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Collaborative Efforts for a Purpose | Wren House Life Barleywine

As this series progresses into the spring months of 2024, it’s remarkable to observe the numerous recent releases that were unveiled in the initial months following Alex Kidd’s cancer diagnosis. Amidst the ongoing display of support for DDB and his family, it remains crucial to reflect on the breweries that were among the first to introduce dedicated beers to raise funds for the cause. In this edition, we delve deeper into Wren House Brewing and their Life Barleywine.

The Wren House Mission

Founded on the principles of Quality, Community, and Experimentation, this small brewery in Arizona established its presence in 2015 within the burgeoning craft beer landscape of AZ. Drew Pool, Bill Hammond, and Preston Thoeny, the owners, leveraged their extensive industry knowledge to cultivate a successful brewery over the past nine years. With a diverse range of beer styles that have garnered numerous accolades, including a Gold Medal at GABF for their Big Spill Pils in 2019, Wren House prioritizes quality, innovation, and community engagement.

In addition to their commitment to quality and innovation, the brewery places a strong emphasis on community involvement. Their support for local businesses, coupled with their water conservation initiatives in a notably arid region, underscores their dedication to environmental sustainability. While advocating for community and environmental awareness has always been central to Wren House’s ethos, their solidarity with Alex Kidd underscores their unwavering support. The release of Life not only provided financial assistance to the Kidd family but also promoted early screening, emphasizing the importance of awareness, empowerment through knowledge, and potential lifestyle adjustments in combating not just colon cancer but also broader health issues.

The Launch

On July 15, 2023, Wren House announced the special Life Barleywine alongside the Double IPA Sandal Vandal. Described by Wren House as a tribute to malt expression, the approach to this Barleywine variant has undergone numerous refinements since its resurgence in the beer scene. Despite being classified as a young Barleywine, the brewing process for Life necessitated patience, with the team emphasizing the seemingly endless boil time. Striving to achieve the perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness, this beer represents a delicate interpretation of the style, devoid of any barrel aging.

For this particular release, 100% of the proceeds were donated to Alex’s cause and the CCF. While a substantial $2,500 donation was made to support the Kidd family, Life remains available for purchase on Wren House’s website, with proceeds from future sales directed towards the CCF. The Wren House team generously provided PorchDrinking with a sample of Life for this series, for which we extend our heartfelt gratitude for their ongoing support, enabling us to continue showcasing these exceptional brews.

The Evaluation

Review Image for Wren House’s Life Barleywine

Photo by Eric Griffin

The pour reveals a rich color palette, ranging from deep brown hues to subtle rusty orange undertones when illuminated. A frothy off-white head forms, gradually dissipating over time.

The aroma boasts a nuanced complexity, featuring hints of fig, toasted walnut, and subtle anise notes. The malt base contributes a roasted essence, complemented by initial cola undertones that transition to pronounced candied orange aromatics as the beer reaches room temperature.

Upon tasting, the palate is initially greeted by a wave of sweetness, characterized by burnt caramel and raisin notes. This sweetness is swiftly countered by an estery bitterness, creating a harmonious interplay. While the bitterness may seem overpowering at colder temperatures, allowing the beer to warm reveals its true character. The malt profile takes center stage, offering a textured bitterness that accentuates hints of citrus and toasted vanilla, striking a delicate balance between contrasting flavor profiles.

The mouthfeel initially presents as thin but gains substantial body and volume with time and temperature fluctuations. Minimal residual coating is noted, accompanied by a moderate weight on the palate. The esters persist, albeit the initial bitterness gradually diminishes. The carbonation provides a counterbalance to the warmth imparted by the 14.7% ABV, culminating in a well-rounded finish. Life successfully achieves its intended goal of harmonizing bitter and sweet elements, delivering a nuanced drinking experience.

Supporting the Kidd Family

Thanks to the collective generosity of numerous breweries, we have been able to unveil new releases in this series on a weekly basis for almost a month now. Alex continues to demonstrate resilience in his battle, with a recent Brasserie Fantôme raffle organized by DDB on social media catalyzing a significant surge in donations, pushing the total funds raised for him and his family beyond $404,000.

If you wish to contribute to this cause, you can find the donation link here. We will continue to provide updates on Alex’s health and highlight breweries that have offered their support over the past 10 months. Stay tuned for next week’s feature on Kalamazoo’s own, who unveiled an exclusive Double Barrel Barleywine in honor of a pivotal figure in their brewing journey. Keep fighting, Alex!