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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale - Mendocino Brewing Company

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

174 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 174
Reviews: 89
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.39%
Wants: 7
Gots: 14 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: ThreeWiseMen on 05-29-2010)
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Ratings: 174 | Reviews: 89 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of waltersrj


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Bottle

Nose: Sherry like oxidation and sweetness, cherry, oak, vanilla, dates and figs and slight hops. This smells like an English barleywine.

Taste: Slightly metallic and oxidized, figs, raisin, cherry, oak, vanilla and resinous hops at the finish. Tastes a bit like an American barleywine at the end.

Mouthfeel: slightly oily but without being heavy. Sticky.

Overall: Nothing amazing but not bad either. The abv is decently hidden. A good barleywine but not sure why it's labeled "imperial."

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2011 01:11:10 | More by waltersrj
Photo of BrewCrew2010


4.05/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A dark clear amber, almost brown, body with a one finger off-white head; light spotty lacing.

S: Sweet toasted caramel malts dominate the nose with notes of earthy hops, a hint of vanilla, brown sugar, dark fruits, and light booze.

T: Again, sweet robust malts are the dominate flavor. Caramel and toffee are balanced with bitter hops, dark fruit, anise, molasses, and some sherry notes; warming finish.

M: Medium-full body; light carbonation; thick and chewy texture.

O: I don't know why this is labeled as an American Barleywine because it definitely taste like an English Barleywine. Nice flavors and nose, but high ABV make it a 1 at a time beer. Definitely would like to age this to see how the flavors would improve.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2011 12:40:14 | More by BrewCrew2010
Photo of Arithmeticus


3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2011 03:08:39 | More by Arithmeticus
Photo of Masticon


4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
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

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2011 02:39:16 | More by Masticon
Photo of CHADMC3


3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, yet transparent copper to chestnut body with an off white head that quickly dissipates to leave a thin, but consistent ring of lacing behind.

Certainly an American twist as advertised with sweet malt and earthy hop aromas amongst the vinous and port like scents.

The traditional wine like qualities take a back seat to the sweet toffee malt and earthy hops in the flavor. Hints of fruit come through as well, perhaps cherries or blackberries.

This barley wine is medium in body with generous carbonation and quite palate coating.

A nice example, perhaps a bit over carbonated and although clearly an American variety, it does lack some of the traditional vinous and port like qualities of the old ale I appreciate.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2011 02:38:15 | More by CHADMC3
Photo of whatthehull


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted June 23rd 2011 (from notes)

Poured into a la Chouffe tulip

A - blood red, one finger tan head and some lacing

S - alcohol, lots of yeast, wine barrels, dark dried fruits, sweet malts and some fruit and floral hops. Brown sugar and molasses

T - lots of alcohol, very sweet, nice hops, oak, wine soaked wine barrels, brown sugar, huge malt, toasted grain, cherries, dried dark fruits and a pungent yeast

M - chewy, full body, low acidity and a very long finish

D - this is a must for huge beer lovers, barleywine lovers or people who love big alcohol content

Final thought - huge 11% ABV, price of $8 and another must try beer. Also you can age this beer for a little bit

Serving type: bottle

07-05-2011 16:48:18 | More by whatthehull
Photo of Thickfreakness

New York

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

Had this fresh off the tap at the Saratoga Springs,NY brewery tap room (10 mins from home)... and then took home a Growler.

A- Pours a sunshine reddish-orange into my tulip glass. Nice head that fades rather quickly and leaves not much in the way of lacing. Nice carbonation!

S- Caramel, honey, dried figs and a hint of fresh hops. Smells sweet like an English BW. Buttered popcorn and brown sugar. I've had this in the bottle before, but sooo much better fresh off the tap!

T- Spicy, sweet, and bright hoppiness! Lots of caramel, toffee, honey with a wonderful blended hop brightness. Not as deep as some barleywines, but certainly better than most! A bit boozey fresh, but not in a bad way!

M- From the smell and taste, I thought this was gonna Honey coat the tongue a bit more than it did. Really nice carbonation tho... gotta love it right from the source!!!

O- I can't wait to get back to the brewery and have this again! I also have a 4-pack that I'm gonna put away a few bottles of and see how it develops!

Serving type: growler

07-01-2011 05:03:01 | More by Thickfreakness
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

L - clear cherrywood color with a off-white head that thinned to a ring leaving a few spots of lacing.

S - toffee with a hint of alcohol, it reminds me of a hot buttered rum cocktail.

T - sweet caramel and toffee with very light bittering and a bit of heat.

F - medium bodied, sticky sweet and warming.

O - a good barley wine but as already mentioned it's more like an English BW than an American BW.
The Mendocino website lists the "category" as Imperial Barley Wine

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2011 02:12:24 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of DrDemento456


4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this single up for 2.39. May go back for more if it's awesome.

A - A nice amber in color nice and dark with an inch of head that turns to a light sticky lace.

S - Smells of slight caramel, toffee, a bit of sweet malts and a touch of alcohol

T - My does this drink smooth. ABV takes a backseat as Sweet caramel and toffee along side an almost cherry tone take the palate over hops. Dark fruits as well are used to cover up any alcohol burn my gawd!

M - Medium to a bit heavy. Couldn't imagine drinking more than a couple of sitting.

Overall I regret buying an entire case of the RIS since this barleywine is more ABV and more taste with less hop presence. Man I hate PA for not having the single but love this beer. A very drinkable BW.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2011 04:34:47 | More by DrDemento456
Photo of johnnnniee

New Hampshire

4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep reddish copper color with a slightly dirty beige head that dissipates slowly to a ring on top. The smell is quite sweet, it reminds me more of an old ale than an American barley wine. Caramel, toffee, prunes, dates, cherries, slight bit of resin and a hint of alcohol in there. There's an almost non existent hop aroma, maybe its an English barleywine? Taste is sweet and fruity. Caramel covered cherries mixed in some toffee, but add a bit of a hop bite. Lingering sweetness in the finish with a little bit of alcohol heat. Sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel, light level of carbonation and a relatively thick body. As an old ale or English barleywine I really enjoyed this, as an American barleywine it misses the mark. Nice sipper, great flavors and aroma, I might have to check out some more brews from Mendocino.

Serving type: bottle

05-25-2011 00:24:08 | More by johnnnniee
Photo of claytong


4.18/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

first off i agree very much this is definitely an english barleywine.
drank it decently fresh. i dont recommend drinking more than one fresh even though its not half bad that way. it seems like a great beer to age.
very malty, not any bitterness as is typical with american barleys. nice barley notes. caramel, raisin and molasses are in there but certainly not strong.
a terrific buy for barleys.

a note: just revisited a bottle i put back in the cellar. its about a year old and was tasting fantastic. sit on this one a bit.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2011 06:27:05 | More by claytong
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

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!

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2011 21:19:09 | More by oberon
Photo of raszputini

North Carolina

3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber with a very creamy off-white head that dissipates moderately quickly. Smells of berries (cherries?) and has a woodiness - alcohol is lightly present as well. The taste is malty with a complex blend of fruit, malts, and hop bitterness that all kind of hits you together - the hops linger on through the finish. This brew is hoppier than most barley wines I've sampled, probably in an attempt to bury the elevated ABV. I'm not a huge fan of barley wine, but I enjoyed this one.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2011 00:20:14 | More by raszputini
Photo of weazal


3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

SMELL: Rich, decadent aroma dominated by berries. Incredibly strong black cherry smell with a sugary kick. There's a fresh, damp wood / forest component that ties into the buttery hops.

TASTE: The expected barleywine thickness hits you upfront, heavy on your palate it lingers a delectably long time before slowly being swallowed away. Bright fruitiness plays a fun contrast against the full mouthfeel. Flavors are mostly balanced. Carbonation is mild, lightly bighting your tongue, and there's a lingering grapefruit sourness left on the palate that's not the best.

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2011 08:16:25 | More by weazal
Photo of bucklemyshoe


4/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2011 19:01:38 | More by bucklemyshoe
Photo of superdedooperboy


3.98/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12-ounce brown glass bottle poured into a snifter glass. Served at approximately 45 degrees F.

Lovely in its initial appearance, pouring deep ruby-copper with sparkling clarity and a smallish quickly-fading off-white head. Sadly, there's no remnant of lacing on the sides of the glass as the bubbles disappear.

A delightful bouquet enters the nose, with loads of dried fig and golden raisin, some caramel and turbinado sugar and lovely rich, sweet malt.

Certainly not very heavy, with a rather lively carbonation for the style lending an uplifting, slightly prickly quality. Up front, sweet malt and some faint toasty melanoidin shows through; things move into a warm and bitter middle, with spicy, herbal, slightly lemony hop notes peeking through before caramel slides in around the edges. Dried fruit, mostly fig and date, enters in at the rear, serving as the lead into a surprisingly sweet finish; some grapefruit-like bitterness does show its face near the end, along with a hint of that warming alcohol, to round it out a bit and move the finish more to the bittersweet point of the spectrum.

Rather drinkable, with the moderate carbonation and semi-sweet finish helping things out immensely. Aside from the bit of light warmth, the alcohol really doesn't show itself much until long afterward. With a fairly restrained hop bitterness and character, this really straddles the line between American- and British-style barleywine, but the meeting point between the two is most certainly a pleasant one.

Serving type: bottle

02-20-2011 06:10:47 | More by superdedooperboy
Photo of turboge


3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't know when this was bottled.

A: Light amber, small head that dissipated quickly

S: Sweet Floral with some faint dark fruit

T: Light, Medium carbonation with some bitterness, Alcohol greatly masked, some dark cherries too

M: Light not syrupy, smooth

D: Very easy to drink because it is light for a barleywine. I am sure after 4 the buzz would creep.

Only dissappointment was this beer is not warming to the body. For 11%ABV I thought otherwise. Hmm...

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2011 20:04:29 | More by turboge
Photo of stephens101


3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown with some reddish hues and a wispish tan head that leaves behind a few small dots. Complex to the nose with caramel malts, dried raisins, honey, a bit of woody hops and a sliver of vinegar. Heavy on the malts to the tongue with a near cloying cherry sweetness. Some notes of pine, burnt sugar and cinnamon are also noticed. Goes down creamy and a little thin at the end, but with an overall heavy body. Alcohol heat is furtive. Good showing but a little sweet and nondescript.

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2011 23:04:41 | More by stephens101
Photo of goblue3509


3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2011 16:03:19 | More by goblue3509
Photo of BeerFMAndy


3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2010 12:57:25 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of Billolick

New York

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.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2010 00:04:02 | More by Billolick
Photo of BeerManDan


4.83/5  rDev +32%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a thick dark, dark, reddish brown with no foam. The first impression when smelled was of roasted brown sugar, with chocolate over tones. The aroma was so pleasant and i couldn't pick-up the alcohol, even at 11%, it just smelt so inviting. The taste of roated malts, brown sugar or molasses, whatever it was and caramel, not choclate. This is so, so smooth and tasty, without that strong bitter or high alcohol feel on the palate. This, for me, is one great tasting American Barleywine. I, myself, have not tasted such a well blended and balanced ale in a long, long time. I'm out to buy a case or two!

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2010 00:47:30 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of benclimbs


3.48/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours reddish dark with a slight head and zero lacing...probably as a result of the high alcohol.

smell is probably the nicest part of the beer - dark, dried fruit, leathery earthy tones, and some rich malt character.

taste is alright, decent enough for a barleywine (not a huge fan of the style usually) - fairly smooth, rich in the beginning, with a lot of nice nutty, caramelly malt flavour, then finishes a little sourish, woody.

drinkable for an 11% old ale barleywine, but very undrinkable compared to a lot of other 11% beers i've had...decent, but probably wouldn't get it again.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2010 07:56:55 | More by benclimbs
Photo of bagpiper2005


2.98/5  rDev -18.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2010 00:25:18 | More by bagpiper2005
Photo of russpowell


3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
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

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2010 04:15:47 | More by russpowell
Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 174 ratings.