The term Barleywine was noted in historical documents during the 18th century, when brewers tried to curry favor with wine drinkers by hinting at the strength, nutrition and quality of their beer. Whether that strategy worked or not is debatable, as most regions of Europe that are known predominantly for either wine or beer have long been that way, with some crossover of course. This has more to do with climate and agriculture than any sort of class distinction, perceived or otherwise.
Barleywine is often appropriately brewed as a commemorative or annual offering to demonstrate the skill of the artful Brewmaster. Classic English and American versions differ, the former showing some refined restraint, the latter rowdier and more impetuous—a neat metaphorical difference. Formidable in both spirit and makeup, Barleywine is a perfect nightcap, but also lends itself well to comparative tastings, given its lability over time and the many interpretations. Due to the high alcohol content Barleywines were traditionally aged in wooden casks to mature.
A classy sipper from start to finish, Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Barleywine evokes aromas of freshly baked apple strudel, candied quince, and orange blossom honey. Dulce de leche and toffee candy coats the palate, balanced by sturdy tannins from its time in American oak. This elaborate libation finishes with notes of bourbon and crème brulée - sweet, but serious.
This sweet but serious brew begs for saffon-heavy paella topped with spicy chorizo and mussels and roasted tomatoes or flank steak with herbal chimichurri. Open this meal with patatas bravas and Marcona almonds for a wholly satisfying experience.