Brewery: Ridgeway Brewing
There has always been a proud tradition of beer brewing in Oxford, with the scene expanding rapidly over the past 10 to 15 years like most areas of the country. Although most in the county keep their beer quite local, Ridgeway Brewing has been exporting to Sweden for quite a number of years now. When I was planning the tasting, I knew I wanted to find a beer that was produced close to where I grew up and I also decided I wanted to showcase a barley wine. By luck, I managed to fill both criteria with just one beer. Brewing since 2002, Ridgeway Brewing is named after an ancient trading route that winds it way around the surrounding area. It is run by Peter and Vanda Scholey and they work to create an environmentally friendly brewery with such initiatives such as solar panels and reusing of waste products by local farms.
The Imperial barley wine (2015 vintage) was medium toffee coloured, with a head that was negligible. Carbonation was recorded as fairly low. The thick heavy body gripped the sides of the glass which is what you would hope to see in a barley wine. The aroma was intense and rich in toffee sweetness coupled with booze, cream caramel, werthers original toffee an, plum. This cornucopia of aromas followed into the heavy hitting taste. Sweet caramel, light sherry, spice and honey blended nicely along with a big alcoholic chest burn in the aftertaste. After the initial impact, the taste subdued quite quickly but left an orange zest oil note on the tongue.
I love the big, robust nature of barley wines. Everything about them is just over the top. This is no exception, with a lovely, sweet body that just keeps giving. Although it might not be the most popular of beer styles, this deserves it place in the fridge at any good beer pub.