The term Barleywine was noted in historical documents during the 18th century, when brewers tried to curry favor with wine drinkers by hinting at the strength, nutrition and quality of their beer.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.
Graceful caramel and baking spice aromas awaken your palate, reminding you of a treasured bottle of Bourbon. A hearty sip brings out fig and dried plum, expectant of beers showing the benefit of age. Brown sugar and dried fruit linger on the pallet, highlighted by a sophisticated resonance of American oak.
We’re pairing Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine with Puerto Rican-style rice and beans, rich cochinita pibil with salsa rojo, barbacoa, and caramelized onions.