New Glarus says:
“Our 2012 Barley Wine bridges continents of style, a harmonious creation of Diploma Master Brewer Daniel Carey. He personally chose the hop fields that were harvested for this powerful beast of a brew. Styrian Golding, Willamette, Columbia, and Sterling with bold citrus and resin notes. All perfectly balanced with toasty graham cracker flavors of floor malted barley. Savor this very big beer at 45° F and it will reward you with an open embrace. “
New Glarus Thumbprint Barleywine
American Barleywine, 12% ABV
Sayeth the Guys:
Ryan: I don’t think there is any sense in hiding our love for any and all New Glarus bottles that have red foil around the cap (minus the abt). While we have found the Wisconsin brewery’s everyday offerings to be a tad watery, albeit still tasty, their special releases – more often than not – exceed expectations. This special release barleywine is another in a long line of well crafted,
Unplugged Thumbprint, beers from New Glarus.
Pouring a slightly translucent, but vibrant orange in color, the Thumbprint Barleywine exudes all things Double IPA. The nose is bursting with passion fruit, grapefruit, tangerine and a sticky resin. Sneaking past those mouth-watering aromas is booze, and lots of it.
The super-carbonated first sip dances done your throat with touches of honey, orange peel, lemon rind and the aforementioned grapefruit tickling the taste buds. There’s a bit of pepper mixed in their too along with a touch of toffee for balance and warming booze on the finish.
The alcohol is prevalent, as one might expect in a 12% ABV beer. And while it’s certainly noticeable and hangs with you long after your first few swallows – the alcohol presence doesn’t make the beer undrinkable. In fact, it’s surprisingly smooth despite being a hop and booze fueled monster.
You can call it Unplugged, you can call it Thumbprint – we’ll just call it awesome.
Karl: Barleywine. Berliner Weiss. Barleywine. Berliner Weiss.
The two styles almost couldn’t be more different – and yet, somehow New Glarus figured out a way to (accidentally? purposefully?) cross-breed the two in a weird way that’s absolutely worth hunting down.
Sparkling, bright, sweet with an almost peach flavor to it, the 12% ABV is surprisingly subtle for a barleywine, with a heavy finish that’s masked up front by the aforementioned sparkle. Some apple flavors pop out as well, making this a complex and fun take on the normally overwhelming, overbearing style.
Undoubtedly it’s a masterfully crafted beer, with a huge heft of bitterness with malty caramel flavors throughout and a nice orange/ruby/tan color to it. However, after a few minutes this smooths out to a bland, middle-of-the-road beer that serves as mostly just a vehicle for high amounts of alcohol.
Ryan: In our nearly three years of publicly reviewing beers I’ve come to find that I don’t usually enjoy barleywines after the first year or two of cellaring. Especially hugely hopped American barleywines like this particular offering from New Glarus.
Drank fresh, this is very reminiscent of a double IPA; hoppy and vibrant. But with a year of age on it, this beer is an abrasive, hoppy mess.
The aroma is pleasant and almost confuses you into thinking this beer will be light and refreshing. It’s not. It’s a bit thick and full of aggressive, angry hops. There are flavors of lemon rind and orange peel trying to fight past the hops but they’re washed away in a sea of hop aggression.
Maybe this review will be enough to convince me to either (a) stop cellaring barleywines or (b) wait until the three-year mark to crack them open if I do – because they’re far more enjoyable by then.