Samlesbury (InBev): Gold Label (England: Barley Wine: 8.5% ABV

Visual: A clear red amber, light fizz of a head on the pour but not for much longer than that.

Nose: Barley and large amounts of cane sugar. Golden syrup cakes, slight cherries and somewhat musty. Liquorice.

Body: Sweet front, bitter middle and almost rising charring. Somewhat muddled, but quite bready. Barley and golden syrup.

Finish: Dusty and big charring. Gin air. Liquorice again.

Conclusion: This is a lot of people in the UK’s introduction to barley wine, and tends to influence their view of the style. The nose is pretty reasonable, promising a decent beer.

Unfortunately the rest of the beer doesn’t follow through, it’s got a muddled and uncertain body, with a dirty (and not in a good way) feeling to the flavours. The finish is pretty rough, you get the feeling it was bred for alcohol rather than pedigree and flavour and there no sense of direction to the drink.

Not absolutely atrocious, but pretty damn far from good.