Richly complex barleywine aged eleven months in bourbon barrels retains bold ethyl-burnt 12% ABV. Beautiful bourbon whiskey luster picks up heavily spiced brown chocolate and vanilla sweetness that nearly drowns out the citrus-derived Citra-Cascade hop briskness – but never to the detriment of its dewy peat whiskey expressiveness.
Humbler, less complex and less aggressive (at 10.5% ABV) than brewer’s barrel-aged barleywine, letting dewy scotch malting embrace spiced toffee sweetness, brown chocolate sugaring, dried fig-prune-raisin whims and wispy cola-pecan nuttiness. Modest bourbon, spiced rum and burgundy illusions add latent serenity.
GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK
Just across the street from the firmly established Davidson Brothers Brewing in the heart of Glen Falls, three-barrel nanobrewery, MEAN MAX BREW WORKS, came aboard during August 2014. Founding proprietors Matt Barry and Dave Wells craft fine standard fare that retain stylistic intent as well as interestingly robust ‘big beers.’
Four patina columns, reclaimed wood furnishings and several international flags don the narrow space. Clustered clear-balled chandeliers hang at the L-shaped serving station (with twelve taps, electric beer menu and refrigerated bottles and cans). The back-spaced brew tanks relinquish many well-designed liquids.
My wife and I touched down at Mean Max during early December ’18, quaffing four swell dark ales and one ambitious pale ale on this overcast afternoon.
For starters, bittersweet More Funner proved to be a fruitfully balanced pale ale with juicy orange-peeled grapefruit, peach, pineapple, tangerine and mango tanginess guarded by light hop spicing and grouty malt graining.
Next came the darkies – each with its own fairly distinct personality.
Amiable dessert fodder, Shotgun’s Porter, retained sweet brown chocolate luster, glazed vanilla spicing and toasted coconut remnants over lightly embittered charred hops.
Sweet milk stout, Percolator Coffee, let its sugar-creamed coffee frontage gain fudgy dark chocolate undertones and mild cocoa nibs wisps.
Soft-creamed nitrogenated moderation, Stout No Doubt, brought mild nut-charred espresso coffee serenity to velvety dark chocolate malts.
Christmastime chocolate crème de mint knockoff, Twas The Night, proved to be a voluptuous porter as chocolate-chipped cookie dough malts gained dry cinnamon-barked spicing and delicate vanilla creaming.
There are also several Mean Max reviews of bottled and canned offerings in the Beer Index.