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Bernese Barleywine Ale | Thirsty Dog Brewing Company

very good
36 Reviews
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Bernese Barleywine AleBernese Barleywine Ale

Brewed by:
Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
Ohio, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Shankopotamus on 06-15-2013

User Reviews
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Reviews: 36 | Ratings: 149
Photo of MikeWard
3.96/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 12oz bottle into a goblet. no freshness dating could be detected, but im gonna guess not to old due to heavy hop presence. date your bottles TD!

looks very nice on the pour, warm brown with burgundy tones. decent head to begin with with diminished to a good ring with a faint covering. no real lacing to speak of.

aroma is all about the sweet malts. some toffee, no booze which is surprising considering the 10.5 abv.

sweet malty flavors are up front. then hop bite comes at the end, along with a slightly sweet wash. pretty interesting sequence.

feel is medium with a hop finish.

overall, and i freely admit to preferring English Barleywines, this is pretty okay example of the american style.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.59/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle - $5.99 at Total Wine & More in Greenville, South Carolina.

Appearance: Pours a medium-to-dark brown body, somewhat murky in appearance, with a very slim, off-white head. Modest lacing.

Smell: Bernese is big on the toast (bread and grains, maybe grainy breads), as well as bold on the sweet-smelling caramel and toffee. Studded with fragrant dried orange peel and raisins. Splashed lovingly with alcohol.

Taste: A big boatload of caramel and heavily toasted breads and grains with a thin, thin edge of roastiness. Splash of toffee liqueur for a bit of belly-warming heat turns to fruity touches of macerated raisins as well as some tangy, bitterish orange rind backed by lightly resiny, leafy hops with moderate bitterness aided by the booze. Fairly warming, caramelly, sweetish finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Overall: While not the tightest, best BW around and a little rough around the edges, it's still big, sweet, warming and plenty malty. Pretty good.

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Crystal clear amber color with a finger of tight tan foam. Good retention and legs. Fully toasted malt aroma with caramel and a fair amount of floral hop character. Slight notes of pears and golden raisins. Hop bitterness is much more prominent in the taste, taking on herbal and earthy notes along with a clear floral character. More toasted malt and caramel along with a bit of a bread crust flavor. Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Finishes quite dry with a nice lingering bitterness.

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Photo of glass_house
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this to be a bit more in the English style, with heavy toffee and dark fruit undertones. Good, but just a bit sweeter than I prefer. A nice sipper, but a little more hop presence would balance it out a bit.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.01/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass from a 12oz bottle.

Appearance Hazy Amber color little darker than the norm with a subtle off-white Orange tinted head which rose to maybe quarter of an inch at best.

Smell: Heavy alcohol scent, little woody maybe rum accent to go with it.

Taste: Complex monster subsisting of toffee and sweet caramel with a heavy touch of whiskey. Malts are very evident but there's a slight sourness to the brew might upset some palates.

Mouth: Heavy stickiness to the beer, with medium bubbles and light brown sugar characteristics. Actually better, closer to maple syrup...paired with a few pretzels the feel is you best friend.

Overall: Very good brew, comparable to a few of my favorite American barleywines and honestly exceeded my expectations...salud!

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Photo of ClavisAurea
3.75/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Fresh bottle served in a tulip glass.

Typical American Barleywine. Copper color with a nice yam head. Dried fruit and malty sweetness in the nose. Some hot alcohol. Taste is the same but with more heat. This beer needs time to mellow.

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Photo of cbutova
3.81/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A- 12oz bottle pours into a snifter with a fairly murky body and a deep amber-red hue. The head is about two fingers tall with a thick and frothy consistency and good retention. A few very thick sheets of lacing.

S- Largely fruity with a backing of sweet caramelized sugars. Dates, black cherries, apples, raisin and fig come to mind with a bit of alcohol, toastiness and maybe even a touch of citrus hops.

T- Caramel malts are big yet not cloying or even overly sweet. Spiced raisins, figs, dates but not overbearing with the fruit notes as a decent hint of alcohol balances that out. A hint of toast and nuttiness. Apple clash a bit with the rest of the profile.

MF- A medium-heavy body leaning just towards the thick side of things. Texture is slick, silky and even a bit foamy with a comforting smoothness for the style and ABV. Medium level of carbonation and a warming finish.

At first I found it to be a bit on the safe side but each sip made me realize that this beer is well crafted. It has the elements you find in many American Barleywines like the caramel, dark fruits and alcohol and it strikes a great balance between them. Nothing flashy or standout and that actually is a strength here.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.34/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Undated bottle at 42 degrees into shaker
$ 3.59/12 oz bottle at the Lager Mill
Aroma of malt and weak piney hops; malt fades slowly leaving the hops aroma
Head large (5.5 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, frothy, slowly diminishing to two cm lacey ring and frothy layer
Lacing excellent! As the level of beer in the glass drops, the lacing just continues down with no discontinuities
Body deep amber, hazy; sediment in bottom of bottle
Flavor of malt with some light piney hoppiness; no alcohol, no diacetyl
Palate medium to full, creamy, soft carbonation

Appearance 4.5, Aroma 4.25, Flavor 4.5, Palate 4, Overall 4.25

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this on-tap on location at the brewery. Poured a nice auburn shade with brown highlights and decent head retention.

Smells malty and of dark fruits.

Tastes strong of malts. Also tart cherries, figs, raisins, and toffee. Its a bit warm in its finish from the alcohol.

All in all, very nicely done. I wish I would've tried the bba version, but we had other places to go.

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Photo of justinp444
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip it has a dark amber body with a two inch thick head of off white slight beige foam. Smell is of caramel, sweet malt, earth-y hops, brown sugar, slight vanilla, some dried fruit (fig), and light citrus notes. Taste is sweet caramel malt, toffee, earth, vanilla, nice amount of dried fruit flavor (fig), and lemon citrus. It has a slightly low amount of carbonation that just gives it enough of a crisp moderate mouth feel to be drinkable and a moderate not overly heavy body. A very nice straight forward everyday barleywine, not overly complex but very drinkable.

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Photo of Mikefriedman90
4.46/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Smells like a top of the line barley wine. Tastes like brown sugar, malty and delicious. Drinkable, but easy to sip. Awesome barley wine would recommend

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Photo of 57md
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Brownish copper in color with over a finger of white head. Sweet malty nose. Malty with a dry finish. The body is adequate - could be more hearty for my taste.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I picked up a 4-pack of this on 29JAN15 at Krugel's Georgetown Deli, while enroute to Ft Indiantown Gap. It was a bit pricey at $14.99, but it sounded inviting, so wtf...

I enjoyed a couple of bottles at home on 31JAN15. Poured into a small tulip, it was a deep, opaque chestnut-mahogany color. After adding in the yeast sediment from the bottle, it became even murkier. The head was thin and fine, the beige foam mostly clinging to the edge, leaving a bit of lacing. The aroma was nice, with toffee and caramel malt leading the way. Enjoyed the mouthfeel, as the body was medium-plus, and it was very smooth.

Tasted rich and malty, with more caramel and toffee present. Also had notes of dark fruit, like figs and raisins. It also had a rum-soaked brown bread aspect to it. Hopping was also present, with a bit of piney, rindy action in the warming finish. Quite nice, indeed! Prosit!

4.18/5 rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25


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Photo of mschantz
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber and somewhat cloudy with lots of sediment. A bit of head with nice lacing. Sweetness and pine on the nose. Piney hops dominate the taste with caramel, golden raisin and malt tones balancing the hops to a perfect degree. All in all a surprisingly hoppy and very tasty barley wine.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter, this nice barleywine pours a hazy copper brown with a light off white head and light lacing. Nose of sweet caramel malts, citrus hops, and some dark fruits. Flavors are sweet forward caramel and honey with some dark cherry and raisin flavors. The hops are both citrus and bitter to counter balance the sweetness of this one with a healthy dose of alcohol and moderate heat. A solid offering of a barleywine if you like yours with a good hops dose.

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Photo of beerdedking
4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a mix of maroon and brown. Nose is very faint, but as it warms some caramel and sweet dates start to blossom. Heavy malt flavors of date, fig, cherry, and prune comingle leading to a nice lightly bitter finish with a touch of heat. Swishes nicely on the tongue with no syrupiness (I guess it's a word). Nice BW. Would revisit again.

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Photo of Hoptometrist
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%

Served from the bottle into a tulip glass.

A- Poured a very dark and deep mahogany color with off-white soapy head that left some splashy lace. 4

S- Huge black cherry and bready notes, raisins, citrus, and caramel notes. Very rich aroma with lots of sweetness. 4.5

T- Lots of sweet dark cherry and candied citrus notes. raisins, cinnamon, molasses, and quite a bit of alcohol. 4

M- Full bodied, quite syrupy, big alcohol warming, but not really any alcohol burn. This one is definitely a sipper. 3.5

O- I am not the biggest Barleywine fan, but this is solid. It has a lot of sweetness and is very malt forward and usually Barleywines are often a little too sweet or boozy for my liking. This one has quite a bit of hop character and bitterness though to balance the intensity of the sweetness, but still retaining a very rich and complex malt profile. 4

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Photo of Tone
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%

Pours a cloudy, copper color. 1/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and slight lacing. Smells of alcohol, yeast, sweet malt, hint of roasted malt, caramel malt, hint of dark citrus, and a hint of hop. Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with a low carbonation level. There is a noticeable bite from the alcohol. Tastes of alcohol, sweet malt, yeast, caramel malt, hint of roasted malt, and a hint of hop. Overall, decent appearance, great aroma, great feel, good body, and decent blend.

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Photo of orcrist_cleaver
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I will preface that barleywines are really not a go to style for me, and it's been over a year since my last one. Having no real baseline for this review, and style naivete notwithstanding, I'd go back to this beer again, especially when I can get a full pint for 8 and change.

A: Burnt leather brown with ruby red highlights. 1 finger+ of mousse like head that stayed for a awhile. Consistent lacing for a third of the glass and then a two waterfalls.

S: It was poured cold and initially lots of spicy oak, wood and smoke. It took awhile for the floral and fruity hop character to unfold, but it transitioned nicely to plum, figs, and spicy citrus.

M: Just at full body with a velvety feel. Low-medium carbonation and nice warmth on finish.

T: Hot cinnamon spiced orange, anise, toffee, slight smoky character. Dark but tar cherries. Figs and candied plums. A little pithiness and pine on the aftertaste which is mellowed nicely by the alcohol. Hop bitterness did not seem intense, but definitely present, more on the maltier side of the matter but I have no clue when this was kegged.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle
Served in a snifter

A - It pours tea colored with one inch of tan head.

S - I smell figs, dates, and alcohol.

T - I get some dates and figs. Alcohol is apparent. There are still some hops present to counteract the malt.

F - Full

O - It is a decent barley wine. It is probably better fresh or aged more. It is not as hoppy as it is fresh, and the faded hops may be gone with another year or two of aging.

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Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep burnt orange with a clingy full one finger slight off white head that seeltes very slowly into a frothy mass,great deep color to the beer.Malty in the nose but not overly sweet,somewhat "cakey" and bready,not much hop presence.Whoo this packs a punch with alot of fusel alcohol flavors,after the alcohol settles some caramel cake notes come into play with a shot leafy hops in the finish not a big citric/resin finish though.This is a sipping barlewine,actually it's been awhile since I have had a barleywine so maybe Iam not used to the booze of the style,still I like it and like most of the Thirsty Dog portfolio.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Thirty Dog's Bernese Barleywine Ale last week for $3.59 at The Lager Mill. I've never seen this beer before, but since I like Barleywines I thought I would give it chance, so lets see how it goes. 2014 Vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks pretty nice and goes nicely with the name with a mountain and Bernese Mountain dog on it, I think it's fairly eye catching. It poured a muddy orange/dark amber color that took on more of a murky dark red color when held to the light with almost two fingers worth of tan head that died down to a thick ring that stayed till the end and it left some nice patchy rings of lacing behind. This was a pretty good looking beer, the color was nice and the head and lacing were really nice especially for a Barleywine.

S- The aroma starts off with a slightly lower amount of high sweetness followed by the hops being the first to show up and they impart a light earthy, floral, and spicy hop aromas with citrus rind hop aromas seeming to stick out the most, but not by much. Up next comes the malts which impart a nice sweet malt, caramel, light toffee and toasted malt like aromas with some dark fruit aromas showing up towards the end. This beer had a pretty good aroma, it was pretty hoppy but the malt profile was nice and it added a little bit of balance to the aroma.

T- The taste starts off with a lower amount of high sweetness followed by the hops still being the first to show up and they impart that same hop profile that I got in the aroma, but the this time the citrus rind hop aromas seem to stick a little more than the other aspects showing up in the background. Up next comes the malts which impart that same malt aspect that I got in the aroma, but this time the toasted malts seem to stick out the most and there's even a light roasted aspect. On the finish comes a light amount of alcohol followed by some dark fruit flavors and a medium amount of bitterness with a sweet malt, caramel, toasted and citrus rind like aftertaste. This was a pretty good tasting Barleywine and it seems to be a little more balanced then the aroma was and I like that.

M- Fairly smooth, not too boozy, a little rich, slightly sticky, on the lighter side of being full bodied with a lower amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was pretty good and it worked well with this beer.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good beer and a good example of an American Barleywine, both the hops and the malts stuck out nicely making for a decent amount of balance and neither one was to overpowering, but the hops were getting close. This beer had nice drinkability, it was fairly smooth, not too boozy, a little rich, slightly sticky, a little filling and taste did a nice job at holding my attention, I think one is the perfect amount for me, but if I was really in the mood for a Barleywine I could see myself drinking two of these and I think this would make for a nice beer for when it starts to cool off in the fall. What I liked the most about the beer was the balance, it was nice and it wasn't completely dominated by hops like some American Barleywines, I could tell this wasn't a DIPA. What I liked the least about this beer was nothing, there isn't anything that I would change to make this beer better, it's fine just the way it is. I would buy this beer again, I would like to put some in the cellar to see how it changes over time. I would recommend this to anyone who likes Barleywines especially if they like them on the hoppy side. All in All I was pretty happy with this beer and it's pretty much just what I look for in a good American Barleywine. It's not my favorite Barleywine, but it's up there as one of my favorite Thirsty Dog beers. Good job guys, this was a very solid Barleywine, keep up the good work.

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Photo of HerdNo1
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I won't review it it detail. I would simply note that too many American Barleywines end up being nothing but hop bombs. This is a beer that's backed by a huge malt backbone. The smell is nearly what you'd get from a Dopplebock. Indeed, I'm reminded of Sam Adams Double Bock on the nose Still, there are enough hops to balance it and the alcohol is warming rather than harsh. I tend to agree that this beer will get better with some aging. I bought a 4 pack. The first was good enough that I drank another. I'm going to age the other two for a couple of years to see what happens.

Overall, this is a really tasty brew.

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Photo of WesMantooth
3.32/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

@WVbeergeek below me hit the nail on the head. This beer is kind of harsh. I think only a hop head would disagree. I put mine in the basement and am going to try and ignore them for a couple years. Hopefully, if I am still alive, it should mellow out. I don't think Thirsty Dog can make a bad beer. Other than Twisted Kilt, this one is the closest, but it still isnt terrible. I just think it is too bitter even for an american style BW. Would really like to see them do a barrel version of this considering how fantastic Wulver and Siberian turned out. As for Bernese, I would try to find an dusty 4 pack somewhere. Will revisit both fresh and aged. May just be me.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.27/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Nice to see some Ohio homebrewer's recipe make it into production on this scale...pours a ruby slightly muddy unfiltered hue with a big soft cream head, dwindles slow fine even speckled lacing left behind. Aromatics has bright hops...citric/piney elements thus far, a bit of booze tickling my nose hairs...luscious malt backbone comes through has caramelized bready malts as perceived sweetness. Flavor hits hard with the alcohol, ethanol train all aboard...big medicinal notes with the loads of malts, a hint of dark ripened fruits raisins plums and a little off band aid element just barely peaks through here. Hops coming home at 75 IBUS, the pine and big dank citric notes slap you around a bit before getting overshadowed with the alcohol content. Mouthfeel is harsh, hopefully this beer mellows with age, I was excited to see another Thirsty Dog brew that was new to me after the last few releases I've been really impressed by Mayan Dog/Citra Dog/Chocolate beer...hard to pass each sip across the palate. Medium to full bodied carbonation doesn't hide anything here or soften the blow of each sip, an assault on the palate that I guarantee will mellow with a bit of age...these bottles are about to get lost in the cellar. Decent priced four pack on the upside, I'm gonna let this warm up some more and update this review if there are any changes.

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Bernese Barleywine Ale from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 36 ratings.