12.9% abv. The last version I tried was 12.3% abv and it was fabulous, so let’s see what this one brings. Bottled on October 28, 2015 making this over 2 years old. Remarkably, this is one of just a few dates of the 2015 release that was not recalled due to an unplanned exposure to a wild yeast. I feel lucky to have this one. It pours very dark brown with virtually no head. Burst of cherries, black strap molasses, and oak aromas upon opening the bottle. First sip is rich, sweet malt and dark fruit. Almost immediate alcohol warming, so this is perfect for a night that sports a -9 degree windchill that is falling to a -21 degree windchill in a few hours. All kinds of flavors bounce around the mouth including bourbon vanilla, cocoa, dates, figs, and anise. Oaky and sweet bourbon flavors get stronger with each sip. Full bodied and heavy on the tongue. A touch oily, yet viscous at the same time. Taste continues to develop with each sip…tawny port, sherry, toffee, caramel, and rum drenched raisins. Bourbon vanilla flavor lingers and lingers! This beer is boozy and delicious. Despite the disappointing sale to InBev, I am glad they have not messed with a good thing.
Ruhstaller Farm and Brewery, DiGregorio English Style Sacramento Barleywine, Sacramento, CA
A gift from the amazing Jamie Okuma. This is their 2015 offering and I cellared it for about 6 months. I have been waiting to crack this one open and tonight is the night.
Beautiful 22oz bottle with burlap on the neck was designed by artist Jose DiGregorio. Brewed with only Sacramento grown hops. Only 180 cases of this beer were produced. 12% abv. 35 IBUs.
Pours a beautiful garnet amber color with very little head. Sweet caramel and toffee on the nose with hints of citrus, fig, and dates. First sip is super smooth with virtually no alcohol present at all. This is one dangerous beer! Much more hop bitterness than expected, especially after cellaring it for a while. Some peppery spiciness with touches of coriander. Tons of rich, chewy malt with toasted bread, dry cracker, and fresh baked fig bar flavors. Each sip starts super smooth and ends with a mild hop bite. Some warming in the belly after the first half glass, but the alcohol is masked so well you’d think it was only 7%. Some fruity but dry grape flavors as well. This beer is complex and a joy to drink. It is one of the best barleywines I have had in a long time. Thank you Jamie for sharing this one with me!
Goose Island Beer Company, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
This is the 2014 version that I cellared for more than a year. Many thanks to my buddy Jeff for the 2015 version that just took its place in the beer cellar. I was also lucky enough to get my hands on the Bourbon County Stout and the Bourbon County Coffee Stout. Patience is a virtue and these will have to sit for a while before I crack them open.
12.3% abv. Wonderful port wine, caramel, and dark fruit aroma. First sip is sweet and super smooth with a comforting boozy warming in the back of the throat. All of the oak, sweet bourbon, and rich dark fruit flavors you would expect from a beer this big. A touch of cloves and mildly peppery spice, but otherwise this is all malt and all delicious. Raisins, bourbon vanilla, fig, honey, port wine, caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, creme brûlée, and even a touch of coffee. Lot’s of similarities to an English style Old Ale. I mentioned a slight boozy burn at the beginning, but as you work through this beer the alcohol totally disappears. I drank this one way too quickly. Damn it is dangerous. A fantastic offering that just made it to my top 100 beers of all time.