Here's a Minnesota favorite that I've been enjoying for many years, but my records show that I took notes on it for the first time in 2007, when I tapped a keg of it at the Blue Nile.
Oddly enough, it appears that it was in March of that year that I wrote these notes. I received a keg a year for a few, then never heard any more about it. I haven't had it in years, because it seems to disappear just when I'm not our shopping in the stores. I grabbed a 6-pack the other day to re-acquaint myself with it. First, here are those old notes:
Poured from one of only two kegs in the Twin Cities this year, and this is the first year I've even heard of it being available here...I may be wrong, though, ...
Utterly opaque chestnut brown, a toasty warm hue, with a slim cap of foam holding tight on top.
Aroma hits all the notes I dig in a barleywine (which this is. Despite the punning name, it's not a "winter warmer"...even says "barleywine" on the label.) Burnished cherry, cognac, leather, deep plums and ripe raisins. Sweet to be sure, but complex, even cavernous.
Taste: a gritty, grippy malty affair, lots of play on the tongue, lots of treats for the palate to toss about. Here comes the fruit, some cherry, berry, grape, and then the dark side trickles over, it gets wicked and more deeply delicious. Very wine-like in parts, somewhat close to a port, and then like a beefy burgundy.
Full-bodied, with a long, sweet, rich fruity finish. Alcohol isn't as huge as you'd think, but it creeps in and does the trick. This is an excellent "winter warming" barleywine...I can certainly appreciate it in the depth of winter, and welcome the comfort it brings.