Left Hand released their ‘Big Mo’ series in February and although I’m a little late for the seasonal party with these, I still feel like having a nice, big, malty brew sometimes, so here we go. I feel like most folks associate Barleywine-Style Ales with seasonal brews, but I actually enjoy them year-round, especially an American style Barleywine because of the emphasis on the hop profile. I’d characterize the Widdershins as a pretty straight-up American Style Barleywine, which drinks like a classic barleywine up front but finishes with the bitterness of an IPA. The pour was uneventful, with a minimal head which settled quickly. On the nose there was an abundance of fruit, but not your typical raisin-fig kind of Barleywine fruit. This Ale has a distinct presence of apricot and peach, followed closely with more typical aromas of caramel and sweet malt. There’s a slight hint of citrus, leaning toward orange, mostly from the hops that manage to make their way through the nose. In the mouth there is much of the same, with the apricot and juicy semi-citrus taking the lead, followed by the classic barleywine malt sweetness of rich caramel, closing with a bitter bite. This Barleywine is also oak-aged, which doesn’t seem to play much of a role until the end, where the dryness of the wood and hop bittering play off of one another for a more complex-than-normal finish. The aftertaste again reveals the woody texture, as it lingers a touch longer than the sweeter, fruity flavors up front. Overall, it’s a ‘nice’ beer and a pretty solid effort from Left Hand. Even though I’d like to have a little more presence from the oak and maybe a notch down on the hops, the atypical fruit aromas of apricot and peach make this totally worth trying.
– score 3.5