Hawkshead Wild Beer Co Oat Wine
Hawkshead: Wild Beer Co: Oat Wine (England: Barley Wine: 9% ABV)

Visual: Apricot, hazy bodied and with evident sediment, darkened under its large caramel touched head that leaves suds.

Nose: Peach melba or maybe peaches and strawberry. Creamy. Custard cream biscuits. Muesli. Nettles. Dried apricot.

Body: Thick and oaty. Nettles and greenery bitterness. Dried apricot. Hop oils. Peach syrup. Strawberry. Shouchuu.

Finish Greenery. Bitter. Tannins. Dry. Dried fruit sugars. Peach. Cheap sake. Muesli and sultanas.

Conclusion: Much better than first impressions indicated. Which may be an ominous dooming with faint praise, or possibly a prelude to raving about a new awesome beer. Suspenseful, no?

The aroma sells this as sweet and fruity, peach melba style, which initially isn’t really represented when you reach the body. The muesli tasting base seem to be laden with traditional pre-hop beer greenery bitterness and then leads into a disappointing finish backed by a shouchuu like alcohol character.

So, not good. Though time lets the fruit rise, the oaty base doesn’t seem to play well with it. The thick texture and light fruit seem like two separate entities that never mix or mesh. The best mixing element is where it feels like you get dried fruit sugar notes – kind of dried apricot and peach that seem to match the more restrained and less showy base.

The peach syrup grows late on and as it comes to dominate the beer becomes a thicker and much more fruity medley, but while this improves the beer, it feels like it does so by overwhelming the base rather than complementing the style. So, while it ends up a decent beer when it pushes that fruit up front, it does so by losing what makes it unique, so an ok beer at the end, but doesn’t make use of anything that makes it special.

Background: Now, Wild Beer Co seem to be a bit weak on Barley Wines, and while this is an Oat Wine, it still falls in the same ballpark. Then again this is a collaboration, so may be that they are learning from the main parter in it – Hawkshead. Any which way this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Chelsea Wolfe: Hypnos/Flame, mainly because Warren Ellis had mentioned it in his weekly e-mail so I thought I would check it out