Tonight I am trying out one of the standard Barleywines from Norther California, Old Foghorn from Anchor Brewing Co.
Hobson Barleywine turned out amazing, and I was very excited to try Old Foghorn again.
Aroma -The first impression I receive when smelling this beer is a sweet, toffee-like aroma. It smells like there is a strong influence from the darker crystal malts in this beer. You can definitely smell the prune, and raisin aromas as the beer warms. It is not unpleasant, and gives a very accurate preview of the flavor.
Hop aroma is essentially undetectable, however you can catch a hint of something that is almost apple-like.
Body and Texture -Tastes strongly of raisin, and is very sweet. While bitter, the flavor is dominated by sweet and raisin, leaving your mouth feeling coated. To me, it is a bit overpowering and nearly unpleasant.
Hop flavor is there, but difficult to isolate when drinking Old Foghorn by itself. With a sweet dessert it is detectable, and is a much more pleasant flavor than this beer alone.
Aftertaste -There is a lingering bitterness, that helps balance out the sweetness. The dominant aftertaste though is dried dark fruit. Your mouth feels slightly stick from residual sugar after drinking. The aftertaste leaves a sticky feeling, almost like drinking a flat soda.
Overall Impressions -This comes across to me as a dessert beer. Paired with the right dessert it could be good. I tried it with a small amount of cheese cake, and the sweetness of the cheesecake helped to bring out a nice bitterness. But even the cheese cake wasn't sweet enough to make this beer lose its malt-dominated nature. You'll need something very sweet to balance this. Possibly a vanilla ice cream would be good.
This beer gets a D+ from me. It is far enough below average that I do not plan to purchase it again.