I had this written up last week, but for some reason never sat down at the computer and typed it up. I've been emptying out all those bottles I've been hanging on to with the intention of trying. Hopefully I have a Japanese beer in the queue, and an Aussie (Sorry, it's not Boag's Premium). I'm hoping to crack them open in the next week, once I'm done with this great pomegranate juice I found...
Alaskan Barley Wine Ale, Alaskan Brewing Company, Juneau AK
Wrapped in the typical Alaskan Brewing Company 65cl bottle, I can't find any indication of the date of origin for this particular bottle. When I pour it out, the beer looks smooth and thick, a deep burgundy who's head dissipates into a thin white ring while I'm still smelling the beer. The hops are incredibly floral, and leaps out after fragrance of the grains. There are subtle hints of something malty lurking underneath that I can't quite put my finger on, with how strong the other two odours are. When I sip it, the Barely Wine Ale opens up with a bitter taste, followed by a mere whiff of the grains involved, and ending with a crisp and bitter aftertaste. How can something so thick be so crisp? It's like drinking oil, it's so thick, and yet there's a distinct bite at the end. It's a paradox, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a beer.
There's something underneath the hops that feels almost oaky, but it's hard to work it out from the power of the rest of the beer. It's vaguely disappointing, because Alaskan seems to do better balancing their beers than they've done with their Barley Wine Ale. The end effect is that the beer tastes too simple, and too heavy on the hops for my tastes. That's not to say I couldn't finish the bottle - you barely realize there's alcohol in this beer at all, it's so well hidden. Still, one bottle is a bit much for one person, and it might be best split between friends over dinner.
3.8 out of 5. B+