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.
The 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.