image of last year's Hard Liver Barleywine Festival courtesy of our Flickr page Most of you are contented individuals. You stroll to your nearby pub, walk up the bartender, and ask for an IPA or maybe a Stout. Yep, happy and content. But then again there are those of you are less content with an IPA or Stout and want something bigger, alot bigger. Enter the Barleywine, an ESB or Amber on steroids. True some people might apply the term India Pale Ale on steroids, Pale Ale on steroids, or Old Ale on steroids. Whichever beer you think should apply it’s a safe bet that you won’t walk away with excellent equilibrium after consuming one of these over 10.00% beauties.

Then again, what the heck are we telling you for? You have already visited Beveridge Place and took part in their Bacchanal. Or if you didn’t do this, you probably have visited a nearby grocer or bottleshop, inspired by the prospect of drinking another Barleywine. Still answering no?

Well on Saturday March 12th, you won’t have much of an excuse since starting at 11 AM and on into the evening, Brouwer’s Cafe will dare you to try their over 60+ Barleywines. Then again this notice isn’t new to you since you have it marked on your calendar and even have a separate alarm set specifically for getting there an hour before the doors open.

For those of you who know nothing of Barleywines but have somehow been phenagled into ‘trying’ a couple of Barleywines we have created a list of must try or should try beers. And for those of you who can’t keep your excitement down, we have a few suggestions for you, that even though they are on the young side, might keep you pacified until Saturday.

image of last year's Hard Liver Barleywine Festival courtesy of our Flickr pageWord of caution who are first-timers to this festival, have patience and get there early. It seems the norm that each year brings more people to the festival and the tables do fill up quickly. Also, have some patience! The order may show up to an hour later, but you have to realize that there are multiple server stations, people in line to the bartender station (to order beers) and people sitting at the bar; all ordering beer! So if you do attend this year’s event, don’t make any plans for at least a couple of hours!

For those still with us up to this part we have the followings lists laid out for you.

Out of the Northwest
The following beers are featured from places as far South as California, as far East as Maryland and far West as Alaska. We have highlighted our thoughts given the choices.

Far East (from Colorado to Maryland)

Far West (Alaska)

  • 2010 (AK) Alaskan Golden Nugget. Not sure if this anything like their regular Barley Wine (formerly named Big Nugget) but if so you it should be pretty decent.
  • 2010 (AK) Glacier Brewhouse Old Woody
    Last year’s winner and one not to pass up. Like many of the beers within the first few hours, expect this one to be in high demand!

Go South (California and the Southwest)

Think Local
The following list are the beer of the Northwest (Oregon & Washington, with Idaho missing from the list)

  • 2007 (WA) Pike Old Bawdy
    For nostalgia sake we ask that you consider this beer with Drew Cluley leaving his post at Pike as of 4/19/2011. Cheers to you Drew.
  • 2005 (WA) Dick’s
  • 2007 (WA) Hales Rudyard’s Rare
  • 2010 (WA) Elysian Cyclops
  • 2010 (WA) 10 Ram Mall Walker. Brewed by former Big Time Head Brewer Kevin Forhan
  • 2010 (WA) Red Hook Trouble Hook
  • 2010 (WA) Anacortes Old Sea Bass
  • 2010 (WA) Hood Canal Breidablik
  • 2010 (WA) Black Raven Old Birdbrain
    Agreeing with the sentiment by many local writers, this beer should not be passed up. If you were a guest at the breweries Open House then you know what we’re talking about. If you missed out having it, then we advise you get it at the festival.
  • image of Bill Jenkins formerly of Big Time courtesy of our Flickr page 2009 (WA) Big Time Bill’s Bearded Wonderfulness
    Seems the year of raising toasts to departing brewers. Another 3 (or 6) ounces won’t hurt.
  • 2010 (WA) Big Time Bill’s Bearded Wonderfulness
    Seems the year of raising toasts to departing brewers. Another 3 (or 6) ounces won’t hurt.
  • 2010 (WA) 7 Seas Wheel Chair
    Definitely one of the dark horses of the festival since the beer was released at the taproom this past Saturday (3/5). Here are the specs for this beer according to the breweries Facebook page.
    Brewing Specs: OG: 27 plato TG: 5.2 plato
    ABV: 11.1% IBU: approx 38
    Aged a minimum of eight months, this English style Barley Wine displays a reddish, brown hue and exhibits prominent notes of ripe pit fruit, brown sugar, toffee, and a full-bodied, malty mouthfeel. Brewed with English Marris Otter, Munich, Aromatic, and two Caramel malts, including a touch of crystal Rye, the "Wheel Chair" is an ale to be contemplated, sipped, and savored. It will continue to evolve, gaining in complexity and nuance as it ages. Serve slightly below room temperature to fully appreciate this full-flavored, strong, and pleasantly warming vintage ale
  • 2009 (WA) Scuttlebutt Old No. 1
  • 2010 (WA) Naked City Cluster Cuss
    Curiously came off as a So’Cal style Barleywine. Ask Don (or Donald) what inspired this beer the next time you see them.
  • 2010 (WA) Snipes Roza
    With Chris Miller it was safe to say that anything that was brewed by this maniac with hops was a palate wrecker. Given the year of this beer we can’t help but feel this might be the last beer to come from the brewery that Chris made. As for us we will be enjoying a sip of this beer as a toast to his contributions to the NW.
  • 2010 (WA) Port Towsend
  • 2010 (WA) Fishtail 10 squared
  • 2010 (OR) Deschutes Mirror Mirror
    Want to see what a year’s worth of patience tastes like? Try a taste of this and ask yourself if you think that you can wait another year to enjoy another glass of this respected ale.
  • 2010 (OR) Hair of Dog Doggie Claws
    Another great example of a Northwest Barleywine. Alan you know I can’t resist your Doggie Claws.
  • 2009 (OR) Old Lompoc Tavern Rat
  • 2010 (OR) Old Lompoc Unsettler Belgo Barleywine
  • 2010 (OR) Ninkasi Critical Hit

March 12th, 2011 11:00 AM *Get there early!
Hard Liver Barleywine Festival 2011 @ Brouwer’s Cafe
400 North 35th Street Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 267-2437

Nearby Grocers for “Research”


About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.

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