Dominion City Merlot Barrel-Aged Earnscliffe ESB with Dan, Vanni & Davey

img_1446Hadn’t seen Vanni in a while and he swung by for birthday drinks with this interesting bottle. Thanks Vanni! Merlot Barrel-Aged Earnscliffe ESB from Dominion City! So many things!

We have┬ásteered around the wine barrel-aged stuff in the past, having experienced a few examples where the cask overpowered the contents. Getting it right should “just” be a matter of balance, but that balance is illusive. In this case, it’s Merlot barrels and extra special bitter, and it works.

What are all the things? Merlot is a wine grape grown all over the world. Earnscliffe is in Ottawa, the first Prime Ministers’ residence and now the British High Commission. ESB could be Extra Strong/Special Beer/Bitter, they don’t say on the website. But beer and the wine work well together, here’s what we thought:

Dan – prune, slight banana, old garbage smell, sour
Simon – honey, summer camp, muskol? yeast, strawberries
Vanni – prune, slight yeast
Davey – boozy pear

Dan – pineapple, sweet grapes, very light oak
Simon – peppery but thinner than expected, light for 7.2%
Vanni – mulled wine, prune
Davey – cidery smooth

Dan – crisp, short & sharp
Simon – clean & short, typical bitter
Vanni – clean & short, warm
Davey – warm & short

Dan – 6.8/10
Simon – 8/10
Vanni – 7-8/10
Davey – 7.5/10

Dominion City Merlot Barrel-Aged Earnscliffe ESB – 7.2% 750ml – $16.00 – Ontario

Try it? Yes. Buy it? Yes.

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