Barncat Artisan Ales can generally do no wrong in my books. Consider yourself warned.
Barncat is easily one of the best craft breweries in Ontario for hazy, juicy ales. They have built a very solid roster of staples, and have weekly rotations as brews sell out.
In addition to their tasty taps, they have also built a very excellent reputation for barrel aging, with some exceptional sours and darks.
Honey Bell is a new addition to their bottle rotation. It’s a barrel-aged sour ale, brewed with wheat, honey, and tangelo (often referred to as ‘honeybells’) juice and zest. Barncat aged it in white wine barrels with brett and bacteria.
The first thing that I noticed was how clear this poured. You’d be forgiven if you mistook it for a pilsner at first glance. The head was prominent, but thin, leaving behind a lightly fizzy brew.
On my first sip, the funk was prominent. The brett clearly did its job here. I am generally a fan of brett, but my only complaint here is that it seems to undermine the primary citrus and honey flavours.
Likely as a result of the brett, this sour ale is more crisply tart than truly sour. This makes it quite drinkable, and more likely to appeal to the average beer drinker than many sours. It was also quite deceptive, clocking in at a steep 9.5%.
I hadn’t checked the ABV until after a few sips and was frankly shocked to find that it was so high, expecting something in the 6% range.
The further that I delved into the bottle, the more that I became acclimated to the funk, and the tangy citrus, white wine, and subtle honey finish came through. I definitely enjoyed this concoction the more of it I sampled.
While this wouldn’t be my first choice at Barncat, given my love for their hazy ales, it is absolutely worth the $10 price point. I certainly recommend it to any fans of barrel-aged ales, especially those who enjoy brett.
It is surprisingly diverse, dangerously drinkable, and could easily be mistaken for a lighter (but funky) patio ale.
- ABV: 9.5%
- IBU: N/A
- Style: Barrel-aged sour ale
- Taste: Funky, crisp and tart
- Rating: 4.1/5.0
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