Straight Jacket Barley Wine Ale

Image courtesy of Revolution Brewing.

Image courtesy of Revolution Brewing.

Oh my goodness people, Revolution Brewing of Chicago has done it again!  Straight Jacket Barley Wine Ale, an offering from the Deep Wood Series of bourbon barrel-aged beers, is absolutely killer!  Straight Jacket starts with a prominent bourbon whiff as the bottle opens and then upon the pour the deep orange-brown ale presents itself in all its glory.  Single layer head, slight haze and a bouquet that is so interesting and attractive:  sweetness, bourbon, coconut, vanilla and enough alcohol (13% ABV!) at the end to get you prepared.  Straight Jacket is super sweet, super bourbony, tangy and sharp at first, smooth in the middle and almost astringent in the finish.  There’s even a touch of vanilla extract in the exhale.  Straight Jacket is almost like whisky in many ways, but much more drinkable.  Go ahead, warm your belly, you’ll be glad you did!  I’d pair this with some sharp blue cheese and crusty bread.  Good stuff, but not readily available unless you visit the brewpub or tap room, but you should visit anyway because Revolution is GREAT!

Revolution Brewing, 2323 North Milwaukee Avenue  Chicago, IL 60647

90/100 Barley Wine

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Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale

Classified as an Imperial Mild (?), Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale is deep honey colored and hazy.  The head tends to be just a thick single layer of bubbles from edge to edge, but it hangs around for the duration and leaves a ton of lace.  The bouquet is milder than one might imagine, but displays some yeasty bread and citrus hops.  It’s very alcoholy (9.7% ABV), malty, thick, sweet and piney.  The finish is bitter and all in all this is a decent beer.  It’s more of a sipper and less of a quaffer, and was a fine accompaniment to Goulasch and dumplings.

The Gift of the Magi

Much more enjoyable than selling your hair just before getting a gift comb, Gift of the Magi Golden Ale from Lost Abbey, San Marcos, CA, is a treat.  This beer is a deep gold-to-amber color, not much carbonation, and floats a thin head.  The hint of swwet spices in the bouquet is explained by the inclusion of frankincense and myrrh.  Good hops, sharp, sweet and roasty, it’s a good sipping beer, best served in a snifter, and as it acclimates to the room, it gets even better.  The alcohol content is a bit high, and explains this somewhat disjointed post.  Zum Woll!

Lomza Export

More good stuff from Poland.

Lomza Export Premium Beer has that distinctive northern European lager look and smell to it.  Golden in color with lots of carbonation, a fluffy white head and a hoppy bouquet, Lomza is crisp and clean with initial sweetness and alcohol.  The texture is pleasant and the body is average.  The finish is hoppy and overall clean and grainy.  A golden lager suitable for a chilly Chicago evening by the fire.

Lagunitas Strikes Again

lagunitas_brown_shuggaEverything I’ve tried from the folks at Lagunitas Brewing Company has been top notch, but the other night I had a particularly great one.  Brown Sugga.  It was a great accompaniment to some hilarious conversation with some cousins on a chilly December evening.  Brown Sugga is a barleywine boasting 9.9% alcohol by volume and it’s an appealing medium brown in the glass, an imperial pint glass in this case.  It’s thin head belies the abundant lacing left as the pint is enjoyed.  It’s sweet and hoppy with just a hint of a slightly off scent, maybe like…fish?  Rust?  It wasn’t off-putting, just a bit unusual.  The flavor is great, very sweet and hoppy, but not at all dry.  I think this is only the second time I’ve had a barley wine, but I could see myself seeking out others.  Enjoy it at Galway Tribes in Frankfort, Illinois, $6.00 for a 20 oz. draft.  A good value.

Dragon’s Milk

I had 2 beers from New Holland Brewing Company this weekend, and both were excellent.  I’ll start with Dragon’s Milk.  It’s a strong dark ale, aged in oak bourbon barrels, which imparts an interesting natural flavor.  The higher alcohol content also gives of more of a liquor vibe.  It’s a dark brown beer, but not opaque like a stout.  The head was a bit thin, but the lacing was consistent.  The texture was thin, but the taste was complex, and the finish was dry with a whoosh of alcohol.  Not my choice for a spring day, but it went well with the Tiroler Hackschnitzel and kraut at Chef Paul’s.  I look forward to enjoying it again, if it’s offered in the fall.

The other beer I tried was Mad Hatter IPA…

More to come on that one.