February 1, 2008 | Beer, The Session

The Session #12: Barleywine

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It’s the first Friday of February and you all know what that means. It’s time for The Session — a monthly event that brings beer fans together to share their thoughts on a specified theme. This month’s theme is all about the Barleywines.

Now originally I had wanted to partake in a Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine that’s been sitting in my basement since November, but apparently my brain never got the memo. So I went with plan “B” and opened one that I had in the fridge for just such an occasion.

One of my favorite barleywines, the Anchor Brewing Old Foghorn Ale is an excellent example of a traditional English barleywine. I’ve had this one several times in that past and with its availability being year round, it’s hard to pass it up when I see it in the shop. As one of the hoppier varieties of the genre out there, it has the unique ability to be fully enjoyable in the year’s hotter months (even with its high ABV).

Appearance

This one pours a nice orange tinted amber in color with a short lived fluffy head.

Aroma

Man, this thing smells wonderful. There’s a decent hint of alcohol heat that mingles with an inviting sweetness. There’s a good bit of malt and hop characteristics as well.

Taste

No matter how often I’ve had this beer, I just can’t get over how light it feels, especially for a barleywine. It’s well carbonated and as a result pushes flavors all over the mouth. The sweetness is upfront with a little heat as the hop bitterness rounds out the finish wonderfully. It’s not too much on the back end, but just right to balance out the malt flavors.

Overall

This is just one of those beers that you know is an easy go-to beer when you’re looking for something in the barleywine genre. It’s got a great middle of the road presence with enough unique characteristics to make it a prime example of a great beer. I will continue to buy this one on a the same regular basis that I have in the past.

Rating: 4/5

In all honesty, as much as I love this beer, I’m kicking myself a bit for not remembering to open up the Olde School that I’ve been cellaring the past couple of months. I mean, come on man, it’s the Session — how can you forget this. Perhaps as punishment, I’ll have to post a “Part 2″ to this month’s Session over the weekend detailing that particular brew. Yes. I think that’s appropriate punishment.

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