The bottle art is excellent on this one and the batch number was hand written as "1" so perhaps I will hold on to this in hopes they become world famous one day and I will have a collectors item.
I poured its contents into a large 18oz wine goblet as to get the best view with the limited glass selection I have at home. It poured a rich creamy ivory color as the beer itself was dancing between Amber and Crimson notes with a very thick clouding of yeast as it was bottle conditions with a healthy amount of sediment left in the bottom of the bottle. The head dissipated slowly and left thik lacing around my glass and had a very fine creamy texture.
The first scents were all hop citrus and dryness as this beer boasts 100 IBU's and reminds me of Stone's Arrogant Bastard Series as once you get past the massive hop aroma you start getting the earthy malts and bread or biscuit like smells from the yeast. As it warms up a bit I catch whiffs of white peppercorn and other spices maybe coriander, it doesnt linger long and is hard to peg down with the hops and sweet malts dominating the nose.
My first sip hits me as I would expect from a 100 IBU beer and i get that delicious pucker I get from my first Imperial IPA of the day. This is where I think the name comes from because I could certainly confuse this easily as an American Strong Double or Imperial IPA. The Barley Wine starts to assert itself on the mouth feel as the dry hops give way to the richness and sweet malts I would expect in a strong barley wine such as this. The finish is fantastically complex as the blend of styles wash the back of my palate. I taste every component I have described so far with that slight spiciness I picked up in the nose a bit more prevalent on the end and the 10% abv adding a bit of a bite and slight warmness as it goes down.
Barley Wines are not typically my cup of tea when it comes to beer but this one with its hops not hidden away in sweet syrupy maltiness has really impressed me. I would be happy to put this on tap and challenge my Stone drinkers to try this side by side with their strong ales and i would guess even they would find that it stands up to them just fine. If the rest of their portfolio is as good as this I say we are gonna have some great beer coming out of our back yards over here.
Special Thanks to Ryan Cottongim for the sample and for my lovely Fiance Katee for helping me taste this excellent beer.
For more information on Witch's Hat and to stay up to date on their progress visit their website or email Ryan