This post first appeared on The Charlie Tonic Hour.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my drink reviews, it has long be established that I am far from an expert. There are plenty of very good and informative beer reviewers out there who know what they are talking about. I am here to give the enthusiastic amateur’s opinion about drinks. In Episode Seven of The Charlie Tonic Hour I tell the story of how I met the Schlafly social media coordinator and was given two bottles of their reserve to try. So full disclosure, my opinion my be swayed by the presence of free alcohol.
Schlafly beer produces over forty varieties of beer in their Saint Louis brewery. Some, like their pale ale and their kolsch, are available year round, but they also make a large number of seasonal beers. The Schlafly Reserve is an oak-aged barleywine ale that they produce once a year. Barleywine is a traditional English ale. It’s called barelywine because it is a wine-strength beer, usually 8-12% alcohol by volume.
I am not a huge beer drinker; I like the taste of a lot of beers but usually the heavier and darker ales put me off. As much as I love their advertising, I’ve never been able to develop a taste for Guinness. So I was a little worried that I would be in the awkward position of hating the first beer that I’d ever been given to review. Luckily this was not to be the case. Oak-aging brings out the sweetness in beers, something that I’ve gone on record as adoring, so I shouldn’t have been worried. This ale had a lovely sweet, malty start that was nicely balanced by an assertive hops flavor for the finish. It was a thicker ale, cloudy amber in color, with a heavier mouth feel than lager but not as heavy as a stout. In the end the sweet/hoppy combination really appealed to me, similarly to the way that I love sweet/salty combinations. Schlafly’s Reserve has too strong a flavor for this to be something you drink casually but I think this would pair really nicely with a good wood-fired pizza. This particular bottle was a 2008 vintage. I would be interested to a different year and see how they compare.
Schlafly’s beer is available in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Western Mississippi, North Virginia, and Washington, D.C. so our local readers will have to go across the border to get themselves a bottle. While you are at it I would recommend picking up a six-pack of the Schlafly Pale Ale. I had a glass during the 5B conference and enjoyed it very much. I have been carrying a grudge against Missouri since experiencing a series of misadventures every time I have traveled through the state. I am pleased to say that Schlafly’s has me rethinking my previously low opinion of the show-me-state.