September 2, 2014
Jan 17, 2013
12:16 PM

First Draught: a barley wine from Shipyard Brewing

By featuring Shipyard Brewing in the fall of 2012, the LCBO gave customers another snapshot view into how advanced the craft beer scene is south of the border. The Pugsley’s Signature Series Barley Wine stands out as one of the more memorable beers from the lineup.

The line between beer and wine can blur at some points, but the easy way to define the difference is to say that any non-distilled alcoholic beverage that is fermented from grains soaked in water is beer, while an alcoholic beverage made from fruit juice is wine.

In short, barley wine is beer that is as strong as wine. Some other examples in the category top 14 per cent, and combine that with the larger size (barley wines often come in 750 mL, wine-style bottles) and you have a beer that can pack a heavier punch than a six-pack of Coors Light. 

Even though this beer is from Maine, the indicators that it’s made in the English style start with the very dark brown colour and the slightly sweet aromas of dark caramel, molasses and a touch of raisins. The taste is nicely balanced between a figs-and-plums sweetness and a roasted, dark chocolate bitterness. Warming alcohol heat lingers on the finish.

The LCBO’s website lists the Shipyard’s barley wine as discontinued, but there are still many Toronto locations with bottles in stock. As I’ve discussed with some of my other selections this winter, the high alcohol content in barley wine gives it the potential to age well, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern that these bottles have been on store shelves for a couple months.

Shipyard’s Pugsley’s Signature Series Barley Wine, $7.95 for a 625 mL bottle, LCBO #288969

In addition to covering beer, new restaurants and food trucks for Post City, David writes about food and drink for several Toronto publications including Spotlight Toronto and his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on food, beer and life in general, follow him on Twitter.

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