/fig. Exceptional.

Flavour: Like dropping a sweet malt bomb on the palate it explodes with rich and syrupy caramel and toffee fudge, burnt chocolate, brown sugar and molasses. The coffee gets involved nicely as does the bourbon barrels with its damp musty oak. She warms up nicely on the back end…showing a bit of that 15% ABV but also displaying toasted coconut, raisin/dates, burnt brown sugar and peated whisky.

Mouthfeel: Vigorous but no where near as full on as we were expecting (especially considering its size). Chewy as hell but at the same time smooth and luxurious.

Overall: We shouldn’t be surprised by the quality these guys have mastered the art of barrel aging extremely strong beers since way back when. We have to give special mention to the addition of coffee too…just enough to know it’s there without overdoing it. Absolutely flawless

Firestone Walker 2017 ‘Helldorado’ BA Blonde Barleywine

56938243_1071409749709836_9124575698713837568_n“Part of the adventure of aging beer in retired spirits barrels is the synergistic interaction of different malt flavors with the oak and spirit flavors from the barrel. Darker beers like stouts and darker barley wines have typically been the favored candidates for barrel-aging, due to their deeper caramel and roasted flavors. Helldorado breaks that mold with a deep golden color from being brewed solely with English and American pale malts.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Burnished orange to amber complexion with a short yet reasonably well retained head. Eventually it settles to the rim with patchy lace as we go.

Aroma: Straight away we detect the bourbon barrels, vanilla and sweet buttery malts…it’s a trait that FW carry through almost all of their barrel aged range and we absolutely love it! Underneath it are rich caramel malts, toffee, ripe stonefruits, raisin, apple pie and cinnamon. Certainly get a flutter of doughy short crust pastry as well.

Flavour: Again lots of bourbon character, barrels and vanilla but with a balanced sweetness. The warmth from the booze (12.8%) predictably playing a role. Getting a floral aspect that’s fused through the sugary dark fruits and ripe stonefruit i.e apricot and melon. Finishes with warming bourbon, woody oak vanilla and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel: Not as dense and chewy as your typical barleywine but it’s still full and well rounded. Low co2.

Overall: Brash yet elegant. The use of pale malts definitely helps to create this light and delicate texture so uncommon to the style. Love the creativity and impulse to push the boundaries. Kudos FW!

Troegs Independent Brewing ‘Flying Mouflan’ BA Barleywine

42227705_954772071373605_228255401290760192_n“Some beers just belong in barrels, and Flying Mouflan – a resiny, chocolatey giant of a barleywine ale – is one of them. We pour every drop we brew into bourbon barrels, taming the sharpness of the hops and uncovering layers of salted caramel, pecan pie and rum raisin.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Rich mahogany complexion with a wispy overlay. The head snaps back to the rim and leaves a set of rings as we imbibe.

Aroma: Massive caramel and toffee overtones initially with waves of ripe dark fruits, woody oak tannins and dark chocolate following close behind. Tonnes of residual/candi sugars, figjam, glazed cherry, maple syrup and sappy pine resins. Getting just a flutter of tangy orange citrus creeping in as well. Phenomenal, the depth and complexity is just superb.

Flavour: Really good transition from the nose. All that uber sweet caramel, dark fruit and jammy sweetness dominates the front palate but the booze and subtle hops cut in like a hot knife through butter. Hints of chocolate and subtle oak slowly move forward in to the surprisingly dry bitter finish that offers earthy fig, toast and subtle citrus hops on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and dense, warming and a little dry in the swallow. 11.7% AbV and a whopping 76 IBU. Guess that explains the bitterness!

Overall: It’s no Alesmith Numbskull but it certainly holds its own. By the way if anyone knows what a ‘Flying Mouflan’ is would you let us know!? 

The Bruery ‘White Mocha’ BA Wheatwine w Cacao & Coffee

37763455_908116999372446_8203859337517465600_n“This is White Oak Sap waking up on the other side of the bed. Similar to White Chocolate, White Mocha is our bourbon barrel-aged wheatwine-style ale, known as White Oak Sap, but with fresh coffee beans (instead of vanilla beans) and cacao nibs. Rich notes of coffee and chocolate are joined by warm flavors of coconut, honey and vanilla that rise and shine on the palate. If you’ve never fancied yourself a morning person before, today might just be your day. Best served fresh in a tulip glass or biodegradable coffee cup.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Bronze with a finger of head forming on top. There’s a casual retreat back to the rim but it still works a healthy lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Very appealing. The fresh coffee beans come through instantly followed by well tempered notes of bourbon oak and bitter chocolate. Something kind of peppery/spicy in there that triggers the warming booze (even though its quite well obscured for its size). Tonnes of syrupy sweetness adding to the likes of maple, rich honey and molasses. Picking up a late hint of toasted coconut as well. Complex and alluring.

Flavour: On par complexity-wise with the aroma. There’s a neat little marriage of coffee, chocolate and syrupy sweetness wrapped up in the warming 16.3% AbV. Peppery spice, bourbon oak, caramels, molasses, truffle and raw figs moving in to a super boozy finish with toasty and earthy notes going the distance on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: Dense, chewy and full bodied. Carbonation is low. Big but still somewhat of a pleasant quaffer.

Overall: Jeez how to sum this up?! For one this is our first ever crack at a wheatwine (think we might be setting the bar a little high with The Bruery though!). It’s not too dissimilar to a barleywine in its rich syrupy sweetness but in true Bruery fashion it is enhanced with extravagant flavours. Very interesting beer.

Southern Tier Brewing Co. ‘Sapsquatch’ BA Barleywine w Maple

37607876_905952756255537_6538233778467241984_n”Introducing Sapsquatch, an elusive ale brewed with maple syrup. It spent 12 months “in the woods” developing strong character in three ways. One third of the beer was kept in bourbon barrels. Another third aged in bourbon barrels that once held maple syrup. The remaining liquid was aged on hand charred oak staves that spent time in Southern Tier Distilling Company’s American Whiskey. Sapsquatch is truly a complicated beast.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: It pours a kind of garnet/light brown to cola with a wispy head that eventually vanishes. Not a skerrick of bubble remains on the surface.

Aroma: It reeks of booze, residual sugars, salted caramel, plum, maple (coming through more as it warms), port, dates, brown sugar and figs. A little bit of oak which gives rise to a hint of bourbon, vanilla and toasted coconut. It displays its American roots with just the slightest touch of resinous hops. Mild undertones of cherry, molasses, damp wood and charred oak. This thing just keeps on evolving!

Flavour: Follows on from the nose beautifully. It comes on with extreme sweetness but with a flutter of char to take the edge off it. The booze is sharp and showing through the bourbon oak…really developing mid way. Molasses, maple, treacle and a touch of plum which builds up to a sweet, sappy and warming finish that goes the distance.

Mouthfeel: Sticky, sharp and caramelised. The 14.9% ABV doesn’t shy away! Low co2 with medium-full body.

Overall: This is one big and complex number. Lethal, rich and super sweet as well. Our only gripe would be that the maple and the oak don’t really present as well as they could have but really we’re just splitting hairs it’s a bloody fine offering!

Firestone Walker 2018 ‘Sucaba’ BA Barleywine

35246319_870390989811714_6052729120549240832_n“After taking a year off, Sucaba returns for a curtain call in 2018. As always, this latest vintage delivers big, boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combine with soft chocolate malt undertones. Complex malt flavors are framed in oak with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, toasted coconut and a touch of dark cherry. Sucaba is a one-of-a-kind sipping experience.  It is a beer built to last, and one that will reward careful cellaring for years to come. We highly recommend counting the years with an abacus.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Rather dark for a barleywine. It hits the glass with an extremely deep mahogany hue with a short tan head forming on top. It quickly snaps back to a ring with some spotty lace as we hook in.

Aroma: Decadent and seriously rich. It has traits of the Parabola with that sticky, sweet and caramelised base. Lots of dark fruits with fig, raisin and prunes, hints of bourbon barrel, coconut, vanilla, toffee and cigars in support. Not a whole lot of that hallmark residual sugar sweetness but in all honesty it actually works well enough without it! Superb aroma.

Flavour: Oh man. Smooth, elegant and simply delicious. Sweet dark fruits a plenty with a hint of the bourbon barrels following close behind. Just a suggestion of warming booze (12.5%) which is incredible considering its size. Amazingly it burns off and finishes with a sticky sweet number which offers bourbon oak and delicate toasted vanilla on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and gelatinous. Full-ish body with moderate co2.

Overall: This is the George Clooney of beers. It’s classy, elegant and silky smooth! Kudos Firestone that is an absolute corker!

Dainton Brewery ‘Big Bad Bourbon’ BA Barleywine

31949632_852566928260787_2812730604196462592_n“Beer description: This beer is a bit mad, like us. And stupid, unlike us. Aged in three different types of bourbon barrels and brewed with a Belgian yeast. Tastes like vanilla, fights Ken.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Sort of copper sort of cherry red thing going on with an inch of loosely held bubble on top. The head quickly vanished and leaves nothing but a foaming island in the center.

Aroma: It’s unique that’s for sure. We’re putting that down to the use of rye, which with its spicy notes, slightly offsets all of those uber sweet and rich caramels, toffee, port and residual sugars. Definitely picking up the bourbon and woody oak accents as well, very nice touch. Some earthy spice, fig, gluhwein and apple/pear cider just to make it a bit more complex!

Flavour: Not quite as aggressive as anticipated. It comes on strong and warming but it’s nicely softened by the rich and smooth caramel, toffee and syrup. The earthy spice plays a good support role as it hits a sharp sherry/brandy note in the middle. Clove, stewed oranges, bourbon, residual sugars and fortified wine finishes it all off.

Mouthfeel: Oily and somewhat gelatinous. The 14% ABV provides a hefty warmth but that’s to be expected.

Overall: Not bad. Probably one we wouldn’t seek out again but in saying that it’s seriously complex and very comforting. One to crack on a cold winters night we reckon.

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!