Dock Street Brewing Co.
Dock Street Brewing Co. was founded in Philadelphia in 1985, the first microbrewery in the City of Brotherly Love. This barley wine has been aged in Pinot Noir barrels for 10 months, hand-bottled and bottle conditioned.
Original gravity: 1101
I can smell and taste the oak from the barrel-aging in this dark and murky beer, but it blends in nicely with the rest of flavors: burnt raisin, cherry pits, light molasses, plum, fig and over-ripe Clementine―all leading to a dry, burnt black licorice, charred oak finish that keeps the sweetness in check. It’s thick, viscous and not very carbonated, but that was on purpose. Sip in a snifter, no colder than cellar temperature.
I hadn’t noticed the “barrel-aged” descriptive on the label before I opened and poured this beer, but I certainly recognized it after one sniff. Which is not to say that this is an oak bomb, because it certainly is not. In fact, what oaky notes do exist in the nose (and body, for that matter) are very well integrated with the beer, much as they would be in a studiously barrel-aged wine. There are hints of vanilla, of course, but more so raisins and barely burnt cocoa and faint black licorice. In the body, more raisin and prune, roasted walnut, cinnamon, vanilla and a growing hop presence that meshes well with the alcoholic heat. Big bottle, big beer, fit for sharing slowly with a special someone in front of the fire.