Beer of the Week: Full Sail Old Boardhead Barleywine ’09

Posted on July 13th, 2011

About the beer:

For a guy who knows an appreciates craft beer I admittedly know very little about barleywines. For the most part barleywines have always been selected for me or given as gifts, with this week’s Beer of the Week selection being no exception. Over the weekend a selection of the Beeriety crew had the opportunity to pop open an Old Boardhead Barleywine by Full Sail brewery. The 22 oz., which was gifted to us by friend of Beeriety Meg Whyte, had been aging since 2009 when she had resided in Portland, OR. Since it was a rare treat for the east coast Beeriety team you can bet expectations were high, given the aging and anticipation of trying this new (to us) barleywine variation.

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Beer of The Week: Uinta Cockeyed Cooper Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine Ale

Posted on January 4th, 2011

About the Beer: This beer comes from the unlikely location of Salt Lake City, Utah. The restrictive alcohol policies in Utah have does not make it easy for craft beer culture to flourish there. Despite this one Salt Lake City brewery is beginning to attract national attention for their bold beers.

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Beer of the Week: Mikkeller Big Worst

Posted on November 16th, 2010

Mikkeller Big Worse

About the beer:

The first Barleywine I’ll be reviewing is an unusual one, coming all the way from Denmark by Mikkeller. This young company was founded in 2006 and has already received world-wide acclaim for their bold and innovativeĀ beers like theĀ Big Worst barleywine. The Big Worst comes in a small 12.7 oz. bottle with a cork and a cage, making it look like a miniature bottle of champagne. While less than 13 ounces might not seem like much, what the beer lacks in volume it more than makes up for in strength, thanks to it’s 17.6% ABV. Needless to say Big Worst packs quite a wallop – I even had trouble finishing the half of the bottle I shared with fellow Beeriety writer Sarah.

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Style Profile: Barleywine

Posted on August 27th, 2009

Bass No. 1 ale, the first commercial barley wine. Image via: <a  title=

Bass No. 1 ale, the first commercial barley wine. Image via: Joyce Images

Don’t let it’s name fool you, Barleywine is still very much beer, albeit one which rivals wines in strength (7-12% Alc/volume) and complexity. This beer was originally brewed by English aristocrats of the 18th century who wanted a strong alcoholic beverage of their own to compete with the wine made by the French with which they were constantly at war. These early barley wines were mostly brewed and consumed by the aristocrats in their private breweries, but in 1900 Bass debuted the first commercial barley wine, Bass No. 1 Ale. Although most wine doesn’t actually taste like wine, it has a flavor and beauty all its own that will quickly make you forget about wine (or anything else for that matter.)

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What are hops? An introduction for the curious

Posted on June 17th, 2009

370px-Hopfendolde-mit-hopfengartenIf you’re like most people in America you probably know that hops are a major ingredient in beer, but that’s probably all you know. So what the hell are hops? You’re about to find out.

Hops are a vine-like plant known as Humulus lupulus (technically a ‘bine’ which I’ve never heard of either.) Hops happen to be a close cousin to cannabis, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to smoke them. The female variety of the plant produces small, green pine cone kinda things.

These hop cones produce a powder called lupulin, which contain certain acids which provide much needed flavor and balance to beer. In beer’s 4000 year history hops are a relatively recent invention, having only been used significantly for maybe the last 500 years. Prior to hops people used all sorts of spices and fruits to balance beer’s flavor but nothing has the flavor versatility and variety as hops.They also act as a natural preservative, something important in the days before sanitation as we know it.

In fact the IPA (or India Pale Ale) was born out of this unique quality of hops. During the British occupation of India brewers in England would overload their beers with hops to preserve them for the long ship ride to India. The folks in England took a shinning to the style too and the IPA was born.

Much like wine grapes, the flavor and aroma of hops vary considerably based on where they are grown and frequently a country’s beer style is strongly related to the hops that are native to it. The strong, citrusy hops which grow on America’s West Coast gave rise to the area’s intensely hoppy IPAs and Double IPAs. Regardless of where a hop is from though it can be counted on to give beer some spice and balance out the sweetness of the malt.

Of course some places are too cold to grow hops, like Scotland, and this is reflected in their beer style as well. Scottish ales are famous for their sweet and malty qualities, a result of the lack of hops available for brewing in the area. Try a Belhaven next time you’re out to get a taste of Scottish flavor.

Measuring Hops
The hoppiness of a beer is measured in IBUs or International Bitterness Units.

A General IBU Guide

This is of course just a brief overview of how IBU varies by style; there are plenty of exceptions to these guidelines, but it should give you a good idea of how relatively hoppy your favorite beer may or may not be.