Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Barley Wine Week: Central Waters

I've had these barley wines taking up space on my wine rack for two weeks now, so I figure it's time to talk about barley wines. What better place to start than Central Waters' Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Ale; yes, we reviewed it last year, but it might be kind of fun to compare this years' tasting notes against last year.

We've talked about barley wines a couple of weeks back regarding an aged version of the Tyranena Spank Me Baby Barleywine. We even talked briefly about Iced Barleywines when we looked at The Grumpy Troll's Iced IPA. Indeed, this past year, two Wisconsin breweries won awards at the Great American Beer Fest for their barleywines: Central Waters for their Bourbon Barrel Barleywine and The Great Dane for their Old Scratch Barleywine.

Well, this week (and into next week) we'll look at a wide range of barley wines. We'll look at "West Coast" barleywines, we'll look at some Wisconsin barleywines, and we'll spend some time really getting into the style. We'll even look at something I didn't think would happen: an Iced Barleywine. But, first, a simple reminder of what the barleywine tastes like.

Central Waters Kosmyk Charlie's Y2K Catastrophe Ale
Appearance: served a room temperature, a foamy, thin white head quickly dissipates off of a garnet-tinged brown ale
Aroma: sweet fruit and alcohol; smells like a muted brandy; a leathery, hoppy layer lies right beneath the up-front flavors
Flavor: big and malty and firm bodied; surprisingly hoppy in the mid and finish, there is very little of alcohol smell in the flavor; a strong biscuit and leather malts
Body: firm and long in the finish
Drinkability: a nice, easy-sipping beer that pairs well with everything; a six-pack of this could hold a person over quite well
Summary/Comparison: this tasting was performed without reference to last years' review. Turns out it is similar, which really shouldn't be that surprising; it seems that this year's is a little less boozy in the flavors though the body is full of it - maybe from the hops that are still very pronounced, though not overwhelming. A good base barleywine to start our week(s) off.

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