Pierre Ferrand Billionaire

No, he’s not some guy from upstate New York who won Powerball, it’s an English-style barleywine aged in Pierre Ferrand 30 year cognac barrels, courtesy of the folks at Mercury Brewing Company, Ipswich, MA.  That’s the closest I’ve ever been to cognac!  This deep ruby gem floats a generous beige head and produces some good, sticky lacing.  Pierre Ferrand Billionaire‘s sweet bouquet is rich with caramel malt and a touch of butterscotch.  Thick-bodied and substantial, the initial sweetness gives way fairly quickly to a bitter tinge.  Sweet indeed, but balanced in the end.  12% ABV makes the whole thing that much better.  Enjoy responsibly.

 

Image courtesy of Mercury Brewing CompanyPF_Billionaire

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AmEn!

Image courtesy of beerstreetjournal.com

Image courtesy of beerstreetjournal.com

AmEn! barrel-aged barleywine ale from Cahoots Brewing/Ten Ninety Brewing Company, Zion, IL is a nice find.  It pours ruby red and has a minimal head and lacing, though it appears well carbonated.  AmEn! has a big caramel bouquet, some alcohol tang and not much of a hops presence, and what there is is lost in the tang.  As for the body:  smooth and thick.  The sweetness of AmEn! is up front, and at 11.1% ABV the gut-warming sensation is fast and furious.  The finish once again shows you that alcohol bite, and the barrel-aging introduces an earthy quality.  AmEn! is a good sipper.  It’s not too complex, but is interesting enough to make you think about what you’re drinking.  I love barleywines and barrel-aging but like most beers in this category, a little goes a long way and you should share a bottle with a friend.

Barrel-Aged Naked Evil Belgian Barley Wine-style Ale

Image courtesy of ohio.com

Image courtesy of ohio.com

A 22 oz. bottle for just under $1.00 an ounce?  Whoa, but my wife said we’re worth it.  She’s right as usual.  It’s hard to see the carbonation in this mahogany beast, but it’s there, propelling a fine, thin head that leaves a sticky lace pattern on the glass.  It’s got that typical Belgian wit yeast aroma with lots of sweetness.  Raisin notes, banana bread and alcohol waft off of this thick bodied and very sweet delight.Take a sip and there’s more banana bread, followed by molasses and candi sugar and a quick nip of dryness.  Did I mention it’s aged in whisky barrels?  That boozy quality that you want is there but not in an overly assertive manner, but just enough to add some complexity to the flavor profile.  Barrel-Aged Naked Evil Belgian Barley Wine-style Ale is a really good, rivh beer, and its gut-warming qualities are suitable for the coming cold weather.  Hoppin’ Frog Brewery in Akron should be high-fived!

 

92/100 Barleywine

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale

Image courtesy of beermenus.com

Image courtesy of beermenus.com

Whoa, whiffs of butterscotch, rich caramel, and of course bourbon, with vanilla notes open up this wonderful tasting experience!  The alcoholic tang at the end of your first noseful tells you you’re in for a head-rushing treat.  Medium to dark brown in color, Central Waters Brewing Company’s Boubon Barrel Barleywine Ale has been resting in a used bourbon barrel for a year, and in that time has taken on the rich characteristics of bourbon, along with notes of oaky tannins, coc0nut, dark dried fruit, rum and good dose of pine.  The minimal head on top of this excellent beer is nothing to write home about, but the lacing is is good, and it drifts slowly down the sides of the glass and reintegrates into the rich, smooth, malty liquid below.  Enjoy this at cellar temperature to get the most out of all of the smells and tastes, and consider sharing a bottle, as this 11.2% ABV gem will certainly make you take notice.  It is certainly drying on the pallette, and the alcohol warms your gut.  The finish is sharp and dry, but not too long-lasting thanks to the generous, rich malt.  As the weather warms, this beer might become a bit too much, but on a chilly night, by the fireplace, with someone you love, this might be the perfect drink!  Or drink it in bed, with your spouse, watching “Vikings” on the History Channel.

95/100 Barleywine

P.S.  When it’s gone, you’ll probably want to take a whiff of your empty glass every few minutes.  Nice!

Class of ’88 Barleywine

Image courtesy of thewineandcheeseplace.com

Image courtesy of thewineandcheeseplace.blogspot.com

North Coast Brewing, in a joint effort with Rogue and Deschutes, has produced a fine barleywine called Class of ’88.  Follow the link for details.  I am more concerned with the beer itself.  Medium gold with plenty of carbonation and heaps of foamy head, Class of ’88 is a picture of beauty.  The generous amount of sticky Brussels lace left behind is a testament to the quality and quantity of the malts in Class of ’88.  The bouquet is full of rich caramel and grapefruity esters, and a good alcohol tang to boot.  This is truly a gut-warming beer at 10% ABV.  Class of ’88 is plenty sweet, but not cloying, and plenty hoppy, but not imperial IPA hoppy.  The exhale reveals a sweet, breadlike note, and the hop oils seems to last long enough to make you think about the dryness for a bit.  Nice!

85/100

Oak Horizontal

OakHorizontal_art_finalOak Horizontal, from Victory Brewing Company, Downington, PA, is the oak bourbon barrel aged version of their Old Horizontal Barleywine Ale, and I know why horizontal is used in the title.  This stuff will lay you out!  at 10.5% ABV, Oak Horizontal is not for the faint of heart.  And, it is delicious!  This “malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels” pours a hazy medium brown.  Oak Horizontal has a very malty, very boozey bouquet and a fizzy beige head.  Notes of coconut, vanilla and bourbon abound, wrapped in an all-encompassing sweetness.  Take a drink and you’ll feel the alcohol burn and the hops hit you with a good dose of bitter in the finish.  This is not quite Straightjacket (Revolution Brewing Co.), but it’s close and it costs less.  I drank half of the 750 ml bottle and felt happy.  My wife drank the other half and she was REALLY happy.  Get a bottle and you’ll be happy too!

90/100 Barleywine

3rd Year Beer

Image courtesy of beerpulse.com

Image courtesy of beerpulse.com

To celebrate its 3rd anniversary, Chicago’s Revolution Brewing has produced a limited edition, barrel aged wheat barleywine called 3rd Year Beer.  Brewed with unrefined Mexican cane sugar (piloncillo) and aged for 4 months in Jamaican rum barrels, 3rd Year Beer takes on wonderful flavors and aromas.  As my wife exclaimed upon her first sip, “Oh my God that’s good!”, and I heartily agree.  3rd Year Beer is medium brown with a ruby cast, a very slight haze, good carbonation and minimal head retention.  Whiffs of alcohol, rum, sugar, mild caramel and a mild earthiness abound, and the smooth texture and mild tang add a richness to the character of the beer.  It’s very sweet, but not cloyingly so, and it’s gut-warming (11.2% ABV), with just a hint of bitterness in the finish.  3rd Year Beer is another offering in Revolution’s Deep Wood Series, and you can cellar a bottle of this for a few years to enjoy a more mature flavor profile.  Good luck waiting!

90/100 Barleywine