Clipper City Brewing Company Below Decks Barleywine Style Ale - A Microbrew Blog Review
Clipper City Brewing Company has become pretty high up on my list of great microbreweries lately. This Baltimore, Maryland microbrewery has put out some great beers and a few of them I've been lucky enough to sample as of late. Clipper City's Below Decks Barleywine (a 2007 vintage offering from their Heavy Seas line of microbrews) is just the latest in a series I've had the chance to enjoy recently.
I poured the chilled 12 ounce brown bottle of Below Decks into an unchilled pint glass. Color is a spectacularly clear copper and ruby. Awesome presence of carbonation and effervescence makes itself known. There really was no foam or beer head to speak of in this craft beer (as the photo above proves). Aroma was mildly of sweet fig and molasses, but not a very strong scent at all.
Taste is great! This barleywine style ale is thick, rich, sweet and sticky. Roasted malt is everywhere with molasses flavors abound. It's slick on the palate and sticky on the cheeks with a zest and zing yet on the tip of my tongue at the swallow that lingers for what seems a minute or two. While this beer is of the thicker sweet variety, it still offer a bubbly life to it. It takes on a personality of its own. It's alive!
Alcohol burn is reasonable but not overwhelming strong or present even given the fact that this craft beer is clocking in a a powerful 10% alcohol by volume rating. There is a warming effect in the chest and stomach after the first few swallows. Very nice indeed. I believe this beer has had just enough of time to mellow just a tad taking a bit of the sting off the alcohol kick that might have been too dominant had it been in a fresher state of existence, say maybe when it rolled off the bottling line late last summer or early fall (hard to say its born on date since there is no indication on the bottle).
I've gone through a few barleywines in my years of sampling craft beers. There are several that have really stood out to me and have held a warm spot in my heart over time. Clipper City Brewing Company's Below Decks Barleywine Style Ale does not rank right in the top 2 or 3 overall, but comes in respectably as a second tier barleywine in my book. It's certainly well put together and very tasty indeed. It's a sipper and not something I'd down more than one or two in an evening, but it offers enough to keep it interesting along the 30-60 minutes it takes for me to imbibe a full twelve ounces.
I can't find anything glaringly wrong or off with Below Decks Barleywine Ale. It's not the ultimate barleywine I've tried, but it's nowhere near the worst either. This is worth the try if you enjoy the stronger barleywine style ales. Pick up a bottle or two if you see it somewhere in your local sixpack shop. I don't think you'll be disappointed at all. As with any strong ABV craft beer and barleywine ales in particular, it might be a good bet to keep a spare in the fridge for a year or two before trying it out again just to see how well this barleywine matures over time. I'll get Clipper City Brewing Company's Below Decks Barley Wine Style Ale a 7.75 out of 10.00 on my personal microbrew rating scale. You'll enjoy the beer and check out the entertaining bottle label as well.
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Clipper City Brewing Company