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Grand Illumination - AleWerks Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Grand IlluminationGrand Illumination

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

104 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 104
Hads: 227
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 14.29%
Wants: 31
Gots: 51 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
AleWerks Brewing Company
Virginia, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 10.00% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: hoppymeal on 12-20-2007

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 104 | Hads: 227
Photo of Stolenface1
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish brown with quickly falling, off white head. Aroma of molasses, caramel, hops, bisquit, fig, brown sugar, oak, slight vanilla. fruity esters.. flavor is identical with slight booze (a touch hot would be better after a year or two in the cellar), dark fruit, pretty hoppy, and a slightly thin, but slightly creamy finish (for my tastes). The feel is medium, with higher carbonation than expected. Overall a middle of the road Barleywine. It fits the style, but is not as complex as what many other breweries are putting out these days. As I said, a little thin and overcarbed for me.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a dark, auburn-brown coloring with a solid, off-white head. Nose of caramel, cream, molasses, all heavily roasted. Very rich aromas., with some boozy notes, too. Flavors are rich, with a solid bolt of heavy molasses forward, with highlights of brown sugar, vanilla, wood spice, and a solid hops bitterness. The body is heavy and rich throughout. Aftertaste of rich and sweet flavors, heavy on molasses, with a solid booze character that continues to add warmth as you go. The finish is rich and layered, and continues to warm.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22oz bottle.

Look is very hazy rusty red/ Amber with no head.

Aroma is very malty sweet. Lots of molasses like a molasses cookie and s toasted biscuit malt.

The taste is almost stinky sweet with a full rich mouth feel again molasses is brought to mind. Hops offer a prickly balance but quickly disappear.

Great beer to start the year!

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Photo of Smaxy
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very traditional, but very good, barleywine aged in bourbon barrels. Had it on tap. A hazy, rusty pour. Dark fruits up front, with a warm bourbon finish.

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Photo of oldn00b
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 poured on tap.

Dark copper color, fizzy head forms and retains. Some definite lacing.

The bitter aspects of this really come through, like overly burned caramel. This is not on the sweet side of the barleywine scale.

Bourbon was softer than expected, perhaps from the age. This is one of my favorite styles for barrel aging and it doesn't disappoint, but it is not the best I've had.

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Photo of ERAUPike2005
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1014-2014 - poured into snifter. Pours a deep Carmel color with a slightly tan head that dissipated quickly. Nice lacing on the glass.

Nice notes of fig and maybe banana on the nose. Booze is well hidden.

Taste is very nice and a bit on the sweet side. More dark fruit notes, carmel, with a bit of heat on the back back end from the alcohol. Nice reminder that it's there but not to forward or in your face.

Medium mouthfeel- seems just right. Not syrupy and not thin.

Enjoyable beer overall. I haven't had many Barelywines but I enjoyed this a bit more than the offering from SN. I would purchase again. Cheers.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Had this at the brewery from a snifter.

4.0 A: Hazy amber plum color. Two fingers of creamy beige head. Good retention and plenty of lacing.

4.5 S: Sweet sugary plums, red currants, figs, gingerbread, brown sugar, caramel, molasses.

4.25 T: Tastes like it smells. Sweet without being cloying.

4.75 M: Lighter heavy body. Good moderate carbonation. Super creamy and smooth.

4.5 D: No flaws and super drinkable.

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Photo of Gregaroo
3.31/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2014 vintage. So so. Bought from the source. I was hoping for better this year. Shared with my bro at Mom and Dad's just before the new year. Will open my 2013s in a few weeks to compare. Fingers crossed.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%

Had on tap day before, plus did bottles from 2013 and 2014:
First off, the beer didn't age well. It wasn't bad and was able to drink it, but oxidation was obvious enough to throw out for this review.

The beer pours a hazy to cloudy amber brown. The head if foamy white, some larger bubbles, but lasts well into the pour and provides lacing. The nose is caramel, raisin, banana, copper. Note the tap version the day before had a tart note to it that the bottle did not. There is also a hint if alcohol.

Taste is a bit of raisin and plum. Hops is quite subdued. Spice is also present, cinnamon and cloves, perhaps. It appears that a Belgian yeast was used, but I can't be sure (nor did I check). The feel (warmed) is medium light, a little flat feeling, although there is carbonation.

A decent offering, but not a must have. Fair amount of flavors, but they don't work together to produce a really nice beer, just a defeat one.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a well made but disappointingly generic american style barleywine. i have loved everything I've had from alewerks so far, so this was a bit of a reality check. gorgeous glazed bronze color with an inch or so of spiderweb lace head. it smells like a ton of cascade hops, high gravity ale yeast, and some sweeter medium toast malted barley. hops are heavy all throughout this beer, bitter up front and in the finish, with a slightly floral middle ground that meshes well with the malts. touch of brown sugar and a little caramel, in the taste too, but i find this to be lacking a few key components. the first is balance, this is a hop bomb, and works better as an american strong ale than a barleywine. second is the body. its just not big or round enough, maybe a little overcarbonated for the style, which makes the whole thing seems thin to me. it also gets less appealing as it warms because of the hops. somewhere in the mid to low B range.

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Photo of MacQ32
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

2011 Vintage

A - pours a deep muddied ruby muddy dark brown with a finger of great chocolatish colored head, OK retention and lacing.

S - sweet sugary malts mix with alcohol and dark fruit sweetness.

T - sweet slightly mediciny/boozy but no burn. Cherries

M - super smooth medium bodied. Minimal carbonation

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Photo of smakawhat
3.69/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2013, poured into a large snifter glass.

A little bit lifeless on the pour. Deep orange apricot with a bit of hazy and filmy appearance. One finger of light tan head is made and disappears pretty quickly to quite a thin but stable collar. There's a little bit of hint of orange glow towards the edges.

Nice little nose. Juicy fruit qualities, and tropical sweetness. Sort of a juiced papaya and passion fruit richness. Not overly sugary or sweet either, quite impressive but not too complex or diverse either.

Palate comes with a little bit of hop richness. Sharp bitterness and hints of oily zesty lime and lemon. Juiced tropics finish, but with large bitterness and bite. Slightly sour aftertaste, which feels quite a bit odd. Quite a good amount of sharp fizz on first sip, but slowly dissolves to a thin coating in the palate. Just a bit wet too in feel.

Overall it's not bad, quite unique, but probably not one I would want to gravitate to or have again in the realm.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.03/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep orange. Small off-white head. Thin collar.

Smell - Grapefruit hops. Fruity, otherwise. Pale caramel malt.

Taste - Grapefruit hops. Less fruity. Caramel malt. Bitter. A bit of nutty specialty malts.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy body. Moderate bitterness.

Overall - Not very exciting.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.79/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Bottle 0968 from 2010 courtesy of hanzo. Shared with the mrs out of 2 alewerks snifters.

a - brew had a bit of a sludgy look. Mahogany in color with a generous khaki head that dissolved rather quick leaving sparse lacing slicks on the sides of the glass. Really muddy, rusty looking. Not all that attractive.

s - sharp crisp boozy toffee wafers.

t - surprisingly in a good place right now (not that i have anything to compare to, but 2010 is tasting nice right now). As the nose suggested boozy piny toffee with a sharp caramel tinge.

m - thick and chewy.

o - overall seems like a once hopped out american barley where the hops have fully faded and now pushes caramel booze. Reminiscent of bigfoot right after the awkward phase.

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Photo of ThickNStout
3.31/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle from ThatCracker (thanks Andrew!). Bottle 571, 2013. Served in a Bruery snifter.

Pours opaque orange brown with a finger and a half ecrue head. A healthy layer of retention leaves plenty of lace.

Scents of orange, pine, earthy herbal notes and some caramel malts.

Lots of flavor here. Orange peel, caramel, pine, earthy mineral, floral bitterness, leather, toffee, hints of prune, something akin to sweet cough syrup and a significant booze kick. Overall bitter and boozey.

Oily, fairly heavy body with mild carbonation. Boozey, earthy, floral finish.

A relatively straight forward American barleywine. Good enough to drink when presented but I won't be hunting any more.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.16/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle (2013 vintage) into a tulip.

A: Pours a clear copper color. The head is a one finger pale yellow shade. Not only is the retention good, but it leaves behind some nice rings of lacing.

S: The hops here seem to be more citrusy than piny. I even want to say they're kind of berry-forward, suggesting this has Mosaic hops. Caramel and toffee malts are present, but thankfully are subdued. Actually, subdued is a good way to describe the general aroma; still decent, though.

T: Holy crap, where did all this blueberry flavor come from? And not the pure Fruity Pebbles you get in, say, Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat, but actual friggen' blueberries. This note hits the palate immediately and I love it. There's no way this isn't brewed with Mosaic - as well as this brew shows off the berry notes, how can't it be? It finishes with some more piny hop flavors, caramel, toffee, and a twinge of alcohol. Just an all-around excellent barleywine.

M: This is relatively light and crisp (for the style), yet still retains well-concealed alcohol. It's not overly dry, either. It does an excellent job of covering up the 10%.

O: I admit, when Bitter Valentine let me down, it made me take pause over this offering. I was dead wrong: this is freaking fantastic. There's just enough 'balance' to display the berry-forward goodness without overpowering the palate. One of my favorite hoppy barleywines to date.

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Photo of jlindros
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle 190 2012 vintage, thanks to HeadyHops81 for this interesting barleywine, often one of my fav styles.

Light fizzy head, candy apple red color, hazy.

Nose lots of candy malts, light toasty reddish malt, sweet candy, red apple candy coating, light booze, some light esters, nice light spicy hops and bitterness, caramel and toffee, light mineral.

Taste is fairly sweet, lots of candy, mild syrupy, lots of sugar, caramel, toffee, red apple candy and genetic candy sugar, mild fruity flavor too, light warming booze with fruity ester kick, little creamy malt character, smooth. Hops are fairly bitter and spicy, little chewy. Finish is long spicy hop, quite bitter as it dries a bit but still sticky, lots of reddish candy lingering.

Mouth is med to fuller bod, little sticky syrupy, decent carb, nice warming booze.

Overall not bad. Nice malt characters, decent hop bitterness and balance, nice overall barleywine, nothing really wrong, but doesn't really go beyond either.

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Photo of rudzud
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to JLindros for sharing.

A - Poured into a tulip a nice caramel hue with hardly any head thin halo.

S - Aromas of sweet toffee and caramel, light warm alcohol, faint sweet malts, soft vanilla.

T - Taste is nice citrus notes, faint sweet malts, caramel, toffee, faint booze. Quite nice.

M.- Mouthfeel is solid creamy, lightly carbonated, tasty.

O - Overall I enjoyed this beer, lots of caramel notes, not too sweet, solid

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Photo of Vonerichs
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Deep reddish brown hue with a finger of tan head. No lacing and the carbonation stays active.

It has an astringent herbal tea aroma and cherry 'tussin. Deeps smell of toffee.

It's boozy as hell and the cherry flavor makes it taste like cough syrup. Toffee, prune, tea.

Mouthfeel is full and with average carbonation. The alcohol stays on the palate.

I like the aroma but the medicinal quality makes it hard to drink much of it. A good, but not great Barleywine.

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Photo of teromous
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2108 - 2012

A: Dark brown body with hues of red peeping through. It is dark but noticeably transparent. The head is slightly off-white, starts big, then recedes to a small cap. Leaves some lacing. It is a very beautiful looking barleywine.

S: It has a spiced rum scent to it, some plum, some brown sugar, and some alcohol.

T: Very malty and robust. Loads of caramel sweetness, along with some woody flavors. There's a high presence of roasted barley. Hop character brings out bitterness, but not a whole lot when it comes to flavor.

M: It has a very full and thick mouthfeel. It is very dexterous and robust. The bitterness is more towards the back of the palate.

O: Overall it was a good barleywine. I would have personally liked more hop character, but the bitterness was there. It had a good strong bitterness, but the malt really seemed to be the star of the show here. Lots of caramel sweetness at first, followed up by bitterness.

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Photo of alpinebryant
3.87/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

2011 Bottle, nicely aged from a trade, thanks!

A: Pours a very cloudy dark copper color with sticky lacing and a large head that settles in a few minutes to just the edges and a white dusting on the top.

S: Aroma of plum, sweet malt and a light hop profile. This is a very light aroma beer and it smells almost more like a tripel, which smells great, just not what I was expecting. Caramel and toffee.

T: Tons of caramel and long roast caramelized sugars, sweet cotton candy and earthy notes. There is a slight herbal taste along with some tannins that are minor. More than anything this is what I would call a 'chewy' barleywine. Earthy fall leaf flavor and a bit of burnt sugars in here. There was plenty of bittering here, Cascade like hop flavors that I can pick up and dirt.

M: Chewy and a medium to high level of carbonation. Quite good here I think.

O: Overall, its a decent barleywine. Almost a blending of styles here belgian tripel or double in flavor with American Hops. Rock candy and cane sugar like flavors give a little spike on my tongue along with spiking the abv.

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Photo of ckollias
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed this bomber bottle of a Belgian tulip glass.

A: Pours an amber off-white head that slowly dissipates leaving a decent trail and ends in a wispy lace.

S: Sweet extremely malty and barley-wine esk aroma.

T: Very sweet and complex flavors. High alcohol burn masked by the sweetness.

M: Heavy body and medium carbonation.

O: Really good barely-wine – nice sipping beer at 10% abv.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.99/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A. Pours a deep gilded copper, like the last vestiges of fall. Thick and creamy khaki head that erupts to two fingers and settles to a half finger. Excellent retention. Lacing is also top tier: tight, uniform and coating.

S. Classic American Barleywine notes of caramel, raisin, dates, and a resinous blast of hops. Very well-rounded nose.

T. Follows the nose but with more pronounced hops and less residual sugar. Caramel and dark fruit flavors quickly yield to bitter, zesty hops. Herbal and slightly medicinal, age would definitely help this. Right now it is a bit of a hop bomb, with the malt qualities lagging. Still, it is solid.

M. A bit overcarbed which masks a lot of the flavor. Also the hops are a bit overriding and unbalanced. Not to say that it is bad, just some weak spots in an otherwise really good beer.

O. The craftsmanship shows here. It is an above average barleywine, one of the better ones out there. Age will help this a lot, as fresh the carbonation and hops are a little overbearing. That said, it is reasonably balanced and hits the right notes. It is much better than it has to be. I recommend it.

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Photo of axman
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opened 2007 bottle number 0294 and poured it into my Mad Elf snifter for New Year's . . . wasn't exactly sure how long to hold onto it before opening. Very rich mouthfeel, almost sticky. Tastes of caramel, dates, and dried figs (one glass went very nicely with the duck I roasted today.) Beautiful mahogany color with a thick, lingering tan head that laces the glass nicely.

Most barleywines I've tried are too alcohol-forward for me, but I think the aging on this one tamed it nicely--I liked it quite a bit. I also have bottles from 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, but am not sure I want to wait for them all to reach five years of age.

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Photo of GregSVT
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a tulip - 2011 Vintage #1356

A: Pours a dark ruby reddish brown with a decent tan head that fades to a ring and leaves some lacing on the glass.

S: The nose starts with piney hops and citrus followed by caramel malt, slight toffee aromas, and brown sugar. There's also a hint of vanilla in there which is very interesting.

T: The taste is a step up from the nose. The caramel, vanilla, and toffee are more pronounced and the hops are more in the background with pine and citrus flavors on the finish.

M: The feel is on the thicker side of medium with nice creamy carbonation.

O: This is tasty for what it is and something I would probably drink again. I'd love to see it with a few years of age to see how it tastes when the hops fade even more.

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Grand Illumination from AleWerks Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 104 ratings.