Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hale's Ale's Rudyard's Rare Barely Wine

Hale’s Ale's Rudyard’s Rare
Barley Wine Style Ale
Serving Type: Bottle (2007)

During a recent lunch visit with the family to Hale's Ale's in Seattle, I asked to talk with the Publican about getting Hale's listed on Taplister (they are now). We spoke to the Manager on Duty, "TJ" for some time about Taplister and beer in general. During our talk I asked if Hale's had any Barley Wine's available since my wife has been seeking out great example's of this style lately. TJ said that he would see if they still had any "in the back". He promptly returned with a 2007 vintage of their Rudyard's Rare Barley Wine, conveniently packaged in a 12oz bottle. And what was even more exciting, TJ offered the bottle on the house! This was certainly due to the sheer presence of my wife, and not by any means my beer prowess. It was a very nice and very unexpected gesture. Now I only need to return to Hale's to update their tap list, or perhaps you can.

For this review I poured myself a 4oz sample, and my wife devoured the rest.

Aroma: Initial hint of an expected dark fruit but this gives way very quickly to aroma’s of sweet cherry and candy sugar. I was a bit surprised, though pleasantly, to find a floral hop aroma which is quite prevalent. Alcohol notes are light but come off as peppery and clean, not fusel.

Appearance: Pours a deep ruby to mahogany red, nearing brown but the clarity is so good that it allows enough light through the edges to produce a lens flare effect of dark cherry red. No head. There is but a trace of creamy tan bubbles outlining the edge of the glass.

Flavor: The sweet candy sugar comes into play immediately on the tongue. It lingers for a moment then you’re hit with citrus hop bitterness that nearly puckers the tongue. This is clearly a heavily hopped ale, but the malt backs up strong bitterness with dark fruits, raisin and some molasses. Alcohol spice comes in near the finish, though not overly hot by any means. There is an almost oaked presence in the malt but it’s more astringent than what you’d expect from an oak aged beer (this one is not). Finish is clean and biting with the hop bitterness lingering through the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with medium carbonation. The hop bitterness has a drying effect, bordering on astringent but it just pushes to the edge without going over. Alcohol spice doesn’t become overly prevalent until near the end where it stings and warms the throat.

Overall: A barley wine worth seeking out because it balances considerable hop bitterness on top of a rich blend of malt character with a well rounded alcohol presence. As a personal opinion I would enjoy a little more grainy texture to the body but I’m being picky. The hop bitterness is very high, and unlike some barley wines it’s not over the top on bitterness while lacking depth in body and other flavor characteristics. Nicely done Hale’s.

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Beer enthusiast and advocate. Recognized beer judge and traveler of west coast beer destinations.