pFriem Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine

pFriem Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine, pFriem Family Brewers
Judges Ratings 
1 Review
86
Aroma:
20 / 24
Flavor:
34 / 40
Appearance:
6 / 6
Mouthfeel:
9 / 10
Overall Impression:
17 / 20
Description 

Bourbon Barleywine is spicy and a bit surly, a beautifully big sipper with soft hits of caramel, baking spice and oak. Spicy and impetuous now, with years of aging, this big brew will mellow with transcendent complexity and luscious mouthfeel.

Profile

ABV: 
11.0%
IBUs: 
33
Served at: 
45º - 50º F
Hops: 
Chinook, Cascade
Malts: 
Simpson’s Golden Promise, Carafa II, Demerara sugar
Judges Review 
David Sapsis's picture
Judges Rating:
86
Aroma:
20 / 24
Appearance:
6 / 6
Flavor:
34 / 40
Mouthfeel:
9 / 10
Overall Impression:
17 / 20

pFriem Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine by pFriem Family Brewers is being judged under the guidance of BJCP category 33B, Specialty Wood-Aged Beer, where distinct alcohol and barrel character are expected to carry over to the finished beer.  In this case, the underlying style is barleywine, an ultra-strong ale of big caramel-malt structure and often high hop character in American variants. 

I am served the beer at 52oF in large tulip glass.  The beer throws a tawny/ faintly hazy copper, around 11-12 SRM, and shows a mixed- bubble head with  moderate and creamy textured stand at 2 minutes post-pour. 

The nose is lightly sweet, with light caramel, some distinct apple-fruity notes  with some additional sweet white grape and  cidery/fruity tartness,  along with an evident  ethanol hit released with swirling.   Overall the aroma comes off  sweet, and with relatively little explicit bourbon or barrel character but rather a distinct apple pie-like profile with some hints of low char oak acting as counterpoint to the malt.  

The flavor starts with a jolting rush of malt sweetness with elements of light caramel, honey, and a quite distinct apple-cider angle.  Bitterness is quite low across the mid palate with long flavors of honey, sweet apple, quince, sweet orange, and a faint but clear note of pie spice (cinnamon?, allspice?).  Conditioning comes off low.  The finish is full, alcoholic,  and quite  sweet in balance, with a fat body, lush mouthfeel, and low astringency.   There is however a quite nice oak flavor that sits in for compliment against the malt and sweetness and keeps the beer from being oppressively heavy.  Somewhat taken by the perceived level of residual sweetness, I took a gravity reading, which at  9.5oP confirmed that that impression.  

Overall, this is an interesting beer, that either by design or by context, comes up a bit short for me, tonight at least.   It's really quite sweet, and the hop character is very hard to find, something I expect to be more evident in a  barleywine. even a well-aged barrel version. On the plus side, the big rich fruitiness and deft wood/spice angle make it a fine sipping desert beer of quite distinct character.     So, maybe its a matter of systematics.  Or maybe its a matter of context.  The malt is lush, the ferment complex and fruity, and there is a nice light woody-oaky element all packaged up in a big alcohol elixir.   If looking for the right setting, it might be desert all by itself. 

Brewery Introduction

pFriem Brewery and its award winning tasting room is located in Hood River, OR, just south of the Washington State border and across the street from the town’s beautiful Waterfront Park. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Columbia and White Salmon rivers while savoring pFriem’s core beers and... Read More

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