Zipline Brewing Company - Maple Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine Ale
- ABV: 12.8%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 54–60° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, or Teku glass
We wanted to include a barleywine from Zipline, and we were thrilled to be able to secure enough of their Maple Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine for the club. This hefty barleywine is 12.8% ABV—definitely a good one for sharing. It’s brewed in the English style, and then gets aged in bourbon barrels that previously held maple syrup. The net result is a super-lush barleywine that gets plump, satisfying maple-bourbon secondary notes from its barrel time.
Zipline’s Maple Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine pours a dense, coppery orange color with modest off-white foam. It’s golden and honeyed in the glass, such that the edges glow. From the initial pour come generous aromatics of caramel and crème brûlée, lux maple syrup, plus a subtle toast from those underlying bourbon barrels. This is incredibly generous barleywine that’s clearly picking up significant influence from its barrel time—and that maple-bourbon combo has us wishing for a fresh-off-the-grill Belgian waffle to go alongside it. Lots of well-developed caramelization throughout, plus touches of cotton candy and vinous warmth.
We’re really impressed by how this barleywine comes together as a whole. There’s a relaxed carbonation adding some lift, while that warmth from the high ABV also helps keep things feeling lean. Zipline’s maple-bourbon barleywine leads with deep red fruits, some decadent caramelization, and crème brûlée’s torched sugar. There’s a nice balance between the intense maltiness and those counterpoints of warming bourbon, barrel toast, and subtle bubbles. It’s a nuanced, massive barleywine that feels super good to drink and brings a lot of extra nuance from its barrel contact. This performs at its best when given some time to warm (this will be true for all four of these beers), and secondary notes of honey and a ginger-like spice appear to complement the maple-bourbon core. One of the best barleywines we’ve tried in a while.
The caramelization is already pretty pronounced here, such that we’d be inclined to go easy on further cellaring time. Definitely sturdy enough for a little more time, but ready to pop as is. For food pairings, this maple-bourbon barleywine should go nicely alongside some brisket burnt ends, salted-caramel ice cream, or (as imagined earlier…) a piping-hot Belgian waffle.
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