A little while ago, 3 Daughters Brewing in St. Petersburg celebrated their 1st anniversary brewing in the Tampa Bay area. And while cans of their Bimini Twist IPA and Beach Blonde Ale are popping up all over Florida, and you can always get a growler fill at the 3 Daughters brewery, that anniversary party was the only time you would have been able to get a bomber of the exclusive Old Number One Barleywine (English Barleywine, 10% ABV, 89 IBU).
And now is when I shall stop to describe Barleywines a bit. If you are like I was, the name was a bit bizarre. Beer is made with barley, and it’s alcoholic like wine, so can’t all beers also have the nickname of ‘barleywine?’
Not really. First, you need to understand that while most beers are 4% to 7% alcohol by volume (ABV), wine usually starts well above 10% ABV. It’s one of the many reasons I prefer beer to wine (History is another; the invention of beer predates the invention of written language). But, some insane brewers like to push their beer’s alcohol contents well above 10%. Many of those high alcohol-content beers earn the name Barleywine be being a beer, but with the alcohol content similar to a wine.
Back to 3 Daughters. As it happens, occasionally the universe likes to smile upon me, and the incredible Leigh Harting at 3 Daughters sent me a few bottles. Because she is made of awesome.
As it is, there are two kinds of Barleywines, English and American. As is with anything else many Americans brew, the American Barleywine has a lot more hoppy bitterness. Luckily, Old Number One is the English variety, and it has a much more rounded flavor profile. Additional hops would have completely changed everything.
There’s an incredible malt sweetness that I haven’t had in many other barleywines. This is pretty evident with the aroma of the beer. You can smell that it’s strong, there’s no mistaking that. But there’s also a strong honeyed layer to the aroma that makes it inviting. They started with a Pilsner malt, and added German, dark crystal, and rye malts. It’s a refreshing and welcome change, since the sweetness helps to lessen the immediate impact of a 10% alcohol brew. It’s also pretty delicious.
I would have never thought of putting a rye malt in there, but, thinking about it, I’ve noticed the addition of rye in a lot of high gravity beers, especially high octane IPAs. And I really like the addition here. Yes, Virginia, there are hops. But they’re New Zealand hops; more fruity and light than aggressive and foreboding. They blend well here, and that harmony is key with the beer.
It’s a shame this beer isn’t at least seasonal for 3 Daughters Brewing. It’s got such a rounded, mellow feel for what is a pretty strong style of beer that I would think they would want to keep this on tap as much as they could. Head Brewer Ty Weaver really did a good job on this one.
You’d better believe I’m going to age a bottle of this. And it’s going to be difficult to do so.
Drink Florida Craft (And get some more to age a few years down the road),