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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale - Mendocino Brewing Company

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

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BA SCORE
83
good

196 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 196
Reviews: 93
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.39%
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.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 196 | Reviews: 93
Photo of Sammy
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.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

Photo of Texasfan549
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of metter98
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.

Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of BEERchitect
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A sweeter and non-descript malt-hop balance leaves the beer lackluster and keeps the balance on the sweet, sappy side.

The appearance of tawny copper/amber with a mohogany brown hue. A very modest haze persists and creates a mystic glow. Fantastic head formation gives a creamy appearance of lightly tanned foam. Retainage and lacing are both very good.

Aromas of toffee, hop resins, and cough syrups dominate the nose. Fruity esters and cherry-like alcohols rise as the beer warms.

Flavors of toffee-like barley and pine resin spruce flavors and sappy bitterness balance the beer. While the fruitiness and boozy flavors rise as the beer warms, the maltiness turns sweet and looses its froathy maltiness-leaving the beer a bit syrupy.

Creamy and full early, the beer separates a bit as the beer settles in the glass. There's the sweeter, syrupy side that counters the citrus, pine, and resiny bitter side. It's like there's two different beers in the glass that are in conflict of each other instead of balancing one another.

Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%

Photo of mikesgroove
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
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 oberon
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
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 ChainGangGuy
3.16/5  rDev -13.7%
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.

Photo of emerge077
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
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 zeff80
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
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.

Photo of JAHMUR
3/5  rDev -18%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
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 russpowell
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
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 mactrail
3.26/5  rDev -10.9%
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

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.25/5  rDev -11.2%

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

The beer pours a deep amber/red color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has an alcohol ridden scent that boasts of burnt toffee and caramel. The taste is decent as well. Again, it's simplistic with a basic burnt toffee flavor that goes down slow and finishes quite warm with a good deal of alcohol content. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an above average beer, yet a boring barleywine.

Photo of GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%

Photo of LXIXME
3.64/5  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.

Photo of chinchill
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

Photo of Billolick
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
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 barleywinefiend
4.07/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a reddish brown color with good carbonation leaving a dirty whote head

S: Plenty of sugar here, caramel, light booze, dark fruits

T: Extremely tasty. Very sweet. Plenty of brown sugar, dark fruits, some raisin, fig, toffee, syrup, perhaps maple,caramel.

M: Nice, well carbonated for the style, sits well, drinks well and leaves me with a booziness dose of sugar

D: Oh yeah! I can and will drink again, especially for the price.

Photo of Zorro
3.92/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A clear deeply brown colored beer with a small brown head that doesn't last.

Smell is deeply fruity with lots of fig and a strong chocolate aroma. There is a spicy scent here too pretty much cinnamon bread. Vanilla is present but no coffee and a slight brandy aroma.

Starts out sweet with a chocolate and fruit flavor, something like a fig Newton with some chocolate sauce on it. That about sums up the flavor.

Mouthfeel is light for the beer style.

Drinkability will depend on how much you like chocolate and figs. It is OK but I really prefer hops more.

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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 196 ratings.