When you are craving sticky decadent toffee pudding, I am sure you dab your brow and imagine yourself crushing it in humid Orlando. Standing in the stoic slate grey remains of the Nickelodeon studios, the butterscotch past is haunting.
With Heir of Kings I wanted to get coated in caramel ropes, instead it was I who was slimed. This beer parodizes the things you usually look for. The excesses of style do not integrate with the excesses of execution here. It has a massive cask profile, but also massive fusel waft, with no lying malt structure to reconcile these two Scorpios and wow such a rising Taurus tasting note.
With 11% abv, the niceties are dispensed with and you are dealing with a weirdly port/noble rot astringency. Then that subsides and it’s tasty dates for a bit before it goes oversaturated oak on the swallow. The Heir compacts a Sword and Sandal epic into this weird package, but loses the scope. The Cinecitta of barley gems. I am left caught between these hot, fusel, chariot spokes.
I find myself both wanting it to be more expressive in depth but also being afraid of what a more imperial version of this Nero liquid would entail.
Ontological reductionism is the idea that all of reality is broken down by a minimal number of parts. You combine X component flavors as an aggregate you get a barleywine composite. Sometimes there’s something more than just the barley monads, the items on paper that make something work. This barleywine has all the atomistic elements of a barleywine but no chaperone to stop these Catholic school kids from mutual manual eroticism on the prom dancefloor. The wood is threadbare.
However, their west coast IPA is phenomenal. So maybe trying to reduce the phenomenon of barleywine to a fingerbanging joke misses the point of brewing. It’s a good enough BABW but with a resinous hoppy insurance policy, enjoying a brewery’s beer as a canon and not in a vacuum.
Ultimately if you live your life seeking out absolute truth in fermented sugar water, you’ll end up granular and predictable, complaining about gas prices and tired Johnny Depp commentary. Drink more, opine less.