(8.5% English make from 330 bottle) This charming strong ale (barley wine) comes in at a hefty 8.5%, but balances this strength beautifully with a robust flavor. Pouring a deep chestnut-brown with a light tan head along with a nice bubble, this great ale carries a nose of sweet roasted malts and a taste to match. This initial taste is complimented well with a late hit of warming alcohol, which the brewer describes as a port wine finish.
Not only is this an ale to appreciate, but the bottle is a keeper as well. It comes complete with a picture of Old Tom, the cat that was sketched in the brewers log alongside the recipe for this beer back in 1900.
This is a highly regarded ale having won numerous awards over its lifetime, and was recently knighted the following four accolades by the World Beer Awards for 2009: Best Ale, Best Strong Dark Ale, Best Dark Ale, and Best Barley Wine. So get in line with the experts, and snag a bottle of this when you can.
Maybe it is because I grew up with cats always in the house and have quite a soft spot for them, but this Old Tom has certainly won me over. Take one home for Christmas, and while you are at it, give a real cat a better home through sponsoring your own Old Tom.