F0r the Christmas season, I've decided to do a review of 25 different beers, one each day in December, just like a beery advent calendar. I will be focusing on Christmas and winter seasonals but there may be other special treats I pull out of my cellar.
The first beer is a bomber of Smutynose Barleywine from 2004. It was their winter seasonal and I picked up a few bottles on my way out of Maine during my move down to Georgia, fearing it would be a very long time before I laid my hands on it again. (It was.)
Smuttynose did something kind of unusual with their barleywine in that they used primarily Belgian malts and then used primarily Simcoe for bittering. It's bottle conditioned and clocks in at 10% ABV. Let's see how this one holds up after three and a half years.
It pours a kind of hazy burnt orange with a creamy and persistent tan head. Rich caramel malt in the nose and not much else to be detected.
Upon taking the first sip, I am shocked that there are still a ton of hops present in this beer, even after all this time. But while the hops overwhelm early, a substantial malt profile becomes apparent. Lots caramel, toffee and lightly fruity malt flavors. It's got thick and sticky body and while the hops dominate early, it's all malt in the finish and aftertaste.
Man, this one aged brilliantly. It's calmed down as far as the alcohol burn but all the other flavors have melded and maintained the intensity. I thought this one would be a nice candidate for aging but this has surpassed even my expectations. Excellent start to this exercise!
Smuttynose Brewing Company