Art Brew: Arbor Ales: Barley Wine (England: Barley Wine: 12% ABV)

Visual: Burgundy influenced brown with a light Carmel dash of bubbles that leave quite the trail around the glass.

Nose: light grapefruit and a toffee/caramel mix.  Touch of tangerine and fruit sourness.  Sometimes the sweetness turns somewhat treacle in style.

Body: Thick textured toffee and pineapple. Very sweet and hits instantly.  Fresh tangerine. Dry malt.  Thin sugar coating of chocolate eggs,  Glacier cherries.

Finish: Bitter and yet clashes with fresh grapefruit. Liquorice and malt drinks. A gin air from the alcohol.

Conclusion: Whilst putting a beer this high abv on tap is a brave move, Id say making a massive barley wine with a good dose of American style hopping then serving it in a very traditional style English pub is, if anything, even braver.  So, does it pay off?

Well, whilst I can’t say how well the pub will benefit but I can say it works well enough for me. Its ideal moment of grace is that first sip. Insanely sweet, lovely toffee and a hint of grapefruit. That first sip is a wonder.

Now if only you could frame that moment and make it last the entire beer then you would have yourself an all time great.  From the fact I am saying that means you can probably guess that it doesn’t quite hold onto that high,

Any sustained drinking leads to the alcohol and the weaker elements of the beer taking the floor from that lovely front.   Now if you take a decent gaps between sips you can offset that quite well, and frankly the abv pretty much demands that you take your time over it.  With this time and respect that lovely front shows itself again, so definitely don’t write the beer off.

It’s a very good beer, lots of massive flavour with just a few flaws holding it back, but it is still a heck of a beer.

Background: Found at the “Royal Oak”. Must say you don’t often find a 12%er on tap so I thought id give it a try. Art Brew have done a nice batch of beers with a fun bit of experimentation and Arbor have been solid enough so far that a collaboration seemed like a thing to try. Only a half pint drunk for obvious sodding reasons.  Note: the bottled version of this appears to be called “Double Trouble”, it may also have spent a little longer ageing.