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Portsmouth Barleywine - Portsmouth Brewery

Not Rated.
Portsmouth BarleywinePortsmouth Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

32 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 32
Hads: 56
Avg: 3.89
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 26
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 09-04-2007

A deep amber, full bodied, intensely bold beer that is made to show off the true qualities of the malts used. Flavors of figs and dates and malt sweetness predominate with enough earthiness from the hops to balance this beer.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 32 | Hads: 56
Photo of TK5150
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2008.

A- Pours a reddish ruby brown with a small off white head.

S- Very sweet smelling, lots of caramel/toffee, raisins, brown sugar, and molasses.

T- Tastes very sweet with everything from the nose present in the taste. Along with the malt, raisins, brown sugar, and molasses really stand out. Lingering traces of chocolate.

M- Low carbonation enhances the full bodied mouthfeel.

D- So tasty I could drink too much, but not at the $10 price tag.

Overall one of my top 5 barleywines. A very unique version of a style of beer that has too many duplicates IMO. Cant wait till next winter's release.

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Photo of DIM
4.44/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a very hazy ruby/mahogany color. It poured with a medium sized but short lived off-white head.

s: Lots of rich toffee, and fresh citric hops. In smaller amounts I also noticed some raisins, molasses, and a hint of chocolate.

t: This started off with some sweet, slightly smoky toffee. Some citric, mildly piny hops came next. The finish was very sweet, but in a wonderful way. Brown sugar, molasses, and just a trace of chocolate. The warmth from this one was surprisingly gentle.

m: Thick and juicy with gentle carbonation.

d: Thanks to joepais for the chance to try a stellar barleywine. I had high expectations for this one and it was as good as I'd hoped.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A wonderful beer. Poured into a tulip glass, it was a golden brown color with a medium head that dissipated quickly. Sweet, caramel/toffee aroma with a hint of malt. More malt evident in the taste, also dark fruit and caramel. The alcohol is noticeable, but not in an unpleasant sense. A good mouthful, very drinkable,

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Photo of gford217
4.37/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber courtesy of MrRetardedMonkey poured into a snifter.

Pours a deep reddish brown that shows a clear copper when held up to the light. There is a small short-lived off-white head that stays on as a swirl of bubbles and a collar.

The aroma is very sweet, like caramel apples, and definitely more fruity than most barleywine aromas. There is plenty of dark sugar sweetness as well, with only a hint of hops.

There is more of a citrus presence in the taste, especially up front. The taste also has more of the toffee sweetness I was expecting in the nose on top of the caramel malt base with lots of apples and raisins in the there as well. The alcohol is not hiding much in the finish and leaves a noticeable burn going down.

The mouthfeel is on the fuller side of medium-bodied and has some soft carbonation that helps the sweetness stick on the palate between sips.

This is a very good barleywine and, despite the alcohol presence, is still very drinkable. The fruitiness makes it a bit original and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Photo of joepais
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stopped downtown for a pint today and had Donna pour me a Barleywine. It arrived in a standard pint glass with a nice light skim of white lace. The body of this ale was a hazy brown with reddish highlights.

Aromas of sweet grain and caramel filled my nose from this one. The flavors follow the nose in some ways sweet, and almost like eating toffee. There is a slight warmth to this one but not to much considering the 11.5%. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy it feels great just sipping away at this puppy.

Great sipability on this, I try to limit myself to just one a sitting, but it is hard to do. Another fine brew from the guys here at the brewery.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stopped in for a Labor Day lunch with Alewife yesterday... Both scored a couple of snifters of this, enjoyed in their open-air inner courtyard patio. First recipe from new assistant-brewer Tyler, we were told by our server, Anna.

Was poured in a tulip-style glass, perhaps a 12oz fill. Color was a clear, deep chestnut/mahogany hue. Minimal carbo espied within, and the bier was topped by a thin, wispy, light tan layer of bubbles. Belgian lacing was quite nice. Very malty nose, hints at sweetness, with a solid base of caramel evident. Bier itself was silky smooth on the tongue, while the body was easily medium-plus, bordering on chewiness. A nice feel, oh yeah.

Flavors kicks off with lots of sweetness, brown-sugar like, yet not cloying at all. Caramel and toffee are right up front, too. Hoppiness is not in-your-face strong, but still easily noticeable, with rindy, piney characteristics. Hints of dark fruit waft about on the palate, and the abv is well up there. Gives me the impression of a rum-soaked fruit cake. Overall, malt is more pronounced than the hoppage, though it is a lovely combo. Scarily drinkable, despite the high alcohol content. Nice job, Tyler!


overall: 4.3
appearance: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5


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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.34/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage on-tap the other night.

Pours into a snifter, a brownish color with reddish hues up to the light, smallish head with not much lacing, after swirling in the glass you can make out some legs though.

Smell has a nice deep malt aroma with a good amount of dark fruit, picking up a bit of sweetness and molasses.

Taste blends just the right amount of sweetness, dark fruit and a bit of roasted malt, at this age pretty much all the hop presence has fades but fortunately this is not an overly sweet or cloying barleywine, the heat is barely evident and I get no warming sensation which is quite surprising.

A good barleywine, wish I had the chance to get a couple bottles of it but at least I enjoyed it on tap for a ghoulishly good time.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.26/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy brown with murky red highlights when held to light. Smallish off white head dissipates quickly. Smells of dark dried fruit, caramel, toffee slight alcohol. Taste is sweet, a bit hot, syrupy dried fruit and caramel. Aftertaste of alcohol and a slight hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is syrupy Body is thick, carbonation is ample. Great sipper Still my favorite brewpub!

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Photo of Bicyclette
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

It's Decadent on a cool, damp eve...

Portsmouth has a cask of Barleywine Ale on Bourbon Oak that they're pouring from one of the downstairs casks. Personally, I am *so* partial to Bourbon finishing...

Lots of Bourbon fragrance. Lightly acidic with a lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Bold but not overwhelming malt. Little chocolate instead of the frequent burnt toast. Just enough hops to balance the flavor a bit.

Finish is warming, spicy and mellow at the same time.

Head was a billowy while foam with reasonable lasting power. Chestnut brown in color and nearly opaque.

On cask for maybe a couple more days... Maybe it'll still be here when it rains next.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage: Poured a nice golden amber color with good carbonation and a dirty white head.Nose is toffee, booze, caramel and chocolate. Taste is a whirlwind of flavor with chocolate being up front then caramel, toffee,booze. Mouthfeel is nice, balanced but still hot after 3 years. Good bwine indeed!!!

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2007

Pours mahogany with crimson hues and a half inch head of off-white. The humble layer of suds retreated quickly leaving barely a trace on the surface and zero lacework.
Aromatics are malty, figgy, and caramel stuffed.
Tropical fruit lay underneath a massive malt presence, and layers of toffee, wet leather, and nougat rise up as it warms.
Very much in the English vein in the nose.
Creamy, sticky and chewy mouthfeel. Substantial.
Raisins, plump malt, chewy caramel, toffee and alcohol lead off the pallet.
The throat warms as residuals and a firm bitterness linger and ripe fruit pulls through.
Finishes with a blend of resinous pine, boozy alcohol, and leathery malt.

This bottle at cellar temperature is superior to the draught version served fresh and cold.

Not even close to peaking.

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Photo of oberon
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brought this home from my trip to New England earlier this month,poured into an oversized wine glass a deep burgundy/brown color with a thinner but pretty well sustained white head.Deep fruit in the nose like prune,raisin,and sweet cherry some sweet alcohol and a passing whif of leather,bid and sweet up front with that dark fruit and brown sugar coming through that leather component is more pronounced on the palate a decent dose of resiny hop finishes it off.It packs a malty punch it made me sleepy like alot of the style do,I liked the hop punch it gave in the finish,pretty darn good.

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Photo of claspada
4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2008 bottle I believe from my memory; sampled Spring 2013.

Pours a deep copper color with a medium sized off white head that recedes rather rapidly to leave some spotty lacing.

Aromas begin with sweet caramel maltiness, dark fruits (figs and dates), ripened red fruits and a slight red grape vinious note which emerges more as it warms.

The tastes begin with the same sweet caramel maltiness, ripened red fruits, toffee, brown sugar and some lingering, slightly oxidized sherry character.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with moderate to low carbonation. Finish is farily sweet thanks to the substantial age. and a touch of bitterness to the finish.

Overall this was a very quality American Barleywine. At this point it reminds me more of an English style because of the lack of hop character but that is to be expected from the advanced age. Reminds me a great deal of an aged Alaskan Barleywine, which is great praise because I think that is the best American Barleywine on the planet.

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Photo of MrMonkey
4.07/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on tap at the brewery.

Pours a really deep mahogany with some brighter red highlights. No head initially, but after a couple of sips and some gentle swirling a one finger off-white head forms that faded slowly and left a thin cap. No lacing at all.

Nose of fruity esters, some caramel, toffee maybe?, and some dark fruits like raisins or plums. Definite alcohol presence.

Taste is moderately sweet, with some caramel/toffee malts up front followed by sweet dark fruits and a slightly sour finish. A big alcohol warming in the finish, but it just beckons for another sip.

Medium-bodied and smooth with light carbonation; it coats the mouth a bit, but without being overly sticky or syrupy.

Pretty drinkable for such a big beer. I could enjoy a couple of these at home, but one is enough given the ABV and the fact that I need to drive home.

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Photo of Deuane
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to FooFaa for sharing his GAtM booty---->from the "Maine" man Joepais!

A-Deep reddish-brown with some ruby highlights along the edges. A small off-white head disappears to a whisper of a veil and leaves spotty lace.

S-Sweet caramel and toffee with brown sugar all smothering a bowl of fresh cut oranges.

T-Brown sugar covered oranges with a lovely underlying toffee/burnt caramel roastiness. Some astringency from dark fruit in the drying finish.

M-Medium-heavy bodied and VERY smooth! Nice lingering flavours with a candy like effect.

D-I like the heavy handed orange flavour pairing with the toasted caramel. Like a Christmas cookie in a glass!

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 bottled from tap. Received from CooperEllis. John says he thinks this is an "oaked" variety that wasn't available for too long... I don't have the chutzpah to enter this in as a "new" beer... but I will certainly review it as a damn fine Barleywine.

Clear deep amber... long lasting off white head... plenty of caramel and something that I perceive as vanilla... good bitterness up front... nice hints of toffee and even some cocoa.. some pronounced dark dried fruits make me think of sweet cherries... minor citrus hoppiness shows mid-late palate and lingers to meld well with a bit of brown sugar essence... body is about perfect for the style... carbonation seems a tad lacking, but no real complaints.... this honestly reminds me of Full Sail's Old Boardhead with a solid year in the bottle.

If somebody at Portsmouth is reading this and can comment to the "oaked" character, please message me... I would love to hear from one of the professionals.

Thanks again John... I thoroughly enjoyed this one... That said, I am keeping it on my wants... I want another or 3.

All 4's... but probably deserves more.

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Photo of portia99
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased direct from the brewery. Poured into a Portsmouth goblet. Sorry Chris...couldn't stare at this in my fridge any longer and had to crack it open...

A - Pours a dark brown color with attractive amber highlights around the edges and a thin half finger of cream colored foam that falls quickly to a thick layer and collar - both of which never disappear thru the glass. Some sparse, loose lacing decorates the glass too as the beer level sinks to the bottom.

S - Rich caramel aroma with some light molasses. Some light citrusy hops that fade out and a bit of bready, maybe a touch yeasty aromas too. Aroma is on the low side in intensity...really need to get your nose down in the glass to appreciate it.

T - Molasses and dark caramel are very much out in front of the flavors. A bit of fruitiness (I'm thinking cherry, but not sure) with a slightly tart touch come next. Nice touches of brown sugar, a quick hit of alcohol flavor and warmth, the smallest hint of vanilla kicks in too...and as it warms I think I'm tasting a bit of coffee too. Hop bitterness is really nice in this one. The bitterness is at a medium level that really blends nicely with the sweet, sugary malts at the base. It provides a good offset to balance things out but doesn't interfere with the malt flavors at all. You can catch all of the malt complexities without them getting lost in the hops.

M - Medium bodied...not as thick or heavy as I expected (and maybe desire in a barleywine). There is enough thickness so the beer sits on the tongue and coats the mouth nicely with all of the various sweet, caramelly, sugary flavors found in this one. Carbonation is on the light side, which fits perfectly here. Slightly foamy at first, but resulting in a smooth, creamy feel. A bit of alcohol warmth to round things out.

D - Really liking this barleywine. Lots of complexity in the malt flavors...nice balanced and complementary hop presence. After nearly completing the bomber of this, I'm feeling it a bit (not complaining tho), but the alcohol really gave just the right amount of presence...I really knew it was there, but it wasn't hot or distracting...really just enhanced the flavor and feel. Overall, very nice barleywine...gotta get a growler of this next time it shows up at the pub on tap.

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Photo of drseamus
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a good beer, but it wasn't among the best barleywines I've had. The body was dark red with a bit of white lacing on the surface. The aroma isn't very strong at all with a slight amount of sweetness and some slight bitterness that because more apparent as the beer warmed. The flavor is pretty sweet and very malty overall with only a slight bitterness to balance. There are good caramel notes. It is a bit light bodied for a barleywine but it still fits. I'd definitely drink this again but it's not the best I've had.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

64 oz growler into several glasses. Thanks go to ClockWorkorange for bringing this to a recent tasting.

Pours a deep hazy amber, with a thin covering of off-white foamy head. Retains with some fizzy wisps across the top, leaving a good bit of spotty lacing behind that coats the sides of the glass. The aroma is deep with fruit and bread, and caramel sweetness. This was aged for approximately one year, so the American hop profile has been reduced to some lighter herbal accents. There's a stiff waft of heat as well but it doesn't seem too overpowering considering that this has a nearly 12% ABV.

The taste is thick with roasted malts but is off-set nicely by some much sweeter accents of toffee and molasses. Some fruity notes and herbal hops work themselves in as well, giving this some earthy background character. Warmth and roast linger well in the finish, with a good bit of leftover stickiness hanging around as well. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a chewy and viscous nature to that falls right in line with the heftier flavors that are involved in this. The heavier ABV is present to a degree but this is one of those ones that is more workable with one's palate in smaller quantities.

Even with some age on it and the hops having faded a good bit, this was still some tasty stuff. Lots of depth and richness here, with a pretty good drinkibility on it for such a large Barleywine.

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Photo of rayjay
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

straffordmilitia hooked up this as an extra.

If this is an American Barleywine, I'm Miles Davis. This is a sticky, sweet, British style concoction. Very malty with lots of carmel malt. Viscosity does remain very in-check for the amount of unfermented sugar in this guy (think hummingbird nectar). Extremely similar in style to Old Nick. Aroma is straight up carmel, Christmas fruit cake with extra dates and apricots, mild alcohol and phenols but no real booze, and hops hanging on for dear life and shouting to try to be heard. No Chico yeast here...British esters are all over this one. So much so that I really wish it was made with floor malts for the full effect. Chewy. One thing is (thankfully) missing that really should be here: heat; a testament to the commitment of the brewers to hold beer in a tank extra long and crowd precious capacity. Just for the sake of this beer. I'll drink to that. The fallout is an epic battle over bitter vs sweet, the point when the hops finally start to show too. It peaks, the bitterness eventually fades, and sweetness lingers; the whole aftertaste experience lasts over a minute and really is where the beer shows it's elegance. The boldest statement is the aroma, powerful like a cigar.

Thanks and cheers!

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Photo of cleeze
3.82/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had it at the brew pub.

poured s beautiful ruby/amber color. With barely any head but it had nice lacing

smell was kind of sweet and malty. Great combo!

Taste was sweet at first which I loved! Sweet up front , maybe grapey. Then followed by a pleasant warming sensation from the good ole 11.5%! With a good bitter hoppy after taste

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Photo of Flounder57
3.76/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle was poured into a large snifter.

Appearance: This beer poured an off white head that reduced to a thin layer. It is a dark ruby brown color with no clarity, but small by bubbles can be seen coming up the side of the glass.

Smell: Caramel and toasted malts, dark fruits, and booze.

Taste: Caramel, biscuity, toffee, boozy, tingly, dark fruits, some banana, and tingly hops.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, full bodied, boozy, medium carbonation, and nice and warming.

Overall: Pretty solid barleywine that I have enjoyed on draft and bottles. I love stopping by here on the way through Portsmouth on the way to OOB.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to clockworkorange for sharing this growler
poured chilled into a 1/2 pint. The growler had been aged for approx 1 yr - so take it with a grain of salt

A - Ruddy brown, chestnut hued with good clarity and very thin head

S - Fruity, caramel, toasted malt and mild floral esters w/ subtle alcohol notes

M - A dry slightly spiced and strong feel, substantial body w/ sweet middle and mild bitterness. The sweetness is pretty prominent 1/2 way in w/ hints of tangy fruitiness from the yeast and caramel textured malt w/ mild residual sweetness

T - Taste is nutty, dry and slightly fruit tinged w/ toasted and caramel malt notes very dominant and mildly alcohol tasting w/ more stone fruit and toffee-like essence that lasts into the finish. The flavor has plenty of caramel sweetness and subtle berry effects from the yeast throughout

D - I appreciated sampling this barleywine, which is pretty tasty in small doses, at 11%+ you can't say it is highly drinkable, yet for the style I consider this a barleywine I wouldn't mind having again. It does suffer from a bit too much malt , but for those who enjoy malt bombs I recommend this

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Photo of EnronCFO
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. pour into a tulip glass at the brewery

A: Very dark brown, slight tinges of red at the edges. In the dim lights at the brewery, looked almost black. Only a slight head. Beer really coats the glass.

S: Very sweet, hard to believe it's a 100+ IBU beer, almost no hops in the smell. Brown sugar and alcohol.

T: Similar to the smell, very sweet, no hop bitterness. Booze is very present up front, but the finish is syrupy sweet.

M: When it first hits your mouth, it's almost abrasive as you have to adjust to alcohol and sweetness. Even as it warmed, every sip required a second to hold it in your mouth to let the flavors overcome the alcohol. Leaves a pleasing coating on your tongue.

D: Could not drink more than one of these and be able to drive, so definitely takes a hit there. Really needs to warm up to be able to drink with any ease.

I had this the day after I tried Treblehook at Redhook. Treblehook is like a beginner's Barleywine next to this big boy. Looking forward to drinking some more, will be sure to let it warm up before drinking next time.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a PB snifter.

Deep brown with a shade of garnet beneath a layer of creamy, light brown head. Delicate lacing with decent retention. Aged, vinous fruity esters: lemon, orange, plum, grape, red cherry. Pine-filled hops with a near intense nose of alcohol. Toasted malts that are soon overtaken by a pine and floral hop character. Assertive, young fruit flavors: plum, grape, and red apple that are overtaken by a sharp, acidic alcohol presence. The aftertaste includes whiskey, rough pine, and slightly unbalanced, aged fruity esters. Full bodied; somewhat smooth prior to a gaseously slick mouthfeel caused by the waves of young alcohol. Flavorful, but too young and aggressive to order another glass.

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Portsmouth Barleywine from Portsmouth Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 32 ratings.