Last Best Brewing and Distilling A.E. Cross Barley Wine (2016) – American Barleywine at 11.8% ABV | 45 IBU

Last Best Brewing and Distilling A.E. Cross Barley Wine (2016) American Barleywine at 11.8% ABV | 45 IBU (C$14.95 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 17-Jan-2017)

Appearance: clear deep amber with a short fluffy light beige head, good retention and sticky lacing. (3/5) Aroma: muted, boozy dried fruit, brown sugar. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, medium bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Wow – I’ve never had to work so hard to figure out what the hell I was drinking. This vintage was split into two, a barrel-aged version, and an “unoaked” version. Guess what the “unoaked” version says on the label to distinguish it from the barrel-aged one? Nothing. Seriously, that’s how you tell the difference: if the front label doesn’t say “barrel-aged”, it’s the unoaked one. Easy, right? Now go find that spelled out somewhere. Anywhere. I’ll wait. <insert “Jeopardy” theme here> See? Tolja. Apparently I’m one of about 50 people who bought this. On the other hand, bonus points for using highly technical brewing terms on the label: I honestly can’t think of another beer that gives OE or AE, let alone both. But, why stop there? Why not go full-bore and determine TE by distillation? But I digress. This is… well…, “OK”, I guess. I mean, it’s fairly well-implemented, and there’s certainly nothing off about it. The huge ABV is quite impressively integrated. But, the aromas and flavours are muted, to the point of verging on boring. I hope the barrel-aged one addresses that, and I will actually try to find it.  But this particular one, yeah, I fall back on “OK”. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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