Wifey and I are on a well-deserved vacation in California this weekend. We’ve spent a few days in Los Angeles, and are en route to San Francisco (with a planned visit to 21st Amendment, one of our favorite breweries) and Sonoma.
I have to include one LA mini-review before I get into my full review: we met a bunch of friends at The Village Idiot in West Hollywood for beers, and enjoyed their expansive menu of draft brews and 22-ounce bottles – I give that place my full recommendation. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to my friend Nick SantaCroce, who met us out, told me he’s become a dedicated LIBA reader, and even takes me up on my recommendations from time to time!
Anyway, onto business. Before leaving D.C., I cracked open a 22-ounce Widmer Brothers’ Brothers Reserve Galaxy-Hopped Barleywine Ale. The brew’s name is a mouthful, and so is the flavor – this is a complex and seriously flavorful brew. I became a fan of Widmer 22s when I tried their Barrel Aged Bourbon Ale on Josh’s recommendation, and the Barleywine lived up to expectations. This is Widmer’s Spring seasonal.
The pour was super dark, so dark I had to hold it up to light to appreciate the dark crimson color, and it poured a light foam crown that evaporated pretty quickly. It had a muddled fruit aroma, but I couldn’t make out any one specific fruit. The label says banana, pineapple, cherry, and strawberry, so I’ll take their word for it. I also detected faint sweet toffee notes.
While the aroma may be understated, the taste was anything but subtle. I felt like a hoppy fruit bomb exploded in my mouth on the first sip. It was unique to me because hoppy-fruity combos are often delicate marriages. The bold start mellowed into a cool toffee and caramel malted middle, over faint vanilla notes. Interestingly enough, the hops came back with a vengeance toward the end, and left a bit of an alcohol-burn flavor around for a while.
Overall, I liked this brew, but I’d bet it’s going to be a bit too strong for the majority of LIBA readers. Wifey thought it was too harsh, and she’s a good reality check for my hop-mad tastebuds. If you do wind up trying the Barleywine for yourself, be careful of the 9.5% ABV – it actually felt a lot stronger than listed.