It's barely a wine, but it is a barley wine. Our tongue-twisting Barely Wine is a rich and complex brew which showcases malty goodness in all its glory. Aged with American oak, this English-style barley wine is dangerously smooth, despite its high ABV. Expect candied apple on the nose, toffee and caramel fudge on the palate and stewed fruit and oaky notes on the finish. Share a tinnie (or two) as the perfect fireside digestif this winter.
You can nab a taste of Barely Wine from Friday, 25 June. But this one is in ridiculously small supply, so get in quick. While you (impatiently) await its arrival, we've sat down with Head Brewer Shaun Blissett to give you the low-down on this new brew.
What's the beer name all about (or did you just misspell 'barley' on the label)?
"The name is actually an inside joke. Back in the day when my mate Ashur (Stomping Ground) and I worked at Illawara Brewing, he would always spell barley wrong, as 'barely'. But the joke works well for a barley wine — the style gets its name from the fact that its alcohol content is similar to a wine....so it's 'barely' a wine."
What made you want to brew a barley wine?
"So far for 2021, we've focused on hoppy and sour limited releases for the warmer months. Now that it's winter, it's finally time to showcase malt. While I love big IPAs and sours, it's just nice to brew something a little different for our punters. And the last time Wayward put out a barley wine was for a collab with Webster's a few years back, so it's high time to brew another."
What sets Barely Wine, or any barley wine, apart?
"Unlike most beers that go into a one-hour boil, our barley wine goes for three-hours. The result is similar to reducing a stock when cooking — you're extracting a more concentrated, caramelised flavour profile from the malts. After fermenting, the final step for this beer is to age it on American oak for one month. Oak aging especially lends itself to the barley wine style, as it helps soften the brew, easing off that harsh alcohol taste which you can get from really high ABV beers."
What makes it an English-style barley wine?
"There are two types of barley wines — American and English. The difference is that the American-style is hop forward and the English version is malt forward. We went with the English-style so we could showcase a few of our favourite malts.
One of those is DRC (Double Roasted Crystal), my favourite malt in the whole world. We also recently used it in Island Life, our new coffee and coconut stout. It has the ability to create that gorgeous dark colour and offers a sweet, smooth crystal malt flavour. Then we topped it off with English Chocolate and —the Gucci of malts — Golden Promise, a Scottish malt which adds another layer of sweetness. We also used a special Scottish Ale yeast, which gives those warming esters that you want in a barley wine."
What flavour profile can we expect?
"Barley wines offer a beautiful display of the beer flavour matrix. It's malty with a bit of sweetness, a bit of bitterness and a lot of booziness. From Barely Wine specifically, expect candied apple on the nose, giving way to toffee and caramel fudge on the palate and finishing with stewed fruit and oaky notes.
Though it's decidedly boozy at 11.7% ABV, this beer hides its booziness well. It's not one of those barley wines where you’re getting smacked in the face with the alcohol flavour. Instead, it's quite smooth, malty and warming."
Do you have any advice on how to drink Barely Wine?
"These tinnies are for splitting. You can share them over a romantic date night with your partner, because it's warming quality will make you want to snuggle up to whoever you're with. Or you can drink one alone, but then you probably shouldn't leave the house, since it's 3.5 standard drinks in a can."
Barely Wine isn't the only limited release coming out of the Wayward brewhouse this month. What else do you have in store for us?
"This is a crazy month at Wayward. We're also releasing our GABS beer, Sourade, in tinnies; re-releasing our fan-favourite East Coast style IPA Cashmere Cat; bringing back just 30 nitro kegs of our Midnight Barley Cowboy hopped porter; and releasing a special collab beer with Bad Shepherd for our Canada Day party. Our punters will have Wayward coming at them from all sides this June!