So, exciting times, I managed to make it out for a beer today on my way home from work. I popped in to Barn Hammer to give their “Madder Red” Barley Wine a try. It was rather tasty and I’m pretty excited that they could potentially do a full batch of it. There are also some possibilities down the line that are exciting that I’ll hopefully be reporting on in January.
There’s lots to come in the new year with follow-ups, get to know a brewer interviews, and beers on the horizon, but for December the focus is on this calendar and the beers within. Aptly, today’s is a Barley Wine from Brewski Brewery in Sweden and Evil Twin (a Dane who brews in New York). The name is amazing in and of itself, Gno more Gnomes, and makes me excited to try it.
Brewski is a brewery located in Helsingborg. This is a small town in Sweden that is on the opposite side of the Øresund straight from Helsingør Denmark. This is a famous trade route between these two countries and Helsingør is, in fact, the small town in which Hamlet takes place. I’ve had the opportunity to visit and it’s a pretty cool place with a super sweet castle. There is a history here where there is a Danish Viking statue that is said to awaken if Denmark should ever be in danger.
While not much information is available on Brewski itself, from what I can determine it seems that their head brewer, Marcus, is like Jeppe (Evil Twin) in approach to brewing. From what I can tell, He does have a brewery but takes the same experimental tact as Jeppe trying to explore and set new limits for beer. Marcus even says “Just because no one did this kind of beer before doesn’t mean it can’t be done.” There are a huge number of beers that have been produced by Brewski and it seems that they try new things often.
Evil Twin was Founded by Jeppe Jarnit–Bjergsø in 2010, Evil Twin isn’t really a brewery. Jeppe is known as the “gypsy brewer” in that he brews all over the place. He develops recipe after recipe of unique styles and plays on styles that are brewed out of other breweries and exported around the world. At the moment, he brews out of 10 different breweries in 6 different countries around the world. This means that Evil Twin doesn’t really have any year-round beers but rather a huge number of different and interesting one-off brews. To put it in perspective, Evil Twin launched more than 40 beers in 2012.
Jeppe was born in Denmark and began his adult life as a school teacher. In 2012 he moved his family to Brooklyn, NY so that he could be closer to where it all happens and to grow his brand. His goal is to make New York the beer capital of the world. While many of the beers that he makes are experimental, they are also in many cases critically acclaimed. Brewing in small batches, usually no more than 2500-3000 barrels (~3500 hectoliters), the beers tend to be a bit more on the expensive side and very difficult to find.
This beer is brewed in the style of an English Barleywine. A very strong, heavily malted beer. This style is really a showcase of malty richness with a warming alcohol and often pleasant hoppy or fruity notes. This beer can be aged and when done so it can often take on port like flavours.
While there have been strong ales of various different formulations for a long time in England, the modern Barleywine can be traced back to Bass no. 1 in 1872. This was the first to be called a “Barleywine”. Traditional a darker style of beer, in 1951 a brewer called Tennant (now Whitbread) produced “Gold Label” a gold coloured Barleywine.
These beers are quite often the strongest ale offered by a brewery and now typically are stamped with a vintage date as they have become popular cellaring beers. This style will age well and often changes in flavour profile. The English Barleywine is the original style of this beer that has spawned off into other styles from Belgium, the US and elsewhere.
Appearance – Pours a dark ruby colour with a good 1” head that dissipates quickly.
Smell – Figs, dark fruit, toffee, plums, raisins.
Taste – Starts of rather sweet and has a really nice fig and plum note coming through. Continues with some good bitterness near the finish and leaves a lingering alcohol warmth.
Mouth feel – Medium-full body with moderate carbonation and a bitter finish with alcohol warmth.
Overall – Rather enjoyable Barley Wine. Presents with really nice malt characters. The fig is a good addition and brings some extra dark fruit notes to it.
Do I like it? – I did like. Tasty, good malt notes, good masking of alcohol content.