Barley wines are a very complex beast and seems like no two are exactly alike. It is this personality of style that makes us excited whenever we can get a new barleywine for review in NeuFutur. We’ve had strongly flavored/hopped barleywines and fruit based ones in the course of the last few months, so we were excited to see that Barrel Chested by Bloomington, Indiana’s Upland Brewing utilized bourbon barrels to provide an additional layer of flavor to the beer. The assertiveness of the bourbon barrel works well with the broad fruit and malt components that are dominant during the early sections of the barleywine. While there is a pretty high amount of alcohol is present here, the astringent burn that may be ferried to the beer is not. This strong and assertive opening fades slightly; any sharpness of the alcohol is subsumed into the overall tapestry that is present with Barrel Chested.
This is just a big beer full of intense personality and as a result what would normally seem to be astringent, boozy or otherwise rough-hewn becomes a masterful work. The medium mouth feel of barrel chested is something thats strays away from the heaviness of a porter or a stout while presenting some of the bounciness of an India Pale Ale. By taking bits and bobs from a wide variety of different styles, Upland creates something otherworldly with their Barrel Chested. The complexity of the effort ensures that individuals will continually experience different twists and turns, meaning that coffee and malt one time will yield ground to dark fruit elements the next, and butterscotch and pepper a third time. A delectable beer all around and one that we would love to experience on the regular. We reviewed Upland’s Oktoberfest in late 2015.
Barrel Chested Barleywine / Upland Brewing / Bloomington, Indiana / 9% ABV / 50 Minutes / http://uplandbeer.com/brew/oktoberfest/ /https://www.facebook.com/UplandBrewingCo / https://twitter.com/uplandbrewco /