Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage, Alaska, is home to the world’s largest selection of Barleywine. Who knew? The 12 Days of Barleywine is celebrating its 14th annual celebration right now. It kicked off on December 10th and runs through Winter Solstice on December 21st. Winter Solstice is a big deal in Alaska, and what better way to welcome in longer days than with some amazing Barleywine?
Glacier Brewhouse rolls out 2-3 new Barleywines every day for 12 days, which can easily add up to 40 different bears!! Kevin Burton is the Head Brewmaster at Glacier Brewhouse and he is probably the biggest fan of Barleywines that I have ever met. Let me just say, he does a damn good job of created some really memorable brews.
Kevin Burton – Head Brewmaster at Glacier Brewhouse
But what exactly is Barleywine you might be wondering?
Barleywine first started centuries ago in small breweries where the brewer wanted to produce a very strong ale that was aged over a considerable amount of time. These were big beers that townspeople waited all year to try.
Glacier Brewhouse Barrel & Beer Vault
Today Barleywine is still aged from six months to 10 years and has an alcohol content similar to wine, almost double of most beers. Barleywine is aged in wood barrels that could have originally housed wine or any number of different types of whiskey. The longer the beer stays in the barrel, the more it picks up the flavors. Barleywine tends to be on the sweeter side because of this.
You want to serve Barleywine in a tulip-shaped glass or brandy snifter. These are perfect for a cold winter’s night as a relaxing end to your day. Drink them like you would a fine scotch or cognac or a deep red wine – savor it and enjoy the experience. Because Barleywine is definitely an experience.
Day 9 of the 12 Days of Barleywine
I have been trying to get to Glacier Brewhouse everyday this week to try the Barleywines. Sadly, I didn’t make it there until Day 9. I was lucky to have my friend Brandon with me to try the Barleywine. He is new to beer tastings and had never tried barleywines – am I nothing if not courteous, so I was happy to show him the ropes. I mean, how could I not with a smile like that?
On Day 10 of 12 Days of Barleywine at Glacier BrewHouse this was their lineup, left to right.
3. 2015 Big Woody Barleywine aged 10mo in Jim Beam barrels (10.35%)
Three very different Barleywines that warmed me up from the first sip. Big Woody was big, bold, and crazy delicious – you could taste the Jim Beam and it was amazing. Brandon liked the Big Woody Brandywine the best. The Eisbock was the easiest drinking of the three and seemed to be the favorite of the patrons next to us. My fave (shocker, I know!) was the 2014 Imperial Stout that had sweet delicious raspberries, not only on the nose, but also left a sweet oh so heavenly taste in the mouth as it went down.
Crossing my fingers that I can make a couple more days of this year’s 12 Days of Barleywine Festival. You might want to put this annual event on your list for next year!
Want to try making your own Barleywine? Let me know how it comes out! 🙂