Once a month a bunch of guys gather at my house ostensibly to talk about a book we’ve all read. Yes, a guys-only book club. I’m sure you can guess why my house – the beers, including my own cask ale system. However, I have to keep a watchful eye on the rascals, lest they sneak into the “good stuff,” as they call it. Recently, I missed one as Terry popped an 11-year-old bottle of McAuslan‘s Vintage Ale. So, we shared the glass and here are the notes.
Although it threw a nice tight head, the texture was almost stilled cognac. The color reminded me of Thos. Moser furniture, deep rich auburn and smooth, very smooth. The aroma, and flavor, had dried fruit richness – black cherries with a holiday sense to it. What a full hop finish, too, which caught me by surprise. Was the bitterness all hops? I thought that faded over time? Yet here was black pepper lasting for a very long time. The alcohol, at over 9 percent, added a slight burn but was hardly noticeable. Here’s the deal: This is billed as a barley wine but after ten years in my “cellar” it has smoothened out so much that it lacks the cloying maltiness and alcohol burn, instead having a holiday spice flavor on top of a silky cognac texture. And I’ve still got three of these babies left!