Of all the different beers reviewed on this website the most difficult has been the Barley Wine (or Barleywine). Whether it was brewed in Southern California, the Northwest, or imported from England; no two Barley Wines are alike.
In fact the Brewers Association breaks it down into two styles based on origin.
Brewers Association Suggested Guidelines for an English-style Barley Wine
British-style barley wines range from tawny copper to dark brown in color and have a full body and high residual malty sweetness. Complexity of alcohols and fruity-ester characters are often high and counterbalanced by the perception of low to medium bitterness and extraordinary alcohol content. Hop aroma and flavor may be minimal to medium. English type hops are often used but not necessary for this style. Low levels of diacetyl may be acceptable. Caramel and some characters indicating oxidation, such as vinous (sometimes sherry-like) aromas and/or flavors, may be considered positive. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperature
Brewery Association Suggested Guidelines for an American-style Barley Wine
American style barley wines range from amber to deep copper-garnet in color and have a full body and high residual malty sweetness. Complexity of alcohols and fruity-ester characters are often high and counterbalanced by assertive bitterness and extraordinary alcohol content. Hop aroma and flavor are at medium to very high levels. American type hops are often used but not necessary for this style. Very low levels of diacetyl may be acceptable. A caramel and/or toffee aroma and flavor are often part of the character. Characters indicating oxidation, such as vinous (sometimes sherry-like) aromas and/or flavors, are not generally acceptable in American-style Barley Wine Ale, however if a low level of age-induced oxidation character harmonizes and enhances the overall experience this can be regarded favorably. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperature.
Galaxy Hopped Barleywine Ale is the first Brothers’ Reserve Series beer for 2011 and pours a dark crimson, nearly mahogany color. It features strong aromas of red and yellow fruits—such as banana, pineapple, cherry and strawberry—which come from its yeast and Galaxy Hops. The front of the taste is toffee and darkened sweet caramel with undertones of vanilla; it’s balanced by dry hops that leave a mild floral and citrus finish.
- Bitterness: 60 IBU
- Alcohol by Volume: 9.5 percent
- Original Gravity: 24.0° plato
Galaxy Hopped Barley Wine when fully rested in the glass, appears dark ruby almost brown but with a strong clarity. Resting on top is what can only be described as an inch of lace that later dies out leaving behind a bog of white on the surface, while scattered bit of lace grip tightly to the inside of the glass.
Allowing the beer to further warm up is rewarded with aromatics of pine, bits of toasted caramel, bread, and sugar.
Within the first sip we detect a dominance of sweet caramel along with plums, and other so-called red fruits. With the last swallow a finish of bitter pine hop bitterness is noted. Eventually the expected warming from this 9.50% ABV uber-Strong Ale (aka, Barleywine) arrives, but it doesn't stick around too long.
You Should Try It. Like their other Brothers Reserve series beers, Galaxy Hopped continues to show age isn’t always a sign of weakness. Despite what you might think, a mix of funky and sharp cheeses would work well with this Barley Wine from PDX.
Despite having been released for around a month, you should still be able to find this beer on the shelf at your nearest grocer.
About the photos’ 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.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.