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DuClaw Hell on Wood Beer Review

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for barrel aged barleywines. I seriously love them. A local brewery that doesn’t get enough praise is DuClaw Brewing Company. They make some wonderful beer and when I saw Hell on Wood, I grabbed a few bottles. The bottle says that it is a barleywine style ale that is aged in bourbon barrels. It also rocks in at 10.6% ABV. A true sipper.

Hell on Wood pours a nice reddish brown color with a slight haze. ¬†The head is light tan and thin, but doesn’t fade quickly. The nose is wonderful and full. It starts with a deep, dark, almost burnt caramel aroma. The caramel is surrounded by some “traditional sweetness” that really rounds out the malt character. A good helping of bourbon, oak, and vanilla follow though. I didn’t much if any hops which is generally how I like my barleywines.

Hell on WoodThe taste generally follows the nose. It begins with some strong caramel notes. Bourbon hits next. It’s a clean and spicy bourbon that cuts through the sweetness of the malt. A really solid, but not overpowering, oak flavor comes in next and really adds a great layer of complexity and depth. There is some heat towards the end of the taste. Surprisingly, it’s a balanced heat if there is such a thing, and it makes for a great flavor note. Hell on Wood finishes with a nice earthy/piney hop flavor that adds a touch of bitterness.

This beer stays a lightly sweet throughout but it’s enjoyable and still close to a perfect balance. It drinks thick and chewy; like I said, a sipper. I rather enjoyed this barleywine. It has a great combination of flavor, complexity, and aromas that make a barleywine an enjoyable drinking experience.

Beer Review #287 H.E.R.O 2012 Chocolate Chipotle Stout

04-22-01My wife actually picked today’s beer out and we ended up splitting the 22 oz bomber that it came it. H.E.R.O is brewed by DuClaw Brewing Company and this beer is brewed for charity. The H.E.R.O (really annoying to type that out) stands for Honest, Excellent, Robust, and Original. The proceeds of this beer may go to charity, but the creation of it is thanks to a homebrew contest that DuClaw holds. This beer comes in at a respectable 7.5% and, as you can see by the name, it has some stuff going on.

H.E.R.O 2012 Chocolate Chipotle Stout pours a nice deep black with a tan head. The nose first hits you with good bits of chocolate and a bit of sweetness. I didn’t get any chipotle component when smelling this beer nor did I get any hops.

On the first taste you really get wowed by the chocolate and caramel combination. The two flavors just play nicely together and create a rich, fulfilling sip. A slight roast creeps in at the end to remind you that this is a dark beer. The chipotle flavor comes in at the end. It’s hard to notice at first but as you drink the beer sip by sip, the chipotle flavor increases nicely.

This is a pretty nice beer. It’s something different and balanced. I’ve had chocolate and spice beers before but I’ve never had one that has this much restraint in the spice. Some might not like it for that reason but I find it enjoyable. The spice isn’t a star, it adds complexity and interest. This is a nice beer and a great cause, or as some call it a win-win.

Beer Review #253 Hellrazer IPA

12-16-03I’ve really been in an IPA mood lately and I’ve also been trying to buy some more local beers. Duclaw Brewing Company solved both of those “problems” for me with their Hellrazer IPA, a 7.5% ABV beer. The bottle also advertises that it is hopped with New Zealand hops, in particular Motueka. I’m not super familiar with New Zealand hops as they are super expensive and are generally pretty hard to find. My brief research on these hops say that they are generally used with pilsners and Belgian ales.

Hellrazer pours a nice clear orange and has an ample white head. The nose is packed with citrus hops and is a bit bready. I’m not entirely sure how to describe the hops other than citrus, but it was a unique smell that I haven’t noticed in other IPAs. I’m assuming this is related to the¬†Motueka hops.

On the first line of my taste area of notes it says, “amazing,” and it really is. The hops are great, bitter but also packed with flavor. There is a strong citrus flavor along with some bubble gum. It’s a pretty unique taste from what my lips have tasted. There is a really solid malt backbone that provides the needed bread and sweetness to balance this beer. This beer is exceptionally smooth as well.

I am strongly considering purchasing some New Zealand hops after having this beer. It has such a unique hop profile that it makes the beer very memorable. I really dig this beer. I’m going to have to make a trip down to Duclaw during my holiday break and get a fresh glass of this. (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…)