I finally have my gigantic all-malt barleywine that I posted about here and here kegged, carbed and ready to bottle. The beer went from 1.142 down to 1.024, which is an astonishing 83% attenuation for a beer this big. My initial tastings prior to carbonation and cold-crashing were best summed up as "hot & harsh". But we're now 3 months in, and I have a proper chilled and carbonated sample to taste.
Appearance is a deep chestnut-brown with a thin off-white head that has been holding on surprisingly well. The nose is nutty, rich malt with noticeable booziness. There are some fruity esters that are hard to define, but seem to be in the cherry/peach range. Early samples just hit me with a blast of that Yorkshire Square strain ester profile, but that has (thankfully) mellowed significantly.
On the palate there is some caramel and toffee sweetness. More stonefruit esters are here, but they meld with the sweetness quite well. There's a touch of fig as well. I also get plenty of dark bread crust that is really characteristic of Maris Otter malt. The booze is up front, but surprisingly smooth. There is a balancing hop bitterness, but the malt sweetness definitely takes the lead. Mouthfeel is heavy and slightly viscous, but there is a nice snappy tartness that keeps it from becoming syrupy or cloying. Finish has a long interplay of dark fruit and bread crust.
I am really excited to lay this one down for a while and see how it ages. It really seems like I nailed the ballpark of Thomas Hardy Ale, which is possibly my all-time favorite beers, and ages well seemingly forever. I think after a few years when some sherry notes start to develop this is going to be insanely good.