Recently I ventured to Middle Earth to commune with the hobbits and humans on the best brew in the Shire and surrounding lands. Specifically I’m speaking of Barliman’s Best.
Move Over ‘King of Beers’! This is the King’s Beer
Barliman’s Best is the namesake of Barliman Butterbur, owner of the Prancing Pony in the town of Bree. Barliman’s ales are so revered that many hobbits make excursions there for no other reason but the beer. Barliman is either absent-minded or just overwhelmed with the details of running a successful inn, but one thing is for sure. He is a master brewer, and Barliman’s Best is truly the best.
The inn has played host to all sorts of characters, but its most famous, and infamous, patron has got to be the shady ranger, Strider. Although you’ve probably know him better as King Aragorn. The king will tell you that his favorite beer is Barliman’s Best. That’s got to be good for business.
Aside from the celebrity endorsement, the Barliman’s is also mentioned in song as “a beer so brown” by Frodo Baggins. And good rumor has it that the beer was once blessed by Gandalf the Grey (now the White). With all the word of mouth advertising from locals and the nearby Shire, along with the king’s own endorsement, Barliman’s Best needs little in the way of advertising. So let’s get tasting!
What’s That? – A Pint!!
Barliman’s Best is top fermented. So an ale, but not crisp as expected from other ales. This ale is heavy, woody, and packs a serious punch. An herby pungent bouquet greets your nose, which is overcome with a bitter taste. The finish however remains clean and refreshing, reminding you that this is a serious ale. Let’s explore those three moments further.
Barliman sage for the strong, woodsy finish. I don’t know if woody or woodsy are good beer tasting terms, but this brew just makes you think of a forest. The sage aromas bring both the remininces of secret forest meadow and fresh game being cooked over a fire. A distinctly odd but comforting aroma.
The bitter taste of this beer is not achieved through hops. It is created by nettles of all things according to the recipe and tales told to me by other patorns. I seriously doubt this. There is something at work here other than common thistle plants. No one else has been able to copy this beer. If people are running around the woods gathering up thistles to make a quality beer perhaps they should by some of the beachfront property I have for sale in Mordor.
The bitterness is not over the top at all. It clenses the mouth, and leaves the palate almost dry. You’re refreshed but immediately ready for another swig. The high alcohol content makes you order more at midnight than you intended to order at sundown. Methinks Barliman has a taste for beer and business.
As good as this beer tastes, it is still a punch in the face. Plenty of alcohol and plenty of woodsy goodness, but still alien to my modern palate.
How ’bout Some Potatos?
As I mentioned above, I’d love this beer with some fresh game, fresh rabbit perhaps. A hearty stew would be welcome as well, or just let Barliman’s Best stand on its own.
- Category: Micro Brew
- Taste (20): 16 – 7000 year old recipes don’t get better than this.
- Ad Campaign (10): 3 – It doesn’t have one, but it doesn’t need one.
- Realism (10): 10 – I’m sure many beers over the centuries were made like this.
- WNI (10): 10 – The world needs good beer made the old, Middle Earth ways.
Final Meaningless Score – 40 – A must have the next time you’re near The Prancing Pony.