Is Barleywine, Wine? Fulton Brewery fills us in.

patience-barleywine-fulton
Image courtesy of Fulton Brewery

It’s in a wine-shaped bottle, but capped like a beer. It’s CALLED wine, but wine doesn’t have barley in it, does it? To get to the bottom of this, I talked to Ryan Petz, co-founder and President of Fulton Brewery; the makers of “Patience” barleywine.

“Barleywine is an Ale style beer” said Ryan.

Wine folks, read on– because it’s not that simple that simple: barleywines can match wine in complexity and character– and can even benefit from cellar aging of up to 5 years!

Barleywine is brewed and fermented similar to other ale style beers using primarily barley (whereas true wines use fruit for fermentation, not grain). However barleywine uses more grain compared to other ales.

“A lot more, in order to change as many starches into fermentable sugars as possible.” said Ryan.

Like wine, a key ingredient in barleywine is time.

Most ales ferment for approximately 2-3 weeks. Ryan specified that barleywine takes a “minimum of 4 weeks to ferment, plus additional time to condition, and for the flavors to mature – which could be a few weeks up to to 5 years”.

That’s right, 5 years! Consider diversifying your cellar stock with barleywine, a great candidate for aging. In fact, Fulton first produced barleywine in 2013 and are currently experimenting with aging it.

More grain + longer fermentation = more potent stuff. That goes both for flavor and alcohol by volume, with Patience barleywine around 13% ABV (compared to other ales at around 5%).

The crew at Fulton bide their time... (Image courtsey of Fulton Brewery)
The crew at Fulton bide their time… (Image courtsey of Fulton Brewery)

Time is also a factor when enjoying barleywine.

It’s ideal to remove your barleywine from the fridge and give it a minimum of 20 to 25 minutes at room temperature before drinking. Ryan also notes its “best savored slowly sipping to allow the flavors to evolve as the temperature changes”.

Ryan described the flavor profile as encompassing “darker, richer flavors – from nuttiness to candied fruits including plums, cherries and raisins”, also noting its a “good crossover for bolder, richer wines such as dessert wines” as it has a very thick mouth-feel.

Giving wine and cheese pairings a run for their money.

Ryan recommends barleywines as pairing well with “strong, soft cheeses such as blue cheese”. An area where wine can struggle.

Fulton’s 2015 Patience Barleywine is currently available at their taproom, 414 N 6th Ave., Minneapolis.

Fulton Taproom. Image courtesy of Fulton Brewery.
Fulton Taproom. Image courtesy of Fulton Brewery.
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About The Author


Lauren Voigt

Lauren launched Minnesota Uncorked™ to nurture a community uniquely for Minnesota's wine culture — encouraging exploration of wine, of Minnesota, and of Minnesota wine. She is WSET Certified Level III (Distinction), and a Certified Wine Professional (CWP) through Saint Paul College. When she's not masquerading as a wine writer on the internet, Lauren earns her keep as a marketing specialist in the wine industry. Lauren can be reached at lauren@mnuncorked.com.

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