Green Flash Brewing – Green Flash Cellar 3 Barrelmaster’s Reserve Ochre Frumento – 750 ml. bottle poured into speciality glassware – 17.5% abv.
Product description: This California-influenced barleywine is aged for a total of 6-years in brandy and bourbon barrels. At 17.5% ABV, this beer is uniquely gluttonous and truly complex. Having drawn color from the barrel, it pours a deep brown, reminiscent of a Tawny port, and presents an aroma that is sharp and spirit-barrel forward. Prominent flavors of toffee and caramel envelop the palate, and supporting notes of ripened stone fruits with nutty complexity unfold through the finish.
This was reviewed from a 750mL corked and caged bottle released August 2016. The cork comes off with a hefty pop, but there is no gushing. The beer looks hazy sepia out of the bottle and opaque, deep brown to maroon in the snifter glass. Carbonation is lively and initial head formation is large with a beige hue. All foam dissipates quickly to a small ring around the edges of the glass.
The aroma is barrel-forward with spiced dark rum, amaretto, and some dark fruits like raisin and dates. Sweeter brandy and Port wine notes come through with hints of starchy red candy. Fumey dark alcohol persists even once aerated fully. The flavor is similar up front focusing on rum raisin and some obvious but not distracting alcohol warming. Mid-palate brings some lemon acid and touches of savory soy sauce, but rum raisin and brandy barrel persist. The finish is quite clean with dark grape vinous notes, mild sugar, and drying cinnamon. In mouthfeel, the beer is fairly thin and dry for the style. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it makes the beer perhaps more enjoyable. Given the powerful aroma, I was expecting something sweet and dense. From my understanding, sometimes at very high ABV levels such as this one at 17.5%, the alcohol itself tends to thin out the beer’s overall body. So the direction of this beer certainly is spirit-forward with the base barleywine secondary.
Overall, I think Cellar 3 has done an excellent job creating this blend, which primarily showcases brandy aromas and flavors. I think this beer was highly enjoyable and shows some great improvements in the Cellar 3 lineup as their barrel program matures. The underside of the wire cage cap says “share with friends.” Given the bottle format and ABV, sharing is pretty much required in this case.