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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
82
good

94 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 94
Hads: 207
Avg: 3.62
pDev: 19.89%
Wants: 5
Gots: 23 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States | website

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: 94 | Hads: 207
Photo of liamt07
3.7/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

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Photo of homebrewhawk
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of YouSkeete
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

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Photo of emerge077
3.41/5  rDev -5.8%
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).

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.62/5  rDev 0%
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.

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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 ColdPoncho
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Deep ruby/mahogany body with a nice bit of tan head. A fairly pretty looking beer for sure.

S - Sweet dark fruits (plum, cherry), toffee and caramel. That's about it.

T - Dry and a touch smoky. THe dark fruit character comes through. A little bitter, but not so much of a hop thing.

M - coating and thick. There is a viscosity to this that kind of feels like it clings to your mouth.

O - I think this is pretty good. Tastes good, looks good, feels kinda funny.

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

On tap at the Dutch poured into a oversized wine glass. Nice tan amber hue capped by a nice tan head. Head has fair retention that reduces to light lacing. Nose is warm with caramel, slight yeasty bread. Taste is a strong punch of caramel, cloying sweetness. Light grass and flower, tad of dull earth. Full bodies this is defiantly a sipper. Much better than I expected, not that I am the barley wine expert.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.88/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ratebeer's own markwise for this one. Is this really an imperial barleywine? Not sure what that means. 12oz bottle pours amber with copper edges and tan head. The aroma is rich with apricot infused pine hops, some mango and more pine hops at the end of the draw. The taste is pretty nice with pine hoppiness that gets sticky with maltiness. To midway and into the finish a mild level of tropical fruitiness joins in too. Nice bold pine hop forward barleywine.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.92/5  rDev +8.3%
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

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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 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 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 colforbin73
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

there is a component missing from the review categories and it is obvious, PRICE. price should not be heavily weighted but it matters. this Imperial barley wine is a mere 6.99 a 4/pack -- and even at a dollar or two more, it is a great value.

pours a very dark amber with a little tan head, but this is a good frothy brew. it can sit for a while half gone and when you slosh it around it comes to life and foams up a little...

the smell is sweet and a little spicey, a little leather a little rum... the drink is sweet and rich. it says "old style ale" on the label and it really is. you can imagine the wort was very thick and sweet. for 11% it is not overly boosey, but it's there for sure. as far as the style goes -- imperial barley wine seems wrong to me, maybe it should just be "old style strong ale" -- i don't get a lot of floral character -- this is ALE, rich well-developed malts. i usually think of barley wine as being high ABV with a good hoppy/floral/fresh element... the malts dominate this thick brew.

i could see this ale in the little barrel around the st bernard's neck. quality old strong ale...

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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 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 WesWes
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

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Photo of waltersrj
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
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."

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.06/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

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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 Masticon
4.33/5  rDev +19.6%
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

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 94 ratings.