Turn it Up to 11!

On the docket:  22 oz.  Clown Shoes/Schmaltz Brewing Collaboration:  Shoebelation

Poured into:  Evil Twin stemmed craft glassShoebelation_My_Blog

S:  A deep honey-brown body sporting crimson highlights.  The head wells up in a mocha cap with good staying power (exact bottle date unknown, but on the fresher side).  Lacing left behind is leggy and thorough.  The head eventually resides into a small outer ring and an island in the center of the glass.  Opaque, no bubbles observed.

A:  Complex aroma of vanilla, caramel, coconut and molasses.  Only a slight suggestion of piney hops.  Malty and sweet.

T:  Wow.  Lots of moving parts here.  Caramel candy sweetness, molasses, barrel contributions, hoppy bitterness on the end.  The breweries picked Wild Turkey bourbon barrels, and aged the blended beer for 2 months (info courtesy of quick internet fact-finding).  This is two different beers:  Billionaire, Clown Shoes’ English Barleywine, and Jewbelation Eleven, Schmaltz’s American Strong Ale.  I’ve tasted both separately, but long ago (and remember enjoying both).

F:  Full, rich, decadent.  Starts sweet but finishes with a lingering bitterness that makes you go back to the beginning with another sip.

O:  Typically collaborations end up less than the sum of their parts, but I feel this one did pretty well.  I’ll admit I’m a bit biased.  It’s got “Shoe” in the name of the beer.  Considering the amp and guitar on the label, is it really a coincidence they turned the abv up to 11(%)?  They needed that extra push over the cliff.

Suggested food pairing:  As an after-dinner drink, creamy bleu-cheese, beef stew, bread pudding, rock-mockumentaries

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)