Friday, February 4, 2011

Barley Wines — Pike Brewing vs. Pike Brewing

2009 Pike Old Bawdy
Barley Wine

ABV 10%

Vibrant reddish brown.
Floral honey, toffee and piny hops.
Sweet malty brown sugar and toffee with citrus hops in the background.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Sweet toffee and mild burnt toffee bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):
Good +

2010 Pike Old Bawdy
Barley Wine

ABV 9.9%

Orangish brown.
Aroma: Gym socks and big spicy, citrus hops.
Flavor: Starts with strong orange rind bitterness that fades to mild sweetness. Not as sweet as 2009.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Moderate bitter orange rind.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good

Blow by Blow
For the second week in a row we decided to explore some big, strong beers. This time we went with two vintages of Pike's Old Bawdy Barley Wine. For those not familiar with Barley Wines, they are basically the alpha males of the ale world. They're strong, rich, intense and usually quite high in alcohol content. They also happen to be good candidates for aging. We've got Barley Wines in our cellar that are still tasting good after ten years of age. But enough with the background, let's talk about the fight.

From past experience we knew that the Old Bawdy tends to be a very hoppy and bitter interpretation of Barley Wine. The 2009, however, surprised us with toffee and brown sugar aromas that overpowered the hops. The 2010 was more what we were expecting with a big dose of spicy, citrus hops taking center stage. Since hops tend to fade with age, it made perfect sense that the 2010 was the hoppier of the two.

So we had to decide between the young, feisty 2010 with its brash hoppiness and the older, wiser 2009 with its mellower malty flavors and aromas. Although we enjoyed them both, we tend to prefer Barley Wines that are a bit sweeter and maltier, so we both chose the 2009. However, you'll only be able to find the 2010 in stores now and if it tastes as good with a year of age as the 2009 did, we suggest that you go buy a couple and store them away until next winter.

Winner by unanimous decision: 2009 Old Bawdy

In the interest of full disclosure to satisfy the FTC’s law, this battle features sample bottles received from Pike Brewing.

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