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Beer – #1,082 – The Barleywine Conundrum – McLeods v 8 Wired

So, I’ve held back a bit on this, but no more!,  There are two beers up on a head to head. It’s revolutionary.  These should be similar in style, they are Barleywine, but done in the American Style and not the (better) British style. I’ve always thought that Barley Wine was an Apex beer. It then came as a horror to me that the American style was becoming more common, and I’m not happy.

slightly more “fruity”

They are returning beers in this ‘challenge’ which I think will be me mostly not banging on about these not being to style (or more accurately my taste or expectations). That’s the challenge.

But I’m going to do this because it seems fair for me to be balanced and correct. And I like a Barleywine.

Beer – #1,063 – 8 Wired / Moon Dog – Byg is Beautiful  (8)

Beer – #1,037 – McLeod’s – Barley Wine (7)

The Challenge

English Barleywine will generally be sweeter in the balance, be much less hoppy as well as using UK hops, and have much more prominent fruity esters than an American Barleywine

In other words the american style will be heavy in hops and use a neutral yeast … a hard hit on the bitter and a hard it on aroma with a nice malt flavor undertone.

English Barley wine’s are much more balanced. English Barley wine’s by nature will be slightly more “fruity” because of the English yeast strains traditionally used.

So, English = good balance between the malt & hops. The American version will be much more bitter with the malt playing a secondary role.

So, What could possibly go wrong? Well it started early with the connundrum of what one goes first. Lucky for me we still have coins in the house, and on a toss of a coin the Mcleod’s is up first.

So here’s the (a) plan

  • Take them both from the fridge.  Achieved this, and held them up like trophies.
  • I shall open both and make a pour. Well I decided which goes first, but it’ll be one then the other, then they’ll be both open.
  • I shall taste and compare.
  • I will let them warm whilst I contemplate, these are best getting to room temperature.  I did that too, with surprising results
  • I shall then do the other things that follow this rather poor attempt at a list. Read on – what could go wrong?
First: The Mcleod’s Barley Wine is a beer at 10% ABV making this  around 300 calories a serve size, which would also then be around 3.9 standard drink units.  A 500ml bottle of beer that is brewed in the style  that is  of  a BarleyWine / WheatWine / RyeWine  and is brewed by McLeod’s Brewery in the lovely Waipu, New Zealand.
Bottle 2457 of the batch of 2550. The aroma is Hops, a thudding hop. Fancifully there’s some underlying sweetness there. The pour is a lovely golden colour with a decent head.
The aroma in the glass is still that predominant and very grassy hop. Initially the taste is quite bitter but there is a lovely and brilliant sweetness and softness underneath that warms though and cushions the beer along. It finishes with a slight bitter lingering.
It is however, straight from the bottle, and probably not warm enough yet, very more towards hop and bitter rather than softer and sweeter. I’ll come back to it.
Second: The 8 Wired  Big is Beautiful , which is  smaller 330ml bottle of beer, but at  11% ABV, which is some 320 calories a serve size, which would then be 2.9 standard drinks in New Zealand 8 Wired / Moon Dog Byg is Beautiful is brewed in  Warkworth, New Zealand and is in the style of a BarleyWine / WheatWine / RyeWine  is is brewed by: 8 Wired Brewing of course.

No fancy batch number, just a beer. This one has a different aroma, it’s more towards ‘stale’ and ‘ready’ it is different from the McLeods. It has a lovely light golden appeal, with a firmer fuller head in the glass. The aroma still has that yeast/bready thing about it. Not at all bitter, but it also then does not have a a cushion of underlying sweetness and cushion. Again markedly different form the McLeods.


The 8 wired is darker, and has a longer lasting head in the glass. They really do have different aromas too. I think I prefer the McLeods look, although the darker toffee colour of the 8 Wired is lovely to look at.

I’m not sure I’ve achieved much except opening two beers of higher ABV, and before dinner too. MrsPhil stop over to frown at my profligacy and having two beers ‘on the go’ and she thought the McLeods beer smelt ‘Stronger’ which is true, it really had a loudness about it.

The McLeods beer, a it warms, and it will please Jason, gathers around it a bunch of aromatics and prickle points of flavour that, to be honest, I was surprised with, and pleased. I’m generally easily pleased though.

The 8 Wired seems to wrap itself in that malty sweet blanket but also gathers a dryness with it.

Despite the earlier first impressions the 8 Wired beer just seems to bully up and get deeper, somewhat going in the opposite direction in terms of nuance and inflection.

It really is quite the oddity.

They’re both different, they have slightly different appearances and they change differently, the McLeods gathers nuance and flavours, the 8 Wired just just bolder and deeper into itself.

What actually happened was I really did decide that I don’t like, or care for, the American version of Barley Wine that much, even though these are two of the top brewers in the country, and know their game.

It won’t stop me looking and bying more Barley Wine though, because they are for me the Apex beer, and I’m open to change and learning and adventure, even if in my picture I look a bit like Captain Haddock.

The pdubyah-o-meter rates these as 8 of its things from the thing.  I really did prefer the McLeods over the 8 Wired because I did, and I don’t have any gain or benefit of saying anything else. My previous rating, in stand alone drinking stands, that’s what I thought at the time.

The double dip review

  • Where did I get it? The local Liquorland of course.
  • Am I enjoying it? In this style they’re really not my thing. I enjoyed the way they changed, and I enjoyed having them up against each other.
  • Would I have another? I’m not daunted and will continue the search.
  • Would I share with a friend on a porch and set the world to rights? Think if I had friend that could come over this would have been a lovely test of styles and preference. I don’t really care for this hoppy Barley Wine, they are jsut not my thing, they are however from two of the best brewers in New Zealand, and I’ve no doubt they’d stand their ground in an international arena.

And, because The Sundays said it better hem me..  “that’s her the story ends”

Music for this:  ”I’m listening to a band called The Sundays – Reading Writing And Arithmetic by The Sundays  on the Spotify player

BarleyWine / WheatWine / RyeWine

A Barley Wine is a strong, top-fermenting ale, with an alcohol content of at least 9% and up to 13% (or more) by volume. Hops may be hardly noticeable at all or very noticeable. Sip them out of a glass that will concentrate the aroma, such as a snifter. Barley wines often pair well with desserts. Includes Wheat Wines.

One comment on “Beer – #1,082 – The Barleywine Conundrum – McLeods v 8 Wired

  1. Paul Ballarin
    August 30, 2020

    I’m with you I much prefer the euro style barley wine. Might be time to get another Hertog Jan, oh apparently Garage Project still has some Hellbender.


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