Monday, March 24, 2008

Full Sail Brewing Co: Old Boardhead Barleywine Ale

When you think 'barley' you probably think 'beer'. When you think 'wine', well you probably think 'wine'. Barleywines, not surprisingly, are a beer-wine combo: containing the grain base and taste of a beer and the high alcohol content and ageability of a wine.

I picked up a 220z bomber of Full Sail's reserve line of barleywines. The store had the '07 version in stock. I went with Full Sail's ale simply due to the price. I'm sure you've all noticed that Full Sail beers are always consistently 2+ dollars a six-pack cheaper than other microbrews. I really have no idea why, as I find that their brews are just as tasty as any other micro. (The amber ale and limited edition lager are quite tasty). Most great American breweries justify their good or poor beer with prices that match, but I think Full Sail defies this reliable indicator. Since most 22oz Barleywines go for about 5 bucks a pop, I easily handed over the $3.29 for this 9% ale. 22oz at 9% is about 4 beers in one bottle; sounds like a good deal to me.

With my bargain in hand I began the sipping. This is not a beer to plow through. Some people even pour these brews in wine glasses for best results and to ensure paced consumption. That was a little too weird for me, so I went with the standard pint glass. Probably a faux pas at many beer bars. Oh well.
Anyway, the beer smells very earthy. Almost like a redwood tree. The lacing is also quite frothy; so coupled with the smell I knew I was in for a dousy. The taste was also pretty rich to match. Hoppy and almost dark. Surprisingly there were no fruit flavors. I thought this was a staple in this style of ale, especially since the others I've tried were very fruity; but I guess not. Overall pretty good. Enough flavors to mask the alcohol and enough good tastes to justify sticking with one bottle the whole night. Cheers.

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