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03-03-00

Beer Review #315 Olde School

03-03-02With 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…)

Beer Review #187 Devil’s Milk

Devil’s Milk was on display at the front of the beer store the last time I stopped in so I obviously picked up a bottle. I’m such a sucker for product placement. Also, how could you not want to try a barelywine named Devil’s Milk? This beer is brewed by the DuClaw Brewing Company of Abingdon, MD. I can’t really tell what type of brewery DuClaw is. They have four different brewpub locations including on inside of BWI. I do not know if they own a production facility or if they contract brew with someone. Any help or information would be appreciated.

Anyway, Devil’s Milk is “barelywine style ale” according to the bottle and it comes in at a rocking 10.6% ABV. This ale pours a nice ruby color and it is crystal clear. I generally find barelywines to be a bit hazy, but not this one. There is a thin white head as well, but it quickly fades into the beer. The nose is loaded with tons of different aromas. I first smelled some deep malt with some dull hop bitterness in the background. There was a bit of heat, but it was pretty low for a beer of this percentage. Finally, there were some dark fruits buried in there behind all of the other activity.

The first thing that grabbed by attention in this beer is the nice piney hops that come in right after the malt. The malt has some nice burnt caramel flavors along with some grape. There are some dark and dried fruits mixed in as well which I can assume comes from the yeast esters. As with the nose there is some heat, but not a ton. As the beer warms, the flavors really intensify. About halfway through the beer the hops stopped being as prominent as they were at the beginning and the malt and fruits start to take over.

This is a pretty decent barleywine. There is a nice balance between the hops and the malt which I really enjoyed. I would describe the flavor as complete. This beer did not leave me wanting for anything other than something unique to set it apart from other barleywines. If you have the chance you might want to check this one out. (more…)

Beer Review #183 Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale

Yards Brewing Company of Philadelphia, PA has been producing a special series of beers called “Ales of the Revolution” for some time now. Not too long ago I reviewed one of the other beers in the series, George Washington Tavern Porter. Aside from our founding fathers having an apparent fondness for taverns, this Yards series of beers have been very rewarding. Today’s beer was “crafted following Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe.” I’m a slight history nerd and I really dig American history stuff. It might be because it is short, but action packed, or because I just prefer our history to a never-ending list of Kings and Queens, regardless,  when I see historically based beers, I tend to pay attention.

Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale pours a nice clear orange color with a thin bit of off-white head. The nose is fully of biscuit malt along with a lot of rustic grainy odors. There are some dried fruits in there from the yeast esters as well. The nose alone on this beer gave me the feeling of something older. It had a rough elegance to it. The malts come in, hit with some earthy qualities and then part with some esters.

Upon the first taste I got a bit of malt upfront, but not nearly as much as I was expecting. Piney hops then kick in a bit stronger than I expected and clear the malt from the tongue. The beer finishes up pretty dry with hints of dried fruits accompanying the departing beer. There is a lot of subtle flavors going on in this beer that I very much enjoyed. This one comes in at 8%, but you wouldn’t know it by the flavor.

I really liked this one. As a semi-history nerd and a “red blooded American” I really appreciated this beer. One thing that I forgot to mention above was that some of the ingredients of their beer were grown on Thomas Jefferson’s Virgina estate. Cool. Try this one out if you have the chance, I don’t think you will be disappointed, especially if you have a taste for English ales. (more…)