Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beveridge Place Pub's 9th Annual Barleywine Bacchanal

This past Friday and Saturday, I attended the 9th annual 'Barleywine Bacchanal' at Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle. For those who aren't familiar with barleywines, they are basically strong ales. To help you understand what an American Barleywine is supposed to be, here are the BJCP 2011 Style Guidelines for American Barleywine.

This event features 50 different barleywines, with at least 24 of them on tap at a time throughout the five-day festival, which kicked off on February 25th and runs until March 5th.

Over the course of 2 days, pacing myself carefully, I was able to try 21 of the barleywines at the fest. Below is a roundup of the brief tasting notes I took for each (in Alphabetical order).

Boulder Killer Penguin '09 - Boulder Beer, Denver, CO:
-A bit wine'y/cider'y - this came through in the nose as well
-Not very hoppy. A no-no according to BJCP style guidelines.
-Even though an '09, it tasted like it needed to age more/longer.

Boundary Bay Old Bounder '10 - Boundary Bay Brewing Co., Bellingham, WA:
-Inviting nose with slight citrus notes.
-Very well balanced, but nicely hoppy.
-Good hop/citrus character.
-Clean finish.

Deschutes Mirror Mirror '10 - Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR:
-Fairly well balanced, but a bit too much on the malty side (by BJCP guidelines).
-Decent/middle of the road, but no 'wow' factor (bland).

Deschutes Mirror Mirror '09 - Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR:
-Extremely simiarl to the '10 Mirrir Mirror, but even maltier.
-Not hoppy enough.
-A bit 'bland'.

Diamond Knot Icebreaker '09 - Diamond Knot Brewing Co., Mukilteo, WA
-Light nose.
-Smooth and well balanced.
-Mildly hoppy - like drinking a strong 'Pale'.
-Clean finish.

Dick's Barleywine '10 - Dick's Brewing Co., Centralia, WA
-Nice hop nose.
-Smooth and well balanced, but hops still come through.

Elysian Cyclops '09 - Elysian Brewing Co., Seattle, WA
-Strong nose.
-Comes across as too malty on first sip, but balances out more on subsequent sips.
-Not hoppy enough.

Fish 10 Squared '10 - Fish Brewing Co., Olympia, WA
-Inviting/hoppy nose.
-Nicely hoppy.
-'Slaps' you a bit on first sip, but smooths out as you drink more.

Flying Dog Horndog '09 - Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD
-A good 'middle of the road' barleywine. Not a 'standout' but decent.
-Good balance.
-Lightly hoppy nose.

Hale's Rudyard's Rare '10 - Hale's Brewery & Pub, Seattle, WA
-Average taste.
-No 'wow' factor.
-Something tastes 'off' in the aftertaste, but I can't quite place it.

Hopworks Urban Brewery Noggin Floggin '10 - Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, OR
-Very strong nose - almost like liquor.
-Strong alcohol flavor.
-Not very hoppy.
-Also tasted a bit 'off' in aftertaste.

Left Hand Oaked Widdershins '10 - Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, CO
-Decent balance, but a little too far on the malty side.
-VERY strong Oak flavor - it overpowered this barleywine & lingered in the aftertaste.

Lost Abbey Angel's Share '10 - The Lost Abbey Brewing Co., San Marcos, CA
-Very inviting nose with hop and cognac notes.
-VERY smooth.
-Decently balanced, but too light on hops (according to BJCP style guidelines).
-Nice cognac notes.

Naked City Cluster Cuss '10 - Naked City Brewery and Taphouse, Seattle, WA
-Very 'grainy' - tasted like the raw grain it was made from.
-Grainy nose - not very inviting.
-If nothing else, this one was clearly far too young. All I tasted was raw barley/grains.

Scuttlebutt Old No. 1 '10 - Scuttlebutt Brewing Co., Everett, WA
-Light nose and flavor.
-Good balance.
-Nice hop flavor
-Slightly sour on the aftertaste (not unpleasantly).

Seven Seas Wheelchair '10 - Seven Seas Brewing Co., Gig Harbor, WA
-'Spicy' and malty.
-Not very hoppy.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot '09 - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
-Smooth flavor.
-Well balanced.
-What Bigfoot 'should' be. As expected.

Sierra Nevada Black Barleywine '10 - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA
-Well balanced.
-Smooth - almost like drinking a black 'Pale' ale.
-My preference is still for Bigfoot over this one.

Silver City Old Scrooge '10 - Silver City Brewery, Silverdale, WA
-Smooth flavor.
-Well balanced, but a bit on the malty side.
-Not hoppy enough.

Speakeasy Old Godfather '09 - Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, San Francisco, CA
-Nice hop nose.
-Good hop flavor.
-Slight cognac notes - very pleasant.

Stone Old Guardian '10 - Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA
-Strong belgian flavors.
-Prounounced 'spearmint' type flavor (you read that right!)

While it didn't strictly adhere to the BJCP style guidelines for an American Barleywine, my favorite selection from the list above was Lost Abbey Angel's Share. It was a very inviting and easy to drink barleywine. The cognac notes in the nose and on the finish were very pleasant. I had to restrain myself from splurging on a $42 bottle of the '08 Angel's Share before leaving!

My other favorites from the above list were Boundary Bay's Old Bounder, Dick's Barleywine and Speakeasy's Old Godfather. Each had a unique character that may not have fully come through in my brief tasting notes above.

It's been a blast, but this is only the beginning! In just two weeks (March 12th), Brouwer's Cafe kicks off their annual Hard Liver Barleywine Fest. See you back here on March 13th, were I'll run-down the barleywines on tap there.

As always, drink responsibly and stay safe out there!

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