Burly Wine - Half Pints Brewing Company

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Burly WineBurly Wine

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58 Reviews
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Reviews: 58
Hads: 74
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 8.61%
Wants: 29
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Half Pints Brewing Company visit their website
Manitoba, Canada

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: fisherman34 on 12-10-2006

2010 - Tan with new labels (341 mL only)
2009 - Blue (341 mL only)
2008 - Green (341 mL & 660 mL)
2007 - Red (660mL released in 2007, 341 mL released in 2008)
2006 - Tan (660 mL only)
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Reviews: 58 | Hads: 74
Photo of cratez
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle at Volo poured into an oversized snifter.

Pours a murky, dark brown hue with amber edges and a sizeable tan cap. Cloudy with quite a bit of sediment.

Smell and taste are chocolate, cocoa powder, roasted malt, sticky caramel and pale malts, brown sugar, toffee, dried fruit (plum, black berries), mincemeat, cherries, vanilla, maple syrup, and a resinous, herbal hop finish.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, viscous and lightly gooey. The hops produce a spicy bitterness on the palate with a long, drying finish. More American than English, I'd say. The ABV is undetectable, which is unusual for the style. Hence this is more drinkable than one would expect.

I can see why Burly Wine is ranked as one of Canada's top brews - it's a delectable strong ale that's perfect for sipping on a cold winter evening.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours the sort of ruddy brown you'd expect from a barley wine, with a nice creamy light tan head. Dies down to a thin film. Surprisingly decent head retention and lacing.

I'm just picking up toffee and earthiness in the nose with soft fruity esters.

The taste is like treacle on bread. Dry finish. Present, warming alcohol that is nicely integrated. Biscuity with dry plum like flavors and toffee and an underlying earthiness. A little nutty. Really, a nice complex maltiness with just a mild amount of hop bitterness to balance it out.

It's a little light in body for a barley wine, but that's fine with me.

Overall a really solid barely wine and incredibly drinkable.

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Photo of eat
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the 660ml, red wax 2007 edition of Burly Wine, picked up in a trade with rudge75 at the brewery. Thanks a ton! I never would have thought I'd get to try this. This stuff was brewed a year before I started getting into beer. Consumed December 30, 2009 (aged two years). I've used the scores from this bottle and not the 2009 since this stuff is meant to be aged.

Beautiful dark-orange in colour with tiny bits of suspended solids making the beer cloudy and totally opaque. A thin covering of off-white head and a ring around the glass. Little dots of lacing. 4.5, mostly for the great colour.

Butterscotch, strawberries, caramel malt, floral hops. Smells like a dessert. Awesome.

Not as complex as the 2008 bourbon aged version but much better than the new 2009. The 10.5% ABV shows as maybe 7% usually would, a little hot but still pretty smooth. Nice and buttery (lactic) with quite a lot of both sweetness and bitterness. Very flavourful. Quite similar to the smell actually, with strawberries, caramel and floral hops all obvious in the flavour as well. Hops are much more present here, though, imparting a lingering bitter (pleasant) after taste. There's this peppery/musty quality if you take a big sip. This actually reminds me quite a bit of Gavroche. I'd give this a 4.25 but will have to settle with 4.

Milky full body with a light carbonation. Great feel.

The flavour is too big to want more than one of these 660ml bottles but I'm really enjoying finishing this one. Really smooth for 10.5% but definitely a sipper.


Consumed 12-26-2009

2009 vintage (blue wax) poured into an over-sized wine glass. Beautiful, opaque, dark copper in colour. An initial frothy, two-finger head settles to a thin, milky-white covering over the whole glass. Good lacing. 4

Big smells of floral hops (similar to the hops found in their Humulus Ludicrous and Little Scrapper), caramel and roasted malt. It smells like it could be an IPA, though certainly smells delicious. 4.5

Very smooth for 10.5% but not all that complex yet. This is of course meant to be aged and is so far only a couple weeks removed from its release. It doesn't taste like an IPA but there is a very noticeable hops presence. Roasted malt and caramel round it out, tasting like a subdued translation of the nose. Kind of like a barley wine version of their Humulus. The alcohol is a little hot for now but not at all overwhelming. Bitter hops at the back of the tongue on the finish. 4

The feel is a little thin but has a nice oily quality to it. Low carbonation. 4

The alcohol is still too intense and the finish too bitter to consume much of this but I'm excited about the bottle I've put in the cellar for next year. I'll be updating this review a year from now to see how it's aged. 3.5

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This little waxed twist off bottle is courtesy of tpd975. Wax twist off? I think that's a first for me. Pours hazy deep copper with thin off white head. The aroma brings up muted pine then moving into dark fruitiness, oxidized apricot meat and a touch of heat to the snoot. The taste begins sweet with muddly puddly chewy malts and then turning into a modest sensation of crisp pine hop bitterness and malts. Toward the finish sweet aged muted pine hops and then thin layers of dark fruitiness take this to closure.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle poured into Corsendonk Chalice dec6 2009

A a hazy golden amber with some suspended particles and a thumbs worth of head that had good retention for the style and left some lace

S a little nutty with loads of caramel and a little booze

T the booze is a little more concealed and I pick up on a little cherry but other then that as it smells

M full bodied, chewy and low carbonation

D great for 10.5% a little dangerous if you ask me

green wax over the top so that makes it 2008 I think, a few red wax bottles are hidden safely in my mothers basement where I can't drink them. good example of the style and I love the fact it's Canadian

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Photo of Cwrw
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ahh. Finally another Canadian Prairie barleywine contender, to go along with Alley Kat and Wild Rose. Welcome aboard, half pints!

The bottle, wearing a really plain label, sports a green wax covering the top of the neck. First I've seen on a Canadian bottle. Nice touch, Half Pints.

The beer pours a very clear dark honey colour. Excellent solid off-white head, which lasted quite noticeably (with perhaps a couple swirling coaxes from my hand). Nice.

Aroma. You want barley? You got it. This is like sticking your nose into a cup of freshly ground barley...and...rye. Yeah, huge hints of rye here. This aroma is huge on the fat, grainy, cereal notes. Wow. Very different from either Alley Kat or Wild Rose's variety, and actually quite different from most barleywines I've tried, period. Sweet bubblegum notes at first, then huge hits of syrupy cereal. Lots of vanilla and maple syrup, and brown sugar over heated wheat in milk. Breakfast never smelt so good.

The flavour is very similar to what the nose promises, with perhaps not the cloying sweetness the aroma (almost) suggests. Alcohol is not really noticeable. This really puts the "barley" back into barleywine for me--the grainy freshly ground cereal notes are perceived more than Alley Kat or Wild Rose. Reminds me a little of Mill Sreet's version. Very tasty. Nicely dry on the finish but not overmuch. A small grassy hop profile on the way down the gullet. Body is perhaps a tad thinner than expected, but this is a great addition to the Canadian barleywine family. Welcome to the table, half pints.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this a few times, but the most recent was at Volo. 12oz 2008 bottle with blue wax. Served in a snifter.

A - Semi-hazed ruby red color with hints of blood orange. Dime-sized film that dissipates to a thin ring. Some legs too. Great color - underwhelming head and retention.

S - Big raisin aroma, some light tannic character, burnt sugars, dark fruits, faded citrus hops. Reminds me a little of the aged bottle of Stone X that I had.

T - The taste is actually better, which is quite the oddity for this style of brew. Liquid caramel, milk chocolate, some fruitiness, roasty and and bitter aftertaste. This has definitely mellowed a bit in the past 6 months, as the ABV is pretty much undetectable. I'd love to see what a barrel would do to this brew.

M - Medium-thick body, very smooth and creamy, dry finish, a bit of warmth after a few sips. Spot on for an English barleywine.

D - It's a sipper, but not a chore. I had no problem putting down 12oz on my own and I'd have been up for another one if not for the price (damn Canadian beer taxes). The only thing really hampering mass consumption is the slight buzz that picked up near the end of the bottle.

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Photo of bobsy
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a great looking barleywine, and defies the typical low retention and lacing. A beautiful mahogany pour produces a large off-white head, with sticky streaks of lacing, and a good covering of foam throughout. The aroma is sweet, but balanced, with strong toffee notes mixing with a bit of citrus and earth. Really nice toffee flavour, which comes and goes. Lots of dried dark fruit drizzled in caramel. Raisins, figs and prunes. Light chocolate notes, and prominent burned black sugar. Moderate bitterness. The alcohol is a non-factor. Medium full body, with low carbonation. The only downside is that it sometimes feels a little light in the aftertaste.

A pretty good English barleywine for an excellent Canadian brewery. While its not the best example of the style in the country, its up there. Good stuff, guys!

After buying a case, my conclusion is that this once is great fresh, when it has a large citrus character, before going through a rough patch as it transforms into more of a hop-restrained barleywine.

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Photo of Derek
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Amber with a light, tan head. Some retention, great lacing. Impressive for its strength.

S: Brown sugar, toffee, marmalade, figs, nuts & earthy orange aroma.

T: Figs, plums, candied fruit, brown sugar, nuts, toffee, marmalade, nectarine, assertive bitterness, alcohol is extremely well-hidden.

M: Well attenuated, moderately-full body has a slight residual sweentess & some hop acidity.

D: One hell of an English barley wine & it's incredibly drinkable for its strength.

I've wanted to try this for a while... thanks to Wildone and CanBIF5!

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours a reddish caramel, a good-sized head of pale beige foam on top. It falls back to a thin but complete cover, leaving a baby-swiss network of lace on the glass.

Aroma - heavy, thick caramel and citrus. Pretty intense, I like it!

Taste - some mild caramel malt notes at the start. The hops come in easily, not too bitter, and with a slightly sweet, citrusy edge. Could use more of the citrus/sweet. Progresses to the bitter side as it clears mid-palate. The swallow and aftertaste is dry and fairly bitter, the abv is nowhere to be found. Well, some belly warmth at the finish, but for the most part it is well concealed. Hmmm, scratch that; definitely more noticeable with warming. Not the huge flavors of an English bw, and not as sweet as I tend to like them, but the hops are forward and the beer is tasty.

Mouthfeel - some good smoothness and body, the carbonation is pretty peppy too.

Drinkability - thumbs-up from me; thanks to Viggo for sending a bottle my way at DLD09. There's not many bws I'd have two of in one night, but this one's got the goods. A very nice nightcap on my son's 10th birthday. Thanks Eric!

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Photo of biboergosum
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle, red wax, so 2008 version. I know it's summer, but I need a Canadian beer this afternoon, and it is kind of overcast outside and all.

After making my way through the chippy wax covering on the bottle's cap, this beer pours a hazy dark red brick amber hue, with one skinny finger or so of densely bubbly, soapy beige head, which takes a surprisingly long while to recede, leaving dense lacing around the glass.

It smells of musty, almost fermenting black raisins, molasses, caramelized sugar, citrus oil, and a mild, yet threatening warming alcohol. The taste is a rather gargantuan caramelized bready malt, citrus zest, a more sultana-like raisin fruitiness, understated earthy figs, subtle floral hops, and a still as yet unmasked booze warming.

The carbonation is on the low side, but without seeming flat like a lot of older ales, the body a big, slick, and bold medium-heavy weight, smooth, and even creamy at moments. It finishes off-dry, but hardly as much as expected, what with the booze lurking very quietly behind it all, unobtrusive to the end.

A very solid and nicely balanced barleywine, full of fruit, caramel, and an overarching sense of being in a dank, unexplored for generations cellar. Neat, creepy, and tasty, all in one tidy little package.

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Photo of mothman
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this a few months back in Winnipeg, just found my notes though.

Waxed top bottle.

Poured int to a goblet/chalice.

Pours a 2 finger head. Kind of orange tannish. Color is a ruby copper. Good lace.

Aroma is very complex. Carmel, licorice, floral hops.

Taste is kind of fruity and citrus. Heavy on the floral hops. Bready. Some dried cranberries.

Mouthfeel is bitter, but then mellows down. Goes down bitter, however. Little dry aftertaste.

Overall, this is a kick-ass beer. One of the better brews I tried while in Winnipeg. The cost was about $4 American and that was at a liquor store, so it was kind of spendy but I still highly recommend.

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.57/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The 2008 edition from a 341 ml brown bottle, nice touch with the green wax around the neck and cap as a seal plus aesthetic addition. However on that note allow the bottle to warm up in room temperature to make it easier to peel that wax off from around the cap, and prevent it from falling in the glass during the pour.

A hazed chestnut brown in appearance, one finger of light beige head that slowly settles to a frothy cap.

Aroma starts out malty with bready and toffee notes, then amps up a bit in the middle with spice and alcohol warmth, and continues along that calibre with some carob, brown sugar and faint wet grassy hops near the end. Not overwhelming, but enjoyable and effective.

My first sip of this barleywine was gorgeous.... The following ones were just as good. Rich chewy malt, bready, caramel and chocolate notes. That spicy alcohol warmth pops up in the middle and continues long into the aftertaste along its own seperate tangent. Just a touch of grassy, piney hops on the finish, which lingers on into the aftertaste on its own tragection as well. As the ale warms a burnt woody character emerges, providing a drying character to the aftertaste. This is a barleywine experienced on several different layers.

Mouthfeel is on the fuller end of the spectrum, but not thick, full in the mouth but with enough viscosity that one doesn't have to choke it down, or take deep breaths between each sip.

Kudos to Dave and crew on another masterful rendition, this stuff must be dynamite when it ages more, as it is excellent now while it's still young. I'll definitely be buying more--hell, I'll get a paper route if I have to in order to afford more of this stuff.

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Photo of Sammy
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A young good drinking barleywine served at Volo. Dark amber, with a whisp of head, and leaving lace, served at room temperature. The aroma is liquid fermented bread, like a kvas, you are in a bakery. I can see this getting interesting as it ages. Sweet in initial tastes, the 75 IBU builds up to the finish. Appropriate carbonation, it is a good supper. An above average mouthfeel, though not creamy. Tingling at first. Bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of Voonder
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark amber colour with some ruby notes, thin off-white head. Good looking barleywine. Smell - very strong cognac like aroma, some yeast and some sweet fruity flavours, cherry perhaps. Very strong great flavour. Alcohol is noticeable.
Taste - sweet and fruity upfront - plums, hint of cherry, cognac/brendy flavor is still there but a bit faded. Very complex, creamy, chewy, full bodied. Great brew! This is my first half pint brew and I can't wait to try more of their stuff. This is very solid brew. It is drinkable for style and ABV. Delicious sipper.

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Photo of stagger
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Reddish, slightly cloudy-looking. A decent head with not much lacing. Love the wax seal, but the wax is dangerously crumbly - take care it doesn't get into the beer!

S - Strong and malty.

T - Sweet and malty as befits the style. A surprisingly rich flavour, reasonably complex but not chaotic like e.g. Brooklyn Monster. Hops light but present in just the right amount to make this more than a dessert beer.

M - Very smooth, medium-bodied and not too syrupy - excellent!

D - I could easily have more than one of these at a sitting. Dangerous.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aged this one for about 10 months and I must say it seems to be at its peak. Softened to make it smooth and lush but still full of hops and old fruit. I don't think this beer will age for 5 years plus like Old Crusty or Thomas Hardy but a year in the cellar is just perfect. The beer pours orange gold with a big head. The nose is hoppy and redolent of old leather. The finish is very smooth and complex but not in your face. Nice barley wine and classy as heck

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Photo of allergictomacros
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber with a capped, and waxed top. Gotta be careful to leave the wax on the bottle...

A - Hazy, syrupy looking orange with 1.5 inches of light yellow foam. Very dense, long lasting, and rocky head could leave a touch more lacing as it recedes.

S - Big candy and fruit aromas upfront. Apple, and dried pineapple come to mind. Some grassy hops show up later. Not much in the way of pure maltiness in the nose.

T/M - Mmm good. Heavy, but good. Feels oddly light on the tongue until the alcohol and bitterness kicks you in the teeth. Thick mouthfeel with only a hint of carbonation despite the solid head. Again, tropical fruit an an apple flavour in this, but a very solid hop in the back as well. Sweet, as expected, but well balanced between the alcohol, fruit and hops. Doesn't feel nearly as heavy now as my first impression.

D - Very solid brew, and a solid choice for my 500th review. Loaded with flavour and surprisingly drinkable for a big barleywine. Well balanced.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Wow! One of the better barley wines I've had.

Murky, copper-brown with a good, white head. Rich, malty smell with vanilla, plum and brown sugar toffee hints. The taste is complex, with hints of citrus fruit, raisins, caramel, vanilla, port. Oddly enough, it likes the alcohol warmth and cloying syrup taste I tend to find in most barley wines.

A little low on the carbonation, but by far one of the best barley wines I've ever had.

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Photo of irishkyle21
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to oakbluff for hooking me up with an 06 and two 07's! Had the 06 and 07 side by side and I preferred the 06, I found it to be aging very nicely. Probably could go another year (or more) and still be in fine shape.

This review is based on the 07. Pours with small white head that holds up well, very nice lacing. Has a clear burnt orange color.

Smells of caramel malt, fruits, a little bit citrus and alcohol.

Great tasting barleywine. Lots of balance between malt and hop here. Notes of caramel, fruits (orange and grapefruit) and a fiery but also gentle alcohol that makes this beer a very drinkable "sipper".

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Photo of grub
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 and 2007 vintages compared side by side. trevorwideman hooked me up with the '06 and Viggo was nice enough to share the '07. thanks guys!

660ml bottles. the '06 is topped with sort of yellowish tan wax and the '07 is topped with burgundy wax. sampled feb 15/08. score is for the '06 vintage, with scores for each category shown as 06/07 below.

both pour deep red with just a bit of haze that is possibly from the pour. the small tan head drops fast and leaves a bit of spotty lace behind. 4/4.

aroma is great on the '06, and still quite nice on the ;07. alcohol. big caramel kick. lots of biscuit and bready malt. bit of cracker. light toffee, mostly in the '06. i catch just a bit of orange and grapefruit in the background. the caramel and malt combo is great. the '07 is a little more fruity and less caramel than the '06. the '07 is also a bit earthy where the '06 is not. 4.5/3.5.

taste is good. medium bitterness level. earthy. bit of grapefruit. big caramel. bit of toffee. bread and crackers. bit of biscuit. the '07 again has less caramel and a bit more fruit than the '06. the '07 has less malt depth too. 4/3.5.

mouthfeel is good. medium carbonation level. medium large body. the '06 is a bit smoother, with the '07 just a touch rough around the edges. 4/4.

drinkability is good. the '07 isn't as balanced or as complex as the '06, but both are nice. the '07 definitely feels young, only having about 3 months of age compared to the 15 months of the '06. the '06 seems like it'd be even better with another year - too bad i don't have more! 4/3.5.

overall score: 4.1 for the '06 and 3.65 for the '07.

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Photo of elricorico
4.02/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep orange, bordering on brown. Quite hazy. A finger of beige head formed.

The smell is a mix of toffee and citrus on top of a faint whiff of alcohol. Inviting.

One of the most balanced barleywines I've had, caramel maltiness versus an orange citrus hop flavour. There is a slight woody flavour that mixes in throughout the mouth. Finish seems a little wet.

A fairly sturdy body with a subtle carbonation that cuts through but isn't coarse. Pretty much what I like in a barleywine.

No big single flavour keeps it from having a defining character, but also makes for an easy drinker.

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Photo of presario
3.56/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle received in a trade with Fisherman34. The beer is lightly cloudy and dark copper coloured. Interesting spiced caramel nose. Flavour is MacIntosh toffee, alcohol and hops. Dark spice and hops finish. I don’t think that I have tasted a toffee/caramel taste anywhere near this strong in a Barley Wine. On this day I prefered it to the Fat Cat 06 and an aged Blue Monk!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Piscator34: Poured a deep copper color ale with a nice foamy head with some good retention. Aroma of toffee and caramel malt is quite interesting. Taste is also a well balance mix between sweet malt with some toffee and caramel notes and light dry hoppy finish. Good carbonation and alcohol wasn’t discernable with an almost full body. Very well balance and well done.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks to demcorhip for this via trade. what a rare chance to try a barleywine so far outside the normal distribution range of this beer.

A - rich reddish brown color, not cloudy but a thick almost opaqueness in the body, nice off white frothy head that lasted an eternity.

S - Rich sweet caramel / toffee malts, dark ripe fruits and spicy hop. The hops were prominent but not almost overwhelmed by the malts. Intriguing!

T- similar to the aroma but with a rich warmth and complimentary intermingling of flavors. A marvel at each sip.

M - Full bodied with a capital F. This one is a thick brew that somehow manages to stay just outside of cloying.

D - for such a full bodied, warmth inducing beer this one makes your taste buds cry out for another sip. Incredibly easy to drink.

Not sure when this was bottled but it's definitely a nice drinking barleywine!

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Burly Wine from Half Pints Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 58 ratings.