Woolly Bugger - Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company

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Woolly BuggerWoolly Bugger

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BA SCORE
89
very good

37 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 37
Hads: 90
rAvg: 4.04
pDev: 3.71%
Wants: 10
Gots: 18 | 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:
Beer added by: BDTyre on 01-03-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 37 | Hads: 90
Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

187 ml bottle from the brewery, seeing how it is after 2 years' release, 29th month of life. Poured a brownish body without any head. Looks and taste like rich malt, slightly boozy aroma and there is alcohol warming in the taste, with a bit of booze in the aftertaste. Certainly hits its style, more British in experience, the hops have integrated giving it an understated citrus taste, overpowered by toffee and some butterscotch. (431 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.66/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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. (449 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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. (1,694 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from Kump. Served in a Cantillon tulip. 2013 vintage.

A - Tan foam settles to a partial cap, thick collar, and a few stray specks of lace. Murky dark raisin-brown body.

S - Raisins, some definite spicy alcohol, toffee, burnt sugars, a bit of milk chocolate, fruity yeast esters. There's perhaps a faint hop note in the peripheral. Even though this is a year-old it's still pretty boozy.

T - Taste is a bit more mellow, with lots of toffee, red fruits, caramel, and a bit of spicy alcohol and hop bitterness in the finish. Pretty nice balance here, although it gets a tad too sweet by the end of the bottle.

M - Surprisingly active carbonation that seems a bit excessive for the style. Medium-full body with with a smooth, creamy, texture. Lingering stickiness on the palate.

D - Solid English barleywine. A bit rough in the aroma, but otherwise pretty enjoyable. A very style-accurate and competently brewed beer, but would be hard to pick out of a crowd. (967 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.27/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured a clear camber-copperish color with cr8imson like hghlights, nice dirty white cap tops it off, good amoutn of bubbles and lacing. Pretty good looking beer for a style that is typically lower in carbonation and head yield

S: Toffee, caramel, some dark fruits, nice sweetness, light booze breezes the nose, sordove Earthy

T: Taste is very similar to the nose. Some fruits, caramel, toffee, Earthy notes upfront with some manageable heat. Underlying is a nice breadiness with some cocoa, hazlenut and residual sugary sweetness

M: Full bodied, a nice syrpuy like slickness to this beauty which rolls over the tongue, clinging to the palate releasing sugary sweetness, and bookoo flavor

O: Solid! I wuld love to find some more of these. (745 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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. (2,046 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Rutager for this one. December 2011 release. Poured in to Bruery tulip.

A - Medium murky brown with a big amber glow around the edges. Half a finger of light brown head that receded to a think layer.

S - Big sweet caramel aroma up front, some toffee, raisins and hints of dark fruit.

T - Big sweetness up front with massive toffee, caramel and burnt sugar flavours. A good hop bitterness throughout. Some light floral and raisin flavours are present in the background. ABV is dangerously well hidden.

M - Medium body. Light to moderate carbonation. (564 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours a slightly hazy medium caramel amber. Classic barleywine aroma of caramel malt, dark and dried fruit, slightly nutty and a hint of toasted malt. Flavor is a nice dry caramel, dried dark fruit, molasses, caramel and bready malt, light vanilla. Finishes with dry biscuit malt and grassy hops. Medium bodied with light creaminess. A very nice classic English barleywine. I hope to get another one to cellar. (442 characters)

Photo of Derek
4.63/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the brewpub. Awesome.

Deep amber with a very light tan head, ring of retention, great lace.

Caramelized raisins, figs, field berries and some alcohol in the nose.

Raisins, figs, blackberry, toffee & caramel with a solid bitterness and a hint of orange rind.

Slight residual sweetness with a slightly drying alcohol finish. A divine sipper.

Very well-crafted. Plenty of depth and not the least bit over-bearing. It doesn't seem boozy at all.

Probably the best English barley wine I've had. Very impressed. (521 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle poured into tulip 22/4/12

A clear dark amber leaning towards a maroon glow, nice dense beige head's only a pinky's width but it stick around for a while leaving a few partial rings of lace

S nutty caramel is quite strong, a little candied cherry, molasses, herbal hops, and I don't know where the 11% is hiding

T tastes similar to the smell with some sweet bread and a slight earthy taste and hazelnut on the finish, still no booze at all, some hops but a malt bomb without doubt and that's working well for it

M thick syrupy goodness, sticky on the lips with mellow carbonation that gives it some life, zero heat is impressive for a fresh 11% BW

O another example of .25 being used if available, pretty solid stuff for a BW this young with a great feel, no booze detected and solid in all areas

thanks EskimoDave and chickenm as they both ended up sending me a bottle, a nice English BW and I'm stoked I have another bottle to age (955 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

350ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $5.55 - 2013 edition

Appearance - Brown colour with a decent size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some nice lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for close to 3-4 minutes before it began to dissipate.

Smell - Malts, caramel, dark fruits, chocolate

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel and malts mixed with quite a bit of hops. There is also some dark fruits, chocolate, and some roasted/burnt notes.

Overall - I don't drink my barleywines fresh very often so this one has a lot more bitterness than I was expecting. Still very tasty and satisfying. Maybe just a touch too sweet - if I could change 1 thing. Seems like a great beer to tuck away in the cellar. I will pick up a few more bottles. (846 characters)

Photo of tbeckett
3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been a want of mine for a long time. 2013 Release.

A - Deep mahogany colour, deep reddy brown. Good carbonation coming up. One finger of thick beige head. Good lace rings and a half finger of retention.

S - Toffee, caramel, dark fruit, a little bit of sugar.

T - Caramel, dark fruit, sugar, sharp hop bite, some alcohol. Warms up with more dark fruit and caramel.

M - Good carbonation, full body, sharp finish.

O/D - This seems more like an American interpretation of the style. The hop/alcohol bite is a bit much for the style. Less dark fruit/caramel character is detected than would be expected. The harshness does mellow out after a while. It's a quality barleywine. With some age it will improve hopefully. Enjoyed it and drank it faster than something 10% should be. (780 characters)

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.2/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

thanks to ArchEnemyBrew for this beer!

Vintage December 2012.

poured into Tulip glass.

Appearance: murky brown almost black bodied beer with red around the edges when held up to light. Two fingers of light brown head resulting from an aggressive pour. Drops to thick, but uneven cap.

Smell: Dark fruits, brown sugar, caramel, and toffee. Oatmeal note along with the malts as well. I could smell this all day!

Taste: The beer starts off like a scotch ale. Dark fruits and just a hint of smoke. Caramel and toffee notes that are not overly sweet. Its bready. Hint of molasses and leather. A nice dose of earthy hops that add a moderately bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Little bit of warming and "fruity" booze. Really nice drinking English Barleywine.

Overall: This beer has alot of elements of several big beer styles including, but not limited to Scotch Ale, Barleywine, and an Old Ale. Nice drinking EBW; I think the nose is my favorite part of the beer. The hops on the back end was a nice little surprise...the nose is al malt and I didnt think that any hop flavors would be found in the taste of the beer. This also has some serious cellar potential, I think it would hold up well with age. If I had another bottle I would probably stash it away for a while to let those hops fade away. (1,338 characters)

Photo of Rutager
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 bottle.

Appearance. Pours a fairly clear, deep red-brown with half a finger of pale orangey-tan head.

Smell. Sweet caramel and butterscotch, a little bit of light fruits and berries and a drop of molasses.

Taste. Lots of toasted caramel malts, some dark berries, just a little herby hop bitterness and a hint of coffee. High alcohol is very well hidden.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with medium-low carbonation.

Overall. A very nice and mellow english barleywine. Great balance of subtle flavours. Will look forward to trying a vertical in a year or two. (563 characters)

Photo of canucklehead
3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 version. Very fresh tasting BW with quite a few hops making their place in the mix. Very drinkable for such a young BW which makes me wonder how it will age in the cellar. The smoothness of the finish and the melding of the flavours can be seen as a plus at this stage in the development of the beer ( unlike some hot messes of other BWs when they are young). Nice to see it in a small 12oz bottle instead of the big 1 litre swingtops.. (441 characters)

Photo of jrenihan
3.91/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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. (480 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
3.65/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this from Rutager a while back. Cheers!

From a bottle into a snifter
December 2012
IBU: 75
25 degrees Plato

APPEARANCE: Pours a 2 ½ finger, medium-thinner looking, fluffy, light tan head with great retention. Clear maroon red with medium levels of carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full foam cap and leaves sticky lacing down the sides of the glass. A splotchy wisp remains leaving some decent lacing.

SMELL: Spicy yeast with cloves and alcohol on the nose. Toffee, a touch of chocolate and light red berries as well. Nice stuff.

TASTE: Toffee, spicy cloves and some alcohol up front. More flavor after the swallow with toffee, light chocolate, spicy yeast flavors, alcohol and some floral bitterness lingering after the swallow. Flavorful and well balanced between sweetness, bitterness and spicy qualities.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. A bit lighter on the palate but creamy enough, goes down smooth with a bit of a bite after the swallow and finishes a touch sticky. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: Pretty good stuff. The flavor actually reminds me a bit of a less bitter version of The Samurai. A little lighter and foamier for the style than I’d like, but enjoyable and complex for sure. Give this one a shot if you see it. Thanks again for the brews Rutager. (1,313 characters)

Photo of peensteen
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep ruby red-brown colour, one finger of tan head, some lace. Smell is of rich caramel, toffee, lots of malty bread like notes, raisin, fruity with lots of red apple, fairly big flowery hops, finishes with berry. Taste is rich and malty, lots of toffee and caramel flavour, fruity, getting the apple from the nose, moderate bitterness, lightly sweet and only a trace of any alcohol, fruity hop aftertaste, understated citrus. Lightly carbonated, medium-full body. No complaints here, a satisfying barleywine that I will grab a couple more of to enjoy down the road. (566 characters)

Photo of papat444
3.46/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

****December 2012 Vintage***

Thanks to FondueVoodoo for this one.

Poured from a 341ml. bottle.

Appearance: The body when held to the light looks blood red, ecru colored healthy head that recedes to leave a mound surrounded by a moat of sorts. Lacing slathered on the glass.

Smell: Rich and malty, earthy, alcoholic caramel if that means something to you.

Taste: Nothing at first which isn't normal but brown sugar, and caramel come finally. No complexity or depth, light flavor.

Mouthfeel: To its credit, alcohol is very well hidden. Very smooth.

Overall: Given the ABV and the style, i expected more depth which unfortunately i didn't get. Decent but there are much better representations of the style. (710 characters)

Photo of SebD
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

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. (657 characters)

Photo of mick303
4.18/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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. (1,726 characters)

Photo of BDTyre
4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 release. This pours a mahogany-copper with a thick, creamy head. The head leaves definite rings around the glass.

Initial scent is rich malts, a bit of wine, light spice. But then there is this weird hoppy blast. It lasts briefly, and is then replaced by an almost nutty, brown ale scent.

Good, well balanced flavour. There is certainly some hoppiness, but it is quite light. The malts don't ruin this, and I can pick up chestnuts, wine, raisins, molasses, bread, yeast, light bitterness. This is 11% ABV and I can't even tell. The alcohol is extremely well hidden - a very, very faint suggestion on the back of a tongue.

Nice, smooth mouthfeel. Rich, but not overly thick. The alcohol is dangerously hidden. The small bottle size is a pleasant surprise (most BWs I've had are bombers), and I almost want a second one.... (835 characters)

Photo of hopsolutely
3.75/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Drinking this 2013 bottle fresh, thanks to its LCBO release. Definitely a "sipping beer", as befitting its >10% ABV.

Pours an oily chocolate coloured amber with limited head and no lacing. Low carbonation level on this beer despite the decent sounding seal when the bottle was uncapped. Malt forward aroma includes brandied plums with toffee and barrel notes. Not as much complexity as I'd expected from this brewery given the depth of Pothole Filler, so perhaps expectations were too high? Flavour has a nice bitterness in the finish that complements the alcohol heat. Barrel tannins and brandied fruits round out the body after the initial caramelized malt sweetness passes.

Very glad to have tried it, but also glad to have only purchased this one bottle. (764 characters)

Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 1/2" tan coloured head that dissipated quickly over cloudy brown liquid.

S: Yeast, sweet toffee malt and an alcohol smell reminiscent of white wine.

T: Slightly bitter pine and citrus hop presence upfront with flavours of toffee, caramel and vanilla in the middle and an almost sweet children's cereal finish similar tasting to Captain Crunch.

M: Medium viscosity and a medium level of fine carbonation.

O: Those who dislike their barleywines sweet should steer clear of this one. However, for the rest of us this is actually quite drinkable. (550 characters)

Photo of leaddog
4.24/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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. (711 characters)

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Woolly Bugger from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.