1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

563 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 563
Reviews: 291
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.64%
Wants: 130
Gots: 151 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.70% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: John_M on 03-18-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) Alström Bros
Ratings: 563 | Reviews: 291 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jgap
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a stone old guardian barleywine glass. It's a nice amber with very little head that leaves a small lace. Smell is brown sugar, caramel, slight pine, and amarillo hops. Taste is more like and engish barleywine than American. Strong malt base of sugary caramel. Very light hops for an 'American' barleywine but this leaves a void in the taste progression that the alcohol fills nicely. It's not too harsh though, no burn at all. I will admit that american barleywines like old guardian have destroyed my palate for well crafted, smooth beers like this.

jgap, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of rye726
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich amber under a thick tan head. The nose has big candy malts, toffee, dark fruits, and citrusy hops. The hops are a bit more prevailent in the taste. Still a solid bready malt and sweet fruit/candy presence though. Well balanced with a nice body... Thats what she said... For sure one of the better beer to come out of Alaskan brewing. Will age very well.

rye726, Jan 30, 2009
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

DoShek, Jan 27, 2009
Photo of popery
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Delicious, rich, buttery. This beer is drinking very well, already, but I fully expect it to get even better with age. It's just a great American Barleywine. The malt is strong and sweet without any off flavors. There's a lot of caramel and a lot of barley flavor. The hops are still strong but less bitter than flavorful. The hops come through piney and maybe citric or floral. It's hard to tell exactly. It's relatively close to Old Guardian, but it's been awhile since I had one of those. The feel is exquisite, full, velvety, warming. Alcohol warms the mouth and brightens the flavors. There are some notes of honey, but it could be my imagination. It's a delicious beer, a satisfying barleywine.

popery, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of BrewerB
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a tulip-style glass this brew was hazy, medium-brown in color with a very light than head that had a fair amount of retention. Lacing left on the glass as I made my way through the delicious brew.

S - Initial impressions of a rich maltiness that included toffee and caramel aromas. Toasty malt present with fruity esters. Hop aroma was also fairly prominent and mostly focused on the piney variety. Citrusy hops played a role, too. A welcoming complexity overall.

T - Moderately heavy on the bitterness lingering on into the finish. Boozy with the alcoholic presence certainly making a showing. Malt flavors focused on toast with an underlying touch of sweetness. Fruity esters.

M - Medium full in body with a moderate level of carbonation. Smooth.

D - For a big barleywine this beer packs plenty of drinkability. Great mix of flavors and aromas combine with an appropriate mouthfeel. I was in a situation where having a second beer would be inadvisable. Otherwise, I'd have had a second and maybe a third. Well done!

BrewerB, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of erikm25
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: 2008. Pours a magnificent ruby and amber charcoal brown. Clear with dark, yet vibrant, hues. Head is pillowing with a slightly off white tint. The retention is very strong. Speckled lacing sticks around the glass.

S: Thick and delightful aromas. Heavy on the sugary sweetness with a nice baked bread undertone. Candy malts with a varied fruited spine. Vanilla, toffee, and raisins all make an appearance. I even caught a quick pine nod towards the end of the nose

T: Sweet, rich, and sugared. Molasses and caramel hold the mouth hostage with UZI clipped saccharine bullets . Fresh cherries and figs with black licorice. A blistering black pepper and honey relish adds to the overall complexity. Yeasty spice with a subtle hops finish. At over 10% this one has a kick but goes down very quickly.

M: Creamy and full. You can almost chew this up since it sticks all over the taste buds. Melts right down the mouth. A real lingerer.

D: One of my more favorite barleywines to date. Price was a little steep but in the end very worth it. I can imagine this one probably gets amazing with age so I will be back to grab one for the closet. Playlist for this included Blue Cheer, Solace, King Crimson, Crossed Out, The Norman Haines Band, and BUZZOV*EN!!!!

erikm25, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I missed out on this last year. I wasn't aware that it was such a hot item at the time, and I passed it up a few times and then it was all gone. So this year I scored a few.

A- This looks amazing. Very luscious ruby red/brown, very tasty looking. When pouring this was very thick looking. The head is a mixture of large and small bubbles with some delicate lacing.

S- There is a great hop smell that hits your nose right up front. The malts and spices blend well together. I'm picking out a caramel smell. I'm excited to try this.

T- Interesting flavors. The hops are sweet and grapefruity, yet there is a pine and gin taste mixed in. Then a candied lemon taste ends in the finish. The malts are a caramel taste that seems to be mixed in with all the different flavors. Very indicative of the American style.

M- The mouth feel is good, there is a thickness, but yet the carbination is there to help support and cut the thickness down.

D- Easy to drink, almost too easy.

Wetpaperbag, Jan 21, 2009
Photo of Oxymoron
3.53/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Got to keep warm in Alaska! Pours a crystal clear amber color with some coppery hues through out. A soft white head with a bit of fizz but ok. Decent retention and limited lacing. Both did not last through the tasting.

The nose is malty sweet with a more sugary backing. Some minor caramel but really has a sugary candy aroma. There are noticeable phenolic with some fruity notes. Apricots, pears and sugar plums. Some lighter Belgian notes, but could be off from the phenolics.

The taste is similar. Very sweet upfront and leaves a sugary finish. A sugary caramel almost like a caramel candy thing. Would like more depth, the malt is not very complex. Just like the nose, the phenols really come out. More of a tropical fruit mix, some grape, pineapples, pears and apricots are well present. Even fruity for Belgian standards. Other than that, the yeast is very clean. Some minor hop notes in the finish but hidden by the fruit.

The body is a bit light for a barleywine. Odd with the sugary over & undertones. Would like more complexity on this. It should age well, I hope, but fresh this is a bit disappointing. Would like less sugar/phenols and more of a malt presence.

Oxymoron, Jan 19, 2009
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.

Beaver13, Jan 19, 2009
Photo of BarleyMine
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This review is for the 2008 barleywine.

Look: Deep ruby red w/a huge pillowy head that takes its own sweet time to receed leaving slow sticky lacing.

Smell: Hops! Very prevelant floral hoppiness with piney tones.

Taste: Very complex flavors. Starts with a sweetness and floral hop flavors up front and starts to have a party on the mid palate. The complexity really starts to become noticable at this point and a fruitiness starts to really show. Can't quite put my finger on the fruit. There's tropical fruits, peach, pineapple, mango, apricot, cherry... Tons of things going on on the finish.

Body: Very smooth, rich, full body with great carbonation.

Excellent brew, well done Alaskan.

BarleyMine, Jan 18, 2009
Photo of BretSikkink
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber, looks more mahogany in the glass until held up to the light - lots of bronze edging. Pulls up a full finger of tan head, great for the abv.

The nose is of caramel sweetness with big American hoppiness. Citric notes up front, with some pine, all dripping with caramel. As it warms, the most prominent note to my nose is dried apricots.

Very sweet taste, with a lot of toffee up front. Fruity hops, especially towards the finish. There's obviously a big alcohol hit - this isn't the most well-hidden big beer I've had. Peppery aftertaste is very strong.

Big, smooth mouthfeel. Full, but tempered by hops and the alcohol. Basically, this one is a bit too hot. Lay it down if you want, I'm sure it will age quite gracefully.

BretSikkink, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of russpowell
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My last review for at least a month, moving..

2008 batch pours chestnut with a finger of tan fluffy head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit & a bit of booze & raisins, fades a bit as this warms

T: Rich toffee, dryness, & leafy hops up front. Some cakeyness & caramel as this warms, plus figs & a bit of booze warmth. Finishes dry, with a mix of toffee, a hint of smokey booze, almost gsve this a 5.0

MF: Pretty rich, low, but noticeable carbonation. superb balance

Drinks really easy for the style & abv, does skews a bit towards the English style IMO. Great barley wine, won't satisfy most hopheads I'm guessing...

russpowell, Jan 15, 2009
Photo of DrJay
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007. Enjoyed on NYE 2008. Bottle courtesy of mikesgroove. Thanks!
Fairly clear, bright red with a slightly orange hue. It had a full collar of beige foam and a thin skim capping the beer. Good head retention, sticky and spotty lacing. Aromas of caramel, toffee, nuts, biscuit, toasted malts, light citrus hops, dark fruits. Moderate to high bitterness, some citrus character, toffee and caramel sweetness, bread crust, biscuit, light alcohol. Great balance of flavours. Medium to full bodied, lowish carbonation, smooth and warm, off-dry. A superb barleywine, well balanced and quite drinkable.

DrJay, Jan 13, 2009
Photo of SuperWhite92
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown color with a dark tan head that quickly dissipated into a spotty bacterial ring laden top layer. Smells like sweet molasses, earth, fruit, and a hint of alcohol. It's nice to get a barlywine like this as opposed to the hop-ridden stuff a lot of breweries tend to produce. The taste is dominated by thick caramel, sweet, roasty malts, minimal amounts of alcohol, and some reserved cherry flavors. This beer is big enough to completely hide the usual "alaskan" house flavor (which isn't a good or a bad thing, just an observation.) Mouthfeel is absolutely phenomenal- probably the best of any barleywine I've had yet. Drinkability is good, especially for the abv, but there's enough flavors here that my tastebuds are pretty ripped up after the first 22 oz.

Byfar my favorite offering from Alaskan, and probably one of my top 5 barleywines thus far.

SuperWhite92, Jan 06, 2009
Photo of mnapier
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Judging Temperature, 50 degrees Farenheit. Judging Glassware, 12 ounce.

Poured during a snowy night in January, this ale produces a strong off white foamy head that recedes into an antique blanket inside the glass.
The nose is interesting in between the biscuit, brown sugar, and figs along with citrus hops.
The taste is roasted with some toffee, and a bit of cherry as well as a small dash of coffee.
The overall mouthfeel is medium and fairly tasty.

Cheers

mnapier, Jan 05, 2009
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.

badbeer, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of grub
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Viggo brought this one over. thanks eric!

22oz bottle, 2007 vintage. sampled dec 27/08.

pours deep brown with a small dense tan head. the head quickly drops to a ring around the glass and leaves spotty lace.

aroma is good. light alcohol. big caramel and toffee. biscuit and multi-grain bread. bit of grapefuit and pine, but faded due to the age. touches of smoke and earthy character. bit of dark fruit.

taste is great. rich caramel, slightly burnt. bit of toffee. big biscuit and multi-grain bread. bit of molasses. light alcohol. some dark fruit too - date, fig, raisin. low bitterness level. hints of dark chocolate, smoke, and a nice earthy character around the edges.

mouthfeel is great. medium carbonation level. just over medium body.

drinkability is good. nicely balanced, with a pleasant warming alcohol. this is a nice aged barleywine, and i think a little more time will mellow the alcohol further and make it even better. still, i'd happily have another bottle right now. great stuff.

grub, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of Viggo
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, big thanks to mikesgroove for hooking me up with this. 2007 vintage.

Pours a clear dark reddish brown, ruby highlights, very brilliant in the light, thick off white head forms, quickly settles down to a thin ring around the glass, nice lacing, looks good. Smell is nice, all barleywine, caramel, some floral, bread, pine, alcohol, brown sugar, very sweet and malty, lots of fruit, strawberries and grapefruit, figs, reall nice. Taste is similar, very malty, caramel, floral, bready, raisins, and fruit, strawberries and mango, some citrusy grapefruit bitterness, alcohol comes through but is well hidden, brown sugar, very malty, but very balanced, the hops are just right. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, chewy, low carbonation, some alcohol warmth, perfect for the cold weather. Doesn't knock my socks off but is a perfectly solid, great example of an American barleywine, really nice stuff. Thanks Mike!

Viggo, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of scottoale
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Obtained in a trade from travisd13, thanks alot man, been wanting to try this for some time. 2007 Vintage, 22 oz. brown bomber with a bottling code stamped on the bottom: 030 A2 00:10. It pours a deep, dark copper with a fat finger of beige foamy head. The head eventually settles to the surface, leaving some lace clinging to the glass. Good carbonation is evident.

Semi-sweet and very malty upfront. Caramel, toffee, black tea, molasses and some faint hop notes fill the nose. Faint oak, fish oil and earth come through as well. Smells good and malty.

Rich, but not to sweet malt get it rolling, caramel, dark ripe fruits, treacle and nuttiness just meld in the mouth. The sweetness gets swept with a nice bittering hop finish. The carbonation pushes the finish with a slight tingle on the tongue, followed by a nice malt aftertaste. You would never guess this brew is 10.4 ABV...it's burried nicely.

It's an easy, smooth drinking Barleywine, with a medium-heavy body that has a great taste...just wish I could get this all the time. Well done and recommended.

scottoale, Dec 14, 2008
Photo of hopdog
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, 2007 Vintage.

Poured a deep and muddy mahogany color wtih an averaged sized tan head. Aromas of pine, citrus rinds, caramel, dark fruits, and a little earthy. Tastes of caramel, dark fruits, lighter earthiness, wood, toffee, and citrus. Sticky. Has a nice balance. Light to medium alcohol in the finish. I'm glad I have a few bottles to test out through the next few years!

Notes from 1/23/08

hopdog, Nov 19, 2008
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage captured in a sweet trade with ratebeer superstar after4ever. Thanks buddy.

Pours deep clear amber with thin tan head. The aroma is semi rich, but not as rich as the Arctic Devil just was for the last beer, with fruity esters and some pine hops. The taste is rich and sweet with malty roasty yet sugar sweet maltiness moving into dark fruity esters of sweet Concord grape jam, ripe cherries, plums, dates and figs. It has a sizable amount of pine hop bitterness. Terrific American Barleywine.

BigMcLargeHuge, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of cannabanaceae
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On draft into a snifter. Look was dark, ruby red to black. nice half inch dark head dissipating but staying tell the end, nice lacing down glass.
Smell was of candi malt, It is unusual to describe this way but it smelled sticky.
Taste was very smooth malt in front followed by a perfect hop balance. not much alcohol taste for the 10+abv%, very easy to drink.
MF was Thick and oily the finish was slightly bitter with a nice hopbite thats warming.
This beer placed #2 at the 2007 brouwers barley wine festival just below deshutes mirror mirror. They saved this keg and broke it out in late august and I must say it aged wounderfully. This is what a good barley wine should taste like. Alaska did a great job with this Barley Wine. Keep it coming.

cannabanaceae, Aug 27, 2008
Photo of czfreeman
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle has been parked for over a year in anticipation of drinking it.
Pours out a dark brown caramelized sugar color, capped by a foamy piney head.
Aromas of citric pine hops ,tannic oranges, bitter chocolate coffee notes in the roasted malts. touches of maples pine needles accent a black pepper spiciness.
Tastes of spicy piney citric malts, caramel spicey-tartness, maples,smokey- peppers, well balanced spicy-not sweet barleywine.
Mouthfeel is light, spicy, biting. I would greatly enjoy this beer during the holiday season as a sort of spiked spicy cider. Well done, highly enjoyable.

czfreeman, Aug 19, 2008
Photo of yemenmocha
4.88/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed mid afternoon on tap at Humpy's, Summer 2008, in Anchorage, AK.

Key differences to bomber version is that the draught has a creamier body, with flavors that flow together more "seamlessly". Finish is less tart & less alcohol is perceived.

Pours deep brown with suggestion of amber, tan head that is thick & luscious. Retains well.

Aromatics are pleasant with fresh bread dough, clean malt, walnuts, vanilla icing, & melted caramel.

Palate starts off with gentle, sweet malt, seeping through a creamy body/mouthfeel. Raisins and dark fruits are present, followed by lighter citrus tartness as it leads to the warm alcohol finish. Cherry cough drops come to mind, in a very good way. Alcohol is modest for this example of the style.

One of the best barleywines I have sampled.

yemenmocha, Aug 10, 2008
Photo of Overlord
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Jwolfie70 for his incredible generosity over the weekend. Had a chance to sample this along with some other rare brews at Toronado, as he cracked open his cellar (it took some cracking) to break out some of his Cable Car, Cuvee de Tomme, and other delicacies.

Pours a dark amber. Large off-white head. Smells like caramel malt with a bit of pine, and the taste was much the same, while adding in some grapefruit and deliciously sweet malt.

Not an overly complex beer, but a very satisfying one.

Overlord, Aug 04, 2008
Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 563 ratings.