The Vermonster - Rock Art Brewery

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The VermonsterThe Vermonster

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very good

519 Ratings

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Ratings: 519
Reviews: 235
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 11.6%
Wants: 40
Gots: 61 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Rock Art Brewery visit their website
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
We brewed The Vermonster with 110 pounds of malt per barrel and jacked up the pour into a wide mouth thin glass goblet.

(Beer added by: BeerBeing on 09-23-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 519 | Reviews: 235 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of YouSkeete
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Thick and quite opaque brownish mahogany. White head, some lacing.

S: Hard notes of candied fruit, vanilla beans, toffee, and roasted coffee beans. Hints of kitchen spices and pepper make their way to the surface.

T: Not too far off from the smell. Sugared (both lighter and darker) fruits and caramel sweetness in the initial sip. aged wood and lots of hop flavors follow soon afterwards. Not much flavor in the aftertaste, which is surprising.

M: Sweet and sticky. Spectacularly full flavor with medium carbonation.

D: Definitely would have this guy again. Gotta love Vermont.

Photo of jzeilinger
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a somewhat hazy, deep mahogany burgundy color with alot of active carbonation and an interesting mix of small tight bubbles and larger bubbles - different. Head is a cream color, thin lacing, and sticks across the top of the entire glass like a cloud cover.

S - Maple syrup, vanilla, spices, dark fruit, and some pine blended in with toffee/caramel malt.

T - Big bold flavoring with a hefty dose of toffee caramel and booze up front which makes way for a solidly bitter finish. The lingering finish consists mostly of grapefruit and tangerine. At first, the booziness was very obvious, but partially into the glass, my palette adjusted and it isn't so prevalent. Likewise, as I work my way into this, there's a definite oaky, woody character that starts to come through.

M - Big, heavy, chewy body and lipsmacking sticky.

D - This one is near exceptional in my book because it hits two styles that I'm very fond of - IPA's and Barlywines.

With 100 IBU's indicated on the label, I couldn't resist! Glad I purchased three bottles of this one, definitely worth a try if you're into bitter Barleys.

Photo of levifunk
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a chimay chalice.

a - very dark brown. somewhat translucent. cream head with good retention and lacing.

s - caramel sweetness. some hops and roasted malts.

t - taste is actually similar to a big DIPA. there is a lot of hops bitterness. goes well with the roasted malts. not very sweet due to the freshness of the hops. this would age VERY well.

m - thicker body with lower carbonating. has a creamy feel.

overall - very interesting beer. I would love to have this aged a couple years.

Photo of nas5755
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A reddish-brown beer with a decent head for the abv and minimal lacing. The nose is full of toffee, dark fruits and bread, citrus and pine notes. The taste has toffee, caramelized malts, dark breads, that barley-wine malt bite bitter hops, a slight alcohol burn on the finish that doesn't interfere with the experience. A nice thick mouth-feel, resinous, enjoyable carbonation. A solid barely-wine that I will revisit again.

Photo of meatyard
3.25/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This poured a finger and 1/2 of light brown, dense head. Retention is good, the body is a dark, hazed caramel and lacing is sparse.

The smell is hops, alcohol and dark roasty malt.

The taste is much the same as the aroma with a strong astringent taste and finishes with mild bitterness.

Mouthfeel is dry and on the thicker side.

Drinkability is not so hot in my opinion. I don't get where the 100 IBUs are hiding (I don't think this is old, I just bought it from a reputable place). The alcohol is always noticeable and there's not too much happening in the taste.

Photo of fear025
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to ShogoKawada for this extra beer!

Aroma:Grapefruit, peaches, apricots, malt, and honey in the aroma. A little bit of oxidation, and some hot alcohol. Smells delicious.

Appearance:Very deep amber in color. Nice light tan head.

Taste:It's mildly to moderately hoppy, I'm not sure when this was bottled, but it doesn't taste like 100 IBU. The hop flavors that are there are apricot and peach, other than that there is some hop bitterness that comes through. The hop flavors do intensify a little as it warms. Underlying it all are rich malt flavors.

Mouthfeel:Rich and thick body on this one. Also a little bit of hop astringency.

Drinkability:I like this one, and I think they are on the right track. I need to try and get a really fresh bottle to try.

Photo of msubulldog25
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A Veterans Day special, following a couple hours of cleaning and working in the garage; cold an misty rain falling, an apt afternoon treat. 22 oz. bottle, poured over time to a snifter.

100 IBU, it's 'Ridge Runner's Big Brother'. Thanks to charliedvrs for sending...

A: Maple syrup/mahogany brown-ness, amber warmth at the core. A brief beige head that fades quickly to a sudsy ring and patch of gauze. Small flecks of lace; nothing to get too excited over, but a nice looking ale.

S: Huge aroma, straight from the bottle - pine and citrus and a sweet and alluring holiday-spiced cake. Cocoa dustings and carefully placed fruits...mmm.

T: More pine-y, but not nearly so bitter. A tangy spice of sawn wood, kinda sappy. Something minty (a little medicinal mouthwash) in the finish. Late there's more orange / tangerine, lasting balance.

M: Slightly thin, but smooth enough. Tiny carbonation, good creaminess.

D: The 'hype' surrounding this off-named ale (a litigious situation with the 'Monster' energy drink folks scuffled late last year) made it worth seeking; good flavor and aroma made it worth enjoying. Not the most amazing barleywine I've tried, but not a disappointment either.

Photo of koopa
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a Russian River tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours an attractive burgundy with a 2 finger white crown that displays some retention and lace.

Smell: Nice amount of pine hops over caramel malt.

Taste: Same as the nose. Moderate bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick side of medium bodied with good carbonation. A touch chewy but not unnervingly so.

Drinkability: Big abv and hefty mouthfeel without too much flavor complexity.

Photo of mjaskula
3.73/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a brandy sniffer as directed by the bottle. I'm drinking this at about a year old. Unfortunately I never tasted it fresh, so I can't make any comparisons. The beer is a reddish brown with a light tan head that disappears very quickly and leaves a few spots of lacing.

The aroma is strong thick sweet and syrupy. Including pine, alcohol, vanilla and oak. Even after a year the hop flavor is still strong and up front. The malt sweetness comes next followed by strong hop bitterness. The bitterness hangs on a bit long and throws the balance off a bit. There also seems to be a bit of oak flavor, though the label doesn't mention barrel aging.

Mouthfeel is moderately thick and typical of of a barleywine. Overall it's very nice, I'd like to see how it would do with another year or two to tame the hops down.

Photo of Thorpe429
2.25/5  rDev -42%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Picked this up at Julio's last March before KTG. Figured Id give it a try after all the press.

Pours a moderate copper with an off white head. Smell is sweet malt, red fruits, alcohol, and a touch of caramel. Taste goes quite a bit downhill with some astringencies and a bit of a metallic flavor. The sweetness comes through, but that's about it. Mouthfeel is slightly boozy and off-puttingly dry. Poor drinkability, which is disappointing as I was quite looking forward to breaking this out with the cool weather.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate magazine Vol. II Issue IX:

We can't see why 10 percent ABV and 100 IBUs can't live up to the name. Extreme lives in Vermont!

Head retention performs very well, with a good amount of stickage from a sizable head. Weathered copper color, good clarity as long as you leave the sediment in the bottle, obviously. A big aroma here, wildflowers, citrus peel, pine sap and spearmint come from the hops, with a smattering of alcoholic fruitiness and malt sweetness underneath. So smooth and full bodied with a bitty character solely from the massive amount of hops used. Hop bitterness is, without a doubt, strong but never to the point of absolute overkill; it's always on top with this tagalong tangerine/orange flavor. The alcohol has no problem pushing the taste buds around with a handful of fruity esters and a mild, clean solvent character. Hops drop a load of flavors, chocolate mint, evergreen, blonde tobacco and tangerine zest. While balance is not even on the table, the malt backbone holds together quite well with both toasted grain and caramel flavors in the middle. Finishes with a long, lingering hop bitterness and steers toward dry.

Wow, is this Bigfoot's uncle? Not for the faint of palate as this beer rips across the taste buds. However, a must for the hophead and a great find for the typical beer geek. As for cellaring, don't. Drink it fresh and let the hops take you for a ride.

Photo of JayQue
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pretty good Barleywine. Could use a little less alcohol in the taste, but otherwise the richness and balance between malts and bitterness are good.

Poured into a pint glass. Amber/orange color, kind of hazy. Medium size antique white head, good retention for 10% abv and some lacing. Aroma is weaker than a lot of good Barleywines...mostly malts and alcohol.

Taste starts with caramel malts and finishes with fairly impressive hops bitterness. The alcohols ever present but has less bite as the beer warms. Big flavors as you would expect with a good Barleywine

Mouthfeel is rich...on the light side of rich by Barleywine standards but still in the ballpark. Starts out smooth and malty, ends up crisp with the bitterness.

Alcohol taste has some effect on both mouthfeel and drinkability, but this is still a drinkable Barleywine. I am drinking the whole bottle and enjoying all 22 oz.

Photo of CHickman
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque dark brown in color with a little orange around the edges and a 2 finger creamy/foamy tan head that lasted a while with tons of tight little bubbles forming the head; good lacing that slid down the glass leaving rings as it went down.

Smells of caramel, coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, burnt wood, dark fruit like dates or figs, faint floral hops, piney hops, light alcohol and brown sugar; really nice sweet malty aroma that mixes in waves of smoky, toasted malts and grains with some light hops sifting through for a fine balancing act.

Tastes like it smells, with roasted malts, caramel, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, wet bread or biscuit, burnt wood, faint floral hops, brown sugar, alcohol like rum or bourbon, raisin, date, pine cone, some orange zest and a bitterness from the hops and other dark fruits that I can't pinpoint; complex smoky malt flavor that jumps to bitter as it finishes.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, with little to no carbonation and a chewy, medium to heavy body, as to be expected with a barleywine.

Low drinkability, this beer was meant for slow sipping and savoring, and is perfect for a nice cool evening. Overall a very tasty beer that went down easy considering the ABV and complexity. The alcohol is always present and provides a constant warming sensation, but that is the essence of this style. As it warms (and the alcohol kicks in), it gets better and is definitely worth a try!

1/27/13-Just had this again as my buddy Sean brought down a fresh bottle from VT, and man was this hoppy and full of life. Everything about it was hoppier, with the hops much more present in the aroma and flavor. Rich smoky malts and caramel still dominate, but the hops in thi sbottle make this seem like it was oak aged. Super slick, this went down with extreme ease and was so flavorful that the ABV was only a minor accent. A great beer.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

"The monster lives." - Metallica

10% abv., 100 IBUs, 1lbs. of dry hops per barrel - I like Rock Art's commitment to nice round numbers.

Dark amber, clear at thinner points in the glass and opaque at the wider. Thick beige head splashes swarthy lace askew. Good retention, almost made it all the way to the glass bottom and this one took my awhile to get through.

Aroma is juicy candy malt, with cocoa nibs and orange citrus. Alcoholic whispers hint at a still potentially hot beer.

Like the aroma taste is dominated by sweet, fruit laden malt with ample caramel backup. Alcohol that was hinted at in the nose comes through as promised, carried by orange and pine needle hops. Minor roast malt in finish.

This bottle is from 10/9 so at almost a year in the cellar it's way, way too hot. Comes across as raw in general though and I like that in a beer so aptly named as The Vermonster.

Photo of cavedave
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Light brown with ruby highlights, a one finger dark beige head, a thick looking almost clear beauty of a barleywine.

The smell is malty caramel, rounded yeast notes, some really pleasing floral hop, and hints of herbal, citrus, pine, even fainter hints of light roast. Not strong as some, but nice.

It starts with bready sweet and a touch of tart yeast, quickly the dark caramel jumps the sip, and hangs in there as herbal bitter, pine, and some slight roast careens into a finish that is quite dry and bitter, just sweet enough, no alcohol burn or bite, and fine.

Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than many, despite its sweetness, but viscous in the mouth, a long finish, with herbal bitter coating the palate until next sip.

This is a tasty sipper that empties from glass quite quickly.

Impression: Another fine beer from Rock Art. If you like a hoppy barleywine you'll love this.

Photo of jamie2dope
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Glad to hear that Rock Art came out on top with their legal battles surrounding this brew. Anyway, Vermonster comes out a dark ruby/brown color with a healthy inch of tan heading that lasts. The nose is of caramel, honey, dark fruit, (strawberries come to mind) and an herbal, spicy smell as well. The taste starts off on the sweet side for a split second, and then the 100 IBUs worth of hops make their appearance, bathing the palate with juicy, yet bitter hop notes. I also get some grapefruit, tobacco, and bubblegum. The bitterness cannot be overstated with this beer. While the body is very big, the alcohol is not readily noticeable. The drinkability is hindered somewhat by the astringent amount of bitterness from the hops, though I suspect that is precisely what they were going for this time. Final thoughts are that it is nice to see a Barleywine with such a heavy hop presence. Comparing a fresh bottle with an aged one would be very interesting I suspect.

Photo of kiddynamite920
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Appears to be quite a monster indeed. Very dark red, nearing a dark brown. Head is tan and quite nice looking. Good fluffy bubbles along some tight lacing.

S: This smells strong. Great dark fruit aroma here with some peach and grapefruit as well. Some bready, biscuity type aroma with some alcohol for sure. Definitely a huge malt presence. Great, stylistically.

T: Dark cherries, graciously blessed with some good old fashioned American hopping. Sweetness hits first, but you are met with a blast of hops and bitterness. Caramel notes and bready, malty flavors are abundant. Kind of a flip flop between malty and hoppy, a little unbalanced. Perhaps some age would do this nicely.

M: Super creamy and malty, barleywine for sure. Great feel to this beer. Carbonation is on point.

D: This one is something to take slow. It sure is a monster, and it deserves its respect. Nice take at an American Barleywine.

Photo of ElGallo
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I think every true beer fan wants to love this beer based on the plight of the brewery this past year to keep the name intact and corporate Monsters from bullying the little guy. That said, I do like this beer a lot, even though it may not rock my art world. I will point out that Rock Art beers are affordably priced. Me like that.

22 oz. bomber poured into a balloon glass. Good finger of tan head and decent lacing. Nice caramel in the nose with some subtle hop bitterness detected. Taste is good chilled but better as it warms, and a note on the bottle is kind enough to tell you this. Thank you bottle.

Overall a very nice offering from a small brewery. Vermont continues to churn out nice little beers at a decent price.

Photo of StephenRich
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The Rock Art Brewery was recently the subject of a U.S. Corporate David vs. Goliath story. On September 14th 2009, Monster Energy Drinks decided to sue the small Vermont Brewery requesting that they "cease and desist" brewing, selling and marketing their Barleywine The Vermonster, brewed to celebrate Rock Art's 10th anniversary brewing. Matt Nadeau, the founder of Rock Art took on corporate America's battle of the fat wallets, even after being urged that it is near impossible to win these battles, and even if he had won, it would probably sink the brewery into debt and bankruptcy.

Matt is a whole hearted American entrepreneur, and stood behind his principles stating that it is liberty, principle and justice that is at stake here, and he cannot simply bow down to billion dollar corporate law firms. Support poured in from around the country; within the first 30 hours over 3,000 tweets where poured out in favor of Rock Art, along with letters and emails from fans and craft beer lovers.

So thankfully Rock Art persevered though this ridiculous hardship, and today I was able to enjoy a bottle of this now famed Vermontster Barleywine, thanks to Matt's passion and steadfast morals. Well done Matt!

I have actually had the Vermonster many times before; two of my best friends and I go to the Vermont Brewers Festival every year where we soak up the beautiful state and all the amazing beer it has to offer.

The Vermonster comes in 650ml bottles at 10% abv, it is also listed at 100 IBU; so be ready for a powerfully flavorful and bitter beer. It is fitting though of a barleywine. The pour is powerful and aggressive yielding a hazy mahogany brown beer with deep red brick ambers and lots of carbonation present. Touches of black streak through the completely opaque beer up to a short off white almost tan head which is gone by the time you are done admiring it.

The nose is rich and big; very directly it comes at you with caramel malts, dried fruits like apricot, figs and papaya. Hops are immediately noticeable showing signs of west coast IPA - pine, citrus spice, orange zest, apricots and fresh crisp bitter are all there. Lots of fruit sits easily on your nose and the rich sense of dough, brown sugar, deep malt and soft leather also stretch across the beer.

Being a big barleywine, technically it should be served warm around 14C (54F). Now, this isn't room temperature, that is around 21C, but it is significantly warmer than many people are used to. This being said, starting a barleywine cool around 8C can allow you to enjoy the flavor characteristics at both 8 and 14C. It is unlikely that you are going to pound this big beer, so I would recommend pouring it closer to 8C, and then examine how the beer changes in character as it warms. Most likely you will experience sensations ranging from crisp and quenching all the way to warm and soothing.

Open your palate to this beer and let it flow across you - thick caramel malts move their way in with a huge party of tropical fruits, dried fruits, pine, zesty hops, tangy but bitter malts and hops, then warming alcohol. If you started this warmer you are getting a bigger rush of dried fruit and roasted caramel malt and probably also a mixture of severely bitter hops with burnt brown sugar. If cool, then the beer is powerful and dry but very refreshing. Its bitter quenches but leave you thirsty for more because the malt sweetness is so perfectly satisfying.

The mouthfeel is cloying and slightly thick but carbonation helps lift the flavors through your palate easily. And by easily, I mean powerfully. There is a lot going on in this big barleywine, very fitting of Rock Art's 10th anniversary. The finish is dry and very delicious with a hint of black cherries or raspberry. Enjoy this on its own after dinner or as a night cap with friends. And please pour into a snifter, tulip, or red wine glass, NOT a pint glass. Thank you! Your efforts will reward you.

Photo of largadeer
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An extra from craytonic, thanks! Surprisingly, I haven't tried this one before.

Murky in the pour, a rusty copper hue. A small off-white head tops the body, quickly settling to a collar. Not the most appetizing looking barleywine.

The aroma exhudes caramelized malts, dates and resiny hops, fruit preserves. It has a slight sherry quality to it.

Unexpectedly delicious, this has a big caramel malt flavor to it with undertones of dark fruit and sherry, reminding me of traditional English barleywines, only with significantly more hops. The malt character is rich without lending excessive sweetness, almost nutty in character. Full-bodied with a long resiny finish, plenty complex but easy to sip on; this is one of the finer American barleywines I've had this year.

Photo of MaxBrewell
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Rich, dark-amber with a quarter-inch, tan head that clings to the glass.

S - Malty nose with mild fig and raisin aroma. A hint of floral hops is barely detectable.

T - The toffee, raisin, and malt flavors mute the hops in this one, but the combination hides the high ABV quite well.

M - Medium body and creamy, smooth. Mild carbonation and the body improves as it warms.

D - Very drinkable for such a big beer. I'd like to see how this one ages.

Photo of mentor
4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a finger and a half of light tan head over cloudy brown liquid. Smells piney and lemony hops with caramel and vanilla carried on a clean alcohol. Wow, that fruity alcohol waft was really yummy. Could use a bit more complexity, but it was enticing.

Tastes potent piney hop flavor with supporting malt sweet, and clean hop bitter. Clean stingy alcohol mixed with fine sharp carbonation. Hop flavor is strong pine, mild pith, and a hint of lemon. Malt is caramel and brown. Esters are cherry (without the sour), watermelon, and blackberry. Wow this beer is wonderful, I bet it would be fantastic with a year or two in the cellar. Great sherry-like oxidation potential. Md-thick body with medium, fine, carbonation.

Highly recommended!

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In a tulip glass this beer was a dark red/brown color with a thick tan head and a good bit of lace.
Aroma of fruit and caramel.
Interesting taste: raisin, caramel, and tobacco. They went really well together. A bite of hops at the end.
Alcohol was certainly noticeable, but did nothing to detract from the beer.
Very nice to drink.

Photo of russellaaron69
3.45/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark ruby into a tulip style glass. Solid finger and a half of head with decent lacing. Smell is quite hoppy w/ strong notes of pine. Slight hint of malt comes though if u look for it. Taste was hoppy w/ a definite pine oil & citrus taste up front. As the beer warms it begins to show its malt & caramel sweetness. Mouthfeel was slightly lacking in my personal opinion. I like barelywines w/ a full mouthfeel & this has a medium mouthfeel at best. The drinkability was good. Every sip went down smoothly & it hides the alcohol content rather well. All together this is not a bad beer by anymeans. It just doesn't stand up to some of the other American barelywines out there.

Photo of Brez07
3.35/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a tulip

A: Nutty brown with a 2 finger sand colored head. Fairly good retention for the first half of the glass

S: Very hop forward. Nice blend of pine, citrus, honey and raisin/fig with a tinge of alcohol. This one probably improves with age

T: Again, hops at the fore front, bringing with it a rather bitter taste. Very dry. No sweetness to speak of

M: Fairly thin, which caught me off guard a bit. Somewhat smooth with a bitter finish that overwhelms the palate

D: I had higher hopes for this one, but in the end I'd say it's a fairly average barleywine. On the plus side the alcohol is hidden well. Would like to see how it ages

The Vermonster from Rock Art Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 519 ratings.