Monday, 29 April 2013

Beers Of London Series
28. Meantime Brewery Company - Barley Wine Ale 8.5%

Twenty reviews ago I covered Meantime Brewing Company's Bourbon Barrel Aged Greenwich Ale, you can read about it here if you haven't already done so. After visiting the brewery we had the opportunity to do visit the shop, and when I say 'shop' I mean collection of things that you can buy in reception. These included this beer, the Barley Wine Ale, which at 8.5% is considered a little too strong and flavoursome for the UK and is only usually on sale in the US. In fact this is the brewery is the only place in the UK you can buy it at the moment, and that doesn't look like changing anytime soon. Mr. Sid Boggle also bought a bottle, but as he'll be hanging on to his for a little longer I guess it's up to me to open mine.
It pours a beautiful pale amber seemingly lit by an inner fire, it simply glows from within, with an off-white head that's like a light dusting of caster sugar. The aroma is rich and deep, with caramel, toffee apple, golden syrup and a hint of sweet over-ripe banana. It's quite sweet with a little of the alcohol evaporating immediately it hits the tongue into a pleasing syrupy vapour. It reminds me of Calvados as it has a definite boozy toffee-apple flavour, but there's some demerara sugar dissolved in it giving it an elusive buzzy sweetness. There's apricot and raw sugar cane too, all mixed up with some rum and raisin fudge with a thin layer of molasses spread over it. This desription does make it seem a little over-sweet but actually it all works rather well as there's a lurking 'shredded-wheat' base right at the bottom of the taste that knits it all together. The finish has golden syrup and gooey caramel which lingers like a good dessert wine, and this drink is best treated as such. Late night sipping is certainly the order of the day here.
This is a sweet beer but it has an undercurrent of fruitiness which lifts it nicely, although I can't help feeling that it would benefit for a year or two of cellaring just to see how the flavours develop. I need to get a few more bottles to find out.

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