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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale - Mendocino Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial Barley Wine Style AleImperial Barley Wine Style Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

200 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 200
Reviews: 94
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 13.35%
Wants: 6
Gots: 20 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company visit their website
United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ThreeWiseMen on 05-29-2010

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (32) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 200 | Reviews: 94
Reviews by Jade:
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.08/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First off by saying this is an American style Barleywine you would be wrong,many are reviewing it as such,this is a big malt driven English Barleywine,it pretty much says so on the label!Poured a brilliant auburn color with a creamy off white head that never really leaves completely,its extremely vinious with juicy dark fruitiness,very cakey,a light shot of resiny hop lingers in the nose.Chewey with a big shot of dark fruit and cake on the palate,the hop come into play as it warms giving a resiny undertone.To me this is a great beer,its English in nature,warming and rich,a winter by the fireplace beer,it is really great!

Photo of Beaver13
2.12/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

12oz bottle. Pours light brown with a medium creamy light tan head that retains fairly well and leaves some lacing.

The aroma is sweet figgy malts, toffee, cola, cardboard and alcohol.

The flavor is sweet malts, molasses, brown sugar, dark fruits (fig) with some alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and kind of watery.

Overall, it's too sweet for me with a bit of alcohol. Not balanced at all.

Photo of Billolick
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ouncer, came in a four pack for $9.99. I can find no freshness/bottling date info.

Pours near clear, glowing medium almond amber. Typical light mocha head, goes to a finy bubble film and moderate collar.

Bright fruit, booze, honey, malt in the nose.

Notes of raisins, lime, whisky, some smoke and roasty malts.

Medium body and mouthfeel, lackes the depth of flavors and intensity of the top examples of the style.

Moderate alcohol burn late.

Photo of chinchill
3.28/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

undated 12 oz bottle served in a pint glass.

Pours a cloudy, reddish amber with a thin but creamy tan head. The head has limited retention.

Aroma: spicy hops over a floral base of alcohol esters and sweet malt.

Taste: high ABV all too evident in the flavor and mouthfeel. Looking past the alcohol, the underlying flavor is a good and rich fruity/herbal mix of malts and hops. Unfortunately, this is overshadowed by alcohol. Good sweet/bitter balance.

M: medium body; as expected, warming in mouth and GI tract, but this one has some burn to it.

O - a decent, and low-priced example of the style. Improves with warming. Can't quite decide between a beer and a brandy? ... perhaps this is for you. Too boozy for me.

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Hop City in Atlanta. I'm surprised to see this with so few reviews, I'm wondering if the recipe differs from "Talon".

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a one-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with hints of deeper toasted malts. Also present are good amounts of mild toffee aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sticky caramel malt flavors with large amounts of toffee and lighter amounts of butterscotch kick things off. Midway through the sip the sweetness subsides as mild amounts of toastiness make an appearance, carrying through to a smooth and moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without any problems and could easily have another.

Overall this was close to being a very good beer but the malt flavors aren't quite smooth enough. Still, it's a tasty beverage that's worth a shot. As a side note Mendocino is up there as far as the most affordable micro's go while still being above average.

Photo of LXIXME
3.64/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Photo of Brenden
3.43/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

Photo of samtrillo
4/5  rDev +9%

2014

Looks a bit like Dr. Better with a tannish half inch head that mostly dissipates.

Smells of a barleywine, fruity sweet caramel malt and maybe some citrus.

Taste is similar but I do get a little smokey tobacco which is nice with the fruity sweet malt. Some bitterness at the end is expected and a pleasant warm feeling from the .

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a little sticky but not viscous. Crisp but light carbonation.

Overall this is actually one of my favorite barleywines so far, but maybe the style is just growing on me. Can't wait to go back to the ones I tried last year.

Photo of TheSixthRing
2.73/5  rDev -25.6%
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.

Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Mendocino Imperial Barleywine Ale

I'm not sure what an "Imperial" Barleywine is, but OK. It's 11%, whereas their other barleywine, "Talon" is only 10.5%. And this seems much more English, whereas the Talon was more American. But "Imperial"? Really? I think they're just using it to fit in with their "Imperial IPA" and "Imperial Stout". Moving forward...

In the glass it's a hazy mahogany brown beneath a very nice head of frothy yellowed-white foam. The head retention is quite good and it initially leaves rings of lace about the glass following each sip - although in the end they end up sliding down into the glass. (I've used a beer-clean glass for sure - no soap, just hot water and then air-dried).

The aroma expresses a very delicate spice and soft, sticky-sweet dried-fruit notes over a caramelish and doughy malt base.

In the mouth it's full bodied and creamy with a moderate carbonation. - I should also note here that I served this at cellar temperature, which would affect the head upon pouring, allowing it to foam up a bit, and thus soften the mouthfeel. It also opens up the nose a bit, and allows the flavors to come through more fully.

The flavor is fuller than the nose suggests, as is usually the case, and I can see that at least some of the spice in the nose is coming from alcohol. It's not overpowering or "hot" however, and to a certain extent it's expected of the style so... OK. The fruitiness is quite nice though, and I get a bit of cherry, some raisin, and fig. The malt is richer, but not really any more complex than the nose suggests. Well, maybe a little bit, but in all honesty I think it lacks the depth that a better quality malt bestows. And some hops are present, which is nice, lending a leafy and minty note that combines with the malt to become almost herbal. In fact, it develops into a very welcome note of black licorice towards the end of the glass. It's solidly bitter, and not overdone: stiff, but balanced; and that herbal/licorice character it develops helps to balance it in the lingering finish.

So what to say of this beer in conclusion? Stylistically it works. There's nothing off about it. Hedonistically it falls a little bit short for my personal tastes, but I still like it. I wish the malt character was a little wider, but if every beer hit the mark for what we've decided we personally "like", then there would be a lot less beers to choose from, and eventually a lack of beers that would allow our tastes to evolve. Right now I'd like to see a little more golden malt here, but a year or two from now I might feel it needs a little more hops. So let me take a step back and say that I really enjoyed the cherry note in the fruitiness, and that overall it was a pretty good barleywine. Would I recommend it? Yes. Certainly worth trying for barleywine fans. Probably not so much for newbies.

Photo of Fatehunter
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

Photo of russpowell
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

THINK STRAWBERRY POP TARTS or Srawberry Newtons??? Not sure...

Picked this up at mid-town today. Lately this brewery has disappointed, but I am willing to roll the dice on this 4-pack!

Pours chestnut/mahogany with a pinky of tan head into my Boulevard Goblet... Some lacing & near zero head retention

S: Plums, raisins, black currants, Strawberry jam??? & raspberry, great if weird scents going on here...

T: Raspberry, plums, figs, & strawberry jam verging om pop tart filling, very weird, plus leafy hops up front. Plums, woody & leafy hops, slight persimmon notes, plus more strawberry & dryness once warm. Finishes dry, plummy, jammy & strawberry sweet; this would work better a some sort of experimental English BW. 1.0 deduction for going way off style

MF: Light body for the style, very low carbonation

This drinks fine, but has strayed far off style I'm at a loss as whether to call it a disaster or a weird but nice one-off. Not sure I would ever guess American BW here though.... Had/has potential

Photo of Jjski
4.24/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 3/2013

Fresh it was average

At 2 years this inexpensive BW is way good

caramel, figs, English BW flavor profile, smooth attenuated hops that are omnipresent, but balanced by sweetness from malts. No heat, just wide flavor. Very satisfying, not cloying.

I've got some expensive BW in the cellar: barreled bigfoot, arctic devil, Scucaba.

I'm not ashamed of drinking this: it's damn good. I will pick up another 4. Too bad I won't try it for 2 years.

Photo of bucklemyshoe
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle at 48 degrees into a Stone IRS tulip.

A: It pours an over-steeped tea-looking clear dark red color with two fingers of cream-colored head that does not hold nor lace very well.

S: A wide array of fruits; citrus, figs, and sweet apples, as well caramel and molasses.

T: Sweet apples, citrus rind, figs, candi sugar, and booze. This is definitely one of the fruitier barleywines.

M: The body is medium-thick and palate-sticking with a little alcohol heat.

D: This is goes down easily until it warms too much. When it reaches about 60 degrees, it becomes a little too hot.

Photo of emerge077
3.41/5  rDev -7.1%
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).

Photo of Beejay
4.15/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A brilliant copper color. Beautiful red brown like a strong brewed iced tea. Nice full head on this, thick and fluffy.

S: Big wheat/rye bread smell. Some maple syrup in there as well. Some raisons as well. Quite a nice beer to smell.

T: Interesting. Big caramel flavor up front, followed by raisons and bread. The finish lingers with syrup notes and a very solid bitterness.

M: Heavy with a lot of carbonation to balance it out. It almost ripples across your tongue in the finish, first the carbonation, then the lingering bitterness.

D: This is quite a strange brew. The nose seemed all English style, the flavor seems like it is partial English, but with the lingering bitterness of an American. It is a solid beer that's for sure, but it doesn't have enough hop flavor for me for an American Style BW, but too much bitterness for an English. Over all it is a damn fine brew. Just not sure what the hell to grade it as.

Photo of bgjohnston
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a coppery color with a thin tan head that quickly dies down to a little bit of foam around the glass. Would have gone higher in appearance if it were a bit more lively in there. Smell is fruity with a hint of caramel, very nice. Taste lives up to that: hearty, sweet, and just a touch of hoppy bitterness to dry it out and finish it off. Feel is full without being at all cloying, and drinkability is excellent for something claiming 11% ABV.

A very nice beer for an excellent price. I hope to score another 4-pack soon.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. 11% ABV, no date.

A - This barleywine pours a fantastic clear bronzy amber with a dense light tan head. Low retention isn't surprising but there is a nice ring of foam and finger of lace creeping up.

S - Bready malt upfront with a smooth caramel melted sweetness. Warm alcohol falls behind with a good backing as opposed to solventy burning. Subtle earthy hops barely level the playing field,. It's a good-smelling but one-dimensional brew.

T - A disappointing departure from the aroma, a bold mineral flavor washes all the goodness this beer offered right away. Subtle earthy hop compliments the amber malts but it's lacking the nice caramel sweetness on the nose. The lack of complexity is just bland in the flavor.

M - Dryness and sharp carbonation seems to thin out this otherwise medium-bodied barleywine. Very light bitterness comes through the finish.

D - The mineral flavor and dryness in the body really knocks this brew down. I was excited to drink this while smelling it, but the rest ended up being really lacking. It's very bland with no sweetness or hoppiness really stepping up like what should be present in a barleywine. Interestingly there is a surprising lack of alcohol through the entire brew.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz picked up tonight at Brewforia after a double at work... less than $3.... pretty good I guess.

Poured into my Old Guardian goblet... thin very fast dropping tan head... no cap or lacing... the brew is a pretty clear deeep amber.

Nose shows thick fig and toffee... hints of tawny port... Judging by the aroma, the only thing that puts this in the ABW category is the ABV... very little/nothing in the way of hops.

Flavor has the same thick toffee with some cherry ester component... the only hops present are bittering... weird sorta cola flavor.... bunches of booze.

Body is about right and carbonation seems adequate.... meh... okay... seems pretty pedestrian.

3/3.5/3/4/3.5

Photo of Masticon
4.33/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - 4.5 : Deep and dark red with a dark tan foam forming a perfect head. Crystal clear. Color makes me think of a really rich Irish Red.

Smell - 4.0 : Smell points to the definite sweetness of the beer. Very malty with no clear sign of hops. Brings preparation for a very strong brew with toasted toffee and caramel in the mind.

Taste - 4.5 : Very rich and sweet. For those hoping for a dryer beer flavor stay away. Initial flavor contains no hop bitterness, very smooth. Brings to mind a vast array of dried fruit flavors, plum, prune, date, fig, and cherry all come to mind. Sweetness points towards a sherry or port flavor. Slight earthy hop flavor at the finish. Very sweet throughout without any noticeable alcohol hotness.

Feel - 4.0 : Thick and chewy without being overwhelming. Very smooth throughout in spite of it's high gravity.

Overall - 4.5 : This is definitely the best barleywine we tasted tonight. Very fitting to expectations. As a port lover, the sweetness it brought with it was very welcome though I can see how others would be less fond of such a sugary beer. My only big confusion here is what Imperial is doing in the name. There wasn't really anything I found Imperial about it.

You can read a comparison of this and a couple other barleywines on my blog at dearmondfood.blogspot.com

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

caramel brown with tons of thick foamy tan head dripping down the sides of the glass

sweet, almost sickingly so. Lots of caramel and sugar was apparent and very strong up front, with a slight hint of alcohol in the middle of it. Not very strong, but still a hint of some mellow alcohol tones in it. There was a slight smell of earthy and grassy type hops thick sugar front that dominated from the first sip. The alcohol had defiantly mellowed as it was hardly detectable in the flavor. The overall flavor seemed to have a very mellow feel to it. Very sweet with lots of sugar and caramel. The distinctive hop finish

Photo of metter98
3.54/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

Photo of Jonbw
4.6/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The bottle we are drinking is six years old and it's damn good!

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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 200 ratings.