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

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)

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599 Ratings

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Ratings: 599
Reviews: 295
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 141
Gots: 159 | FT: 12
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: 599 | Reviews: 295
Reviews by bohemiandonut:
Photo of bohemiandonut
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Call me crazy, but Alaska speaks more to me of Barley Wine than does say Oregon or California. High hopes for this. (Hops be damned.)

Pour is nice enough. Head dissipates immediately but remains swirlable just below the surface.

Barley Wine is perhaps my favorite style to sniff. Candy apple dominates, oh man this is enticing. I have to taste this now.

Delicious. Reminds me almost of Nocturnum but with the alcohol even more well hidden. I must insist the mouthfeel is perfect for this beer. Full and smooth without being overbearing, thick or flat. Almost even dry at the finish. I'm getting whiffs of cedar chips now that I have the patience to stop sipping.

Alaskan is an amazing Barley Wine that does it right well under the radar. Superb.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 bottle.Poured into an impy pint glass a cherry infused bronse with a large flufy off white head,it really took its time settling.Fruit cake malt aromas,dark fruit with slight nuttiness,quite toasty.Malt driven cakey flavors,some dark fruit and sweetish dough flavors hide the alcohol in check pretty well.Its chewey but the alcohol is not a monster,a real nice sipper tonight.

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 RoyalT
3.87/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - This is molten brown, you can see through it under the light, with an off-white head that came up quickly.

Smell - The malt is deep and intense here. It's not a winey ABW but heavy on the malt aroma. Caramel is prominent along with dark fruits like figs and dates. The sugars are very natural, again like what you'd find in fresh dates, and play well with the malty character.

Taste - It's a little less sugary at the taste. This is a big malt bomb that is lightly toasted. The fruity character gives way to raw sugar and struggles to keep up with the heft of malt.

Mouthfeel - This is nearly full-bodied with a surprising amount of bitterness.

Drinkability - I didn't care for this as much as others. I think it would benefit quite a bit from cellaring as I popped mine fresh and it seemed too tight. I'd like to try a two-year-old bottle one of these days.

Photo of TCHopCraver
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got the last bottle of this at one of the liquor stores in Haines and I was very happy to find it. This is of the 2010 vintage.

The beer emerges from the bottle a dark mahogany color with just a slight medium khaki-colored head. The body is just dark enough to not be able to see through it.

This Barley Wine has a very heavy, musty aroma of caramel, brown sugar, cereal grains, and figs. There is a slightly spicy aroma, maybe a little clove and cinnamon. A little alcoholic heat is present, too, but not overly much.

The taste is heavy on the decadent caramel and brown sugar flavors. Also, a sizzle of booziness is present on the sides of my mouth. Some fruit flavors emerge as the beer warms a bit, some dried cherry and fig. The finish might have a tiny bit of hop dryness, but I might be mistaking that for some acidic booze taste at the end.

A big and rich feel lands on my palate. This is a very coating, full-bodied beer. The feel is a little cloying and might go a little toward the overly sticky at the end of each sip. There is quite a boozy sizzle at the conclusion of the sip, too.

This is a very solid, tasty barley wine. I don't think it's one of the better ones that I've had, but it certainly was worth trying. Another solid Alaskan offering.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer review from BA Mag Dec 2007.

With a cry out from their fans, Alaskan Brewing has started bottling their Barley Wine in limited amounts. Look for 22oz bombers in AK, OR and WA this winter.

A thick pillow-top of dense rocky head slowly forms off of a hard pour, the bubbles push through the viscous liquid in slow-motion fashion. Deep but clear brownish chestnut color. Big caramel malt nose with a faint whiff of rum pound cake from the alcohol, brown sugar note and thick malty aroma. The full body is nearly syrupy in thickness, creamy and a little bit smooth as the carbonation tries to break from the liquid. Massive malt backbone never goes too sweet as the alcohol slowly sneaks in with a mildly spicy warmth and the hops drop a balancing hop bitterness that never really cuts through the maltiness all of the way. Dried plums, carob powder, burnt raisins and date sugar come to mind. Finishes sweet with a drawn-out malt complexity and slow alcohol warmth.

There should be very little speculating that this barleywine will age well, the hardest part about it is the amount of willpower you can muster while this beer is in your cellar. A sure pick for the barleywine lover or anyone that is into laying down beer.

Photo of Beaver13
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle. Pours a dark copper with a creamy off white head that diminishes to a thin film that leaves some lacing.

The aroma is sweet sugary caramel malts, fruit, alcohol and some piney hops.

The flavor is sweet and sugary malts and fruits that are well balanced by some bitter piney hops and alcohol in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with creamy carbonation.

Overall, a nice barley wine. It's a little on the sweet side for me.

Photo of Svejk
4.9/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5


Alaskan Amber was the beer that introduced me to craft beer back in the early 90's. Over the years, I have moved on and very rarely will drink the beer that helped me make the jump. I did try their smoked porter several years ago, but for the most part I didn't drink very much Alaskan beer in recent years.

The other day, I stopped in at Uber in Seattle, and they had this on tap so I decided to give it a try. It pours a dark brown with a good head with reasonable retention considering this is a very big beer. As far as the smell and taste go, it is a sweet beer, and shows it, but it isn't cloying.

This is a really impressive beer. I've recently seen that it is available in bottles, so I'll be enjoying this one at home.

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 badbeer
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber red color with a beige head. The head receded to a ring leaving a little bit of lacing. Very malty and sweet aromas, not a typical American hopped up version. Aromas of dark fruit, figs, caramel, brown sugar, and a little bit of hops. Sweet caramel flavors, with some citrus hops, brown sugar, figs, and biscuit. Medium bodied with light carbonation. Thanks to pepsican for the sample.

Photo of DoShek
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - aggressive pour into a snifter offered just under one finger of dark tan head that dissipated quickly, very dark brown that has deep garnet highlights when held up to the light, high viscosity

Aroma - dark fruits, resiny/citrusy hops, very malt forward with hops playing accompaniment, brown sugar or molasses

Taste - big malt at the beginning and hops flare up at the end of the sip, molasses and dark fruits are present, the hops have a resinous dirty flavor/bitterness, balance between malts and hops just barely tips to favor the hops, but just barely, perceptible warmth from the alcohol, as the beer warms the malts really begin to shine

Mouthfeel - heavy and fairly smooth, lower carbonation which is to be expected from a barleywine

Drinkability - definitely a sipper, a 22oz bottle is best shared with a friend, already a great beer, but I think this would shine even brighter with some age on it

Photo of Mora2000
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage.

Pours a dark brown color with a cream colored head. The beer pours very clear. A very sweet smelling beer with some piney hops in the aroma as well. Flavor is a mix of dark fruit with some hops and quite a bit of alcohol warming. A big beer that is definitely a sipper. Very drinkable for a beer of its strength, but not something you could have more than one of.

Photo of magictrokini
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured hazy copper with a frothy white head. Thick, sticky lacing that took several swig-washes to break through. Very sweet with caramel and dried figs. Some piney hops, but lighter than say, the Stone Old Guardian I had later. Smooth mouthfeel, kind of sticky. The alcohol is well masked, I barely noticed it until seeing the 10% on the label. Very sweet barleywine; not as much hops as the nose advertised. Loads of caramel, grain, and sugar. Tended to build up in your mouth. Could have used a bit more bitterness. Still, very good.

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 ehammond1
3.96/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Clear and dark reddish brown. Very thin off-white cap. Some lacing down the glass.

Sweet and somewhat syrupy aroma along with some sweet fruits. Some warm booze as well.

Bitter and sweet, dark caramel along with sweet and dark fruits, perhaps cherries. Intense flavors.

Smooth, even velvetty mouthfeel. Very nice, especially for a beer this big.

A good, relatively simple, and sweet barleywine. A pleasure.

Photo of MattyG85
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness Chalice glass. 2011 Bottle.

Appearance: Pours a deep dark brownish mahogany red with a moderate amount of bubbles. Decent two finger off white head fades into a thin patchy layer. Decent amount of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Aroma is fairly sweet with some dark fruits including prunes and dark cherry. Hints of citrus grapefruit hops and molasses. I'm even getting a little whiff of apple and banana. Sweet caramel malts round it out. Smells good.

Taste: Like the smells leads, a fruity and sweet taste. Sweet caramel malts with some toffee and dark fruits. Notes of prunes, cherry, apple, and banana. A light taste of citrus hops with some grapefruit ester. Hops are fairly tame and not very bitter. Sweet but not cloyingly sweet. Tame but pretty good.

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy bodied with a light to medium level of carbonation. Very smooth for the abv. Feels like its already aged a couple years.

Overall: Overall this is a pretty good barleywine. For a fresh bottle it is very smooth with no noticeable alcohol heat. Could of used a little more hop bite, but the fruity flavors are pretty nice.

Photo of far333
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ruddy brown with orange hues. A bright beige head rises up slightly and then settles out to a soapy foam.

Floral aroma, sweet malt, mild hops and ripe fruit.

Rich flavor of overripe pear, honey, caramel, plus some tangy cherry. Semi-sweet maltiness. Hop bitterness emerges midway across the tongue, some subtle grapefruit flavor. ABV doesn't hurt the flavor, but definitely adds some warmth. Cherry tang lingers. Very flavorful.

Even and smooth mouthfeel, moderately carbonated.

Good drinkability for the strength of this one, a good sipper. Many thanks to Sparky27 for sending this along.

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 rudylaw
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks a delicious copper with a nice off white head that abandons you a few minutes after pour.

Very, very sweet in the nose. Lots of sweet malt, sugar, caramel. I'm not picking out fruit easily but there could be notes of peach and plum.

Lots of the same highlights in the taste. Now I'm picking up grapes and candy as well. This would make a really delicious, after dinner drink I think. Extremely sweet and creamy.

This beer was very light for a barleywine though as I had no problem putting down my half of the 22oz last night. But, this came up a bit short for me considering I have been wanting to try this for a long time. Perhaps it's the way I process barleywines? There's no doubt Alaskan Brewing is a place I want to revisit. Perhaps aging this one is a good call?

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)
Noticed when I popped it open it is a 2008.
A- This beer has a dense dark brown body with a thin ring of light tan head and a soft carbonation of tiny bubbles that trail to the surface.

S- This beer has notes of cream and caramel with a dry buttery note that grows a bit and some dry toffee note that leads to an earthy phenolic finish.

T- The rich caramel sweetness has some dry grainy flavors underneath with a soft pine hop and alcohol note in the finish. There is a nice bitter pungent hops that linger a bit in the finish.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with a warm soft alcohol heat.

D- The nice caramel malt sweetness is supported by the alcohol and hop finish that really dries out this beer.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Many thanks to msubulldog25 for this one. Served at cellar temperature and not a degree colder. Popped the cap and a bountiful hops aroma was detected from a foot away. While pouring into a snifter the liquid looks remarkably like oil. Color is a deep rusty brown/russet. Head is small and disappears to a thin ring quickly. Gentle swirls offer up new life to the head, and the more I look, and the more I shook, the more I liked. A beautiful thing.

Hops are there in the aroma, but not spiking out...they're incorporated well within the boozy vapor and sweet candy-like malts. Molasses, vanilla, and black cherry emerge nicely.

Flavor is everything expected. The aroma was not only good but very much true to style, and the flavor mirrors that. At first this barleywine seemed underwhelming (considering the hype), but sitting with it and sipping on it slowly reveals some sublime goodness: welcoming warming from the alcohol, juicy hop wonderment, gooey chocolate-covered liqueur-filled cherries. A smidgen too much grassy astringency keeps this from being perfection, but it's pretty close. Maybe 6 or 12 months aging will clinch it.

Mouthfeel is the real star here. Big, viscous and syrupy, yet somehow possessing an airiness that keeps it from sitting too heavily in the mouth (or stomach). Wonderful...can't imagine it being any better.

This is one beer I won't have trouble cellaring for another 6-12 months. Seems like it's going to get better with more time to gel. Glad I have another, thanks again Brian! CHEERS.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage. (obviously) Proud to be the first to review this fantastic concoction out of a bottle! $8.99 bomber.

Pours a deep dark brown with the rubiest of ruby tint, clear. The head is nice but dissipates relatively fast. The nose is of dark fruit and subtle sweet malt with a great balance of hop. The taste reflects the nose. Sweet and malty up front with lots of sugar and dark fruit taste. Hops come through the middle clear yet subtle and not very bitter. Hops rise through the finish and start to bitter a bit. On the finish the hop bitterness covers the inside of the mouth and sweet sugars reside on the lips. This is a very balanced barleywine that deserves alot of respect. The mouthfeel is nice and quite thick and chewy. Syrupy almost, defenitely a desert beer. Drinkability is quite high IMO, as the balance is something to be marveled at. This along with the smoked porter are unquestionably (IMO) alaskan brewings best offerings. So glad I can finally put a case in the cellar!!! I wish i could travel forward in time about 4-5 years and taste one! Get it! get it now!

Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark with nice bubbly head. Great for a young barleywine, with fruit, citrus and lots of barley in the aroma, and lots of barley, some toast, and citrus in the taste. Above-average mouthfeel.Rich, caramel secondary support. Good satisfying aftertaste.

Had lateral 2.5 years later, and 2009 was superior to 2008, and that was my upgrade.

Photo of augustgarage
3.92/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage. Poured from a 22oz bomber into my snifter.

Maroon body, dark but very clear with carnelian highlights. A light buff slick floats across the surface ringed by a persistent collar. Thin slow moving waves of lacing is carried down by viscous legs.

Plums, dates, and beets in the nose vie for your attention with a wave of deep malt and faintly grassy hops. Alcohol contributes an estery spirit element as well.

Leather, mild coffee and cocoa way to an earthy and faintly spicy moderate bitterness from hops. Malt is solid throughout, though not especially layered or complex. Dry, woody (suggesting barrel aging?) finish with a residual yet concentrated fruitiness.

Medium-bodied, low carbonation, perhaps a little thin. Warming, though not too hot.

Well balanced - the malt/hop balance has a NW bent to it which is a nice touch. Subtley unique and well worth a try.

Photo of dirtylou
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, no bs 4!. 2008 release

catching up on "the wire"

appearance: perfect. poured into a hopleaf tulip, bright garnet body, glows with ambition, perfect off-white cap with thick retention.

smell: bright floral hops, tropical fruit, caramel malt, sticky pine, pungent citrus. wonderful aroma

taste: bright pungent hop-wine, tropical fruit, berry, grapefruit peel, sticky pine resin, sweet caramel malt, molasses. This barleywine is awesome - i'd drink it fresh

mouthfeel: sticky pine hops, stays under "full body" status which plays in its favor. nice bitter kick with a moderate alcohol sensation

drinkability: par for the style

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 599 ratings.