With yet another snowstorm hitting the east coast my mindset is squarely in barelywine mode. Unlike a lot of people, I love barelywines at anytime of the year, but there is something special about them as the snow is falling. They tend to be filling, warming, and just wonderful in all of the ways needed to survive the winter. Dogfish Head makes a ton of beers, but Olde School is one of my favorites. It comes in at 15% and is solidly in the “sipper category” of beers.
The beer pours a nice orange to amber color and is a bit on the cloudy side of things. It has a medium off-white head which lasts for longer than expected, being a high alcohol beer and all. The nose is complex and full, as a barelywine should be. The first thing that I get from this beer is grape and dried fruits. There is a bit of a sour funk in there, but in a big beer kind of way. If that makes sense. There is a lot of sweetness to the nose along with a slight heat. I always expect heat on a beer of this strength, but Olde School has a light touch on the nose in this respect. There are no real hops to the nose from what I can smell.
The taste is big on the malt. There is a slight roast on the end but a round caramel flavor comes in and really makes this beer chewy. The dried fruits are there along with some dark undertones to add a nice layer of complexity. There may not be a lot of heat on the nose, but it is very noticeable when tasting the beer. It’s a bit on the “too much” end of the scale, but all of the other components really draw me back. The hops make an appearance nicely in this beer. They are mixed throughout and give the beer a nice earthy flavor. They are bitter, but not over the top and help balance out the massive malt.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I really dig this beer. I think it fits in with the season and the barelywine style of beer. The bottle says “beer [that] ages with the best of ’em” and I think that’s 100% true. I have bottles of this beer that go back 3 years and it’s interesting to see how the beer changes over time, but that’s a post for another time. (more…)