Our Imperial Barley Wine does not play around. This fella comes in at an impressive 11% ABV (watch yaself!), with very bold malt flavors. It deserves to be paired with someone that can keep up. Someone strong and unique.
Stilton is a lovely blue cheese that hails from Britain. It is a “Protected Designation of Origin” cheese, meaning for Stilton in particular it can only be made in 3 counties in Britain to be a true Stilton. This is a cheese that despite having a very piquant flavor is quite easy to eat; very addicting. It has a very nice moist, crumbly texture and fine blue veins run throughout. Worthy of its title “King of Cheeses”.
Barley Wine is a more challenging beer to produce, requiring more time in the brewing process and more expertise from the brewer. Some barley wines are aged for a long time (1 year or more) and are said to become better with age. Although not always reaching alcohol content of wines, one can’t help but be reminded of wine by the strength of barley wine’s alcohol content compared to other beers. Our Imperial Barely Wine impresses with lavish flavors of malt and molasses as subtle sherry, anise flavors emerge. The light carbonation is crisp and just right for its full body.
I put my Stilton on wafer crackers as a neutral vessel of its flavor. This combination was so intense and heavenly I have to wonder if Stilton was made just for Barley Wine. Like other blue cheeses the Stilton was primarily salty, but I was also pleased tasting the delicate sweetness. My favorite part about this pairing was that as each flavor component was revealed I kept wanting more and more. This was quite an interesting marriage of complex flavors. The type you experience slowly, with your eyes closed. There is nothing casual about these two; together they make an indulgent treat. Who could be better for the King of Cheeses than the strongest of Ales?
Barley Wine is often regarded as a beer who’s best alone, no decoration. I see the merit in that statement, as it has such a dominating presence. The forbidding nature of such a statement only makes this tried and true combo all the more intriguing.
Have you tried this pairing, or is there something else you like to pair with our Imperial Barley Wine? Is Barley Wine more of a stand alone type of guy to you?