Brasserie La Débauche Cognac Barrel – Barley Wine at 9.5% ABV

Brasserie La Débauche Cognac Barrel Barley Wine at 9.5% ABV (C$4.79 at 2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar, 330 ml, best before 29-Jun-2018, acquired 25-Sep-2016, reviewed 21-Dec-2016)

Appearance: hazy deep amber with three fingers of fluffy beige head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: metallic, evergreen, caramel malt, bandaid. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body tending to watery, soft carbonation, warming finish. (3/5)

Advent day #21 is a style that I’ve tended to struggle with, and the second appearance of that style in the calendar. I used to actively dislike Barley Wines, but that’s changed, to the point where I think I can now actually appreciate the style. But, there are aspects of this one that perplex me. For example, how can the head be so pronounced, while the carbonation is so soft? I mean, yes, I understand that head retention is a function of proteins, but how does this froth up and generate so much head to retain in the first place, during a relatively gentle pour, while having such mild carbonation? This isn’t just an aesthetic objection, because the sheer volume of head actively dampens the aromas, while the body falling off to watery affects the finish. I want to like this more than I do, and given the big ABV I’m honestly surprised I don’t, but ultimately it falls short. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze