England- English Barley Wine- 10.5% ABV. This amber colored ale provides sweet fruit and caramel aromas along with some tell-tale signs its strength. The abundance of malts and hops, which make barley wines so special, are well balanced.
Traditionally the strongest ABV beer brewed by English breweries, English Barley Wine is celebrated by beer enthusiasts for representing early craft brewing and pushing the boundaries of what beer can be. Modern English Barley Wines are typically vintage-dated and highly suited for aging over many years in a beer cellar. Loaded with copious malts, these rich and complex beers will show discernable differences across vintages and from length of aging. Their colors range from tawny to copper to dark brown. Head size and retention vary based on age and alcohol strength. Aroma and flavor complexities are attributable to all aspects of this strong ale – the heavy hand of malts, high ABV, judicious English Barley Wine hops, extended conditioning and aging.
Whether relatively young or well-aged, English Barley Wine is a strong beer. Young examples may show a full body and a disagreeable hop character; bottle-aged versions tend toward a medium body as a result of bottle-conditioning. The bottle-aged versions also showcase more layers of malt and alcohol complexity as hops migrate to the background over time. Breweries age some versions in wooden casks for several months prior to bottling for additional flavor. Malts can deliver flavors of bread, dark toast, caramel, dark fruit, molasses, toffee and more. Prominent fruity esters from English Barley Wine yeasts may evoke characteristics of dried fruits. High alcohol adds warmth without harshness and dries the sweetness. Some may even exhibit port or sherry wine-like characteristics. Clearly, each example of English Barley Wine makes for a unique flavor experience. Many are only available in limited-quantity special releases each year from their breweries. This is a style of beer for sipping. Savor it and enjoy.