Beer Types – Barley Wine

Barley wine or Barleywine is a beer style of strong ale originating in England. The first beer to be marketed as Barley Wine was Bass No. 1 Ale, around 1870. In ancient Greece it was known as “”krithinos oinos”, “barley wine” and it is mentioned amongst others by Greek historians Xenophon in his work Anabasis and Polybius in his work The Histories, where he mentions that Phaeacians kept barleywine in silver and golden kraters.

A barley wine typically reaches an alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume and is brewed from specific gravities as high as 1.120. It is called a barley wine because it can be as strong as wine; but since it is made from grain rather than fruit, it is, in fact, a beer. There are two primary styles of barley wine, the American which tends to be more hoppy and thus more bitter with colors ranging from amber to light brown and the English style which tends to be less hoppy and thus less bitter with more variety in color ranging from red-gold to opaque black.

Until the introduction of amber coloured Whitbread Gold Label in the 1950s, British barley wines were always dark in colour. The Anchor Brewing Company introduced the style to the United States in 1976 with its Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.

The one pictured is the Doggie Claws barley wine from the Hair Of The Dog brewery in Portland, Oregon.

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