|Barley’s 2009 Real Ale Festival
Fresh from a smashing holiday in our mansion in the Florida Keys, I joined fellow Bogrolls contributor Lord Ackery of Brentford and our pal Lord McGinnis of
Beaconsfield for the 2009 Real Ale Festival at Barley’s Smokehouse in Grandview, Ohio.
This was an important Ale Festival because with Real Ale (cask ale) making tremendous inroads in the United States, Barley’s is the only Microbrewery in the
area which brews Real Ale. The Pub at Polaris Parkway does have a Real Ale on tap, but it’s brewed by an outside brewery (usually Bell’s Brewery). Thus,
Barley’s, guided by innovative Head Brewer J.Scott Francis, rules the Real Ale roost.
The 2008 Real Ale Fest started at 2.00pm sharp. I arrived at 2.05pm sharp and couldn’t get in the place. It was packed solid. I stood in line for Great Lakes
Brewing Co. Lake Erie Monster Double IPA and by the time I got to the front of the line, it had sold out!
So, with lessons learnt, the dynamic trio arrived at Barley’s an hour early for the 2009 festival, had a quick pint and a bite and established ourselves close to
the front of the queue (or “line” for relatives of Oliver Hazard Perry).
Equipped with a souvenir glass and 8 tasting tickets we made our rounds – here are my thoughts…
1) Great Lakes Brewing Co, Cleveland
Lake Erie Monster Double IPA (9.2%)
Not available anywhere – not even at The Great Lakes brewery tap in Cleveland – the Lake Erie Monster was a thick, chewy, sweet, syrupy and exceedingly
hoppy IPA. It had a ginormous rich, fruity body yet it didn’t knock me over with hop bitterness. Indeed, the Lake Erie Monster had a crisp, dry finish with
minimal carbonation throughout. This was a highly commendable brew from a brewery that has shown a tendency to get a bit big for its boots in recent
2) Columbus Brewing Co.
Belgian Trippel (7.5% - 9%)
As my festival notes explained: “Trippel stems from the use of three times as much malt as in a standard Trappist ale”. My notes also described the Columbus
Brewing Belgian Trippel as “Complex, with spicy fruit and a sweet finish. The alcohol is well hidden”. Sounds very complex to me – but was it? Not really,
Squire. There was some spiciness in the finish, but otherwise this was a delicious, hoppy, with a nice bitter finish IPA. There were also some gorgeous
grapefruit flavours which made for a glorious IPA. Don’t ask me why they called this a Belgian Trippel. As Gordon Ramsay would say, someone was pulling
my plonker. Apparently, the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) for this ale was between 25 and 38. Clearly, these numbers were transposed. 1/10 as a
Trippel, 12/10 as an IPA.
3) Founder’s Brewing Co, Michigan
Founder’s Red’s Rye (6.4%)
A bit of a lightweight at only 6.4%, Michigan brewers Founder’s are known for their excellent innovative beers. Red’s Rye was brewed with four varieties of
Belgian caramel malts with Amarillo dry hopping. The problem for me was that I couldn’t clear my palate from the two previously hoppy IPAs, thus I could
barely taste Red’s Rye. There were some citrusy notes in there, but that’s as far as I could take it. Both Lords Ackery and McGinnis liked this beer a lot, so I’
m scoring this one 9/10, purely on their enthusiasm!
4) Gordon Biersch, Columbus
Maibock (6.3% - 7.4%)
Speaking of Lord Ackery, he wrote his review of the GB Maibock on my tasting notes (I didn’t taste this beer). He wrote “Horrible, SHIT beer”. Thank you, my
Lord. I presume that’s 0/10. I might add, Lord Ackery has since denied writing those comments on my tasting notes. Well, someone wrote them!
5) Elevator Brewing Co, Columbus
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter (11.5%)
If anything was going to clear my palate, a bourbon barrel aged porter was going to. It is known throughout my kingdom that I have NEVER liked any brew
coming out of Elevator Brewery. But, in the Quest for Taste (a term coined by Lord McGinnis for our previous beer website), one has to keep persevering with
any given brewery – you never know what surprise you’ll find. Anyway, the Imperial Porter offered a faint bourbon aroma with a not terribly thrilling caramel
whisky taste with underlying antiseptic flavours. You could call it a Bourbon TCP. The finish was watery, leaving us with a lame example of a bourbon barrel
aged Imperial Porter. There are loads of superb barrel aged beers currently on the market – this isn’t one of them. 2/10
6) Bell’s Brewery, Michigan
Hopslam Ale (10%)
The first time I tried this monster was at Brew’s Pub in Grandville, Ohio . It was served in a pint mug and I marveled at the crescendo of hop flavours. I
marveled even more when I walked out into the bright sunlight and wondered why I was seeing stars. How strong was this beer? 10% as it turned out.
Now, with the shortage of worldwide hops, this isn’t the cheapest ale on the market - $17.99 for a 6-pack puts it out of my range, so it was a treat to find it as a
cask ale at Barley’s. There’s not too much to add except it’s exceedingly smooth on cask with intense hoppy bitterness with some very pleasant traces of
orange peel. It remains a classic of its type. 10/10
7) Barley’s, Columbus
Twisted Ivan Double Porter (11%)
Everything about the name of this ale had alarm bells ringing in my head. It’s one that should be avoided like the plague – however, like a pioneer heading
into the American west, I thought I’d venture into unknown and slightly terrifying territory.
What a fine decision, as the Twisted Ivan Double Porter was one ripper of a porter - A rich, REALLY rich full body with lots of chocolatey flavours. Caramel
notes made an appearance later on which complimented the deep full flavoured complexity of this whirlpool of chocolate. The finish was (unsurprisingly) of
Sucher’s Milk Chocolate. Bloody delicious! 12/10
8) Great Divide Brewing, Colorado
Extra Special Hercules Double IPA (9.1%)
Here we go again, another hop monster. But, I should say, these beers should be cherished and enjoyed because the United States is the King of innovative
brewing. Any serious beer lover will tell you that, yet in my home country, there’s a resistance to the spectacular ales brewed in the US - A sort of “You’re not
worthy” mentality, which is really quite annoying. It’s not everyone, but it is the general feeling back in the mother country.
So, as a Royal Brit living in the US, I say bring on the Double/Triple/Imperial IPAs - send them all to Roberts Manor!
Thus, then, to the Extra Special Hercules Double IPA. Well, this was a truly Herculean colossus of an IPA. It was a stupidly (I mean that in a good sense)
hoppy ale with an abundance of sweet grapefruit in the mix. There was a nutty sweetness behind the grapefruit with a big, big, bitter finish. A Hercules among
9) Barley’s Smokehouse & Brewpub, Columbus
Cherry Infused Saint Joan’s Revenge (11.7%)
Again, this is another one that I didn’t actually taste, yet someone had written “Cheeky little number” next to this ale on my tasting notes. So there you have it
– it was a cheeky little number!
10) Barley’s Brewing Company, Columbus
Barley Wine (11%).
I like Barley Wines, me. They always remind me of a Dickensian Christmas, with the Yuletide log burning in the fireplace, snow falling outside, candles in the
windows and me curled up in my favourite chair with a good book and a warming Barley Wine – there’s the Christmas Day Only Fools and Horses Special on
the telly as well, for good measure.
Back to reality, this was a piping hot day in May, but well worthy of a barley wine and a sumptuous finale to the Real Ale Fest. Barley’s Barley Wine was a
beautiful, rich, deep full bodied ale, imparting a lovely syrupy balance between malt and hops. With a rich caramel and hoppy finale, this was a Barley Wine to
be savoured and cherished. 12/10
They had actually ran out of the Barley Wine, but looking at the picture of horror on my face, Head Brewer J.Scott Francis disappeared behind the tanks and
came back with a glass straight from the tank. It didn’t get any purer than that – Thank you, Lord Francis, and thank you for yet another extravagant and
supremely sublime Real Ale Fest!
|Hopslam to your left and Cherry Infused Saint Joan's Revenge to your right.