It’s not often that my local watering hole carries an award winning brew on tap, but when they do you can bet that I’ll jump at the chance to try it. My favorite dive/beer bar is currently offering Flying Dog Horn Dog Barleywine as part of its rotating cast of characters and I had the pleasure of tasting this beautiful beer.
First off though, what is barleywine? Barleywine (also written as ‘barley wine’) is a slightly misunderstood style of beer. Is it a wine or a beer? Well, being that it’s made from grain as opposed to fruit, it is most certainly a beer. The ‘wine’ in the name comes from the fact that at anywhere between 9%-13% ABV the alcohol content tends to be closer to that of wine. In reality it shares much in common with strong and old ales. Historically, it was produced for British aristocrats who demanded stronger ales during their conflict with the French in the 18th century. There are two types of barleywine generally recognized: American and English. American barleywines tend to be more hoppy and therefore more bitter. English barleywine is less hoppy and mostly sweeter. Colors in English barleywine tend to be on the darker side, with some even coming completely black.
With that short bit of history and categorization of barleywine, Maryland’s Flying Dog Horn Dog falls into the English barleywine category.Flying Dog Horn Dog Barleywine
Bottle: I had this one on tap so there was no bottled involved. This was poured into a tulip glass, as is proper with barleywine.
Pour: It has a nice red-brown color and a thin head with hints of amber in it. Small carbonation bubbles slowly rise to the top like a champagne. The head starts to disappear a bit when you let it sit. There was some light lacing along the side of the glass that fell pretty quickly back down.
Aroma: The smell is very heavy of dark fruit like you’d expect from a wine, but has the faintest bit of cereal and malt. As it warms up a bit you’ll smell cherry and some alcohol. You’ll also get some toffee and caramel from it.
Flavor: The flavors follow the nose very closely. You’re going to get a lot of dark fruit, like black cherry, and other dark berries. There’s also the taste of fresh bread and brown sugar, although the sugar isn’t overwhelming. This is very smooth tasting.
Mouthfeel: It’s a little sticky. Not much so though. It’s very smooth otherwise, with little to no carbonation. It’s deceptive in that you could definitely take a few of these back without regard to the ABV.
Structure: This a very well put together beer. As far as barleywines go this is one of the better ones I have had. Barleywine can be a very complex tasting, but this tends to be on the more balanced, easier side. Overall this is a great starting point for barleywine if you haven’t had this style before.
Food Pairing: I could see this, as with most barleywines, going well with rich flavors like strong, sharp cheeses, red meat, rich and sweet deserts. I’d imagine drinking this with a blue cheese wedge salad, a rare ribeye, followed by a fruity and thick cheesecake.
Overall rating out of 5 possible beer mugs: