Pike Brewing – Old Bawdy Barleywine 2009 Vintage: For my 200th post here, I decided to pull out a special bottle of almost 5 year old Barleywine and review it. Believe it or not I found this bottle (plus a few more) about a year ago at an Albertson’s in Snohomish, WA. If you are ever in town visiting or driving through Snohomish, be sure to stop in as the person buying their beer really knows what they are doing. Sadly, I can’t see BC grocery stores getting there anytime soon, so it will have to be frequent trips across the border for now. I have gone to the beer festival in that smaller town twice now, and although fun, they have jacked the sampler price up pretty at $2 for a 4 oz pour which isn’t really worth it anymore as most of the beers they feature you can buy a whole bottle for $2-$3 or fill a growler for $10-$12. Anyway, back to the aged Barleywine that is brewed in Seattle, WA at a strength of 10% abv and 90 IBU’s which was poured from the bottle into a snifter and held by hand in the glass for at least 10-15 minutes of udder hellish anticipation.
Aroma and Appearance: It has a dark reddish amber colour too it, with the odd sporadic bubble and basically no foam (note pour two had foam). The aroma was toffee, brown sugar, booze, raisin and hints of spice, cinnamon and vanilla.
Flavour: First off, it is quite mellow and balanced (good sign for an aged beer) which brought out some unique sweet cherry wood flavour, loads of toffee, vanilla, earth, a slight hint of booze, caramel as it warms further and a surprising pine resin dry bitter finish that left a brilliant aftertaste that was reminiscent of a quality small batch bourbon.
Overall Impression: Wow! I love when an aged beer comes together to reveal newer flavours and some characteristics of bourbons and whiskeys which are aged for many years.
Rating: It was a 10+/10, a new Rating Level I had to invent for those beers that literally blow your socks off by being both complex and balanced at the same time. Other than the burn from a good spirit, it was almost indistinguishable from a high quality bourbon like Woodford Reserve. I’ll be saving my other bottles for up to a year or more if I can keep my paws off of them to see if it develops further.
Food Pairing: Nothing, you don’t try to pair food with a beer like this. You dull your other senses, relax and enjoy it on it’s own.
Always on the watch for stuff like this, I have a few other Barleywine bottles that deserve opening soon from another brewer as well as some others in long term cellar storage.