Every year Victoria beer lovers await the yearly arrival of the barley wines. This year Phillips released "Trainwreck" aka "Burley" aka "Deadhead"; Driftwood always calls their release the "Old Cellar Dweller". There are two recognized styles of barley wines: American and English. They are very similar but American styles are more hop forward and favour PNW hop varieties.
Trainwreck 2010 = 5/10
Beer Advocate A
This was the first one sampled. The nose was as expected: fruity with light caramel and sherry tones. Ouch! This brew was full of the booze; it burned at the start and went all the way to my navel. Along the way caramel, figs, cherries and pineapple tastes were deposited all over. The flavours didn't last long, it faded into a sherry-like alcohol snap at the end. There was maybe a small splatter of earthy hops, but not much. This might be considered an English Style? It just seemed a little milder in flavour than last year.
Alcohol Content +1 10%
Appearance +1 (nice artwork on label)
Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller = 11/10
Ratebeer 3.9 96th percentile
Beer Advocate A-
We opened this one at the half way point of the Trainwreck; we are thankful to have sampled this one second. The nose was massive with hops: sweet citrus, pineapple and tangerines. Malt aroma was not diminished at all; lots of licorice, caramel, figs and everything! Ouch! Every sip was hop smack (tangerines, pomelo and pineapple) with collateral malt damage (licorice, sherry and toffee). At the end a long warming of sherry will surely draw a smile on every beer geeks face. Oddly the massive alcohol content was only tingling and not burning.
Taste +6/5 (whatever it's my blog)
Alcohol Content +1 11.8% (ya right, wink wink)
Appearance +1 (the label is a little creepy, but this can be overlooked)
The clear winner is the Cellar Dweller. The Trainwreck just seemed thin and tired in comparison. Looking forward to see how the Dweller will age in my beer cellar.