Bring This Out:
Full Sail Old Boardhead 2009
When we first opened this vintage a year ago, we knew this fresh barleywine had lots of potential: Caramel mingled with bright orange and tangerine hop flavors, while a comforting alcohol warmth settled deep into the chest. Still, its pronounced bitterness was a bit rough around the edges. A year in the cellar has done the brew justice. Today, this extremely creamy beer still maintains its crystal-clear copper hue and fluffy white head, but its aroma and flavor have deepened considerably. Thick caramel and orange scents still fill the air, alongside prune and smooth alcohol spice. Like the aroma, caramel and orange hop flavors make the biggest impression on the tongue, but today they’re met by bold prune and fig notes that swirl in the middle, deepening the swallow’s complexity. Black pepper alcohol spice winds through the flavors front to back, adding more nuance than the younger version had. With its rough transitions smoothed and hop bitterness muted, this beer’s at its prime.
Lay This Down:
Great Divide Hibernation Ale
Great Divide’s seasonal old ale is one of the most quaffable big beers on the market, and while it’s ready to drink now, a year in the cellar will produce an even smoother, more complex profile. Hibernation pours a clear, shining amber hue with a feathery tan head that vanishes quickly. Robust bready and nutty scents accented by rich caramel, piney and orange hop notes and spicy alcohol warmth seep deep into the nose. Toasted bread crust spreads over the tongue first, washing back with wonderful chocolate, caramel and nutty notes. Plum works its way to the back of the tongue where piney, orange hop flavors and sharp bitterness dig into the rich malt tastes. This bitter-yet-smooth beer masks its 8.7% ABV, making it dangerously drinkable; a growing warmth in the chest is the only indication of its potency. Give this beer a year to rest: Its bitterness will subside, making room for the plum flavors to mature into a wider range of dark fruit notes, which will blend with caramel and chocolate sweetness for a dessert-worthy profile.