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John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale - Mad River Brewing Company

Not Rated.
John Barleycorn Barleywine AleJohn Barleycorn Barleywine Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

481 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 481
Reviews: 353
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 12.83%
Wants: 21
Gots: 26 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.40% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 10-26-2004

Same recipe each year. ABV varies slightly 9.5-11.0%
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale Alström Bros
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Ratings: 481 | Reviews: 353 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bung
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of KensWorld
4.21/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Frenchie1916
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Harvest06
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of wethorseblanket
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Furlinator
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.45/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a murky dark brown color with lots of chunky sediment. The head is around a finger high (maybe a bit less), and off-white in shade. While it's quite creamy looking, it doesn't have very good retention. There are splotches of lacing left behind, redeeming its aesthetic appeal slightly. (3)

Smell: The hoppiness has been subdued well, which makes it almost seem like an English-style barleywine. Though if I concentrate, I do pick up touches of tobacco. This also has very powerful candied notes in particular, along side a mild hint of leathery booze. Overall, this has a sweet nose, but one that's also well rounded considering. (3.5)

Taste: At first, some of the faded hops come through with some pine and tobacco. After that...well, it turns a malt bomb. Featuring notes of raisins, caramel, brown sugar, and rum, there's no doubt this is a massive beer. After warming up appropriately, it even becomes a bit salty. My only problem with this is its lack of depth - because a little bit of alcohol comes through, I'd expect that to help reveal some additional complex notes. Alas, it doesn't. I'm still enjoying it, don't get me wrong, but it could have been even better. (3.5)

Mouthfeel: While it's a big beer, it manages to restrain not only some of the sweetness (surprisingly), but some of the booze as well. The key word is some - there's still a mild prickle on the tongue and a heavier warming of the esophagus. It's still a massive, full-bodied beer, which means one couldn't chug this...and thank cripes for that. Even with the lowish carbonation, it's still a steady sipping beer. (3.25)

Overall: The brewery actually aged this in the bottle a year themselves! Seriously, what a brilliant yet seemingly simple idea. Having said that, this one lacks the complexity to become a great barleywine even after a year of age. But I still enjoy it enough to want to buy a bottle or two of it so I can age it even further. (3.5)

3.45/5: Fairly rudimentary for a barleywine, but at least it's well balanced

Photo of Thirstygoat
4/5  rDev +7%

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.

Photo of heysuz
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Alpha309
4.5/5  rDev +20.3%

Photo of happilyhopped
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
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%

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John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 481 ratings.