The majority of barleywines I drink tend to be dark brown, with dark dried fruit flavours, dark toffee stickiness and occasionally, some chocolate to top it off. So when Wayward’s Barely Wine poured like a glass of molten copper, I learned very quickly that they were doing something at the lighter end of the spectrum.
To clarify, there’s nothing ‘lighter’ about the ABV - this beer comes in at 11.7 percent, though you’d never guess it from the taste. Because Barely Wine is a gentle giant. Rather than just bringing sweet heft from a full malt bill, it glides on fruity esters from its Scottish ale yeast - aromas of floral stone fruit, like apricots fresh from the orchard, flutter alongside light banana and sweet candied apple. The malts play together nicely with these, offering some toffee sweetness, but aren’t heavy - any booziness is balanced by the semi-dry body. Between this balance and the month it spent ageing on oak, Barely Wine is significantly easier to drink than I expected. Reader beware.