Double DBA

Firestone Walker: Double DBA (USA: Barley Wine: 12% ABV)

Visual: Cherry red. Small off white dusting for a head.

Nose: Caramel. Honey. Sweet raspberry syrup. Flapjack or oat biscuits. Port. Raisins. Brandy cream. Figs.

Body: Smooth but slightly sherbety. Lemon sherbet. Fruitcake and raisins. Honey sponge cake. Flapjacks, Dried apricot. Brown sugar.

Finish: Barley biscuits and honey. Lemon meringue. Glacier cherries. Vanilla toffee. Marzipan. A gin air.

Conclusion: Why do the strong beers often come in such large bottles? Ok, I guess they do age better but seriously with a bottle this big it is a bottle to be shared

This is a big beer in a Hair Of The Dog: Matt style, with a hint of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. Aroma is like a fine spirit, the body has spirit flavour but is smooth as can be. It keeps the beer heritage by emphasising the oak biscuits and flapjack take on the sweetness. That may sound not the most beer like of elements but, honey drenched though it is, those elements give a texture that calls to what oatmeal stouts would be like if they were made as a barley wine. That sentence may make sense outside my head but I’m not sure. What I mean is it feels as if that oatmeal thickness has been added.

It is very sweet and pretty damn complex. Notable more so in the part of the pour that gets the sediment. If you are sharing, fight for the last pour as it has much richer flavour. Either way as you get into the finish the oat flavour comes in again gradually and becoming drying in the feel.

There is a lot in there, dark fruit, dessert elements, all flapjack and fruitcake which have been doused in brandy cream and port. It is an intoxicating experience in flavour as well as the abv. The barley biscuits flavours also come in very evidently and when it does then never has the term barley wine seemed so appropriate.

The mix of high sweetness to grounded oatmeal is interesting and delivered smooth as can be, however in the big guns of beer stakes HOTD Matt and Brodies Elizabethan does beat it. This has the crime of the very minor flaw of a gin air to the finish that gives the alcohol dryness too much grip. Frankly a tiny flaw, but it does seem to permeate the beer by the end and gives too much alcohol feel if not burn, and at the top even little flaws can keep you from being number one. Any which way it is still seriously nice, but just doesn’t quite take the crown.

Big, sweet yet grounded and with a huge range. Slightly over gin influenced as time goes on, but taken in moderation, and shared with friends you can experience it at its best.

Background: Oh my, a big beer from Firestone Walker who have grabbed my respect over the past year. They call it a Imperial Special Bitter. This thing is the 2012 edition, drunk 2013. Firestone make their beers with what has been explained to me as a variant of the Burton Union system. This was drunk while listening to a bit of Hayseed Dixie and kicking back to relax.