Parkway Tavern reveals Barley Wine Fest beers, renames the event

By Ron Swarner on March 25, 2015

The headline may have left you wondering: barleywine? This stuff isn't actually wine, though it is comparable in both complexity and alcohol strength - hence the name. Sometimes people call them Old Ales. Sometimes people call them burleywines, but those people are drunk on barleywine. From their darker, malty, and fruity English origins around the turn of the 20th century to the hoppy American versions of today, the ancient style of beer range from 8 percent to upward of 20 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

Some barleywines, like Crazy Mountain Brewing's 10 percent ABV Lawyers, Guns & Money, drink not unlike double IPAs when fresh, though the aforementioned sugar and alcohol content often make them good to drink several years after they've been bottled or kegged.

There are hundreds of barleywines, probably thousands, in the world, but it seems like many are extremely limited and hard to find on a regular, year-round basis. That's one of the reason's why you can barely find an inch of space at the ParkWay Tavern's annual Barley Wine Fest, which will hit the Tacoma tavern Saturday, March 28.

Barleywines are no joke. They command your palate and demand your respect. So if you're new to these brews, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

At the ParkWay's annual Barley Wine fest, 6-ounce pours are available, and despite the refreshing nature of IPAs as opposed to the gut-punch sugar-crash feeling that comes with drinking barleywine, 6 ounces can be enough of most of these.

This year's John O'Gara Barley Wine Fest tap list features 32 different barleywines - a handful have been stocked for years. YEARS I tell you! The annual event has been renamed to pay homage to former ParkWay Tavern manager John O'Gara who passed last March. O'Gara founded the event. Here is the Barley wine fest taplist:

Pours come in 6, 10 and 16 ounces, and, like I said, you probably don't need more than 6 ounces of anything if you're planning on drinking more than two or three normal beers' worth. If there's something you're dead set on trying, come early on Saturday, since when a beer gets popular with the crowd, it blows fast. Get ready, and be careful out there; this is heavy stuff.

The barleywine will continue to pour the following morning during the ParkWay's annual Barley Wine Brunch. Pair your favorite barleywine with a beer-friendly menu for $60. The event sells out every year, so. ... Appropriately more ways than one, Tacoma bluegrass stalwarts Barleywine Revue will return to the Fest for a fifth time, performing inside during Sunday's brunch.

Donations will be accepted for the Maeve O'Gara Educational Fund, John O'Gara's young daughter.

JOHN O'GARA BARLEY WINE FEST, 10 a.m. to close, Saturday, March 28, 313 N. I St., Tacoma, no cover, pours $3-$10, 253.383.8748