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Old Cellar Dweller - Driftwood Brewery

Not Rated.
Old Cellar DwellerOld Cellar Dweller

Educational use only; do not reuse.

46 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 46
Hads: 120
Avg: 4.19
pDev: 9.07%
Wants: 57
Gots: 40 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Driftwood Brewery visit their website
British Columbia, Canada

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BDTyre on 12-26-2008

This intense concentration of malt and hops is delicious when fresh but can be layed down for years. Enjoy with care!
View: Beers (19) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 46 | Hads: 120
Photo of atomeyes
4.94/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Tried this side by side with the Old Barrel Dweller.
I actually liked this more.

The dry hopping was amazing. A beautiful tangerine nose with a faint hint of raspberry. The beer had a great balance of sweetness with a bit of hoppiness. the alcohol was there but not too hot.

a beautiful sipper on a cold Ontario winter night. would drink again and again. one of the best barley wines i've had.

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Photo of Mages64
4.82/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage red wax from firefly.
Appearance: deep brown with Marion edges. Big fluffy head with lots of lacing.
Nose: big pine hop nose, alcohol heat, malty and caramel. Some brown sugar notes too.
Taste: huge hop flavor with a solid malt backbone. Hops and malt are super balanced and play immensely well together.
Mouthfeel: alcohol heat is noticeable but I love my barleywines with some booze underneath. Full and thick with tight carbonation.
Overall: one of the best non barrel aged barleywines I've had.

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Photo of drpimento
4.75/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer! Poured at a good temperature with a smallish, foamy, cream-colored, short lived head and no lace. Color is a clear honey amber. Aroma is malt, caramel, bread dough, resin, pumpernickel.. Flavor's much like nose, complex, mammoth; has sweet/bitter/tang all intertwined and up front along with hop. Body is full and while very bitter, there's enough sweet to round it off and just right carbonation to keep it lively. Finish is like flavor, very long and surprisingly only slight alcohol warmth for its strength. Would love to get some more to lay by.

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Photo of smekermann
4.57/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage

My problem with barleywines is that they're generally too sweet and cloying, making them about as appealing as wearing a wet pair of underwear on a chilly winter evening. Admittedly, I'm not a barleywine connoisseur; I've had my fair share of them, but I don't really go out of my way to try them. I've had Thor's Hammer recently, which fit my previous description (sweet, cloying) to a tee and before that I've had releases from Stone, Rogue and North Coast most of which were pretty damn enjoyable, and in Rogue's case, sort of mouth-destroying. I don't mind that, though. I enjoy and respect a beer that can take me down in one bottle, which is why I guess I respect this style of beer.

Old Cellar Dweller is probably the best barleywine I've had so far. This is obviously very subjective, but it hits all the right notes with me: it's dry as a bone, it's bitter as hell (100 IBUs) and it's insanely boozy (again, this is the 2011 version so it's 14%). It doesn't try to hide the booze, which doesn't really bother me. I'm not sure how you'd even begin to hide booze in beers over 12%, really.

The taste is pure malty, roasty bitterness with a hint of sweetness in the aftertaste and maybe an even fainter hint of almond. The reason this beer is somewhat dangerous is that it's not cloying; it's surprisingly dry for being 14% and full-bodied, but given the circumstances, it's outright drinkable. Don't be fooled, however: this is a beer that should be shared between at least 2-3 people or to be enjoyed over a period of several hours, preferably with a nice medium to full-bodied cigar.

Overall, I think this beer is fairly comparable to XS Old Crusty. It's probably a more ass-kicking beer (14% abv versus 11.2% or whatever Old Crusty is nowadays), and it has only 10 less IBUs than Old Crusty. It also is slightly more enjoyable in terms of mouthfeel and aftertaste. Old Crusty pretty much assaulted you with hops and burnt malt. This does almost the same thing but it feels... classier, somehow; more balanced. This is based on what I remember of Old Crusty, as I haven't had that beer in a couple years, so I may be talking out of my ass. Nonetheless, if you like Old Crusty or beers similar to it, you should give this a shot (if you can find it). It's a really impressive take on the style.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.52/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, 11.5% abv per the bottle

Served in a lost abbey teku - rich garnet body, nice bubbly beige lace. Layered aromas of dark fruit, sugars, caramelized grapefruit, booze. The 2012 vintage I had on tap recently was noticeably hoppier than this slightly aged bottle - I tend to prefer the fresher batches it would appear (surprise, surprise as aging beer is stupid). Regardless, this is exceptionally complex and layered - glazed citrus, sugars, pine sap, booze soaked dark fruit.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened a bottle of the 2009 and it is good. Complex and full of big nuances( lots of hops but the malt end is big and creates a long finish). The smoothness on the mouthfeel only adds to the drinkability. One of the best BC barley wines and it will only get better in the cellar.

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Photo of sammytag
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The 2010 Edition. @ 11.8% abv.

a - Beautiful. A clear, deep amber. A torrent of tiny bubbles rise from the walls of my glass. A firm, white head hangs around. First barley wine of the season. I'm psyched.

s - not what i'm accustomed to as far as barley wine goes. very fruity. Powerful grapefruit note and a blast of herbal hoppiness dominates. I'm getting ready for a big hop bite.

t - Wow! Huge hop flavour, a rich malty backdrop serves to exalt the interplay of hops. i'm at a loss for words as to how to characterize the absolute forcefulness of grapefruit and apricot. So prominent, aggressive and palatially challenging. Unique for a barley wine, in that there are no detectable dark fruits (date, prune, raisin) that i've come to expect from a BW. This is all light fruit, married to a robust, peerless hop symphony. The hops are aggressive in flavour, but the bitterness is light, and just right. A boozy sweet alcoholic finish is the perfect conclusion. Very complex. Poetic, almost.

m - perfect. there's no other way to describe it. The carbonation perfectly compliments the flavour explosion occurring in my mouth as this thick, thick beer hits the tongue.

d - i would drink this every day if it wasn't $12 a bottle. Being from edmonton, I declare this brew the Yin to Alley Kat's Olde Deuteronomy's Yang. My god. Unbelievable.

I would recommend drinking this at cellar room temperature - cool, but not cold. It's truly symphonic. Drink with dark chocolates and rich desserts, or all on its own. Tastes like it will definitely stand the test of time. Try it.

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Photo of cmadd
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2011 bottle picked up from Brewery Creek.

A: Clear amber nectar. Varies in hue from deep red to light gold. Poured into a snifter with about a finger of head and receded to wisps of lace.

S: Beautiful grapefruit nectarine and citrus hop with an alcohol kick. The hop aroma is a very powerful one dimensional Columbus hop. In the background there's the light nutty toffee of pale malt.

T: Follows the smell pretty directly. Sweet hoppy citrus and nectarine. Pale malt's sweet nuttiness holds up the backbone. This is a huge beer with a lingering bitterness from the hops and malt that plays a little rough. Balance spot on. Not cloying.

M: Mouthfeel was spot on, but not overly remarkable. Still notably good.

O: Wow. This might be one of the best barleywine I've ever had. I enjoyed the fact that it showcased the Columbus hops and the pale malt. I will definitely be putting some down to see what emerges when the beer settles with age and the hops diminish. Driftwood is putting out some really stunning beers.

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Photo of andrenaline
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 Edition. Props to my bro for sending this bottle my way. Super pumped to finally try this beast!

A - Pours a nice hazy ruby mahogany colour, thumb of off-white head with solid retention and some sporadic lacing.

S - Big bold scent, booze is noticeable, dark chocolate, molasses, burnt sugar, hints of blak licorice and tobacco smoke.

T - Insanely smooth at 11.8%, molasses and black licorice flavours dominate alongside earthy hop notes, burnt caramel, and alcohol sweetness. Candied sugar, molasses and milk caramel linger with a touch of ABV heat.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and surprisingly wet.

O - Another high quality brew from a brewer that continues to impress me. Definitely a privilege to have had the opportunity to try it. Worth picking up for anyone who has access, as it will surely not disappoint.

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

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a medium red-orange amber, with a nice one finger fine light tan head and lacing. Aroma of piney and citrus hops, faint sweet malt. Flavor is sweet and somewhat aromatic malt with light hints of dark fruit and vanilla. Finishes with creamy caramel malt, citrus and hops. Creamy medium to heavy body. Well integrated and seems already age mellowed; the hops are not dominating, but still have a fresh herbal taste. Alcohol is well hidden (maybe too well, @ 14% !). I hope I can find another bottle to age, because flavors are quite well blended already and it will be interesting to see what happens with a year or two on this.

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Photo of GrindFatherBob
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes. Consumed 3/5/12 just catching up.

2011 Vintage

Thanks to Mages64 for grabbing 2 of these for me, you're a great dude.

A- clear ruby with an inch and a half of beautiful beige head, decent retention, sticky lacing

S- sweet and biscuity malts, huge citrus hop character

T- I can vividly remember the maltiness of this, it was fucking huge and bready. Big hop bitterness, tropical, grapey, citrusy, floral. Alcohol was well hidden for 14%, didn't really burn or anything.

M- Sharp, coating, well integrated heat, lingering bitterness entwined with the giant malt base.

O- probably my favorite of the american variety of barleywines that i've come across. would love to get more if possible.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage, Poured Feb 2015 (2 years of age)
Big thanks to FondueVoodoo for the bottle!

Pours a light copper color with an orange hue, 1-2 fingers of creamy off-white head, persistent and leaving nice lacing. The nose is dominated by sweet toasted malt, a little toffee and a hint of sweet citrus. On the palate, the grains dominate again, sweet and toasty with a enough hop additions to balance it all out. The body is big and creamy smooth with just the right amount of carbonation to keep it lively. Based on other reviews, I think this beer needs a year or two of age because it is drinking extremely well now!

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Photo of liamt07
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle sampled at Volo, poured into a flute glass. Labelled as being LCBO lab tested at 14.1% ABV. 2010 vintage.

Poured a golden amber with a transient off whtie head that fades quick, leaving behind a small collar. This one has big legs. Nose has a shit load of malt and hops going on here, citrusy, with some toffee and caramel. Some vanilla and a sharp flash of the alcohol also. Relatively complex and full. Opens up thick and viscous on the palate initially, and suddenly the hops begin to take over. More huge citrus notes interplay with the malt, loads of caramel and toffee again. More vanilla, and maybe some oak (?). Alcohol comes through mid-palate and lasts, burning down the throat. Mouthfeel is sticky, viscous and full; alcohol comes through a bit more than I'd like it to. Again, something I'd like to sit on to see how it turns out, but this one was quite good.

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Photo of Viggo
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz foiled bottle, I think bobsy cracked this one at our barleywine tasting.

Pours a mostly clear reddish amber, nice colour, big and thick off white head forms, settles down to a very thick layer and ring, tons of lace sticks to the glass.

Smell is really nice, citrus and grapefruit hoppiness, tons of caramel, alcohol, dark fruit, earthy, very pungent hops, toffee and biscuit, big malt and big hops, delicious.

Taste is similar, toffee, biscuit, raisin, brown sugar sweetness, grapefruit, alcohol, pine, spicy and herbal bitterness, huge malty middle, great balance.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low to medium carbonation, some warmth going down. This is a fine barleywine, maybe the best example of an American barleywine made in Canada. I look forward to seeing how this one ages. Thanks Rob!

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Photo of wordemupg
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650ml bomber poured into tulip 6/29/11

A dark amber nearly ruby when held to the light with a short lived finger of tan head that leaves a patch of random lace, almost looks like legs on the side of the glass when you swirl

S pine resin and big sweet citric hops mixed up with toffee and booze

T what I smell but a little nutty and even more citric notes and heaps of caramel and toffee, the booze is hard to miss but not unreasonable for a beer this strong, some candied fruit on the finish and grapefruit rind is the lingering flavor

M silky syrup at first then the bubbles cream it up a bit, it has a little bite and burn to it and its sticky on the lips, feels great flavors stick to your mouth just kept from perfection by the heat

O pretty tasty stuff, I could imagine this was quite the hop bomb fresh because there's still a shitload of hops in now, after a little time to mellow out this one would be world class

another thanks to chickenm for sending me a pair of these, I'm thrilled I have another of these to age this one will hold up for years to come.

Anyone with vintage bottles BM me and we can work something out

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Photo of montrealbcr89
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle into a snifter. A deep orangey-red with minimal head.

S: When I poured it, there was a ton of citrusy/tropical fruits on the nose. Big grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Smelled similar to an IPA. As it warmed up, however, the malt started to appear. Coupled with the fruitiness, there was caramel, toffee, and brown sugar.

T: Right off the bat there is big bitter, fruity characteristics. Again, ver IPAish. Towards the back on the tongue emerged the malt character. That sweet toffee and brown sugar really made its presence felt towards the finish.

M: Medium to full bodied. Creamy mouthfeel. I started drinking this beer probably seven minutes after taking it out of the fridge. It was super drinkable then. Once it began to really warm up, however, it got a little more boozy, and turned into more of a sipper.

O: Definitely could have drank the whole bottle to myself (really tasty), but is better enjoyed when shared. Have another one that will be sitting in the cellar for a few years to see how this thing changes. Highly recommended.

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Photo of bobsy
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Popped the 2008 at a barleywine tasting a year after its bottling.

Pours the colour of blood orange, with a thin tan cap that had decent retention and lacing.
The nose is really cool, and puts me in the mind of a big imperial ipa. There's certainly a boatload of hops in there, and they come through with strong grapefruit and floral notes. Underneath there's a caramel base mixing in with dark fruit. The hops come through strong on the first sip. They are slightly piny and fruity with an emphasis on grapefruit, and the bitterness they deliver is substantial. Brown sugar and dark fruit provide some sweetness and help craft a delicate balance. Medium bodied and carbonated.

I liked this one a lot. It manages to be big and bold, while also having great balance. Thanks to ritzkiss for trading me the bottle earlier this year.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Chris for this bottle.
2012 Vintage poured in to tulip.

A - Poured murky dark brown and settled almost completely opaque with just a slight ruby glow around the edges. A thin layer of cream coloured head formed on the pour.

S - Sweet caramel, toffee, brown sugar and a big hop profile with a citrus aroma.

T - Follows the nose. Sweet caramel, toffee and brown sugar with some generous hopping that lends a big bitterness and some citrus flavours.

M - Medium, almost full body. Chewy. Light carbonation. Excellent mouthfeel.

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Photo of SebD
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottle courtesy of FondueVoodoo in CANBIF 2013

Appearance: It has a nice hazy orangy/amber color to it. It has a nice light beige head that dies down somewhat fast and leaves some lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of dark fruit, (alot of raisins), bready malts, sweet caramel, toffee, brown suguar, mild hops and some booziness.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has alot of sweet dark fruit, caramel and toffee along with some brown suguar, a nice piney bitterness and a boozy warming feeling at the end. I'm not tasting much of that breadiness that I picked up in the aroma.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a very nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas.

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Photo of peensteen
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep redish brown colour, light layer of white head not really any lace to speak of. Smell is of caramel and toffee, malty, hops, subtle citrus notes, faint alcohol but surprisingly hoppy. Taste is of caramel, malt, nice bitter hops, vanilla, almost an oak presence, brown sugar, sweet sugar notes. Syrupy feel, great full weight, carbonation is almost perfect. Great american barleywine good example of style. Would love to have a bottle at home to develop further.

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Photo of Rutager
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance. Pours a cloudy, deep amber red with a finger of sticky looking, light yellow-orange head.

Smell. Fruity, floral hops and sweet caramel. Some pear, grapefruit and a little booze.

Taste. Sweet toffee initially dominates followed by raisins ...and then the bitterness takes hold. Building bitter pine sap, grapefruit rind and lasting a grassy, floral hops. Alcohol present but not overwhealming.

Mouthfeel. Heavy, full body, lower carbonation, warm alcohol.

Overall. Great stuff. If it cools down a bit it'll be even nicer.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Rutager for getting me this beer in a nice over-the-border trade!

Date: 02/16/2012
Type: 22oz. Bomber
Glass: Ommegang Tulip
Vintage: 2010

Pours a light mahoghany brown in color w/ a 1 finger white pillowy head that leaves pretty heavy lacing. Aromas of caramel, toffee, citrus fruits, and basement mustiness. The taste started off w/ a blast of sweet caramel/toffee, which lead into citrus and mild grapefruit, and finished w/ basement mustiness and a touch of alcohol burn. Medium bodied and lush. Pretty easy to drink considering the 11.8% ABV.

Overall, I really enjoyed this beer, and super hoppy BWs are not my thing. However, w/ the almost 2 years of age, this seems pretty balanced and more in my style range. Will definately have to acquire a few more bottles of this brew to allow it to do what it was intended to do, dwell in the cellar.

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Photo of ritzkiss
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Edit: 2008 A year later, hops have died down to give a pleasing balance, carbonation doesn't distract, nice balance of roasty and caramel malts - very more-ish. Editing the score up slightly.

New brewery in town, saw it on the shelves and had to try the barleywine ale - not everyday a local microbrew crafts one of these bad boys, 2008 vintage.

Pours a brown/copper/mahogany color with lightish, tight head. Bold, non-murky color with a fair amount of carbonation bubbles. Smell is hoppy with a hint of back sweetness, brown sugar with some hints of fruit.

First sip - the hops nail you head on.

Normally I am not a huge fan of high hops content beers but this one could be an exception. As it glides through the sweetness hits the back of the mouth and there is some complex flavoring going on. As you drink it opens up and you taste the fruits, brandy, a hint of nut.

Still perhaps a little too carbonated for my tastes but this is a nice contender for a new brewery. Definitely going to have to try some of their other offerings.

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Photo of JasonLovesBeer
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle. Drank NYE 2013.

A: Before even opening the bottle you can see this is very light for a barleywine, much lighter than years past. Poured in the glass, it's a shade darker than a double IPA with a deep golden hue. Head is cream coloured and not huge, reduces to trace amounts after a bit. Some lacing.

S: Deep, resiny hops was my first reaction. Pine, sweet honeyed citrus.

T: Big honey sweetness (like a sibling of caramel sweetness) with big, bright citrus and floral hops. Bitterness is all but eliminated by the sweet malt body and alcohol. The alcohol itself isn't really that noticable despite the 11.6% ABV and fresh bottle.

M: Creamy medium body with a fairly dry finish.

O: I really love this new and completely different Old Cellar Dweller but it will disappoint the barleywine die-hards. It is not your typical barleywine, not by a mile! It's also so different than other Driftwood barleywines I've had. It's very much just a barrel aged DIPA, but a very good one. It's bright and sweet.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one from Rutager in a recent swap. This brewery has done nothing but impress the crap out of me. Cheers man!

From a bomber into a snifter
Vintate: 2011
ABV: 11.8%
98% Pale malt and a touch of caramunich
Columbus hops

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, medium looking, fluffy, off-white head with good retention. Head fades to a faint wisp and ring, leaving some lacing on the top of the glass. Opaque burnt umber in color with no carbonation evident. A ring remains until the end but leaves no real lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Bold nose of caramel malts, linght melong aromas, piney hops and some spicy alcohol for sure. Bold stuff and quite nice.

TASTE: Bold flavors again, following the nose nicely. Caramel malts and some melon sweetness up front, then a spicy booze kick at the swallow. Big and intense aftertaste of bitter floral hops, piney flavors, spicy booze and a touch of honeydew sweetness lingers nicely on the palate. Very bold flavors and increadibly balanced as well. Really, really good.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, quite oily as well, goes down smooth with a burn at the swallow and finishes quite sticky on the palate. Heat lingers as well as a spicy dose of alcohol.

OVERALL: Really flavorful and a creamy, oily palate as well. Bold and surprisingly balanced, this is a memorable beer for sure. Though the style is usually quite boozy, this one is perhaps a little too hot still and could use some time to mellow. It is excellent right now, but will probably be world shattering in a year. Either way, this is yet another Driftwood beer I'd like to drink on a regular basis. Thanks again Rutager. Fantastic beer.

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Old Cellar Dweller from Driftwood Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 46 ratings.