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Woolly Bugger - Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Woolly BuggerWoolly Bugger

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

64 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 64
Reviews: 31
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 7.71%
Wants: 9
Gots: 15 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company visit their website
British Columbia, Canada

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BDTyre on 01-03-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 64 | Reviews: 31 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SebD
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%

Appearance: It has a nice murky reddish/brown color to it. It has a nice creamy beige head that dies down moderately slow and leaves light lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of sweet caramel, toffee, brown sugar, sweet dark fruit (Raisins and plums), buiscuity malts and grassy hops.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some sweet caramel/toffee, brown sugar, dark fruit, a slight nuttiness, some bready/buiscuity malts and a light grassiness.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel. The body is just a touch thin.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by good flavors and aromas.

SebD, Aug 11, 2014
Photo of Beersnake1
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

Beersnake1, Jul 22, 2014
Photo of kevinlater
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%

375ml bottle into snifter. 10.5% abv. 2013 vintage, enjoyed on july 21, 2014

a: a wildly opaque, deep mahogany-chestnut. two fingers of tan head that went away quickly

s: dominant brown sugar & toffee up front, with quite a bit of alcohol. but there are nice underlying aromas of berries and grapefruit rind. hints of earthy notes

t: massive fish notes whack you in the face... just kidding. the label reads "contains barley and fish" though. big mildly-burnt brown sugar up front, then some earthy flavours, then timid flashes of citrusy orange and grapefruit, then a really untamed but appropriate bitterness to balance the general sweetness of it all. minimal alcohol presence, surprisingly. finishes very dry. the fruit presence opens up slightly as the beer approaches room temperature

m: very full and thick mouthfeel. mild carbonation. excellent

o: not very complex, but this is still a very tasty beer. i have another bottle of this in the fridge, so we'll see how it turns out in a year or two

kevinlater, Jul 22, 2014
Photo of Erik-P
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Erik-P, Jun 21, 2014
Photo of JMBSH
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

JMBSH, Jun 07, 2014
Photo of Molson2000
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Molson2000, May 12, 2014
Photo of leaddog
4.24/5  rDev +5.5%

2013 vintage, 10.5%

Appearance - Pours a dark chestnut brown with red highlights and two fingers of foamy cream-coloured head.

Smell - Sweet malt aroma, dark fruit (plum, raisin, date), brown sugar.

Taste - Sweet caramel-like malts and an array of dark fruits (as noted in the aroma). A hint of brown sugar ups the sweetness just a tad and nicely complements the light bitter hop flavour.

Mouthfeel - Medium-to-full body with light carbonation. Just a little bit of stickiness to make it extra pleasant on the palate.

Overfall - This has been on my want list for quite some time! I'm glad I finally have a chance to try it. Howe Sound delivers a harmoniously flavourful barleywine that does not disappoint.

leaddog, Apr 27, 2014
Photo of IanSpindler
4/5  rDev -0.5%

IanSpindler, Apr 19, 2014
Photo of mattsander
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

mattsander, Apr 14, 2014
Photo of biboergosum
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%

375ml bottle, with some particularly difficult to read script below the label title, which describes what the hell a 'Woolly Bugger' is, at least in fishing terms.

This beer pours a somewhat murky, dark red-brick amber hue, with a teeming tower of puffy, loosely foamy, and generally bubbly beige head, which leaves some decent cobwebbed lace around the glass as it slowly sinks away.

It smells of bready, and kind of biscuity caramel malt, a hard water minerality, muddled black fruit, a touch of crystalline brown sugar, and earthy, leafy, and perfumed hops. The taste is more bready caramel malt, this time with a touch of savoury, leafy spice that points me towards gingerbread or zucchini loaf, peppy dark fruit - in the vein of musty figs and dried cherries - edgy grassy and earthy hops, with a growing alcohol insurgency.

The carbonation is pretty low-key, just a heady frothiness throughout, the body medium-full in weight, and mostly smooth, just a mild alcohol tightness slowly evolving as things get on. It finishes on the sweet side, but in a tempered manner, the lingering caramel/toffee malt notes still facing enough musty, earthy hops, weak black fruit, and bristling alcohol to keep things just this side of sane.

Truly bang-on for the style, no truck or apology given for being veritably British, rather than the admittedly more sexy Yankee version - so, whatevs. Speaking of all things anglophile, I likes me my ESBs, and this seems very much like the imperialized, boozed up, doubled, however you choose to term it, example of such an imaginary beast. Glad I finally got to try it, without having to sacrifice suitcase/bar stool space on my imminent BC beer pilgrimage.

biboergosum, Apr 10, 2014
Photo of schnarr84
4/5  rDev -0.5%

schnarr84, Apr 05, 2014
Photo of BGDrock
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%

Appearance: dark red/brown, almost opaque, like dark mahogany; full, dense, almond coloured head

Aroma: loads of dark dried fruit, mostly prunes, some raisin, cherry; touches of caramel, chocolate

Taste & Mouthfeel: getting those dried fruit flavours, but it's cut by alcohol and fairly intense hops that rapidly take over and make for a clean, dry finish (almost palate cleansing); prune flavour has the most breakthrough, but it's almost more about the hops, surprising and interesting; over time it balances out nicely, the bitter notes necessary to cut the syrupy sweetness and in the end providing a pleasing contrast of start vs. finish

Overall: great stuff, could have been overwhelming quickly, but well crafted to manage the strong flavours - which are really quite simple

BGDrock, Mar 30, 2014
Photo of biegaman
4.04/5  rDev +0.5%

Woolly Bugger - named after an artificial fly fishing lure - isn't the most appealing sounding name for a beer. Indeed, the ale itself is not only racked with sediment but is both lusterless (no shine or highlights) as well as listless (no bubbles or head). This thing won't catch you anything.

I know from already having drunk half of it that Woolly Bugger is a rich, malty, and nuanced beer - but I still don't get any of that from the aroma, even having allowed it to warm to room temperature. There's either not much of a bouquet or else my nose is stuffed up (which it isn't, I feel fine). The only things I sense are small quantities of toffee and dried fruits.

Most people I know prefer American renditions of the Barleywine style. Though brewed in the English tradition, Woolly Bugger is still likely to please most modern, North American palates given how much resiny, herbal flavour (plus 75 IBUs) they've managed to steep from the (somewhat unsexy) hop bill of Nugget, Fuggles, and Goldings. This has enough leafiness and 'raw green pellet' taste to conjure to mind images of rabbit food.

Of course, it also has - in even greater abundance - the maltiness to instill thoughts of nut brittle, rum cake, fruit cake, sticky toffee pudding, and all manner of English confections. All that caramelly grain combines with the esters and 10.5% alcohol to include a cinnamon-driven stewed apple/mulled cider and orange liqueur taste in the backdrop, something easily overlooked by all the sweet treats upfront. There's only moderate depth but absolute quaffability.

Just as Pumpkineater is a great fall-time treat and King Heffy is an ultimate summer quencher, Woolly Bugger is rich, malty, and satiating enough to remedy all the cold and darkness of a harsh winter (still its spiced rum cake notes and toffee-laced maltiness make it sumptuous enough to want to just chug back). While a candidate for no more than short-term cellaring, this is nonetheless something you want on-hand in case the snow starts falling or the power goes out.

biegaman, Mar 12, 2014
Photo of Kmat10
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

Kmat10, Feb 15, 2014
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.64/5  rDev -9.5%

Bottle: Poured a deep cloudy copper color ale with a rather large foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of dry caramelized sugars with light grainy cereal notes. Taste is dominated by load of dry caramelized residual sugars notes with some grainy cereal notes. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Interesting take on the English-style barleywine but sadly feels a bit short on the complexity front.

Phyl21ca, Feb 09, 2014
Photo of yancot
4/5  rDev -0.5%

yancot, Jan 29, 2014
Photo of AugustusRex
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

AugustusRex, Jan 29, 2014
Photo of boszormeny
3/5  rDev -25.4%

boszormeny, Jan 26, 2014
Photo of jrenihan
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%

2013 vintage.

Beer is dark maroon in colour, with a large beige head. Good retention and lacing.

Nose is malty, with sweet bready scents. Caramel and some toffee. Also some grassy hop scents, but the malt is much stronger.

Taste is good. Again, a focus on malts. Caramel, toffee. Chewy and bready. Fairly sweet, but there is a toasted flavour that balances it, coupled with a grassy hop bitterness.

Full bodied, moderately carbonated. A bit astringent.

Overall, pretty good.

jrenihan, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of MJ63
4/5  rDev -0.5%

MJ63, Jan 13, 2014
Photo of WeissBoy
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%

WeissBoy, Jan 09, 2014
Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.11/5  rDev +2.2%

375 mL bottle from the LCBO. First beer from Howe Sound that wasn't a massive bottle. -25 outside, so a barleywine is just the ticket.

Poured into a tulip. Chocolate caramel, with a good sized head of off-white head that survives as a pretty impressive layer with loads of lacing. Great looking brew.

Nose is malt-forward, with notes of candied peach and cherry, brown sugar, toffee and red wine. Faint citrus hops.

Tasty barleywine indeed, with loads of malt, candied fruit and caramel sweetness, and a hoppy red-wine finish.

Lighter bodied than I'd expected. Tannin-like puckery quality, and mild carbonation.

Solid barleywine where the hops get some play towards the finish.

JohnnyBarman, Jan 03, 2014
Photo of mick303
4.19/5  rDev +4.2%

2013 Release.
In a broad tulip glass this throws a nice rich creamy tan head. Colour is a maple syrup brown that in the glass takes on a thick dark mahogany, quite a strong clarity, with nice lacing.
S – robust caramel-like malts, butterscotch, a bit of a herbal foresty quality. Minty, and leafy, ontop of brown sugar and rich fruit cake. Intense and rich, a bit boozy.
T – rich syrupy brandy cake, maraschino cherries, maple syrup, cigar smoke, super rich thick profile, more bright woodiness on the finish, some spice, and then dry buttery finish. Good transition with a strong malt base, some strong caramels, a bit of a flat bitterness. A fairly typical profile of rich caramel malt and slight booze, warming as hell afterward. Good forward pushing flavor profile that keeps the balance mostly in check. Pleasing sipper with some caramelized dry fruits and berries.
M – syrupy, very rich and full mouthful, mouth coating sweet malty caramel character, bit of a spice prickle, some gentle carbonation at the back, give it a bit of balance out but a big robust forward beer. With a long drying aftertaste.
A tasty and interesting Barleywine, very rich, a big caramel profile but some interesting complexity backing this up. I think the heat off this is a bit high but the bitterness is very appropriate and overall it is quite a flavourful example that would be worth checking out, may grab another to age. Fresh it had a rich caramelly tobacco, brandy fruitcake richness, with some earthy spicy bitterness, some apparent alcohol but a fair bit of complexity and rich fruitiness character also. Could be improved though, would like the caramel flavour to be so dominant and bit more of a supporting range of flavours.

mick303, Jan 02, 2014
Photo of DenisKolkin
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%

2013 Vintage. 375 ml bottle purchased from LCBO for $5.55CDN. Advertised as 10.5% ABV. Served chilled into a pint glass.

Appearance - Murky light cola brown color. Dense 2 finger head is poured with great retention. A few bubbles to the surface. Dense and heavy looking. Head is off white with yellowish hues.

Smell - Maple syrup and caramel with some floral hop presence. Maple syrup aroma gets stronger as beer warms. Very smooth and soothing aroma especially in the dead of winter. Also some light grain (barley ) smell.

Taste - Starts with maple syrup and caramel sweetness transitioning to a dry hop near rye like flavor. Some roasted grains in the full flavor. Slight booziness and heat on the back end.

Mouthfeel - Smooth and refreshing, and slightly syrupy in the way the the mouth is coated, but since it doesn't linger its doesn't have any unpleasant sticky component to it. Medium carbonation too.

Overall - Given that this is my first foray into barleywines it was an excellent and enjoyable beer with good balance, rich flavors, a nice variance in aromas and perfect for a Canadian winter. Given how much I enjoyed this one, i'm looking forward to other Howe Sound products to see if they make it to Ontario,

DenisKolkin, Jan 02, 2014
Photo of Vyronian
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

Vyronian, Jan 01, 2014
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Woolly Bugger from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 64 ratings.