The color is a deep maroon/red with some light brown fomay head with some nice lacing.
The smell is a fruity alcohol mix with some grape flavor as well as a sugary candy flavor.
The taste is sweet with a dark fruit and surgery flavor that did make me wince a little but settled in pretty quickly. The alcohol feel does seem to slide over the tongue and latch on as the aftertaste lingers for a bit but no unpleasant.
The mouth feel is a bit heavy at first but lightens up a bit after the first contact of the flavor hits the tongue. Goes down well especially on a hot day like this when I tried it. Anything would go down well tonight.
Well, it looks like I didn’t commit as fully as I initially thought to the whole blogging thing. That NEVER happens to me with ANYTHING else (he says with total sarcasm). But, I just came into a little bit of extra cash, spent it on a little bit of extra beer, and now I’m going to exert a little bit of extra effort and post about what I experienced! Over the past few weeks, several really wonderful beers have graced my palate, and I’d love to share/ spread the word on these bad boys.
The first, and definitely most memorable, was a Schlafly Oak-Aged Reserve Barleywine from 2008. Schlafly is a craft brewery in Saint Louis, MO, who has a big presence as the little guy neighbor of Anheuser Busch. If at a bar anywhere near this city, and you’re not drinking the Yucky Yellow, it’s probably something Schlafly. They have a really solid line-up of standard styles, from their best-seller (and I believe flag ship) Schlafly Pale Ale to a Pilsner, a Hefe, a Stout, etc… One of my personal favorites is their A IPA, or American IPA, showcasing an amazing citrus and pine hop character and boasting a delicious malt backbone to balance it out. Based on the website, however, it does not look as though they sell it anymore… which is a huge bummer, because it was the brew that shot me out of a cannon into the world of IPAs. After my first bottle, I never looked back.
Oh right… I was talking about that memorable Barlywine. I had a version this summer, from 2010, which I was very impressed with. It was BIG. Very malty, almost harshly so, with a kind of wine tartness, but still sweet, with some breadiness and smooth caramel/vanilla character from the oak. So, at my next opportunity, I went to buy a bottle. What I found, way in the back of the cellar, was a bottle from ‘08. It was beautiful (even though it looked the same as all the others, the '08 was like a beauty mark that I couldn’t ignore.) “Is it too old to drink now? Is that why it’s still here?” I thought to myself, puzzled, knowing next to nothing about aging beers. So, I bought it on a whim, figuring it would be a learning experience if it turned out wonky. I kept it, moved to NYC, and put it up in my closet until there was a special occasion worthy of opening it.
The occasion arrived, and I brought out this coveted bottle from the depths of my closet hoping to discover something enlightening about aged beers, as well as share something interesting with a few close friends.
It was BANGIN’! A juvenile word to describe such a sophisticated beer, but seriously… bangin’. It poured an amazingly deep hazy caramel color, with a perfect half finger of thick off white head. Definitely easy on the eyes, this beer. On the nose, I got a lot of the wonderful oak vanilla character and a sort of refined sweetness like that of sorghum. After the first sip, I was in awe. It was one of the most delicious beers I have had… ever. The harsh tartness disappeared into a round flavor medley of vanilla, oranges, and caramel, perfectly balanced by the 10.5% alcohol and slight hop bitterness. It wasn’t overly boozy, nor was it overly sweet. The body was full and rich, mimicking its look in the glass. And I need to stress the balance. The barleywine style is full of beers that are far too intense for the average beer drinker, and only just too intense for the beer lover. In the same way many west coast IPAs are LOADED with hops, but not given the malt attention they often need, barleywines tend to be unbalanced in the other direction. That is not the case with the Schlafly Reserve. Maybe it was the age, maybe it was the recipe, maybe it was my tongue on that particular day, but this beer was SPECTACULAR. A+
Till next time, think Hoppy Thoughts. Or… balanced.. thoughts… I don’t know. This beer rocked my foundation.