Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beer Review: Kosmyk Charlie Y2K Catastrophe Ale

Reviewing the Kosmyk Charlie Y2K Catastrophe Ale from Central Waters Brewing Company. Full and fair disclosure upfront -- as much as I loved King Henry, barleywines are one of my lesser favorite styles of beer (especially fresh).
Score: 80

December 2011 vintage bottle served in a Great Lakes snifter glass and enjoyed in the wee hours of 01/29/12.

Appearance: Pours one finger of tan/cream colored sea-foam head that settles into a ring around the glass and splotchy, thin coating atop the beer. The color of the brew is a brown yellow/orange color that looks like a very murky non-alcoholic apple cider that you'd buy at a Farmer's Market. The murkiness is best described as a bottle-conditioned "yeastiness," and this murkiness renders the beer opaque. When held up to light, Y2K has yellow highlights at the top, while the lower half has amber/mahogany highlights. Excellent lacing. Leaves behind a foamy residue on the side of the glass with solid cling. 4/5

Smell: Malty tiramissu, creamy vanilla cupcakes/cupcake frosting, and caramel. Has a yeasty twang that you usually get with bottle conditioned homebrews, and a very noticeable booziness to it that only accentuates in presence as the beer warms. 3.5/5

Taste: Wow. This is a boozy malt bomb that is very unbalanced in my opinion. Very malty caramel-forward with a moderate tropical fruit/grassy hoppiness and light yeasty flavor. The hoppiness seemed a little out of place and took a few minutes to "pin down." Lots of booziness here, but it is not a "hot" warming booziness until the beer approaches room temperature. This has a lot of flavor similarities to the He'Brew beer Lenny's RIPA, only this is substantially more drinkable and less "hot." I could imagine this beer gets better when barrel aged because the caramel malts would make a good compliment to the bourbon flavors that barrel aging tends to impart. As an unaged, fresh barleywine, however, this one is merely "run of the mill" and drinkable, but certainly neither worth seeking out or shelling out $4 a single bottle. 3/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, light-medium carbonation. Malty-sweet, hoppy finish. Alcohol heat grows as the beer warms. 4/5

Overall: A malt bomb of a barleywine. Drinkable enough, but why drink this when there are plenty of better beers on the shelf? Maybe King Henry has left me jaded.

Recommendation: If you must drink a barleywine, this is certainly a decent one that is much more "balanced" and "ready to drink" fresh than most beers of the style are. Alas, if you are simply seeking a good beer to try, I would recommend trying something else (such as the recently released Peruvian Morning, also by Central Waters) instead.

Pairings: Pastrami sandwich on rye bread with Swiss cheese, drizzled with honey-Dijon mustard dressing.

Cost: $3.99 for a single bottle or $11.99 for a four pack.

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