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Rosie's Old Ale - Barley John's Brew Pub

Not Rated.
Rosie's Old Ale
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BA SCORE
97
world-class

55 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 55
Reviews: 24
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 7.76%
Wants: 9
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Barley John's Brew Pub visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Old Ale |  18.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: fantome on 03-01-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 55 | Reviews: 24 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had a couple beers before this one, during dinner at the pub, for I wasn't going to just leap into the strongest friggin' beer in the world, and the waitress wasn't helping any, with all the little sample snits, unbidden and utterly appreciated.
Then, she finally arrived with these tiny snifter glasses, filled with a dark magneta brew, nearly opaque, but for the sliver of bright crimson at the sides. Only a slim, tight tan cap on this pour, and when I noted that my friend's serving had a larger head, just saying is all, she said, "oh, that was to get more in the glass for you!"
Aroma is flush with dark fruits, cherry, dates, prunes, backed with a distinctive whiskeyish character, like a mellow cognac with an extra spicy kick. I wished I'd asked for a larger glass, to see if the aroma might come out more, from a wider opening, but, alas. Not a very forward smell, either, rather cool and approachable.
Taste: a lush charge on the palate at first, velvety smooth, warm, toasty, the senses immediately sink into the effects of a certain sublimity. Something very good is happening on the tongue, and it's complexity takes time to unwind and work it's magic. Hops make a distinct impression on the taste, but there's hardly any bitterness, flavor is bright, fruity, and rings the palate happily. A medicinal feel comes forward in the taste, but an altogether pleasant one, like cherry cough syrup, but better tasting. Malt is thick here, as you'd guess, but doesn't insinuate itself too much in the profile, either.
The more Rosie's Ale gets at home in my mouth, the more it strikes me as a thoroughly amazing creation. Somehow, they've concocted a barleywine that has a rich cognac,/port/madeira character and a freakishly huge alcohol content, but it's put together so well that it's remarkably easy to put past the lips, and the body is supple and sweet, but never too much so. You know you've got an alcoholic beverage in you, and it slowly slinks into the system, but it never stings you, never knocks you about, as I remember other high ABV brews doing.
I had a pitcher of water brought out to keep me hydrated through this expedition, and when the waitress heard me request it, she nearly choked, thinking I'd asked for a pitcher of Rosie's! No, this tiny, 5 or 6 ounce snifter was enough ($7.25 per!), but it was so good, I'll be back for more. They ought to bottle this stuff and give Remy Martin a run for his money.
"It's what the blood of Christ would taste like," spouted my cheeky, blaspheming dinner partner. I had to quote him on that one. It was divine, and I'm anticipating how this tastes next year. Yep, the brewer, who named the brew after his daughter, is keeping a batch in an oak barrell for a year!
Amazing, that a tiny little box off the freeway in New Brighton is crafting such gigantic beer!

feloniousmonk, Mar 10, 2004
Photo of XmnwildX12
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

XmnwildX12, Feb 06, 2014
Photo of tempest
3.78/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ordered a glass after dinner, made a very nice dessert. It reminded me a lot of a dessert wine or cordial in it's sweetness. That sweetness also seemed to indicate that this beer had a lot of sugar leftover (the last batch was 4% higher). Instead of the alcohol playing a large roll, the sweet malt dominated. This made for a very fruity and thick drink. It almost taste like plum wine with raisins and dates. I should also mention the appearance was a bit muddy, but that wasn't a huge factor. If you're at Barley John's, this is worth a try.

tempest, Jun 08, 2007
Photo of mothman
4.47/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a small 5.5 oz brandy snifter.

Very little head due to the pour. Color is a dark caramel hazed rub-red hued brown.

Aroma: Dark dried cherries, bourbon, oak, raisins, booze. Nice and sweet, but tarty. I really love the aroma.

Taste: First I get the high alcohol flavor, but after that I get the amazing bourbon flavor, dark cherries, plums, and raisins. Big and malty.

Mouthfeel: Bitter, creamy and boozy. A good level of carbonation. Medium bodied. Ends with a wine/boozy bourbon flavored aftertaste.

Overall, this beer is simply amazing. I love the 30 year old bourbon barrel taste. I am slowly sipping at this beer because it is so small. I could drink a lot more of this. It is definitely worth the price.

mothman, Jul 30, 2009
Photo of Viggo
4.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub, served in a little port glass.

Pours a very lightly hazed ruby red, some brown, thin off white head forms, quickly disappears to a very thin ring, no lacing on the glass. Smell is intense, sherry, very sweet and boozy, bourbon, oak, toffee, whiskey, brown sugar, raisins, tons of fruit, alcohol, wow, really complex. Taste is similar, sweet at first, toffee and brown sugar, sherry, whiskey, bourbon, vanilla, super malty, cognac, oak, coconut, alcohol, pretty crazy. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation, some warmth going down but ABV is well hidden. Thin body but keeps it from getting too cloying. A pretty wacky beer, really neat sherry notes to it. Try it!

Viggo, Aug 11, 2009
Photo of Bighuge
4/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An auburn/mahogany blend. Slight tan head with some retention. Aroma is sweet. Quite sweet actually. And alcoholic as well. Spicy too. The taste follows suit with quite bit of sweetness and spicy alcohol. All to be expected with an a/v this high. But while this is a good sipper, it lacks the malt depth and complexity of some of the better barleywines out there. (I'd rather drink an Old Ho anyday, for instance.) But I'll give this beer it's due. The alcohol isn't overbearing and there are some nice brown sugar accents and maybe even a little cinnamon to compliment the sweet and alcoholic aspects of this beer. A nice experiment that I'm glad I tried once (finally).

Bighuge, Jan 11, 2005
Photo of KAF
4/5  rDev -11.3%

KAF, Jan 20, 2012
Photo of tavernjef
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Triple fermented? 28% ABV? Whoa and wow! A nice little sipper we have here...Everything about this beer is everchanging!
Color starts out a dark coffee brown with this beautifully soft rosey caramel glow within the heart of the snifter. Capped with a soft, firm, cream colored froth just over a 1/4 inch high which fades slow to keep a nice collar around the edge and intricately placed spots and random looking sprayed lace sticks well. As mentioned, the color changes as we go into it sip after sip, the dark brown color it starts with turns to a soild golden caramel brown as it gets closer to be finished.

Aroma is all warming and soft with a great reach of oaky sweetness and scotch/whisky-like alcoholic warmth at first. But it changes again and again as we go. Swirling brings out an incredibly deep, dark, old, oak barrel character, as if you were right inside the barrel. As it warms more of the maltier things with dark fruits begin wafting with dry figs, nectarine, tangerine, and smokey cherry. Closer to finished its more like the barleywine that it is with some solid toffee and caramel with little twinges of alcoholic warmth.

Taste is more of this everchanging character from one warm thing to the next. Oaky sweet, dulled dark fruits, semi-juicy, favorably chewy and thick in the malts where tangy toffee, caramel, cherry, rum soaked figs and raisins all meld together over the top of a pleasant warming from sip to sip. Slight citric pineyness for bittering notes. Smooth and velvety slick, nice depth and length, with an alcohol burn and spice sticking late right in the back of the throat were most any high ABV brews will do. It sits there and relaxes all through your senses. Quite a treat and quite a sipper.

It continuely changes all the time, quite remarkable really. It starts out like a big boozy strong/old ale but developes into a barleywine as you go. The drinkability is actually very smooth and easy with a weighty malt laden girth and just the right kick of alcohol which comes and goes and is masked well. Which makes me question whether or not it's truly 28%. And from what I've been told the owner doesn't know for sure and doesn't want to know, but I'm sure the folks at Guiness World records would come out for free to see if it is in fact the highest ABV beer in the world.
Thoroughly enjoyable either/or and will be quite a treat once it ages more in the saved batch.

Had a good time while sipping through two of these with Feloniousmonk and steorn. And some lucky BA is getting a $86 growler of the stuff! They'll have to enjoy in moderation and with a whole bunch of friends!

tavernjef, Mar 21, 2004
Photo of Duff27
4.4/5  rDev -2.4%

Duff27, Aug 12, 2014
Photo of cokes
3.78/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky burnt sienna with a scant topping of beige bubbles.
Nose looms heavy in the sugars and the booze. Like kiwis drenched in dark rum.
Begins titanically sweet. Prune and peach and pear (and kiwi again), all seared slight and caramelized. At this point, its pure brown sugar and molasses. The yeast is mostly cloaked, but clearly belgian-devired, bringing with a plaintain-like phenol. The finish is booze-driven, alternating between the caramel traits of Bourbon and the sweet heat of rum. Any hopping here is completely overmatched.
It's thick, but not binding huge. For a brew of this potency, the sweetness impacts drinkability moreso than the alcohol content.
It's decent, but single minded.

cokes, Jan 07, 2005
Photo of maximum12
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've avoided reviewing this over the past couple of months because I didn't want to sully the memory of it's sweetness, but here I am...again. Six times back for this beer, & counting. Another wildly expensive ($9) five ounce pour.

The pour is my favorite, redhead, with red highlights. The smell is like sticking your nose into heaven, but who cares? I want this in my mouth, not up my nose. Onward.

Rosie's Old Ale is a purebred work of art. The overwhelming impression is one of fine, artisanal caramel created by gorgeous virgins & imbued with a kick of searing, high-quality alcohol. After that perfect onslaught of caramel, almost nothing else matters. Huge sweetness. Great balancing vanilla with a slow, subtle burn of bourbon that never overpowers the beer. Dry. Five ounces at a time is probably a good idea given the ABV, but I could go at this in pint glasses & die happy.

This beer has that elusive "X" factor that so many brewers strive for & so few achieve. A dull rendition of the tastes - barrel, caramel, blahblahblah - just doesn't do it justice. This is liquid poetry, the formula probably found on ancient stone tablets delivered by some pagan god. This is perfect beer #5 for me. Simply stunning.

maximum12, May 07, 2014
Photo of hopdog
4.33/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerguy101 for sharing his shared sample with me!

Poured a dark reddish-brown color with almost no head. Sweet. Little fruity. A little alcohol came through in the taste and aroma.

Rerate; larger sample courtesy of egajdzis (thanks!). Additional tastes and aromas of dark fruits, woody and vanilla. Increased the aroma score.

hopdog, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of jera1350
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

jera1350, Jul 07, 2014
Photo of sulldaddy
4.58/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well well well! Cant believe I am writing this review! Ever since the first post on this brew I began questing after it. I have to thank Feloniousmonk for his efforts to get some of this MN treasure to a thirsty BA in CT.
Brew is ina growler and I pour a sample into the snifter. I am drinking at just below room temp as the growler wason the sunporch before I got in. The beer pours a very dark hazy mahogany color with a beige head that foams up well and quickly fades. Not surprising with the ABV on this one!
The aroma is incredibly complex: rich malt with molasses, maple syrup, ripe pears and plums coming through strongest.
First sip reveals the expected huge body and very syrupy texture. This texture is appealing in my mind. Carbonation is mild but existant, adds some nice texture to remind me this is a beer. Flavor is huge malty hit with molasses and caramel dominating, also rich toffee flavors. As the brew warms (and my belly too) I pick up some plum and maybe raisins as well. Not surprisingly bourbon hints too. The beer is amazingly smooth for the high ABV and easy to drink in sips. Not a beer to drink a lot of in one sitting. I poured some into a bottle and recapped with homebrew gear, just to see what happens. I do get a nice warming in my throat and belly as I finish the second snifter. Wow time for bed after that!

Thanks for giving me this opportunity Feloniousmonk!!

sulldaddy, Apr 05, 2004
Photo of grub
4.45/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

sampled on tap at the brewpub aug 1/09.

pours very deep red-brown with a thin ring of very fine white head. the head drops fast and leaves spotty lace. it's almost orangey toward the bottom (thinner) section of the glass and darkens to red toward the top. almost looks like a nice coniac or brandy.

aroma is great. alcohol. bourbon. vanilla. raw oak. nice fruity component too. date, fig, raisin. bit of plum. rich caramel and toffee. just a touch of a spicy character that i can't quite place.

taste is great too. warming alcohol. bourbon, vanilla and oak. there's a bit of toasty and slightly spicy component too, probably a bit more barrel character coming through. date, fig, plum, bit of raisin. rich caramel and toffee. bit of butterscotch. hints of smoke and dark chocolate. low bitterness level.

mouthfeel is good. nice big body. low carbonation level. just a hint of astringency. drying finish from the barrel tannins.

drinkability is great. i think this one works even better than the dark night does - the barrel is more balanced against the base beer. the alcohol is lightly warming but never overpowers. great depth and complexity to keep you going back for more. really good stuff.

grub, Sep 07, 2009
Photo of Crosling
4.43/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Enchanting sugar laden raisin and vinous grape aroma. Brownish/burgundy color. Rich, full coating body. Sweet, well extracted sugary fruit flavors on the palate, vinous on the mid, which leads into a light but nicely balanced bourbon barrel contribution, with mocha, caramel and vanilla flavors. Nicely hidden alcohol. Awesomely tasty.

Crosling, May 13, 2007
Photo of egrace84
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

egrace84, Aug 10, 2014
Photo of Herky21
4/5  rDev -11.3%

Herky21, Feb 04, 2014
Photo of ystazi
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

ystazi, Jun 06, 2014
Photo of josephwa
5/5  rDev +10.9%

josephwa, Jun 25, 2014
Photo of herman77
4.25/5  rDev -5.8%

herman77, Feb 22, 2014
Photo of DarthGuitarHero
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

DarthGuitarHero, Feb 04, 2014
Photo of mmulebarn
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

mmulebarn, Feb 11, 2014
Photo of DaftPatrick
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

DaftPatrick, Mar 14, 2014
Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.08/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer came a foggy light caramel color that was a darker brown towards the middle. The head was a dark tan film that was sustained by a field of lazy bubbles.

Smells of marshmallow, red grapes, caramel, port, bourbon and powdered sugar.

Tastes of honey and caramel with a light floral jasmine. There’s also a bit of fruit cocktail juice. This also reminded me a bit of barbecue, but in a good way. The bourbon comes through very delicately and very well balanced.

Feels a bit heavy and dense. It’s also rather sticky but with a light thickening carbonation. This burned my stomach quite a bit too, much like a shot of whiskey.

Too sweet for me, but a nice desert.

DarkerTheBetter, Sep 18, 2007
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Rosie's Old Ale from Barley John's Brew Pub
97 out of 100 based on 55 ratings.