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Class Of '88 Barleywine Style Ale - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Class Of '88 Barleywine Style AleClass Of '88 Barleywine Style Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

70 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 365
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 26.82%
Wants: 16
Gots: 75 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: SanFranJake on 04-21-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (29) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 70 | Hads: 365
Photo of kojevergas
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

750 ml brown glass bottle with straightforward stylish label art and hood-and-wire cap over a cork acquired at a local bottle shop and served into a Mitchells of Lancaster flared stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Expectations are fairly high given the brewery, but I wasn't a huge fan of Deschutes' version. 10% ABV confirmed. 75 IBUs.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Cork is difficult to get out. I resorted to pliers.

A: Pours a two finger wide head of greyish khaki colour head (that's 'ecru', for the pretentious). Nice smooth soft complexion. Okay frothiness. Light creaminess. Even consistent lacing as the head recedes. Retention is pretty good, about 4-5 minutes. Supple.

Body colour is a glowing vibrant copper. Translucent, transparent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Overall, it's not looking great for the style, but there are no overt flaws. Not unique or special.

Sm: Some tropical hop ester notes: peach, mango, grapefruit. Getting some resins and pine as well. Clean malt build, with biscuit and light caramalt. Somewhat grainy. Honey. Lightly herbal. An even pairing of hops and malts, but it really isn't to style. Not finding any of the rich notes I look for in great barleywines. No toffee, oak, dark malts, etc. I also don't detect any yeast. Maybe some warm alcohol. A strange build for a barleywine, but I'm optimistic. Mild in strength.

T: Weird, with misplaced tropical hop notes meeting some warm booze - all over a middling clean malt body comprised of biscuit malt, caramalt, and generic malted barley. Grainy. Maybe some pils malts? Definitely not English in character. I get mango, pineapple, peach...what are these notes doing in a barleywine? No rich dark malts, refined toffee, or oak here. Pretty tepid. Sappy. Vague apricot. Green grape with a pleasant grapeskin note. Flavour depth is below average for style. Flavour intensity and duration are about average, I guess. Low complexity and subtlety. Imbalanced as well, with evident booziness. Honey. Salt. Nowhere near as toasty as I'd like. Way too much hop bitterness for the style; direly overhopped. Meh.

Mf: Smooth, wet, salty. Overcarbonated, almost biting. Boozy and tepid. Not a great texture for a beer of this style. Poor presence on the palate. Overbearing and unnecessarily heavy. Burdening. Body is too full for the lack of flavour depth and diversity. Not big on this one.

Dr: Pretty mundane; a disappointment especially for the brewery (and price for that matter). Wouldn't touch this stuff again. Not sure what they were thinking bringing this one to market. Doesn't hide its ABV well at all, and there's not much to enjoy flavour-wise. Quite difficult to quaff as a result. Really misses the mark. Definitely below average for the style. But hey, it'll get you drunk. I appreciate their reverence for history, but reviewers please note that just because you're taking their word that this is what a barleywine tasted like way back when doesn't mean you have to instantly defend it for being mediocre. Last I checked no one needed to defend Rochefort for putting out beer that's bad now but that was considered good in 1600 AD; the beer speaks for itself regardless of the times. I love Deschutes and North Coast as much as the next guy, but let's get a little reality check, people. Let's not hop on the apologist bandwagon, eh?

Low C-

It'll definitely get better with age, but I can't see it getting good with age.

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Photo of vkv822
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750ml C&C : tulip

Clear copper color with a foamy, slightly off white head.

Herbal, resinous hops upfront. Some citrus notes in the backing. Pale, bready malt backing.

Medium body, with fairly standard, foamy carbonation.

A well done barleywine. The herbal, resinous hops are a pleasant, if slight, deviation from the typical American barleywine profile.

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Photo of kaufmaal
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light copper, honey orange with a 1/4" head that disappeared into a thin, white layer. It looked beautiful. There's not much of a smell at all: a tiny bit of maple syrup sweetness, but that's all, which is odd. The taste is full of intense flavors: an initial heavy sweetness of cane sugar, dark rum, ginger, orange marmalade. Then, a second wave of bitters, orange and grapefruit zest, hoppy. The mouth-feel doesn't remind me of a barleywine - too full-bodied, creamy, lactose feel. Some decent lacing, and the alcohol is not in-your-face.

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Photo of russpowell
3.74/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brilliant/effervescent orange/copper with a thumb of tan head. Better than average lacing & head retention

S: Pine, tangerines, both fade as this warms

T: Follows the nose, pineapple, leafy hops, figs & pears up front. Some dryness, a touch of cakeyness & slight boozeyness, leafy & woody hops as this warms, plus a touch of winesap apple. Finishes dry, fruity, with leafy & woody hops, backed by some grapefruit & tangerine

MF: Medium bodied, slight carbonation, good balance

A solid barleywine, doesn't totally thrill me, but nails the style & will knock the chill off of you, provided you wait for some cold...

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.71/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle served in a snifter
This one is fairly fresh. Lets call it: Vintage 2013

A - Pours a clear, light amber with 2 fingers of tightly knit white foam. Good retention melts into a solid cap of micro bubbles.

S - Soft and clean green hops, doughy biscuity malt, strawberries, alcohol, honey, cereal grains

T - Leafy green/citrus hops and a sweet candy fruitiness upfront. There's a honey tea-like quality that sticks to the tongue. Sweet pale malts are simple and are surrounded by pine and orange peel bitterness. Papaya and apricot fruit come to mind. Some peppery bitterness comes out toward the finish. The bitterness is pronounced but in a thin, oily way. The sweet tries to emerge but the hops do a nice job of balancing out the malts. Finishes with citrus, perfume, and leafy green overtones.

M - Light side of medium body, well carbonated, lush feel, semi-dry finish.

I like seeing the breweries paying respect to old recipes. Going back to some of the founding recipes of certain styles. That being said, I have know idea that this recipe even remotely resembles recipes of 1988. But, I'd like to think it does. I doubt it was as moderately hopped as this, but maybe it was. I enjoyed drinking this but the flavors seemed raw and young. I wonder how this would taste in 5 years?

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Photo of srandycarter
3.25/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A - Clear honey, good white head slow to leave, lots of cling.

S - Not that cold, but not much aroma coming off. Like a pale ale.

T - This is NOT a standard barleywine. It barely makes the IPA mark.

M - Good carb, balance and medium bodied.

D - Expensive and disappointing.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Its with a tremendous amount of refinement and class that the epic brewers of North Coast, Rogue and Deschutes put their heads together for a collaborative Barleywine that swirls 25 years of quality brewing into a singular bottle.

The godfather-type ale pours with a deep amber, copper color and deliberately releases its froth from the rich ale below. Capped with a sturdy column of off-white foam, its head structure is tight, creamy and looking somewhat of whipped topping. This appearance is even more impressive as it laces the glass evenly with intermittent rings with each sip taken from the glass.

Strong yet balanced- the aromas are chocked full of caramelized barley scents and in the intensity needed to push the beer to ten percent alcohol. Not to be outdone, the hop complements meet that intensity with grapefruit, orange peels, and a mild resinous pine note. Transitioning to taste, the malty-sweet upstart is straight up caramel with hints of honey and sweet toasted grains. The middle palate shows a formidable hop retribution of citrus, pine, and herbal grasses to balance the bulk of taste. Finishing bitter with those pine resin qualities, the beer retains a starchy malt taste and texture that keeps the beer from any hop command.

Full bodied, the ale is remarkably drinkable because of its smooth and balanced sensibilities. Somewhat salty to taste, this also adds to a rounded feel to the beer that accompanies an minerally finish. A late rise of alcohol warmth signals closure even as the hops and malt seem to linger deep on the after palate.

This is an absolutely classy Barleywine that pays respect to many of those early and more balanced versions of the style. Where many of today's Barleywines intend to overwhelm the palate, this one prefers a more gentlemanly approach- leading to its refinement, drinkability and class. It kinda reminds me of prom.

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Photo of Impfan
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

"Think about your review... This one has history.. Tastes change... 25 years ago is a looong time ago."

So said a gent on that OTHER beer rating site.

To which I reply, BIGFOOT...it was extant in '84, and had major (syrupy) body, major fruitiness, and major hoppiness, even back then...so did Rogue's Old Crustacean, and that monster barleywine was introduced in...you guessed it, 1988.

Although this is a tasty brew, I maintain that it was NEVER the ideal palate for a barleywine.

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Photo of JohnnyMc
3.5/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, golden/orange with about 2 fingers of an off-white head.

The aroma has some citrus hop notes along with mango, peach and a bit of caramel and bready malt. There is also somewhat of a wheat type of note.

The taste is very hop forward and it has huge amounts of sweet orange followed by peach and mango too. There is some wheat/grain type of taste on the middle of the tongue and there are some caramel malt notes in the background.

The body is on the lighter side of medium and the mouthfeel is decently creamy. The ABV is evident in the taste and as it goes down, but it's not overly unpleasant.

This really doesn't look, smell or even taste like a Barleywine. It's more like a hopped up wheat ale at this point. The body is too thin, the malt backbone is too weak and the color is too bright. Not a bad beer, but definitely not along the lines of an English or American Barleywine. Above average, but not great.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.65/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Three badass brothers-in-brewing in one big bottle of barleywine – bitchin’. Bottoms up.

A: Phenomenally bubbly. As I pour, the copper-colored body is overtaken by a bold white head of fizzy foam. It pops and falls with speed, but an incredible rush of bubbles from the nucleation site keeps it up indefinitely – seriously, it looks like someone turned on constant stream of air at the bottom of my glass. It’s quite a show.

S: A nose with a surprising amount of fruit, melding bright hop scents of lemon and cherry candy with a thicker, residual sugar aroma of grape jam and stone fruit. Herbal zest, with scents of toasted grain, fresh-cut grass, and pepper show to a lesser extent. Get close enough and you can sense the well-hidden booze note, merely peeking through the cracks of an otherwise sweet nose with a drying woodiness.

T: Beer to clear the sinuses! Opens with a fiery hop note of crackling pepper, pine, and chili powder, lead to a bitter high point in a flash. At the same time, a sticky syrup quality builds, adding cola, artificial vanilla, and a little bit of butterscotch to the thickening hop profile; the sweet syrups help contain the bitters, but never come close to matching their instant intensity. A taste of actual grain – odd for an American barleywine, though not unwelcome – and a touch of maple-aged booze bring this beer to a well-balanced finish.

M: Feels as frothy and foamy as the head implied, though not a crisp bubble in sight. Goes down like a 7% beer, maybe less, with only a moderately thick body.

O: A one-dimensional barleywine, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t well-crafted; there’s a lot of balance in that one dimension, that peppery hop character on a bed of (plain) sugar. This isn’t mixing the best from all the breweries, but it’s as palatable as the Rogue/Deschutes/North Coast flagships – which still makes a pretty good beer.

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Photo of BeerManDan
3.98/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The color when poured was a deep golden with an orange hue, with no foam. The smell had a light, mild piney hop aroma, along with sweet citrus and sweet fruity aroma too. First of all, the taste of mild piney flavored hops, along with a sort of sweet fruity and citrusy flavor was very different for a Barleywine Style from what I've had before. The mixure of sweet/bitter aftertaste, had a long slightly bitter for a long time along with a touch of alcohol on the palate. Overall, a fairly soft, mild and pleasant tasting ale!

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Lucky Baldwins in Pasadena, CA.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy beige head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the aromas and flavors are subdued in my opinion.

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Photo of smerrell
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Midnight Sun Brewing Stem glass.
A: lighter in color that I anticipate from a Barleywine. Head dissipates quickly, but the lacing along the glass lingers.

S: Sweet-smelling, hints of honey and flowers, and perhaps a touch of butterscotch.

T: hints of dried apricot and dried peach, and perhaps a bit of raisin.

M: lots of carbonation on this one. A dry finish.
O: I expected to like this a lot, but it isn't as robust as other barleywines I've enjoyed before. I would have liked a fuller flavor profile, and less dryness from the high carbonation.

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Photo of daledeee
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 750 ml bottle of special collaboration brew.

Poured into my Stone glass. Very clear and bright orange gold. Good white head and lacing.

Nose has hints of fruit and hops. Not real strong. Rather phenolic.

Taste: I am used to the new thick, sweet, hoppy, malty over the top ones. This is not that kind of beer. I would have catagorized this as an English barleywine. This beer comes across as dry to me. Starting the sip I get some candied orange with hints of malt and some hops(not strong hops). As the beer airs out and warms it tastes creamier and is not as dry. Nothing wrong with this beer but I like the intense beers of late.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
3.93/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 750ml bottle.

This is a historical collaboration.

Pours a very nice copper color. Nice and amber color with some slight orange notes. There is a nice 1 inch white head that forms and is pretty dense. The head has great retention and has very sticky leaving some nice lacing as it recedes.

Aroma is interesting. Definitely not what a BW is now. the aroma has some nice grassyness to it with some citrus notes. They are nice but not intense like other more modern BWs. Aromas of pale malts are present with some nice slight bready notes and some sweetness. Mild caramel notes are present. There are some nice citrus notes in the aroma of orange and some slight tangerine. There are also some slight peach notes in the nose.

Flavor starts off with some nice malty notes. Pale malt sweetness mixed in with some bread is up front. Then there is some nice grassy hop notes to the flavor mixed in with mild and yummy orange rind notes and some tangerine. Its definitely flavorful and well crafted brew. Nice malt nots mixed in with the grassy and citrus hops. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with a nice dry and crispy finish.

Overall, this is a nice brew. Nothing too impressive but still a pretty flavorful and well crafted beer.

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Photo of Tone
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, copper color. One inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, slight roasted malt, hops, slight pale malt, and a hint of yeast. Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol, sweet malt, hint of roasted malt, hint of yeast, and strong hops. Overall, good appearance, aroma, feel, body, and blend.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.58/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Think about your review... This one has history.. Tastes change... 25 years ago is a looong time ago.

750 picked up at Bier Thirty over the weekend for about $12... poured into my slim tulip with a nice 1" white head.. the brew is fairly clear orange. good lacing drapes the glass.

Aromas show citrus hops and some lesser fruity esters... light apricot and green grape... The nose is honestly pretty light given the big ABV... maltiness is light and only delivers the hops and yeasty notes.

Flavor is pale maltiness with an EtOH bite then a hoppiness comes out swinging... light citrus with a clean malt bill.. no real esters are there.. hops and malts fight very well and nobody wins.

Body is light for the BW style ... carbonation is high for a BW...

Overall, I beg folks to "THINK" about what 'barleywines' were 25 years ago. This is NOT a modern BW... North Coast pulled out a decent pale malt centric DIPA.. but a couple decades ago, this would be a game-changer.


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Photo of peabody
3.47/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a very clear light amber yellow with 1 finger of very fine white suds. Some lacing.
Smell is malt and alcohol with just a hint of spice. Slight breadyness.
Taste is malt and alcohol. Very strong phenol qualities. Not a lot going on here but the bitterness does shine through the high abv.
Mouthfeel is slightly sticky and with a slight hop resin left on the palate.
Overall this is decent but I think it needs more flavors.

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Photo of NWer
4.28/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at local watering hole.
Nice bronze clear appearance.
Abundant two finger head holds up well. Good lace.
Not your typical barleywine.
Obviously not the intent of brewer to produce a knock your socks off numb the senses with tastes.
Very subtle. Flowery & very smooth up front with a nice surprising hint of hop flavor and alcohol sneaking up on you in the finish.
Too easy to treat this beer as a drinker not a sipper. Had to remind myself to slow down.
Very enjoyable. They pulled off something very different. A nice change.

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Photo of SanFranJake
4.21/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Found this caged and corked 750 at a local shop after some searching.
This is the North Coast version of the collab with Deschutes and Rogue.
Sales guy tells me it's "not really a barleywine for aging because its more of a double IPA."
Got it home and sure enough, it's nothing like a BW IMHO.
Pours a darkish golden brown, akin to a DIPA, pretty good amount of head that sticks around, again, like a good fresh DIPA should.
Flavor however isn't like a DIPA, nor is the nose. Not really sure what's going on here...but it's good.
The more I sip it the more it tastes like a BW, but only after its been swallowed, not in the mouth.
Looking forward to trying the Deschutes and Rogue versions, both of which I have, so see how they each out their spin on this interesting, yet unique, barleywine.

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Class Of '88 Barleywine Style Ale from North Coast Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.