Kane Vengeful Heart

Kane beers are usually outstanding, so whenever we make a trip to the brewery, I pick up bombers of whatever they have.

ABV: 10.3%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Vengeful Heart is a true American-style Barleywine loaded with 98 IBU of our favorite hops. We used a heavy dose of Simcoe and Chinook in the boil and even more Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe and Chinook in the whirlpool and at dry-hopping. This huge hop bill is supported by a blend of four different crystal malts to create flavors of caramel, toffee and dark fruit. As a result, Vengeful Heart is deep ruby in color with big tropical fruit and pineapple aromas and a firm bitterness that is followed by a slightly sweet, caramel finish.”

Random: We’re about halfway through season one of “The Good Fight.” It just makes me miss “The Good Wife” more.

The beer poured with a half a finger of cream-colored head. It dissipated slowly and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a medium brown color and cloudy with light carbonation. The nose was filled with sweet, caramel and toffee notes, which transitioned into some hoppy pine and citrus notes. Booze and earthiness came through next. The taste had a significant dose of sweetness to it with the caramel and toffee, but had a nice dose of hops to cut it. The alcohol was hidden for a barleywine, but some dark fruits, specifically dates, came through at the end. The body was thick, but not syrupy, and had plenty of carbonation. The finish was sweet, yet had a punch of citrus hops at the end. I don’t remember how much this was, since I picked it up directly from the brewery, but I thought this beer was really outstanding and not just a sweet barleywine, like so many examples from the style are. I would definitely get this again and throw a few in the cellar to age.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0


Firestone Walker Helldorado

After I landed, Val and I headed out to our local bar for a late lunch. They have a decent tap list and I hadn’t tried this one yet. Let’s see how it was.


ABV: 13.2%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Part of the adventure of aging beer in retired spirits barrels is the synergistic interaction of different malt flavors with the oak and spirit flavors from the barrel. Darker beers like stouts and darker barley wines have typically been the favored candidates for barrel-aging, due to their deeper caramel and roasted flavors. Helldorado breaks that mold with a deep golden color from being brewed solely with English and American pale malts. The bready, honeyed flavors of pale malts pull out rich wildflower honey, vanilla and coconut notes from the oak, creating an overall flavor evocative of bourbon-glazed graham crackers that stands as singularly unique in our Vintage lineup. Helldorado may be lighter in color but it is a full-bodied and densely concentrated sipper at 11.8% ABV.”

Random: I’d be curious to give this one a shot with a few years on it.

The beer poured with a quarter finger of white head that dissipated slowly and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a golden-orange with lots of carbonation visible. The nose was really sweet with candi sugar, honey and vanilla with some toasted oak. The taste was also sweet, but complemented with toasted oak. The booze was present, but not overwhelming. The body was thick with a decent amount of carbonation. It had a lengthy and sticky finish with sugar. I enjoyed this beer a lot, although given the ABV, I wouldn’t have more than one.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0

River Horse Barleywine Aged In Whiskey Barrels

When this beer was released, Val and I got tickets to go to the event. Inevitably, I was stuck at work, so I couldn’t go, but Val bought two bottles. I popped this one open and left the other in the cellar to age for a few years.


ABV: 11%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to NJ.com, “River Horse has moved from a 10,000-square-foot location to a 25,000-square-foot building, giving the brewer the ability to produce new kinds of beer, as well as lots more beer than before. Our view was that we just wanted to get in here and start making beer and then expand. The factory floor is geared for expansion. As of now River Horse has 11 beer fermenting tanks and two ‘brite’ tanks, into which the beer goes after fermentation to mature and develop natural carbonation. Walsh has space in the buildings for up to 20 fermenters, each of which can hold up to 40 barrels of beer. The company currently produces 9,000 barrels per year, and hopes to ramp up production significantly over the coming year.”

Random: The press release above was from 3 years ago. I’ve since been to the new brewery and the space is huge, and conveniently located in my town.

The beer poured with a one finger, light khaki head that dissipated slowly and left a lot of lacing on the glass. The body was dark brown and slightly cloudy with lots of carbonation visible. The nose was robust with vanilla, toasted oak and lots of whiskey. After it warmed, I picked up maple syrup too. The oak and whiskey notes dominated the nose, which muted some of the barleywine sweetness. The taste was a pure oak bomb. Notes of toasted oak chips, vanilla and booze (specifically whiskey), were what coated my tongue. Toffee came through at the end of the sip, but this wasn’t an overly sweet beer. It had a thinner than usual body for the style with lots of carbonation. The beer finished shockingly quick with heat from the booze. A bomber of it set me back $15 ($.68 per ounce). This beer was alright, and one that I think age will greatly help. I’m glad I got two bottles of it.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Round Guys Nautical Disaster

Awhile back, the other half and I visited a bunch of Pennsylvania breweries, one of them being Round Guys, which is on a side street in Lansdale. It was a nice bar and the staff was friendly. I would go back there. This beer was part of their “Mug Club” series and they bottle some depending on popularity.


ABV: 8.7%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Rich nutty, toffee, and caramel malt driven flavors inundate and balance against a offsetting citrus and floral hop.”

Random: I am having a craving for thin crust pizza.

The beer poured with a finger of cream-colored head. It dissipated slowly and left very little lacing on the glass. It did leave a slight crown on top of the clear, amber-colored body. There was little carbonation visible. The nose had a sweet caramel note. It also had a leather note with some wood. It didn’t smell nearly as sweet as the typical barleywine. The taste was hoppier than the nose implied. It was aggressive and had none of the sweetness that the nose hinted at. It barely tastes like a barley wine. It also had a strong black pepper note that wasn’t in line with the nose. Grass came through as well. The body was on the thinner side of the style with moderate carbonation. The finish was quick and had the same hop note as the taste. This beer was a miss for me. The flavors were off and it needed some more sweetness. I wouldn’t have this again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Pipeworks Santa Vs. Unicorn

This is the first beer from Pipeworks that I’ve managed to get my hands on. Their label art is ridiculously cool. Even if I wasn’t into craft beer, I’d want to buy these bottles. Conceptually, it’s also cool…like what other brewery would name a beer after a fantasy fight between a unicorn and the mascot of Christmas. I think Santa would win.


ABV: 10%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Malts: 2-row, munich, caramel 80, special roast, rye, flaked oats, midnight wheat. Hops: columbus, galaxy, zythos, falconner’s flight, cascade. Adjuncts: dextrose”

Random: I am not a big fan of when brewery websites don’t capitalize things.

This beer poured with a half a finger of off-white head. It dissipated slowly and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a deep sienna color with no visible carbonation because of the color. The nose had some alcohol and big hop notes. Specifically, I got pine resin, grapefruit pith and pine needles. After the beer warmed a bit, there was some sweetness with caramel as well, but I was shocked at how hoppy the nose was. The taste had some hop character as well. It manifested as pine and was moderately bitter. Caramel and toffee came through too. The alcohol was hidden on the palate. It had a lighter than expected mouthfeel for the style with light carbonation. The finish was lengthy with the piney bitterness. A bomber of this was $11.99 ($.55 per ounce). This was a really nice beer and great if you enjoy hops. I would highly recommend this one if you can find it, since it’s not distributed in Jersey (I had to go to New York for this one).

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0

Otter Creek Double Or Nothing Maple Barleywine

Tonight’s selection is one that has gotten a lot of press. I’ve seen both good and bad reviews of the beer itself. I saw a bottle on the shelf at Half Time and figured it was worth giving it a try.


ABV: 10.5%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Our second collaboration creation with Sean Lawson of Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Double or Nothing is a devilishly sweet Barley Wine that’s aged on maple wood and brewed with a heavenly dose of Vermont maple syrup.”

Random: The bottle art is a marked departure from Otter Creek’s normal labels.

This beer poured with less than a finger of cream-colored head. It dissipated slowly, but left no lacing on the glass. The body was a dark sienna color. There was a lot of carbonation visible. The nose was very strong with wood and maple syrup. Toffee came through with booze and molasses. The taste started with vanilla and oak. Maple syrup was prevalent as well, although it didn’t apart as much sweetness as I would have guessed. The booze had a lot of warming on the throat. Molasses were there too. It also had a misplaced, green, vegetal note that bordered on medicinal. The body was thick and syrupy with moderate carbonation. It had a lengthy finish with maple syrup and brown sugar sweetness. This beer was expensive at $5.49 for a single ($.46 per ounce), which is most likely a result of the hype factor, since this was a collaboration beer with Lawson’s. I thought I would love this beer, but it was very aggressive and the flavors were a bit disjointed. I wouldn’t revisit this one.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Spellbound Buffalo Trace What Were We Thinking?

The other half and I went to the Spellbound 1 year anniversary a few months back. Since I had to work in the morning, we got there about 4 PM after a lot of the beers had been tapped and kicked. It was rainy, but they had a tent in the back with music (which was insanely loud) and each table had a different beer. Instead of cash, you bought tokens at the front for a beer, which was a good way to do things as it was pretty quick to get a beer. This was the first one I had there.


ABV: 10%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Spellbound is 3 passionate beer geek homebrewers that decided it was time to take our recipes to the big leagues.”

Random: This was the beer they brewed for their 1 year anniversary and there was no information online about it.

This beer poured with a very small, white head that dissipated quickly. It left some lacing on the plastic cup. The body was a hazy mahogany color with no visible carbonation because of the darkness of the body. The nose was fragrant with bourbon, vanilla, booze and some molasses as well. The taste was equally strong. There were the expected characteristics from the bourbon-barrel aging: vanilla, molasses and oak. Some smoke came with it as well. The booze was present and warmed the back of the throat, but it wasn’t overwhelming. Sweetness, in the form of toffee and caramel were there, but it wasn’t cloying and helped to balance out the other flavors. It had a thick body with light carbonation. The finish was lengthy with ash, bourbon and vanilla. This was a really enjoyable beer and one I could see sipping by the fire or enjoying with a nice cigar. It’s definitely worth a shot if you can get your hands on it.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0