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John Barleycorn - Bourbon Barrel Aged | Mad River Brewing Company

very good
13 Reviews
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John Barleycorn - Bourbon Barrel AgedJohn Barleycorn - Bourbon Barrel Aged

Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by largadeer on 11-14-2010

User Reviews
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Reviews: 13 | Ratings: 39
Photo of Fatehunter
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a half finger of head on a hazy dark brown body.
The aroma is caramel, candy, wood, floral and burnt wood. Nice.
The taste is pretty sweet, grainy and caramel.
The texture is smooth with low carbonation.
Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of Act25
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Maybe toward the end of the 10 one-oz flight, at the strongs and the olds and the barley wines - tasted at Mad River - the beers edged better. But John Barleycorn aged in a single bourbon barrel was 1 of my 3 favorites of the 10.

A Hazy copper, clearer than most. The head retains and laces well.

S Ample bourbon on the nose, along with brown sugar sweetness. Mild alcohol, well hidden, and rich. Caramel and vanilla in an almost after dinner liquor experience.

F Rich on palate, bourbon and brown sugar come through strongly. But again, great feel, great finish. Full, almost syrupy body. Finishes with tannic oak, brown sugar and booze.

Must try.

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Photo of flexabull
3.96/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper color with a pretty nice off white head.

Aromas are a bit subtle, but pleasant. Roasted nuts, dark fruits, booze, brown sugar and light notes of coconut.

Taste is also subtle, but very flavorful. This beer doesn't knock you over the head with big bold flavors, instead it's refined and balanced. Brown sugar sweetness, roasted nuts, dark booze soaked fruits, and a light boozy bourbon and coconut notes on the finish.

Unfortunately, this beer has thin body, and is lacking a bit of carbonation.

Overall, a very solid BA barleywine. Worth a try if you see it.

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Photo of Treebs
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle served in a . 2010 vintage. Big thanks to BourbonBob26 for the extra!

A: Pours an opaque brown color with a light khaki head forming on the pour. It recedes to a thicker ring that leaves sheets of lace down the glass.

S: Very smooth bourbon, decadent caramel, some mild oak and a little fig. Earthy dates with some lightly toasted malts. Some bready flavors as well. Really digging this.

T: The bourbon is a little more restrained in the taste. The oak comes out a little more with a lot of dates and figs. A little malty sweetness with some roast and caramel. A little less inviting and complex than the nose.

M: A tad over carbed. Pretty prickly across the palate which is less desirable given the ABV and style. Medium bodied with a sweet bourbon finish.

O: If it wasn't as carbonated this would have been a home run, but sadly the mouthfeel detracts from the overall experience of the beer. I'm really happy to have tried it as it's been a want of mine for a while, but I'm glad I didn't have to go out of my way for it.

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Photo of TheBrewo
4.52/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was served from the tap at The Blind Tiger in New York, NY. It arrived in a generic tulip glass, glowing a deep brown, with maroon flecks around the edges. No real head was noted, but a thin, tan film of microbubbles was seen across the top of the liquid. This left no real lacing. There was haze when seen through with light, but no sediment. Carbonation appeared lighter. The aroma showed rich molasses, cooked caramel and brown sugars, light powdered chocolates, syrupy figs, strawberries, bourbon, musky wood, and faint banana esters with warmth. Our first impression was that this guy had beautiful butter and bourbon. As we sipped, as in the nose, rich buttery diacetyls, woody bourbon, fusel booze, and syrupy caramel sweetness started things off. It was so thick, syrupy and buttery, and full of goodness. The middle showed cloying sweetness to the peak, with more butter, more caramel, more wood and musk, and almost a nutty coconut and cashew richness. The finish was with more of the beginning. Buttercream, booze, caramel, toffee, and light coffee malts headed things off. The aftertaste breathed with more sourness and bitterness of the wood, caramel, pale crystal malts, more light coffee, and fusel bourbon sting. The body was full and syrupy, and the carbonation was medium. There was glorious froth and cream to each sip, with awesome slurp. The initial froth gave a light coating, but this transforms into the lightest dry toast and boozy astringent dryness. The abv was big, and the beer drank as a sipper.

Overall, the best thing about this beer was how hugely apparent the barreling was throughout the nose and the flavoring. This added a curious sweetness when coupled with the rich caramel malts, and deeper cooked candy sweetness. The booze was quite strong, and hot off the top, making this guy a definite sipper. Regardless, the flavoring remained robust throughout, and the bourbon and butter flavors are simply glorious.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.7/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from tap into a sampler tumbler. Poured a brownish orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, spices, wood, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, wood, sweet alcohol (bourbon), and caramel. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. After having the regular version just before this one, I can honestly say that the barrel makes itself known in this brew. Loads of bourbon that hits you in the face toward the backend of each sip and then a big followthrough once you swallow it as well. Quite intense on just the barrel, but not much of anything else. This one had the chance to be great, but just fell a little short due to this fact. A definite must try if you are a big Barleywine fan, or a friend of the –bal.

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Photo of beenitty
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes Fall 2011

12 oz bottle, 2010 version out of the barrel for 2011, thanks to johnhenryconway, thanks john!

A: Pours copper reddish brown, producing tannish head that dissipates into a ring. Looks nice.

S: Yesss. Bourbon, brown sugar, dark fruits, everything I love in a barleywine.

T: First thing that comes to mind is this tastes like a more "refined" version of Weyerbacher Insanity. Beer is sweet at first,toffee, bourbon, and bit of malt are all present. Tastes candy coated goodness with a kick of bourbon.

M: Sweet flavors at the front of the sip, followed by creamyness and booze, not in a bad way though, sip this one and savor.

O: Awsome beer. I love insanity so I really love this one.

I have a few trading buddies who absolutely love Insanity, and they all were nuts about this beer, so if you think Insanity is good, then this one is one you'll need to seek out.

Oddly enough, shared this one at CdC picnic table and no one seemed interested, shame because not sure how much is out there, definitely worth it.

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Photo of mactrail
3.12/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Yes, it's definitely bourbon. So strong and so sharp. Hot wood splinters in the tongue, plus a sugar rush. Extremely sharp for a barley wine, more acidic than any I've had. Seems to have the Mad River family style of the dirty, earthy hops and skip the flowery aromas. The booze flavor is not bad, but it veers from mellowness into a sharp and peculiar taste.

As unpleasant a barley wine as I've ever had, and it's one of my favorite styles. On tap for SD Beer Week at The Linkery with several other Mad River beers.

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Photo of JamesMcPolin
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful dark brown with deep red hues. Very light tan head. Wow! Loving that bourbon aroma, how did they impart that much barrel on the brew in only 7 months? Seems a low time-frame to get that strong of a bourbon aroma. Sweet woody vanilla is impressive. Surprisingly top-notch brew! Can’t even taste the 12.4% I actually enjoy a little bit of boozy heat but it’s really non-existent. It’s a malt bomb beautifully balanced by the bourbon barrel. Very different from standard JB. I can’t help but wonder how many more hundreds of pounds of malt went into the mash to boost the abv to 12.4% and make it this malty but I LOVE it! Creamy and medium-bodied. This is a favorite for me. Wouldn’t mind sipping on this at any occasion.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a tulip - bottle says 12.4% and 2010

A: Pours a dark mahogany reddish brown with a small tan head that fades to a ring and leaves only the smallest lacing.

S: The nose is really something. Big notes of vanilla, caramel, toffee, some peat which is weird coming from a barleywine, and an earthy malt presence.

T: The taste has the same characteristics of the nose with big flavors of caramel, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, and earthy hops on the finish.

M: The feel is the only downfall to this one...thin and bit underwhelming.

O: Very tasty and sweet. The ABV caught up to me quick though...still an excellent beer. Surprised not to see another bottle review of this beer.

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Photo of Jules11788
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the John Barleycorn Barrel Aged release party at the brewery on 10/22/11. Apparently this was aged in Bourbon barrels for 214 days.

A: Pours a dark, cloudy, dirty brown; one finger-width head, light lacing. Overall the color looks like muddy water, not very appealing.

S: Malt, caramel, toffee, and LOTS of sweet bourbon.

T: Damn, this beer is sticky sweet! Big sugary bourbon flavor plays over notes of caramel, malts, and toffee; finishes with a little boozy kick (which actually is enjoyable because it balances out the sweetness a little bit), and then more bourbon/wood flavors that linger. This beer is just drenched in sweet bourbon and woody/malty flavors.

M: Thick and chewy; low carbonation; super smooth on the tongue; has just the slightest bite of booze, which is amazing considering it's packing 12.5% abv under the hood

O: This is one big-ass beer, with lots of intense sticky-sweet Barleywine flavors complemented nicely with the bourbon/woody flavors. Definitely a sipper!

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Photo of nickd717
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Bistro -Bal Aged Fest.

Pours a slightly hazy reddish-amber color from the tap with a small but lasting off-white head sitting on top.

The aroma is excellent, with sweet caramel malts, a nice barrel character with vanilla and slight oxidative notes, bourbon, and a little sherry.

The flavor is really great. Sweet caramel malt and toffee, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and nice dried fruit notes. Pretty awesome.

Medium-full bodied with carbonation on the softer side and a rather smooth mouthfeel.

I actually liked this slightly better than the brandy version, although not many others agreed with me on that.

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Photo of largadeer
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Draft at The Bistro's 5th annual Barrel Aged Beer Festival. 2009 John Barleycorn aged in a single bourbon barrel.

Hazy copper in color, significantly less muddy than the brandy barrel aged version for whatever reason. The head retains surprisingly well.

Blatant bourbon on the nose, along with plenty of brown sugar sweetness. Less oxidized than the brandy barrel version, nonetheless there's a hint of prune-like oxidation. Mild alcohol, not terribly stinging given the style of beer. Caramel and vanilla wraps it all up in a blanket of decadence.

This is quite rich on the palate, bourbon and brown sugar coming through strongly. The bourbon barrel almost overwhelms the beer, and while it's slightly harsh and boozy, I find myself enjoying it quite a bit.

Full, almost syrupy body. Finishes with tannic oak, brown sugar and booze. A bit more time in the barrel or keg may have helped mellow this out a bit, but I can't complain too much, it's a damn fine beer.

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John Barleycorn - Bourbon Barrel Aged from Mad River Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 13 ratings.