Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Taste of Barleywine Month at the Falling Rock Tap House in Denver

February I got a taste of the legendary Barleywine Month at the Falling Rock Tap House with the help of Barley's Angels Colorado.  This event was pairing barleywines with cheese. Chris Black, co-owner of the Falling Rock Tap House was on hand through out the evening pouring the barleywines and giving us his knowledge on beer. Michael Wray of Metro State University of Denver was there also to talk about the beverage program.
Chris Black outside for a Pliny the
Younger event.

Chris gave us a treat with a vertical tasting of each barleywine. I learned that the first barleywine produced by Anchor Steam brewery in 1976, Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale (Wikipedia) was subject to TTB approval for labeling as all breweries who sell bottles/can beer.  In England, it's spelt as two words but it confused the agency, "is it a beer or a wine?".  So that's how "barleywine" came to be.

The evening started off with Michael Wray talking to us about the beverage programs at Metro State University in Denver.  The program has been around for 14 years. The beer courses included brewing in their state of the art lab and cicerone certificate program.  The course were originally geared with wine making but with the beer popularity the college now includes the latter.  It's not very expensive so it intrigued me to think about taking some classes.

Michael Wray, Professor at
Metro State University Denver.
Hogshead, Window Licker

Chris Black, co-owner of
the Falling Rock Tap House.
Chris Black poured our beers while telling us about each. The first course was a vertical of a local Denver brewery, Hogshead Brewing which is located in the Highlands district. This Window Licker Barleywine, at 9.6% ABV is aged for 6 months before it's release.  Chris picked this brewery because their beers are in the English style, more malts less hop forward beers.   Barleywines can be 8 to 12% ABV, so a little goes a long way when there's a vertical.

This round was with a vertical of three years, 2014, 2013, and 2012. My favorite was the 2013, which was very smooth and not as boozy as the 2014. The 2012 was just a little too bitter for me. This was paired with 3 year old Manchego cheese topped with fig jam.  Manchego cheeses in Spain are usually paired with Sherry so it stands to reason that it paired well with the barleywine.

Second course was the Alaskan Brewing Barleywine, 10.7% ABV. This was a two year vertical that spanned two years, 2014 and 2012.  The Alaskan Barleywine is more hoppy then the Hogshead, it's brewed with muliple hops in the boil then dry hopped in fermentation which leaves a contrasting flavor with the malts. I liked the 2012 more because of it being less bitter and more sweeter than the 2014. This was paired with Humboldt Fog, a goat cheese with an edible white ash layer. This pairing was also very good.

Last course was a two year vertical from Great Divide Brewing Old Ruffian, 10.2% ABV.  Chris poured a 2014 and 2013.  I liked the 2013 for it's smoothness and sweet taste with a mild hop aroma. This pairing had the most hoppiness of all the barleywines.  The cheese paired for this course was the Huntsman, a combination of two classic English cheeses; Double Glouchester cheese which is firm and tangy and sandwiched in between is Stilton Blue Cheese which has a heavy strong flavor.  I usually don't like blue cheese but this pairing went well.

Before the night was over, Chris Black sat down with us women and answered questions we directed at him. Now, I have known Chris as an acquaintance, with frequenting the Rock and seeing him at beer events for over 10 years so I learned more that night then any other time.

I apologize for not having pictures with the cheeses, we where seating in a room in the basement of the Falling Rock that is for leisure seating with just a coffee table. It was a juggling act when tasting the verticals at one time.

Deborah Cameron talking to us about
up coming events in the basement

Thank you Chris Black, Michael Wray, and Deborah Cameron for creating such a wonderful beer event.


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