Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Barleywine

We'll be shipping out 2011 Barleywine, the first release of the 2011 Big Beer Series.  Here are some ramblings about the beer.  I hope you enjoy them a fraction as much as you will enjoy the beer itself.

            The history of Barleywine is the subject of much discussion; consensus has yet to be reached on the origins of the name or the style.  One thing we do know is that Bass brewed “No. 1 Barleywine,” in 1903, making the first beer to publicly use that name.  Otherwise, we only know that the tradition of British-brewed strong ales goes back for centuries.

            While the American tradition doesn’t go back nearly as far, barleywines have also been a mainstay of our craft brewing culture, which is rooted in the English tradition.  The earliest American barleywine, Anchor Brewing’s Old Foghorn, was first brewed in 1975 and soon other California breweries followed suit, brewing these strong malty ales as special releases, increasing hopping rates to leave their own uniquely American stamp. 

            We first brewed Smuttynose Barleywine around 1998, a time when strong beers of 8 or 9 % were still quite rare and had an aura of danger and mysteriousness about them, like most of the women in James Bond movies.  While the tastes of craft beer diehards have changed, our Barleywine hasn’t.  It’s a beer you can depend on, like grilled cheese and tomato soup on a cold winter’s day.

            We start with over one and a half tons of malt to brew about 775 gallons of Barleywine.  That same amount of malt yields more than twice as much Finestkind IPA.   European specialty malts contribute body and rich toffee and candy flavors that are complemented with the svelte taste of Santiam and Galena hops.

There are few better combinations that pairing Smuttynose Barleywine with delicious artisanal cheese.  We’re especially fond of crystallized, aged Gouda and Clothbound Cabot Cheddar from Greenboro, VT.  If cheese isn’t your thing, you can pair spicy against Smuttynose Barleywine with a habanero apple crisp with a caramel drizzle or use the beer to poach pears with ginger.  Trust us, you won’t need vanilla ice cream!

“This 11%-ABV slightly hazy, copper, thick-headed treat tasted like orange candy slices basted with hop oil, which might not sound good but, oh, it was!”  
Washington City Paper; May, 2010

Named to GQ Magazine’s “50 Beers to Try Right Now”  April, 2010

11.6% ABV
65 IBU

Malts: North American 2-Row, Crisp Pale Ale, Caramunich, Aromatic, Special B, Carahell 2 DH
Hops; Simcoe, Santiam, Galena;  Dry-hop Centennial
Yeast;  California Ale