Thursday, February 19, 2009

Real Ale Sisyphus

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the previous Real Ale brews I've tried, and I approach this one with much anticipation. This 2007 vintage pours cherry red with some orange hues. The head grows to almost one finger in height, but not until the very end of the pour, and it recedes quickly with some disorganized spots of lacing left behind. The smell of very sweet caramel and resiny hops mix as some dark fruits, yeast and grain move around underneath. A faint musty earthiness is detected.

The hops don't hit upon the first sip as much as they linger throughout the palate. There's a good amount of fruity tanginess and bready sweetness which balances things perfectly, and doesn't keep the barley and pine resin from surfacing toward the end. The body lies toward the medium to heavy end, but it's goes down smooth, without much alcohol (11.5%) being noticed, and without weighing too much on the stomach. This is an exceptional barleywine that doesn't seem as extreme tasting as it's alcohol content would suggest, and whose components work in concert without individual extravagances.

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