Lakefront Brewery – My Turn #4: Chad Barley Wine Style Ale

Lakefront My Turn ChadLakefront has a sweet tooth, no doubting it. While many American breweries are deploying hop-bombs with abandon or chase after Saison pixie dust, Lakefront delights in ales heavy on crystal malts, robust dark lagers, and full-bodied limited releases. Their ‘My Turn’ series of single-batch beers copies another Great Lakes brewery–Summit and their Unchained Series, begun a couple years prior–in giving individual brewers a chance to brew their own recipe under their own name, often with specialty ingredients and to organic standards. The fourth installment of the series comes from Chad Sheridan, who used Lakefront’s old Beer Line Barleywine recipe as a basis for his amped-up revival of 12.5% ABV.

The beer pours a rich garnet color, brilliant and clear of any residuals. Understandably for its strength, there’s little head to speak of and virtually no lacing, but the beer’s color and clarity still makes for an attractive presentation. Its aroma is quite sweet, showing much more of baked fruit than caramel; cherry or rhubarb pie and amaretto also come to mind. Spices are muted and hops minimal.

Leaving sticky residues on the lip of the glass, it’s obvious that Chad has the fullness of body and sugars to stand up to almost any dessert pairing. On the palate it is complex in malts but less so in character, dense like shortbreads and sweet like red fruit pretty much front to back. And yet it is well-carbonated and just peppery enough in the finish (via a 10% rye component) to be readily drinkable in a full pint without becoming cloying. The body seems lighter than it probably is. Powerfully bitter Bravo hops were tapped for duty here, but their role is almost exclusively for balance aside from one brief counterpoint after the midpalate before caramel and dried fruit (fig, dates) come in to close. At 12.5% some sense of alcohol is unavoidable and Chad does exhibit some solvents on the way through its medium finish. Impressive work by the yeast, though, to achieve such strength and leave no meaty or gummy refuse in its wake.

And yet, in a truly American one-and-done ‘blaze of glory’, Chad’s My Turn is undoubtedly over the top–stronger and sweeter than it needs to be by about a quarter and insufficiently balanced by hops. It is also undeniably tasty, and likely as good fresh as it’ll ever be. For satiety without overindulging, Chad’s My Turn on tap will do better than dipping into the swamp of Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée or any of its syrupy kith.

Served: On Tap (Clementi’s, Arlington Heights)

Rating: 88

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One thought on “Lakefront Brewery – My Turn #4: Chad Barley Wine Style Ale

  1. Pingback: Lakefront Brewery – Bridge Burner Strong Ale | Constructive Consumption

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