Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weyerbacher - Sixteen Review

Brewery: Weyerbacher (PA)
Style: Braggot
ABV: 10.5%
Grade: B

Do you know what a braggot is, off the top of your head, besides something vaguely medieval sounding? I didn't. Well, it is an extremely old drink, with references to it in the Canterbury Tales. Basically, a braggot is just a hybrid of beer and mead. Other beer styles can and do use honey as a fermentable sugar, but braggots just use more of it, I guess. As a style, it makes sense — beer and mead were almost certainly the first alcoholic beverages that mankind discovered, so mixing them together is sort of obvious.

Having never had a braggot before, I unfortunately can't compare this to anything, but it's so close to beer that I don't feel like I'm out on a limb reviewing it. And as a beer, it's... interesting. A "dark braggot," this pours surprising black, like a souped-up brown ale or a thin porter, with the ABV of a barleywine. The taste strikes me as somewhere between all of those — a hint of roasty and sweet malts, drenched in the booziness of a barleywine and the dry-yet-sweet mouthfeel of a brown ale. If you just handed this to me and told me it was something nebulous like a strong ale, I wouldn't question you.

The honey adds a distinctive flavor and rich aroma to Sixteen — it's an extremely sweet beer. A bit too sweet for me, though not so much as to be undrinkable. Buried beneath the sweetness are many interesting, earthy flavors, and the dark malts along with the honey sweetness combine to form a spicy molasses flavor. Others follow: nutty, raisin, fig and caramel. There are hints of spices, too, though I'm not sure if actual spices were added or that's just the subtleties of the malts coming out. All in all some nice things happening here, but too much sweetness makes this something I wouldn't likely reach for again.

Availability: 12 ounce bottle. Brewed only once, probably pretty hard to find at this point. Perhaps you can still find this at the brewery?

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