Welcome to our ongoing Beer Style Musings series. Every beer style has its own history, profile, and great list of food to pair it with. We are here to share our knowledge to give you a little extra insight when it comes to choosing your beer for the day or maybe in this case your beer for the holidays. Today, we will discuss barleywine…
History: The term barleywine was noted in historical documents during the 18th century. Brewers were trying to increase their leverage with wine drinkers by hinting at the strength, nutrition, and quality of their beer. The famous Burton brewer, Bass, launched the first beer commercially designated as a barleywine in 1903 with many British brewers following suit. Anchor Brewing was the first to introduce the style to the American audience with their Old Foghorn in 1976. The American version evolved to become much more hoppier than the English version.
Profile: Imagine a wine-strength beer made from barley and you’ll understand the name barleywine. Definitely not a wine, this beer style earned its name based on its strength and complexity. The main difference between the English and American styles is the prominent use of hops and yeast character stateside versus the big malt flavors of the English style. Expect anything from an amber to a dark brown color, with aromas ranging from rich fruits to bold hops. These are dark malty beers with flavors of bread, caramel, honey, molasses and toffee. Sweetness may or may not linger, balanced out by a high alcohol content. Because of their strength and complexity, many barleywines are actually good candidates for aging. It is recommended that this style allow warming, closer to room temperature, enabling esters to better develop.
Food Pairings: The strong flavor of barleywine may over power main dishes. We recommend pairing it with a strong cheese or as a complement to a rich dessert. Of course, you can always just have a barleywine as your dessert!
Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: This style beer typically has a high rating typically somewhere between 8%-12%.
Let us know about your favorite barleywine. We are always open to trying new beers!