Alley Kat Olde Deuteronomy

Reviewed by on November 29, 2013 in Local Heroes Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Alley Kat Brewing Company

  • Origin: Edmonton, AB

  • Rated On: July 29, 2013

  • Best Before: N/A

  • ABV: 10.3%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: American Barleywine

  • Rating: WORLD-CLASS !!!

The Review

Barleywines are a style that seem to get short shrift by Albertan brewers, as there are have only been a handful of instances over the years.  Maybe that’s because they have to compete with Olde Deuteronomy, Alley Kat’s (near) yearly big-beer offering, that almost always seems to be available, and at a very reasonable price, given its peers around the world, and the time and effort it takes to make it.  The beer’s packaging includes the same old cheap, malformed, thin gold foil enclosure, and is one of the few remaining products in Alley Kat’s line that hasn’t had the clean, but more generic label update of a few years back – I find myself missing these feline-themed works of art for some reason.

This 341ml bottle (2011 vintage) pours a mostly clear, but with fine swirling sediment, medium orange-brick amber hue – a lot like poorly mixed iced tea – with one finger of loosely foamy, and mostly bubbly beige head, which wisps away fairly quickly, leaving a few random instances of sea-spray lace around the glass.

It smells strongly of rum-steeped raisins, lightly biscuity caramel, overripe apple and black fruit – plum, mostly – brown sugar, and a remote leafy, earthy hoppiness. The taste is warm, bready caramel, thin molasses, stewed prunes, a bit of tannic red grape must, and leafy, citrusy hops, which increase in intensity, along with the subdued alcohol, as it warms. The carbonation is pretty tame, barely perceptible in its innocuousness, the body a decent medium weight, and maybe not as full as it could be, but smooth and sticky in its uber-maltiness. It finishes on a drying trend, the residual hops finally screwing up the courage to do something about it. The near 21 proof alcohol is indeed a constant reminder, maybe a wee bit too forward up front, but thereafter lurking in the background, consigned to the promise of being very close to breaking through.

I have made the mistake of including a couple of these bad boys when making a mixed sixer at the brewery. Later, at the campsite, or wherever, their added kick reminds me (usually the next morning, ’cause they taste so good, especially after dark) of their potency. So, while quite easy to drink – if you’re accustomed to the style, that is – they are not something to be trifled with, because if you do, they’ll knock you on your fat cat ass.  Incidentally, the name comes from a character in a T.S. Eliot poem (and later in the musical ‘Cats’) who was old, wise, widely respected, and reborn over and over.  Sounds like a more than appropriate moniker for this very, very well-crafted beer.

Brady White

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