Big. Beer. Barleywine.

On the docket:  Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (part of the BIG BEER Series).  Bottle conditioned, and brewed in 2013.  Excellent- pre-aged.  No waiting needed.

Poured into:  Jester King Snörkel snifter.

S:  An opaque tawny, brown body sits below a quick-rising khaki head.  After a minute or so, the head dies down, sitting tight and sudsy.  I’ve not even had a sip, and there’s lacing on the glass, medium bands of beauty.

A:  This big beer boasts fig, caramel and pine in the initial aroma.  Further inhalation provides sweet malt and certain fusel booziness.  It smells characteristic of an American Barleywine.

T:  The taste mimics much of the aroma, adding a bit of earthy, spicy hop signature.  The malt sired toasted brown bread and caramel.  When on the cold side, the alcohol is masked.  When warm, it’s easier to detect.  Bitterness helps balance out the sweetness.

F:  Some carbonation present, enough to keep the sweetness from dominating and creating fatigue.  Medium body, dry bitter finish that lasts and lasts.  Woo!

O:  In addition to being a favorite style, I also appreciate that this example produced by a respected American brewer bridges the gap between treacle-sweet English BWs and hop-bomb, abrasive US versions (fresh Bigfoot comes to mind).  Thus one hits all the marks- hoppy, boozy (in a good way- not hot and solventy), nice initial sweetness.  A fine example of the style.

S:  4  A:  4  T:  4.5  F:  4  O:  4.25

Suggested food pairing:  Creamy goat cheese, braised beef, spicy Thai or Indian curry (if you’re the masochistic type)