Beer 50 of winter! – quit yer wine-ing

Victory Old Horizontal

Brewer: Victory       Craft: Old Horizontal        ABV: 11%

So many thoughts…trying to organize…

Okay.  Let’s discuss.  First – I must admit that I didn’t realize this was going to be beer 50 when I chose it; but I am certainly glad it was.  I also realize that 50 is just one more than 49 and one less than 51.  So, not that big a deal.  But a deal nonetheless.

Second – I am very much feeling the 11%.  So this could get interesting.

Third – I purchased this craft when I was on a weekend craft beer adventure for my anniversary last September.  That’s right folks.  My amazing, awesome, patient, tolerant, loving, lovable wife Kristin agreed to go to several breweries for our anniversary trip.  I am one blessed man.

Fourth – I must admit also that, when I purchased it, I did not realize that this craft was bottled in 2013.  So it was already aged and getting better every day.  I did notice that fact as I was slowly, very slowly, enjoying this barleywine style ale.  I don’t age beer.  I believe beer is meant to be enjoyed as soon as possible.  But I do understand that with certain crafts, aging does wonders to develop depth and soften some of those harsher notes.

Fifth – that title?  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy a nice glass or two of red wine every now and then.  But I think a lot of you wine drinkers out there need to give craft beer a chance.  A barleywine ale such as this one has a similar drinking experience to a glass of wine.  Actually, I’d say it was a better experience.  I am the craft beer advocate though…

Sixth – The aroma is so sweet and fruity, and I definitely can tell it’s high test.  I get notes of dried fruits, like apricots and figs.  The alcohol is strong, but not so much so that it hurts your nose.  And, really, the star of the craft is the barley.  As it should be in an ale like this one.  The malted barley provides that grain-like, bready aroma.

Seventh – The taste.  So the first sip is completely different than the last.  It starts off with the star, the barley.  The barley and it’s malty goodness leads the way and sets up the experience.  It is a solid grain-y, bready, sweet start.  And then the warmth.  The warmth of the alcohol – you feel it in the throat and on the back of your tongue.  Then the flavors start to develop.  The dried fruit notes come through in the taste as well.  Apricots, figs, dates – it’s those warm, earthy fruits.  But then I get that malted barley sweetness and warmth again.  As I should.  In the end, it is a warm, malty, softly sweet, 11% craft beer.

Let’s bring it all together – you know when you buy a 22 oz. bottle of something called Old Horizontal, that it’s not going to be your every day drinking experience.  And this certainly was not an every day experience.  The alcohol is expected and present.  The fruity, earthy notes add some depth to the alcohol and that malty goodness.  That malty goodness.  Victory are known for their hops, and I didn’t mention the hops once.  Until now.  They add a nice fruity, floral element to the aroma.  But they do not do anything to the taste to detract from the barley.  That barley makes, drives, and parks this craft into one of my top 10 beers of all time.  High praise, yes.  But it is well deserved.  And the name, as most are, is pretty accurate.  I’m ready to be horizontal…Cheer!

In memory of Dolores H. (Sutton) Stremme – you’ll always be with us Nana…

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