The bucolic hills of South Royalton, Vermont are home to some 700 souls. This little village is home to Vermont Law School, a notorious party school renowned for Wizard’s staff, King’s Cup, and barleywines. In this bustling hamlet is Upper Pass Beer Company nestled in a farm building, near Tunbridge, famous of course for its coveted THREE covered bridges. How many covered bridges does your terrible city have? That’s what I thought.
With the exception of A-A-Ron, Vermont isn’t exactly a barleywine powerhouse. So how does Creation’s Shadow fare? At 11% abv it has restraint, the 6 hour boil is notable and reasonable, the 18 months maturation in casks is commendable: the end result is some raisinettes to your whoppers.
This beer expresses the malt character nicely providing a bit of prune, date, fig, but also delivering a multigrain bread heel for the spirit profile to adhere to. The cask doesn’t dominate and it leans more towards the dark fruit than the melanoidins that you expect. It does nothing in excess and feels like the genial roadside directions from a Lebanon, NH native. The grace of artisan birdhouses at a Monpelier farmer’s market. Sure we can scoot over, we will share this table, hey can you watch my dog, ill be just a minute, I am heading into the syrup outlet, not a problem, the warm squeak of Arcteryx jackets, travelworn transplants seeking the final powder of the season. It’s that.
Listen are you gonna have the craziest time of your life in St. Johnsbury? Maybe, but probably not and if you do it’s like due to you and not some 11% abv barleywine. However, in being gracious and providing a warming old fashioned and a plate of pecan sandies there’s a certain awshucks “use the mud room” type of charm to this.
This barleywine has that rural charm of scratchy air bnb blankets, a pellet fireplace, critters on the deck. Sure it isn’t luxurious, there’s no triple barrels, double wax, sky high abv, or even a component blend. But this here malty Subaru Forester has seen us through two recessions, countless mud seasons, and creemees with the kids. Those prunes live on as stains on our Columbia fleeces and that’s just fine.