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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

596 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 596
Reviews: 295
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 138
Gots: 160 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: John_M on 03-18-2007

Alaskan Barley Wine is a full bodied ale, deep mahogany in color and brewed with an array of complementing malts to achieve its high original gravity. Multiple hop additions in the boil and dry hopping during fermentation provide contrast to the big malt character resulting in the smooth balance that distinguishes this specialty brew. Like many fine wines, Alaskan Barley Wine may be aged in the bottle and gains deeper malt complexity and smoothness over time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 596 | Reviews: 295
Photo of ShanePB
3.05/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Vintage 2011, huge malt bill, very one dimensional. I would have liked to try this fresh.

Photo of cbutova
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle split last night at our Barleywine share.

A- Bomber split a bunch of ways into pint glasses during our Barleywine Share 2014. A deep, brown sugar hue and a light tan cap to about a finger with a frothy texture. Decent retention as a big ring remains leaving a large sheet and some drizzle.

S- Fairly tame here for me, might have to do with the age. Deep caramel and brown sugar with a certain toastiness and some spicy dark fruit feel.

T- Gains a lot of strength here and delivers a lot of flavor. Deep sweet caramel matched by a spiciness that reminds me of raisins and a slight hint of buttery decadence. Brown sugar, hint of cocoa, figs, musty leather, slight alcohol and perhaps a hint of nutmeg.

MF- Thick body with quite a bit of oily slickness on the palate. Carbonation is still quite high and the texture overall is silky. Finishes fairly warm.

Complexity delivered with atop a big malty base. Well rounded with lots of balanced but strong flavors; I like the interplay between the caramel and the spicy raisin notes.

Photo of gobuccos
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

2013 bottle. Did not pick up any bitterness. This tasted similar to 2011 bigfoot. Great Beer.

Photo of schnarr84
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%

2008 and 2013 side by side 11/16/14

2008 - deep mahogany color with an incredible sweet molasses nose with nice slightly bitter maltiness. an incredibly smooth barleywine with some brown sugar/molasses flavor and dark malt flavor. absolutely incredible after 6 years

2013 - very similar to 2008 but with some risidual hop bitterness and a slightly less refined flavor. still incredible and delicious but slightly less so than the aged bottle

Photo of moundbz
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

taste and smell alcohol, smooth and strong, kinda like port wine, potent

Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Malt sweetness and alcohol dominate the nose with hints of cola, sherry, and fruit.
Brilliant deep chestnut with a 1" off-white to tan head that quickly dissipates but leaves thin lace. Beer has some legs.
Palate begins sweet with sherry to port, hints of cola, light fruit, balanced on the end with a medium bitter hop accent. Good balance between the yeasty esters, malty sweetness, alcohol and hop bitterness.
The body is smooth, chewy, below average carbonation, warming with a hot alcohol burn.

Photo of don1481
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into glass.

Appearance: pours a deep copper with a tan head that rapidly dissipates. Fairly transparent with a good amount of bubbling within.

Smell: lots and lots of hops. Slight amount of booze.

Taste: fairly complex: notes of hops, kind of a caramel hint, some booziness, some brown sugar. Pretty darn nice.

Mouthfeel: sticky. Hoppy aftertaste.

Overall: very happy I picked this up. Really good overall.

Photo of mverity
3.04/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.75

2010 bottle. Pours a rich deep mahogany brown with a cherry hue. Amazing head retention, great lacing, huge thick collar. Aroma is molasses, toffee, leather and earthy wood. Taste is bitter molasses, stale tobacco, vanilla and wet paper. Nice rich body and low carbonation. I believe this beer must have been left on the shelf in a high light area since 2010. It looked great, but the paper and tobacco really ruined the flavor.

Photo of kdahnke123
3.54/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2013 Bottling poured into a snifter at cellar temperature
A - Pours a deep amber color with a single finger of quickly dissipating beige head.
S - Very hoppy on the nose with a small amount of malt in the background. The hops have a slight sour note to them.
T - Bitter up front with a malty middle and a crisp dry finish.
M - Moderately mouth coating with a medium amount of carbonation.
O - A very hop heavy barley wine. More of a double IPA than a barley wine. If you like over the top Northwest style IPAs then this is for you. If you like English style barley wines avoid this one.

Photo of SHODriver
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from 2011

A: poured into a snifter to a deep mahogany with some red hues and a finger and a half of dense light tan head that fades to a small pool that leaves some lacing
S: smells of caramel, toffee, and whispers of hops with a slight floral, pine and citrus aroma
T: taste is caramel, toffee, faded citrus and pine from the hops, a bit floral but a lot of sweetness from the malts. swallow is lingering sweetness with caramel, slight chocolate and some citrusy hop flavors.
M: this beer is smooth and full bodied with soft carbonation and a clean finish
O: This beer is fantastic. The hops are pretty faded and the nose I was getting off the pour was just straight aromatic hops but once the beer settled a minute it was almost all gone. This beer has aged very gracefully and there isn't the slightest hint of oxidation.

Photo of champ103
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazed reddish/brown color. A well formed tightly packed beige head rises to over two finger with good retention. The foam gently recedes in a minute, with plenty of patchy lace left behind.
S: Toasted and caramel malts up front and center. Dark fruits, and a lingering hoppy bitterness. A really well balanced nose.
T: Follows the nose with a great toasted and caramel malt flavor. Caramelized sugars and dark fruits. A bit of bitterness. Again, well balanced and very tasty.
M/D: A full body with moderate carbonation. Just enough viscosity without being over barring. Very smooth. A big beer, but a great enjoyable sipper.

I have always liked this barleywine. One that is great fresh or with some age. A big malty character with enough hoppy bitterness in the finish. Nothing is out of balance, which is a downfall of many American versions. As always, highly recommended.

Photo of kaseydad
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours a beautiful burgundy/brown colored ale with a fluffy, foamy beige head. Loving the color.

Aroma is producing molasses, honey, plums, booze and malt.

Slightly hoppy taste followed by a warming swallow. Some orange and medicine-like cough syrup lingering on the aftertaste. Slight bite on the swallow.

Creamy mouthfeel as expected by the look.

I had been trying to find this elusive BW for awhile. My local Whole Food came through and allowed me to buy a couple. Not sure I would let this age more than a couple years, but it was a good session. Not the greatest BW out there, but one of my favorites from Alaskan Brewing.

Photo of Unphased
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Very interesting! Was expecting something totally different but was pleasantly surprised. I don't know if this follows strict barley wine guidelines but I thoroughly enjoyed. First taste was of the hops. Then everything else set in. Quite complex. I will look for this beer again. Found it on tap but would like to try in bottles..

Photo of Kuaff
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I enjoyed this fine specimen of a beer at cellar temperature in my snifter.

This has a great, stunning, pure, deep, dark ruby color that matches the aurora illustrated on the label. The one-finger tan head dissipates to a nice frothy ring with a patch in the middle. Lovely.

It's aroma is a splendid mix of cherries, raisins, vanilla, caramel, and an accent of pine.

The taste is terrific and offers just what I like in an American barley wine: a harmonized balance of sweet caramel-like maltiness and bitter but juicy hoppiness. Some definite dark fruit flavors are there as well. The aftertaste has an awesome leathery, dank hoppiness to it.

As befits a barley wine, the feel is thick and substantial.

This is simply a superbly-brewed barley wine that's robust in all the right places.

Photo of Sludgeman
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a chalice. Purchased in October in Minneapolis and shipped home in luggage.

Complex aromas and tastes. An intense beer. Every bit a barley wine but one tilted towards the malt without enough hoppiness. Put this one in the cellar and try again later. 3.75

A – Pours beautiful clear amber with a small tan head that dissipates instantaneously to almost nothing. Some alcohol legs. 3.75

S – Malty, dark fruit, prunes, caramel, a whiff of whiskey, a tinch of spiciness, but all other tastes are overwhelmed by the beer’s malty richness. 4.5

T – Malty sweetness, raisins, alcohol (very evident but in a good way), some citrus tang in the finish, medium low bitterness. 3.75

MF – Warming with a touch of creaminess, full bodied with a semi-dry finish. A bit too hot in the finish for me. 3.75

Photo of Drknight
4.71/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2008 - From the 'Beerchives'; Sips more like a fine dessert wine or Cognac than a beer...Outstanding!!

Photo of C20Percent
4.64/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2011 Vintage

Finally broke this out of the cellar, and HOT DAMN is it good.

Looks pretty -- darker than I expected. A dark amber color.

Aromas of dark fruits -- dark cherries -- vanilla.

Flavors of toffee, dark fruits, butter -- wonderful flavors -- beer shines like crazy here. A little smoky.

Feels oily, buttery, velvety.

Not sure that this is the Barley Wine standard, but it's pretty close. Excels at every aspect. Glad I purchased it on a whim -- highly recommended!

Photo of KFBR392
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

Appearance: Pours with a medium bodied thickness and forms a very light head. Dark copper/mahogany color. Above average carbonation active in the glass while drinking. Slight random lacing on the edges of the glass.

Smell: A surprisingly active and bright barley front hits right away. Comes on a little too strong, really overstimulates the nose. Some darker tones pick up on the back end of the beer with some heavy caramel, smoked oak, and honey.

Taste: The front is a honey, caramel, barley sweetness. But the sweetness is kept in check by a full bodied flavor which warms up the palate. Gummy, chewy, sweet barley and malt rides long throughout this brew. The finish is a sweet brightness which lingers for a while on the palate.

Mouthfeel: A great balance of sweet and full bodied flavor.

Overall: A great offering from Alaskan Brewing. They will certainly get a few more looks from me after this one. Drinking incredibly well after a couple years of aging. Hit all the major checkpoints a barley wine should expect maybe for the overpowering barley on the nose. Other then that, no complaints.

Photo of n2185
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2007 vintage

A: pours a clear dark ruby with a finger of beige head that fades into a thin ring with little lacing.

S: a lovely mix of caramel, malts, vanilla, burnt sugar, and slight oxidation and sweet fruits.

T: similar to the aroma, a lot of caramel with vanilla, oak, oxidized flavors, and dark fruits.

M: medium body with lowish carbonation, this beer avoids being watery or too sticky sweet.

O: this beer has held up pretty well for 6 years. It smells amazing and is a little oxidized, but still quite tasty.

Photo of phishsihq
4.51/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage

The beer pours a murky, reddish-brown with some great ruby highlights around the edges. A tight beige head is well retained and provides a curtain of lacing as the beer is consumed. Lush, rich malt aromas provide the senses with hints of cherries and plums. Piney hop aromas also join in with some caramel and a touch of booze to round out this wonderfully aromatic brew. This Barley Wine ages with beauty and grace! The malt complexity is much more defined, with the dark fruits taking the lead with caramel and toffee sweetness playing an important role as well. Generous hopping has helped to maintain some of the piney profile and cover a bit of the alcohol burn. Medium-full in body, this 5 year-old brew is lower in carbonation.

Photo of nickfl
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours with a small head of off white foam on top of a hazy, amber brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves little lace.

S - A complex combination of dark sugar, faded pine hops, and caramel malt.

T - Sweet caramel and molasses up front. Some pine and clove in the middle with a finish of mustardy hops and brown sugar.

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

D - Not bad, it clearly has some age on it and smells quite nice. The flavor isn't quite as well developed with a sweetness that isn't quite balanced by what reminds of the hops.

Photo of kylehay2004
3.96/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: no head on a murky brown and maroon body. No lacing really.

S: red grapes, red apple, caramel malt, toasted malts

T: breads, oak, caramel, booze are not as strong as I expected but definitely noticeable. Some plum and raisin for dark fruits. Additional notes of milk chocolate, toffee and vanilla.

M: medium body, clean and light to moderate carbonation.

Overall: I like the drinkability, it's flavorful and definitely becomes more drinkable as it is enjoyed. Not too much in the way of hops, with only mild complexity.

Photo of zipper8650
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First ever review, time to start drinking down the cellar and figured Id start reviewing the bottles I was holding on to. This was a 2009-2011 vertical.

A - typical copper/amber color you'd expect on a barleywine. Side by side there was a definite graduation from orange/amber (09) to maple syrup (10) to a burgundy/brown (11). Little to no head on the 09/11, thin yellowish head on the 10 with a lot of carbonation throughout..uh oh...

S - for lack of better description the 09 smelled exactly like you'd expect a really good barley wine to smell, the smell I look forward to! 09 came through with the most citrus/orange and the 11 had more banana/sweet. The 10 was metallic, soapy, not much more going on...this is how my sink is going to smell very soon

T - the 09 was very smooth, it was a very consistent flavor straight through, not overly boozy and hot but par for what to expect. Not much complexity throughout but the consistent flavor is excellent . the 10 was oxidized crap, not much of anything going on, just flat through out. the 11 was the sweetest and most complex of the bunch. The boozy heat only came through on the end

M - all three were a nice heavy mouth feel, again, what you'd expect from a really good example

O - this is my second time with this beer, I loved it then and still do (despite 2010). Given the style I think it is spot on. My overall favorite was the 11.
Skol

Photo of JamesQuaff
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011 batch. Poured from a bomber into two Sam Adams tulip glasses and a small wine glass and shared with my lady and my best beer geek buddy. We all stood around my kitchen and poked, prodded, inspected, inhaled, swished, and discussed the brew for a solid half hour. Good times.

Pours a beautiful deep copper-red with a taut light-mocha colored 1/2" head. Medium carbonation. It looks 'dense' when held up to the light.

The aroma is a constantly shifting palette of goodness as the temperature changes. It smells MASSIVE. The initial cold pour had a generous amount of hops with mild buttery notes, malts, dried fruits. As the beer warmed the hop aromas gave way to raisins, plums, dark berries, grains and lightly browned butter - at one point it smelled like a berry pastry. Then it started to veer well into port wine territory. The ABV is well masked at all points. I think we huffed our glasses a good 5 minutes before anyone took a sip.

Oooh, this beer is nice and big. At first the hop bitterness was rather prevalent, getting right up to the edge of "whoa, too bitter" before leveling off into rich malty sweetness. As the beer warmed the bitterness faded considerably and the flavors became much more balanced and complex. Reminiscent of a good port wine. Dark, rich sweetness with loads of plum and molasses, and a long malty finish with a little reminder kick of bitterness at the end. A bit of warmth from the high ABV but the alcohol is hidden very well in the flavors. A true sipper.

Mouthfeel was very agreeable. Medium-full body, a tad sharp on the carbonation at first but as the beer warmed the carbonation smoothed out and by the halfway point it was just about where my mind thinks "mmm, barleywine". Oily, sticky, tongue-coating goodness.

Overall we were very impressed with the Pilot Series barleywine and completely enjoyed it wire to wire. It was my lady's very first experience with the style and she was completely blown away. My beer geek pal and I are a tad jaded and weren't exactly blown away, but it was still an excellent representation of the style. He and I both recently had our tongues scraped raw by a fresh 2013 Bigfoot and were very pleased to be able to spend some time enjoying a really good barleywine with a bit of age on it. The rest of the 2013 Bigfoots (Bigfeet? Bigs Foot?) have been sequestered in deep storage to avoid any further unpleasantness and to hopefully achieve the blissful state that others report is possible. But this Pilot Series effectively wiped away the memory. Will definitely be seeking out another bottle or two for safe keeping.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage opened on 3.1.13

A - Pours a verk dark amber-brown with a pretty good dark tan soapy head with good retention.

S - Malty, raisin, carmel, old hops, a touch of alcohol.

T - Subtle toffee, carmel, soft malts, a touch oxidized.

D - Smooth and silky. Decent carbonation and a medium body.

O - Smooth and subdued. A touch oxidized, but still very pleasant.

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 596 ratings.