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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale - Mendocino Brewing Company

Imperial Barley Wine Style AleImperial Barley Wine Style Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

161 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 161
Reviews: 88
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.66%

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company visit their website
United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: ThreeWiseMen on 05-29-2010)
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Ratings: 161 | Reviews: 88 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of metter98

New York

3.54/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Cask at Mugs Alehouse, Brooklyn, NY

A: The beer is very hazy amber in color—some yellow hues are visible near the edge of the glass when it is held up to the light. It poured with a dense quarter finger high beige head that died down and left a collar around the edge of the glass and some lacing down the sides.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark fruits are present in the nose along with notes of caramel malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has underlying notes of grainy malts along with some alcohol flavors that strengthen and linger through the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and a little edgy on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer isn't nearly as rich and malty compared to other beers in the style. There was too much alcohol in the taste for my palate.

Serving type: cask

03-01-2014 20:13:42 | More by metter98
Photo of Aaron_Ramson


4.74/5  rDev +29.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Less murky than other barleywines I've seen, but still that soft, brackish-brown without highlights or clarity. A soft head that quickly dissipates. The nose is amazing; candy-like fruitiness, caramel, molasses, citrus hop aromas. Taste is even better; raisins, figs, candied fruit, sweet caramel sugars, molasses, lemon hop flavors with just enough bitterness to balance all the sugar. Thick, heavy mouthfeel with ample carbonation. Pretty fresh bottle judging from the taste. Fantastic barleywine that is my new favorite.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2013 16:50:15 | More by Aaron_Ramson
Photo of facundoCNB

New Jersey

3.09/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

had this in the cellar for over a year.. poured a murky amber with a finger of head which quickly dissipated. smells of faint barley sweetness, raisins, getting a hint of strong alcohol. flavor is all sweet up front and then a burning alcohol that completely takes over everything.. a little harsh on the palate. full bodied, low carbonation.. the feel is harsh, the alcohol hits you in the lips, gums, palate, and chest.

i'll have to taste a fresh one, but man - either this is just a poor example of a barleywine or this just did not age well at all (find it hard to believe a barley wine could get worse with aging but hey, it's a tough game to play)

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2013 01:57:17 | More by facundoCNB
Photo of chugalug06


4.01/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Purchased January 2011

Nice lasting (for an 11% brew) straw colored head. Brew looks like the color of raisins.

Lots of grape skin, relaxed pine, tons of malty caramel,

Dry, slight funk, WAY fizzy, strong sweetness without being over done. Not a sugar bomb. Crisp, tons of thick grape peal. Yeasty and smooth. Slight bite from unsmoothed abv. Carbonation is highly distracting, sweetness is nearly spot on, bitterness is almost non-existent.

Recommended, but I think it may have been better fresh...

Serving type: bottle

08-19-2013 03:45:31 | More by chugalug06
Photo of Fatehunter


3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a finger of head on a dark red colored body.
The aroma is a mashed up of grapes, barley and apple juice.
The taste is nice. A little boozy, ripe apple, sweet malt with a moderate bitter finish.
The texture is crisper with moderate carbonation.
It's aroma was lacking, but the rest was fine.

Serving type: bottle

06-21-2013 00:06:12 | More by Fatehunter
Photo of IchLiebeBier


3/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: chestnut; slightly cloudy; small head, dissipates quickly; slight lacing

Aroma: malty; dried fruit; light hops; strong alcohol

Taste: Slightly creamy, sweet start that rides along with a sharp alcohol bite and hops; dried fruit and warming alcohol in the mid; finishes semi-sweet, but dry hoppiness in the aftertaste

Remarks: good and strong, but kind of one dimensional throughout the entire profile.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2013 14:04:53 | More by IchLiebeBier
Photo of BrausBeforeHaus


3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Overall a fine brew.
Picked this 4-pack up for $8.99 at Total Wine. Good deal to say the least.
Appearance can be intimidating, a dark amber with smells that evoke more complex type of drink than you expect for the price.
Taste is satisfying, with your typical English barley wine assortment of dark fruits and malts.
Mouthfeel is complex but not overly heavy. Good finish with a bit of alcohol burn to remind you that you aren't in the kiddie pool anymore.
Overall a good complex barley wine which is both satisfying and drinkable, especially at the price.

Serving type: bottle

04-11-2013 04:41:05 | More by BrausBeforeHaus
Photo of CFHMagnet


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pour was a little heavier than average. Got just a bit of head that dissipated in seconds. This left a thin ring around the top of a muted, murky brown body. No lacing is noted.

Smell is of dark fruits and roasted malts. A hint of brown sugar shows up and permeates the whole nose after it warms a bit.

Dark fruit and roasted malt starts off the flavor. Searching for more finds hints of caramel and vanilla. Slightly bitter aftertaste.
EDIT: After this beer warms a bit, dark grape flavors are lightly hinted at the end.

The carbonation is just about right, not too heavy on this. Feel is medium bodied. The back of the tongue is lightly coated.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2013 21:15:45 | More by CFHMagnet
Photo of streetcommander


4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in lager glass. Beer temp is 56F.

Pours a dark mahogany with tan head. Laces and maintains a foam slick throught the session. Very nice.

Smells of malts, caramel and a hint of spice. Hops are present as well, pine in nature.

On the draw, immediately hit with a lurid bitterness and crisp viscosity, not at all slimy or syrupy. Carbonation is on point, not overly carbonated.

Flavor is full bodied. Malts, brown sugar, caramelized roast drippings, and yes booze. Very well balanced, not at all harsh. Very well done. Very smooth and drinkable at 11abv. One could easily drink 4 or 5.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2012 22:16:08 | More by streetcommander
Photo of zeff80


3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, rich copper color with a one-finger, khaki colored head of short-lived foam. It left little to no lacing.

S - It smelled of sweet maltiness, booziness and floral notes.

T - It was very boozy and sweet. Lots of malt, toffee and caramel.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a pretty nice barleywine. Strong and very full flavored.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2012 15:14:58 | More by zeff80
Photo of acevenom


3.93/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet. Pours deep toffee brown with a thin off-white head that doesn't last for long. Some light can pass through the beer and I notice some visible tiny bubbles. The aroma is of toffee, malts, dark fruits, and plenty of booziness. The taste follows the nose. There's some grainy maltiness with some hop bitterness in the back end. I get some of the toffee, dark fruits, and plenty of booze. The body is medium to full with moderate carbonation. There's a dry finish. This is a very good beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2012 23:51:27 | More by acevenom
Photo of TheSixthRing


2.7/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Pours a hazy ,dark amber with a 2 finger white head. Average retention. Leaves behind small, spotty lacing.

Smell - Sweet, boozy and a berry fruit aroma.

Taste - Follows the nose. Sweet berry notes, raspberry and blackberry. A hint of grassy bitterness. Heat creeps in near the finish, leaving in it's wake a dry, astringent resonance. Becomes cloyingly sweet, sip after sip.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied and syrupy. Has a moderate, somewhat bubbly carbonation. Finishes dry from the alcohol heat.

Overall - This is, at very best, an average barleywine. Little complexity, met by a lot of boozy character. Greatly unbalanced, and the unforgiving berry sweetness is matched only by the forwardness of the alcohol. I probably could have finished it, but I found myself not wanting to, so it went down the drain. Would not buy again.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2012 03:04:08 | More by TheSixthRing
Photo of RochefortChris

South Carolina

3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not as good as I thought it would be and I can’t really tell it’s "imperial". Aroma is a bit week for such a strong beer. Mouth feel is nice and chewy as a barley wine should be. Definitely noticeable alcohol presence but with no burn in the throat. Not a bad beer, typical barley wine but one I probably won’t have again.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2012 19:01:18 | More by RochefortChris
Photo of Brenden


3.45/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The color is a thick, ruddy medium-dark brown, something of a heavy bronze. A tight medium-brown head develops and displays pretty good retention, fading off to a foam that leaves spotty lacing as the beer drops.
Something is lost in the heavy alcoholic presence of this beer. There's not much nuance in the aroma, and a lot seems to be lost as heavy fusel notes and even something akin to rubbing alcohol sit strongly in the front. That said, it isn't terrible; it doesn't go so far as to remind me of paint thinner or terpentine as some heavily alcoholic macros end up going with. The malts base is still there, and I can still get most of the notes I find in the flavor.
What I get in the flavor is a sturdy backbone of darker malts, a big dark fruits sweetness, some caramel, a sugary sweetness (residual sugars?) strong all the way through and, riding alongside the whole way, that big boozy presence. It comes together a bit better in the flavor here. Hops lie underneath the malts, offering a bit of citrus and, to a lesser extent, grassiness.
The body is on the bigger side of medium, not as thinned out for all the alcohol as it could be; in fact, it's almost a little "chewy," so to speak. There's a gentle crispness and a light carbonation throughout.

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2012 16:11:28 | More by Brenden
Photo of snaotheus


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours coppery with almost no head, and almost no visible carbonation. Smell is musty and sweet. Hay and dust. Dark fruit, like plums.

Taste is sweet and fruity with some alcohol bitterness. More of that plumminess. Maybe some dates and raisins.

Mouthfeel is a little still, and slightly sticky. Somewhat chewy.

Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

09-16-2012 20:57:44 | More by snaotheus
Photo of LXIXME

New Mexico

3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Small light brown head quickly dies leaving no lacing above a clear burnt dark reddish amber colored beer.

Rich grains and alcohol aroma overwhelm anything else that might be going on.

Big roasted grains blend well with the alcohol in a full flavored taste on this barley wine.

A very light dry aftertaste that brings with it some of the caramel malts.

A medium bodied barley wine that has more of a beer taste than a lot of barley wines I've have tried, which to me is a big plus.

Serving type: bottle

08-12-2012 22:45:05 | More by LXIXME
Photo of Pintofbrown


3.18/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this "imperial" barleywine in a nonic pint.

Appearance- This barley wine has a copper, almost ruby look to it with an insubstantial tan head.

Smell- A little sweet from what seems to be dark fruits. I get no hint of hops. Alcohol comes through, reminds me of a brandy. The malt is bigger as well, more toffee and bread-like.

Taste- I would say the overall impression of the drink has to be unbalanced and a little too warm. The drink starts out sweet with the bread malt and dark fruits mixing a little, but then the heat plays around on the back of the throat.

This produces some flavors that seem "off" in this beer. It also brings down the finish considerably. Even if the drink finished smoother, this one might be a bit too sweet, and really lacking in hop presence.

Mouth feel- It is slick, but unfortunately, not really smooth or full. That would have really helped the beer. It is too oily really.

Overall- This imperial barley wine certainly shows its alcohol demeanor early and often, negatively affecting the smell, taste, and feel of the beer.

Give this barley wine some flavor hops and smooth out all of that alcohol bite and I might consider picking this one up again.

Serving type: bottle

08-08-2012 00:18:30 | More by Pintofbrown
Photo of teetotaler


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

aged this bottle in the blair-witch cellar for 2 years. i figured, the dogs in bed and the wifes outside, so why not?

poured into the trusty duvel tulip

3/4" mottled tan and leather head, like crema on an espresso. despite it's attractiveness and seeming thickness, it dissipated within 2 minutes. held up to the light, the bulk was largely opaque with raisin-brown tinting around the edges. though the head had dissipated, carbonation was still very active throughout (this would become a problem later).

the smell was indicative of a barley-wine powerhouse. malt, dark fruits, chocolate and booziness so thick you could cut it with a knife. a bit too boozy at the start, but it Is 11%. age hasn't mellowed the nose one bit (of the beer, not my nose).

the taste followed the nose with a malty tongue bath. no booze burn. dark fruits pound the back of the throat and sinuses like a belgian yeast. the carmel in the nose is lost in the cloying richness.

mouthfeel is appropriate for the style. thick, coating the mouth, lingering, a few steps down from syrupy. the tingle of the carbonation is delightful in this style, keeping it from becoming too heavy, while delivering the alcohol to my brain and limbs much too quickly (yep, it became a problem)

overall, it's not the most complicated selection of the style, i've had quite a few over time. age may have focused the flavor, for the aroma is enticing, but the taste is one-sided. not a bad selection, but this would've been better with a lower ABV (it's crazy saying that. i started with barley wines Because of their high ABV). mendocino should leave the "imperial" designation to stouts and possibly IPAs, but leave barley wines where they are.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2012 04:58:54 | More by teetotaler
Photo of LiquidAmber


3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from 11/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark ruby amber. Minima off-whitel head, light lacing. Aroma of malt and odd esters. Very malty; sweet caramel malt, some dark fruit, maple flavor. Finish is odd and somewhat dry with strong malt. I like the maltiness of this, but it is not very well balanced.

Serving type: bottle

07-08-2012 03:35:32 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of liamt07

Ontario (Canada)

3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Steve, 12oz into a tulip. 2011 vintage.

Clear reddish brown with a white head that fades to a thin ring of retention. Sweet malty nose, brown sugar, light fruit character and a bit of marshmallow. Tastes of candy floss, candi sugar and caramel. Medium feel, not too boozy and a quite low carbonation. A sweet English barleywine, somewhat enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2012 00:07:26 | More by liamt07
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another big beer for my birthday. Boozy aroma. Brown, with a whisp of a head. A big caramel that grows on me, more of an English barleywine. 2011 version so maybe hops have faded, yet the carbonation is still right there. Boozy finish and a meal in itself.Thanks for bringing Stephen.

Serving type: bottle

06-26-2012 19:37:12 | More by Sammy
Photo of homebrewhawk


3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served in a snifter. Poured a deep amber with a finger of off white head. Sweet malt in the aroma with some caramel and some hops. On the malty side. Plenty of malt sweetness. Alcohol is well hidden for 11%. Just enough hops to balance out the sweetness. Pretty balanced. Full bodied. Decent.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2012 01:50:34 | More by homebrewhawk
Photo of YouSkeete


3.95/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very hazy dark amber/red with a short yellow-tan head. Big malt character through the nose with lots of creamy citrus, toffee, plums, dates, molasses and alcohol with soft tones of lemongrass. Fermented dark fruits, caramel malts and molasses on the initial sip followed by notes of hop bitterness and toffee. Smooth, mildly dry toffee/wood aftertaste. Creamy, boozy mouthfeel. Full bodied with moderate carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2012 00:00:58 | More by YouSkeete
Photo of emerge077


3.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Obscure barleywine on sale ($8/4pk), sure why not?

Murky reddish brown body, a dense yet thin layer of white foam sits on the surface, settling slowly to a free island of floating skim.

Smells like toffee, oxidized malt, and a whiff of alcohol. Barleywine!

Creamy feel, no hint of alcohol in fact. Guessing this was aged a year plus at the store. Light hint of residual hop bitterness in the aftertaste. Bulk of the flavor is comprised of sweet malt complexity, cellophane-wrapped caramel squares, multigrain bread. Drying aftertaste. Medium bodied, lower carbonation levels. Overall not bad once it warms up. A middle of the road ABW that is cheap for being 11%, and hides it pretty well (after aging).

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2012 01:13:09 | More by emerge077
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly murky dark orange with a 1 inch foamy orange-tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel/toffee, brown sugar, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is the same with a bit of a mineral/metallic flavor on the finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine but it smells better than it tastes in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2012 04:41:39 | More by UCLABrewN84
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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 161 ratings.