Your Tongue Would Have To Be Numb To Enjoy Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s Numb Comfort.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it's local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s Numb Comfort.

Fast Facts on Deep Ellum Brewing Company Numb Comfort.
Style: American Barleywine.
ABV: 11 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 85.
Color: Medium dark ruby brown.
Availability: Limited release.

Overview.
Numb Comfort is Deep Ellum's annual barleywine release. This particular brew is aged in whiskey barrels for a time before being bottled and distributed. At 11 percent ABV and 85 IBUs, it's an intense beer, and it should be sipped slowly.

Background on American Barleywines.
For an overview on American Barleywine style beers, check out our review of Peticolas' The Duke.

Appearance.
Numb Comfort pours a medium dark ruby brown with a thick, frothy, off-white head and a bit of haze. The head takes its time receding into the glass, leaving a thick lace behind.

Aroma.
The aromas are quite strong and pronounced in this barleywine. Plum, raisin, bread and intense sweet malt flavors are all present, but there's also a thick cardboard and slightly oxidized, butterscotch-like aroma that detracts quite a bit from the overall enjoyment of this part of the beer. I don't get any wood or whiskey aromas from the barrel aging.

Flavor.
The first sip is a bit of a doozy, and it feels like your palate is being assaulted from all directions. There's intense hop bitterness, sweet malts and a strong alcohol bite — and all of thee parts compete for attention. Subsequent sips return a bit more balance, but the cardboard, butterscotch and oxidized aromas make their way into the flavor as well at this point, leaving the impression of an “unclean” or muddy beer. The bitterness profile is intense but nice, however the alcohol bite is a bit too much on the hot side, and could either benefit from further age or a slight reduction in ABV. The whiskey and wood do somewhat eek their way into the rest of the flavor profile, though, as do notes of tobacco and leather.

Mouthfeel.
Numb Comfort has a medium mouthfeel with adequate levels of carbonation for the style.

Overall Impression.
Deep Ellum's Numb Comfort should be a go-to local brew for cold winter nights in North Texas. But, unfortunately, it really misses the mark.

Sure, from a numbers and looks standpoint, it completely hits on the style. It's just that it misses on everything else. With each subsequent sniff and sip, I found myself dreading this drink more ad more. Mostly, this was due to those bready, oxidized off-flavors mentioned earlier.

Granted, beers don't necessarily have to be clean and balanced to be good, but it helps, and it's something most brewers tend to strive for. Numb Comfort is certainly not balanced, nor is it clean, and these factors don't really do the beer any favors.

Numb Comfort may be best enjoyed in the dead of winter, but it may be in your best interest that your tongue be numb before you try it.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give Deep Ellum's Numb Comfort a 5.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Peticolas' Royal Scandal: 10.
Community's Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas' Velvet Hammer: 10.
Community's Legion: 10.
Community's Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood's Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood's Goatman: 9.5.
Community's Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas' Thrillla in Brazilla: 9.5.
Revolver's Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House's Imperial Texan: 9.
Community's Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas' Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners' Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel: 9.
Deep Ellum's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood's Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr's Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood's Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
Lakewood's Punkel: 8.
Four Corners' El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House's Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum's GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas' The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum's Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver's Bock: 8.
903 Brewers' Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas' Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works' Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House's Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek's Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood's Hop Trapp: 8.
Martin House's Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood's Antigoon's Revenge: 7.5.
Community's Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood's Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek's The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Lakewood's Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers' The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers' Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House's Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work's Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver's High Brass: 7.
Community's Pale Ale: 7.
Martin House's River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery's Sir William's Brown Ale: 7.
Community's Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Peticolas' The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum's Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
Cedar Creek's Elliott's Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery's Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works' WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood's La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Grapevine's Monarch: 4.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
Miller Lite: 1.

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