All notes on beers in the style

American Barleywine

30th Anniversary – Jack & Ken’s Ale

OK, a 'Black Barleywine' brewed by an American brewery is frankly unlikely to be a beer that I fall in love with, so for that reason I decided to sit on this one for a while. I've had it since it first came to Georgia, so a decent amount of time on it now. Opening corked & caged affair gives a pretty alarming pop with some good gun smoke. A really dark chestnut colored pour that reminds me of the most mature conkers that I had as a kid. A thin, creamy film/cap forms on the beer as things...

Stone Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine

22 oz bottle from The Beer Dispensary, Apex, NC, USA. I approach this beer with a mix of trepidation, excitement and interest since I feel that it is likely to bring together two elements of beer that are usually at opposite ends of the enjoyment spectrum for , namely Belgian yeast and character at one end (the good), and aggressive, hoppy, high ABV American Barleywines at the other (the bad) - it promises to be quite the experience. The pour is a VERY attractive, bright dark copper with some...

Gratitude

Additional notes 07/31/22 A can, yes a can! Pictured. What has the world come to? All the romance of the paper-wrapped, and waxed original bottle is lost. Not sure what vintage this is, and even if the colored vintages still exist. Out of the can this is a thoroughly stunning looking beer, with some of the most amazing color of any beer, ever. However it remains staggeringly sweet to the point of distraction. Not an easy beer, and more than about 12 oz per year is going to be hard no matter...

Founders Nemesis 2010

12 oz single from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Meh, when beer gets like this for me it essentially ceases to become beer and turns into an experience that is simply too much like hard work. You have to really work at this beer to appreciate it and drink it, and for me that begins to detract from the point of "having a beer". It's a VERY high octane product no matter how one looks at it, and a beer like this could ONLY be brewed in America, or least by a brewer with a colossal American...

Treblehook

Very low expectations for this beer, as the history with Redhook and the aggressiveness of the style put me in a bad mood before I even open the beer. In the updated presentation for the Limited release Series from Redhook. Actually, the style forced me into aging this for a year because I knew I would probably not enjoy the alcohol and hop intensity when it was young. This both is almost exactly 1 year old, and carries a date of SEP 09 2009. Pour and nose are exactly as expecting, giving a...

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #6

12 oz single. Well, if nothing else, true to style. The beer gives a rather unattractive, murky brown body similar to a Dubbel in appearance with little or no head, retention or lace. The head situation is to be expected given the ABV, but the body is somewhat drab and uninspiring. The brew exhibits all of the classic American Barleywine characteristics along with the way that one normally expects them to change over time. Plenty of slightly faded, hop forward aggression with little malt...

Old Knucklehead No.12 (Bourbon Barrel-Aged)

I've been waiting to try this one for a LONG time, and thanks to Tom (DrDogBeer) my 2009 Secret Santa I finally get the chance. Pour gives a lovely, deep garnet body and some head and lace that were better than I was expecting. It had some real depth in the visuals. A very surprising beer. I was waiting to be overrun with the Bourbon experience but the rush of alcohol and warming vanilla notes simply did not come. Some age on this beer may have altered it dramatically, and the beer was very...

Flying Mouflan

22 oz bottle shared with a few at Cypress Pint & Plate, Atlanta, GA, USA. Pretty interesting beer this one, not really my cup of tea but a few extra things to report. Pour is an impressive, garnet one with nice clarity and a better head than one would expect from the style and the ABV. Even some retention and lace. Initially the nose gives away little other than the standard hop-forward alcohol that one would anticipate for the style...but.... ...as it warms it gets more interesting. I got...

Fred From The Wood

12 oz bottle from a recent trade. 2008 vintage. Pour is a surprisingly light, golden orange body with creamy spotty head. Better head than I had expected considering the ABV and the style. Very lively, bright and impressive appearance for a beer of the style and with some age on it. Nose has a large sweet element amongst the very rounded, soft bourbon element. Tastes are an interesting amalgam of English and American Barleywine style. English seems to dominate for me at first with plenty of...

Sunturnbrew

Bought this at Hop City a few months ago, time to have a crack at it now. 500 mL bottle. Quite an aggressive pour leads to a decent amount of solid, mocha head but as expected (considering the ABV) it fades quite quickly. Some spotty film on the surface of the beer after it settles down. Mid brown body with a viscous murkiness about it. The mouthfeel is very smooth. To be fair, it is a smoothness that is born out of a little, cloying sweetness, but at the same time it does go down easily....

Sweetwater Dank Tank DP Barleywine Ale

22 oz bottle, Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. $5.99. OK, not really sure what's going on here, but I guess I will try to unravel it. The pour offers a reddish, hazed body with little or no head except for a small collar. The head has poor retention (probably due in large part to the ABV) and the collar leaves a little lace. Carbonation seems low to me, but in line with a beer with this kind of alcohol. What we have here is the proverbial "kitchen sink" beer. It comes across as a kind of American...

Vermonster

Thanks go out to Brad007 for the chance to try this "monster". Shared with a few of the usual suspects at The Brick Store on a Friday afternoon. From the 22oz bottle into a small Wellington glass, the pour is very dark brown with a surprisingly good head for the ABV. Some lace and some nice legs as well. Essentially, this beer boils down to being an extremely hoppy, high alcohol American BW which I suppose is good since that's what it's supposed to be! However, with it comes a pretty cloying...

Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series)

2007 vintage (I think). 22oz bottle as part of a trade with BA... Thanks. Shared with a few of the usual suspects at The Brick Store. Nice, clouded ornage pour with a smallish, bubbly, light head. Not much head to speak of but it does leave a very nice sticky lace on the glass. Considering the ABV it's a pretty good looking effort. Nice combo of sweet sugars, alcohol and hops in the nose. As expected. Alcohol is not really HUGELY upfront but it still seems a little hot. To be honest I think...

Alesmith Old Numbskull

Heavy, gorgeous looking 750 mL bottle with that "thick" silver foil on the neck and blue screen printed label details. $13.99 for Marty's in Boston. Looks impressive in terms of presentation. Shared this one with Dave at The Brick Store. Poured out as a unattractive, dirty brown turbid body with no lace and virtually no head either (as expected considering the ABV). Looks VERY ordinary, I would even go as far as to say disappointing. Another unattractive note is the fact that there seems to be...

Fisherman’s Tea Party

$5.99 for the 13oz pour at Sunset Grill & Tap, Boston (Allston), MA, USA. Mid-brown body with plenty of very sticky lace above the minimalist head. Nose gives away a sugary sweet concoction laced with some alcohol and a light hop presence. I am generally wary of American Barleywines since I think far too many of them have way too much hop presence for their own good. The nose kind of confirmed my fears, but the tastes did NOT come crashing in as I was expecting. The tea seemed to add a sweet...

Big Worse

12.7 fl oz bottle. $9.95 from Green's on Ponce, Atlanta, GA, USA. Silver foil, corked & caged - nasty synthetic cork has 14/06/11 inked on it. Deep orange pour into the Ommegang chalice. No head or lace as expected. Pretty typical - high alcohol, sticky mouthfeel, sweet, bitter hop burn in the finish. Like most American style BW's, this is not subtle and is just a little too aggressive for me. Would obviously cellar well and needs some ime to mellow and have the heat reduced IMO.

Harpoon Barleywine (100 Barrel Series #04)

22oz bomber, as part of a recent trade - sorry, I forgot who - gold foiled neck, typical series presentation. Poured into the oversized wine glass. Hazy orange pour with a soap film on the surface. Alcohol legs, but no head as such. Sweet malty nose, but (surprisingly) lacks alcohol presence. In fact a serious lack of aroma. Balance, but surprisingly lacks bite for an American Barleywine. DISTINCT lack of length in the flavor and taste (aftertaste). This would be OK if it hit some English...

Behemoth Blonde Barleywine

Behemoth Blonde – Thanks go out to nlmartin as part of my 2007 Secret Santa. 22oz bomber. Dark orange pour from the typically, colorful FFF artwork festooned and yellow-wax dipped bottle. Pretty cloudy with a viscous (as expected) body, with some bubbly head (after the aggressive pour), but (as expected) little or no lace. Sweet and malty alcoholic nose. Very sweet initial tastes accompanied by a syrupy mouthfeel. Alcohol is apparent upfront too. Then the finish cuts in with the typical...

Druid Fluid

I've had this a few times before, just now getting around to reviewing it. Purchased as a single 12 oz bottle from Tower on Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. I suspect that this bottle is fairly old, but it's difficult to tell (no dates as far as I can see) - more of that later. Pour is a dirty, mid-brown, murky body that is not that attractive. Looks like a Dubbel - I don't like the color or the body appearance at all. Head is very small but still good considering the ABV. No lace to speak of. Strong...

# 100

Not sure if this is really "retired" but it recently turned up at Green's in Atlanta, GA, USA. 1 Pt .9 floz. Pour is dark, dark brown (almost black) with a creamy cappuccino like head. It doesn't really leave a classic lace, more of a dense, coffee like cream foam on the side of the glass. Reminiscent of the inside of an Italian coffee cup. Extremely creamy mouthfeel with a distinct (burned) chocolate feel. Sharp and very bitter finish. Bitterness lingers slightly. More stout-like than a...

Sweetwater Donkey Punch

Followed up my bottle review of last week with a sampling of this on draft at Taco Mac on the East West Connector in Austell, Atlanta, GA, USA. Small (10oz??) serving for $4.00 - good value. ($4.50 for a 16oz pour at Taco Mac, Douglasville, GA, USA but as usual the lines seems less than 100% clean to me). Seems to be much sweeter on tap (perhaps my imagination) and it moves more toward the Barleywine side of things rather than the Double IPA style of the bottle from last week. Despite the...

Sweetwater Donkey Punch

$8.49 from Green's, Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. MIGHTY impressive looking bottle - the old flip-top 1 L bottles used for Festive Ale. Homebrewers LOVE these bottles. Gold Foil tops off the package impressively. Pour is a slightly cloudy mid-brown with a superb head and good retention. Looks OK, but the color is a little drab and lacks a certain "sparkle"! Nose is hoppy, but not really over-agressive. OK, I'm not the style Police, but in no way is this drinking like a BW, American OR English! One...

Trainwreck Organic Barleywine Style Ale

Picked this up a week ago at Smyrna World of Beverage in Atlanta, GA, USA. 22 oz bomber. Plenty of chill haze on the pour, probably simply too cold. Mid copper-colored pour with a decent head that fades quickly. Minor spotty head left on the surface. Viscous mouthfeel and syrup characteristics. Sweet alcohol in the nose. Sweet initially with harsh, biting hops in the finish. Like most American BW's of this ABV, it feels edgy, young and harsh. Also like most, I would like to let this mature a...

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2007

22 oz bomber, thanks to ArrogantB for the trade. Pretty much pure orange color with a very fine amount of head and lace. To be honest, more head and lace than I was expecting considering the ABV. Before getting into the specifics, this is obviously still way too hot. The alcohol is going to need at LEAST a year to even out and after that we are probably looking at several more years of great cellaring ahead of it. Very typical of the American version of the Barley Wine style. Initial sweetness...

Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine

2006 vintage, $6.95 at Green's, Ponce de Leon, Atlanta, GA, USA. Nice presentation in the blue, unusual shaped bottle with the swing-top. Certainly an eye-catcher. Pour is a disappointing, drab, murky dark brown that looks like a cross between a Dubbel and a Porter. Not at all attractive. The appearance is not helped by a somewhat flat feel that adds up to an underwhelming start. Aroma is a milk chocolate based alcohol. Warming, acidic hops with a strong alcohol presence. Some sharp, dry...

Hog Heaven Barley Wine

9.2% ABV, 100 IBU's. Cloudy, orange body with what looks like some chill haze, almost no head except for a little attractive, spottiness on the surface, and next to no lacing. Aroma is a hop bomb, double IPA type with no hint of the malt sweetness that follows. Super-sweet malts start this off, only to be balanced by an equally large burst of hops that come in the middle and the finish of this big BW. Sort of excess, followed by excess. A little peppery hoppiness in the finish. Quite a...

Old Horizontal

Updated Review 12/07 === 2007 bottling - fresh sample. Much hoppier and less enjoyable to me. Liked the 3 year old bottle, better. Original Review 10/05 === 12/04/02 Bottling. Thick and noisy, bright copper colored pour with a good head that dies quickly due to the 11% ABV. The lacing is obviously minimal. Very sweet malts in the nose and not much else, except sugar coated sugar! There are some very big hops in the finish but they are not remotely bitter. They simply serve to even out a beer...

Olde School Barleywine

Hazy orange, slightly oily looking body (from the alcohol presumably) a nice, small sustained head and some better than average lacing. Smooth sweet caramel in the nose. Full in the mouth, lovely satisfying oils and a warm kick in the finish. Very, very well disguised alcohol, much lighter drinking than the style would suggest. Sweet, tasty and rich. Although this is obviously a serious brew, it is amazingly drinkable and light. I'm giving it a 5 for drinkability in relation to the "usually...

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2005

Pale orange, almost peach colored pour, with a very attractive slightly orange tinted head that comes from the aggresive pour. Of course, the head is small and doesn't last long, but that's to be expected with the ABV. Typical AMERICAN Barley Wine, and I increasingly feel, that when you get to this level of ABV it can start to get difficult (even for an excellent brewer like Stone) to start making distinguishing charateristics. Lots of warming alcohol in the taste, you can feel it going down,...

Old Ruffian Barley Wine

Beautiful clarity in the pour, with a mahogany color and a small but perfectly formed head. Deep fruitiness and malt backbone really belies the fact that this is both a Barley Wine and a hoppy one at that. It's really a complex beer with the hoppiness, alcohol, malts and fruit all complimenting one another in layered rushes. Just when you think that you've got a handle on where this beer lies in the style range, it's up and at you from a different angle. Refreshing, then biting, then fruity,...

Third Coast Old Ale

Typical Barleywine/Old Ale appearance, with a dense, dark brown body and virtually no head (what little that there was disapates quickly to leave a ring around the circumference). Yeast floaties hang around the whole body of the beer. The aromas start attacking the second that the cap is prised off. The nose is all sugary caramels. Very, very sweet and that's coming from someone who likes malty, sugary beers. A good hop finish that is a nice one for me since it mellows out and is not too...

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

=== '10 vintage, reviewed 02/10 === The usual copper clarity on the pour but it seems much more carbonated this year. Fresh and clean and sweeter than many other vintages. The hop bitterness seems reserved for the finish and the aftertaste. Less hop forward than many previous years. I enjoyed this more than I though I would. === '09 vintage, reviewed 01/09 === Good, reddish copper colored pour and it still has that flesh colored head. Sooo typical of SN with hops, hops, hops everywhere. I KNOW...

Talon – True Style Barley Wine Ale

Like many Barley Wines, respect is required, and if you give the brew its proper due you will be rewarded. A dense red pour, with plenty of viscosity and thick aroma. All that you would expect from a high ABV beast, some lovely "legs" in the glass to give a wine tasters analogy and plenty of upfront alcohol. There are dense fruits that dominate the initial flavors but this doesn't last long. After that I get plenty of alcohol and a syrupy but drinkable concoction associated with this type of...

XS Old Crustacean

$2.99, Whole Foods, Sandy Springs, Atlanta, GA, USA. The attraction of drinking this is largely lost on me. Under any circumstances, or in the name of any style, ABV of 11.3% coupled with 120 IBU's is getting close to a point that is perilously close to simply going too far. I understand the style, I understand the art of producing massive beers and I understand the role of these types of brew in the grand scheme of beer making and in the grand scheme of an evening's drinking, but even to a...

Olde GnarlyWine

Yep, this is one hell of a beer! The pour is a beautiful, full, solid amber affair with a lovely, dense, slightly off-white head. The head is formed by an excpetional array of bubbles that rise to the surface like small pieces of gold dust - it's a tremendous sight to see! This is an amazingly well balanced brew with the malt, hops and alcohol content perfectly complimenting one another. The taste is all honey to me, with a perfectly warm, rounded mouthfeel. It's georgous. Are you going to...