Old Marley Barleywine

Old Marley Barleywine (2013)
Two(!) cases, $75 per++, 12-13% ABV

Purchased at the brewery, Bloomfield

barley We have arrived. Hooker’s Old Marley; the biggest and best beer from the longest standing and second biggest brewery in Connecticut. NEBCO has their Imperial Stout Trooper, Hooker has their Old Marley Barleywine.

And now, as you see above in the header, I have a lot of it. Yes, I bought 48 of these wax-capped bad boys. (It helps to be tight with the brewwery manager when flaunting the “one case per person” limit.)

No, I didn’t buy them all for me. Rather, I bought the majority of them to give away. For Hooker Brewery is one of my “hometown” (sort of) breweries, so it’s nice when they have a special brewery-only bottle release at which I can get some stuff for my non-Hartford County friends to enjoy.

The release was also at 9 AM on December 14th in a snowstorm, so that really deterred most people from driving too far to get there. I was a regular Kris Kringle. Aside from me CT Brew Crew friends, my brother and two brothers in law got 4-packs of this stuff for Christmas. Let this paragraph provide you with some foreshadowing… Read on…

I also happen to love driving my Impreza WRX in the snow, so getting to and from the brewery was a blast for me. And heck, even if there was no snow, I was going to pick up some Old Marley anyway. It could have been raining hellfire and I’d have been excited for the beer.

Hooker’s Old Marley has a really long history in these parts. Hooker first brewed it way back when they were still Trout Brook Brewing in the Old Spaghetti Warehouse in Parkville in Hartford. It was probably the first high-end craft beer from Connecticut I ever had.

Hooker says:

The return of our Old Marley Barleywine was a year in the making. We aged this brew for six months in oak barrels sourced from select Connecticut wineries. Full bodied and intensely rich, it’s time in oak lends vanilla and toasted notes to it’s velvety texture and complex flavors. It was then bottle aged for an additional half year to achieve mellow and mature characteristics.

CaptureI cannot tell you how many times I asked Kurt at Hooker if they were doing the Old Marley again. I am very rarely annoying about this stuff (note to you “OMGFUZZYBABYDUCKS!!11″ clowns. Just shut up already.) but really Hooker, when you have a barleywine that is known far outside your home state, by people who have never even had it, you should brew it more often than every 5 years. Or so I say.

The beer itself is just fantastic. This is a huge beer – in many ways. Sure the 13% ABV will knock you over if you’re not careful, but the boozy edge is tempered in the Old Marley by a focus on the malts and barreling flavors and fig and prune and peat and vanilla and… yeah, there’s a lot going on here.

The booze is definitely present, as it should be in a barleywine, but only in a pleasant, warming way. The barrel aging imparted a sweetness that only complements the sweetness from the malt-heavy beer.

Look – you can’t sit down and pound four of these things. You just can’t. You’d probably throw up. But why in the world would you want to do that? Unless you are a buffoon like this guy, who could barely handle guzzling a 120 Minute.

Don’t be like that guy. Enjoy this beer. Enjoy it slowly. Let it warm 10-15 degrees over that time and taste the difference and all the nuanced flavors that come to the fore.

And while you’re doing that, you can ponder the cute doggie by the fireplace on the label and wonder if that that dog’s name is Marley, like that insipid book and movie. Then, take a moment to slap yourself in the face for thinking Hooker would name a beer after that insipid book and movie and go read some classic Charles Dickens and realize that “Old Marley” refers to A Christmas Carol’s Jacob Marley.

(Marley was Scrooge’s business partner and was the first ghost that haunts him. Everyone knows these things, right?)

Anyway, if you live near me and want a 2013 Old Marley, just let me know. Because when it comes to good beer, I’m no Scrooge. Or Marley. Or that idiot who guzzles 120 Minutes.

Oh, and Hooker made a fake advertisement for this beer too, for some reason.

Overall Rating: A+
Rating vs. Similar style: A+

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