Brew Dog Tokyo - The most dangerous brew of the day at 18.2% ABV

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of my first ever meet up with some of the gang from Brew York (Lee Williams of Hoptopia, Genevieve of The Hops Honey, Chris of I Drunk That, and Jessica of Ten At Night).  Mugs Alehouse, a great little craft beer haven (with some pretty delicious food fare as well) located in Williamsburg was the setting for “Split They Brooklyn Skull XI”, a barleywine festival started by Jim Anderson, editor of Beer Philadelphia.  This two day event hosted a plethora of delicious barleywines and stouts as well as other various heavy hitters, however, us BrewYorkers only made it to the second day.  The weather was a promising 60 degrees and the sun was shining as we camped out on the back patio of Mugs for brunch and some amazing brews.  This list was as such:

Gravity Cask:

Bluepoint Old Howling Bastard (American Barleywine) – Patchogue, NY (right by my hometown!)

Heavy Seas Below Decks with Oak (English Barleywine) – Baltimore, MD

Kegs:

21st Amendment Monks Blood 8.3% (Belgian Strong Dark Ale) – San Francisco, CA

Allagash Odessey 10% (Belgian Strong Dark Ale) – Portland, ME

Brewdog Tokyo 18.2% (Imperial Stout) – Fraserburgh, Scotland

Brooklyn Monster 2006 11.8% (English Barleywine) – Brooklyn, NY

Cigar City Marshal Zhukovs 11.5% (Imperial Stout) – Tampa, FL

Dicks Brewing Company Barleywine 10% (American Barleywine) – Centralia, WA

Dock Street Prisoner of Hell 10% (Saison) – Philadelphia, PA

General Lafayette Phantom 10% (English Barleywine) – Lafayette Hill, PA

Green Flash Palate Wrecker 9% (Imperial IPA) – Vista, CA

Heavy Seas Siren Noire 8% (Imperial Chocolate Stout) – Baltimore, MD

Kuhnenns 4th Dementia 9.5% (Old Ale) – Warren, MI

Lagunitas Sumpin Extra 8.7% (Imperial IPA) – Petaluma, CA

Life and Limb 10.2% – (American Strong Ale) – Chico, CA

North Coast Old Stock Ale 12.5% (Old Ale) – Fort Bragg, CA

Sierra Bigfoot 2005 9.6% (American Barleywine) – Chico, CA

Smuttynose Barleywine 2007 10.9% (American Barleywine) Portsmouth, NH

Southern Tier Imperial Mokah 11% (Imperial Stout) – Lakewood, NY

Spring House Kerplunk 8.1% (Imperial Chocolate Stout) – Conestoga, PA

Victory Old Horizontal 11% (American Barleywine) – Downingtown, PA

Voodoo Grand Met 10% (Bier de Garde) – Meadville, PA

Weyerbacher Blasphemy 2007 11.8% (Quadrupel) – Easton, PA

The range of brews available was outstanding!

Whew!  What a list!  And between all of us, I think we tried them each and every one.  Here are a couple of the standouts for me:

The North Coast Old Stock Ale reminded me of what it was like to drink a fine, fine wine.  Boozy (12.5%!)  and sweet, this brew has all the appearance and aroma of cognac without the 80 proof bite.  Surprisingly smooth, this syrupy ale boasts flavors such as raisins, bourbon, maple syrup and a slight twang of cinnamon.

Next on my list is Southern Tier’s Mokah.  This chocolate/coffee stout creation quite nearly blew this stout lover’s mind.  Thick and black, this brew looks like your everyday run of the mill stout.  Take a sniff, however, and you’re transported into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.  The taste is reminiscent of a double chocolate biscotti dipped into a fine cappuccino.  The only difference is the lightness of the Mokah- dangerously drinkable for the high ABV.   I almost ordered another glass – 3.5 ounces just wasn’t enough!

A necessary diversion...

Later on in the day we took a break from the heavier stouts and barleywines for some Russian River Brewing Co. Damnation Belgian Style Ale.  At 7% ABV, this one was up there in content with the rest of them, but the banana and clove pairing provided a refreshing retreat from the sweet chocolate and dark fruits that dominated the day.  Deep golden in color with plenty of head, the biggest of the flavors was a bitter pear surrounded by hoppy pine.  The carbonation provided a well needed pop and hid the alcohol flavor just enough.

A full pint of Otter Creek QVH?! I'll take it!

Lastly, the brew that took the day for me was Otter Creek’s QVH (Quercus Vitis Humulus) offered up on cask.

“But Red”, you may say, “QVH isn’t on your previous list!”

That, my reader friend, it is not.  However, and to my luck, QVH was offered on the first day of the festival, and as it was on cask, still around for day 2.  This barleywine pours a sediment filled orange with a nice sized head.  Although the brew is 12.5% ABV, there is almost no hint of that in either smell OR taste.  The flavorings offered in QVH are so complex that it is almost impossible for one to discern them all – especially after a long day of 10+% brews.  It is fruity, sweet, and dry with a strong finish of citrus and slight oak.  I found this brew absolutely stunning- the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Only a part of the graveyard...

This is what happens during a Barleywine Festival...

Altogether, there was no specific brew from the day that all of us particularly hated.  There were some wins, and some loses, but nothing that we all agreed we would never drink again.  That difference in pallatte is the beauty of beer- there’s always something for everyone.

All in all, us Brew Yorkers experienced a day full of great weather, great beer, and great company- the perfect way to kick off Spring!

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