I handed the decision of selecting the day's beer to one of the most knowledgeable beer enthusiasts I know... Madame Crystal (I have almost 50 beers in my cold garage to prime the pump for my 365 days of beer). Surprisingly, she chose one of her least favorite styles... a barley wine. Add to that my unfamiliarity with Dick's Brewing Company (Dick's had a fantastic mixed 12 pack at the local market promising at least 8 unique beers in each one) and day two with Dick's Barley Wine Ale represents my first tasting with no prior. experience.
Served at about 60 degrees, Dick's Barley Wine poured smooth into the glass with a minimal amount of head that quickly dissipated. Light for a barley wine style ale but still a bit heavier the average beer, it was surprisingly unclouded and had a color reminiscent of black tea with very little bubbles.
The nose was subdued for a typical barley wine, carrying the sweet alcohol hoppiness of an imperial IPA with the molasses, brown sugar, and fig I typically expect from this style. Upon tasting, a pleasingly non-bitter hops effervescence up front was quickly overwhelmed by slightly toasted dried figs and faded to a bitter-sweet finish that lingered.
At 9.9%, this is a dangerously drinkable barley wine that avoids most of the things that turn people off (viscous body, burnt molasses, cloying sweetness) and has me excited to dip into the rest of the mixed 12 pack in the upcoming weeks.