The crew down in Austin have another beer week starting up this week. This time they are unveiling a plethora of Barleywines for central Texas’ drinking pleasure. Each day they will be tapping a new big Barleywine, some of which have been cellaring for quite some time. Austin’s General Manager Ted Rowell (and his team Sam, Joe and Andi) are not afraid to lay kegs down for months and often years to make sure the brews are in their prime when they are tapped.
On Monday they kicked things off with Great Divide from Denver, CO. Their Barleywine, Old Ruffian, is a an American Style interpretation with big doses citrus hop additions that sometimes lead to the beer being called “over hopped”, if there is such a thing. The keg being tapped is of the 2008 vintage, so the hops should have faded a bit to let the caramel sweetness of the malts catch up. As of today they still had plenty left, so head on by to see what you missed.
Tuesday’s tapping is Brooklyn Brewery’s Monster Ale. Garret Oliver decided to take his Barleywine in a more traditional direction, so this one is an English Style Barleywine. This brew can have quite a bit of alcohol heat in the nose, but that disappears when you take a sip. This malt forward recipe results in molasses and berry flavors with very little hop flavors or aromas. They have 2007 and 2011 kegs to tap, but they are only 5 gallons so they are sure to go quickly.
Wednesday will host Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot. Probably the definition of American Style Barleywine, this brew is a big hoppy monster. Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops come together to give Bigfoot its wonderful hoppiness. They will tap a 2007 for tasting and a fresh one to be poured into the Brewery Night Glass.
Stone Brewing Co. will be represented by Old Guardian, another American Style Barleywine on Thursday. Commonly referred to as the “OG”, this bad boy is from the 2010 vintage, so be ready for tons of flavors, both from the grains and the malts, to fight for dominance in your mouth. The Hop recipe for this brew can change from year to year, and sometimes from batch to batch, but it never disappoints.
Friday’s tapping is one of my favorites, Avery Samaels 2010. Technically this one is an English Style Strong Ale, but it fits right in with the Barleywines. Caramel, Raisins and Molasses all come together in the aroma as well as the flavor and let the hops take a back seat. Be careful, this one clocks in over 14% ABV!!!
On Saturday Harpoon Brewing Co. will contribute with their Leviathan Barleywine, not to be confused with their Barleywine from the 100 Barrel Series. This beer calls itself an English Style Barleywine, but it has enough hops to put it somewhere between English and American Style. The malt bill is nice and complex with enough hops to bring it all into balance.
Sunday is the day of $3 Texas Pints so why not tap a Texas made Barleywine on Sunday? It will not be included in their special, but this is a great local barleywine. Old Tree Hugger considers itself an American Style Barleywine, but has the malt complexity to compete with those of the English Style. Plenty of caramel flavors and dark fruits, this 13.5% ABV brew hides its alcohol well so watch out!
There are plenty of Barleywines to be had down in Austin this week, and many of them will be available beyond their tapping days as these big beers are served in small pours. So if you are able to make it by don’t be afraid to ask about some of the previous days tappings. Enjoy!