Barleywine has long been one of my favorite styles of beer – The flavor, the malt, the hops (especially in American ones) and of course the alcohol. A well-made barleywine is a thing of beauty. It warms the body as it dulls the mind. Its flavor pours from your glass as it warms, making it a beer you want to savor slowly, enjoying each sip. I’m often asked what my favorite beer is. It’s a tough question to answer because beer is seasonal to me. If I was nailed down, I’d probably say Sierra Nevada Bigfoot. Bigfoot is a syrupy, super hoppy, beer – and to me it’s the standard for American Barleywine: Piney, resinous and fucking delicious. That’s the beer I based our yearly Barleywine, Chessie, on.
Chessie is one of the highlights of the year for me. We fill the kettle with Pale, Munich and a touch of Crystal malts and then add copious amounts of CTZ and Centennial hops in the kettle and dryhop to make one monster of a beer. You get notes of pine and dank cannabis in the nose followed by rich caramel, honey, and dark fruit from the malt. It all blends together to make a stupendous ale that’s great to drink now. But, if you lay one down for a few months, or even a few years, your patience will be rewarded with a beer in which the hops will fade into the background and the malts will really become the star of the show. We love to barrel age this brew too, and this year we are releasing it after an almost yearlong nap in bourbon barrels we sourced from a well known Kentucky distiller. The vanilla and oak notes it picks up only help to enhance Chessie even more, creating a synergy of beer, barrel and spirit.
I always suggest picking up two of each Chessie variant we release so you can experience it now and then again later after its been cellared. If you are thinking about foods to pair with Chessie, I love it with a stinky blue cheese like Stichelton or Rouge River Blue. Cheers! – Kev
Year 6 Chessie & Barrel-Aged Chessie Year 5 will be available in the Tap Room Sunday, 11/24/19.