Category Archives: Beer

Know Your Craft: Barleywine, another cold weather companion

My last column highlighted the “chicken-soup effect” a Russian Imperial Stout can have on a bleak winter day.

Another favorite — and potentially mood enhancing — cold weather go-to is the barleywine. Not actually a wine, it takes its name from being a strong beer with wine-like gravity (i.e. alcohol content).

This beer is another great sipper, and its big hop character combined with a deep, amber-red-brown maltiness can brighten up almost any dark day.

Generally between 8 to 12 percent ABV for a nice impression of warmth, it also has big malt sweetness balanced by moderate to heavy hoppiness.

Similar to, yet stronger than, an Old Ale, the barleywine is another English style represented by many great versions on each side of the Atlantic.

According to Dave Carpenter of Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine, an English barleywine “exhibits a chewy, complex malt body that evokes plums and toffee and leaves residual sweetness in the final product.”

The American version also presents a warming effect from the high alcohol as well as dark fruitiness, but tends to be hoppier (brewed with northwest U.S. hops, which give it distinctive citrus and pine traits), more bitter and stronger.

This style improves with time, so cellaring a good barleywine from six months to 10 years or more will allow it to evolve into a beer that is remarkably similar to a nice port.

For a classic English barleywine, seek out Fuller’s “Golden Pride” from London, or Anchor’s “Old Foghorn” from San Francisco (brewed in the British tradition).

One of the original American barleywines, Sierra Nevada’s “Bigfoot” is a bittersweet craft beer classic that should definitely be on your craft beer bucket list.

For something a little bit different in the category, check out a Spanish interpretation of the barleywine with La Sagra’s “Bohio,” a bottle-conditioned English-style barleywine at 10.4% ABV, with notes of chocolate, caramel and apple.

The British have influenced America so much so that our cultures still mirror each other’s in many ways.

But, while I enjoy an occasional cup of green tea, tea time never quite stuck here in the states.

Fortunately, the tradition of English barleywine did, making an indelible mark on American craft beer culture that is undoubtedly here to stay.

This week’s recommendation: La Sagra “Bohio,” a English-style barleywine with malt fruitiness, moderate hop bitterness, and big alcohol presence. 10.4% ABV. Numancia de la Sagra, Spain.

Colin Hubbell is co-owner of The Green Onion Pub and the Hop & Goblet in South Utica. His column appears weekly.


Looks to be end of the line for Saranac Black Forest beer

When Jay Sumner found out that Saranac no longer would be making Black Forest, his heart sank.

The F.X. Matt Brewing Co.’s German black lager is not only the 38-year-old New York Mills man’s favorite beer to drink, but also to cook with — as he’s used it to create everything from stew to chili.

“To me, Black Forest reminds me of home,” Sumner said. “I remember sneaking bottles from the fridge of my parents’ house and trying to figure out how to open it in the woods. The rich and hearty beer has been a great tasting accessory ever since.”

President Fred Matt said the difficult decision to discontinue the cult favorite has been met with similar stories from its customers who are loyal fans of the beer, which was first brewed in the early 1990s.

“It was painful, because it was definitely one of our buzz beers, but when it comes to sales it just doesn’t deliver,” Matt said of Black Forest, which typically falls between seventh or eighth in the brewery’s sales behind such top sellers as Pale Ale and Legacy IPA. “It’s going to take a little vacation … but it’ll probably make reappearance at some point.”

Matt said Black Forest still will be available for a couple of more months in six packs and Saranac’s Adirondack Trail Mix collection in stores and at the brewery gift shop. It will then be replaced in the trail mix by its Gen IV Session IPA.

The brewery also has introduced a new style in its 12 Beers a Falling variety pack called Dark-tober(fest) to help

fill the void.

Utica-native Jason Pardi, who now lives in Fairport, said he was shocked to learn that Saranac was dropping one of its “staple beers,” but intends to enjoy it while it lasts.

“It’s a beer you can really trust, a solid performer,” the 39-year-old said. “It’s hard to believe it’s going away, but I will be going out and buying as much as I can while it’s still around.”

Beer Around the United States: Good, Bad and Ugly

We have been talking about beer and beer festivals for a while.
First we talked about Oregon Beer is Going Wild
Then we talked about Oregon Beer Festivals
All our roads lead to Oregon. Now we found an interesting article ranking the states. for beer.  Yes, Oregon is at the top. For its population, Washington is close to the top
Beer Drinkers Map
Beer Drinkers Map