I wouldn't want to hazard a guess at the the finishing gravity of this beer. It is a big, big beer tasting all of the 10% abv crammed into the equally imposing bottle. The good people at the Cigar City Brewery recommend that any Floridians drinking this beer crank the air conditioning way down low to maximise the winter warmer effect. A winter warmer this beer is without doubt, but I find it hard to imagine any air conditioner could provide the temperature required.
It's a strange encounter. Rich, sweet malt and sugar mingled with a reasonable dash of hops manages to get through the whipped cream tan foam and grab the nose giving the expectation of the non negotiable bitterness associated with so many American barley wines, but it doesn't come. Instead there is an immense sweetness that lingers, and lingers until sensory habituation of the sweet receptors occurs and some bitterness creeps in where it is apt to do so. It makes for a boozy, heavy, toffee/liquorice affair with hops playing second fiddle - the way a winter warmer should be.