Barleywine brewed with 50% wheat malt (hence wheatwine) and aged in bourbon barrels. 12% ABV

New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole

Vintage 2013 release from New Holland Brewing, Holland, MI as part of their High Gravity Series

Now that wintry weather has broken out across large portions of the US, it seems apropos to dive into some of the bigger offerings on the beer front. High gravity, high alcohol beers seem to lend themselves to barrel aging, to add depth and complexity of flavor, and to smooth off rough edges as it were. It can also be overdone, leaving a beer with too much barrel character; the trick is finding the right balance of type of barrel and time on wood for a particular beer. This release from New Holland is a fine example of barrel aging done right.

Pilgrim’s Dole pours out a beautiful auburn hue, crystal clear, topped with at least a finger’s width of beige-colored foam. The head slowly settles but holds a full layer.

Aroma is somewhat restrained but complex, with malt, notes of raisins, figs, vanilla, oak, alcohol, and a hint of cloves.

Full-bodied with some alcohol burn. Light carbonation gives the beer a viscous, almost chewy texture. Mouth-filling brew – definitely one to sip and savor.

The aromas may not reach out of the glass and slap you in the face, but the flavors are enormous. I get a baked, caramelized sweetness reminiscent of Boston brown bread with baked raisins and figs, and a hint of vanilla. A light, well-integrated bitterness balances the beer and prevents it from becoming cloying. The aftertaste brings some roasted nuts to the party and lingers for some time. Great complexity, and one of the better bourbon barrel aged beers I’ve tried. Nicely done! Overall just an impressive brew.

Rating     Appearance: 4.5/5     Aroma: 8/10     Palate: 5/5     Flavor: 8.5/10     Overall: 17.5/20

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