Let’s start off our Big Beer Week reviews with a classic: Anchor Old Foghorn, the venerable Barleywine from one of America’s oldest craft breweries. Barleywine is one of my favorite styles of beer, and Anchor has been producing their Old Foghorn since 1975—I wrote “classic” above, and to my mind this beer sits in the pantheon of American Barleywines.
The current bottling has a strength of 9.4% alcohol by volume (their site gives a range of 8-10%, which makes me think it possibly varies by batch—or year). Here’s Anchor’s description:
Old Foghorn is highly hopped, using only Cascade hops. It is fermented with a true top-fermenting ale yeast. Carbonation is produced by an entirely natural process called “bunging,” which produces champagne-like bubbles. Our “barleywine ale” is dry-hopped with additional Cascade hops while it ages in our cellars.
Appearance: Hammered copper in color that’s deep red when held to the light. Nice tan head that broke down to lacy rings.
Smell: Rich and aromatic, nicely fruity when I first opened it; sweet brandy character after that. Toffee, vanilla, maple, leather, lightly peppery.
Taste: Smoky wood and a touch of cherries; honey-caramel sweet and has that luscious brandy alcohol heat and sipping character. A bit cloying, a bit plummy, a touch of leather and perhaps star anise.
Mouthfeel: Think and syrupy and slightly sticky; eminently satisfying on the tongue.
Overall: Superb—balanced, mature, perfectly sippable, simply one of the best Barleywines out there.