When Abacus first saw release, I had it on tap, fresh. It drank a little hot and was somewhat hop forward for an English style barleywine. I would have guessed it was an American style based on how it drank and was immediately interested in seeing what time would do to it. Snagging a couple of bottles, they were put away for years without any interest in touching them.

The pour is very full of life. About a 1/2-1 inch off color head with a deep burgundy, almost red-brown. Pours clean.

The aroma is more malt forward with sweetness and some fruit notes. Loads of caramel, toffee, and some vanilla. A bit of bourbon and oak mix in nicely. There is a hint of figs and dark fruit that wrap up with a bit of leather.

The taste pretty much follows the nose. Caramelized sugars and molasses are found first but they give way to some toffee, vanilla, bourbon and oak. There is a bit of dark fruit along with a touch of hop bitterness. The alcohol has died down and mixed more with the sweetness so the heat is off.

It is pleasing to say this beer has aged nicely. The alcohol has toned down and the hop bitterness has subsided, but I think a year younger is really where this beer hit it's prime. Being aged 4 years has done some wonderful things to the flavor profile of this beer, but it is on the edge of being a malt bomb. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of complexity and flavor in this bottle and it's drinking very well, but the 3 year mark might be where this hits big. Another year on it might prove something different, but only time will tell.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on August 12, 2015 .