Review: Brewsters Blue Monk Bourbon Barley Wine

Alberta's Brewsters Brewing wins the award for "first new Barley Wine of the season" for yours truly. Sure, it may not be technically winter yet - but it sure feels/looks like it here in Manitoba. Barley Wines are easily one of my favourite styles for the season, alongside strong Belgian ales, of course.

Brewsters recently brought their 2017 edition of Blue Monk Bourbon Barley Wine to Manitoba and it sold pretty well here in Brandon, even if it's $9 per 355mL bottle - quite pricy compared to Half Pints' Burly Wine at $10.95 (for a 650mL bottle), but hey.. I can't complain.. Barley Wines aren't cheap to produce!

Blue Monk is an English-style strong ale characterized by an intense, fruity flavour with notes of bread and toffee.

Appearance: Pours a rich cherrywood red, almost transparent but not quite, and a light amount of off-white head that's mostly towards the rim of the glass.

Aroma: Ah.. I love the aroma of a Barley Wine - it's intensely sweet with notes of toffee, dark fruits (raisins, figs), a hint of oaky woodiness, and a touch of Bourbon at the end that surprisingly isn't masking the notes of the Barley Wine.

Taste: Well, this is a bit of a 180 of what I just said in my previous sentence. The Bourbon presence really pops out immediately as it gets anywhere near my palate. It's a rich, boozy, oaky flavour with a good deal of caramel, a bit of charred oak/peat, a mild bready presence, and a bit of a dark fruit presence as well. The mouthfeel is quite light for a Barley Wine and not as syrupy as I'd expect but it leaves behind a bit of an oaky aftertaste at the end that lingers for a moment or two. 

Overall Thoughts: Not worth $9 but I still enjoyed it. It was lighter on the mouthfeel than I expected but it had a nice balance of sweetness and Bourbon to it. Will I buy it again? I don't know.. I might for Christmas but if I had to choose between this and Half Pints' Burly Wine, I'll go with Burly Wine.

11.8% ABV

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