WWBG: American Barley Wine

Editor’s Note: This weekly sponsored column is written by Arash Tafakor, owner of Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).

Let’s clear something up first: Barley Wine is not a wine. Barley wine is very much a beer brewed with grains, not grapes. Simply put, Barley Wine is a high alcohol content beer (usually over 10%), which most people can not handle, including myself.

The name wine comes from the high alcohol levels and aging characteristics similar to wine. You can age Barley Wine beers for years to release complexities and smooth out harsh alcohol flavors.

Originally brewed in England in the early 19th century, American brewers took the recipe and added what American brewers always add more of to beer. Hops, and lots of them.  This leads to an intensely strong bitter beer with tons of complex fruit and citrus flavors. Since only a few can handle the monstrous amounts of hops and alcohol in these beers, barley wines have an almost cult following. Here are a few of our best selling Barley Wines we currently have in stock.

Dominion Millennium Ale 2012

If you’re trying Barley Wine for the first time, this beer is definitely the way to go. Brewed with honey, this beer is an alcoholic dessert in a glass. At 10.5% a.b.v this beer is surprisingly drinkable and smooth.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale 2012

This beer is perfectly described as a “beast of a beer”. Brewed specifically for the winter months this ale will warm you up fast. Full of fresh northwest hops to balance the sweet malt, beer lovers love the site of Bigfoot.

Widmer Brothers Old Embalmer 2012

This Barley Wine by Widmer is specifically made to age. Not overly hopped and just around 10% a.b.v., Old Embalmer has more earthy tones than it’s counterparts.

Dogfish Head Olde School 2012

Brewed with dates and figs, Olde School by Dogfish head is a head-spinning unique brew. At 15% a.b.v., Olde School is perfect for aging to smooth out the high alcohol content. I must say this brew is only for the pros.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

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