@anchoragebrew A Deal with the Devil Barleywine, Faustian Propositions; Flipping those boozy Alaska bricks

If you have been jumped in to the barleywine B-DUB crew, you know not to wear Airmaxes in the trap or a Chicago Bulls hoodie unless you wanna get laced up by some legit barleywine hitters. This is for the completely initiated. I know we joke around a lot about barleywines, upsets, and shelfwales around here. This is not to be fucked with. At first blush you might see that looming 17.3% abv and think you are hard, flexing your lats in the mirror remembering how you 1v1 wreked a bottle of Black Tuesday.

This is a whole different battle. Blood sweet and cognac running down your face. In Alaska the male population greatly outnumbers the female residents, this is how they cope: being blacked the fuck out 24/7. Let’s peep this icy beast in today’s review while we venture into the wild.

Seward’s folley.

Be cautious, that boozy is bigger than it appears.  This beer gone shake it like a red nose.

Be cautious, that boozy is bigger than it appears. This beer gone shake it like a red nose.

Anchorage Brewing Company
Alaska, United States
Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 17.30% ABV

Notes/Commercial Description:
Barleywine style ale brewed with Galaxy Hops. A starting gravity of 37 Plato. Aged eleven months in Cognac barrels.

A: This pours syrupy thick and rolls out of the bottle in an incorrigible manner. You cannot agitate this beer, the bubbles barely escape from the depth and die immediately upon hitting the surface like they have some malty bends. The beer rocks in the glass like a medicinal coating, this murky brown Ohio river sort of tepid murkiness. The sheeting is hilarious and comes down in clear ropes like when you jack it too much in one day, aka that cinco al dia. This is a massive, offstyle monster that swings hard with an overpowered arm like the Tyrant in Resident Evil. It turns me into a Jill sandwich.

Picture above, traders posting ISOs for this beer.

Picture above, traders posting ISOs for this beer.

S: Holy god, prepare for a walk to the edge and beyond. This takes the booziness of Xyauyu Gold to crazy new heights, or depths if you have a puckered butthole. This wafts fusel with a huge heat, coconut, almond, sherry, tawny port, caramel, cinnamon, and a massive dark fruit finish like overripe plums or blackberries you can crush in your fist. There’s light spice and oak, but again everything is dialed up to 11, no apologies are given and drinking this at 50 degrees was a hilarious act of futility, it was all oak and hops. Seriously just drink this at 65 and treat it like a liqueur, otherwise fuck it, you are wasting your $30 bottle. God knows what you paid to have something shipped to you from Alaska, better hope your wife doesn’t see that CC statement you irresponsible fuck.

T: This takes the insanity of the nose and renders it into a palpable malty madness. The viscosity is massive and leads with a fusel heat that strikes the gumline and imparts a warm toffee and cognac soaked peanut brittle front with surprising oaky hoppiness to balance things out. You know how in shitty movies when someone is getting bullied they get tossed around, straight getting rattled, that is how you palate feels keeping kicked from dude to dude just straight roughed up in a circle. It is hot but bitter, then soft and sweet and closes with an alcohol footing. This is less a barleywine and more in a class of those “ultra-ales” like Utopias, Xyauyu, Colossus, Five Squared, and the like. We drank this third in the blind BABW tasting and I laughed upon just smelling it, the intensity is so over the top you have a hard time taking it seriously like Crank 2, but it delivers on the nose and taste, if you have power leveled your palate, you will enjoy this sheer blunderbuss of malty glass and nails being sprayed across the deck of this Cognac man-of-war.

Weak tickers will make some comment about how their local barleywine is better, then secretly toss a beat sesh to this pics. That malty longing.

Weak tickers will make some comment about how their local barleywine is better, then secretly toss a beat sesh to this pics. That malty longing.

M: This leads syrupy thick, coating massively and heavier than most stouts of recent memory. It just goes overboard with the heat and if you take a large 2oz pull you might feel a tingle of a gag reflex, it is that wafty. But at room temp, just sip it and split this bitch 6 ways. You read that right, DDB is recommending giving this a straight up midwest treatment. Find your closest 10 friends with Untappd accounts and start popping those 5’s off. If you look at the reviews from other people who are pumping out thick loads of 5/5 100/100 all of their pours were like 3-4 ounces. Some American badass took down 5 oz, but any more than that is just too apeshit. No one puts on the entire Dragonforce Discography. That’s just too much face melting, it tires you out.

D: This is clearly not a marathon beer, hell, even powering through a full 8 ounce pour is baller status. I guess if you land a 150 case release from Alaska you should savor it. You could honestly cork this shit and come back to it a couple days later, this is indefatigable and you simply cannot oxidize this massive bitch. Trying to drill this feels like those last battles in Shadow of the Colossus where you are grinding for an hour just to take this bitch down. It is an undertaking that is fulfilling, albeit completely excessive and over the top. Invite your Yu Gi Oh friends over and get swerved.

Pour yourself a healthy portion and settle into whatever deviant ass activities that you have been meaning to get around to but couldn't bring yourself to do sober.

Pour yourself a healthy portion and settle into whatever deviant ass activities that you have been meaning to get around to but couldn’t bring yourself to do sober.

Narrative: Keanu looked pensively at the floating parchment paper, fixing his eyes on the floor and the mangoat legs of his sinister host. “So let me get this straight, even though I can’t play bass, can’t act, can’t sing, I can have it all, just to give you my soul?” Keanu asked the lord of darkness and took a deep pull of vintage 50 year cognac and bit into a bite of creme brulee. “Yessss Keanuuu, you can have a band, you can call it Dogstar and it still will be successfffullll, even though you are completely without merit,” Bezelbub’s eyes ignited a crimson flame, showing frames from the Bill and Ted sequels, almost terrifying in scope and perspective. “Keanuuu you cannot do thisss without dark interventionnnn” Mephisto importuned with a flaming red plume pen and Keanu took it reluctantly. “Alright Satan, but you have to promise that I retain creative control over Speed 2,” Keanu asked and signed in blood on the bottom line while finishing his Do Si Do, crumbs falling on the unholy document.


Midnight Sun 3000, Consecration+Abacus = Snow Mexican Barleywine

I think it is pretty well-established that Arctic Devil is an amazing beer. Berserker continues to impress, and Barfly is a distant reminder to some of the beta n00bs, but even the 2012ers know about it. On the face of things, Midnight Sun shouldn’t be dropping balls, barleywine or otherwise, on limited releases. This beer is a clear exception. This beer dropped more balls than an evangelical 8th grade choir. So what went wrong? This beer was essentially the last 10 minutes of Into the Wild in beer form, someone tried to do something adventurous in Alaska and ended up dying from poison.

Just how I like my barleywines, with a 3 finger head, wait wut-

Just how I like my barleywines, with a 3 finger head, wait wut-

Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 13.20% ABV

Before I pound this O-ring like a dried persimmon, let’s hear the company description so the lulz can resound throughout your shitty studio apartment:

“In this ridiculously wonderful world we’ve created, we make beer- one batch at a time. As the scientist in us demands, we number said batches. And while every batch of our beer is special for us – providing a fresh start on a new day, establishing an experimental opportunity, bringing together our minds and spirits, projecting our company forward – each batch also scores time.

To celebrate our 3000th batch, we present a Belgian-style Barley Wine, simply called 3,000. Luscious layers of flavor begin with barley, wheat and rye malts followed by triple-hoppping with a single varietal. Fermentation, using three distinct yeast strains, achieves complexity in character and, of course, alcohol. This special batch was transferred into red wine oak barrels for eight months to age gregariously yet gracefully. After bottle-conditioning, this exclusive beer is ready for immediate enjoyment although it can be lovingly cellared for future festivities.”

A: Ok first order of business, look at this barleywine and tell me if you think that attenuation is appropriate for the style. Does it look like a barleywine? Does it look good? The look of this beer reminds me of an all extract shitty brown ale homebrew that your buddy makes you try. The head is excessive and almost makes me scratch my chin and accuse infection but we will allay those concerns for the time being. Does this beer look like other world class barleywines?

Oh wait, it is a BELGIAN barleywine, so my critique gets to dodge a bullet. I remember when some people were calling this the second coming of M, just like BA Hifi batch 2 is the second coming of Wooden Hell, except BA Hifi is still pretty awesome and this is Merlot and taint esters.

Mixing a barleywine with shitty cabernet ISN'T NORMAL.  Not even one more hybrid like this. Not one.

Mixing a barleywine with shitty cabernet ISN’T NORMAL. Not even one more hybrid like this. Not one.

S: Speaking of taint, the smell of this thing is offputting not only for the style, but in general. No one makes roe ice cream for a reason, some tastes don’t merge well. I am going to list some smells descriptors and you check yes if you want them in a barrel aged barleywine: merlot, cranberry, lemon rind, tangelo, blackberry, wet leather, post-menopausal tears, toddler laundry (non-soiled), pennies. If you said yes to any of those, you must be Cicerone level 5: contrarian belt. There is very little barleywine going on here and its like someone took a perfectly good bike and retrograded it to be a really inefficient baby carriage. I don’t want a bouquet of out of place fruits atop my pile of belgian esters, get that shit out of here, you don’t see successful breweries alike Stone taking malty beers and putting them in shitty red wine bar-…oh. OH.

T: This takes all of that tannic afterbirth and adds this coinstar machine maltiness whose jankiness can only be represented in scientific notation. There is a copper, burnt malt, scorched boil water (if you have done this, you know the hell and sticky disgust it creates) baked beans, Kendall Jackson Merlot, some interloping fucking leather tastes, and finally closes with a shitty Bartells and James red grape sort of taste. Now go dig through those used needles and find me the barleywine in this trainwreck. Just drink a cup of grape juice, lick a Jansport and save yourself some time.

I don't know what kinda crazy shit goes on up in Alaska, but this beer might be a glimpse into the world north of the wall.

I don’t know what kinda crazy shit goes on up in Alaska, but this beer might be a glimpse into the world north of the wall.

M: This is the gassiest barleywine ever and is needlessly bubbly on the palate. Then it imparts those horrible tannins and its like a mister spraying Yellow Tail weak ass wine all over your gums. You end up dry but violated with this fucked up stickiness all over you like fountain water from a two star casino.

D: Not very, the biggest impetus pushing me along was the fact that this was a bitch to trade for. Even still I drainpoured most of this. You know you have a quality barleywine when you start contemplating the calories and wondering if eating glass would somehow be better for your body. I love Arctic Devil, Moscow was solid, but this is some Gitmo experiment barleywine water boarding. Ruined a malty treat for all of us with bruised red grapes no one asked for. However, in Alaska the men to woman ratio is extremely skewed, so maybe this is the female Pinot Noir up there, when they get off from their logging duties or shift at the beef jerky company they sit down and laugh in a glottal fashion while sipping this and watching Cougartown or some shit.

You CAN make a hybrid of some mishmash shit, but that doesn't mean that it will turn out good.

You CAN make a hybrid of some mishmash shit, but that doesn’t mean that it will turn out good.

Narrative: Rampage Jackson clutched the fountain pen with uncertainty and listened to the lawyers go through the terms of the negotiation. “Ok, so clauses 2 and 7 stipulate that Rampage is still “Bad Ass” and “universally feared” but Viacom New Media will acquire him as a cooking host for a variety of tasks and spots.” Rampage wiped the sweat from his massive ebony brow, reading the various clauses on oso bucco and balsamic reductions. “Wait tho, so I am not fightin nobody? I just be like cooking?” he asked puzzled and a man with Tom Ford glasses and offensively large bicuspids laughed to the floor to ceiling glass windows of the conference room. “HA! Yes Mr. Jackson, you will be an incidental novelty talent to a series of unscripted life shows, and doing semi-fictionalizations of “Kitchen Disasters” all the while still remaining Rampage Jackson, I hope that is clear?” the slick talent agent rattled off. “But wait, I am good at fighting, and combat, why I gotta be making pastries and shit? Why try and make me into something completely different?” There was a certain lucidity to his voice and the men leaned forward with curious expectancy. “I mean like, why take something huge and awesome and emasculate that down to something totally irrelevant and worse? I mean you are just ruining what I am all about, turning it into something else simply for the sake of being irrelevant. Shouldn’t the point be to be entertaining and not just shocking, seems to Rampage that if you ain’t pleasing the public then-” the men gathered up the signed forms and there was much glad handing. Bravo was about to turn out another hybrid reality show that was intellectually debasing and horrible to all involved. Just another day’s work for those cultured gents at Bravo.