Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.
Barleywine. The word sounds awesome, like something you should be drinking out of a goblet while gnawing on a smoked turkey leg. Just the thought of guzzling a frothy glass of the stuff makes me want to refer to everyone as "my Lord" and "my Lady" and carry around a +2 broadsword. Side note: I wonder if that requires a weapons permit?
As you may have guessed, barleywine is an old-world style of beer. Yes, beer. Despite the name, barleywine is not a wine, even though it shares many traits with the stuff. For example,
Barleywine, like wine, has a high alcohol content, between 8 and 15 percent by volume. Also, because it's such a potent, rich brew, barleywine does very well aging. Since the flavors are so intense, barleywine pairs well with complementary foods, particularly rich, fatty ones.
Hog Heaven Barleywine-Style Ale from Avery is a great example of the style: extraordinarilly sweet and malty with a huge kick of hop aroma to balance it out. (It's called "barleywine-style" because that's a labeling must in America so as not to confuse people looking for actual wine.) Crack one open and you'll get a thick, cakey brew that's full of exploding fruit flavor and a heavy, heavy dose of honeyed hops. Although some English-style barleywines are so sweet that they become impossible to drink, Hog Heaven strikes a nice bitter balance that keeps it drinkable. It sports a fat, foamy head and a pleasant hum that tickles your throat on the way down.
My favorite food to eat with a big goblet of Hog Heaven is barbecued ribs, the smokier the better. Nothing cuts through the pork fat and barbecue sauce quite like it. Though if I did have a huge smoked turkey leg and maybe a suit of chainmail, I'd enjoy this stuff even more.
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Find Hog Heaven at Total Wine, BX Beer Depot, and Whole Foods.