English Barleywine

BJCP 17d

Overall Impression
A showcase of malty richness and complex, intense flavors. Chewy and rich in body, with warming alcohol and a pleasant fruity or hoppy interest. When aged, it can take on port-like flavors. A wintertime sipper.
Comments

The richest and strongest of modern English Ales. The character of these ales can change significantly over time; both young and old versions should be appreciated for what they are. The malt profile can vary widely; not all examples will have all possible flavors or aromas. Paler varieties won’t have the caramel and richer malt flavors, nor will they typically have the darker dried fruits – don’t expect flavors and aromatics that are impossible from a beer of that color. Typically written as “Barley Wine” in the UK, and “Barleywine” in the US.

History
Strong ales of various formulations have long been brewed in England, and were known by several names. The modern barleywine traces back to Bass No. 1, which was first called a barleywine in 1872. Barleywines were darker beers until Tennant (now Whitbread) first produced Gold Label, a gold-colored barleywine in 1951. Usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery, and in recent years many commercial examples are now vintage-dated and offered as a limited-release winter seasonal specialty. The original barleywine style that inspired derivative variations in Belgium, the United States, and elsewhere in the world.
Ingredients
High-quality, well-modified pale malt should form the backbone of the grist, with judicious amounts of caramel malts. Dark malts should be used with great restraint, if at all, as most of the color arises from a lengthy boil. English hops such as Northdown, Target, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles are typical. Characterful British yeast.
Commercial Examples
Adnams Tally-Ho, Burton Bridge Thomas Sykes Old Ale, Coniston No. 9 Barley Wine, Fuller’s Golden Pride, J.W. Lee’s Vintage Harvest Ale, Robinson’s Old Tom