The good folks at Redhook sent me a bottle — yes, FTC the bottle and the glass were both free — of their newest limited release bomber, the Treblehook Barleywine-style Ale. Redhook really did up the packaging right, including the accompanying snifter-style “limited release” glassware from drinking the beer from.
The one thing I’m not sure about, however, is whether or not this is a redesign of the existing Treblehook or not. Maybe it’s just because of my proximity to the Redhook brewery in Portsmouth but I coulda sworn last winter during a stop through Portsmouth, the Treblehook (at the time in 4-packs of 12 oz bottles) was all over the place. So I’m not sure if this is a different beer or not. From what I remember of that one and what I can remember after a full 22 ounces of this one, they don’t taste all that different…
Anyway, the beer has a nice bright orangey-brown hue and is pretty clear. The small off-white head disappeared quickly but left some nice lacing on the sides of the snifter glass. The aroma of the beer is great – there’s a lot of floral hoppiness on the nose, which you don’t always smell in a barleywine (and which I don’t remember from previous incarnations of the Treblehook, but again maybe that’s just me). It almost smells like a double IPA more than a barleywine.
The mouthfeel is really quite interesting in this brew. Although it’s not particularly carbonated, there’s a really interesting tingling sensation left all across the tongue. It might be from a combination of small intense carbonation and the bitter hop oils; I’m not sure. Either way, all of that hop character definitely comes through in the taste as well. Again, there is a much larger hop presence than you normally find in a Barleywine (not that that’s a bad thing at all). And don’t worry, there is still all of the sweet fruit and caramel flavors you’d expect from the style. However, I think I should have let this one sit in the cellar a little bit longer. It’s definitely one I feel would get better after a few more months to mellow.
At an ABV just above 10%, this is definitely a bomber to take your time with and share with a friend throughout the evening. Again again, with an ABV like that, this is definitely one you can let age for a bit. Also, for a beer this big, the price is certainly right (Portland folks, I’ve seen it on the shelves at Downeast Bev; I don’t remember for how much, but I remember thinking that it was impressively affordable for such a big beer) to give it a try.
In the end, not the best Barleywine I’ve ever had but definitely an interesting and unique take on the subject. I think I’d give it an A- myself, and assuming it is the same Treblehook its always been, the folks at BeerAdvocate agree. Good beer, interesting take, good price, give it a try.
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