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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reel Ales 10 Squared Barley Wine Ale

Reel Ales 10 Barley Wine Ale, a cleverly-named barleywine with 10 varieties of  hops and 100 (10x10) IBUs  from Reel Ales (an offshoot of Fish Tale Brewing?) poured a cloudy brown with bright, burnished orange highlights.into the glass and was topped off by a huge, foamy pumpkin head.  The nose was aggressively hoppy, and carried itself more as a double IPA than a barleywine, with piney, floral hop notes that smelled almost forest-like over a sweet toffee malt support.  

Reel Ales 10 Squared Barley Wine opened with sweet candied citrus and pine spice over a thick blanket of sugary malt.  Before the sweetness could get out of hand, earthy hop notes of pine and spruce and a more mature, roasted malt came through just enough to strike a good balance.  From this point forward, different levels of the flavors mentioned above layered in a complex and shifting drinking experience.  The was a bit of raw newness to the drink (as is common with many big beers drank within the first few months of bottling), but it was far from distracting.

Reel Ales 10 Squared Barleywine does something interesting, and something I wish more brewers would take to heart- it sets up a strong hop profile to be enjoyed by those who want to drink it young but maintains an established, balanced and rich malt profile that seems primed to mature and take center stage as the hops fade with time.  

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