I warned you Thursday was likely to turn into “celebration of awesome hoppy creations” thanks to Barley’s Wednesday hophead specials. I have to thank Barley’s for that, because I can’t imagine any other way I’d ever have managed to score a goblet of this beer for $4.
Name: 16th Anniversary Wood Aged
Origin: Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Style: Double/Imperial IPA
IBU: can’t find, which is sad because I’m really curious on this. It’s going to be WAY up there.
I drank this: on tap at Barley’s Brewhaus, Shawnee, KS
This is one of those beers where I don’t even know where to begin. I had this problem with the Hazed and Infused as well, but for a completely different reason. The issue with that beer was that I’d had it so many times that it isn’t all that interesting to me anymore. The issue with this beer is that there’s so much going on that it takes time to sort through it all.
I’ll begin here: this is not a “beginner’s beer.” Tony, who couldn’t be a called a full-on hophead but who definitely enjoys hops when he’s in the right mood, actually made what my friend Sarah refers to as the “hop face” when he tried a drink. The “hop face” is what happens when someone who doesn’t like bitter/hoppy flavors has a sip of something which is super-mega bitter: nose scrunches, eyebrows furrow, eyes squeeze shut, tongue exits mouth as though being stuck out would somehow save it from the bitterness. This is a face Sarah makes when she tries approximately 75% of the beers I drink. Meanwhile, I’ve never seen Tony make this face – Tony will happily squirt ghost chili hot sauce onto his food. Nothing phases Tony.
Except, it appears, for this beer.
Meanwhile, I liked it. It appears my love of the hop really does know no bounds.
If you decide to order one, here’s what you’ll encounter. It’s a lovely dark amber, almost burnt orange color, with a skim of off-white foam. It has a thick, woodsy-caramel nose with resinous hoppy-pine hints running through it. The scent was really noticeable in part because of the temperature – Barley’s served this at cask temperature rather than standard keg temperature, so that it arrived warmer than one would usually expect. I applaud this decision.
True to nearly every wooded/oak-aged beer I’ve ever had, the oak blunts the initial hop bite and takes over as the star. However, it’s not like the hops aren’t there – they are, and they are STRONG. It’s just that they’re not always the strongest flavor in the beer. What this means in the case of this particular brew is that each sip comes in three stages. The flavor profile progresses like this:
– the beer in mouth flavor: bitter, piney, with hints of apple and oak
– the beer during the moment of swallowing (the moment which took me by surprise in that I noticed it as a distinct and separate flavor): really strong oak/caramel malt flavor, no hop presence, definite alcohol hit
– the beer post-swallow (i.e., the aftertaste): strongly bitter pine resin flavor
To get the best possible impression of this beer, combine everything I’ve just written into a 5 second sensory experience and combine it with the knowledge that it triggered hiccups in roughly 10 sips. This beer has an attitude. This beer is so awesome, it could beat Chuck Norris in a fight and run off with his trademark blue jeans.
If you want to try it with food, this might be a fantastic beer to have with an enormous pile of sweet potato fries and some barbecue sauce to dip them in (if you’ve never had that particular combination, do so). Otherwise, it needs some strong flavors – it will trample right on over anything delicate.