Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nils Oscar Swedish-Style Barley Wine

Traditionally, barleywines come in two styles ... American and English.  Take a look at the Beer Judge Certification Program's guidelines and there are just two styles for barleywines.  19B or English barleywine.  19C or American Barleywine.  Generally speaking, English barleywines tend to emphasize the malts in their flavor, while the flavor of American barleywines tend to focus more on the hops used to produce the beer. Until very recently, I only thought I had two choices when it came to barleywines ... 19B or 19C.

Well, Nils Oscar, a Swedish craft brewery (actually owned by a much larger brewery) provides a third choice -- a 19D if you will -- known as "Swedish-Style Barley Wine." It was a little difficult to find some background information on Nils Oscar, who was an actual person.  Living around the turn of the twentieth century, Oscar traveled to the United States to work in restaurants for a while.  Eventually, he returned to his native Sweden and opened the Nils Oscar Brewery & Distillery. 

So, what makes a Swedish barleywine different from the American and English counterparts? I cannot say that I know the answer that question.  What I do know is that the beer pours a copper color.  The aromatics of this beer are very much like an American or English barleywine, full of alcohol, with a some malts and a little fruit. 

The taste of the beer is much more English than American, emphasizing malts over hops.  The emphasis of the malts over the hops may be the result of the use of specialty malts grown on the brewery's farm, Tärnö Manor.  After all, I had specialty malts made from grains grown on my own estate, I'd probably make sure those malts figured prominently in the taste of the beer.  The taste also had a smokiness to it, not as much as L'Abri de la Tempete's Corps Mort (which was brewed using smoked grains from a herring smokehouse), but enough to provide this beer with its own character.

Overall, this is a good beer that could be served with roasted meats, potatoes or other starches, and some of the stronger types of cheese out there.  Or, you could do what I did and just enjoy the beer by itself.

This beer is available at beer and wine stores that have a large selection of foreign beers, like Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel, Maryland. 


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