Beer from Here: Barley’s Smokehouse’s winter brews

Written by on February 11, 2014 in Beer, Beer from Here - No comments

barleys smokehouseCraft beer and smoked meats. On their own, both are delicious. Together under the same roof, their combined palate-dominating potential is only matched by a homemade cookie and a bowl of ice cream. And then you have Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub –  a local colossus on both the smoked meat and craft brew fronts. A place where, according to owner and founder Lenny Kolada, art and science mingle with a bit of magic to create not only wonderful house-brewed craft beer, but also delectable smoked meats.

Perhaps the best part about Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub is the sheer variety of offerings (both drink and food) that are not only offered, but are also some of the tastier examples of culinary craftsmanship I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Now, today’s article will focus on a few of the beers you can find, but after you finish reading and make your way down to Barley’s Smokehouse, be sure to check out the food as well.

Deepwood Reserve

Deepwood is a barrel aged version of Smokehouse’s St. Nick’s Winter Warmer. Since we’re already into February, the chance of finding this beer is slim, but who knows – they might just have a barrel stashed away for emergency purposes. Poured from a nitro-tap, this beer arrives as a glass of creamy darkness that fills the air with notes of spices – specifically cinnamon, ginger and even a touch of cloves. The spice kick is far from overpowering – in fact, they act to entice you closer into the glass, until you’re nose deep in aged seasonal festiveness. A smooth maltiness bubbles up and supports the spices with an aroma of bread and mild, sweet caramel. At the end of each breath, hints of dark fruits – plums, figs and raisins – complete the holiday vibe by providing traces of fruity sweetness that cling to the nose.

st. nick's winter warmerOn the tongue, massive flavor and a delightful smoothness fills the mouth from the very first drop. The same aroma spices arrive on a tide of sweet, bready malts while a chorus of dark-fruit sweetness, a touch of brown sugar and a hint of sticky caramel pour over your tongue. The spices stay slightly subdued – evident but without converting the beer into a spice cupboard, all while complimenting the mild fruit sweetness. Combined with the malty undertones, it takes on a flavor of Christmas bread. That opinion may change as soon as the potent aged strength arrives. Woodsy notes mingle with the malts and spices, creating a slightly earthy kick that is supported by a massive 11% – 12% ABV. If you’re not a fan of massively powerful beers, fear not. Both the aged potency and that alcohol oomph are buried under layers of seasonal flavors that will make your eyes bulge with brewpreciation. The only negative to this beer is that you may need to wait another eight months before you can experience it again.

Double Dog Dare Imperial IPA

If holiday beers aren’t your thing, Barley’s has a slew of other offerings that will satiate even the most picky of beer drinkers. For example, their Double Dog Dare Imperial IPA – a cask-conditioned brew of which that Lenny hand-pumped a glass using a hydraulic beer engine. With that kind of devotion, you know the beer has to be top notch. And it was, of course. This beer began with an aroma of hop funk and massive pine. As the pine cloud cleared, notes of bitter tropical fruit rose to caress my face with a prickly aroma.  Faint hints of citrus peel rounded out the bouquet, providing a full-spectrum dose of rich IPA goodness.

The flavors were just as full, starting things off with a massive mouthful of fresh pine. Immediately following, mild notes of tropical fruits and bitter citrus brought about a crisp edge of brightness that seemed to boost the piney hop bloom for an instant. This flare of brightness was countered by a mellow tide of earthy darkness – led by a floral funk that reminded me of the smell of damp pine needles. At the end of each taste, mild hints of bread and caramel arise from a touch of malts, enhanced by a rich and creamy texture that causes this beer to cling to every inch of the mouth for a few moments before fading completely. The combination of bright fruits and crisp hops, as well as a bit of an earthy dark side, offers up a rich and tasty IPA that any hop head will fall in love with.

Saint Joan’s Revenge

barleys deepwood reserveSaint Joan’s Revenge is a leap to the opposite end of the beer spectrum, a bourbon-barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout. Richly thick and as dark as midnight, it arrived in front of me surrounded by an aromatic cloud of rich, roasty malts, a touch of mild smoke, and an underlying sweetness that seemed to consist of molasses and a sprinkling of sweet herbal hints. Absent were any hints at its lurking alcohol potency, but like a Russian Ninja, that would sneak up on me later.

The flavors of this beer were complex and massive. A huge stout taste of roasted malts and hints of smoke arrive first, dominating the mouth and swarming the taste buds. Sweet notes arrive soon after, slightly subdued with a bit of a sticky quality that was similar to molasses. At the same time, an earthy and slightly herbal bitterness arrived on the back of the tongue, adding another layer of darkness while providing a touch of crispness that was usually swallowed up by the richness of the stout. With each subsequent drink, more layers began to reveal themselves. The malts opened up a bit, allowing hints of dark fruits to emerge and add a layer of fruity sweetness. Tastes of figs and raisins settled on the tip of the tongue before being dragged back into the stoutish abyss. Following the fruit, fleeting traces of alcohol potency rose to the surface every now and then – revealing quick notes of oak and vanilla, courtesy of the bourbon barrel conditioning. Any traces of alcohol oomph itself was well hidden within the countless layers of flavor, which allows the massive 11.7% ABV of this beer to suddenly jump out and slap you in the face like a trained Russian Circus Bear on the run from its trainers. As far as stouts go, you’ll find a little bit of everything in this one – huge roastiness, a touch of sweetness, and a bitter edge that keeps everything balanced and well behaved.

All three of these beers are winter seasonals, so be sure to head down to Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub as soon as possible. But if you can’t, don’t worry – with close to ten different beers available at all times (not to mention the various events that bring about tasty new brews and, of course, Firkin Fridays) there is definitely something for each and every beer drinker’s palate. Oh, and be sure to go on an empty stomach. One does not simply walk into Barley’s Smokehouse and not eat some wings.

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About the Author

Paul is an English and creative writing graduate and homebrewer who loves beer, writing, writing about beer, and drinking while writing. When he's not browsing beer sections for hours on end, (or coming up with his own brew recipes) he can be found over at, inventing words and somehow managing to make sense.

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