Barley wine has always been one of the feast or famine areas in brewing. I think the problem is that the right taste regimen is hard to hit. A lot of times barley wine comes in with a high barley count and I don't like it. Very rarely does it come in with a low barely count and a higher hops (I assume that this is the factor which flavors barely wine) but to do this takes a steady hand on the tiller. So, what are you supposed to do? Cognac.
Cognac gathers together the sugars that are in wine and concentrates over time. While wine picks up the flavors that are around it, cognac gets the deeper flavors and it concentrates them. This is why cognac comes across as a deeper set of tastes. Now what happens when we concentrate cognac and barely wine in the same process? Yeah, its a wholly new set of tastes for barley wine, ones we had written off as not possible in the barley wine barrel. Cognac seems to be the solution for barley wine!
Westbrook Brewing Company (510 Ridge Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464 V: (843) 654-9114 www.westbrookbrewing.com) and Evil Twin (446 Kent Avenue, apt 14A Brooklyn, NY 11249 USA, www.eviltwin.dk) are responsible to The Perfect Nose, a barley wine fermented in cognac barrels. Yeah, Evil Twin, who is responsible for several of these high end beer distilleries, has their hand in it, and Westbrook Brewing Company is their partner in crime. This has 10.2% ABV and no IBUs.
This is a beautiful example of what you can do with a barley wine and cognac barrels. The barley wine is transported past its normal critiques and moved onto a whole other level. No more complaints about the deep barley tastes. This is moved onto how the cognac mellows out the barley wine, prompting a discussion of whether it is even appropriate to be calling it a barley wine at all. Yeah, it is that good.
Untappd rating: 3.8
My Untappd rating: 4.75