I have two biases that I want to clear out-of-the-way before we get moving along:
- I love every Victory beer I’ve had. Why? Because they make lots of delicious beer.
- I have yet to love a barleywine. Why? No idea but I keep trying them and waiting for that to change.
I really don’t know why I’m not a fan of barleywines. Lots of people seem to love them but I just think they are OK at best. I’ve contemplated that my disinterest could be related to the name, though I know quite well that this beer has nothing to do with wine. Wine is fermented from the juice of grapes, beer is from barley. A barleywine is only wine like in its strength (ranging from 8 to 12%). I find that unlikely and really think that I just haven’t had one that I really “grabs me”. I continue to persevere and assume that one day my palate will change and I’ll fall in love as has happened with stouts and sours.
Back to #1 and my love of Victory beers. They make quite a few delicious beers all of which I’ve had (those of which make it to Ohio) and enjoyed. Somehow I missed this one before and then they took it out of rotation 2 years ago. Luckily they’ve brought it back this winter and I picked up a bottle as soon as I could find one. Here’s what Victory says about Old Horizontal:
As much as we love to see you here enjoying our beer, we encourage you to buy a bottle of this one and head home to savor it within the comfort and love of your own retreat. There you’ll discover why ‘horizontal’ is in the name.
Massive amounts of barley malts, combined with fresh harvest American hops make it aromatic and spicy on the nose. Floral, fruity aromas slide into honeyed malt depth with lingering sensations of candied and citrus fruit. Late warming alcohol brings all of these flavors into wonderful harmony to finish.
Beer: Victory Old Horizontal
Style: American Barleywine
Ingredients: Imported 2 row German malts, American whole flower hops
Bountiful cream-colored head of medium-sized bubbles fading slowly and leaving a beautiful lacing in its wake. Dark amber bordering on burnt copper color with ruby garnet highlights.
Lots of caramel malt all over the nose with a moderate touch of alcohol. No lacking of resin, citrus, and pine hop aromas.
Flavor is overflowing with sweet caramel malts followed by loads of resiny hops. Long lasting bitterness lingers well after you’ve swallowed the last drops. Fruit flavors develop slowly as the beer warms. There is some alcohol flavor but not nearly what I’d expect from 11% abv.
Full and well-rounded body that is thick and chewy with moderate carbonation.
The most impressive thing to me is the 11% knocking me around a bit after half a bomber and how subtle it was throughout. At the levels I picked up in aroma, flavor, and body I’d have guess closer to 8 or 9%, they did a fantastic job of blending in that strength. That 11% abv also makes this beer pair well with the polar vortex we’re suffering from.
Based on what I know of barleywines this is a great example of the style. However, I’m still not wowed and still don’t understand the hype on the style. Yes I really enjoyed this beer, no I’m not going to hunt down more…. At least not until I finally fall in love with barleywines.