Nogne O suggests drinking this beer in a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace. Since there's really no need for fireplaces in SoCal and the comfy chair is more often a European convention, my living room and couch will have to suffice.
However, I have been listening to a Mingus Pandora station a lot recently and I think combined with cooking dinner in the background and a relaxed Monday eve, the intention is the same. Either way, it provides a nice background for this beer Barleywine.
Huge head, almost rocked out of my glass. Lacing is thick and beautiful, the kind of foam you'd see in Peter Seller's The Party, for those that know it. Very sweet aromas, hints of malt, berries, raisins, and a Belgian candi sugar: very complex.
Tasting this beer, however, brings a surprise to one's mouth. The sweetness that is embedded in the aroma, is quick to disappear in a slimmer body with heavy hop presence. The front end sort of vanishes as soon as you put it to your lips, replaced by a huge backend of alpha acid hops that have a fantastic bitter flavor and really get under and on the sides of your tongue. In the middle there's a bittersweet chocolate bridge, capped with a hint of smokey flavor; they are unspoken, yet implied flavors, in this unusually complex, but not at all unenjoyable beer.
This barleywine departs from the usual sweet berry type beers that bear its namesake, however, does not disappoint where one would expect the hop presence. A fuller body and a bigger balance on the front end would make me recommend this beer that much more, but as is, it's certainly an intriguing creation from our Norwegian friends.