Wheatwine

22D. Wheatwine

Overall Impression:
A richly textured, high alcohol sipping beer with a significant grainy, bready flavor and sleek body. The emphasis is first on the bready, wheaty flavors with interesting complexity from malt, hops, fruity yeast character and alcohol complexity.

Aroma:
Hop aroma is mild and can represent just about any late hop aromatic. Moderate to moderately-strong bready, wheaty malt character, often with additional malt complexity such as honey and caramel. A light, clean, alcohol aroma may noted. Low to medium fruity notes may be apparent. Very low levels of diacetyl are acceptable but not required. Weizen yeast character (banana/clove) is inappropriate.

Appearance:
Color ranges from gold to deep amber, often with garnet or ruby highlights. Low to medium off-white head. The head may have creamy texture, and good retention. Chill haze is allowable, but usually clears up as the beer gets warmer. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.

Flavor:
Moderate to moderately-high wheaty malt flavor, dominant in the flavor balance over any hop character. Low to moderate bready, toasty, caramel, or honey malt notes are a welcome complexity note, although not required. Hop flavor is low to medium, and can reflect any variety. Moderate to moderately-high fruitiness, often with a dried-fruit character. Hop bitterness may range from low to moderate; balance therefore ranges from malty to evenly balanced. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. Some oxidative or vinous flavors may be present, as are light alcohol notes that are clean and smooth but complex. A complementary, supportive oak character is welcome, but not required.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-full to full bodied and chewy, often with a luscious, velvety texture. Low to moderate carbonation. Light to moderate smooth alcohol warming may also be present.

Comments:
Dark malts should be used with restraint. Much of the color arises from a lengthy boil. Some commercial examples may be larger than the Vital Statistics, and some may not be brewed every year.

History:
A relatively recent American craft beer style that was first brewed at the Rubicon Brewing Company in 1988. Often a winter seasonal, vintage, or one-off release. Breweries frequently experiment with this style, leading to a range of interpretations.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Typically brewed with a combination of American two-row and American wheat. Style commonly uses 50% or more wheat malt. Any variety of hops may be used. May be oak-aged.

Style Comparison:
More than simply a wheat-based barleywine, many versions have very expressive fruity and hoppy notes, while others develop complexity through oak aging. Less emphasis on the hops than American Barleywine. Has roots in American Wheat Beer rather than any German wheat styles, so should not have any German weizen yeast character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 30 – 60 FG: 1.016 – 1.030
SRM: 8 – 15 ABV: 8.0 – 12.0%

Commercial Examples:
Rubicon Winter Wheat Wine, Two Brothers Bare Trees Weiss Wine, Smuttynose Wheat Wine, Portsmouth Wheat Wine

American Barleywine

22C. American Barleywine

Overall Impression:
A well-hopped American interpretation of the richest and strongest of the English ales. The hop character should be evident throughout, but does not have to be unbalanced. The alcohol strength and hop bitterness often combine to leave a very long finish.

Aroma:
Hop character moderate to assertive and often showcases citrusy, fruity, or resiny New World varieties (although other varieties, such as floral, earthy or spicy English varieties or a blend of varieties, may be used). Rich maltiness, with a character that may be sweet, caramelly, bready, or fairly neutral. Low to moderately-strong fruity esters and alcohol aromatics. However, the intensity of aromatics often subsides with age. Hops tend to be nearly equal to malt in the aroma, with alcohol and esters far behind.

Appearance:
Color may range from light amber to medium copper; may rarely be as dark as light brown. Often has ruby highlights. Moderately-low to large off-white to light tan head; may have low head retention. May be cloudy with chill haze at cooler temperatures, but generally clears to good to brilliant clarity as it warms. The color may appear to have great depth, as if viewed through a thick glass lens. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.

Flavor:
Strong, rich malt flavor with a noticeable hop flavor and bitterness in the balance. Moderately-low to moderately-high malty sweetness on the palate, although the finish may be somewhat sweet to quite dry (depending on aging). Hop bitterness may range from moderately strong to aggressive. While strongly malty, the balance should always seem bitter. Moderate to high hop flavor (any variety, but often showing a range of New World hop characteristics). Low to moderate fruity esters. Noticeable alcohol presence, but well-integrated. Flavors will smooth out and decline over time, but any oxidized character should be muted (and generally be masked by the hop character). May have some bready or caramelly malt flavors, but these should not be high; roasted or burnt malt flavors are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel:
Full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety, luscious texture (although the body may decline with long conditioning). Alcohol warmth should be noticeable but smooth. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. Carbonation may be low to moderate, depending on age and conditioning.

Comments:
Sometimes known as “Barley Wine” or “Barleywine style ale” (the latter due to legal requirements, not brewery preference).

History:
Usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery, often associated with the winter or holiday season and vintage-dated. As with many American craft beer styles, derived from English examples but using American ingredients and featuring a much more forward hop profile. One of the first American craft beer versions was Anchor Old Foghorn, first brewed in 1975. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, first brewed in 1983, set the standard for the hop-forward style of today. The story goes that when Sierra Nevada first sent Bigfoot out for lab analysis, the lab called and said, “your barleywine is too bitter” – to which Sierra Nevada replied, “thank you.”

Characteristic Ingredients:
Well-modified pale malt should form the backbone of the grist. Some specialty or character malts may be used. Dark malts should be used with great restraint, if at all, as most of the color arises from a lengthy boil. New World hops are common, although any varieties can be used in quantity. Generally uses an attenuative American ale yeast.

Style Comparison:
The American version of the Barleywine tends to have a greater emphasis on hop bitterness, flavor and aroma than the English Barleywine, and often features American hop varieties. Typically paler than the darker English Barleywines (and lacking in the deeper malt flavors) but darker than the golden English Barleywines. Differs from a Double IPA in that the hops are not extreme, the malt is more forward, and the body is fuller and often richer. An American Barleywine typically has more residual sweetness than a Double IPA, which affects the overall drinkability (sipping vs. drinking).

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 50 – 100 FG: 1.016 – 1.030
SRM: 10 – 19 ABV: 8.0 – 12.0%

Commercial Examples:
Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine, Anchor Old Foghorn, Great Divide Old Ruffian, Rogue Old Crustacean, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Victory Old Horizontal

American Strong Ale

22B. American Strong Ale

Overall Impression:
A strong, full-flavored American ale that challenges and rewards the palate with full malty and hoppy flavors and substantial bitterness. The flavors are bold but complementary, and are stronger and richer than average-strength pale and amber American ales.

Aroma:
Medium to high hop aroma, most often presenting citrusy or resiny notes although characteristics associated with other American or New World varieties may be found (tropical, stone fruit, melon, etc.). Moderate to bold maltiness supports hop profile, with medium to dark caramel a common presence, bready or toasty possible and background notes of light roast and/or chocolate noticeable in some examples. Generally exhibits clean to moderately fruity ester profile. Moderate alcohol aromatics may be noticeable, but should not be hot, harsh, or solventy.

Appearance:
Medium amber to deep copper or light brown. Moderate-low to medium-sized off-white to light tan head; may have low head retention. Good clarity. Alcohol level and viscosity may present “legs” when glass is swirled.

Flavor:
Medium to high dextrinous malt with a full range of caramel, toffee, dark fruit flavors. Low to medium toasty, bready, or Maillard-rich malty flavors are optional, and can add complexity. Medium-high to high hop bitterness. The malt gives a medium to high sweet impression on the palate, although the finish may be slightly sweet to somewhat dry. Moderate to high hop flavor. Low to moderate fruity esters. The hop flavors are similar to the aroma (citrusy, resiny, tropical, stone fruit, melon, etc.). Alcohol presence may be noticeable, but sharp or solventy alcohol flavors are undesirable. Roasted malt flavors are allowable but should be a background note; burnt malt flavors are inappropriate. While strongly malty on the palate, the finish should seem bitter to bittersweet. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. The aftertaste typically has malt, hops, and alcohol noticeable.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to full body. An alcohol warmth may be present, but not be excessively hot. Any astringency present should be attributable to bold hop bitterness and should not be objectionable on the palate. Medium-low to medium carbonation.

Comments:
A fairly broad style that can describe beers labeled in various ways, including modern Double/Imperial Red/Amber Ales and other strong, malty-but-hoppy beers that aren’t quite in the Barleywine class. Diverse enough to include what may be viewed as a strong American Amber Ale with room for more interpretations of other “Imperial” versions of lower gravity American Ale styles. Many “East Coast” type IPAs might fit better in this category if they have considerable crystal malt or otherwise more of a malty-sweet finish.

History:
While modern craft versions were developed as “imperial” strength versions of American amber or red ales, the style has much in common with historic American stock ales. Strong, malty beers were highly hopped to keep as provision beers prior to prohibition. There is no continuous legacy of brewing stock ales in this manner, but the resemblance is considerable. Stone Arrogant Bastard was born out of a batch of pale ale that was mistakenly made with excess ingredients, thus creating what may have been the prototype for the imperial amber/red ale. Great Lakes first brewed Nosferatu in the early 1990s and called it a stock ale, although they now call it an imperial red ale. So whether by direct historical inspiration or by accident, the style developed independently in the craft beer era and has subsequently become quite popular.

Characteristic Ingredients: Well-modified pale malt as a base; some character malts would be appropriate, medium to dark crystal malts are typical. Citrusy or piney American hops are common, although any American or New World varieties can be used in quantity, provided they do not clash with the malt character. Generally uses an attenuative American yeast.

Style Comparison:
Generally not as strong and as rich as an American Barleywine. More malt balanced than an American or Double IPA with more American hop intensity than an English Strong Ale style would tolerate.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.062 – 1.090
IBUs: 50 – 100 FG: 1.014 – 1.024
SRM: 7 – 19 ABV: 6.3 – 10.0%

Commercial Examples:
Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale, Great Lakes Nosferatu, Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster, Port Brewing Shark Attack Double Red, Stone Arrogant Bastard,

English Barleywine

17D. English Barleywine

Overall Impression:
A showcase of malty richness and complex, intense flavors. Chewy and rich in body, with warming alcohol and a pleasant fruity or hoppy interest. When aged, it can take on port-like flavors. A wintertime sipper.

Aroma:
Very rich and strongly malty, often with a caramel-like aroma in darker versions or a light toffee character in paler versions. May have moderate to strong fruitiness, often with a dark- or dried-fruit character, particularly in dark versions. The hop aroma may range from mild to assertive, and is typically floral, earthy, or marmalade-like. Alcohol aromatics may be low to moderate, but are soft and rounded. The intensity of these aromatics often subsides with age. The aroma may have a rich character including bready, toasty, toffee, and/or molasses notes. Aged versions may have a sherry-like quality, possibly vinous or port-like aromatics, and generally more muted malt aromas.

Appearance:
Color may range from rich gold to very dark amber or even dark brown (often has ruby highlights, but should not be opaque). Low to moderate off-white head; may have low head retention. May be cloudy with chill haze at cooler temperatures, but generally clears to good to brilliant clarity as it warms. The color may appear to have great depth, as if viewed through a thick glass lens. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.

Flavor:
Strong, intense, complex, multi-layered malt flavors ranging from bready, toffee, and biscuity in paler versions through nutty, deep toast, dark caramel, and/or molasses in darker versions. Moderate to high malty sweetness on the palate, although the finish may be moderately sweet to moderately dry (depending on aging). Some oxidative or vinous flavors may be present, and often complex alcohol flavors should be evident. Moderate to fairly high fruitiness, often with a dark- or dried-fruit character. Hop bitterness may range from just enough for balance to a firm presence; balance therefore ranges from malty to somewhat bitter. Pale versions are often more bitter, better attenuated, and might show more hop character than darker versions; however, all versions are malty in the balance. Low to moderately high hop flavor, often floral, earthy, or marmalade-like English varieties.

Mouthfeel:
Full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety, luscious texture (although the body may decline with long conditioning). A smooth warmth from aged alcohol should be present. Carbonation may be low to moderate, depending on age and conditioning.

Comments:
The richest and strongest of modern English Ales. The character of these ales can change significantly over time; both young and old versions should be appreciated for what they are. The malt profile can vary widely; not all examples will have all possible flavors or aromas. Paler varieties won’t have the caramel and richer malt flavors, nor will they typically have the darker dried fruits – don’t expect flavors and aromatics that are impossible from a beer of that color. Typically written as “Barley Wine” in the UK, and “Barleywine” in the US.

History:
Strong ales of various formulations have long been brewed in England, and were known by several names. The modern barleywine traces back to Bass No. 1, which was first called a barleywine in 1872. Barleywines were darker beers until Tennant (now Whitbread) first produced Gold Label, a gold-colored barleywine in 1951. Usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery, and in recent years many commercial examples are now vintage-dated and offered as a limited-release winter seasonal specialty. The original barleywine style that inspired derivative variations in Belgium, the United States, and elsewhere in the world.

Characteristic Ingredients:
High-quality, well-modified pale malt should form the backbone of the grist, with judicious amounts of caramel malts. Dark malts should be used with great restraint, if at all, as most of the color arises from a lengthy boil. English hops such as Northdown, Target, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles are typical. Characterful British yeast.

Style Comparison:
Although often a hoppy beer, the English Barleywine places less emphasis on hop character than the American Barleywine and features English hops. English versions can be darker, maltier, fruitier, and feature richer specialty malt flavors than American Barleywines. Has some overlap British Old Ale on the lower end, but generally does not have the vinous qualities of age; rather, it tends to display the mature, elegant signs of age.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 35 – 70 FG: 1.018 – 1.030
SRM: 8 – 22 ABV: 8.0 – 12.0%

Commercial Examples:
Adnams Tally-Ho, Burton Bridge Thomas Sykes Old Ale, Coniston No. 9 Barley Wine, Fuller’s Golden Pride, J.W. Lee’s Vintage Harvest Ale, Robinson’s Old Tom

Wee Heavy

17C. Wee Heavy

Overall Impression:
Rich, malty, dextrinous, and usually caramel-sweet, these beers can give an impression that is suggestive of a dessert. Complex secondary malt and alcohol flavors prevent a one-dimensional quality. Strength and maltiness can vary, but should not be cloying or syrupy.

Aroma:
Deeply malty, with a strong caramel component. Lightly smoky secondary aromas may also be present, adding complexity; peat smoke is inappropriate. Diacetyl should be low to none. Low to moderate esters and alcohol are often present in stronger versions. Hops are very low to none, and can be slightly earthy or floral.

Appearance:
Light copper to dark brown color, often with deep ruby highlights. Clear. Usually has a large tan head, which may not persist. Legs may be evident in stronger versions.

Flavor:
Richly malty with significant caramel (particularly in stronger versions). Hints of roasted malt may be present (sometimes perceived as a faint smoke character), as may some nutty character, all of which may last into the finish. Peat smoke is inappropriate. Hop flavors and bitterness are low to medium-low, so the malt presence should dominate the balance. Diacetyl should be low to none. Low to moderate esters and alcohol are usually present. Esters may suggest plums, raisins or dried fruit. The palate is usually full and sweet, but the finish may be sweet to medium-dry, sometimes with a light roasty-grainy note.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-full to full-bodied, with some versions (but not all) having a thick, chewy viscosity. A smooth, alcoholic warmth is usually present and is quite welcome since it balances the malty sweetness. Moderate carbonation.

Comments:
Also known as “strong Scotch ale.” The term “wee heavy” means “small strong” and traces to the beer that made the term famous, Fowler’s Wee Heavy, a 12 Guinea Ale. Historically, the strongest beer from a Scottish ale parti-gyle.

History:
More related to historical brews than modern lower-strength Scottish ales, these beers have their roots in the strong ales of the 1700s and 1800s, although formulations and methods have changed. A premium product, often produced for export. Modern versions have lower starting and finishing gravities than their historical ancestors.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Well-modified pale malt, with roasted barley for color. May use some crystal malt for color adjustment. Slight smoke character may be present in some versions, but derives from roasted grains or from the boil. Peated malt is absolutely not traditional.

Style Comparison:
Somewhat similar to an English Barleywine.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.070 – 1.130
IBUs: 17 – 35 FG: 1.018 – 1.040
SRM: 14 – 25 ABV: 6.5 – 10.0%

Commercial Examples:
Belhaven Wee Heavy, Gordon Highland Scotch Ale, Inveralmond Blackfriar, McEwan’s Scotch Ale, Orkney Skull Splitter, Traquair House Ale