Weekly Beer Review: Blackrocks Brewery’s Barbaric Yawp

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Barbaric Yawp Scotch Ale
Blackrocks Brewery
$2.69/Can (12 oz)
Grade: B+

The Beginning:
Blackrocks can designs are generally clean and elegant, slightly stylized with modern logo-style designs. Then you have this: a sketchy ink drawing of a yowling old rogue with a gimlet eye and ferocious beard. Sure, why not? I was drawn to the art, but discovering a new (to me) Scotch Ale with a respectable ABV punch really got me excited. Plus it’s a poetry reference! And poetry makes things classy, even screaming pirates.

The Brewer’s Pitch:
Blackrocks doesn’t have much to say – Barbaric Yawp is an aggressive and burly beer that packs a hefty 8.5% ABV- that’s enough to warm you up and keep you happy without getting you too drunk too fast (your mileage may vary, but I guess I should say it won’t get ME too drunk to fast). Redolent of smoke and malt, Barbaric Yawp goes great with barbecue, grilled meat, open flames, and all things charred. I would expect nothing less.

The Beer:
Barbaric Yawp is dark woody brown with a dense ring of bright white head. The nose is deep and sour, redolent of walnut chips and hints of rye toast. The beer is full and smooth but the back end has a sharp biting edge, from burnt-toast charcoal and carbonation. The initial flavor is acrid and sour like a bit of stale nutshell alongside heavily burnt dark brown bread notes (some of the acidity likely comes of that charring as well). As you work through it, the beer largely subsides into a calmer, smoother biscuit taste with light acidity and elements of faintly sweet toffee. A faint fuzz of warm alcohol burn blends with caramelly esters to fill the whole mouth with a hazy boozy warmth, developing to a full bodied rye finish.

The Breakdown:
This one is rather weak at first, in quality more so than impact. It’s too sour and stale and definitely made my nose wrinkle. Give it time to develop, though, and a much better beer emerges. The esters make it warm and sweeten the entire palate, doing a good job of meeting and cancelling out the nutty sourness at the front. It’s definitely better slightly cool rather than cold. Cold lets the sharpest flavors dominate, while the sweet boozy haze kicks in slowly as the beer warms. I don’t think it’s easy-drinking enough to carry with you as you wander around yawping all over the place but it’s definitely a good choice for when you’ve wandered yourself out and are now nestled in at home.

The Bottom Line:
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,/ I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. – Walt Whitman. Beautiful.