PreMeditated Murder Barleywine
1 Pint bottle, $7.99++, 11.8% ABV
Purchased at Amity Wines, Woodbridge
About 7 moons ago, a local craft beer enthusiast tweeted, “There’s a new beer coming soon called ‘Premeditated Murder’ with a cool label. Any guesses from where?” As if it could be anyone but New England Brewing.
(Actually, these days it could be. We’re getting more and more clever with our naming conventions as of late.)
Seeing as NEBCO bottled this, their first barleywine, I’m guessing it’ll be an annual thing. [Update: Via the Twitters, I’ve been alerted by this more knowledgeable guy to the fact that NEBCO did a 3 Judges Barleywine about a decade ago. It’s true.] We should all be so lucky. I’m not sure how many barleywines are being produced in Connecticut anymore, but there aren’t that many. (Hooker makes a good one, which they PROMISE me they’ll brew again… But it’s been years.)
Funny story: When the bottles were released, I happened to be down in the area of the brewery. They didn’t have any, of course, so I checked the local package store – Amity Wine and Spirits. I didn’t see any on the shelves and figured I’d missed out (again) on a rare NEBCO release. But then, as we were leaving, I saw a bottle squirreled away on an endcap behind a bunch of employee’s stuff.
Mine. Sorry, dude.
Anyway, a week later I was at my local Hartford County store and I saw about 30 of them just sitting there. It’s amazing to me how NEBCO-love hasn’t really spread up to Hartford-land yet. It will, and these pages will make me look cool.
Since this is my first barleywine review, it’ll help us all to get a refresher on the style from BeerAdvocate: “Despite its name, a Barleywine is very much a beer, albeit a very strong and often intense beer! In fact, it’s one of the strongest of the beer styles. Lively and fruity, sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet, but always alcoholic. A brew of this strength and complexity can be a challenge to the palate. Expect anything from an amber to dark brown colored beer, with aromas ranging from intense fruits to intense hops. Body is typically thick, alcohol will definitely be perceived, and flavors can range from dominant fruits to palate smacking, resiny hops.”
Sometimes it’s clear to me that beer style descriptions don’t exactly sell the style. Fortunately, NEBCO gives us something a bit more exciting on the label.
New England Brewing says:
Full-bodied. Rife with ominous portent. Meticulously planned to the last detail.
Great. But how does it taste? It tastes like all of the above.
Let me explain. A good barleywine probably gets better with age, so quaffing this bottle mere days after its release might not give me the best it has to offer. But whatever – I actually have a few bottles in the basement for future me.
The Premeditated Murder (more on the name in a minute) is a malt-bomb with hops. It’s fruity AND caramelly. It’s a bit crazy and boozy and yet smooth and delicious. You figure it out.
And really, that’s sort of the point of a barleywine.
But what’s the point of the name and the label? NEBCO has sort of amped up the pun/double-meaning factor here with this one. As any “Car Talk” or Jeopardy! fan knows, a murder is the collective noun for a gathering of crows.
The label shows a crow thought-bubbling a get-together with his crow friends. So yeah, he’s thinking about his gathering ahead of time… OR IS HE?! Perhaps he’s thinking of MURDERING them; a premeditated murder murder, if you will.
There really is no answer to that question, which is why I love it – and there really is no single nailed-down description of this barley wine, which is also why I love it.
NEBCO kicks ass.
Overall Rating: A
Rating vs. Similar style: B+