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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.

93 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 93
Hads: 206
Avg: 3.62
pDev: 19.89%
Wants: 5
Gots: 23 | 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 (37) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 93 | Hads: 206
Photo of BeerNinja007
1.97/5  rDev -45.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Got this at Harvest Fine Wine in West Hartford CT for $2.33. Turns out this is brewed by the same folks who do the He'brew stuff under contract. If that's to be taken as a sign, then it's a good one. Served cold in a chilled goblet.

Clear dark cherry red brew gives a bit of thin beige head that's completely gone in short order. Nose is thick with sugary stone fruits, a moderate amount of malt, and boozy warmth. Taste is... wow, what an alcohol bomb, sheesh. The 11% isn't hidden at all, it's front and center, all over the place, burns the mouth. It has a little bit of cherry cough syrup sweetness but it's hard to find behind all the alcohol. It tastes like a Vienna lager fortified with vodka.

I can't finish this, I'm not looking to do shots tonight. Drain pour. Very disappointing. FAIL.

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Photo of Beaver13
2.12/5  rDev -41.4%
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.

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Photo of StaveHooks
2.4/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a copper brown with a light tan head that sinks into a thin cap of micro bubbles.

S - Heavily roasted toffee, sorghum, brown bread, a mix of dark fruit, raisins, prunes, coffee grinds, alcohol, heavy minerals.

T - Scorched brown sugar, molasses, fusel alcohol, prune juice, some bitter hops, rough mineral finish.

M - Medium body, slick, boozy.

The burnt sugar mixed with hot alcohol creates an unpleasant astringency. This is a miss for me.

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Photo of mbusster88
2.66/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter glass.

A: Beautiful ruby red color to this beer. Off white head has small bubbles and sticks around rather long. Alcohol clings to the glass. Some carbonation continues to come off the bottom of the glass.

S: Get some booze right away on the nose. Also get the black licorice like smell, mixed in with the booze. Very earthy smells as well. Some fruity characters at first, but as it warms not so much.

T/M: Right away with the taste is some booze. Not a ton but its there. Turns to dark fruit notes and some earthy characters. Started this one out a little colder than normal. Not a difficult drink, but not the most friendly either. The dark fig flavors are really apparent as it warms.

D: Personally my first barley wine, I did enjoy it, but I feel like there are many better out there for me to discover. Overall I would say its an okay beer, not something I would seek out again though.

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Photo of yesyouam
2.67/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Mendocino Imperial Barley Wine Ale is crystal clear and deep amber with a small white head that quickly dissipates. It has a resiny, oaky aroma that's slightly sweet, with notes of cherry, vanilla and bay leaf. It's pretty full bodied and pretty smooth. The finish is slightly dry and slightly sticky. It leaves the mouth slightly chalky. This tastes boozy, very hot and resiny. There are notes of cherry, dark fruit, oak and a slight sweetness... but it's mostly just booze-- maybe fusel. The alcohol flavor is pretty distracting. It tastes like whiskey. I dare you to chug this.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
2.73/5  rDev -24.6%
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.

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Photo of bagpiper2005
2.96/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour: Dark red/amber color with a finger and a half of tan head that dissipated fairly quickly and left no lacing on the glass.

Smell: Pretty light. Fruity and sweet. Tones of molasses and alcohol. Hops barely detectable.

Taste: Caramel and brown sugar front end. Hints of apple in the middle, and finishes with no hop bitterness. Slight alcohol burn in the back.

Mouthfeel: Light and watery. Too much carbonation for the style.

Drinkability: It's palatable. That's about all I can say though.

Final Notes: Another one of those beers that should be reclassified. In my opinion, this beer is simply delicious, but it doesn't fit the American Barleywine category, hence the low rating. Actually, to me this beer tastes more like a Dubbel. I do like this beer though.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
2.97/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Strong aroma is fruity and syrupy, notes of caramel and cloves, a bit cloying. Pours a clear mahogany with a thick and rather fine-bubbled tan head. Flavor has a strong alcohol bite and a woody note, just a hint of fruit. Smooth texture has plenty of life, but finish is unpleasant. Well, a good effort.

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Photo of IchLiebeBier
3/5  rDev -17.1%
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.

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Photo of facundoCNB
3.09/5  rDev -14.6%
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)

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Photo of travolta
3.1/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Beautiful clear redwood in color. Mild head retention and some decent lacing. The color is quite nice.

Nose: Sweet biscuit, syrupy liquor, cat pee, dark candied fruits.

Taste: Syrupy sweet throughout, little bit of malt and hops coming through,

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Photo of RochefortChris
3.11/5  rDev -14.1%
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.

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Photo of flannelman808
3.14/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice looking rose violet brown and is fairly clear. Light tan head tops the glass which has large bubbles. Poor retention... it does not stick around very long.

S: Medicinal like. Over ripened fig, hints of anise. Kind of smells like a fig newton bar.

T: in a word... Underdeveloped. There are actually some nice flavors that shine through. And I am pleasantly surprised that it's not cloying on the palate (the nose indicated otherwise). Fig newton qualities come through as well. There is a balance between overall sweet and dry qualities. At the end of the day however this is just unfulfilling, seems watered down though at 11 % abv that is an odd thought to be having.

M: ehh ok

D: medium

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Photo of OneDropSoup
3.15/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter: Nice reddish-brown, just barley transparent, with the slightest "milky way" dusting & some loose bubbles in the collar. Bright ruby highlights, kind of looks like a cherry wine. Nice color, but looks kind of flimsy otherwise.

First smells are a thin caramel, a little maple, an edge of alcohol, & a slight cinnamon character. Some dark, cooked fruits emerge, but they're all a little musty or like shredded paper. Not bad, though.

At first brings some dark fruit sugars, then a taste that's half dry booze & half papery, even a little like dry fruit skins or gourd. Huh. Not great, but tolerable. Booze gains traction & ends real dry.

Medium-bodied, with some heat & "dead-tongue" alcohol feel, not great.

The highs were mediocre & the lows were noticeable in this one. I'm no pro at detecting oxidation, but I have a feeling that was a culprit here.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.15/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a tumbler.

The last of the entries in my mini Mendocino tasting today. It pours a mostly clear garnet-amber topped by a finger of dusty off-tan foam. The nose comprises sweet caramel, ruby red grapefruit, pine resin, and balsa. The taste brings in more of the same, with the caramel's sweetness and the grapefruit really finding themselves amped up to great heights. Things almost come through too much for their own good. The body is a straight medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a syrupy feel. Overall, a decent b-wine, but one I found a bit too sweet, too grapefruit-y, and too thick to really enjoy all the way.

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Photo of bminor7
3.16/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

deep redbrown color
sweet nose. banana, dark fruit, sugar
taste is fainter though. better with warming. a bit of bitterness at the end.
MF is a bit carbonated
drinkability...well, it's a barleywine...

worth a try, but better examples in the style surely exist.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.16/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle - $2.99 at Total Wine & More in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours out a murky, mahogany-hued body with an inch-tall head of slowly receding, off-white foam.

Smell: Sweet-scented nose of caramel, toasted bread, and a small snippet of brown sugar. Hint of raisin. Citrus and a bit of resinous pine. Also, an apparent sniff of coarse alcohol.

Taste: Sweet, sugary caramel and toast, but more sugary than a rich, resounding, inviting maltiness. A quick flash of dark fruitiness before the bitterness and alcoholic heat take over. Overtones of pine and citrus, though, again, it remains simply hot and bitter, all the way through to the heavy finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Scantly chewy.

Overall: Talon? Is... is that you? Rather rough around the edges, even for a barleywine. Though, perhaps like their Talon from years ago, it'll greatly benefit from time away.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
3.2/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Photo of Arithmeticus
3.24/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured at room temp in a flared glass

A: deep dark red; the carb action is great at first, but the head dissipates quickly
S: the expected barleywine smell, a bit on the honey/malty side
T: a subpar barleywine, mainly because a decent flavor turns metallic at the end; the boozy character is hard to mask; I'll sink one of these into the time capsule, though, and see if age improves it

Overall not the best for this specimen, but drink enough of it (say, two) and you might not care.

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Photo of jdense
3.25/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle purchased in Boise ID, consumed with beer buddy in La Grande.

Reddish amber clear body, , off-white head, quick dissipation, no visible carbonation. Light brown sugar notes in nose, floral hops. Taste is pretty boozy, light sugar notes. Mouthfeel is medium good effervescence a bit sticky. Needs some cellaring, too boozy right now.

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Photo of mactrail
3.26/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Rich dark golden brown color, nice head. Sharp in the mouth with flat mouthfeel. Fruity and strong aroma.

Unusual woodsy kind of flavor hits you right away. Sort of like mushrooms but with a odd aromatic quality. Dried fruit flavors, fig in particular and a hint of cheap rum. Flavors associate with sweetness like with candy bars, but actual sugar on the tongue is modest. Alcohol quite evident, nicely warming. Hops very much in the background.

Kind of appealing after you get used to the peculiar taste. Second tasting. More of a jacked up Old Ale than a traditional barley wine

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Photo of chinchill
3.28/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

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Photo of Ghenna
3.28/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Smell- malt and alcohol

Taste- caramel malt with long hop dryness and alcohol burn at the end. Kind of bland all considered.

MF is thick as is expected of the style.

Was kind of expecting more for a beer at this price. Kind of like their eye of the hawk, just stronger and more expensive.

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Photo of goblue3509
3.28/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly hazy browinsh orangish color typical of the style with a skim slightly khaki colored head which gives way to a little lacing. The aroma is of caramel malt, some dark fruits, a hint of alcohol and a slight hop characteristic. The taste is of some dark fruit sweetness and a hint of alcohol there is also a slight hop bite, but the taste is thinner and not as complex as others. The mouthfeel is moderately carbonated but slightly thin. Overall it has a pleasing flavor and the alcohol is well hidden making it an easy drink, however, for the style it leaves you wanting more.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.32/5  rDev -8.3%
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.


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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 93 ratings.