Nebraska Brewing, out of, uh, let’s just say Nebraska, is a small brewpub operation that seems to have a bizarrely wide footprint when it comes to distribution. I suspect their strategy here is to send limited amounts of their reserve series brews far and wide in an attempt to pave the way for future expansion (which is on it’s way). Unfortunately, it seems like their tiny operation forces them to place rather high prices on those big bottles of barrel aged brews, which is on the order of $20-$25 around here, but I’ve also seen $30+. This is pretty absurd unless we’re talking about true world beaters, and the beer nerd consensus is mixed on that score.
This is especially troublesome when their brews sit on shelves collecting dust – the kiss of death for beers like Hop God, which costs an arm and a leg but is probably a stale shelf turd by the time you’re ready to risk the purchase. I do wonder if their new production facility and expansion will lead to some efficiencies of scale that will allow for more reasonable pricing. Lord knows that I’ve smashed past that that $20 a bottle mental barrier with a vengeance, but I’m usually rewarded with something unique and amazing. This beer marks the second time I’ve dropped a pretty penny on some swanky Nebraska booty that, to be sure, have been solid, but never quite face-melting (which is, uh, a good thing in my book). In fairness, this barleywine was probably sitting on the shelf a while before it sat in my cellar for a while, so it’s certainly not the freshest of brews. Still, I’d expect more from this. Pricing shouldn’t matter, but maybe it does… what say you?
Nebraska Fathead Barleywine – Reserve Series Aged In Whiskey Barrels – Reserve Series Aged In Whiskey Barrels – Pours a deep brown color, burgundy tonez dude, half a finger of white head and actually a decent amount of lacing. Smells of fruity crystal malts, some booze, and a faint but still distinct whiskey barrel character of oak and vanilla. Taste follows the nose, lots of caramel, some brown sugar molasses character, that dark fruit character from the nose, and again, a faint but distinct barrel aged character. The finish has a surprising bitter note, as I don’t get much hop aroma or flavor out of this, but it’s clearly got a big hop component because of that bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, thinner than I’d expect, but smooth, and relatively dry in the finish too. Overall, a solid BA barleywine, but not mind-blowing and definitely too expensive. B (borderline B+, but I guess I wasn’t in a generous mood when I was drinking this stuff).
Beer Nerd Details: 11.3% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a snifter on 2/15/13.
These aren’t bad beers, but the pricetag does leave something to be desired. If their expansion leads to slightly lowered prices, I’d certainly hit up their BA Imperial Stout (if I can find it!) but I don’t know that I’d be willing to drop that $25 on an untested beer from them again…