Monday, December 12, 2011

Hales Barrel Aged Wee Heavy

For my contributions to Winter Beer Month at WestToast, I decided to focus on local. Real local. Like, walk down the street local. There's just something that makes me feel good, warm, fuzzy, and a little buzzed from being able to get quality craft beer made at a place I can stumble to (or home from).

Brewery: Hales Ale
Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy, Barrel Aged Rating: More ratings required.
Serving: 22oz Bottle

Mike Hale, founder of Hale's Ales, was known to say "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." His point was that a Northwest brewery should focus on brewing quality beer. 27 years later, they're still doing it. Originally founded in Colville, Washington with a subsequent brewery in Kirkland, Hale's now brews exclusively out of it's facility in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. With 8 standard brews and monthly seasonals, there is no end of craft beer to be had from Hale's.

While at the Winter Beer Fest conveniently located at Hale's a few weeks ago, I fell in love with the Barrel Aged Wee Heavy and immediately slated it for review. I'll be honest, I fall in love with pretty much anything that is aged in bourbon barrels, has a nice set of legs, or a nice ass...but you're here to read about beer so I'll get back on track.

From the brewers:

This is a first edition of our winter seasonal aged in bourbon barrels. Wee Heavy is rich in malt character both in flair and aroma which allows this beer to stand up well to the assertive flavors fro the barrels. Brewed in early summer, the barrel-aged batch is blended back into fresh Wee Heavy to add subtly to the aggressive flavor of the barrel and brighter up the overall beer.

Aged in Kentucky oak barrels with 7.4% alcohol by volume, a 22oz bottle will run you about $11 if you can find it in your local store, or, at the brewery over the coming weeks. I served it in a tulip glass a little over-chilled at first, but let it warm up before diving in too far.

Appearance: With a little head, this beer was a nice dark caramel brown with a moderate level of effervescence visible in the belgian glass.

Aroma: Upon initial smell, the beer was a bit muted because like a dumbass I let it get too cold. As it opened up, I noticed a light oakiness complemented by sweet bourbon aromas and a bit of caramel.

Taste: Even cold, the bourbon finish was evident with a little tartness on the finish. As the beer warmed and opened up, I started to get some nice caramel and vanilla flavors with fuller notes of the sweet, sweet bourbon and oak.

This beer is toasty and you can definitely feel the alcohol, not that there's anything wrong with that...

An extremely pleasant drink, this is one that I will likely pick up a few extra bottles to stash on the rack for a later time when barrel-aged beer is out of season.  One of my favorites from the Winter Beer Fest, this is an amazing example of craft winter beer in the Seattle area.


Post a Comment