Driftwood Brewery Old Cellar Dweller (2017) – American Barleywine at 11.2% ABV

Driftwood Brewery Old Cellar Dweller (2017) American Barleywine at 11.2% ABV (C$14.05 at Hume Hotel Liquor Boutique, 650 ml, packaged on 21-Nov-2017, acquired 30-Jan-2018, reviewed 27-Feb-2018)

Appearance: clear deep gold with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: resiny pine, citrus, faint brown sugar. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry warming lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

All right, Driftwood, don’t let me down here: I deliberately had you batting cleanup because I expected better things of you than my first Barleywine of the evening – and it was actually a bit of a trainwreck, so the bar’s not been set high. Aaaand, go!

… Well, fuck. What the hell is that?

Okay, okay, let’s not be hasty here, it’s different, but different isn’t necessarily wrong, or bad, right? Give the head a shake, reset, and try again.

Yeah, let’s be clear here: this is not an English-Style Barleywine. I’m not even sure it’s an American-style Barleywine. If you had told me this was an A/DIPA, I’d’ve been all over it. Big, boozy, and hot, but with so much hops that that’s what dominates on the nose. Seriously, how is it that hops dominate a Barleywine, to the exclusion of almost everything else? And how is it that I, an inveterate hophead, am complaining about that? This is through the looking-glass territory here, folks.

‘Ang on a mo’… Huh. It would appear that’s by design. And I quote: “When young, it is a hoppy treat with plenty of citrus and pine; cellared for a few years and Cellar Dweller gracefully ages into a rich, round reward for patience, hinting at flavours of tawny port.”

Well, shit. Now I feel bad that I didn’t cellar this for a few years. Guess I’m gonna have to buy a couple more and set them down. And, oh yeah: it’s actually pretty good right now. Really good, in fact – just a bit unexpected. (I’m pretty sure there’s a “Crying Game” joke in there, but I can’t be arsed. Oh, wait – maybe that’s it?) Actually, the more I sip, the better it gets. Gee, I wonder if the double-barrelled ABV has something to do with that? (And yes, possibly the most gorgeous Driftwood label yet, but that’s almost old hat by now, right? And, my gold tooth is lower right, not upper left, I mean, jeez.) (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze