Brewer: Anchor Brewing Company
Location: San Francisco, California
Brew: Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale
Style: English Barleywine
We already know what you’re thinking: why is the word barley mashed together (no pun intended) with the word “wine;” and why on earth would they suggest I try a beer with the word wine associated with it? Because it’s worth it, believe us. For all of you aggressive IPA drinkers out there, those of you who love super hoppy or high ABV imperial and double style IPAs, we may have a new winter favorite for you.
So What Exactly Is a Barleywine?
The barleywine is considered one of the strongest beer styles, which somewhat explains why the word wine is associated with this beer style: barleywine often approaches the alcohol content of wine with an ABV range anywhere from 8.0 to 15.0%. The term “barley wine” dates back to the 18th century when apparently brewers tried to market their product to wine drinkers by showing that their beers were of the same alcohol content and quality as wine. For more historical perspective, this nice video from Anchor is helpful:
But How Does it Taste?
We love the combination of malty booziness and stinging carbonation that make this one potent yet drinkable ale. Make no mistake, this is no session beer and often this type of beer is best as a post-dinner sipper or when you simply want quality over quantity. Anchor sums it up best, “Old Foghorn is to beer much as port is to wine.” An apt comparison considering both are best sipped instead of swilled. We could go off into some vague flowery explanation about how this beer has floral notes and fruitiness, but to honest, we have a hard time with those minute taste details. When we really like something, and want to share it with others, we simply recommend with enthusiasm and hope that you too will feel the same way. In this case, we really recommend you try a barleywine, especially if you've never had one.
Buzz: When it’s winter, as far as we're concerned it's stout season. But when we tire of dark beers, barleywine is at the top of our list of go-to beers. That said, we can always rely on Old Foghorn because of its consistently delicious, high-alcohol carbonated snap. If you like strong IPAs in the summer, the barleywine style may just be your new winter beer of choice; and among this style, you can’t go wrong with Old Foghorn.
Buzzkill: For some reason we're unable to find this beer year-around here in Idaho. Maybe we're not looking hard enough, but it seems to only show up around December and stick around for a few months each year even though Anchor says they brew the beer year-around.