The featured beer painting of the day is of Oak Horizontal Barleywine-style Ale from Victory Brewing Company. A vintage from 2012, this beer was screaming to be let out of its bottle. I loaded it into my bike bag and road down to the former airstrip that McCarthy residents now use as a softball field. I brought extra cups for sharing during the game, and poured out barleywine for a few people who had never tasted it before. The group here in McCarthy gave it mixed reviews ranging from, “Amazing!” to “What the hell is that!”
I thought it was tasty! I know what barleywine should taste like, and it is one of my favorite styles of beer, even though I don’t get to drink it very often. I want to find a reliable source for 8 oz cans of the stuff. Then I could bring tiny cans of barleywine on backpacking trips. I have sampled a few barley wines in my day. Alaska is probably one of the few places in the world that promotes barleywine. Before Christmas, the Glacier Brewhouse in Anchorage hosts the Twelve Days of Barleywine featuring two barleywine offerings every day for twelve days in a row. We are also lucky enough to have the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival every January, and almost every brewery in attendance has a barleywine to enter into the contest. Sierra Nevada brought four different versions of the Big Foot barleywine to last year’s event. Midnight Sun Brewing normally brings two or three to the Connoisseur’s session, and watch out for Anchorage Brewing’s Deal with the Devil — the gold and bronze winner for best barleywine in the last two years.
The Oak Horizontal bottle cork barely popped, although there was plenty of carbonation. I had rallied down the dirt road downhill for two miles all the way to softball, and thought the bumpy road may have shaken up the dusty bottle. However, I was not let down despite the lack of pop. It was perfectly carbonated, lightly bubbling in my cup. Beautiful and sweet, the bourbon barrels added a nice caramel flavor that threatened to overwhelm my palate – strong, but then fading to a smoky, almost brandy-like flavor. It was decadent, to say the least!
Great job yet again, Victory Brewing! You should enter this brew into the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine competition! You have a good chance with a beer that tastes as solid as this one. I bet if you enter the 2012 Oak Horizontal in the mix, it would place for sure!
You can purchase this painting, or a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.