Friday, February 5, 2016

A Whale A Week: Dry Dock Bligh's Barleywine 2013

The lapping of waves against the scarred hull of the ship and the shifting shadows of the sunlight through the sails lulls most into sense of relaxed bliss.  Creaking joists and the incessant rubbing from the rigging ropes keep time with the roll of the deck beneath our hoary bare feet.  Hard and sometimes splintered wood echos quietly underfoot as we sidle across the deck in that classic sailor's waddle.  Ahead is the darkened shade of the hatch to below decks and our prize.  We quietly lower ourselves into the waiting dark, smells of oak, saltwater, dried fish, assail the nose, still better than the unwashed stink of our traveling companions.  There we go.  Aye, our goal is there ahead of us.  Quiet now, for the Captain can not know what we are about...skulking about below in storage when we should be mending sail or swabbing the deck.  There it is, the large keg there on the bottom of the pile.  Inside rests liquid gold, or perhaps more liquid courage--something we will need for the detestable things we must do.  As we fill our wooden cup with this strong and boozy brew we toast silently an end to gathering breadfruit and to that terrible tyrant. We finish, instilled with new vigour, knives pulled and muskets primed.  It is time...

This week we travel (by boat!) to Aurora, Colorado for a rare treat from Dry Dock Brewing Company.  Dry Dock was founded opened in 2005 and has expanded a few times since their humble start as an offshoot of a homebrew shop.

Bligh's Barleywine was the brewery's first barrel aged beer and is a beefed up version of their HMS Bounty Old Ale.  The barleywine is named after the infamous Captain Bligh of the aforementioned HMS Bounty. The first batch came out in 2008 and is released yearly now.  The original recipe was created by co-owner Kevin DeLange and then assistant brewer Jim Denier and the bottles still bear a facsimile of their signatures.  For those who read my blog frequently, or live in the Western Suburbs of Minneapolis, you may recognize the name DeLange:  Kevin's two brothers Peter and Bob recently opened up Waconia Brewing here in the city of the same name!  Small world it seems...  Back to the beer!  The English style barleywine is aged in whiskey barrels for 7 months and released to much applause.  The beer has a 95 score on Beer Advocate and a 99 on Rate Beer.

Bob DeLange brought a bottle of this over to share at a Jack Of All Brews meeting last year and it was quite the hit.  I've been looking forward to doing a write-up on it in a more controlled manner.  We had a Whale A Week alum, Dave Manley over for this one, as well as my usual partner in crime and wife, Sarajo.

Dry Dock Bligh's Barleywine 2013

Aroma: In which Dave makes his O-face...

Eric: Strong toffee, caramelized sugars.  Mild English hopping gives an earthy and light citrus note.  Peanut brittle as warms.  Very sweet and malty smelling.  A bit of paper and tannin as it warms up more.  Not a ton of booze.
Dave: Damn!  Caramel, malt, slight oxidation--the kind that is just right for barleywine.  Love it!  I could just sit and smell this beer, but...I won't...  Not much barrel or bourbon.

Appearance: In which turbid chunks of yeast dance and play...

Eric: Burnished copper to deep amber color.  Despite a careful pour has a lot of yeast floaties in it.  Very wispy off-white head fades quickly to the edge of glass.
Dave: Poured cloudy--like liquid caramel.  Mild carbonation.  Floaties, but I don't mind.

Flavor: No mutiny in our comments here...

Eric: Ohhhhh.  Sweet.  Boozy.  Smooth.  In that order.  Balance is certainly to the sweet side but the hopping balances this enough that the beer isn't cloying.  I get tons of caramel and English toffee.  Mild oak tannin and some sherry notes from either oxidation or barrel.  Marshmallow and vanilla subtle as it warms up.  Slight alcohol warming but not hot at all.  A bit yeasty.  Not a ton of whiskey present.  Mouthfeel medium and mouth coating.  Finish is semi-sweet.
Dave: Malt, slight oxidation.  Creamy/slick mouthfeel--perhaps from the floaties.  Some barrel complexity.  Slightly alcoholic.  Definitely malty sweet.  Slight hops.

Overall: In which Sarajo gives an accurate description of both the beer and her husband...

Eric: A wonderful English barleywine.  I love this style and the whiskey just adds complexity, though fairly subtle compared to some versions--then again this is from 2013 and may have mellowed from fresher.  I'd compare this favorably to Steel Toe Lunker and Pelican Mother of All Storms.  I want to try this one fresh and see what the hopping and booze is like!  4.5
Dave: Enjoyed this quite a bit. 4
Sarajo: Kind of chunky, but sweet and yummy.  4

Overall Score: 4.17

No comments: