It was snowing outside, but it was warm(ing) inside, on Saturday, 21 February, 2015.
It was day one —of two days— at the 5th annual Barleywine Festival, of Mad Fox Brewing Company, in Falls Church, Virginia.
The brewpub was serving its patrons thirty-seven barleywines —several of which had been vintage-aged on-site (the beers, that is!). A few were Mad Fox's own; the others from elsewhere.
Only eighteen of the barleywines were 'on' at any one time. But midway through the day, on both days of the weekend festival, the brewing staff would switch the draft-lines to the other eighteen, seamlessly and quickly. A tip of the pint ... er, 4-ounce glass. No pints were served! (The 37th barleywine was served cask-conditioned, and remained 'on' throughout.)
The three at this table, in from the blizzard, were enjoying (a few) of those.
What are barleywines?
Barley wines are the strongest of beers [usually 8-12% alcohol by volume] and while not always literally approaching the alcohol content of wine, usually surmount the strength of ales referred to as "strong' and "old," to which they are related.— The Oxford Companion to Beer: Oxford University Press, 2012.
[...] British examples are noteworthy for pronounced alcoholic and sherry like flavors.
The American Northeast [...] produces barley wines in a kind of mid-Atlantic meld, tending more to the sweet and strong, with tempered flavors of age. Owing in part to the relative proximity of supply [of hops], the barley wines of the West Coast [and especially Pacific Northwest] are fierce in hop bitterness and aroma, even after the time ordinarily counted upon to diminish hop character.
And why are they sometimes called "barleywine-style ales," at least in the U.S.?
The United States— Encyclopedia of Beer: Henry Holt and Company, 1995.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms[now known as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB] has outlawed the mixture of beer and wine and the use of any label that hints at such a mixture. Therefore, this type of beer is likely to be labeled, "barleywine-style ale."
- My review of seven barleywines I tried: here. There was an eighth. But it wasn't particularly good. See the list of all thirty-seven barleywines: here.
- More photos from the festival: here.
- Read the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) suggested guidelines for barley wines: here.
- Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Heavy Seas, whose vintage barleywine was one of the beers served at the festival. Any opinions here are mine alone.
- Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, usually posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject. Camera: Olympus Pen E-PL1.
- Commercial reproduction requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.
- For more from YFGF: