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Winter Warmer 2011 (Upland)

I pulled this barleywine out of the cellar on one of the very few snowy days we've had this winter. The snow is snowing again, which gave me motivation to finally write up these notes (and maybe grab another winter warmer).

Barleywines seem to be an acquired taste. They are a bit stronger than most ales. They got their name because the alcohol content is so much higher than the average brew, they couldn't label it beer back in the day. Though now "imperial" has the same connotation. They are highly malted brews that gave the yeast plenty of fermentable sugars to create a boozy strong ale. Some are smoother than others.

With barleywines not being quite so mainstream, there are quite a few variances out there. Some are done well, and some make your mouth pucker. Some can get past the sharpness with a little aging. This one was aged a over a year, but may not have needed it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This amber brew had a rich tan head. The grain and bitter hop smell was very strong. It made me think that it may have done well with a little more aging.

Taste: It was smoother than expected (based on that aroma). It had a nice sweet aftertaste. It was like hopped caramel. It was warming. The bitterness turned into a spiciness as it warmed up. It was a nice winter brew. The name was dead on. I don't think that it needed to be aged much more. I wouldn't mind getting a bottle or two this year to see what the aging would do.

From the Upland site:
Barleywine is a style of ale that originated in England and known for its high gravity, making it as strong as some wines. Our take on this classic style, Winter Warmer, undergoes a lengthy boil to achieve an almost black color, and features a heavy malt character, derived from a combination of British and American malts. From there, it is dry-hopped with Hallertauer hops for a powerful hop profile. Most distinctively, Upland’s special yeast strain lends Winter Warmer a perfect blend of rich fruit flavors and aromas.

Winner of a Silver Award in the 2008 World Beer Cup ‘Old Ale’ Category.

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