1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

595 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 595
Reviews: 295
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.4%
Wants: 138
Gots: 158 | 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
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 595 | Reviews: 295
Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 edition, bought from Wilbur's in Ft. Collins a while ago, not sure on price.

A: Somewhat cloudy deep red/mahogany brown, excellent color, no head, a few bubbles of a cream colored head, pretty fair lacing considering the lack of a head. Excellent looking beer.

S: Roasty, lots of caramel malt, a bit of molasses, this is a huge beer, I can tell right away from the aroma. A slight hint of booze, can't really pull any hops out of the nose. Smells like a real malt bomb. Had a faint bourbon note to it when I first opened it.

T: Follows the nose nicely, with a bit more on the roasty end of it, almost coffee like with a roasted bitterness, lots of roasted barley, big caramel feel. Slight bourbon aspect as well. Really a tasty beer. Alcohol is definitely there too. Interesting. A pretty heavy pine hop flavor, but it is way in the back. Some molasses as well. Nice beer.

M: Pretty warm from the booze, but also really dry, interesting in the mouth, a little thicker than I had expected. Big beer. Pretty nice carbonation as well.

D: Although the alcohol isn't as well hidden as other barleywines this one hits all the notes right on. I'm quite impressed with this beer. I'd recommend it. Most definitely.

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

2008 bottle, poured in a big wine glass at 55 F/ 13 C.

Deep, striking red-brown color, clear but with particles of sediment in suspension to catch the light and scintillate nicely. Small frothy dark beige head. Shapely, finely textured lace.

Mellow, deep aroma of earthy malt. Caramel, honey, earth, mild herbacious tobacco, some citrusy hops, and hints of butter and bubblegum.

The taste is a good deal more intense than the aroma, but quite smooth. Dark fruity caramel malt and citrusy hops - orange and grapefruit - up front, then deeper malty notes like tobacco and singed honey come in, then finally a bit of a spicy burn in the throat and some Campariesque citrus rind bitterness lingering gently in the jawbone. Cohesive, the hops and malt are happily married. Good balance, the sweetness is persistent but never at all overbearing. Nice long finish, spicy earthy malt.

Cushy, moderately viscous texture, just the right number of nice tiny bubbles. A real pleasure to drink, this disappears from the glass way too fast.

Photo of Bung
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. 2008. Fairly dark amber pour with a limited off white head. A ring remains throughout, with some lacing. Aromas are sweet malt, toffee, yellow raisins. Some booziness. Just a hint of piney/citrus hops. Flavor is a good sweet malty mix of caramel, toffee, with some citrus pine as well. Just a little hint of sour at first, but this disappears and is gone as it warms a bit. An interesting sweet hoppy finish. Warming, with a barrel-like presence. A nice malt inclined barleywine. 2nd good one I've had from Alaskan.

Photo of rayjay
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage, 22 oz bomber poured into a pilsner glass.

Deep and rich dark copper colored ale that means business. A beautiful fine haze fills in the gaps between the busy carbonation. Rich deep red foam that dissipates after a few minutes.

Wonderful aroma packed full of NW hops. Floral and citrus rind-esque. The huge fruity esters give away the big malts and big gravity, although alcohol is pretty tame. I'm smelling some carmel malts too but the hops are the stars.

Whoa, big stuff here. Huge malts. Probably just lots of pale first runnings and carmel and that's it. Not detecting any gravity boosters since it's not a very dry barleywine, leaving lots of sticky sugar in and around your mouth. So much malt that all those hops only counter-act the sweetness. By the way loads of NW hops, adding a generous bitterness and fragrant aroma. If I has one word: fruitcake.

It's got a huge body but it's also balanced for what it is; it's not insane and chewy as hell, but has aspects of both. Kind of a creamy carbonation, and the medium CO2 level suits the beer perfectly.

Drinkability suffers a bit, but it's still quite good. It's not refreshing, it is dehydrating, it's got a ton of aggressive flavor going on, it's rude, it's sticky, and it's really nothing new if you've ever had a barleywine before. But it is delicious, and fans of big beers and hopheads will love it.

This brewery has not disappointed me at all recently. Killing! Cheers!

Photo of froghop
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pour is dark brown with a tint of red, large thick creamy beige head, excellent lacing.

smell of dark fruit, sweet, burnt caramel roasted nuts, and a touch of vanilla.

taste is creamy, prunes, raisins, some roasted nuts, caramel, end is dry and nicely bitter.

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

2008 Bottle: rated 4.28 -
Appearance: Pours a cinnamon shade of dark amber/brown. Little head and no retention or lacing.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, sticky, and a light bitterness.

Aroma: Smells of grapefruit, anise and light hops.

Taste: Tastes of grapefruit variety citrus, light hops, some smokey malty barley. Very flavorfull.

Drinkability: Very drinkable for a barleywine. Goes down much smoother than most.

2010 Bottle:
This year's is just as flavorful as the '08 I reviewed previously. It does seem to be a very different brew this year. Rather than the hops & citrus flavors & aromas, the 2010 has much richer dark apple, persimmon & almost a Belgian spiciness.

I'm upping my smell rating because the aromas are much more pleasing to me this year. It doesn't smell like a DIPA this time.

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

2008 vintage. Easily one of the coolest labels out there. Not something I would usually note, but i really dig it.

Beer pours a really dark brown, much darker than other barley wines I have had. When held up to the light, the edges exhibit an almost magenta color. Cool! same color as the sky on the bottle. Also cool.

Huge citrus smell upfront. At first grapefruit, then some orange. Very sweet nose, almost candylike. Maybe even a touch of bubblegum.

Taste is really solid. The hops hit initially, big grapefruit and some floral flavors. The sweetness subsides and a combined molasses and roast bitterness is left, which coats the palate and lingers. Almost a cola like flavor as well. Super balance. Complex, though difficult for me to describe, which is unfortunate.

This is a sipper. Somewhat thick and packs a wallop alcohol-wise.

This is a strong beer. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 version; tasted at Brouwer's Barleywine Fest 2009

Appearance: Arrives with a clear medium amber color and a foamy head that retains and laces nicely

Smell: Good barleywine aromatics of caramel and citrus

Taste: Grapefruity from the get-go, with caramel and tobacco underneath; after the swallow, the flavors come together in an extraordinarily balanced fashion

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This beer won first place in the tasting and it is easy to see why; great citrus flavor and nicely balanced by the sweet malt

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep coper color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light citrus hops with some sweet malt. Taste is also dominated by sweet malt with some light dry fruit and a dry bitter and citrusy finish courtesy of some West Coast hops. Body was about average for the style with some good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well made and even though I prefer my barleywine with some limited hops I thought this example was very well balanced and it is definitively one that I would like to try again.

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

Had this again at a Barleywine tasting the other night, and it really shown.

A 2008 bottle was consumed.

Poured a deep pumpernickel with excellent head and retention, was extremely aromatic. Light alcohol notes pulled nutty, molasses, butter pecan from the brew. A lingering, slightly ragged bitterness on the back end was filled in with some toffee sweetness. Full and round with a relatively soft body.

Simply a joy.

Orig. review 3/17/09
A fine representation of the style.

Picked up at Beverages 4 Less while I was down SD County ways. Only to find it back up here in LA. Whatever.

Pours a beautiful garnet, translucent, deep ruby, burnt amber colors with a finger or so of fluffy head, nice retention, moderate but tenacious lacing. Gorgeous.

Aroma is pungent with dark, ripe fruit flavors, toffee, black cherry, and cotton candy. A bit of citrus note around the fringe, maybe some tangerine.

The taste is a rich, heavy, full bodied and sweet Barleywine, that despite the somewhat brighter lift to its aromas and flavors very much fits the malt-forward British interpretation. Fulfilling and slightly cloying (to be expected) with a nice sharp bitterness, full and almost velvety on the back end.

I could deal with a bit less straight-ahead sweetness, maybe dial back the crystal malts just a tad and up the hop profile... but even as it is I enjoyed it immensely. I'd enjoy it more if I could warm up with it on a cold, late winter/early spring evening. Not in SoCal.

Photo of maximum12
3.2/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to jtrockschalk & ThirstyHopHead for sending a bottle of this my way independently. My first encounter with Alaskan & I've been looking forward to it!

Brew is a nice deep rougue color, nice. Smell is a knockout flooding out of the bomber, fruity with overwhelming booze. I was surprised this weighed in only at 10.4% ABV - smells like a couple notches higher, at least!

Taste is a bit of a letdown. This tastes like an unfinished brew, something that might be really good in another year or two. Now, it's dominated by the alcohol, along with some rough bite & almost a roughage taste underneath (don't ask). Kind of like chewing on bark that's been soaked in raspberries or cherries for a few minutes. Not really digging it.

Mouthfeel is dark & flat, little head or evident carbonation. Split the bomber with my wife, & one 11 oz. serving will be plenty, thank you.

Decent beer. I'll let the other one rest in the basement until 2010-2011 & give it another whirl.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Major thanks to jadamski1 for the trade.
22oz. bomber into a Delirium goblet.

The 2008 bottle of Alaskan Barleywine pours with a viscous, copper-brown body that takes on a ruby red hue in the light. A sizable layer of russet-tan head quickly recedes to a patch and ring of tiny bubbles. The aroma is flat-out intoxicating, with layer upon layer of rich caramel malts, English toffee, fragrant floral & resinous hops, and dark rum booze. Lots of fruitiness to this barleywine, too, as the nose detects distinct notes of pineapple, pear, starfruit, and plum.

The flavor diverts from the fruity goodness of the aroma and backs the caramel malts with some light chocolate notes and big layers of spicy, warming booze. Very little heat to the alcohol, and the earthen hops are generally mild across the palate. A lingering, boozy sweetness combines with a peppy carbonation level that livens up the finish. Body is on the thicker side of medium, slightly chewy, and quite smooth. All in all, a fantastic American Barleywine worthy of the Alaskan Brewing Co name.

Photo of colts9016
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter at 50 degrees:

Appearance: A dark orange with a dark copper hue. There is a one finger ivory head that has some retention. The clarity of the beer is mostly clear with a touch of haziness.

Nose: A rich malt with citrus, pine, and floral esters. The aromas are bready and caramel in the background of the beer.

Taste: A rich malt with citrus, pine and floral ester. There are hints of bread, yeast, and caramel in the background of the beer.

Overall: The mouth feel is carbonated. The body of the beer is medium, to medium full. The finish is bitter and lasting. The barleywine is a tad rough around the edge. I think that some age on this beer will do wonders. The beer is good right now and very flavorful.

Photo of rkuhnel
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 22 oz bottle this poured a rich and very clear garnet color with a fat white head and good heavy lacing. Nose of alcohol, with ripe fruit. Rich creamy mouthfeel. Flavor is of caramel malts and some citrus hops, but generally this is sweet. A little bitterness in the finish. I have a feeling this will get better with age but it is good now as well.

Photo of drseamus
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to avryle for bringing this to our tasting.

A: Deep rich amber with good off white head and ruby notes. Nice visible carbonation.

M: Rich malt with slight bitterness.

D: Very bitter up front but not out of whack.

M: Thick and almost, but not quite, cloying.

D: A touch bitter but decently good.

Photo of paco1029384756
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to vwcraig.

Pours a nice burgundy color with a short off white head.

Scent of caramel, raspberries, toffee,, blueberries, spices, earth, and a hint of alcohol. Very nice, well balanced with good depth.

Taste of caramel, spices, alcohol, blueberries, and earth. Good, but there is a bit too much alcohol heat right now for me to fully enjoy what this beer has to offer.

Mouthfeel is rich and smooth, with a small amount of carbonation, very good.

Photo of kleffman
3.41/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this at South Bay Drugs, pretty excited to try it due to it's accolades at the Toronado Barleywine Fest, which hosts some incredible beers.

Pours clear dark reddish brown with a head that settled down pretty quickly. Aroma started off with a slight hop but I immediately got some green apple scent. Upon tasting I couldn't get past the green apple, even with the malt and hop flavors trying to shine through. A bit of hot alcohol and strange medicinal qualities. I don't know, am I the only one that doesn't dig this beer? I think it's just too young and needs some time, and then it may be incredible. Not excited about it right now, and in fact I couldn't finish mine.

I'll give it a shot again some time with some age on it.

edit: Had it on tap with some more age, better for sure. Still needs some time. Much less green apple flavor however.

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

thanks to my wife for picking this bottle up for me as part of my trying a beer from every state. She knows I'm a big barleywine fan so this was cool to say the least. I found this brew to be a solid american barleywine with good bitterness, citric hops buoyed by a rich caramel / toffee body with dark fruit undertones. Full bodied, smooth and very drinkable. worth trying.

Photo of Traquairlover
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Colts9016 for this bottle.

22-oz bottle poured into snifters. 2008 Vintage. I must admit, I have the feeling I would enjoy this beer more after a couple years in the cellar but I haven't had it before so I think I should get a basis of comparison for when I do age some bottles.

A = Clear, dark red with fair light tan, orangish head that dissipates quickly into a think foam covering entire surface.

S = Bitter-sweet citrus smells of three fruit marmalade, some almost medicinal alcohol presence, orange swirl hot buns, tree bark, not as well balanced as I would like. Lots of hops presence but less distinctive malt profile than I was looking for.

T = The taste is much more balanced and creamy than I expected from the smell, but there continues to be a medicinal, rubbing alcohol quality that I do not much care for,also some tree bark and pine needles.

M = Luscious, creamy mouthfeel with very good mouthcoating.

D = I actually had trouble finishing this. It's not bad, I just thought it would have been better in a much smaller serving. I look forward to trying it again, but maybe after it has been in the cellar for 2 or 3 years to take the edge off of it.

Photo of GClarkage
4.59/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

02/14/09- Purchased at Ledgers in Berkeley, CA.

Presenation- 22oz bottle, 2008 vintage. Poured inot my St. Bernardus chalice.

Appearance- Deep copper-caramel colored pour. About a one fingered head upon pour. Ultra slight rim of head remains. Really no lacing found, but that is common for such a style.

Smell- Very rich scent of equal caramel roasted malts and pungent grapefruit hops. Can't really beat the nose per style.

Taste- About a even split flavor between the '07 winner from Toronado and an '07 Bigfoot. Has a nice sweet caramel malted base reminescent of an English Barleywine, but has a nice hop punch of an American. Well balanced, even kinda fruity with a light cherry taste.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation, just a touch fizzy. Even though, pretty smooth and sticky sweet.

Drinkability- If I wanted a hybrid English-American mix, this would be my go to beer. I will always be more fond of the English style, which the '07 version was, but this is quite good. One of the best Barleywines, not considering style, that I have had.

Photo of Bighuge
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Beautiful shade of burgandy. Tight cap of beige foam. Lacing is more than adequate for a 10+% beer.

Aroma: Chocolate covered cherries, fresh spearmint like hop aromas and deep maltiness.

Flavor: I notice the heat at first, but it dissipates rather quickly and doesn't get in the way of other flavor attributes. Nice rich caramel maltiness lays the foundation. Subtle layers of chocolate and pine and nougat add depth.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Even with the slight heat that is present, this stuff is incredibly drinkable. The smooth enjoyable flavor and rich texture make it so.

Photo of Floydster
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle acquired in a trade with Hoppiness last year, 2007 vintage, excited this was finally bottled and is going to remain that way, split with my dad tonight, poured into my Flying Dog imperial pint glass, color is pure copper with a nice one inch creamy beige head that lasts over five minutes, nice lacing for a while, smell is figs, caramel, light bread, dried dark fruits, pine, caramel, grapefruit, toffee, and mild booze, starts off with some dry bread and hop notes, sweet caramel and berries in the middle, finish is slightly bitter and a fading booze bite in the aftertaste, gets both sweeter and hotter as it warms, malt was prominent and added a silky presence at times, sweet, slightly dry, boozy, and fruity mouthfeel, medium to full bodied, on the lighter side for carbonation, taste lingered, could have drank the bottle which is good for a beer over ten percent, not too sweet or filling, larger hop presence helped that out, liked this better fresh the first time I had it but it would be interesting to try this vintage another four or five years down the road, was not at the Toronado Barleywine Festival but this seems to be worthy of its gold medal and have heard it is even better on tap, one of the better barleywines I have tasted of late, quite solid, not a bad value for the eight dollar price tag either, will be drinking again, hopefully they decide to barrel age some of this in the future, recommended

Photo of Jmoore50
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one was another hyped up brew that I was looking forward to. Pretty good brew, but I have a few barleywines that chew up and spit out better brews that this. Good though. Ha!

When you are first introduced to this brew, meaning uncapping, the fruit sweetness pops out. It pours a deep deep amber, like deep dark dirty amber. Really exciting for a barleywine, pours with a nice off-white head that goes away incredibly fast, deff. because of the ABV. Overall a sexy looking brew that comes with a sexy looking head.

The smell is good but scary. Good meaning that it does not smell like alcohol, which is something to be expected with 10.4% alcohol, but cannot be detected at all. Scary because the sweetness and fruity smells made me nervous. It smells sweet, there is nothing debatable about it. Like a big grapefruit, before its ripe and still bitter, was squeezed into this. Really interesting considering that I HATE fruity brews like lambics, ect.

The taste is different in the first sips. The first sip is gross. It tastes like straight sugar. Then the second sip is not very good either because it tastes like sweet barleywine covered in fruit. The third tastes like a sweet and sour barleywine with a sugar aspect and a dry aftertaste. The rest of the brew is good. The rest of the brew is not only good but very drinkable. I think the fact of the matter is that this brew destroys something on your taste buds in order for the sweetness to go away. The best thing about this brew is that its got a really high ABV but during the entire brew you cannot taste it at all. You don't get any hint of alcohol, which is why I think that the sweetness is a double edged sword because it covers the alcohol but is almost too sweet.

The mouthfeel is good and the drinkability is good also. The brew is okay to drink but drinking a six-pack would be too much and after I was done with the bomber I needed a break for two reasons. The first was because the sweetness never went away, it just collapsed and lingered, which was not bad just always there. The alcoholic content of this brew got me a buzz, a good buzz. I don't know why, but I had a good one going for a bout twenty minutes or so. Overall an okay barleywine that is incredibly drinkable and fun to drink. Probably will not spend more money to buy more 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.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 595 ratings.