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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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586 Ratings

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Ratings: 586
Reviews: 295
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.64%
Wants: 134
Gots: 154 | 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: 586 | Reviews: 295 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hopluva1
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage served @ 50* in a snifter

Pours a nice deep copper, with a trace of a tan head that disappears quickly.
Aroma is bourbon, raisins, and alcohol. Very sweet smelling.

Flavor is bourbon, alcohol, and raisins, with just enough hops to help balance all the sweetness. In my opinion the 2009 still has enough hops left in it to make this a pretty good barley wine. Much longer and i am afraid this will become syrupy.

Overall a good barley win

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber of the 2008 vintage. Pours a tawny brown color with a limpid tan head. Light bubbles, light lacing.

Nose is big, huge even with dark fruits and oxidized malts ruling the realm. Figs galore, alcohol and burnt sugars. Quite complex.

Mmmm, so smooth...everything has come together quite nicely on this one. Hops are still kicking on the back end and the malts are caramely, sweet and oxidized. I have not enjoyed an American Barleywine this much in a very long time. Has alot going on, but maintains a smooth, easy drinking presence that is stunning. I have never had this fresh, but I sure would like to now.

Photo of kbutler1
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft. 2009 vintage served at Pracna on Main for MN Craft Beer Week. Served in a snifter. Poured a non see through brown color with a slight wispy tan head that collars around the glass. Surpisingly mild aroma of dark fruit and some underlying sweetness. Sweet dark fruit (raisin and prune) with a pretty heavy malt backbone. Medium/heavy mouthfeel. Slight booze in the end but otherwise pretty nicely hidden both in the aroma and the taste. Overall, really smooth and easily drinkable but not as complex as other BW’s I’ve had before.

Photo of BigB415
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage poured in my Bruery tulip. Dark red with patches of light that get through when I hold it up. Smells of plums and a little alcohol. When I take a sip I get sweetness and no alcohol burn. I'm guessing it's because this is 2 years old and things mellowed out. Now this makes me want to get a fresh bottle and do a side by side tasting. I also want to get another bottle and throw it in my cellar for another year or 2. I love their smoked porter and now I found another favorite of Alaskan Brewing Company.

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

Got a 2008 courtesy of Azdback. Thanks Paul!

Poured into a tulip. Body is brownish-red with a decent but not huge off-white, nearly tan head. Sweet dark fruits flood the aroma that gives way to a malty caramel backbone. Hops are nearly undetectable to the nose.

Taste is very sweet, sugar sweet even at the start. Caramel, dark fruits, and molasses all very present. Hops are a bit piney, but barely noticeable. There's some sort of pepperness (is that a word) is present at the end. Interesting version of the style to say the least.

I'm not sure if it's the body or the carb, but something makes this beer extremely smooth and drinkable.

Paired well with some gouda, although something a bit more pungent may have worked as well

Gonna let the second bottle sit a bit longer. This beer is probably near it's peak.

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

The pour was very nice, rich with a good dark caramel color and lots of silky and foamy white lace around the top. Nice touches of wispy side glass lace and just the slightest bit of side glass lace around the edges.

The aroma was very malty, which surprised me a bit in the beginning, but I really kind of learned to enjoy it. Some light fruit notes sitting there in the back with a decent amount of grain as well. Hints of hops dancing around, more pine resin like then anything else. The flavor was a bit odd, but I have to admit still more then decent. Nice notes of piney hops, dark resin, fruit with a leaning toward figs and some nice bready malts. As it warmed some hints of spices coming through now as well, almost peppery at the finish. Decent medium Mouthfeel and really nice carbonation were a good side distraction, and a smooth sipper for the percentage is always a welcome sight.

Overall have to say this one was not bad at all, really a tight little barley wine here. Almost an old ale, but not quite, I could see myself having this one again in the near future.

Photo of seeswo
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle thanks to some awesome former trader. Pours reddish brown with a healthy tannish head. Looks great. Smell is brown sugar, caramel and a touch of faded hops. The taste is, wow - crazy smooth. The hops are present only a touch in the finish and balance the medium sweetness present in the base of the beer. This is just dead-on balance, not too sweet and not overly hopped. The reserved flavor of sugary malts carry through the body. Fabulous not in extreme flavor, but actually in its restraint. The mouthfeel has good carbonation and not too sugar coating and thick. Very good in this department as well. Overall, this beer as an 08 is fantastic, with no booze present and incredible balance. In general, American Barleywine with 2 years of age seems to be just the dead-on sweet spot where the hops are faded, but still a balancing presence against the potential for over sweetness. The Arctic Devil 08 I had a while back at 2 years pulled this off similarly.

Photo of NorCalYeti
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

taste- caramel, big malt character, brown sugar, residual malt sweetness and a slight sour character in the finish

color- mahogany

clarity- pours clear but is opaque in the glass

smell- cherries, wood, funk, alcohol, sweet malt, metallic note, aroma is true to the style

body- smooth and creamy in the mouth, full bodied, medium-long finish, hop bite at the front of the mouth and the sides of the tongue, oily mouthfeel

appearance- thin, spotty carbonated top layer, active, even, cola-colored foam layer when agitated, nice lacing in the glass

overall impression- good balance, a little malty for my tastes but is spot on when i think of a barleywine in terms of the aroma and taste

notes and comments- 2008 vintage. beer has mellowed for sure...i imagine a current vintage would be a much different experience. not sure why bb was selling two year old vintages while everyone else has '10s on the shelf. would like to try a current vintage to compare although the website says the beer can be cellared. taste reminds me of aged bigfoot. easy drinker without the hop bite of a new vintage...i probably would enjoy this more with 6-12 months of age versus 24 months

beer spy- bottle barn, santa rosa ca, 3/24/11, $6.99, 22oz

glassware: tulip

Photo of Tone
3.62/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, brown color. 1/5 inch head of an off-white color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, hint of pine, and strong citrus hops. Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol, strong sweet malt, strong citrus hops, slight yeast, and hint of pine acidity. Overall, strong body but well blended.

Photo of DCon
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed @ Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood (St. Louis), MO. Poured into a 12 oz Schlafly cup and enjoyed 3 of these throughout the course of the day. This was the 2009 Batch of this Barley Wine.

Appearance- Received very dark maroon/red color with 1 finger of head. Has no to small amount of retention, leaves thick lace down the sides, and is semi-cloudy, from the huge carbonation bubbles.

Smell- HUGE maltiness & alcohol, the new "American hops" aroma, and can smell a type of caramel/chocolate in the background.

Taste- Very nice taste of caramel/molasses with a very hoppy beginning. The finish was extremely bitter and had attributes that were easily enjoyed.

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied, Medium-Large amount on the Viscosity scale, very complexed, and had a "Warming" feeling on the palate at the end of the drink.

Overall- Starting to break into the Barleywine style, this one was fantastic to start off with. They said that "Alaskan Brewing Co's tradition with this Barley Wine is to lager the kegs in a local gold mine"?!?! Interesting. The drinkability was UNREAL (as I had 3 of these) while it was complexed and full flavored. Mid way through the last cup, I started to feel very buzzed and with this ended my journey @ Schlafly's Bottleworks.

Photo of zeff80
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Edition

A - Poured a clear, burgundy color with golden highlights. It had a sudsy, foamy head of off-white, bubbles. Good retention and some sticky lace.

S - It smelled of floral notes, a touch of pine and rich maltiness.

T - Delicious roasted maltiness with toffee and caramel. There was subtle piney bitterness that added balance to a sweet brew. It was not excessively sweet like some barleywines can be.

M - Thick and a little chewy with a big body. It finishes dry with an alcohol warmth.

O - This is a very good barleywine. A treat to have on tap.

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 Tilley4
3.76/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my snifter while grilling Key West chicken on the patio...

The aromas are fairly faint but carry with them a deep sweet maltiness that's almost fruity in nature... Hints of booze throughout. Some pine needle notes from the hops as well... Definitely heavy on the sweet malts...

A smooth sweet maltiness rolls over practically everything else although the piney hops battle gamely in the background... This is deep and fruity and slightly boozy but not distractingly so... Not a bad effort at all really...

I liked this... I'd like to have it dead fresh as I prefer my barleywines with a healthy hop presence but even as is, this was good

Photo of mrkc
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wrapped in the typical Alaskan Brewing Company 65cl bottle, I can't find any indication of the date of origin for this particular bottle. When I pour it out, the beer looks smooth and thick, a deep burgundy who's head dissipates into a thin white ring while I'm still smelling the beer. The hops are incredibly floral, and leaps out after fragrance of the grains. There are subtle hints of something malty lurking underneath that I can't quite put my finger on, with how strong the other two odours are. When I sip it, the Barely Wine Ale opens up with a bitter taste, followed by a mere whiff of the grains involved, and ending with a crisp and bitter aftertaste. How can something so thick be so crisp? It's like drinking oil, it's so thick, and yet there's a distinct bite at the end. It's a paradox, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a beer.

There's something underneath the hops that feels almost oaky, but it's hard to work it out from the power of the rest of the beer. It's vaguely disappointing, because Alaskan seems to do better balancing their beers than they've done with their Barley Wine Ale. The end effect is that the beer tastes too simple, and too heavy on the hops for my tastes. That's not to say I couldn't finish the bottle - you barely realize there's alcohol in this beer at all, it's so well hidden. Still, one bottle is a bit much for one person, and it might be best split between friends over dinner.

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 smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2009 bottle, poured into a large snifter glass. Thanks VERY kindly to colts9016 for the bottle!!!

A gorgeous dark cherry red that is clear and shows visible carbonation from the bottom. Small forming head that doesn't stick around much but keeps a small collar. The body color is just gorgeous looking.

Bouquet is a muted soft berry fruit, perhaps even figs, and malt. Hints of grape juice and dusty brown spices cinnamon for sure.

Taste is extremely wine bodied like with hints of carbonation, even some possible hop bitter. Wet a bit but like a medium bodied light pinot noir in texture. A great real malty finish, this feels like a solid aged barleywine even after only maybe two years. Slightly tea like in herb flavor aftertaste with soft tannins.

Great drinking, and I can sort of get an idea of how well this beer style gets with age now. Boy I am craving some stinky cheese or any good cheese to go with this right now.

Photo of yuriruley
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage, see the 2008 floating around all the time, finally decided to buy one.

Appearance - Nice cloudy red and brown color. Good creamy tan head with decent retention, and good lacing.

Smell - love the smell, has that great bready barleywine smell that I love. On top of that there are notes of dark fruits like plums, and nice hints of alcohol, not over the top though.

Taste - Dark fruits, brown sugar, little bit of spiciness to it, but can't pin it down. Nice sweet flavors balanced with malt. Hints of alcohol on the finish, but overall well balanced.

Mouthfeel - Pretty thick, but not super syrup thick. Perfect amount of carbonation, and creaminess.

Drink - Excellent, not too much alcohol, goes down easy. Could drink much of this if I felt like it, unfortunately that would be very expensive and probably get me quite drunk.

I think this is an exceptional beer. This vintage reminds me a lot of Sunturn Brew, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. If you have this vintage near you I'd recommend grabbing it. I really want to see what this years tastes like. Good to see both the Alaskan breweries I like making awesome barleywines. This beer has aged very well thus far.

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.

Photo of JamesMcPolin
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

Nice dark red/ mahogany in color, but weak head and even less lacing. Great nose, intensely fruity. Killer taste if you're into malt bombs. A bit sweet but still really tasty. Might want to pass on it if you're a hop-head since there are so many other barleywines that cater to hop-heads. Ultimately, I would say it's slightly unbalanced toward the sweet end of the scale and could actually use a bit more bitter hops through the middle but still a great brew and highly drinkable.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage generously shared by bmanning. Served in a Cantillon tulip.

Pours a reddish-amber with a thin white head that sticks around for a bit before fading into a thin collar. A few spots of lacing on the edge of the glass. The nose exhibits a great deal of fruity complexity along with some caramel, light booze, and brown sugar. The taste is quite captivating, with layers of brown sugar and fruits intermingling. Good light cherry presence and a bit of a date character as well. Mouthfeel is really, really rich and creamy with a good slightly-boozy finish. Really drinkable. This has aged gracefully.

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

A: reddish brown in color and on the darker side, good clarity and a huge foaming almond head with a decent amount of sticking lace that follows as you quickly empty the glass :)

S: Wow. Smells like a sweet fruity malty berry pie. cherries, plum, tropical fruits, wow there's a lot going on here. The booze is cleverly hidden underneath this sweet fruity layer.

T: Sweet and malty, but not cloying. Lots of dark fruits; fig, plum, dates, some berry flavors with a floral/citrus hoppy bitterness for balance. This is tasty!

M: Moderate carbonation, medium body, velvety smooth, rolls off the tongue.

D: High ABV, but this is typical of the style. Still, if I had more than 1 bottle available to me right now, I'd be drinking it.

Note: This would make an EXCELLENT addition to anyone's cellar...including mine. I will be buying at least 3+ more bottles for aging. I can only imagine how much better this can get with some age on it.

Photo of misinformed
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 2/5/11, 2010 vintage, tulip glass.

A- Dark cherry mahogany color, but opaque without any light behind it. 1/2" tan head that faded quickly to a ring.

S- Faint. Fruity, sugary sweet malt, hints of alcohol.

T- Sweet fruity apple/citrus notes upfront. Tons of malt flavors. Roasted grain, sweet caramel, sweet burnt toffee, and some hints of coffee. Some bitter hops in the finish.

M- Medium bodied. Smooth, not syrupy. Very light carbonation and no heat.

D- Overall a little to sugary sweet for my liking, but not cloying or unbalanced by any means. Weak nose, but it has a smooth flavor profile that is nicely balanced.

Photo of stoutfiend27
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber sent by James ....2008 vintage..into the dr snifter

A-deep amber color with a small off white head....fell quickly ...leaves some heavy lacing..very little bubbles

S-rich sweet malts...some booze on the nose with some vanilla....slight whiskey notes?...some toffee and caramel....faintest bit of bitter hops

T-sweet again up front....traces of vanilla and something tannic..caramel rides the middle followed by some bitter hops and finishes a bit astringent

M-a tad thin maybe due to the aging...there is some syrupy qualities to it....bitterness and that astringent deal linger....somewhat oily and coats the mouth well....carbonation is minimal..

D-one and done....abv and astringency keep me from wanting another bottle right away

Overall a great barleywine that I think would benefit from more aging....thanks bro for another great beer

Photo of sweethome
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 edition of Pilot Series.

Pour is dark brown/chestnut color. Tan head, dissipates fairly quickly but leaves a nice lace.

Big malty nose, cherries, candied nuts, just a bit medicinal. Of English style in nose.

Very sweet entry - pushing the envelope of sweetness right off...builds out with flavors that flow from the nose...cherries soaked in alcohol, candied nuts. Bittering comes in to provide balance before it too late.

English style with american heft. Not my favorite style barleywine, but a nice winter warmer....maybe all the better if enjoyed on a cold Alaskan night.

Photo of grittybrews
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Have sampled vintages from 2007-2011. The two stand-outs were 2008 and 2011:

Poured a thick brownish-amber with a nice ruby tinge and just a few bubbles of off-white head. Very heavy aroma with lots of toffee, brown sugar, dark cherry, and vanilla. Faint hints of orange citrus as well.

Moderate carbonation. Body is a little thin, but mouthfeel is quite creamy with a bit of stickiness towards the end. Very smooth flavors with caramel, sugar cookie, and vanilla melding towards the front. A bit of leather and perhaps some slight cardboard oxidation towards the middle followed by a lingering pine bitterness that is more earthy than astringent.

Very smooth with some great aromas and flavors going on. Surprised by how much hop presence remained, and feeling inspired to try the fresh version soon...!

Like 2007 but more hops present -- very well-balanced.

Similar to 2008 but less impressive.

Least favorite -- more hoppy, but somewhat generic overall.

Exponentially hoppier while maintaining balance, lots of carbonation, big flavors. Really tasty fresh!

Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 586 ratings.