Beer from Here: Lonerider Brewing Company – Hangman Barleywine (2013)
One of Raleigh’s largest and fastest growing breweries, Lonerider Brewing Company encourages drinkers to “effect change, don’t be an audience. Walk your own path, and instead of thinking outside the box imagine what is there was no box.” This outlaw theme defines the six year old brewery and graces the artwork of their cans and bottles. The tap room at the brewery is known as the Hideout and is great place to lay low and enjoy a beer. Each of the Lonerider’s beers represents a character with a story to tell. Sweet Josie (a brown ale) and Deadeye Jack (a porter) are two examples who both happen to be GABF award winners. I dig the creativity and willingness to tell a story.
I’m relatively new to the barleywine scene and I have yet to be disappointed. My favorite winter styles are slowing being replaced by summer seasonals, so I thought this was an ideal time to dig into the cellar. But let me tell you – Barleywines aren’t for the faint-of-heart. The style’s complexity and high ABV really suits my pallet as I’m a sucker for heavy malt backbones and a fine array of American hops. I’ve enjoyed some real winners that last few months, including Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot, Lagunitas’ OldeGnarleywine, and Flying Dog’s Horn Dog. Locally, I think Carolina Brewing’s Old 392 and Duck-Rabbit’s Barleywine Ale rank up there with the big boys.
In keeping with the theme of my reviews, I wanted to give an NC barleywine some air time. I recently dueled with Lonerider’s 2013 vintage Hangman Barleywine. According to the the brewery, “he (Hangman) represents our American Barley Wine Ale brewed with over twice the malt, hops and yeast of an average ale. Concentrating these ingredients causes the aroma and flavor to equal more than the sum of its parts.” This beer had some time to age, so by no means did I think it would taste the same as the day it was bottled. Barleywines are a cellarable beer, but I couldn’t wait any longer to try this 11% ABV and 110 IBU mammoth.
The pour from its 22 oz. bomber unveiled a bronze/ chestnut color with a beige, fluffy head. You would have thought I poured a glass of whole milk the way the head held onto the glass. I picked up notes of dark fruit and raisins and I think the hop aroma had dissipated (as expected) during aging, but I noticed a touch of citrus and pine.
My first sip was everything I expected – thick and sticky. The chewy, heavy body greeted me with a sweet, caramel maltiness. There was some lingering hop bitterness through the end and a slight warming booze. I can only imagine how hoppy this beer was when it was originally brewed. The 110 IBUs can attest to that. As I let the beer settle, the malt came to life and added some more sweetness. The frothy head barely subsided throughout the duration of the drinking session. I was impressed.
Well done, Lonerider. I think the Hangman is one of the brewery’s best offerings. It’s everything I was looking for in a barleywine and was an enjoyable after dinner treat. I look forward to giving their 2014 version a try soon. Do yourself a favor and buy two bombers before it disappears from shelves. One to age for a year (or more) and one to crack open this weekend. Trust me, it won’t leave you hanging.
The Hangman Barleywine and other Lonerider beers can be found in bars, restaurants, and specialty stores across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Eastern Virginia, and Maryland.
Brewery: Lonerider Brewing Company
City: Raleigh, NC
Style: American Barleywine
Availability: Limited 22 oz. bombers