It’s one thing to hang out around people that know craft beer. It’s another thing entirely to find somebody who doesn’t know it very well at all but is starting to get into it, then taking them to the deep end and shoving them in with both hands.
In this era of social distancing, we have had to do a lot of new and different activities to celebrate people whose normal celebrations have been interrupted. A perfect example are high school graduations, and to compensate, several people on my block decided to hold a massive graduation party for seniors that live on our street.
It was actually neat, and enough of a party to where the cops were called. One of the people hosting it had, in addition to amazing platters of Cuban food, a kegerator full of Bud Light.
When I asked him what was in the keg, his first response was telling me that I wouldn’t go for what he would have normally put in there. I’ll forgive him for not knowing he brought a knife to a gunfight, but we got to talking and it was clear that he was still in his early stages of getting the crazy stuff really started.
So I decided to open his mind a little bit and brought some cans that I had chilling in my cooler so he could try some of the really good stuff. And after talking a little bit more I decided to finally go ahead and blow his mind with a bottle of Rum Barrel-Aged Barnacled Manatee (Barleywine, 9.5% ABV), a beautiful bottle of barleywine that was gifted to me by the good people at Walking Tree in Vero Beach.
Needless to say, this blew the doors off the house. If you’ve never had Barnacled Manatee, it is an absolute masterpiece of the style. It drowns in thick, chewy, caramel notes with light touches of prune, raisin, and molasses. Those notes blend together in a way that is still smooth and easy to drink, expertly hiding a high gravity content.
This rum barrel-aged variant, one of many that Walking Tree has released, contains a beautiful vanilla quality with notes of light tropical rum, without any of the alcohol burn or overwhelming booze quality that other barleywines tend to have. It’s a style that can go overboard very quickly, and Walking Tree does an absolutely wonderful job of keeping that reigned in and nuanced, but still bringing all those wonderful flavors from the aging and the style.
Walking Tree is definitely one of those breweries that I would go to first when bringing in somebody new to craft beer, and this is a perfect example as to why. I should probably check on my friend, though, to see if he is able to go back to macros or if I have broken him forever.
I will say, both he and I agreed that going back to Bud Light that evening was just like drinking water.
Drink Florida Craft,
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