Big Sky Olde Bluehair

March 4th, 2009 beckel

Today I have a limited release brew #1147 of 1800 from the folk of Big Sky Brewing out of Missoula, Montana, Olde Bluehair a Barrel Aged and Bottle Conditioned Barleywine that is sure to be tasty but will doubtfully become a regularly consumed brew as The Four Firkins only received a single case and it has a solid price tag of $15 for the 750ml bottle. I know very little about Big Sky other than they are the makers of the wonderfully named Moose Drool and I’m pretty sure I’ve tried their IPA but I don’t remember much about the flavor of either. Depending on how this experience goes I may have to refresh my memory. When initially pouring this brew many large airy bubbles formed at the top of the glass but as the pour finished and the ale was allowed to cascade a nice two finger off white head was produced which lasted for a few minutes and produced a nice amount of lacing on the glass. Color is like that of a raisin but when brought to light it brightens very nicely and the red hues are more visible though it is still very hazy and opaque. The aroma nice, rich with pitted fruits such as  sweet dates, plums and raisins coming from the malt and just a hint of alcohol. Holy crap. This is a bloody sweet Barleywine. I initially get a lot of sugary flavors which makes me curious to see how much those extra sugars would further ferment over time. Tastes similar to the aroma but even more sweet and intense in the pitted fruit flavors particularly plum as well as a bit of an off creamy vanilla flavor that I have tasted before but can not quite place, I’m thinking creme brulee. The overwhelming sweet flavors in this brew don’t do a very good job of hiding its solid 8.75% ABV but it also isn’t too intense if your used to strong brews. Body is light for a Barleywine but the mouthfeel is strangely creamy. Though I continue to drink it, so far this beer isn’t particularly appealing to me and is in dire need of some hoppy bitterness for balance. I am quite curious how this ale would age and am optimistic that it would be better but probably will not have the opportunity to do such as I can’t justify buying myself another bottle and fear there would be no bitterness what so ever after a few years in the cellar. As I continue drinking I am starting to pick up the faint bitterness in this ale but it is not nearly enough to contrast the massively sweet malt profile. Not a bad beer but it tastes more like desert to me than a Barleywine. I allowed this brew a good 15+ minutes to warm up before consuming but after allowing to warm  close to room temperature this ale and its flavors are certainly a lot more smooth or perhaps I’m just getting more accustomed to its sweet creaminess. If you enjoy sweet malty beers that incorporate pitted fruit flavors this is probably the beer for you. If you are into hoppy flavors I am sad to say stay away. As I said, not a bad beer but really not the beer for me. My favorite thing about beer is that everyone has a different palate and will get different flavors from a beer and appreciate different aspects of a good craft brew so don’t listen to me and…Give it a shot and ride your bike!

Big Sky Olde Bluehair Barleywine