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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale - Mendocino Brewing Company

Imperial Barley Wine Style AleImperial Barley Wine Style Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

161 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 161
Reviews: 88
rAvg: 3.66
pDev: 13.66%

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: 161 | Reviews: 88 | Show All Ratings:
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
Photo of jsprain1


3.38/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Dark copper, perhaps brown, with a thin head that disappears rather quickly.
S- Very sweet aroma with resiny hops, figs, prunes, and a definite alcohol presence to it.
T- Initially resiny and very sweet. finishes with a strong alcohol warmth.
M- Creamy and full initially, the alcohol definitely dominates the finish.
D- this was a good attempt, but the flavors just didn't mesh well. this is a beer that I can definitely see aging well though. Needs a bit more mellow.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2010 04:17:44 | More by jsprain1
Photo of rembrant


3.9/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appears Deep Copper. A little haziness and a nice tan 1 finger head that goes well with the liquid. Pretty beer.

Aroma....definitely complex and potent,has fresh breads and biscuits,a variety of dark fruits,a bit of a brandy aroma and a touch of spiciness.

Flavors. May need to warm. For now,the aromas do give clues. Leads with caramel,goes into dark fruits,port wine,sweet bread,a bit tannic in the finnish and,as tends to be with Barleywine,some moments of boozy.

Warmer, that tannic tartness is gone and the booze,still there blends into a sweet toffee/fruitcake with the Port and some dark coffee...minimal hops. Generally...like most Barleywine, a bit "over the top " and wanting to be a bit warm. I found it pretty smooth and tasty once it hit it's spot.

Mouthfeel is full and just fine. It's Brandywine and I consider them a "change of pace" beer,and a sipper. I would get this again but one in an evening is enough

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2010 19:18:13 | More by rembrant
Photo of ngeunit1


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

A - Pours a nice deep cloudy red-brown color with a nice amount of foamy head (about an inch to an inch and a half) with decent retention and some good lacing.

S - Aroma is overall fairly sweet, of dark fruits. There is also some nice hop scents mixed in. Also a hint of toffee malts.

T - Starts off very sweet, and mostly of the dark fruits taste. This is joined by the malt flavor and a bit of hops. The high alcohol content makes itself apparent in the flavor towards the end.

M - Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Feels a bit syrupy in on the tongue and even a bit think as it warms.

D - The fairly present alcohol flavor in the beer make a bit intimidating, and cuts down on pure drinkability. However, I think the fruit flavors that overall dominate the taste and the toffee malt flavors work well together.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2010 03:57:23 | More by ngeunit1
Photo of flannelman808


3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
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

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2010 11:11:48 | More by flannelman808
Photo of avalon07

South Carolina

3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was an inch of foamy, long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of hops, caramel, and a bit of malt.

T: Tasted of caramel and hops (though not as much of the latter), and some malt. Slightly uneven, but OK nonetheless.

M: A decent amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This beer is a bit on the uneven side, yet still basically drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2010 13:09:51 | More by avalon07
Photo of mbusster88

New York

2.63/5  rDev -28.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2010 01:50:31 | More by mbusster88
Photo of barleywinefiend


4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2010 17:36:52 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of bminor7

New York

3.15/5  rDev -13.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2010 03:30:56 | More by bminor7
Photo of JohnGalt1


3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
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.


Serving type: bottle

10-15-2010 05:49:27 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of Beaver13


2.1/5  rDev -42.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-01-2010 04:33:00 | More by Beaver13
Photo of BEERchitect


3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2010 04:55:30 | More by BEERchitect
Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 161 ratings.