The American Barleywine, Your Next Winter Warmer
The hoppier, more balanced, and less sweet winter warmer.
Written by Caroline Southern
Image by Kinsley Stocum
The American barleywine was born from English barleywine, a beer we strongly recommend you do NOT take poolside. That being said, we definitely recommend you do not take an American barleywine to the pool either.
Made in the same vein as its English cousin, American barleywine is typically aged in casks or the bottle like wine. This boozy beer (usually 8 to 12 percent ABV) has a dark amber color and a velvety mouthfeel. While the English versions tend to be well rounded with a balance between malt and hops, American barleywines are typically hop forward and made with American hops, as opposed to the English hop varietals used to make English barleywine.
Brewers often release American barleywines (which are named for having a similar ABV to wine, not similar ingredients) during the colder winter months, typically in small batches that have been aged for several years. As American barleywines age, their intense flavors mellow while also developing complexity. Limited quantities and prolonged conditioning make these beers rare and highly desirable among beer aficionados.