This beer is a Belgian style Barleywine with 11.3% ABV. It was barrel aged for several months in a bourbon barrel of unknown origin. No, I don’t mean a mysterious barrel that fell to Earth, I mean the brewer uses several kinds of barrels and this one wasn’t disclosed.
The color is a reddish amber with orange around the edges. It’s relatively clear with a touch of lace clinging to the side of the glass. This beer looks very interesting and delicious. It might be a little lighter then what I expected, perhaps that is why the brewer says it is really a Belgian Quad that has undergone barrel aging. It smells very inviting, with malty sweetness and fruity notes from the yeast. I also get a ton of vanilla and oak from the barrel. It definitely draws me in and makes me want to take a sip.
The taste is predominately oak and vanilla with a beautiful kiss of malt. It’s very sweet (but not overly so) for the barleywine style but has a nice balance at the same time. This beer is strong and not for the faint of heart. It’s really delicious and different then what I expected. I think laying it down for a year or two could make this beer even better, as flavors tend to come together over time and the alcohol becomes less harsh. The mouthfeel is also very good especially for an 11.3% beer. The carbonation is definitely there but perfectly subtle. It’s slightly syrupy and my lips are sticky from the sweetness.
Overall, this beer is wonderful and it will probably be even better in a year or so. After taking a hiatus from drinking beer for three weeks this was definitely an awesome beer to welcome me back. I can’t wait to try the other bottle next year to see how this unique barleywine/quad progresses. This beer also won a bronze medal in the wood-aged category at the GABF this year and we couldn’t be happier for Hoppin Frog! After all, both frogs and bunnies hop!