Group Tasting — Marble Brewery

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Sometimes the guys at We Like Drinking get together and try beers, wines and spirits to bounce ideas off each other and see what we like collectively. Not only is an opportunity for camraderie, it’s a chance to see how our palates compare. Recently we put this to the test with a group tasting of Albuquerque’s Marble Brewery.

John recently joined Marble Brewery’s mug club and was entitled to two special bottles from the brewery: a triple with brettanomyces and a barleywine aged in bourbon barrels. The triple is marked with a sun indicator and the barleywine is marked with the moon for night.

We Like Drinking gave a resounding thumbs up for the barleywine while being less than enthused on the triple. However, the great thing about group tastings are the discussion that occurs. Following are our notes.

Triple (9% ABV):

Color: John said it had a light, hazy straw color with medium head retention. Jim noticed a cloudy, yellow hue with plenty of bubbles rising directly out of the center and a decent head. Jeff said the color straw yellow, very cloudy with a head that settles into a thin white sheen.

Nose: Jeff pointed to hops, rose and horse manure on the nose. Jim said it had a very flowery nose with yeast, banana bread and the smell of a dirty barn. John had notes of yeast, slight hops and grass.

Flavor: Jim tasted some orange and said the flowery tastes immediate rose to overpower other notes. There was a hop burn with an earthy, dirt-like taste. John got an immediate flavor of dirty diapers and said it was very unpleasant (of course!). The aftertaste was fair, however, with the hops riding on the light carbonation. Jeff also tasted orange and noted that there was not much evidence of this being a 9% ABV beer. He said he found the dry finish unusual for a beer.

Overall: It was clear we weren’t big fans of this offering. However, the best was yet to come.

Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels (10% ABV)

Color: John noticed a deep ruby hue with a head that dissipates quickly. Jim said this had a clear, tawny color to it. Jeff also saw tawny colors, likening it to a port. He also noticed the slight head that left a thin sheen on the glass.

Nose: Jeff’s sniffer worked overtime. The smells were so diverse he just starting rattling them off: bourbon, some pine, caramel, some yeast, caramel apples and toasted oaks. Jim first noticed the distinctive barleywine smell before delving into the caraemel, toffee, bourbon, roasted malt, brown sugar/molasses and candy sugar smell. He also said there was alcohol on the nose indicative of barleywines. John received a more straightforward nose of malt, vanilla, and wood.

Flavor: Jim got an initial hit of oak, which mellowed into bourbon and a toffee/molasses sweetness. There was also a nice bourbon profile (of course) with the alcohol burn on the back end. John immediately made mention of the warm alcohol presence and residual sugars. He also got on the nose dark malt, vanilla and wood. Jeff tasted the bourbon, and he noticed pine on the finish. Here’s the interesting part: he tasted some cocoa krispies.

Overall: The more we sat with the barleywine, the more we enjoyed. It’s a great experience for viewing, smelling and tasting. This is definitely worth revisiting with friends; a classic in the making.