Barleywine…at first the name seems almost banal, owing to the fact that it was coined to denote a style of beer that is comparable in strength to that of wine. Upon contemplation however, it’s subtle complexities are reveled. It is also ironic, because barleywine is not wine at all. It is beer, most assuredly. In fact one could argue that it is the pinnacle of beer. Certainly in strength (historically anyway), and also in the depth of it’s flavors.
Yet oddly it shares much with the fruity cousin from whom it took the later half of the name. A part of it’s reason for existence in fact was to replace wine at the table in the wealthier English households. This would happen when the nation’s sometimes challenging relationship with the continent prevented regular shipments form wine producing countries.
It’s also a style that benefits from (and is often intended to be) aged. This allows the more intense flavors to mellow and lets some of the subtler notes come to the fore.
Finally, like wine barleywine rewards the studious consumer. Much like it’s name, Barleywine’s true pleasure comes from contemplation. And considering the cold weather, we highly encourage you to set aside some of these long winter nights to sit by the fire and contemplate one of beers most intriguing offerings.
As it happens, The Duck-Rabbit Barleywine is currently available! It’s among the hoppiest of all of our beers, loaded with Amarillo hops to give it a piney, citrusy bitterness that nicely balances the big toffee malt backbone.