Tuesday, April 5

Beer Review: Widmer Brothers Reserve Galaxy Hopped Barleywine Ale

Just only about a week ago, I started asking myself "Where is the next reserve release from Widmer?". I tweeted about it on my Twitter account, and Bill, of the blog 'It's Pub Night' (@itspubnight) mentioned that it was just released, and pointed me to an article about it from another respected blogger who got a free sample of it.

But only a few days after that, reading about it on other blogs as well, I just found it at By The Bottle here in Downtown Vancouver. I was surprised at how early they received their cases of this fantastic ale. I am guessing many local Portland shops don't have it yet.

Widmer hasn't stopped surprising me since they released their Drifter Pale Ale which is a citrus filled, and rather strong ale with a very unique flavor. Since then, they released an anniversary Double Alt ale.. (a what?) to celebrate their 25th year (which I just had my last amazingly good 2 year old bottle the other night), and a string of other 'Brothers Reserve' series beers. This time, its a limited reserve #4 for the spring of 2011.

Galaxy hops are a high-alpha hop bred in 1994 by Hop Products Australia. This company owns a hop garden called Rostrevor in North Eastern Victoria where they were grown for the first time. It’s now grown in both Victoria and Tasmania.

Origin: Australia

Aroma/Flavor: Pleasant, Citrus, Passionfruit

Alpha Acid: 13.0 - 14.8%

Typical Usage: Mostly bittering, although noted as a dual purpose. Could be used as flavoring hop as well.

I personally see this hop style (just in the flavor from this barleywine alone)best fit for a dry stout, pale ale, or English IPA even. Seems to fit very well in this very unique barleywine from Widmer.

Tasting notes:

- Appearance: (3.5)
Pours a clear and dark rich brown/red mahogany with a quick fizzling off-white foam that relaxes to a nice ring and island of foam in the middle of my Rogue winter glass (excuse the glassware, just moved and am still building my collection). Nothing like a spring release in a winter glass eh?

- Smell: (4.5)
This is where this brew pops out and grabs you by the nose hairs with little clenching fists of glory. The fresh and fruity hops are greatly present, but I feel are helped greatly by the Belgian candy sugars. The malt is rather light, and smooth... which are huskless malts! Mild fruit salad, strawberry, passion fruit,and an earthy grassy aroma.

- Taste: (4.0)
Smooth, balanced, and just the right sweetness to start. Light caramel, bready malt flowing with a fruit ester-filled flavor going down. The massive bitterness that I get shows itself after the barleywine is swallowed. I really love the bitter quality of this barleywine. It has a 'gin-like' effect on the palate. Light floral and passion fruit finish on the hops. Again, some fresh grassy earthy flavors.

- Mouthfeel: (3.5)
Like as stated in the taste, this is a rather clear, refined, filtered medium bodied barleywine.. almost on the light bodied side. It's rather dry (which I like), but still wets the palate with its huge array of flavors.

- Overall: (4.0)
This is not your typical barleywine. It's not thick, creamy, cloudy, and loaded with caramel like a John Barleycorn. It's light, dry, full of flavors, esters, and wonder. It's one to try. I really don't know how this one would age, or if it even really needs to. The alcohol is barely present at all. It's a dry, not-so-hot alcohol. Perhaps a bit too clean and dangerous. Certainly a good brew, and I can't wait to see what Widmer has under their belt for the next release. I am guessing this won't be released again for a few years at least, so head over to By The Bottle and snag 'em while they last!

A- / 4.03 (BeerAdvocate.com rating scale)

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