Old Howling Bastard – Blue Point Brewing Co. – 10% ABV
Since I’ve been on a barley wine streak lately, I might as well start writing about them. As chance would have it, a few of the beers I grabbed recently all happened to be in the same style. I didn’t intend to load up strictly on that one style of beer, I guess it just happened that way. Pretty sure one of these days, we’ll have another Keg Tap Smackdown and pit these against each other to see who reigns supreme. In the meantime, here I am to present the first offering – Old Howling Bastard from the Blue Point Brewing Co. in Patchogue, NY.
So this little brewery in Long Island has already gotten one review from me – their Toasted Lager was a decent quaff. This however is a completely different style and one that should be handled carefully. Barley wines are typically much higher in alcohol and heavier in body – i.e. not for the faint of heart. Pouring this bomber bottle into my trusty weissen glass (since that is the only one big enough to handle this workload) and I get a big reddish-brown body and a nice thick cream-colored head. As I watch the bubbles in this nicely carbonated brew race to the top to complete the foamy head, I decide to take a deep whiff and see what I’m about to get myself into. Immediately the aromas that hit my nose make me think of dark fruit (plum, raisin, fig, cherry), bubble gum and alcohol. Remember kids, this is 10% strong and likely to put hair on your chest. Come to think of it, that brown sugar/toffee aroma kind of creeps in as well.
Getting a mouthful of this, in came the abundance of flavor – caramel, toffee, booze (but fairly well disguised) and a nice citrusy finish. The beer isn’t too hoppy, but enough so that it provides a little bite at the end, nicely accentuating the other flavors. If I had to tell you about the mouthfeel, I’d simply say that this went down nice and smoothly. Medium-bodied perhaps. I didn’t focus on that so much as I did the flavor. Either way, they were both to my liking.
I was shocked when I offered Sonia, my better half, a sip of this. Usually when she tries my beers, she takes a tiny sip and looks like she’s about to yack it all up. This one however grabbed her attention and demanded further sipping. Getting jealous and being somewhat territorial (hey I’ve got work to do!), I grabbed it from her so I could finish my mission. Guess I know what she thinks of this one. Note to self – Keep yourself and your lady happy. Buy this again.
If you’re in for a different taste than what you’re generally accustomed to, grab this barley wine and give it a whirl. It’s strong enough to demand your respect, but smooth enough that even the ladies would dig it.