There's Still Time for Barleywines
With the arrival of spring, you may be looking forward to popping the cap on some lighter brews, but this is the Intermountain West, which means the mercury can still dip into the 30s some days. That's a good enough reason to keep a few high-octane ales in reserve. Barleywines typically top out around 10 percent alcohol, and these three recent arrivals offer very different styles.
2012 Adnams Tally-Ho Reserve Barleywine Style Ale, $2.49-$4.49, 11.2 ounce
This brew is a deep mahogany in the glass with a generous mocha froth that collapses slowly, leaving a whispy ring. On the nose, there's a fruitcake medley of aromas with prunes, dates, dried sweet cherries and molasses. On the palate, there are baked apple and pear flavors with a lovely warmth. Bittersweet chocolate and oolong tea color the finish, along with a cleansing hit of hops.
Sockeye Old Devil's Tooth Barleywine Ale, $1.99-$2.69, 12 ounce
This local entry pours a lightly hazy amber with a thin head that leaves a nice lacing. It opens with fig and toffee aromas, along with a whiff of blood orange and some sweet heat from the alcohol. That translates into a well-integrated core of heat on the palate, surrounded by caramel-laced malt. Lightly bitter hops and stone fruit flavors come through on the finish.
21st Amendment Lower de Boom Barleywine Style Ale, $2.49-$3.29, 8.4 ounce
This deep amber ale's aromas are a mix of ripe citrus, fresh bread and resiny hops. Weighing in at 92 IBUs, it opens with the big hops you might expect from an imperial IPA. The bite is followed by creamy, candied orange and a hint of spicy sassafras. Drying hops and an intriguing touch of agave close things out. Tequila boilermakers, anyone?