Served at cellar temp (58º)
A finger or so of loose foam that dissipated quickly. A deep copper, nearly red, color. Perfectly clear, no haze at all. I was concerned that the seller had it in their cooler and this beer is not meant to be chilled, but fortunately there was no chill-haze to speak of. (3/3)
Wow, what a medley of flavor! As with the aroma, the blend of oak/bourbon, caramel and dark fruit is perfectly balanced. The effect reminds me of port wine or sherry. While no hop flavor came through in the aroma, there was a modest level of hop bitterness present, placing it in the high end of the English Barleywine style, by my guess. The strength of the beer is noticeable up-front, but not in a harsh or unpleasant way, though you can certainly taste the alcohol. This isn't entirely unexpected for such a young barleywine. There is a brown sugar or carmelly sweetness, but it is partially offset by the impressive 11.5% ABV. (17/20)
For a beer of this 'size', it is neither overly dry or heavy on the mouth. Carbonation is low, and to style. It does leave a slight residual syrupy feel on the tongue, but it's forgivable for the style. (3/5)
A fine brew and a welcome addition to my cellar. I look forward to revisiting this 'vintage' again in a year or two, to see how the flavor develops. I expect some of the alcohol hotness to diminish and the fruity character to come forward, but only time will tell. The bourbon barrel/oak flavor is present, but not overpowering like so many oak-aged beers tend to be. It perfectly complements the port/sherry - like qualities. Probably the best barleywine I've yet tasted. (8/10)
I scored it a 40. An excellent, though not outstanding beer. With time, I expect it to improve. In a year or two, I would be surprised and disappointed if my impression of this beer didn't improve. We'll see!