Editorial Dept.'s picture

Top 100 Rated Beers of 2017

Delve into the best beers of the year as judged in BC's Official Review.

 

#6

96
by Pat Mulloy
Below Decks
Heavy Seas Beer

View Beer
Read Review
Brewer Q & A

 


Brewery Impressions
by Heavy Seas brewmaster Christopher Leonard

Who was responsible for this beer's recipe? 
Below Decks was a fairly well received Barleywine we made a few years back. We aged a portion of it in Cabernet wine barrels, which turned out great. So, when we were given an opportunity to purchase a large amount of red wine barrels as part of another project, we jumped at the chance. The original Below Decks was brewed with American hops. For this version, I reformulated the beer as an all-English ingredient version (Marris Otter malt, Fuggle and Kent Goldings hops).

What sets this beer apart from other examples within the style? 
While I've had English Barleywines that were aged in whiskey, brandy and other fortified wine barrels, I don't know that I've ever had/seen one that had been aged in American red wine barrels. We aged this beer for a much longer time than we normally do with our Uncharted Waters series beers (18 months vs. 6-9 weeks), so barrel impact was quite noticeable. Also, as a blend of beer aged in barrels that held three different red wine varietals (Cabernet, Syrah, Pinot Noir) with the prior contents of each barrel unknown to us, this beer is definitely one-of-a-kind.

What makes this beer truly World-Class? 
Great question. A lot of passion and care went into the production of this beer. English Barleywine is easily my favorite guilty pleasure beer style. So, I wanted to make sure we did everything in our power to make this beer turn out spectacularly. Extended aging, along with careful, deliberate blending of approximately 90% of the barrels we had filled, provided us with a beer in which we have enormous pride.

What is your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.)? 
The red wine barrel treatment really pops in the nose. It provides an interesting contrast to the toffee-like sweetness, as if someone took a fortified wine and gave it a dry wine aroma.

How popular is this beer among your faithful fans? 
This beer harkens back to our roots. While our biggest-selling beers are (American) IPAs, our brewery is rooted in English brewing traditions. Some of our longtime fans remember earlier versions of this beer and were excited to see what twist we would put on the 2016 edition. It's a beer folks will cellar for years and, hopefully, pull out for comparison if and when we brew it again.


Judge's Second Opinion
by Pat Mulloy

Drinking Heavy Seas' Below Decks is like enjoying a visit from an interesting old friend. It entices with slightly sweet layers of aromas as red wine, alcohol, vanilla, sugar, treacle, and dried fruit weave in and out, evoking the kind of biscuits one might eat in an oak-paneled library on a winter evening with a fire roaring in the fireplace. With a little imagination, you can smell a hint of wet tweed, some library mustiness and traces of evergreen.

This beer is a beauty to look at. I’m stuck with a Duralog, but the flames give the beer an interesting red wine to rose tint around the edges as streams of bubbles slowly work their way surfaceward. The cap is pinkish-white and brief but a swirl of the glass reveals legs that sparkle in the firelight. Let the beer sit in your mouth a few moments and roll it over and under your tongue and around your mouth. The flavors are complex and layered, melding fruit, grape and vanilla red wine-barrel flavors with English Barleywine's characteristic dark dried fruit, nuts, brown sugar and treacle.

As it warms, more flavors come out. Just the right level of bitterness emerges on the finish to balance the alcohol and the mild sweetness. The bitterness kicks the beer up a notch and keeps it from being cloying. The alcohol is big but not hot or harsh. You notice it as a gentle warmth creeps through your body as you finish off the bottle and suddenly realize that it’s the beer waming you up – and not the Duralog.

Some beers are liquid bread – this is more like a meal in a glass, but it is a very good one. Drink this beer alone, in a quiet place, slowly and before a fire, and you will discover it is transformative. It takes you places. 


Pages

Comments

worthel's picture
So,I'm a member, but I must pay another two bucks to read the rest of this article? Are you kidding?
Editorial Dept.'s picture
Hello Worthel, Our magazine articles are premium content and are reserved for premium subscribers. We researched your account and it does not appear you have purchased a premium subscriptions. If you feel this is in error, you may complete a customer service ticket by clicking "account services" at the head of the website. Cheers! BC

Pages

Comments

worthel's picture
So,I'm a member, but I must pay another two bucks to read the rest of this article? Are you kidding?
Editorial Dept.'s picture
Hello Worthel, Our magazine articles are premium content and are reserved for premium subscribers. We researched your account and it does not appear you have purchased a premium subscriptions. If you feel this is in error, you may complete a customer service ticket by clicking "account services" at the head of the website. Cheers! BC

Pages

Advertisement

Table of Contents