I got caught in a horrid rain storm in Maine one time. My radio told me to expect hurricane like winds and rains, and if possible to pull over on the side of the road. That same day, my then girlfriend (now wife) was supposed to visit me in while I was living there the summer of 2008. I knew if I told her about the weather, she’d immediately freak out and could very likely blame me for such an atrocious trip up from Connecticut. Luckily we all made it “home” safe… pretty anticlimactic story I know. Luckily this blog is about craft beer rather than the Screens Actor Guild. While we were just a couple of fools in the rain, it could have been a much more serious situation… it could have been…….. the MOTHER OF ALL STORMS!!! Although for that to happen, we would have needed some bourbon and barleywine. Why? Because that’s what the good people from Pelican Brewing out of Oregon do when they’re hit with some gales and droplets. A barleywine aged in Bourbon barrels is the perfect shelter for the storm. Let’s see if we can validate that… time to run them numbers…
Smell: Bourbon, wood, caramel, toffee, pecan, booze, butterscotch, and vanilla. For being so bourbon and boozy, this beer smells pretty sweet. I dig the flavors that are going on in here because I prefer these mellow, sweeter tones from the whiskeys I drink.
Taste: Ok… so this is going to be a two part tasting notes of Dr. Jekyll (this beer straight from the fridge) and Mr. Hyde (as it warmed). This is Jekyll:
Really sweet, and not so much in the butterscotch toffee range, but in the simple syrup, sugary range. For a beer with such a big booze punch, it kind of falls flat in flavor. Initially I get those hints of toffee, wood, and caramel, but very quickly they turn to straight sugar. The finish of this brew is sugar galore, which leaves the palate disappointed – it kind of reminds me of crunching into the stick of a Fun Dip. Flat towards the end with not a lot of interesting tones. It was fairly complex to start, but just does not have enough staying power to keep those waves of flavor cresting repeatedly.
So as this beer warms, it starts to open up… really gets to know you. Those sweet flavors I got from Jekyll are still there, but they begin to mingle more with the bourbon, the booze, the wood, and the caramel. The super sugary finish I got from Jekyll begin to fade and it closes with more authority than Mariano Rivera – sweetness, toffee, cookie, and boooooooooooze. You can taste the 14% bite on the way down, as opposed to when this beer was a little too frigid, it was like I was drinking a 7% brown ale. This beer with a few degrees on it changes it completely. It just goes to show the nuances of craft beer – it can change quicker than than Superman in a phone booth with the slightest influences.
The body on Mother of All Storms was fairly thick, but didn’t taste so (if that makes sense). The sugary liquid left a coating on the teeth and tongue, but went down easily with a buttery and velvety body. As mentioned, this beer clocks in at a Charlie Sheen like 14% ABV and is perfect to nurse… it only gets better as it sits. The carbonation was present, but was kind of like the noise generated from a high school football game… just barely there but enough to make the ambiance.
Overall: I was so ready to give this beer a C+, but honesty, the Brits may be up to something drinking all their suds warm. Hyde was so much better – a lot more cohesive than Jekyll. This brew is still a tad sweet for my tastes, but it is a powerfully boozy barley wine, so it’s to be expected to some extent. I wish it had a little more roastiness to balance out the sugar, but c’est la vie. I enjoyed this brew and respect it for what it is. With some degrees on it, I’ll give it a B+. Wouldn’t mind hunkering down with this during a storm.