Forager Brewing Kent the Otter is an Austere Concentrated Wild Malty Ride

In wine reviews, the only term more overused than “austere” is “concentrated.” With full bodied reds these fuschia-mouthed gourmands will always ejaculate things like “firm” and “muscular” and this is the first time that I found a firm, muscular, concentrated barleywine. Kent the Otter is a wild ride and it is sinewy and intense.

Like the IBU wars of the 2000s, the lactic acid wars of the mid 2010s, and the lactose wars that are currently ongoing, barleywine production has a weird badge of pride all its own: boil times. The more water you can pull out of the water to compress that flavor profile, the more lustily the nips of the malty consumer ache. SIXTEEN HOURS BRUH. This beer is all maris otter, all boil.

Oh there’s a strong cask presence, but that’s like the soft pillowy marshmallows in Rocky Road: mere set dressing for how expressive the malt is. The beer presents waves of Raisinettes, prunes, fig jam, grape otter pop [cf. Alexander the Grape], an ice wine finish and a loooooong Grenache closer. It’s malt concentrate.

I almost never say this but, you have to share this beer. The unassuming 10.4% abv seems reasonable but it’s the construction of the beer itself. Some people will cork Xyauyu to fight that battle another day, this is one of those end barleybosses. The low carb and fruit leather welcome you to take another pass when you’re prepared for this.

I don’t want to seem like a baby palate, but this pushes the limits of what my adolescent face hole can handle. It’s not the heat, it’s more like listening to the Mars Volta discography where the complexity is exhausting. This is a bold new market for barleywine, one seemingly made to be split many ways. The 4.8 on Untappd and $200 resale price all but seems to ensure that will occur.

Somewhere there’s a boring Gen X’er wearing a Titleist polo overpaying for bottles of Harlan talmbout “ugh so OPULENT, it’s stern, domineering, grippy and angular” and you know his incognito browser tabs have unspeakable content. We all laugh at those middle manager dipshits with teenage kids, cobbling together a personality predicated on luxury consumables. Beer is different. For we are scavengers, otters, trash people who boil malt water into syrup so decadent we have to part it out like a fresh caramel corpse among the pack, little webbed paws pulling at the drippy raisin bits. Concentration is life.

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