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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 Coronaeus
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 - 13.1% ABV - 650 ml bottle.

A: Deep reddish amber. Negligible head that disappears quickly to a millimetre at most.

S: Sweet syrupy aroma. Mild alcohol. Hint of citrus.

T: Heavy alcohol that hits you off the bat. Surprising hop bitterness that blends nicely with the sweet malt backbone.

F: Thinner than expected with more carbonation than the average barleywine.

O: The alcohol is a little too pronounced for my taste, but the rest of the beer is quite pleasant. Definitely a slow sipper. I prefer English barleywines generally, but would be happy to give this another go with future vintages. Pleased to have received this in a trade from Corson.

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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 Johnquisssssssy
3.43/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This 2013 is weird; poured from the bottle weirdly heady. Not as strong hop as before; but as soapy head and either unremarkable or ok. Much better than overly hoppy earlier but compare to 2014 it pales

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Photo of nmann08
3.83/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2011 Vintage

From a bottle, pours a very cloudy light reddish brown. Foamy off white head sits and lasts a while.

The nose is citrus forward, good malt character. A little toffee and sweet caramel. This smells a bit boozy, but lots of hop character. At 3 years old, this smells really hot.

The flavor is citrus an floral hops, caramel, a little fruit, pretty hoppy still. There is a lot of alcohol... Lots of booze. Good finish, a bit sweet. Sugary aftertaste. Thi is pretty good. Had to double check that it was a 2011 since there is still a lot of hops an the alcohol hasn't toned down.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2300th review! 22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2011 vintage. Pours lightly hazy deep ruby red color with a 2 finger dense and rocky khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, orange peel, floral, grass, pine, herbal, and floral/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and citrus/floral hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, toffee, orange peel, floral, grass, pine, herbal, and floral/toasted earthiness. Fair amount of floral/pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, caramel, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, toffee, orange peel, floral, grass, pine, herbal, and floral/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Very nice complexity and balance of dark/bready malt and citrus/floral/pine hop flavors; with a great sweetness/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a smooth and moderately slick/sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barleywine. All around great balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and citrus/floral/pine hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of RedSunRising
3.34/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

2013 vintage

The first thing I noticed about this year's Cellar Dweller is that it is much hoppier than in previous years.

Pours a dark copper with a small off white head. A bit boozey, hoppiness balanced with a good amount of malty sweetness. Too hoppy for a barley-wine in my opinion, drinks almost like a higher abv double ipa.

Overall this isn't my favorite year for the Cellar Dweller, I don't think this one will get better with age, unfortunately.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a dark copper color ale with a medium size foamy head with OK retention and light lacing. Aroma of residual sugars notes with some warming alcohol notes and some light caramel and toffee notes. Taste is also dominated by caramel malt with light woody notes with port and some light warming alcohol notes. Body is not as full as expected with good carbonation. Well brewed thought maybe a tad too much alcohol is apparent.

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Photo of draheim
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz (2011) into a tulip. Pours a crystal-clear amber w/ a minimal beige head.

Aroma is mostly caramel malt and floral hops. Some light toffee.

Taste is caramelly and sweet, malty, balanced by floral/bitter hops.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth, satisfying.

Overall a pretty good barleywine but, at about $20 as I recall, not that good. Kind of similar to Stone Double Bastard actually.

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Photo of CookstLiquor
3.9/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage. Poured from a 650 ml bottle. Pours a surprisingly bright lager yellow colour. Nose is dank with herbaceous notes of cannabis, resin and lemon. Taste is similarly unusual for a barley wine with big hop notes of marmalade, resin, and overripe fruit as well as a huge malty sweetness. Punishing bitter finish. Very boozy and, I suspect, bigger than 11.6% ABV.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.99/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cola coloured with amber highlights and a film of taupe that trails.
Toffee, woody brandy, dried orange peel, and Marmite on the nose - lots of candy sweetness.
Black rye, treacle, and licorice up front, some chocolate bark, a hit of pine tar, then more dried orange rind hops.
Pledge (citrus, oil, and solvent) finish and humming oily linger.
Medium to full, lots of chew, oily.

Big and mellow. Hops are faded a bit but the IBUs are still there. A bit dark to start for my tastes, but ends up with a bit of a Terry's Chocolate Orange (Dark) going on.

Definitely one for by the fire.

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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 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 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 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 maximum12
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Rutager for sending me this bottle as well as its barrel-dwelling brother in a receipt of great-looking Canadian beers. 22 oz. bottle split with my wife after a not-so-good start to the evening.

For the second straight bottle I almost have to use a broadsword to remove the wax & get to the bottle cap. Why, why, why? It's an oxygen barrier, not a recreation of the Berlin Wall. Pour has a touch of carbonation, & looks like a horse track after a passing thundershower. Nose is quiet: caramel, toffee, sweet malts.

Old Cellar Dweller is a boozy shot to the nether regions. Alcohol slips almost unnoticed down the throat, before stomping its warm boots all over the inside of my chest. There's some taste here too; lovely caramel & toffee. Brown sugar overload adds to the sweetness. Odd, nice, unfocused fruitiness lingers in the middle. Nice light hop bitterness at the end. My brain is starting to marinate. I like it.

Simple, sweet, straightforward, & enough alcohol to kill the flu virus. Sometimes simple is best. This is one of those times. Very good beer.

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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 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 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 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 FondueVoodoo
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

***2008 Vintage***
For my 100th review on Beer Advocate we're breaking out a gem.

A: A solid chestnut brown, a bit tawny and ruddy hazed brew with a hint of lacing and variable bubbles, each glass has an island of foam adorning the top.

S: Scent of fruit cake, deep malts, dark dried fruits of raisins, dates and currents and an alcohol ester similar to a dark rum. Some notes of acrid dark coffee and sweet from start to finish.

T: The fruitcake taste is still there with rum raisins especially. Dark acrid coffee with deep dark toffee, not as sweet as the nose would suggest. Alcohol does show through - but that's reasonable at 12%. Really hangs on at the end with an acrid dry flavour that clings to the sides of the tongue.

M: Burst of fizz at the front of the palate, with a pleasant coating throughout the drink that allows those flavours linger. Alcohol esters are vaporized, giving a small amount of heat.

O: Great sipper that is best enjoyed slowly with great cheese, the saltiness allows the sweeter notes to develop. Would be great to try a vertical tasting of OCD vintages to see how it develops in the bottle.

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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 jrenihan
4.07/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage.

Beer is orange/caramel in colour, with a minimal white head that dissipates quickly.

Smell contains caramel and bread, and seems sweet. Very malty. A bit of fruit. Fairly simply but good, quite rich.

Taste contains caramel, bread and some fruit (apple, a hint of cherry). Booze. Sweet. but not insanely so. It tastes as if there was a strong hop component when bottled, but only traces of that are present now, a very slight bitter element.

Full bodied, low to moderate carbonation. Sticky but fairly smooth.

Overall, very good.

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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 UCLABrewN84
3.59/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to MaxStout for sharing this one at jmgrub's tasting.

Pours a slightly hazy orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, and citrus zest. Taste is much the same with an alcohol kick and a slightly salty flavor on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but it smells better than it tastes in my opinion.

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