Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why my beer's just not good enough...

You may have read about my forays into homebrewing. In my days, I've slapped together about 7-8 batches of beer...some good, some, well...let's just say I've dipped my toes into the biodiesel trade as well.

Sometimes, though, you drink a beer that just makes you throw up your hands and say, "time to leave the brewing to the professionals."

In Atlanta, that's Sweetwater doubt in my mind, the gold-standard of Atlanta breweries. I've tasted all their goodness: the 420 Pale Ale, the Sweetwater Blue (a blueberry ale), IPA, Sweet Georgia Brown, Hummer, Road Trip Ale...all good to go. But nothing has reached the near-perfection that is the DP Barleywine Ale. The "DP" is just a clean name for what is known in inner-circles of hopheads as the "Donkey Punch" (if you want the meaning of this slang phrase, I'm going to let your dirty little mind search the internet). The DP rumbles into town on the shoulders of a 10.2% ABV, and an IBU (that's "International Bittering Units"to the lay-person) of 142...basically meaning this beer was brewed with a crapload of hops.

The lovely amber color of this beer draws you in a deep tan on a beautiful swimsuit model; way out of the league of a pale, balding Irishman. On the nose, the fistfuls of flowery and herbal hops mingle perfectly with malty, sweet, honey and caramel aromas, with just a whiff of alcohol. In the mouth, the nose manifests itself into brown sugar, toffee, malt, honey, and chocolate. The chocolate is really evident at the tastes like taking a cup of hot cocoa, pouring some honey and vodka in it, and chilling it down. Really, I mean this in the best way possible (though it does harken back to some birthday shots in college). The whole time in the mouth, these flavors are packaged in a very pleasant bitterness...the 142 IBUs stand up to the significant sweetness and alcohol, but do not overpower. If you've ever had mead or Dogfish Head Midas Touch, this has got some similar nuances, but it's way more hoppy.

So, if you're a fledgling homebrewer like me, save yourself the trouble. Give up, sell your gear, and use the cash to stock up on Sweetwater DP Barley Wine Ale. It's a limited release, so if you miss it this time, look for it next year (and if you're not in the Southeast, tell your local package store to get some!). I promise you: this beer is worth the effort.

On a final note, huge thanks to my buddy Ben (aka "The Bat Hunter") for gifting me (unless he's waiting on payment) this bottle for the purposes of the site. I've asked him to do some guest beer reviews...hopefully he'll take me up on it!

Anyway- until next time, Cheers, Sláinte, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, and Kampai!
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