Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Spank Me Baby!

Tyranena Brewing Company
Lake Mills, WI

Style: Barley Wine

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Pair With:
Whether or not ya’ll may have noticed over the past year, Nigel likes to be a bit silly when it comes to composing his beer reviews; honestly, if you thought I was always serious you must believe that I suffer from a severe case of retardation. As much as I love craft beer and take it very seriously, it’s only a hobby. While I certainly enjoy sharing my thoughts with you, I also realize I’m not exactly presenting theories for bringing peace to the Middle East. Nigel just wants to have fun, and I always hope to make things enjoyable for you, the loyal readers who fill Nigel’s inbox with fan mail, by creating (hopefully) informative reviews with a playful spin.

Unfortunately, Nigel received some sobering news yesterday. A good mate of mine from my college days passed away after a brief and quite unexpected bout with cancer, so needless to say, Nigel’s not exactly in the mood for silly. In honor of my friend and college drinkin’ buddy Shawn, I’d like to ask all of you out there in Beer Dork Land to raise a glass in his honor. If you’re up for it, have a Beast Ice, as it was our beer of choice back in the day when we were scraping for change to afford a night at the local pubs or house parties. We’ll miss ya, buddy— drinkin’ brews in Sloshkosh and Sheboygan just won’t be the same without you.

On a more positive note, Nigel’s latest review is another selection from the thus-far excellent limited edition Brewers Gone Wild series from Tyranena Brewing Co. in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. I’ve been quite impressed with the offerings to date, though not surprised considering Tyranena is one of my favorite Wisconsin brewers. I was very pleased to see another Midwestern attempt at the challenging barley wine. Barley wines are quickly growing on Sir Nigel, so much so that you may now call me a “barleywino,” which doesn’t quite have the ring that “hophead” does, but I just came up with that, so give me some time to tinker with the specifics. Barley wines are rich and complex, loaded with just about every ingredient under the sun, making for a syrupy, often sweet brew that utilizes hops to make for a balanced flavor. And yes, Nigel does always throw in his promise that he’ll properly cellar each barley wine he samples, though for some reason my new apartment is sans cellar, so tough shit—I’m just gonna drink ‘em all now.

So how is the wonderfully named Spank Me Baby! from Tyranena? It’s good, but not great—I’d call it a perfectly average attempt at a barley wine. If you really were hoping to be spanked by it, you may well be disappointed, though I must say anyone who enjoys a spanking while drinking craft beer is a bit on the perverted side and not a friend of Nigel. It lives up to the rich, sugary, fruity sweetness, but is far too lacking in the hops department to fully impress yours truly. As I repeated on numerous occasions in my review for Sprecher’s Barley Wine, as well as Flying Dog’s Horn Dog, a little bit of aging may help increase the quality of this brew. But again—it’s not awful by any means as is, and I’m all about gettin’ drunk now!

Spank Me Baby! pours like a typical barley wine—a mild white foaminess quickly gives way to a thick, relatively lifeless, dark copper, cloudy brew in the glass. A light lace dangles on the very edges of the glass, but overall this is a flat brew that is indicative of the syrupy drink that you’re about to enjoy. The smell is sweet and fruity: overpowering aromas of figs and molasses drown out virtually any other potential aroma. The flavor is more complex than the two-horse aroma, though it’s not as complex and enjoyable as barley wines can be. Very malty to be sure, but exclusively of the thick, sugary variety: caramel, toffee and molasses. Complex fruity flavors are also present, mainly darker varieties like raisins and figs, with a nice, light hint of orange zest. Secondary flavors are limited to a bit of smokiness, along with an alcoholic zip. Again, virtually no hops detectable in my sample, which is disappointing. SMB! is thick, though not quite as full-bodied as many barley wines tend to be. It goes down smooth, though the overall sweetness and alcoholic tinge makes this a true sipping brew, which is good considering it checks in at a mere 9% ABV (actually somewhat wussy for a BW). A lingering aftertaste coats the mouth, which gets quite annoying very quickly, forcing Sir Nigel to rinse and cleanse shortly after finishing my glass.

All in all, a decent but somewhat one-dimensional example of a barley wine, Spank Me Baby! is worth a shot, but falls short of other selections in Tyranena’s Brewers Gone Wild series. But hey—on the plus side, they finally named a beer after Eddie Glick’s favorite phrase while sharing his 10 minutes of shame with a local call girl.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on September 19, 2007.
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