When @revbrewchicago announced a “strawberry Straight Jacket” I was both excited and filled with jammy trepidation. Strawberry is a notoriously difficult fruit to wrangle in fermentation. If if runs too rich, you get a smuckers disaster and your world class barleywine turns into New Glarus Wisconsin Redfashioned. If you run too lean, it’s a Kiwi Herman plastic fatality. Furthermore, berry and boozy peanut brittle is so decadent even the enamelly challenged in the U.K. don’t hazard the combo. Thankfully, this is good stuff. First, the base beer doesn’t seem exactly like Straight Jacket. It feels closer to Boss Ryeway or whatever the Saharan dry canvas of Code Switch was painted upon. That’s a good thing. The berry is prominent but not distracting and feels like unset arabesque detailing on Byzantine pornography. It’s all sticky.
You know those weird grandma candies that are strawberry with jelly inside? Ok that’s is the olfactory. You know how grandpa reeks of old crow and says “they can come here just gotta do it legally is all” that’s the base beer. It’s a merger of sweet tolerance and latent violence. The preserves and fruit leather quickly escheat to extremely dry/rye aspects. Add some grenadine to single barrel four roses, you’re already there. Lonestar.mp4. The aggregate result doesn’t feel entirely like barleywine, it feels like…Kuhnhenn. That’s a good thing. Avis car rentals aside, this is a tightly constructed beer that sticks the berry patch landing. I like it less than VSOJ and Boss Ryeway, above ROSJ, and well above the recent Ryeway. So: in the middle of one of the best barrel programs in America. 2, 8 no sats barely instafills at $110/4pk. It’s like, you pull up in a Porsche Macan and people are like “is that an Audi? Oh it’s pretty nice.” And you get the obligatory deference. Strawberry barleywine is well engineered but nobody is quaking at the hips like when the VSOJ911 revs. Someone should get VSOJ911 as a license plate. 🍓 🥖 🍷