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Grand Illumination - AleWerks Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Grand IlluminationGrand Illumination

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

208 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 208
Reviews: 100
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 9.74%
Wants: 29
Gots: 50 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
AleWerks Brewing Company visit their website
Virginia, United States

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 208 | Reviews: 100
Photo of mhbarber
2.65/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Barleywine? Poured a hazy haze, no nose, fine mouthfeel...just an odd beer.

Photo of Sludgeman
3.44/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Tasted the 2013 version at the 2015 Mad Fox Barleywine Festival.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.4/5  rDev +12.8%
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.

Photo of Gregaroo
3.31/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

Photo of cjgiant
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%

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.

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

Photo of MacQ32
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
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

Photo of smakawhat
3.69/5  rDev -5.4%
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.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.03/5  rDev -22.3%
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.

Photo of cosmicevan
3.79/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Photo of ThickNStout
3.31/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.16/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

Photo of jlindros
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

Photo of rudzud
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
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

Photo of Vonerichs
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

Photo of teromous
4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

Photo of alpinebryant
3.87/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Photo of ckollias
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

Photo of siege06nd
3.99/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

Photo of axman
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

Photo of GregSVT
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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

Bottle 0079 from the 2010 batch.

Pours a hazy, ruby/mahogany color with highlights of orange beneath a creamy khaki head of foam. The head retention is average and leaves some spotty lacing.

Aromas begin with waves of caramel dark maltiness and lighter toffee. Lighter dark fruity notes emerge with some light faded citrus and earthy/herbal hops that emerge more as it warms.

The tastes follow the nose but less complex and enjoyable. Opens with the faded herbal/earthy hops but then you get the caramel and toffee maltiness, but it is not as full flavored or malty as I expected. Finish is slightly watery and lacking overall which is really really surprising given the ABV and style.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation. The body is much less full and the finish leaves much to be desired.

Overall, while this is extremely drinkable and tasty, I cannot give it top marks for the style. Finish is on the watery and simple side, and the flavor profile does not leave you wanting more. Maybe it is because I have sampled pretty much every top barleywine on the planet and I am extra critical because it is my favorite style but this is less than memorable and I won't be revisiting anytime soon.

Photo of scottfrie
3.41/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into snifter. 0387 bottled 2010. Thanks to the BA who sent this to me long ago.

A: Pours a lightly cloudy burnt copper with a finger of greasy dark tan head that quickly faded into a thin collar that left soapy lace down the glass.
S: Sweet sugary notes of candied fruits and caramel malts. I get some dried dates and dark fruits as well. Not super complex, but still good smelling.
T: Subtle flavors. Dark fruits, mellow hop resin, caramel, and maybe a hint of vanilla. I get big notes of leather and tobacco coming through in the finish.
M: Full body, greasy slick mouthfeel, mostly hidden alcohol and easy carbonation. A tad sharp around the edges.
O: Solid barleywine. Nothing outstanding but flavorful enough and easy to drink. Would drink again, but wouldn’t go out of my way to obtain.

Photo of avalon07
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a brownish color and a murky texture. There was a two inch, foamy, long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A fair amount of hops in the aroma, with a good shot of malt as well.

T: Tasted of hops, malt, caramel, and a slight hint of a grassy quality in the finish. The taste here is a bit unfocused and out of balance. There should be bigger hops presence. Not a bad flavor, but not as good as it could have been.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a somewhat slick finish. Medium-bodied.

O: Grand Illumination is one of those beers that just wasn't pushed quite far enough. Some attributes are good, others not as much.

Photo of dafizzif
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 0982 from 2010 poured into St. Bernardus goblet.
Appearance: Hazy dark bronze with thin off-white head.

Smell: Alcoholic dark fruit. Smells of hazelnuts, nutmeg, raisin, and apricot with caramel malts. No hops at all as expected.

Taste: Intense malty taste with spicy finish. Tastes like dark fruit with a warming alcohol feeling. Hops flavor have totally faded though there is some bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Syrupy and kind of thick but not much more than a medium body. Still a bit of carbonation going on.

Overall: Pretty good beer, but not the best barleywine I have ever had. The age seemed to have made this a pretty neat beer.

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Grand Illumination from AleWerks Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 208 ratings.