Siren Maiden 2013, 11.1% abv
There are certain breweries that get under your skin. Breweries that, no matter how unbiased you try to be (I couldn’t keep a straight face whilst writing that), you just can’t escape that bouncy, puppy dog like enthusiasm when you get hold of one of their special releases. Berkshire’s Siren Craft Brew are one of those breweries for me. The lovely, wax sealed bottle I have here is actually the first beer Siren made. A hoppy, American style barley wine that was brewed in February of 2013 and has been aged in a combination of Bourbon, Tequila, Armagnac, Madeira and Rum barrels before blending at the end of January this year. The resulting beer was released as Sirens first anniversary brew. Sounds good right?
I break through the wax seal and pop the cap, it pours a hazy and deep amber with a thin but stubborn cream head. The nose is citrusy, earthy, mouldy, spicy, woody, kinda like sniffing the bar at a high end pub at the end of a night.
I take a sip and, wow. I do like to think I’ve got a half decent palate but sweet lord of fuck this is one complex beer! I gotta say I’m a little overwhelmed. There’s loads of rich, sweet fruits. Figs, dates, raisins, and prunes. There’s caramel, there’s vanilla, there’s muscovado sugar, there’s musty old oak, there’s a silly amount of hard liquor here with rum and bourbon leading the way. I’m getting hints of orange, or orange liqueur, moss, and some spice that I just can’t place. The soft carbonation works a treat, the alcohol is nicely warming without being overpowering and the finish is long with a subtle bitterness.
This is entirely worthy to be Siren’s first anniversary beer, and is probably my favourite barley wine to date. The depth and complexity is epic, a rogue wave that’s washed up a whole bar’s worth of boozy flavours, stained bar top included, and dumped ‘em in my mouth. It’s nothing short of stunning. And pricey. And I love it.
The chaps at Siren really have come a long way in such a short time. From barrel aging their very first brew and a host of others, to a rock solid core range as good as any of their contemporaries, to collaborations with the likes of Hill Farmstead / Grassroots, Cigar City, Mikkeller and Omnipollo. Everything this progressive, experimental brewery have turned their hands to is worth seeking out. I sincerely wish everyone at Siren all the best for the future and I can’t wait to try next year’s interpretation of the Maiden. Cheers!