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Olde GnarlyWine - Lagunitas Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Olde GnarlyWineOlde GnarlyWine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

975 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 975
Reviews: 620
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.07%
Wants: 126
Gots: 76 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Lagunitas Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 09-22-2001

2011: 10.6% ABV, 69 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 975 | Reviews: 620 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Complex aroma, with barley,malt, wood, hops,citrus mint. High bitterness and drying finish. Dark colour, much head. Alcohol was strong and hardly tamed by food. Nutty, citrusy, drinkable. Good for it being young and will seek this out aged, down the road.
Had 3.5 years later and about same overall, great lacey appearance, aroma not as great.

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage.

Pours a clear dark orange with a 3 inch light orange head that fades to a small foamy cap. Nice distinct thin rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smells of citrus zest and pine and caramel malt. Taste is of sweet malt balanced by citrus zest/pine hops. There is a bit of brown sugar and caramel that comes out too. Mild bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. A lower level of carbonation makes for a slightly thick and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barleywine that tastes better than it smells. Another good value for the price (I paid $3.99 for a bomber) from Lagunitas.

Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -14%

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -14%

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%

Photo of Thorpe429
3.33/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle picked up at Rick's in Alexandria. 2011 vintage. Served in a wine glass.

Pours bronze with a light tan head. Head has good retention and then leaves a bit of lacing behind. The nose has some caramel with a touch of light cherry and some malty sweetness. Some brown sugar in there as well. The flavor adds in a touch of booze, but otherwise keeps pretty similar to the nose. There is a sweetness that is not quite cloying, but pervades throughout. Nothing too complex about this one. Medium body and low carbonation with some heat in the finish. Decent example of the style.

Photo of metter98
3.96/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear dark amber and was served with a large, beige head. It has an amazing level of head retention and lacy patterns continued to cover the sides of the glass as it was sipped down to the last drop.
S: The nose has aromas of brown sugar and piney hops.
T: There are lots of flavors of caramel malts in the initial taste, which are then followed by bitterness from the citrusy and piney hops.
M: It feels medium- to strong-bodied on the palate and a bit sticky and boozy with some alcohol heat. There is some dryness in the finish.
D: The beer is good to sip, but there's no way that I could have more than one of these in a single sitting.

Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 bottling; sampled at Hard Liver Barleywine Fest 2009

Appearance: Arrives with a nice head atop the clear amber liquid; laces reasonably well, too

Smell: Toffee notes with bubblegum and nuts

Taste: Toffee up front, with developing tea-like hops flavors by mid-palate; very balanced after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: With a few years of age, this beer is drinking very nicely; very well blended flavor profile

Photo of jaydoc
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.65/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2004 (Twenty 'Aught-4) release. Smoldering tawny with a splash of maraschino cherry juice, a gorgeous hue that is as warm as a tropical sunset. The head is at least as attractive as the beer itself. It's the color of orange caramel mousse and is as thickly creamy as they come. Only now, as the second inch of the glass is revealed, does the thick sheet of lace begin to show any sign of breakage. The appearance is just short of stunning.

The nose is a bewitching combination of caramel, brown sugar, hot buttered rum, cherries and oranges. It doesn't really bring anything new or different to the table, it just smells better than the vast majority of barleywines that have entered my snifter. Maybe that's why the brewery decided to call it Gnarly. If the flavor takes its cues from the aroma, this will be a keeper and then some.

Perhaps I cracked the crown at just the right moment in time. Or perhaps it wouldn't have mattered one way of the other. All I know is, Olde GnarlyWine is outstanding beer, right here, right now. Too many barleywines are too much of one thing or not enough of another to suit me. As Goldilocks so famously said, this one is juuust right.

The malt backbone is colossal and reminds me of a solid line of caramel vertebrae jutting from the earth, as if from some long dead malt dinosaur. The flavor profile mirrors the nose, more or less, with candied orange peel-studded, caramel-coated toffee pudding oozing all through the mouth with each upending of the glass. Buttered rum is still in the house, although there's so little alcohol evident on the palate that the ABV just has to be a misprint.

This is one beautiful, well-integrated, lip smackingly delicious big beer. Hop bitterness is necessarily muted after two years in the bottle, but their citric fruitiness is alive and well. I almost expect to see chunks of candied orange peel, candied grapefruit peel and candied cherries swimming around in my glass. If this isn't the best barleywine that I've ever had, it's damn close. I don't want the bomber to ever run dry.

The body/mouthfeel is as well-mannered as the flavor profile. It's unabashedly full with a heavy silkiness that is pure pleasure in the mouth. It's also sticky without being syrupy and allows the various flavors to soak into the taste buds and make themselves at home until the next sip. The finish should be measured with a calendar rather than a stopwatch.

Lagunitas is one of America's great under-appreciated breweries as far as I'm concerned. I love their Brown Shugga', Imperial Red Ale, India Pale Ale and Cappuccino Stout. Not one of those, however, with the possible exception of the first, prepared me for the magnificence of Olde GnarlyWine. This is a world-class barleywine that I would have bought by the case had I known what magic awaited me on the other side of the label. Highly recommended.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very hazy dark, burnt ruby amber. Very intresting hue as the reddish tint was very noticeable even though the haze made it almost opaque. A one inch head formed on the top upon pour, that faded almost immediatly. What was left was a thin film of decent quality lace that circle around the glass. Smell was very sweet, caramel sugars hitting almost immediatly. The deeper smell after some warming indicated a nice bready, earthy malt back with a hint of alcohol, which at 9%abv and being a barleywine should be expected. The taste for me was just too light. I expect barleywines to make me sit down and to be a definite sipper, but this just did not have the fullness I would have expected. The finish on it was very dry, and did last a good bit though. The taste itself was very hoppy, with piney flavors the most noticeable, a slight malt back was trying to form with flavors of grain and bread, but was just too thin to really be noticed. There was a huge amount of carbonation, again for a barleywine, on this one. Lots of fizz and contributed to the feeling of lightness. Overall this gave me more of an impression of a well balanced double IPA. May improve and bring out some flavors as it sits, but a little younf still for me.

Photo of womencantsail
3.76/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Release

A: The pour is about copper in color with a finger of khaki colored head, leaving minimal lacing.

S: Toffee, brown sugar, and caramel give the beer an excellent sweetness on the nose. There are some good dark fruit notes in the background. Unfortunately, the alcohol is quite apparent.

T: Great hop flavor to this beer with a huge pineapple flavor. Moderate grapefruit citrus notes and just quite fruity overall. Sweet caramel and toffee are counteracted a little bit with some bitter and pine hop flavors.

M: Medium to full in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: One of the better beers in Lagunitas' rotating/regular lineup.

Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

To me there are not to many things better (beer speaking) than a real hopped up American Barleywine,this fit the bill for me.Poured into a imperial nonic a hazed amber/bronze with a thinner off white head atop.Pine resin in the nose lets you know where this comes from and what brewer its from,dark fruit and some brown sugar go along nicel with the hefty hop profile.Complex and immensley flavorful,big fruity malt with some brown sugar flavors meld into big pine and citrus in the finish.Man its juicy and dangerously drinkable,another gem from Lagunitas.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(1999 Bottle)

Appearance: Pours a brownish-red body with a very thin, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma overflowing with sweet-smelling caramel along with notes of vanilla and dark fruits. Lightly boozey. Very faint hint of wet paper lurking in there as well.

Taste: Rich, sweet maltiness with flavors of dark caramel. Mild vanilla note. Some dried dark fruits. Only a very, very subtle earthy bitterness remains. A bit of oxidation has indeed taken up residence. A mellow alcoholic finish with an emphasis on the candylike malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Nicely warming.

Drinkability: Good stuff! A very well put-together barleywine from Lagunitas.

Photo of biboergosum
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, nice child-raising metaphor for their barleywine genesis in their usual soapbox side label.

This beer pours a clear medium copper amber hue, with two fingers of thick foamy beige head, which leaves a nice residue of webbed lace around the glass. It smells of citrus and pine hops, toffee/caramel malt, raisins, and a mild alcohol astringency. The taste is another big war of attrition among citrus, pine, sugary toffee, and an increasing herbaceous quality, with the malt weirdly pulling out ahead, just barely, which I guess makes sense. What's truly 'gnarly' here is the lack of a genuine marker to give away the north of 10 points of booze. Just a bit of obfuscation with the hops, is all. The carbonation is quite sedate, the body a hefty medium weight, smooth but for a bitter, zippy edge. It finishes dry, against all that the big malt puts forth, the big alcohol aiding in the effort, without becoming obvious in the least.

Good grief, what a paragon of West Coast barleywine excellence. Big hops, big malt, big hibernating booze. Rock on, bra!

Photo of zeff80
4.39/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Edition

A - Poured out a clear, burgundy color with ruby highlights. It had a one-finger head of tan, bubbly head that had some okay retention. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of sweet boozy maltiness. Caramel, toffee and biscuity malt with some floral notes.

T - Rich malty brew with caramel, toffee and sweet breads. It had just enough piney bitterness to balance out the sweet.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A full-bodied ale with a dry finish and some alcohol warmth.

O - This is a really good barleywine, at a great price. I'm glad I finally got my hands on a bottle of this one.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.73/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter at ChurchKey.

I've seen this on the shelves a number of times, but have never been able to pull the trigger. It pours a translucent deep amber-brown topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises biscuits, buttery toffee, and some light red grapes. The taste follows, adding caramel and some citrus hops to the finish. The body is a heavy medium, with moderate carbonation and a rather thick feel. Overall, not a bad barleywine at all, but not really anything special.

Photo of JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -14%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.67/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002. Pours a clear dark auburn body with gleaming orange highlights beneath a full head of creamy ivory foam that holds well and leaves short walls of transient lace about the glass.

The nose offers a toffeeish and surprisingly nutty maltiness that's accentuated by a touch of citrusy and slightly piney hops.

In the mouth it's full-bodied, dextrinous, and creamy-smooth with a very fine bubbled, restrained carbonation.

The same toffeeish and nutty malt returns in the flavor - like melted brown sugar drizzled over a nibble of a Butterfinger bar, and topped with a teaspoon of chopped cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts. Some dark-skinned fruit emerges along with the bitterness mid-palate; followed by a flourish of citrusy hops. It finishes raspy dry with a lingering note of caramel-sweet malt that slowly erodes leaving a residue of citrusy/piney hops and dull bitterness behind.

The GnarlyWine is a superbly rounded barleywine with an interesting and unique maltiness. With the exception that, at just 9.7% abv, the head retention could be better and some alcohol sneaks through, this is superb!

Photo of nickfl
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Half a finger of brown foam settles quickly and leaves little lace. The body is an unusual red color and crystal clear.

S - Pungent hop aroma with notes of pine and citrus, backed by toasted malt and a hint of caramel.

T - Lots of brown, malty sweetness up front, followed in the middle by pungent, pine like hop flavors. A note of malty caramel lasts from the beginning and compliments a roasty tobacco flavor as the beer fades into a finish dominated by resinous hop bitterness.

M - Thick, syrupy body, moderately high carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - While it hides its alcohol pretty well, this is a thick and heavy beer. It isn't exactly easy to drink, but it is quite enjoyable. The hop character is quite pronounced, but with the heavy sweetness, the overall impression is of rich malt.

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Olde GnarlyWine from Lagunitas Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 975 ratings.