The holidays are coming and with them the ubiquitous limited-release beers and gift packs. As such you may have seen these 650-mL bottles on the shelves of your local beer and liquor store. Never one to miss an opportunity to drink something named in honour of an Asgardian, I picked up a bottle of Central City‘s Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine, and based on its size and alcohol percentage I’m sure one will be sufficient. Previously I wrote a review of Central City’s Red Racer IPA for Autism. Check that review for some information on the brewery and the charitable work it does in the name of autism research.
I don’t know if I’ve ever drunk barley wine before, so I did some reading. Wikipedia assures me that barley wine is strong ale (generally between 8–12% ABV). There are two different styles of barley wine, American and English. The American style is generally more hoppy, and the English is less so, tending more toward sweet flavours.
But how will this Canadian version compare? According to the Central City website, Thor’s Hammer is light on the hops. So, it’s probably more of an English-style barley wine. The problem with a website, though, is that you can’t drink it.
Central City Brewers: Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine – First Sip
After doing honourable battle with the wax-covered cap, I poured Thor’s Hammer, a cloudy amber-brown colour with barely any foam, into a goblet. If you’re not as fancy as me, try yours in a nonic pint glass. I smell raisins as I take my first viking-sized glug. I resolve to take smaller sips after tasting Thor’s Hammer’s sweet malty flavour. Thor’s Hammer’s sweetness and low carbonation give it a syrupy mouthfeel, like port.
Central City Brewers: Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine – Last Sip
Weighing in at a holiday-sized 11.5% ABV, this beer is not to be trifled with, unless that means drinking it alongside a trifle. But with its malty flavour you probably won’t want to drink it while eating a sweet dessert. As the website suggests, try it with something sharp tasting, like salami. Because of its sweet flavour, it would probably go well with wings and blue cheese sauce. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find this beer at your local pub … unless you’re in Valhalla.