From Toronto Ontario’s Mill Street Brewery comes their 2012 Vintage of their “Barley Wine” a beer I have had in my cellar for 2 Years and 5 Months give or take a few days. The beer pours a cloudy ruby red with a light brown head. The aroma consists of deep dark fruits, sweetness and caramel. The flavour is of earth, dark fruits, sweetness, anise, toffee, malts and mild bitterness. This beer has tons of body and is impossibly smooth. The alcohol content comes in at 11.5%. The alcohol content is so well hidden that little to no warming is present. This was a very good beer fresh but it has really upped its game with some aged. If you have a bottle in your cellar this is a good time to crack it open!
Commercial Description: Barley Wines are traditional winter brews that originate from England. These robust ales are long-aged and can be enjoyed for years to come. English and Canadian malts, aromatic hops and careful ageing in whiskey barrels make our Barley Wine a complex and multi-facetted gem.
Mission Springs Brewing out of Mission BC have been quietly building up a brand new series of beers. This series of beer is called the Stave Lake – Lost Barrel Series and the first beer in the series is a “Barrel Aged Scotch Ale”. A portion of this beer was aged for 10 months in French Oak Barrels while another portion was aged in a freshly drained Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon barrel for 2 weeks. Large portions of both barrels were then blended with fresh stainless steel fermented scotch ale to create this beer. Only 750 bombers were made and are hand numbered with this bottle being number 673. The beer pours a deep brown colour with hints of ruby red under light and an off white head. The aroma consist of roasted malts, peat, fruit, oak and a hint of Cabernet Sauvignon. The flavour is of roasted malts, earth, caramel, toffee, dark fruits, Cabernet Sauvignon, maybe some cherries, oak and a sweet finish. This is a very complex beer! The alcohol content comes in at 8% alcohol. I will probably have to try and hunt some more of this beer down as it is fantastic and only having one bottle to cellar would be awful!
Commercial Description from Head Brewer Kevin Winter: We took a French Oak barrel and put Scotch Ale to sleep for 10 months. The Ale took on a complex oaky and soft silk-like spirit form. The second barrel had been drained of the previous tenant, Cabernet Sauvignon, the day before in the Okanagan and sent to us the following morning where we inoculated it immediately with our Scotch Ale for a short 2 week nap. It awoke with a massive red wine hangover and a gorgeous bouquet. We took the very best amounts of the two alongside fresh stainless steel fermented Scotch Ale to round it all together, and the result is what’s here in the bottle. A unique expression of barrel aging Ale in French Oak Red Wine Barrels.
From Persephone Brewing Company out of Gibsons BC comes their”Barley Wine” a 2014 Vintage ale and their first attempt at this style. The beer pours a deep cloudy brown with a brown head. The aroma consists of roasty malts, rasins, dark fruit and an overall sweetness. The flavour is of dark fruits, rasins, sweetness, roasted malts, hops bitterness, and lots of alcohol warmth. The alcohol content comes in at 11.9%. Like most barley wines this beer needs some age still. Very few breweries age theirs to make it more smooth due to lack of space. If nothing else pick up a few bottles of this and age them for at least a year. This will be great in a year!
From Portland, Oregon’s Hair of the Dog Brewing Company and Belgium’s De Struise comes their “Pannepooch Reserva 2013 Old Fisherman’s Ale” a Belgian Style Quadrupel in theory. The Brewmaster from De Struise came to Hair Of The Dog and brewed a version of his Pannepot remaned Pannepooch Reserva”. The beer pours a brown colour with red hues and no head. The aroma consists of malts, dark fruits and strawberry jam. The flavour is of sweet dark fruits, candied sugar, cherries, molasses, plums, tootsie rolls, strawberry jam, malts, and some alcohol. The alcohol content comes in at 13%. The beer was as odd as it sounds but at the same time it was amazing. I would love to get my hands on another bottle but due to scarcity and cost I doubt that will happen.
Commercial Description: “We’re actually releasing a couple of new beers this year […] I guess the most recent beer, the new beer, will be Pannepooch, and Pannepooch is a collaboration with a Belgian brewer De Struise from Oostvleteren in Belgium. I went to Belgium last year and brewed in his brewery, and he came to my brewery and brewed in my brewery. So we are releasing one of his beers that he made in Oregon. Instead of pannepot, we’re going to call it Pannepooch. It’s a Belgian abbey beer, a quad. It’s a fisherman’s ale actually, pannepot.”
When most beer geeks get serious about beer they start a beer cellar to age their high ABV beer. Again as a beer geek knows this can build flavours while mellowing the strength of the alcohol in the flavour. Beers can really morph into a whole different animal with age for the good or the bad. There are a few enemy’s of beer when you age it though. There is light, temperature and oxygen and all can have a significant effect. Light can be easy to control as you can turn off the lights and temperature can be easy by finding a place in your home that does not fluctuate in temperature much from season to season. The one enemy that can be hard to protect against is oxygen. Some breweries either cork their beers that age well and some wax the top of the bottles. Many breweries do nothing though and this can be like playing Russian roulette with your beer and depending on the beer that could be an expensive game. A fellow local blogger got me onto the idea of waxing my own bottles to protect them for the long haul. Jason of Beer Scout posted a little blurb on waxing and I decided to expand it a bit with this post.
What you will need Good high ABV beer
Crayons or any other paraffin wax (dollar stores)
Hot glue Sticks (walmart)
Oven Safe Dish (dollar store)
You will require equal amounts hot glue to crayons to make your waxing solution. Make sure when you start that all beer to be waxed is at room temperature as my first batch was cold and half of my wax seals cracked. Start by preheating your oven to 350C. While you wait prepare your crayons by removing their paper covers. I had large hot glue sticks and used two in my dish. I then placed 8 crayons of similar colour into the dish making an approximate 50/50 split. Once the oven was preheated I placed the dish into the oven and heated. Watch the oven closely as to not over bake the mixture. Once everything is melted take your dish out of the oven and mix everything very thoroughly. This will turn out horribly if it is not mixed well. Once everything is well mixed place the bottles into the mixture and coat the cap area of the bottle making sure it is well sealed. Do not take your time as the mixture will be cooling down as you do these steps. Oh yeah turn off the oven if you haven’t yet.
It is really that simple. I would recommend a container that is taller and skinnier than the one I have if you would like a more full wax seal like most commercially waxed bottles. Not sure if they are better but it does look better. Now go out and try it for yourself just be careful as the wax is at 350C!