From the Cellar: Arcadia Cereal Killer Barleywine

In Cellared Beer Reviews by The Guys

Arcadia Says:

“Brewed in the traditional English style of Barleywines, Cereal Killer is an explosion of full-bodied, malty goodness. Huge syrupy flavors flow over caramel, toffee, molasses and toasty notes. All these rich malt flavors are balanced out nicely by just the right amount of citrus-like hoppy bitterness. A high alcohol content makes this a beer for the cellar. As this brew ages, it will continue to develop more sherry-like flavors and aromas similar to a cask-aged port.”

Arcadia Cereal Killer Barleywine
English Barleywine, 10% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

KARL: It’s not often that you get to break out a 5-year-old beer. I fully expected there to be a glaring lack of flavor and presence after such a long time sitting in the cellar, but Arcadia built a beer to stand up to the ages – or at least a half a decade.

Smelling of butterscotch, caramel and brown liquor, I wrote that this beer pours both muddy and (if I can read my handwriting correctly) bloody, appropriate for a brew that claims to be a killer. You could tell that the flavor of the beer had indeed faded somewhat, and the body had definitely backed off to become a more watery brew. But as far as age was concerned, those were the only concessions to the time span.

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Some delicate flavors of white grape or champagne had begun to peek through, and there was still plenty of harsh alcohol burn on the front end as well. Temperature, I noticed, played a huge role in the flavor of this beer. When Ryan served it straight from the fridge, the flavor was barely noticeable – just aroma and fluid.

But give it a while, let it sit for a few minutes, and some of the old energy came back to the brew. It became the barleywine I remembered from our first (pre-Guys-tasting) experience…for a while. Bring it up to full room temp and it fades away once again. Leave a beer in the bottle for this long, apparently, and it teases you by not lasting long in the glass.

RYAN: This tasting, inadvertently, became an experiment in serving temperatures.

We cracked this, impromptu-ly, to celebrate some good news on Andrew’s behalf. In my haste to get this beer cold enough to consume, I tossed it in the freezer. And…I left it in there too long. Not to let an ice cold beer (it’s better that way, right?) ruin a good tasting I poured it anyway. And what we had, initially, was a beer we could hardly smell or taste.

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So we sampled two other beers and came back to it.

The Cereal Killer had warmed up enough to reveal a plethora of dark fruits on the nose; plums, figs and dates. Also joining the party was a touch of caramel and a surprising aroma of butterscotch.

Take a sip and you have a heavy, thick barleywine that I likened to “almost chunky.” And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Allow it to warm a bit more and you’ll notice some hints of cinnamon and ginger on the nose as well. You’ll also notice some booze. A lot of booze. But it, strangely, doesn’t translate on to the palate much at all.

The once puckeringly sweet dark fruit flavors of this English barleywine have since faded leaving a cherry cola-ish flavored beer that goes down eerily smooth but lacks significant depth for a five year old beer.

Andrew: I think I liked this more than Karl and Ryan as I noted that this was an early entry for a top 5 beer of 2012, but definitely agree with them in that this beer improved significantly as it was allowed to warm up to room temperature.

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Once we were able to actually taste what we were drinking, we were greeted to a spicy, smooth yet thick English barleywine with notes of butterscotch, caramel and maybe a touch of cinnamon. I was looking for more booze and more dark fruits, but there was a decided lack of both for me, which didn’t detract from the experience in the least bit. Oh, and there were floaters. Lots of floaters.

Great beer – thanks to Ryan for opening this up in honor of moi.

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Written by many, compiled by one, this is a collaborative post with contributions from at least two writers at Guys Drinking Beer.

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