Did you know that the kangaroo rat that lives in the Death Valley region of Nevada can live its entire life without drinking a single drop of liquid? Did you also know that Under the Rose Brewing Co. may have just what it takes to get that stubborn rodent off the wagon? Well no one can be truly certain about the kangaroo rat’s temperance, but one thing is sure: Under the Rose can make a mighty fine liquid.

Scott Emond and Jesse Kleinedler operate their Reno, Nev. brewery from a comfortable and intentionally non-bourgeois locale and have been in business since late October of 2013. Much of their website is still in the “coming soon” stage, and I didn’t have any luck getting past their answering machine, but media issues aside Under the Rose takes a serious and calculated approach to each beer they produce. Take for example the gloriously geeked out label affixed to today’s review: a “barleywine aged in a bourbon barrel.”

Under the Rose Barleywine Aged in a Bourbon Barrel bottleWhat is barleywine you ask? There are really two main variants of this strong ale, English and American. The two renditions vary in body, hop ratios, and attenuation. Generally speaking barleywine is a complex and dynamic ale that can largely differ between brewery versions, and strict interpretations can be difficult to pin down. It is subject to vast profile changes throughout the aging process, and may develop a casked impression over time. A well-executed barleywine is however a cornerstone and flagship display of skill, and Under the Rose’s iteration takes no exception to this.

Upon a painstakingly tedious removal of the wax top, Barleywine Aged in a Bourbon Barrel pours a cloudy light copper and the flash of foam swiftly reduces to a thin collar. The rate of head reduction and faint visual evidence of carbonation suggests the expected barleywine cask like body. The lacing is moderately subtle but consistent from start to finish. The aromas are balanced overtones of malt, hops, grassiness, and bourbon; all of which are bedded on a bright, albeit strong, alcohol concentration.

Under the Rose Barleywine Aged in a Bourbon Barrel

The mouthfeel is well-adjusted and sufficiently carbonated with a dry and wine-like finish. The tasting notes are comprised of tart yet very refined fermented fruits, spiced bourbon, and complex hop harmonies. The alcohol presence is strong, but not overbearingly so. In summation, this barleywine finishes cleanly, with just the right influence of each selected component. The bourbon heat, wine styled attenuation, hop bitterness, and sweet English composition married with the robust flavor of its American colleague is superbly crafted.

Under the Rose Barleywine Aged in a Bourbon Barrel
BREWERY: Under the Rose Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Reno, Nev.
STYLE: Barleywine
ABV: 11 Percent
IBU: 37
PRICE: $13.79
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
Under the Rose’s barleywine is a great model of balance, complexity, and flavor for this beer style. Be cautioned that the alcohol percentage by volume lends itself better to bottle share fodder than night-cap candidacy. I would be quite pleased to see this beer become more widely available, and in 12-ounce bottles. Seek this beer out, and give it a few sips for yourself. Cheers!
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