Quite a while ago the lovely folks at Shepherd Neame sent me a bottle of their Barley Wine. As they mentioned that it would probably age quite nicely, I stuck it in the back of the cupboard and forgot all about it.
A quick search suggests that was back in summer 2014 - longer than I realised - so by now it should be just about ready to drink!
Shepherd Neame Barley Wine is a properly monster 10% ABV. It's a deep dark brown beer, almost opaque, and with a fairly light head on it.
The nose is rich, fruity and alcohol-laden, like sherry soaked plums. There are touches of bittersweet black treacle and perhaps even a hint of liquorice.
In the mouth it's everything the nose promised - more black treacle giving a beautiful balance of sticky sweet and burnt, rich bitterness. There are black cherries and a wonderfully warming alcohol backdrop, enough to let you know this is a proper barley wine but never overpowering.
It's incredibly easy drinking despite the richness, it's another near perfect monster - 4.5 stars.
This review was originally published 26th December, 2015. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.