Last Sunday we smashed twenty Pumpkin beers, as well as a few pumpkins:
But tonight is different. It’s my birthday, and we can think of nothing better than free beer and a t-shirt (it’s called commitment). So we return to The Green Dragon.
Aside from the occasional Killer Pumpkin Festival, The Green Dragon updates its 62 rotating tapped kegs daily. We start with their own Green Tea Mead (good, easy, light) and a Pumpkin Porter, and then ponder micro, experimental beers from New Zealand to Germany and everywhere in between.
But what declared itself (betwixt domino moves) was Pelican Brewery’s Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, Barley Wine, from 2010:
So, Barley…Wine. What the beelzebub is it? In short, Barley Wine is not a wine. It is a beer. But it is beer with wine-high alcohol (8-12%).
Around 1854, steampunk British beer-makers couldn’t grow grapes. All that rain hardly felt Mediterranean. So they brewed grains with higher gravities (denser sugars) and less water. Thus big, brooding, barely wine gave their wet winters an alternative to Port.
Fast forward to 2010, when Pelican Brewery’s Stormwatcher’s Winterfest aimed its cross-hairs at the cold, windswept coast of Pacific City on Oregon’s Coast.
Three years on, birthday at hand, I try it:
It looks like opaque molasses. But look harder, and a clear, but deep, ruby, amber glows with a fine cream rim.
Piping hot, black cherry cobbler, laced with dark treacle or molasses crashes into our nostrils. Cherry jolly rancher in drag.
Notably sweet, with moderate acid, high, mouth-restructuring tannins, ember-glowing high alcohol (12.7%), and gobs of body.
Again, intensely hot black cherry cobbler with caramelized brown sugar, and a crumble topping own our palates. Treacle or molasses brood alongside. But then lavender, mint, nutmeg, and even shoe rubber evolve amidst the fruit. All these flavors persist past our attention spans.
Pelican Brewery’s Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, Barley Wine, from 2010 is undoubtedly outstanding beer (5 of 5). It is rich, sweet, yet brittle and brooding: perfect for a cold night in. We switch back and forth with other beers. Somehow, instead of crushing them, it raises them. Drink it soon but drink it slowly. Otherwise, you might not remember your birthday.