Wild Beer Co: Raconteur 3 Yr (England: Barley Wine: 9.9% ABV)
Visual: Very dark burgundy to black. Thin grey dash of a head.
Nose: Very vinous and heavy. Cider. Sour red wine. Malt loaf and raisins. Slight alcohol tingle. Sour white grapes. Sour black cherries. Sweet red cherries. Apple crumble.
Body: Bready. Alcohol feel at the back of the throat. Sour red wine. Malt loaf. Raisins. Sour grapes. Cider. Acidic tingle. Slight charred oak.
Finish: Sour red wine with sediment. Raisins. Soft vanilla and toffee. Cider. Sour air. Malt loaf. Sour apples. Brown sugar.
Conclusion: Ok, even more so than original Raconteur, this feels dominated by the oak ageing. Which is a lot. However considering that the base beer was already pretty much lost in the original – having more to play with actually does add to the beer here. However the adding of Modus Operandi to the mix has also done it a world of good . It has the Modus’ sour, slightly acidic character matched to lots of Somerset cider style acidic appleness and wine vinous sourness – lots of good elements, but not much of the base barley wine is there, even considering the original. So as a subtle, slightly oak influenced beer where you can appreciate both the base and the oak ageing, this is a bit of a failure; You get malt loaf and raisins as a solid base but that is a bout it. So, as an insanely oak aged beer? How does it do as that?
Well at its base – probably due to the modus influence – it feels close to the more sour end of the Flemish bruin style – it has that harshness and soft acidity at the back of the throat. That is then emphasised by the sour, acidic, cider character that is laden throughout. The sour red wine character, which normally is one of the booming elements, actually kind of grounds the beer here. This really does not feel like a barley wine – however if you take it as an unbalanced barrel aged Belgian bruin – it is rough but actually works pretty well. The harsh characteristics are actually a benefit, not a flaw if looked at like that.
So, it completely overshoots the style it aims for, and ends up as a good example of a completely different style. Genius or madness? You decide.
Background: I found the original Raconteur ok, but very dominated by the oak ageing – so, was unsure if to grab this- which has spent a mighty three years in the oak- from Independent Spirit. If you can’t guess from the fact I am doing notes, I relented and bought it. Hopefully that was fairly obvious. Anyway this has spent time in Somerset Cider and Burgundy wine barrels and some Modus Operandi has been blended in with the resulting beer. Drunk while listening to Gogol Bordello’s Trans-Continental Hustle. With all the anti immigration shit going on at the moment Immigraniada has become a bit of an anthem for me.