December 2017 - Best Barley Wine, Winter Ale

This month's Beer feature is Best Barley Wine, Winter Ale
Best Barley Wine, Winter Ale Reviews
222217
Brasserie Dupont
Avec Les Bons Voeux Saison
Hazy old gold color. Aromas of sliced peaches, buckwheat crepes, asparagus, sourdough, and coriander with a crisp, finely carbonated, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a medium-length tinned vegetables and sliced banana finish. A crisp and funky saison with plenty of hop influence.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222291
Shmaltz Brewing Company
Jewbelation 20th Anniversary Strong Ale
Brilliant dark brown color. Aromas and flavors of baking chocolate, roasted nuts and espresso beans, honeyed toasted flaxseed bread, and apple vinaigrette with a chewy, vibrant, finely carbonated, fruity sweet medium-full body and a warming, nuanced, very long chocolate covered citrus peels and nuts and chili pepper finish. A rich, warming dark winter ale with loads of sweet and peppery flavors that tingle the tongue.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222377
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
2017 Barrel Aged Barleywine
Old gold color. Aromas of lavash, pineapple cake, peshwari naan, toasted sesame and poppy seeds, and crisp celery with a round, crisp, effervescent, fruity medium body and a warming, complex, medium-long apple cinnamon compote, roasted walnuts, bitter greens, and raisin toast finish. A rich barley wine packed with fruit, spice, and intrigue; cellar-worthy.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222457
New Glarus Brewing Co.
Spotted Cow Grand Cru
Brilliant minutely hazy old gold color. Inviting aromas and flavors of sauternes, glazed dried apricots, citrus and sultanas, pannetone, and delicate spiced vinaigrette with a satiny, bright, finely carbonated, fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, subtle, swift spiced pear and cantaloupe, honeyed lettuces and nuts, and minerals finish. An elegant, diaphanous wit like strong ale with amazing precision and charm.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222211
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Wreck The Halls Hoppy Holiday Ale
Brilliant golden amber color. Hoppy aromas and flavors of herbs, pine, and roasted citrus peels and apricots with a supple, vibrant, finely carbonated, dryish medium-to-full body and a tingling, interesting, very long pepper, radicchio, gooseberry chutney, and nutskin finish. A bright and boldly bitter winter ale for hop-heads.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222391
Cervecería Kross
Russian Imperial Stout
Opaque ebony brown color. Meaty, smoky, savory aromas of beef jerky, coffee, and baking chocolate with a round, crisp, effervescent, dryish medium-full body and a warming, delightful, medium-length lime spritz, barbecue beef, smoked nuts, and grilled radicchio finish. A smoky Imperial Ale for carnivorous pairings.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222212
Full Sail Brewing Co.
Wassail Winter Ale
Dark bronze color. Interesting aromas and flavors of caramel apples, papayas and pears, honeyed roasted nuts and pork rinds, delicate spices, and tamarind with a satiny, bright, finely carbonated, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, interesting, long fruit cake, peppered greens, and latte finish. A rich, malty winter ale with subtle layers of flavor.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222436
Potosi Brewing Company
Grand Amber Brandy Barrel-Aged Barleywine
Light reddish mahogany color. Nutty aromas of almond windmill cookies and nut roll bar with a velvety, bright, dryish medium-full body and a warming, breezy brown butter, multigrain bread, dried fruits, and rum raisin finish. A fantastically malty and rich barleywine with incredibly seamless flavor and texture.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222309
Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Co.
Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale
Copper color. Sweet, spicy aromas of sweet bourbon, grated cinnamon, banana cream pie, vanilla nougat, and bread pudding with a round, bright, effervescent, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, medium-length bitter orange and aromatic barks finish. A fun, old fashioned flavored ale that makes nice use of bourbon barrels.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222390
Cervecería Kross
5 Barrel-Aged Strong Ale
Brilliant dark copper color. Interesting aromas and flavors of chocolate coconut macaroon, cherry-pomegranate yogurt, roasted chestnuts and squash with exotic honeycomb, and sandalwood incense with a slightly chewy, bright, finely carbonated, fruity medium-to-full body and a seamless, complex, long fruit cake, cherry cola, cedar pencil, and wood aged cachaça finish. An intriguing and exotic wood aged ale.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222375
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Christmas Ale
Bright copper color. Spicy, attractive aromas and flavors of gingerbread, cinnamon roll and cereal, coconut-mango chutney, and lemongrass with a silky, crisp, finely carbonated, fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, refreshing, long holiday spice cake, chai, and root beer float finish. A fun, spicy winter ale that screams holiday parties.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222415
Vancouver Island Brewing
Hermannator Barrel Aged Ice Bock
Mahogany color. Aromas of roasted cashew, cola nut, chocolate yogurt, and leather with a velvety, crisp, finely carbonated, dry medium body and a warming, charming, medium-length salami, leather, spiced nuts, and peppered grilled endive finish. A well-balanced, not-too-oaky, toasty lager for holiday toasting and pairing.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222414
Vancouver Island Brewing
Hermannator 30th Anniversary Ice Bock
Dark walnut color. Aromas of toasted nuts, fresh baked sweet bread, and herbed cornbread stuffing with a round, crisp, finely carbonated, dryish full body and a peppery, medium-length espresso, crema, smokehouse almonds, and mixed peppercorns finish. A rich and toasty lager for the cooler months.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222611
Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery
Winter Welcome Ale
Bright gold color. Citrusy aromas and flavors of lemon herb muffin, grapefruit marmalade, white grape, and hop pellets with a satiny, vibrant, effervescent, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, elegant, long toasted dark baguette, peppercorns, and watercress finish. A lovely, quenching winter ale with great balance and style.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222384
Grossen Bart Brewery
Cop-Stache Strong Ale
Dark dark copper color. Toasty aromas and flavors of toasted raisin bread, corn puff cereal, and caramelized citrus with a supple, vibrant, effervescent, off-dry medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-long pine, pepper, and kumquats finish. A very hoppy, bitter ale to warm winter nights.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222305
Rogue Ales
XS Old Crustacean Barleywine
Reddish mahogany color. Aromas and flavors of espresso, dried cherry, gingerbread, and bitter chocolate chips with a round, crisp, effervescent, dryish medium-full body and a peppery, subtle, medium-long chocolate chews, crunchy peanut butter, soft bread crusts, and pepper finish. A chocolatey barley wine that will be perfect as a winter-warmer or after dinner treat.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222320
Stevens Point Brewery
Snow Pilot Pistachio Nut Brown Ale
Minutely hazy copper color. Creamy, confected aromas and flavors of peach vanilla bon bon, pistachio nougat, and warm cereal with sweet cream with a supple, bright, finely carbonated, fruity medium body and a seamless, interesting, medium-long coconut macaroon and wafer cookies filling finish. A fruity, somewhat decadent, dessert-like winter ale that is sure to please.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222381
Bad Sons Beer Co.
Mr. Roper Scotch Ale
Hazy deep amber color. Sweet aromas of toasted fruit cake, savory pastry, and pumpkin custard with a round, vibrant, finely carbonated, dry medium body and a smooth, interesting, medium-long toasted almond skins, butterscotch, and bitter greens finish. A bitter-style scotch ale with ample roasty goodness.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220728
Deschutes Brewery
Jubelale Winter Ale
Brilliant reddish mahogany color. Funky aromas of cacao nibs, roasted corn and asparagus, and fruitcake with a medium body and a peppery, buoyant molasses, orange marmalade, peppery spices, and hard candies finish. A bitter brew balanced with just the right amount of festive cheer; serve with Christmas ham.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222376
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Barrel Aged Christmas Ale
Minutely hazy burnt sienna color. Aromas of lavender, eucalyptus, zucchini bread, chervil, and fresh lemon with a silky, bright, effervescent, dryish medium body and a tingling, delightful, breezy cumin dusted nuts, gingerbread, and mint chutney finish. An herbal barrel aged ale with a nice balance of freshness and roasty qualities.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222304
Rogue Ales
Santa's Private Reserve Cherry and Raspberry Belgian Dark Ale
Mahogany color. Inviting, sweet aromas and flavors of bright, delicate cherry, toasted pumpernickel, cool whip, and sweet caramel with a silky, vibrant, effervescent, fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, breezy lemon curd, berry chutney, and melba toast finish. A fruity, cheerful ale.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
222413
Vancouver Island Brewing
Gladstone Brewing Collaboration Burton Ale
Murky brick red color. Aromas and flavors of roasted brussels sprouts and lardons, stewed okra, sourdough toast, and cardboard with a supple, bright, spritzy, dryish medium body and a peppery, odd, short-to-medium dried fruits, pepper, apple vinaigrette on radicchio, and ground baby aspirin finish. A challenging mature ale that may have seen better days.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
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