A Barleywine for the Young and Horny
A Review of Youngen Horny Barley Wine by Bull City Burger and Brewery
Posted on 3/27/2012 by Chops
Barleywines tend to be mysterious brews. When fans of better beer begin to explore imperial territory, they are usually intimidated by the thought of a wine strength beer. In reality, there's nothing to be afraid of. Barleywines are no different than any other imperial strength beer. The way I like to describe them is to think of an inverted Imperial IPA. Instead of hop forward, it's malt forward. Instead of aggressive and bitter, it's thick and sweet. Insert the imperial alcohol burn and you have a barleywine. They are important styles in the bold beer world and can be really fun to study. I had one such opportunity on a recent visit to Bull City Burger and Brewery, my favorite local brewpub. They had recently tapped their Youngen Horny Barleywine.

In the glass, this brew has a deep hazy copper coloration with a ruby hue. It comes with a frothy white head that has decent retention. Barleywines are well known for their malty sweetness, so I was surprised to find little on the nose. I detected a faint sweet malty character, much like you find with ambers. I really didn't know what to make of this. And knowing BCBB the way I do, I suspected it was nothing more than a cloaked menace. It was a coiled cobra ready to strike. So, I took a deep breath and dove in for that first taste.

Surprisingly enough, it wasn't nearly as front-loaded as I thought it was going to be. It started off with a very smooth caramel character. The mouthfeel comes across as somewhat thin initially, but the malt gains a level of heftiness in the middle ground to even things out. Once there, I was able to pick out some dark fruits, namely figs. The caramel gains intensity and sits upon a delightful toasted bread crust base. The hop profile doesn't fully assert itself until the finish, which exits dry and leaves behind a long lasting bitter aftertaste. A word to the wise, that 9.5% ABV is extremely well hidden, so definitely take your time with it. As an added bonus, the mouthfeel significantly thickens as the beer warms. I could have easily powered through several of these beauties without thinking.

Overall, Bull City Burger and Brewery's Youngen Horny Barleywine is a delightful brew. This is one of the very few barleywines that I can recommend to seasoned drinkers and novices alike. It has plenty of richness and complexity to satisfy imperial palates. On the flip side, it's also a highly approachable brew that curious novices can use to get their feet wet. Again, just mind the strength because Youngen Horny has the power to render you old and limp. Once again, thumbs up to Bull City Burger and Brewery for another delicious creation. And for anyone visiting the Triangle area of NC, BCBB remains at the top of my recommendation list for fans of better beer.

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Youngen Horny Barley Wine by Bull City Burger and Brewery
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