Honey Pot | Barreled Souls
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When planning a vacation, I always check to see what breweries I’ll be around. It usually becomes a combination of obvious choices and asking friends and the internet for help. For Portland, ME there were obvious choices (Allagash, Bissell Brothers, Oxbow) that I knew I was going to hit. Between interneters and locals, I managed to hit a few that I otherwise wouldn’t have, resulting in many of the breweries featured on our Portland, ME show. One brewery that kept getting mentioned, even though not in Portland, ME, was Barreled Souls.
I did manage to stop at Barreled Souls on my way up to Portland, ME from Boston. (Don’t worry, a show will be happening at some point in the near future.) Opened in 2014 by Matt Mills and head brewer Chris Schofield, their initial goal was to have everything brewed fermented exclusively in oak barrels (that may have changed since then). The Barreled Souls taproom resides in the basement of a house that’s really easy to pass up because it doesn’t look like a brewery at all! But it is very cozy! I met up with listener David Leshinski and he graciously gave me this beer, the Templeton Rye Honey Pot.
Honey Pot begins life as a wheat wine with 10 pounds of honey per barrel. That beer rested in Templeton Rye barrels for over a year. Put all that together and you get a beer clocking in at 17.3% ABV! Thankfully I had some bottle stoppers on hand as I was not about to finish the entire 500 mL bottle myself.
Honey Pot pours a lovely maroon. Holding it up to the light reveals a deep crimson, while tones of a burnt orange and burgundy come off as well. As typical of barrel-aged beers, the half finger of head vanishes almost before you can finish pouring. No haziness whatsoever as I can clearly see my finger on the other side of the glass. A resplendent beer.
So yeah, this beer hits 17.3% ABV. Alcohol burn abound on the aroma and one that seems to get more pronounced as you keep sniffing. Beneath that, big notes of oak and vanilla. Some caramel and butterscotch show up as well as a bit of spice from the rye. Something sweet spiked at the finish of Honey Pot; I perceived this as maple syrup and not honey.
Honey Pot does its best to hide that ABV, but it can only hide so much. It’s still really boozy, especially in the finish. Honey Pot definitely becomes a sipper and one that you may not finish due to that booze catching up with you. Oak follows the booze as those two are really the dominant flavor notes on the beer. All the flavors exist on the back of the tongue, with the front being mainly the alcohol.
Those flavors Honey Pot brings are subtle. Small notes of caramel and butterscotch with some vanilla and rye spices supporting things. The Templeton Rye barrel, while bringing the heat, also rounds the beer off and makes it a very enjoyable sipper. The medium carbonation keeps things from getting too sweet and moves things along, with not much of any of the flavors hanging around all that long.
Am I (and other Chicagoans) spoiled by barleywines and wheat wines released locally? Thinking of Revolution’s Jackets and Ryeways and Goose Island’s delicious first attempt at Wheat Wine in 2018 as some of the best Chicago has to offer (and I’m sure I’m missing some). Honey Pot does an admirable job but really can’t hold up to the behemoths I mentioned above. It does get a little too boozy at times and the depth of flavor really isn’t there.
Despite those shortcomings, Honey Pot comes off as an enjoyable beer. That alcohol will hit you fast, so just be prepared for it. A longer flavor finish would definitely help things along, but none of this stops me from wanting to try more from Barreled Souls. Maybe a barleywine in different barrels? Or with Cinnamon Toast Crunch?