American Barley WineAmerican craft brewers have taken the English Barley Wine style to new dimensions of interpretation, as American Barley Wine has a more assertive hop character than its English counterpart, often with strong, pungent American hop varietals. While hops perception can vary across examples and be influenced by the beer’s age, aromas and flavors will evolve over time as well. Hops often will mellow from an assertive, front-and-center position in recently brewed bottles to providing more balancing bitterness in aged bottles for the copious malts indigenous to the style. Colors range from amber to deep copper and even light brown, with malt influence often evoking a toffee or caramel sweetness—but no roasty or burnt flavors. Regardless of age, balance generally leans toward hoppy bitterness, with high alcohol providing a warming effect and moderate fruity esters contributing to the beer’s complexity. Beers in this style generally do not exhibit vinous (wine-like) aromas or flavor characteristics.
As with the English version, American Barley Wine-style beers are typically bottle conditioned and can be properly cellar aged for long periods, sometimes specified by the brewer. Many enthusiasts will get two or more bottles of a given example, drink one right away and age the other(s) for future enjoyment and examination of the beer’s evolution. Many breweries produce Barley Wine just once per year and vintage date the bottles.
|Taste/Smell||Complex, Dark Fruit, Malty, Spicy, Full-bodied|
|Alcohol-by-Volume (ABV) Range||8.5 – 13+%|
|Popular Examples||Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Victory Old Horizontal, Great Divide Old Ruffian, Avery Hog Heaven, Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale, Lagunitas Olde Gnarleywine, Tröegs Flying Mouflan, AleSmith Old Numbskull, Southern Tier Backburner Ale, Pike Old Bawdy Barley Wine|
|Serving Temperature||Warm, 58-61°|
|Glassware||Beer snifter, stemmed tulip, large wine glass|
|Cheese Pairing Ideas||Gorgonzola, Limburger, Roquefort, Stilton|
|Food Pairing Ideas||Specific dishes depend on specific beer, but robust dishes are typically a good match|