Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. is based in Gilbert, Ariz. and was founded by Jonathan Buford and Patrick Ware. It began brewing using as many local ingredients that it could source and the beers that they produced were creative, new and daring. One example was throwing six whole pecans pies into the mash during the first year to produce what was to be called Picacho Pecan Pie Brown Ale.
Curado is the review of choice today, a 13.8 percent ABV barrel-aged barleywine. Jonathan Buford and Patrick Ware received inspiration for this beer during a visit to the Dominican Republic while visiting Tabacalera William Ventura, which produces Caldwell Cigar Co.
Caldwell produced a cigar called Curado, designed to be smoked with the beer. It is a 5 x 50 robusto using an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, a Dominican binder and Nicaraguan fillers.
The beer is inspired by Mamajuana, a favorite drink from the Dominican Republic that is made by allowing rum, red wine and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs with optional additions of cinnamon, cloves, vanilla or cacao nibs. The brewery brewed the barleywine with herbs and tree barks and then allowed it to age nine months in spent rum casks. Many malts were used including Pilsner, Vienna, Munich, Carabohemian, Caramunich, Caraaroma and Honey Malt. The hop addition was Styrian Fox and the yeast used was a Belgian dry ale strain.
Poured from a 16-ounce can, I notice the color right off the bat; a murky medium mahogany brown with a light khaki-colored head. The aroma is quite powerful with caramel, sweet malts, dark fruits and rum. First taste is quite bold as I would expect from this style of beer and includes a big dose of spiced rum, followed by caramelized sugar, spicy herbs including nutmeg, ginger and cloves, toffee, brown sugar and a great, but not too overpowering shot of rum.
Carbonation is as it should be and as the beer warms slightly, the alcohol becomes more of a player yet does not overwhelm. The mouth feel is warming and clingy and the finish leaves essences of dry spices, lightly sweet candy, rum and a bit of dryness. Overall, all of the ingredients rise to the top at some time during the drinking process and remain quite balanced for the most part.