Jun 29, 2010

Williamsburg AleWerks Grand Illumination

Yeah, I know. This isn’t really the time of year for a barleywine, but sometimes you just can’t ignore that itch and have to dive into the basement to steal away a bottle of something tasty.

I purchased this bottle of Williamsburg AleWerks Grand Illumination (#318 out of 2009) earlier this year after really enjoying another of the brewery’s Brewmaster Reserve Series (Bourbon Barrel Porter) late last year.

This barleywine is brewed once a year to commemorate colonial Williamsburg, VA’s annual winter celebration. It’s constructed with a blend of cascade, amarillo, pearle and columbus hops, but is far from what I would consider hoppy.


Grand Illumination pours a deep copper in color with just about no head. It looks like a barleywine to me.


This thing smells wonderful. There’s a good hit of velvety caramel maltiness, a touch tobacco and the earthy, piny presence of the hop blend. At 11% ABV, the alcohol is present, but not hot.


It’s boozy and has a good amount of caramel maltiness that is complimented with a hop bitterness that arrives in the semi-dry finish. This thing is smooth and slightly thick on the tongue, allowing all the flavors to stick around for a good while. I’m also picking up notes of tobacco/wood and the slightest hint of cocoa. And with the higher ABV, it’s definitely warming.


I love this brew. It’s bar far my favorite product from the company. It’s smooth, viscous, flavorful and boozy — everything I want in a late evening sipper. I will certainly be on the lookout for this one again in the future (with an eye toward aging a bottle or two).

Rating: 4/5

More: ,