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John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
John Barleycorn Barleywine AleJohn Barleycorn Barleywine Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

475 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 475
Reviews: 351
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 22
Gots: 24 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Same recipe each year. ABV varies slightly 9.5-11.0%

(Beer added by: xlperro on 10-26-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 475 | Reviews: 351 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #72 (Jan 2013):

John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale, 2011 Cellar Reserve

Its always a good time when you can hunker down on a cold day with a Barleywine, JB has been around longer than most and may have not gained absolute national recognition though it certainly has reached cult status amongst the more weathered beer geeks. Very bold and pretty much an “in your face brew”, bordering massive at 11% abv so clearly this is a sipper which is just what this winter will be calling for.

STYLE: American Barleywine
ABV: 11.0%
AVAILABILITY: Winter seasonal

LOOK: Garnet amber hue, beige lacing

SMELL: Very estery, fresh grass, citrus rind, caramel, brown bread, tangerine zest, pungent hop, cherry compote

TASTE: Very smooth, creamy, slightly chewy, husky, dried grass, leafy, tobacco, toasted orange peels, rose water, faint cherries, spicy, hop bitterness, biscuity, nutty yeast, drying semi-bitter finish

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume III, Issue II:

A winter seasonal brewed to honor the harvest (maybe in Cali, but not Mass.) and holidays, in limited 10-barrel batches with certified organic barley malt.

Out of the 12-ounce brown, twist-off stubby, this brew pours a thick, dark copper with rich ruby hues and an impressive two-finger, off-white, creamy head and sticky lacing. Up front, the nose is subtly teased with herbal and raisin notes and ripe, fruity esters. Firm, full bodied and creamy on the palate. Semi-sharp bitterness followed by softer leaf and resin hop flavors. A smooth maltiness coats the tongue with some sweet caramel, brown sugar and soft toasty/bready notes. Overripe stone fruits, esters and a grape-like back. Then, it's all gone. Warming and peppery alcohol pricks the palate, with a very strong, solvent-like presence. A bit biscuity toward the end with an astringent hop finish and alcohol on the breath.

It's decent, and certainly a strong beer, but both the malt and hop profiles seem to be lacking some depth and definition, resulting in flavors that are quick lived and fall flat. As with many of the reviewers, we agree that this one is too boozy.

4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of heysuz
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Alpha309
4.5/5  rDev +20.3%

Photo of happilyhopped
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured the 2013 Vintage on November 25th, 2014 into a large snifter glass. Beer case says beer was aged a year in bottled already, but i cannot verify that. Here is my review of the beer however:

Look - Pours cloudy and is a volcanic soil kind of mud brown. Think hawaiian soil (a little red, a little orange, but mostly muddy brown). There is about a quarter inch of head after a decently aggressive pour. The heads is milk white in color and dissipates quickly leaving almost no lacing. When held to the light, the light permeates the peripheries and you see colors of orange and red/amber. The center is still a dark murky brown that light does not penetrate.

Smell - I get the caramel malt right away and it smells like it will taste sweet and delicious. Definitely get a little rustic bread smell and a bit of the the alcohol heat flares the nostrils. Also pick up the smell of sweet apple. It smells creamy/milky.

Taste - Right away i get a lot of that caramel sweetness that you find in an english style barleywine. Somewhat of a honey wheat bread with butter kind of flavor. Really good. Then, after the initial sweetness fades, comes the hop bitterness. It isn't as strong as a beer like Bigfoot, but it definitely bites through the sweetness to remind you this is an american barleywine.

Mouthfeel - Nice and syrupy on the front like most barelywines. Coats the tongues and allows you to taste everything the beer has to offer. But there is also a nice carbonation that comes through and bites into the tongue...almost similar to that tingle sensation you get from rye whiskey. Medium carbonation...not too intense, almost like a mild champaign.

Overall - I think this beer is better than its rating. It reminds me of a cellared Bigfoot Barleywine from SN. The malt has had some time to cut through all the hop bitterness, but that bitter hop flavor can still be found if you let the brew linger on your tongue for a split second. I am going to cellar some of these to see how the hop and malt profiles play out.

Photo of yeaprolly
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of SteveD082791
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Fatehunter
3/5  rDev -19.8%

Pours the thinnest head on a dark brown body.
The aroma is grain, both dry and wet, honey and slight barnyard. Nice.
The taste is malty but not too sweet. A mild lemon and grapefruit bitterness in the middle. Finishes with a sticky sweet note and a little alcohol heat.
The texture is thicker and sticky.
It's got a nice alcohol heat but the rest of the flavor is muddled.

Photo of spycow
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of PG2G
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%

Photo of Buick222
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of indy351
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of FLBeerGuy
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of TheSamKuehn
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of Hopstout
4/5  rDev +7%

Photo of wrightst
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%

Photo of paulish
4/5  rDev +7%

Photo of KAF
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of irishpride
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of Dan_McNeely
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Decided to try it from a wine glass. Very strong bold look. It's a bit lighter in appearance at the top. It had a deep brown almost dark toffee color. A very muscular look to it.

S- Roasted Barley smells very fine and smooth. If it tastes like it smells, it will go down easy. I don't smell the booze. It's has a confident aroma, an almost I'm better than you feel. Again, very masculine, in a suave sense.

T- The taste sweeps in letting it self be known. As suspected, much like the aroma it's like Fabio from a romance novel. It holds a welcoming bitter aftertaste that I can enjoy. A bit of a deep chocolate after taste.

M- Heavenly. I've not had a barley wine with this much distinction and just makes my mouth feel good. Light, but not too light. I can tell it's a high percentage, but it's telling me, "Don't worry, you'll enjoy this", in a not so creepy way.

A gentleman's beer, dark, handsome, intelligent, confident something I can be proud to drink. This is a fantastic beer, it really improved my attitude after a long day at the office. Even if you've never had or usually don't enjoy this style, I highly suggest to pick it up.

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.11/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from RussianDragon. Thanks Dave!

2012 Vintage

The beer is slightly murky with a chestnut brown body and a half inch of tan head. Aromas include toffee, dates, booze, malt, perhaps prunes or raisins. Thick body with a mild but present sweetness. Big flavor with malt complexity, a touch of brown sugar. A nice beer to sip and savor.

Photo of spinrsx
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle from the Total Wine Palm Desert CA for $3.50 - 2012 edition

Appearance - Hazy brown colour with a good size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5-6 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel/molasses/toffee, anise

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, molasses/toffeel, and hops. There is also some vanilla, some burnt notes, and anise.

Overall - Pretty solid stuff. The booze is well hidden and there is a nice balance of sweet and bitter. Maybe a little thin for a barleywine, but lots of great flavours. A wood aged version of this would be excellent I'm sure.

Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

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John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 475 ratings.