Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Barleywine Week: New Glarus Iced Barleywine

As we are bringing Barleywine Week(s) to a close (we have one more beer to go on Friday), we would be remiss if we didn't mention the New Glarus Iced Barleywine - one of the few barleywines from Wisconsin breweries: Central Waters' that we reviewed last week, and an award-winning barleywine from The Great Dane (which appears to be on-tap now, if want to hustle on down and get some). (Lakefront appears to have had one called Beer Line, but I haven't seen it, any Milwaukee folks want to comment?? And Titletown had one called Blitzen).

This is an iced barleywine. We've talked about "iced" beers before, and it appears that this is one is also "ice cured" or "ice aged" - meaning that it was aged for a period of time, probably months, at below-freezing temperatures. The effect of this "shock" appears to be to instantly "age" the beer. So, instead of having to wait two years, you only need to let the beer age for 2 months in a freezer.

Madison Beer Review does not recommend doing this with the bottle in your freezer, unless you like cleaning up exploded beer bottles.

New Glarus Unplugged Iced Barleywine
Appearance: Deep amber, almost ruby-colored body; darkest of the barleywines so far; a thin white head falls back quickly; fine, bottle-conditioned carbonation
Aroma: alcoholic and fruity; a strong woody and wine-like aroma
Flavor: fruity and hugely malted; earthy and fruity like dark, thick figs, cherries and grapes, a slight bitter chocolate-y-ness on the back of my tongue
Body: soft and full-bodied with a long, bitter, alcoholic finish
Drinkability: Very nice, but I'm not sure I need another soon, I'd put it pretty low on the drinkability scale; but that's not a knock on its quality, only that I don't "need another" anytime soon
Summary: The flavors are big, and strong and the body is full - it's a filling beer that is really quite smooth although the finish is kind of oddly sharp; I don't know if it's a hop-thing or a mix of malt-thing, but while I like this beer I'm just not feeling it. It's hard to place the icing, because while it seems to have affected the malt complexity, it doesn't seem to have mellowed out the hops, leaving an odd congruence of smooth and sharp. I've spoken with a lot of people, and I understand that I'm fully in the minority on this beer [BA (A-). RB (94).]

5 comments:

  1. Yup. You're definitely in the minority on this one... :)

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  2. agree, this beer is fantastic

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  3. At least I recognize that I'm in the minority; that's gotta count for something right?

    Or maybe I'm just the moron with bad taste ;)

    It's funny, but I can't really pinpoint what it is about this beer that just doesn't do it for me. Maybe once it ages and the harshness on the finish mellows a bit?

    Oh well. Win some, lose some. Can't wait for the Eisbock in November. Very curious to see how the Imperial Saison turns out; I'm a Saison freak and "Imperial" just raises my hackles enough to make me edgy. But I really liked last year's Imperial Weisse and I had the same issue there.

    Now...an Imperial Dunkelweisse...

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  4. No dude, i totally hear you on the finish. It's a nice beer, but the hops are out of control on this thing. Although you need a lot of hops to balance out the huge amount of malt in a barley wine, usually the bitterness attenuates with age. This one (maybe, like you say, because of the iced ageing) still has a massively bitter aftertaste.

    (I'm not an anti-hop guy by any means -- i love IPAs, etc.)

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  5. Hard to beat Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot barleywine and for intensity, try Olde School from Dogfish Head.

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