Friday, February 17, 2012

Beer Review: 2012 Behemoth Blonde Barleywine (Fresh)

Reviewing the Behemoth Blonde Barleywine from Three Floyds Brewing Company. This is the 2012 red wax vintage.
Score: 92

2012 vintage bottle (red wax) served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 02/17/12.

Appearance: Identical appearance to the 2011 vintage. Pours a translucent brown/orange/amber color with a finger and a half of creamy off-white head that settles into a ring around the glass with thin bubbly clumps of foam capping the top of the beer. Excellent lacing. The one year old 2011 vintage seemed to leave behind an oilier residue. The 2012 lacing is super frothy. 4/5

Smell: The aroma is much "stickier"/"sappier" and citrus-forward than the 2011 bottle that I had recently. Much more DIPA-like in the aroma than the one year old bottle. Pulpy orange, lemon rind, grapefruit, fresh grass and lots of pine sap. Fresh, this beer almost smells like it was hopped with citra hops. The sweet caramel malt is much mellower than it was in the one year old vintage, hiding in the background of a very hoppy, citrus-forward aroma. 4.5/5

Taste: Whereas the year old vintage started like an IPA and ended like a barleywine, my first impression is that this brew is "IPA-like" throughout. The fresh citrus flavors -- lemon, pineapple and grapefruit citrus primarily -- are much mellower on the palate than they were in the aroma. Caramel malt sweetness on the midpalate balances out the bitter citrus flavors. Some grainy spice on the midpalate and towards the finish too. Definite alcohol warmth from the 10.5% ABV as well, but it is not an overwhelming presence. Hoppy finish with a moderately piney linger. There is a growing bitter barley flavor in the finish as the beer warms and layers. Fresh, this beer is slightly less drinkable than the one year old vintage I had, but I am enjoying the greater presence of the IPA flavors. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Full-medium bodied with a seemingly higher, though still moderate, level of carbonation than the year old vintage. Creamy, slightly sticky mouthfeel with a moderate cotton-mouthing effect. Finishes slightly bittersweet and dry. 4.5/5

Overall: The primary differences that I noticed between this and the year old bottle was a little more carbonation, a lot more (and fresher) IPA qualities, and a noticeable alcohol warmth that slightly reduced the "drinkability." Overall, I enjoyed Behemoth fresher by a marginal amount. This is a beer certainly worth trying, but a $17 price tag limits how much if this beer I can realistically recommend buying. If you like this, I suggest buying a couple of six packs of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, which is a lot like this only bitterer and grainier. I have one last bottle of this brew that I plan to sit in a the cellar for five years to see how it ages.

Recommendation: Fans of the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and New Glarus Thumbprint Barleywine will probably enjoy this one. If you hate hoppy beers and bitter beers, this one is not for you.

Pairings: Hamburgers.

Cost: $16.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

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