12.24.2006

HoX Beer Review #10: Bison Organic Barleywine Ale

Merry Xmas Eve, all. Here's to all of you who've stuck with me through my first 10 beer reviews. I didn't think I'd have it in me to stick with it this long. Thanks to all who've helped shape my reviews into what they've become.

And awaaaay we go...


Originally what piqued my interest in this ale, hand-crafted in Berkeley, CA, was the fact that it's a "barleywine" ale. I've never tasted a barleywine beer before, so I couldn't resist. And like I said in my post the other day, "I bought this one because it made me think of Hobbits." How could I not give in to my nerdiness? On closer inspection of the bottle, I find that Bison's Organic Barleywine Ale*** is made from 100% organic ingredients: Water, Organic Malt, Organic Hops, _____, Yeast. The "____" is due to a tear in the label that I couldn't repair. This one's even approved by the USDA as being 100% organic. And damn it if it doesn't taste great.

Out of the bottle, it's an ale brown. Nothing exciting, but it holds a head. Held up to the light, it's a very cloudy ale, where I was expecting something a little more red or wine colored. It looks similar to a cloudy glass of iced tea. Not altogether appetizing, but I'm happy to take a bullet for all of you loyal readers.

It's similar to an India Pale Ale at first smell & taste, with a ton of fruit notes & hops, but it's not overpoweringly bitter like an IPA can be. It's pleasantly sweet at first, and very light in the mouth, then you get hit with much hops. After swallowing, there's a quick slap in the face of bitter, which I always enjoy. I'll be honest, if I had known it was similar to an IPA, I might've stayed away from it because of the lack of difference I've noticed between different IPAs, but I'm glad I bought it. It may have restored my faith in an IPA style beer. There's a very carbonated mouth feel, which adds to the aforementioned lightness. It's a very easy-drinking beer, and I'm looking forward to my second glass.

A quick swirl in my goblet-style glass kicks up an amazing scent. This is quite an aromatic beer. The aroma adds to it, but it smells somewhat better than it tastes. That's not to say it tastes bad, it just smells amazing. If I were to get crazy and pair a course to a meal with this beer (if I were to ever put on a beer dinner or something), this one would definitely go with an appetizer course. Not something to have with an entree. Some starter dish with a little spice in it would be perfect. Just be sure to leave a little left in the bottom of the bottle. There's a few grain particles floating around my glass, which is standard with these hand-crafted, high ABV beers (this is a lesson I'm having trouble getting used to).

When most people think of beer, they think cheap, easy to drink, and what gets you drunk quickly. This one's not a sit-around-and-get-tanked beer. There's more to it than that. If your Coors Light or MGD is the example of a sedentary lifestyle, this is one for those looking to develop a finer palate for beers and ales. If your connoisseurship permits, please check out Bison's Barleywine Ale. Bottom line, however: It's not the best ale I've reviewed, and though tasty, I won't regret it if I can't get to it again.

1.0 is perfect in each category,
0.1 is the complete opposite of perfect.
Use your imagination for everything between.
The perfect beer would be scored "4.0/4"

Bison Organic Barleywine Ale, 9.5% ABV.

Appearance: 0.5

Aroma: 1.0

Taste: 0.7

Mouthfeel: 0.7

2.9/4

1 comment:

JeffX said...

*** This ale doesn't appear on Bison's website. I think it may be a seasonal brew made for earlier in the year.