When you’re a little kid you learn that cows have four stomachs. The largest stomach is the rumen and it serves as a living fermentation vat. This evolutionary advantage converts fibrous, husky, plant material into fatty acids. Cows turn worthless fescue in coveted thick mass. It’s the conversion that matters.
Urban Roots produced a base barely, Summer Life, that wasn’t as worthless as yard trimmings, but it needed to roll around in an oaky rumen. Sometimes that rest and depth that is added to a barleywine’s rich malty structure provides the incredible aesthetic value that converts it from bermuda to wagyu. This beer has been tramsuted into A5 by virtue of a barrel rumen.
Sure, the base beer was fine. However, the barrel aged version has elevated itself into that realm of accessible, unassuming, low cost, incredibly high quality barleywine in the same realm as Royal Oil, Straight Jacket, and Sucaba. The beer has this toasted sunflower seed and banana bread that is a touch bitter at first. It’s not astringent but it underscores a hoppybackend like your stepdad’s New Balances streaked with chlorophyll. The body is incredible carved and lean, pandoro with agave nectar drizzle, and a swallow that is honey roasted walnuts with a kiss of Bit O’ Honey, those terrible candies that still exist that no one buys but there they are, right next to the Circus Peanuts and the SNO CAPS.
This beer is particularly dangerous because you can mow through the complexity quickly due to the low residual sugar and oiled leather finish. It’s the barleywine you give to the guy who says “wont get far without these” and grabs his keys. It’s approachable enough for guys who have kept their wide leg Tommy carpenter jeans long enough to accidentally be in style again. It is summer ale in the way that a server nods and splits a check between five maskless pet nat drinking women at brunch, cumbersome but obliging.
So many barleywines that hit market are balls of cud. Most people think of grassy Bigfoot wads of pine and regurgitated malt when barleywines are offered. Beers like this transmute those palates into meat loving, grass fed, ruminant worshiping hindus of malty sacrifice. The conversion is the journey, and it is worth passing through the cicerones’ four stomachs.