Sprecher Barleywine Ale
Serving: 16oz bottle, drunk from a goblet.
Sprecher is a craft brewery located in Glendale, Wisconsin. I have always thought of them as a brewer of German-style beers, but today I was in Westsite Liquors in Brainerd, MN, and to my delight found both this barleywine and a scotch ale from them. Watch for the scotch ale review soon!
My pour results in a one-finger cream-colored head of tiny, tightly-packed bubbles. The head collapses in about 20 seconds, leaving a thin, uneven layer of bubbles on the top. The beer itself is a gorgeous copper orange color, like the embers of sunsets watched from canyon floors.
The aroma is sweet and fruity. First impressions are figs and apricots, accompanied by grape juice, brown sugar, cereal grains, and raisins. And then it all blends together to smell like toast topped with a rich, delicious jam.
This beer has a big, penetrating flavor. Sweet fig and brown sugar up front, followed by grains and grape juice in the middle. These flavors all come together with an impression on the palate of port wine. The long, bittersweet finish is reminiscent of marmalade, and eventually gives way to a resiny grapefruit aftertaste that just refuses to die.
The mouthfeel of this beer is pretty big. The flavors coat every available surface of my mouth and refuse to go away. There is a tiny bit of alcohol bite on the front half of my tongue.
I may have a new favorite barleywine. It’s got a just-barely balancing bitterness that accompanies the huge flavor nicely, and together those two aspects slow me down admirably.
The next time I have this, I will make a point of having a good strong cheese on hand. A three to five-year gouda or cheddar, some roquefort or stilton, or maybe even ruyer (although that may be overpowered).
Interestingly, the bottle say this barleywine uses a French yeast strain. When I start brewing again, I want that strain, the esters it produced in this bear are delicious.