ENGLISH BARLEY WINE
Doctor Brew (Poland)/Gonzalo Faustino (Maldita/Portugal)
How to you top something that is close to perfection? This could be a question Maldita had to ask them at some point. Or at least after brewing their English Barley Wine. Broadly appraised and competition winning. Certainly, one of the power horses of this Portugal brewery. It would be challenging to anybody to top it.
But, there is something special about the craft breweries – If you can’t do it better, you do it with a little help of your friends. Yes, collaboration is one of the biggest powers of craft. Craft brewers are artists and if two work together interesting things happen.
Can you imagine e.g.: American Budweiser and Becks brewing a great beer together?
But two craft brewers can.
Therefore, Maldita joined forces with Doctor Brew. Polish brewery, one of the first propagators of craft beer in Poland and pillars of the revolution.
After some effort, I could get both beers. Is one clearly better? Would I prefer one over the other?
Both candidates are a heavy weight class beers. Collaboration brew has 27.5 BLG and 12 % alc. Extract of the original English Barley Wine is a mystery, but it has 9% alc.
Photo above is a good comparison of the two beers. Where original EBW is very low carbonated, almost flat; collaboration brew is clearly more carbonated and probably filtered on top. Good thing is that it is not too much CO2 just enough to give you overall refreshing feeling.
Original EBW points in aroma, it is much more rich and malty. Collaboration brew is still fruity and raisins. But the original is way more complex.
Taste is also quite different. The original is sweet (but not sticky), thick, dry fruits and burnt toffee. Collaboration brew is a bit lighter, and smoother to drink, but it points with small bitterness coming out after few sips. What is also interesting is a sophisticated, menthol-like refreshing effect of the collaboration brew (coming probably from Polaris hops).
Overall, I am unable to say which one I prefer. I see the collaboration brew as more easy to drink. I would certainly choose this one when trying to introduce a barley wine style to a friend. And I am sure that I could convert many pils, wine and strong alcohol lovers with that one.
Original barley wine would be my choice for winter evening, snow outside, sitting at a fireplace and reading a book. Level priceless.