DDB Takes You to Blonde Barleywine Hell and Back with Helldorado. At least FW doesnt block DDB…yet.


13.2% abv

An Imperial Blonde Ale or Blonde Barley Wine; Helldorado has the lightest color of any of the beers in our barrel program but carries a great deal of interesting barrel character:  vanilla, light char and amazing lavender-honey notes.  Rich boozy honey liqueur character and loads of smooth sweet toasted malt to finish.  The El Dorado hops dance in the background without playing a dominant role in the flavor profile.  This beer gets better and better the longer it is in barrel.

Strawberry blonde. I GOT BARLEY IN MY SCALP BREX.

Strawberry blonde. I GOT BARLEY IN MY SCALP BREX.

Oh blonde barleywines. Hot on the heels of the literally inimitable “central coast quad” comes this novel, unclassifiable gem from them Paso ballers. I remember back when this was a component beer blended into so many FW anniversary beers, I was like “interesting, this would be a daunting bomber to take down solo” and yet here we are.

My anticipation was to get something in the realm of ba Old Numbskull or BA Behemoth, with more wheaty gristy interplay. The result in actuality falls closer to something like Bruery’s White Chocolate or White Oak Sap or god forbid, Surly’s nightmarishly honey coated Syxx.

It isn’t particularly blonde, but it does have a certain beautiful ruddy sandy blonde, Sunkist tanned body to it. This is the lifeguard of barrel aged beers. Flexed, toned, but still massive enough to pull you out of bad situations, strong enough to put you in even worse situations. Drink this by the pool, you might drown, that barleywine life is full of risks, what can I tell you?

The nose is sadly sweeter than I could have demanded. There are waves of Carmelized agave nectar , Bit O Honey, Graham cracker, mallow foam, and an AARP bowl of Werther’s originals sitting on Gamgam’s lap. It doesn’t come across as overly saccharine, but there is a touch of glazed donut from the malts and barrel interplay that an “average” consumer will give the same tired “holy smokes! You can’t even call this beer at this point!!!! LOLOLOL” and you just rest your face in your hands listening to the same trite shit from co-workers and relatives alike.

The taste follows through on the Skor bar, There’s smashed caramello, lingering sappy oak, a light lacquer like shop class and finishes like sweet pencil shavings. It never feels like a stretchmarked beast, but you shouldn’t commit to this one for any prolonged sessions. I split this bomber and the fusel notes started escaping at higher temps like latently racist comments from a drunk republican.

Dat tome squig tho

Dat tome squig tho

This falls squarely in the realm of “well made, but did we actually need this?” Sort of zone that Bruery massive beers can inhabit.  It’s not like HAS SCIENCE GONE TOO FAR but I don’t see the military or long term peaceful applications of this beer. Then again, this is a massive improvement over the completely misguided DDBA so I guess small thanks for tiny blessings. It is unquestionably worth your time and a great service to the beer world at large to put out undeniably awesome, novel, barrel aged beers that continue to shape the palates of grocery store ballers at large. This will age gracefully and integrate phenomenally and a touch of that oxy cardboard in a couple of years will likely give it that awesome depth that perhaps the saccharine and fusel minor complaints are bothering at the outset.

As a corollary, if you are like Blend Raymond, this would be a masterful beer to have on hand at parties if you want to jazz up existing barrel aged beers because it presents itself like a universal Lego board to improve nearly every BA beer out there.  But this sort of accolade is only of utility to the oddest DDB reader, far along down the craft beer rabbit hole.

Now we get to wait until Velvet Merkin drops for the annual tradition of listening to new beer dumbfucks complain that “it isn’t as big as Parabola. Needs more bourbons, more abv TOO THIN THO”  and all that stupid rhetoric.

Every. Single. Year.