Review: Four Peaks Hopsquatch Barley Wine

Review: Four Peaks Hopsquatch Barley Wine

Ahhh, Barley Wine! The name conjures up images of fat Victorians sipping from fancy snifters while lounging in a large grain field amidst the harvest, at least for me that is. I don’t remember the first time I heard the term Barley Wine, but for some reason it makes me think that this style of beer (if you can call it a style) had some secret ingredients, as if it deserved royal treatment like lambic or mead.  But alas, the summer seasonal Four Peaks Hopsquatch just doesn’t live up to my (however silly) imagination. I’ve had some excellent barley wines over the years, and I can report that I do appreciate Hopsquatch’s intensity of not only alcohol, but also flavor, hops and complexity. However, for my taste buds, it’s just a tad mediocre. This year’s variation pours a nice copper-brown with a small wilting head. The hops feel like they are trying to be strong but don’t succeed. The malt is sweet but too subdued. Maybe the expected barley wine fruit flavors are missing or overpowered by the bitterness. The aroma wafting above the snifter or tumbler has hints of raisin, some hops and a detectable sweetness. It may be a bit strong on the ethanol and I would prefer more sweetness to match. Overall it just doesn’t entice me to have another glass.  On the flip side, if you enjoy a hoppy beer but don’t want to down a blended spruce tree, and you aren’t a fan of sweeter IPA’s like Dogfish Head’s 90 or 120 Minute (you’re crazy!), then the Hopsquatch is a decent fit. At 11.5% abv it’s fairly strong and will set you back a few extra dollars but if you’re in the mood for an “American style” barley wine then get your discerning taste buds to a Four Peaks location in the Phoenix area because it’s only on tap!

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