Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Big Chuck's Barleywine

They were an institution in Cleveland.  From 1979 until 2007.  Chuck Schodowski and John Rinaldi -- known to every Clevelander as "Big Chuck and Little John" used to host late night horror movies on WJW-TV.  They operated out of a studio in downtown Cleveland, hosting the movies before a live studio audience.  I was once a part of that audience when I was a kid.  I have some vague memories of that day, being in the studio and seeing the two television personalities.

People did not necessarily watch Big Chuck and Little John for the horror movies.  The movies were usually of the type that would serve as the backdrop for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 show.  Rather,  everyone watched Big Chuck and Little John for the skits that the two entertainers would perform.  These included skits such as "A Certain Ethnic ________," which played on Big Chuck's Polish heritage, the Kielbasa Kid, a spoof of western movies, and Cuyahoga Jones and the Castle of Doom, which was an obvious play on the Indiana Jones franchise:

Everyone who grew up in Cleveland during the 1980s and 1990s remembers (or should) remember skits like these.

Recently, Portside Distillery brewed a barleywine in honor of Big Chuck, aptly named the "Big Chuck Barley Wine Ale."  Portside is Cleveland's first distillery since Prohibition; however, it also brews beers, including this barleywine.  While I searched for the ingredients, I was unsuccessful, much like Cuyahoga Jones.  However, from the description below, it is clear that some form of roasted malts were used, along with a fair amount of hops.

The Big Chuck Barley Wine Ale pours a dark brown, almost black in color.  This suggests the use of roasted malts, which are often used in darker beers such as porters or stouts.  The malts provide a bready, toasty and almost earthy notes.  The malts also drive the taste of the beer, providing the backbone of the taste, with a dark roasted, bready, malty elements.  There was also some cocoa, coffee or espresso in the taste of the Big Chuck barleywine, which was followed by a very astringent and dry finish, which is where the hops most likely figure into this beer.  The hops most likely accentuate the astingency and dryness brought about by the roasted malts.  Finally, there is a booziness in the background of the beer, which is expected with an ABV of 11.7%. 

The heavy emphasis on the malts would ordinarily suggest an English style barleywine; however, the dark, roasty, coffee notes are not typical of what I would expect or ordinarily find in that style of a beer.  This uniqueness is perfectly acceptable, because Big Chuck (and Little John) were unique in their own way when it came to late-night television in the Cleveland area market.  


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hardcore Hoolihan/Big Chuck/Lil John fan since 1967. Also a serious beer aficionado. Love Big Chuck. Hated the beer. Awful stuff. Couldn't get past two sips. Glad I bought it, for the cool Big Chuck can, but I'm not surprised they quit making it.

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