Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Duck Rabbit Brewery Barleywine Ale

There is a craft brewery in Farmville, North Carolina that bills itself as the "Dark Beer Specialist."  The Duck Rabbit Brewery was founded by Paul Philippon, a university philosophy professor.  Drawing from his teaching experience, he chose the duck rabbit diagram, which looks like a duck or a rabbit depending upon the viewer's perspective.  The Duck Rabbit produces four year around ales, including a brown ale, porter, red ale and a milk stout.   When Clare and I were visiting Ocracoke Island, we came across a little store with a big beer selection, including the Duck Rabbit's Barleywine Ale. 

I've reviewed barleywines in the past, such as the Nøgne-Ø 100, the Schlafly Reserve Barleywine Style Ale and the L'Abri de Tempete Corps Mort.  I've even reviewed and contrasted the difference between beers brewed in the English barleywine style, such as the Almond 22 Torbata and those brewed in the American barleywine style, such as the Troegs' Flying Mouflan.  Perhaps the one thing that these barleywines have in common is that they each have their own distinctive style.

I can now add the Duck-Rabbit Barleywine to this list.  The beer pours a dark honey or gold color, with a wispy thin foam.  The aroma of the beer suggests alcohol, but speaks of malt, bread, and toast flavors.  There is also a presence of caramel and toffee in the aroma of the beer.  These flavors also are featured in the taste of the beer, but there is also a significant presence of hops in the finish.  The hops contribute a piney or citrus flavor so that each sip seems to gradually run the spectrum from malt to hop.  At least for me, the Duck-Rabbit barleywine seems to unite the American barleywine and English barleywine styles, combining the hop flavors of the American style with the malt flavors of the English style.

For me, barleywines are perhaps some of the most difficult beers to pair with food.  When I have difficulties with food pairing, I do my research and, in this case, it is to consult Garrett Oliver's book, The Brewmaster's Table.   The head brewer at Brooklyn Brewery, Oliver is also a member of the Slow Food Movement and a font of knowledge when it comes to pairing beer with food.  In his book at pages 163-64, he suggests that, at least for English barleywines, the beer scan be paired with meats like lamb or boar.  (I wish I knew that before I drank this beer because I have a couple of cinghiale -- Italian wild boar -- recipes I've been wanting to try.)  Oliver also suggests that this style of beer can be paired with cheddar cheeses, goat cheeses, and caramelized desserts.  And, as always, you can do what I did and just enjoy the beer by itself. 

As I noted above, we found this beer in North Carolina; however, I have seen Duck Rabbit beers on the menus at restaurants and in some beer stores with larger selections.


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