1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.
BA SCORE
84
good

459 Ratings
THE BROS
70
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 459
Reviews: 349
rAvg: 3.73
pDev: 13.14%
Wants: 20
Gots: 22 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale Alström Bros
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 459 | Reviews: 349 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4.05/5  rDev +8.6%

1997 bottle that i was saving for a special occasion but had anyways. It had mellowed marvelously and was a magnificient aged barleywine. Reminded me of a mellow balanced cantillon open fermentation. A cloudy fruity appearance. Clearly barley and malt in taste.

05-07-2006 02:20:43 | More by Sammy
Photo of t0rin0
t0rin0

California

3.63/5  rDev -2.7%

This was a 1998 bottle thats supposedly been kept in the fridge. I guess I should have tried a new one first to see what this beer started out as. The appearance was a murky brown with some red showing through. Had a nice amount of carbonation and produced a decent sized offwhite head. The murkiness is evidence of its age as it sounds like this beer started off pretty clear.

The smell was very inviting. It was very malty and a tiny bit hoppy in the nose. It smelled of a well aged barleywine. The taste was very interesting. Part of it consisted of that sweet malt/maple syrup taste that comes from age. But the other part tasted like A1 steak sauce. Now, there were 7 of us that did a barleywine tasting of about 15 different beers and everyone agreed that there was a weird steak sauce flavor in there. It actually didn't take too much away from the beer but it was very strange.

The body was relatively heavy and went down smooth. This was a drinkable beer after 10 years, so I'm guessing its drinkable when its new.

01-15-2008 22:43:38 | More by t0rin0
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

3.48/5  rDev -6.7%

2010 vintage.

10% ABV per label.

Pours a murky super dark brown with a 2 inch puffy light khaki head that settles to a thin cap. A nice latticework of lace forms on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, brown sugar, toffee, and lots of citrus zest hops. Taste is of malt, brown sugar, and some citrus zest flavors. Pretty straightforward progression from the nose. There is a very mild bitterness that quickly fades from the palate. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly flat mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine but nothing too special. I didn't find this one to be as bad as others seem to think in the reviews.

11-22-2011 04:00:01 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of djrn2
djrn2

New Jersey

4/5  rDev +7.2%

12-12-2011 20:58:10 | More by djrn2
Photo of metter98
metter98

New York

3.85/5  rDev +3.2%

A: The beer is nearly opaque brownish amber in color. It poured with a half-finger high light beige head that died down and left wispy patterns of bubbles covering the surface and lacing running down the sides of the glass.
S: There are sweet aromas of caramel and toffee in the nose along with some notes of alcohol.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and somewhat boozy with a moderate amount of malty sweetness. It also has notes of dark fruits in the flavors.
M: It feels relatively full-bodied on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation and some hints of stickiness; the alcohol leaves warming sensations in your mouth.
O: The beer definitely tastes strong, but some of the alcohol is masked from the taste. It’s a good beer so slowly sip and savor on a cold winter night.

01-28-2012 03:39:53 | More by metter98
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

4.1/5  rDev +9.9%

2003 Harvest. Majestic magenta with a definite orange influence when backlit with sunshine. The pale caramel cap is on the small side, even after an aggressive pour. That isn't surprising, I suppose, in light of the ABV. A slurred collar of lace is the only glass decoration. Despite the lack of icing, this really is a good looking barleywine.

The nose is chock full of toffee and all manner of alcohol-soaked fruits. I don't mean alcohol as in raw ethanol, because that's barely evident. I mean cherries and figs soaking in tawny port and cherry brandy. One thing is certain when drinking (and smelling) a four year old barleywine, the various flavors (and aromas) will be nicely melded and will feature nothing but smooth edges.

My first sip tells me that was a good call. John Barleycorn is nothing if not well-mannered at this stage of the game. Why on earth would anyone drink a barleywine fresh when the years are so kind? Although it's hard to be sure, I think this vintage has some time on it yet.

I have no doubt that the hop attack has faded to a considerable extent, but I'd have to say English barleywine rather than American barleywine. The star of the show is a wonderfully rich maltiness that is reminiscent of brown bread slathered with thick layers of cherry and plum jam, then drizzled with melted caramel. A modest amount of black tea leaf bitterness keeps things from becoming too cloying.

The mouthfeel is light-medium for the style on first blush. However, as the beer approaches room temperature, it develops a stealth viscosity that is most enjoyable. It's slowly morphing from summer-weight silk to winter-weight. Sip or gulp... it's up to you.

John Barleycorn is a barleywine that doesn't get a whole lot of buzz. If I lived in Mad River's distribution area, I'd buy a sixer every year and would do a killer vertical tasting every now and again. This is good stuff that is disappearing remarkably quickly.

09-13-2007 15:18:26 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

3.73/5  rDev 0%

Appearance: Pours a hazy copper color with a frothy head that displays good retention and a bit of splashy lacing

Smell: Toffee and leather notes; a touch of raisin

Taste: Opens with caramel and raisin flavors that are quickly subsumed by the piney hops; slightly medicinal and astringent on the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and creamy with plenty of carbonation and some warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: A little too over the top on the bitterness; lacking a good malt backbone; definitely not cloying but the beer lacks the balance between the sweet and bitter flavors that define the best barleywines; aging a couple of years certainly helps this brew

04-23-2006 02:31:12 | More by brentk56
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.88/5  rDev +4%

Pours a thick brown, though you can see some light through it, no head and a nice lace top it off. Smell is hopped for sure, but with a subtle sugary undertone, and a hint of alcohol too. Taste is not very strong at all. There is the natural piney hoppness you would expect from a barley wine, but not too strong, there is also a sugary, nuttiness about it as well. The alcohol is there, and that keeps this a sipper. It is actually nicely carbonated, and not harsh going down, has the warm feeling on the way. Overall this was a good brew, I would not mind having another and certainly kept me warm this evening.

11-27-2006 03:09:34 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of acurtis
acurtis

New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev +0.5%

07-14-2013 21:46:35 | More by acurtis
Photo of Phyl21ca
Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -6.2%

Bottle: Poured a deep brown color ale with a nice foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with some dry and bitter hops also noticeable. Taste is a balance mix between some sweet malt and some bitter and citrusy hops. I personally like more malt heavy barley wine then hoppy barley wine so this was not necessarily for me. Body is about average with some good carbonation and no sign of alcohol.

07-27-2007 19:20:36 | More by Phyl21ca
Photo of zestar
zestar

California

3.75/5  rDev +0.5%

05-31-2014 08:29:45 | More by zestar
Photo of ygtbsm94
ygtbsm94

Virginia

3/5  rDev -19.6%

01-29-2012 04:10:07 | More by ygtbsm94
Photo of ChainGangGuy
ChainGangGuy

Georgia

3.53/5  rDev -5.4%

Appearance: Pours a clear, bright carnet body with a small, off-white head.

Smell: Whiskey-scented aroma with hints of sweet caramel, vanilla, spiced plums. Some perfumy peach notes.

Taste: Sweet and syrupy, yet also earthy and grainy, with flavors of caramel, stewed plums, and brown sugar. The sweetness is backed by plenty of hop bitterness and, again, hints of peaches which meld with the alcohol is provide a shot of peach schnapps. Ends with a dryish, woody finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Dense, sticky mouthfeel. Relatively low carbonation. Quite warming, alcoholwise.

Drinkability: Paired very well with the movie "The Lost Weekend".

06-24-2007 02:09:16 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of jaydoc
jaydoc

Kansas

3.25/5  rDev -12.9%

02-12-2014 04:04:27 | More by jaydoc
Photo of kylehay2004
kylehay2004

Florida

3.5/5  rDev -6.2%

01-19-2014 14:13:00 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of Knapp85
Knapp85

Pennsylvania

3.53/5  rDev -5.4%

2007 bottle, drank in 2008. The beer poured out as a hazy brown color. The head was pretty nice looking and thick. The lacing was pretty good here also. The smell of the beer was pretty hoppy with some sweet barley in the mix. The taste of the beer was very hoppy all around and was sweet too. The mouthfeel was thick and syrupy, had some decent carbonation to it. Overall I found it to be a pretty good barley wine.

06-25-2011 18:42:08 | More by Knapp85
Photo of oberon
oberon

North Carolina

4.28/5  rDev +14.7%

2005 bottle,poured a deep burgundy with a fluffy,sticky off white head that sticks to the glass as it settled,big orange and caramel aromas and as it warmed a herbal hop presence really showed thru quite nice.complex and flavorful raisin and deep orange with a light spiciness almost like gingerbread finishing quite dry.Iam not sure if this years vintage is better than pasts but this beer is vastly underated,flavorful and complex a top notch American Barley Wine.

11-21-2005 02:10:54 | More by oberon
Photo of emerge077
emerge077

Illinois

4/5  rDev +7.2%

Despite sharing it's namesake with a certain Chicago institution of douchenozzlery, this was a good barleywine!

2007 bottle, black ink label with a seal depicting crossed scythes in front of a sprig of barley i'm guessing. 10.8% abv.

Deep fossilized amber tone, with creamy tan foam that sticks around. A healthy skim maintains itself for the duration of the glass. Aromas of brown sugar, spice cookies, overripe or stewed fruit, and some mild fusels on the tail end.

Brown sugar, caramel toffee and spicy hops. Residual dry bitterness lingers for awhile in the finish. Herbal essence also stays after the malt and sugars have subsided. Some alcohol notes, but not too distracting. Slightly syrupy with low carbonation. This works well as an intended nightcap...

$4 single at Sahara Mart in Bloomington, IN.

10-14-2008 02:43:41 | More by emerge077
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

3.3/5  rDev -11.5%

A - Poured out a clear, orange color with reddish highlights. It had a small, off-white head that left a little soapy residue of lacing.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel and biscuity malts.

T - This really had a boozy taste. It overpowered the caramel and biscuity malt flavors. The was a strong bitter hop taste too.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A full-bodied barleywine.

D - This was a little hard to drink because it seemed to lack balance. It was too boozy for my tastes.

01-30-2009 01:22:03 | More by zeff80
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev +8%

When I reviewed this beer 3 years ago (the 2000 bottling) it was nice, but a bit aggressive; and I noted that I felt it would take a few years of aging. It was 2 years old then, it's 5 now, and I'm happy to say that I was correct in my analysis. It still looks like mud from all of the yeast, but it has mellowed a bit, and it still retains almost of the nice fruitiness, hops, and maltiness that it started with. Still, I'm not sure the results are worth the wait... maybe I should have given it 10 years!

09-24-2005 18:41:09 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of SocalKicks
SocalKicks

California

3.5/5  rDev -6.2%

04-06-2014 18:25:24 | More by SocalKicks
Photo of RblWthACoz
RblWthACoz

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev +7.2%

07-31-2012 17:08:51 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of TheManiacalOne
TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

4.15/5  rDev +11.3%

2007 release, acquired from mikesgroove courtesy of the I Want That IV BIF, so a big "Thank you" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light reddish brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, brown sugar, a good amount of hops, some citrus and a touch of alcohol.

T: The taste is very malty up front with flavors of caramel, brown sugar and citrus. A strong hops presence quickly follows along with a slight alcohol sting. Overall, it's pretty nicely balanced. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, clean finish especially for a style that tends to be a little sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this is a nice high-gravity beer that is worth drinking for as long as you can until the ABV catches up with you.

09-28-2008 01:24:56 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of nickfl
nickfl

Florida

3.98/5  rDev +6.7%

A - Scant half finger of off-white foam on top of an opaque, reddish brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves no lace.

S - Moderate aroma of generic pine hops backed by sugary malt notes of caramel, brown sugar, and molasses. Some slightly fruity yeast character of red apple and plum.

T - Sugary malt up front, lots of toffee and caramel, balanced by moderate hop bitterness and notes of pine. The hops become more pronounced and spicy towards the middle with notes of pepper, bitter greens, and mustard that contrast nicely with the sweet malt. Finishes with a good mix of strong malt and hop flavors that meld in the aftertaste to form an impression of lightly sweetened pipe tobacco and burned caramel.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Once again Mad River Has done me right; I never hear anyone talking about this brewery, but they seem to make some pretty solid beers. The hops and malt are well balanced and manage to play off each other well in this beer. My only complaint is that it is perhaps a touch too sugary. I find nothing serious to complain about and the hop flavor in particular is quite complex and well done. I'd drink another one if I had one.

12-16-2009 08:25:04 | More by nickfl
Photo of WVbeergeek
WVbeergeek

West Virginia

4.03/5  rDev +8%

Appears a copper orange crystal clear in the body with a large off white billowing head after a vigorous pour into my Gulden Draak chalice. Lacing is even and thick with each sip pretty impressive looking brew. Aromatics are full of caramel malty layers with over ripened fruit soaking in alcohol along with big citric and brash pine hop character. Almost a buttered rum bread smell very luscious and inviting to the senses and than you have to dive into the first sip. Of course we're expecting west coast brashness but from back around the 2007 harvest this one is just starting to mellow out a bit. Sweet candy coated hops brown sugar, caramel, and honey sensations all at once. Full bitterness follows the barrage of malt flavor with citrus, pine, and earthy qualities noted and a nice kick of alcohol making it's presences known as well. Mouthfeel is definitely on the light side of the syrupy spectrum medium to full bodied range indeed, sticky with residual sugars left over after fermentation but makes it into a true after dinner or dessert beer depending on your preference. Carbonation level is great and hop burps singe the nose hairs occasionally providing smiles for us beergeeks lucky enough to have access to this brew. Drinkability and overall is pretty killer I grabbed a sixer at 15.99 but it was worth every penny and they disappeared much faster than I had expected. Session beer hell no, perfect for enjoying a cigar and good conversation with friends, hell yes.

04-20-2008 15:42:06 | More by WVbeergeek
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 459 ratings.