My List, Not Yours: 5 Favorite Indiana Barleywines

By Charlie Sasse

By Charlie Sasse

Every time I look up a beer style, it seems as if there are three new styles that are simply variations of a simpler style. There are several porter styles, many stout variations, some that aren’t even beer, a plethora of sour styles, and even a hoppier version of pale ale called a session IP… I can’t even bring myself to finish that one.

I do enjoy most of the styles listed above, even that one, but sometimes I have to get back to basics. My first experience with a barleywine was years ago and was included in my very first beer trade. The fact that it was in a ceramic bottle and from a well-known brewery were the only reasons I wanted the beer. Boy, was I happy I did! Rogue Old Crustacean was a great way to be introduced to barleywines. From there I tried Killer Penguin from Boulder Brew Co., Stone Old Guardian, and a few others. Then one day a friend poured me a very hoppy Indiana barleywine and I was completely hooked. To this day I keep several in my cellar, and admittedly a lot of them are older out of state beers.

Since those days I have tried many versions of this delicious malty beer. Some with adjuncts added, many barrel aged versions, a few really old ones, and as many from Indiana as I can find. When I decided to write about my favorite Indiana barleywine, I couldn’t do it. I barely managed to narrow it down to five. I like my barleywines to have a bit of hoppiness, a little alcohol burn on the back end, and a caramel sweetness that doesn’t overpower the other flavors. All of the beers in the list below have at least most of these traits.

There are many great beers coming from Indiana breweries and I find it difficult to choose just one favorite of any style. It isn’t from a lack of effort because I have drunk a lot of different beers from many different breweries. I love hearing a new beer is being released, and breweries have gone back to brewing basic styles and did so perfectly.

Below is my list of Indiana barleywines, in no certain order, I could drink again and again! Remember, this is a list of my five favorites and only includes beers I have had. I am sure you like other barleywines better than some on my list, but it’s not your list.

Keep drinking great beer and talking about it; I know I will!

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