One of the first posts on this blog was built while sitting in front of the incredible tap list at Brouwer’s Cafe. I reviewed Doggie Claws from Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. I was so excited about the beer I proceeded directly to my nearby bottle shop, 99 Bottles, and picked up a 4-pack of this spectacular Barley Wine Style Ale. Recently I sat down with said bottle and glass, to spened a little more quality time with the brew. Here are my thoughts.
Barley Wine Style Ale
Purchased at 99 Bottles
Read More about Hair of the Dog on Beer Advocate
Aroma: Strong notes of dark fruit in the nose, raisins and plum are forefront with alcohol spice following this up with an almost cooling sensation in the nose. I detect a bit of citrus hop aroma but this could be confused with the alcohol, which is certainly expected and welcome for the style.
Appearance: The beer is just dark enough where you can’t quite see through the middle of your glass, but moving outward the appearance blends from a deep red to a translucent mahogany brown with small bits of sediment in the bottom of the glass. Being a bottle conditioned ale this is not unexpected. Head pours a full two fingers at first but fades fairly quickly to about a centimeter of off-white foam blanketing the top.
Flavor: There is so much going on here it’s hard to know where to begin. You’re hit with more dark fruit as it transcends through the nose; raisins and plum of course but there’s also some caramelized fruity sweetness as well. There is expected and warming flavors of alcohol that provides a bite toward the end of the malt sweetness that borders on maple syrup. The plum flavor comes back in the finish.
Mouthfeel: Full body with light to medium carbonation. The alcohol presence almost stings the mouth with it’s warming effect while the body is nearly that of syrup. The malt profile, while somewhat sticky also comes off nearly grainy and chewy through the middle. There is a sweetness left behind on the lips in the end and warmth in the throat.
Overall: The alcohol presence in this beer is unmistakeable and could be interpreted by some as being “hot”. Though I believe it is backed up so well with malt complexity and fruity sweetness that a balance is nicely achieved. Though I’m sure it’s there hop bitterness is not entirely detectable through the malt and alcohol complexity. Full flavor, supple mouthfeel and a nicely balancing aroma, this is one to seek out if you’re looking to experience Barley Wine Style Ale’s.
While I’ve had more than some but fewer than most, this Barley Wine certainly lies at the top of my preferred customer list.