Try This Beer – Howe Sound Wooly Bugger Barley Wine 2016
Every year Howe Sound Brewing Company in Squamish, BC release their Wooly Bugger Barleywine. You need to try this beer.
Recently I wrote about Barleywines as a way to introduce the style to those who didn’t know much about them. Barleywine is a style of beer that I’ve only recently begun to explore. However, I had the opportunity to try a number of different ones, both barrel aged and not, and it turns out I’m a big fan of the ones that are aged in the tank as they tend to present many more of the malt characteristics I so enjoy.
This year’s Wooly Bugger from Howe Sound Brewing Co. is a tank-aged barley wine and it is, frankly, delicious.
Why the recommendation?
Which brings us to the question: why am I recommending you try this beer?
Beyond how tasty this Barleywine is, I’m actually blown away at how approachable it is as well. Sure, my palate is different than someone who’s never had a Barleywine before, but I was amazed after my first sip of this year’s Wooly Bugger just how smooth, fruity, and malty it is.
The beer is rich and flavourful, with incredible toffee and chocolate notes thrown in for good measure. That time in the tank lets the various malt charactistics shine through.
What’s special about this year is that Howe Sound have changed up their procedure. It used to be they would brew the Wooly Bugger and then bottle it fairly soon afterwards. After that, the brewery would sell it and leave aging to the consumer. For this year they actually brewed the beer in January and then let it sit in the tank for nearly an entire year – taking up prime real estate in their already cramped brewhouse. To me that’s quite astounding, but that care shows through in the final outcome of this beer.
So this year’s Wooly Bugger has already aged a year meaning that it’s ready and drinkable now. That said, I’m certain that this beer will continue to age well for anyone choosing to go down that road.
All this doesn’t even touch the 11% ABV, which I’ll admit I barely noticed until I’d had two glasses and realized that I probably should’ve shared it. This may be one of the easiest drinking Barleywines I’ve had in quite some time.
Some might say that I’m late to the party with this one: after all, the beer was released in December. But the 2016 Wooly Bugger is definitely a beer that if you find on the shelf you need to get your hands on. Drunk immediately or let to rest, you’re sure to get a fantastic beer.