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barleywine

6 Pack Reviews: Barleywine

We had a lot of fun with the Kriek 6 Pack Review, so we dug through the fridge for another style. Turns out we were sitting on a load of Barleywine. This 6 Pack is actually an 8 Pack! As with the Krieks Stephanie and I tried each beer and rated them. I’ll declare a winner at the end!

2015 Siren Maiden

Siren Maiden barleywine

This was our lone representative from outside the US. It was “aged in many different barrels, and then using expertise from the wine and whisky world, blended.” The nose was vinous, with caramel, vanilla, and plum notes. The flavor also had a wine-like quality. There were also plum flavors with a caramel finish. It was fairly smooth and drinkable at 11.9% ABV. This beer had a bit of oxidation; not surprising considering it was one of our oldest bottles.

Stephanie: 4, Keith: 3.5

2019 Waganupa Sugar Pine

Waganupa Sugar Pine

Waganupa is a tiny brewery near Lake Almanor in California. Sugar Pine was aged 8 months in a port barrel, producing 288 bottles. The nose had notes from that port barrel, with some raisin and soy sauce. The flavor was caramel, with a plum sweetness, and a boozy port finish. 9.3% ABV.

Stephanie: 3, Keith: 3

2015 Barrel-aged Bigfoot

Sierra Nevada Barrel aged Bigfoot

Despite its age, Bigfoot had the most hop flavor with a distinct pine/resin bitterness. It was also had the highest carbonation, with a lingering head. It had a bit of cardboard-flavor oxidation. The nose had caramel and raisin notes. Aside from the bitterness, Bigfoot was actually pretty smooth at 11.9% ABV. It was roasty with caramel and vanilla flavors, and a nice barrel character from the Bourbon casks it was aged in.

Stephanie: 3.5, Keith: 3.75

Anchorage A Deal with the Devil

Anchorage A Deal with the Devil Barleywine

ADWTD was the highest ABV, weighing in at 17%. It was also the most complex, with every sip bringing new and interesting flavors. ADWTD is aged in Woodford Reserve barrels. It had low carbonation with no head retention. The nose had rum, raisin, and coffee notes. ADWTD was impressively smooth given that ABV. This beer was rich and oaky with molasses and butterscotch flavor, and cinnamon notes.

Stephanie: 4.25, Keith: 4.5

The Lost Abbey Angel’s Share.

Lost Abbey Angel's Share Barleywine

Angel’s Share had the largest gap in our scores. We agreed that it had a caramel and vanilla nose, with a bit of soy sauce. Stephanie was picking up an unappealing bitter coffee flavor that I didn’t really get. It was rich and thick with vanilla, oak, and caramel notes, and a boozy finish with a 14% ABV. There was also a hint of smokiness, possibly from the scotch barrels it was aged in.

Stephanie: 3, Keith: 4

Adroit Theory Tenebris

Adroid Theory Tenebris Barleywine

The Tenebris bottle doesn’t mention barrel aging and the flavor backs that up, so I assume this is the lone non-barrel-aged beer of the bunch. It was the lightest colored beer with a fairly nondescript nose that had a hint of plum. Tenebris was 9% ABV with a sweet malt flavor and a plum finish. There were caramel and vanilla notes, and some cinnamon showed up as it warmed.

Overall this was a relatively bland beer. It was sweet and thick but lacked any really distinct flavors or complexity, probably handicapped by the lack of barrel-aging.

Stephanie: 2.5, Keith: 3

2018 Pelican Mother of all Storms

Pelican Mother of all Storms barleywine

Mother of all Storms is aged in bourbon barrels and weighs in at 14%. It was very dark, and fairly well carbonated with a bit of head retention. There was a caramel nose with a hint of coffee. It is full-bodied, coating the mouth. There were chocolate and caramel flavors with some soy sauce.

Stephanie: 3.25, Keith: 4

2018 Gigantic Massive

Gigantic Massive barleywine

Massive is aged in bourbon barrels and is 14% ABV. The carbonation is low and the nose has caramel and a bit of soy sauce. You can detect the warmth of this beer in the nose as well. The flavor is dominated by maple. Otherwise, it’s a bit sweet and distinctly warm. I enjoyed the maple flavor, but it doesn’t make for a very complex beer.

Stephanie: 3, Keith: 3.5

Conclusion

After averaging our scores the beers ranked:

  1. A Deal with the Devil
  2. Siren Maiden
  3. BA Bigfoot (tie)
  4. Mother of all Storms (tie)
  5. Angel’s Share
  6. Massive
  7. Sugar Pine
  8. Tenebris

Unlike with the Krieks, there was no clear loser here. These are all great beers. I was surprised to see how high we scored Maiden, but looking back at our notes I think the vinous quality really spoke to both of us. A Deal with the Devil really stood out with its impressive complexity and rich flavors.

About the author

Keith Adams is the founder of BeerSelfie.com and can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as @grubulub.

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