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Here's The Canned Barleywine You Need

Illustration for article titled Here's The Canned Barleywine You Need

I think we can all agree that the best way to enjoy beer is to read about it, which is why we’re so lucky to live through this golden age of beer blogs. The latest press release from the Loyal Order of Beer Blowhards, Sycophants, and Performative Contrarians indicates that we’re up to more than 3.5 million beer blogs in the U.S., with more launching every day!


The strength of the craft blog movement has even helped prop up the fading old macro-publishing industry. It’s true: They’ve started making books about beer again! One of the most promising new ones is Randy Mosher’s Beer for All Seasons: A Through-the-Year Guide to What to Drink and When to Drink It. I haven’t actually read it, but I’ve read about it—which is the best way to enjoy books about beer—plus I’ve read every word of Mosher’s excellent Tasting Beer, which gives me great faith in this new one (despite the nannyish subtitle).

But even though I’m optimistic about Beer for All Seasons, I did come across one disturbing thing in my reading-about-reading. A few weeks ago, the uncommonly handsome beer blogger Norman Miller picked a large bone with the book’s claim that “nobody needs a pint of barleywine.” Norm, it seems, has needed just that on several occasions. And, when you stop to think about it, so have the rest of us. You may not have realized the need at the time, though, because you may have mistaken it for anxiety, depression, euphoria, or just plain old physical and emotional parchedness. Or maybe you just didn’t really know what the hell barleywine even is. That’s understandable. It’s a weird one.

The first thing you need to know about barleywine is that it’s stuffed with booze. This could be why Mr. Mosher prefers it in quantities of 15 or even fewer ounces, which is his prerogative, I guess, but come on, man, keep your laws off my beer mug. Anyhow, the barleywine field doesn’t have a ton of other strictly unifying traits beyond high alcohol-by-volume levels. They’re generally less aggressively roasted and hopped than imperial stouts and double IPAs, respectively, although American barleywines are often hoppier than traditional British versions.

Crazy Mountain Brewing Company of Edwards, Colo., originally brewed Lawyers, Guns & Money, their 10-percent-ABV barleywine, as a special-edition anniversary beer, but they’ve recently started to offer it in cans year-round. This is an important rebuke to the uptight notion that barleywines are strictly for special occasions; just as important, this is a damn fine beer.

Lawyers, Guns & Money opens with funky, earthy caramel and molasses aromas that evoke an old-world interpretation of the style, before plenty of grapefruit and lemon hop notes emerge to assert the American nature of this operation. The flavor stays balanced throughout, with the malt never receding, even on the surprisingly resinous finish.

The cans are a mere 12 ounces, so you’ll need to work your way through a few glugs of a second one to get your recommended daily allowance, but Crazy Mountain is to be commended for taking a large step toward eliminating barleywine-shaming from the Craft Beer Movement’s mission statement.


This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse’s adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We’ll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.


Image by Jim Cooke.

Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and some of his closest friends have met Certified Cicerones. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.