Tasting Notes: Fruitcake Barleywine

This barleywine will definitely take the chill off.

This barleywine will definitely take the chill off.

Read about how this beer was brewed along with the recipe here.

If you’re looking for subtlety, look elsewhere. This barleywine with ingredients typically found in a fruitcake is big and full of flavors. The first sip tastes like . . . well . . . fruitcake – or maybe a spiced cake that would be at home at Grandma’s house. It’s hard for me to pick out the individual spices because they blend together well. But, there’s a lot of them.

Following up closely behind the spice attack is subtle pineapple from the candied fruit added close to the end of the boil. It is well balanced with the rest of the beer. As the beer warms – and weighing in at nearly 12% alcohol by volume, it should have plenty of time to warm – darker flavor notes come from the brown sugar and molasses undertones.

The beer finished at a gravity of 1.013, so the mouthfeel is fairly substantial. There is no alcohol hotness. Unfortunately, the carbonation is nearly nonexistent. I probably should have added some fresh dry yeast at bottling time to provide reinforcements for the Safale US 05.

If this beer performs as a previous batch, it should age well. Time should mellow the spice character as the malt and dark sugar flavors deepen. I’m looking forward to next holiday season . . . if I can save a few bottles until then.


  1. Chris Storey says

    Since I saw the video on BBR, I have wanted to brew this recipe and will be brewing it soon. I was thinking on instead of US-05 I would go with Wyeast 1762 Abbey Ale II. Would using more priming sugar at bottling time give you more carbonation?

  2. Chris Storey says

    Okay, thanks James. I’ll remember that when I bottle mine.

  3. This looks delicious. My wife’s grandma makes the best fruitcake I’ve ever had. This might be a fun complement to next Christmas!

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