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Bison Organic Barleywine Ale - Bison Brewing

Not Rated.
Bison Organic Barleywine AleBison Organic Barleywine Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

57 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 57
Reviews: 51
rAvg: 3.59
pDev: 15.04%
Wants: 1
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Bison Brewing visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: nickss on 04-07-2006

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 57 | Reviews: 51
Photo of tempest
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Opened a bottle from 2009. Needed a dessert beer and this did the trick for the most part. It was a bit aggressive for chocolate brownies, but probably would have gone well with stinky cheese and preserves. At first, I wasn't sure about this beer, but I enjoyed it the more it warmed up. Like I said, it's aggressive. There's a big fruity sweet malt flavor followed by a big kick of hops. The malts really dominate with plum and caramel candy followed by crisp apple (not cider) and cherries. There's a bit of smooth alcohol heat too, like you'd expect in an 8-yr scotch. I'd have hoped that were gone after a year in the cellar, but it still added to the complexity. All in all, a barleywine worth trying. Though I might give it two years next time.

Photo of barleywinefiend
2.97/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a watery amber color with a dirty white head and decent carbonation. Smelled of some dried fruit, maybe some caramel. Taste was sordove weak and confusing, not very compex at all. Lots of earthiness and graininess as expected from a organic brew. It had a skunky taste to it that I can not put my finger on. It was sordove soured and bitter, I have had some organic barleywines before and they were much better. Expected more since I loved Bisons Choc Stout.

Photo of srandycarter
3.49/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2005 Vintage

A - Off white, big bubbled head, about .5 inches, dissipates to ring and a little foam fast. Color of raw apple cider.

S - Light on smell, mostly cooked fruit and hint of sweet malt.

T - Meaty ccoked fruit, booze.

M - Medium body, somewhat slick and syrupy in the coating. Good carbonation, bitter of an off bitter twang at finish.

D - Too much tiring flavor to do a long time.

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage

Pours a very clear dark copper color with a tan, large-bubbled head. Average retention with nice lacing.

Nose is quite pleasant with alot of caramely sweet malts and a heavy dose of fruitiness - green apples, plums and raisins. Hops are there with some floral and grassy notes, but have most certainly faded over the past 4 years. Surprisingly little oxidation is evident, still smells pretty fresh.

Sweet toffee and caramel maltiness are decently balanced with some hop and fruit flavors. After having a couple other Bison offerings, this one has been the most impressive. A bit of graham cracker and smokiness come out more as it warms. Slightly oxidized and a bit thin, but it has held up well. An enjoyable drinking experience!

Photo of tmoneyba
3.72/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle From Jungle Jim's.

Poured clear copper color with an average off-white frothy head that motly lasted with good lacing. Moderate sour citrus, sweet malt and alcohol aroma. Medium body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation. Medium balanced bittersweet flavor with a medium bittersweet finish of moderate duration.

I would share this with a freind.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I grabbed this one out of the cellar yesterday to see how it held up. This was a vintage 07 bottle that I had been waiting to take a try with. Served at a nice fifty degrees and poured into a snifter, this one was enjoyed on 04/12/2009.



The pour was decent, though a bit lifeless for me. Rich amber color, almost copper in hue with a nice touch of cloudiness to it that really gave it a very thick look, nearly opaque at times. No real head though, and it almost looked flat at first pour, not really encouraged right off the bat. The aroma was rich and sweet. Nice notes of bready malts, hints of almost honey like notes and a nice fruit touch toward the finish. The flavor though really perked me up a bit. Sweet, mellow, with all notes of ABV long gone by the wayside. Lots of biscuit like notes, a touch of faded hops and a load of grain all combined to really give quite a nice show overall. Very impressed here with the way it tasted, especially in the finish, which was again very sweet, and nearly perfectly placed. An easy sipper I almost went through this one too quickly as it had mellowed to the point of being equally rich and subtle.



Overall a very solid offering here that has aged very well. I would have no issue with trying this one again, much better with a couple years on it I have to admit.

Photo of Wasatch
3.83/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice clean/clear ruby amber color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy off-white head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, sweet, with some cherries. The taste is malty/sweet, slight cherry flavour. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well. Drinkable, a tasty BW for sure.

Photo of nick76
3.34/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The aroma is sweet and metallic with alcohol, citrus hops, and caramel. The appearance is amber with an average head. The flavor is like the aroma but also has a slight cardboard taste. The palate is smooth but thin. Overall, its a disappointment but drinkable.

Photo of magictrokini
2.26/5  rDev -37%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

With the exceptions of St. Peter's offereings and Butte Creek's Organic Revolution X, the constant problem with organics seems to be a flat, wooden flavor. This beer is no different. Murky brown pour with no head. Aroma of caramel malt, grassy hops, and state bread. Wooden flavor, with a heaping of earthy malt and a hoppy finish. There is some toffee in there, as advertised, but it is blended with a syrupy, dirty mess.

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
1.59/5  rDev -55.7%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

22oz bomber from 2005 consumed Nov. 2006. Dark copper color with thin off white head. Medium strength malty and fruity aroma. Taste is sweet with some malt complexity. There's some dark fruit like cherries or dates along with roasted malts. Near the finish some bitterness wells up and becomes overly grassy during the aftertaste. The finish begins to take on the nasty flavor of cough syrup. Not good. The aroma too. I haven't had an English Style Barleywine that taste like this. The grassiness and the cough syrup made me pour about half down the drain. Really far from good. Yet anther in a long line of disappointing organic beers.

Photo of bruachan
3.96/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

nice head. great, merengue creamy goodness (oh, and it sticks)

nice red and tobacco sunburst color. very nice, actually. my first sniff brings caramelized sugars and deep, dark fruits. hot, too. not as dynamic as it could be, however

molasses flavors and port. actually it tastes almost exactly like a batch of BW i brewed to which i added a bottle of port. it tastes stronger than 9.5%, to be honest: hot, chesthairgrowing

thick and brownsugary. i almost feel i am drinking caramelized cane juice

Photo of joshwlt
4.05/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(2005 vintage, 3 years old) Poured into a goblet it doesn't produce much of a head at all... On my second pour even after shaking the bottle a bit I only could get maybe half an inch of a lightly browned head that didn't last long. Some strings of lace. Has a ruby peach tea color. Smells slightly sherry-like... currant, a little bit of alcohol and sweet caramel malt actually accompanies the smell, which made me think there would be a bevy of caramel malt when tasting, but is misleading. Hits the mouth with salt... yes salt and pepper... Spicy hop... not grapefruit, not piney, not even earthy just peppery spice is created by the alcohol and hop profile. It is immediately followed by a light raisin, liiight caramel malt, and buttery oiliness is left on the lips. The moutfeel is great in this beer, which isn't usually something you can rave about but this is just interesting because while all the flavors are light the mouthfeel is actually quite an experience. Again starts off peppery tingly followed by a juicy malt and dark fruitiness and finishes with a tea leaf-like dryness on the tongue, but you can lick your lips to find a buttery oiliness. I think this beer is great; most great beers in my book have 5 or so moderate to bold noticeable flavors intermingling; this however, has multiple light characteristics dancing around and deserves thought, and maybe even solitude. Drinks quickly and leaves you feeling good, alcohol is not too noticeable except in maybe the smell or the mouthfeel but certainly do not taste ethanol even with such light characteristics in this beer.

Photo of DIM
3.9/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: This was a clear, light golden coppery color. The head is small and light tan in color.

s: This is subdued with an unusual chocolate element. Sweet notes of vanilla and toffee along with fruity aromas of cherries and some grapefruity hops. The alcohol comes on a bit too strong.

t: This barleywine is subtle and approachable. Toffee flavors are the biggest part of this one. At times, flavors of apple blossoms, vanilla, and some grapefruity hops emerge. The alcohol is maked better here than in the nose.

m: This has a fantastic velvety body and gentle but very active carbonation.

d: Overall, this a tad bland. There isn't anything offensive here, I just wish there had been more.

Photo of Vancer
2.68/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Crisp looking amber oak pour, with a semi-frothy ivory head, it gives a good go at lacing the ol' Cordendork tulip.

Earthy, woody aroma - not the standard Barleywine sweet caramel. Let's check the quaff:

A bit harsh cut of woody alcohol, not the best bw I've had by a long means. Tastes a bit like year old cough syrup.Not a good BW, or is it this organic fad??

So far, I've never been impressed with organic brews, and Bison has not changed my view.

Photo of scottoale
3.68/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2005 Vintage

From a 22oz. brown bomber, pours a dark hazelnut brown ale with a two-finger tan colored head.

Smells of caramel and toffee with notes of chocolate and some roastiness.

Cereal and grainy cracked malt with plenty of sweetness dominates. Chocolate comes in with some nutty roastiness, winding down with a tea and tobacco bittery finish. Definetly an English style to this here barleywine.

Medium-plus body with it's 9.5% ABV really well masked. Mouthfeel is ok, nothing really note worthy...drinkability is above average with good taste. Definetly worth a try, though not exceptional.

Photo of russpowell
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours amber with 2 fingers of fluffy sand colored head. Super lacing & above average head retention

S: Slight breadyness, caramel brown sugar, & slight smokeyness & fruittyness

T: Breadyness, caramel, pralines, Canadian Whisky & herbal hops up front. Dryness, slight boozeyness, & toffee as this warms. Fruittyness, especially plums & figs, dryness & brown sugar as this warms. Finishes fruitty, with a touch of apple pie & a kiss of alcohol

MF: Chewy, medium bodied with medium carbonation

Good drinkability, a solid English BW

Photo of Shaw
4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Label says it's from 2005. I'm drinking it in April 2008.

It pours a lovely deep amber in color with a nice off-white head that turns into a few chunks, as it were.

It has a nice aroma of biscuits and herbal hops.

The taste is a lot stronger than I was expecting for an English Barleywine. This is a nicely bitter beer with lots of bready flavors that mix with sharpness from the hops. And it has a wonderful warming effect after swallowing, thanks to the high alcohol level.

The body is slick, but with a nice amount of substance.

Overall this is an excellent barleywine, American or British, and is well worth seeking out. Another great beer from Bison.

Photo of ultralarry2006
3.8/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle from 2005 release. Leaves less than one finger of a tan head that does not have much retention, and it leaves only isolated spots of lacing. Body is an orange amber.

Smell - apples, butterscotch, medicinal alcohol, spicy alcohol, some caramel, and some maltbread. From the overly sweet aroma, I would guess that this ale has changed some from its originally intended taste, but I'm not sure.

Taste - like the smell. A big wash of overly sweet apples and butterscotch with spicy and medicinal alcohol. Some caramel, and some maltbread, and there is a slight hint of lemon in the middle, and on the finish. Again, like the smell, I'm sure the flavor has faded, or at least devolved from three years ago.

Mouthfeel - medium to full bodied, and semi-dry.

Drinkability - this is a good ale, but not a great one, at least not when it is three years old. Its high abv also limits sessionability. I would like to give this another shot with a more recent release.

Photo of IntriqKen
2.51/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Dark amber with a beautiful reddish hue when held to the light. Half finger head melts quickly.

Aroma is too subdued....pale malt...a tiny bit of caramel...a bit of alcohol.

Taste is almost bland for a barleywine. A little caramel...a little toasted amber malt...too little hops...a touch of alcohol.

Not bad...just disappointing and forgetable as soon as the glass is empty if you make it that far.

Photo of WesWes
3.5/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a cloudy, dark amber color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a warm, malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, roasted, and Munich Malts. It's a bit sweet smelling with a nice hop balance. The taste is decent as well. It has a bitter hop taste that really sticks out over a palate of roasted and crystal malts. It's rich and flavorful, while warming in the finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate/good carbonation. This is an above average beer, but I'm not in love with it. There are many other barleywines in the market that I'd rather have.

Photo of dfillius
3.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass. Bottle says this is the 2005 rendition, I drank it in October of 2007.
A: Cloudy, orange-red-amber hue. Very little, thin head; just a tiny ring of it.
S: Toffee nose, alcohol undertones as well.
T: Sweet with nice bitterness on edge of tongue. Sweetness in the midle of my tongue. Sweetness is only not cloyingdue to the bitterness. The flavors are not tied together though, they are very independent and seperate on the palate.
M: Fizzy on the middle, drying on edges. Nice syrupy sweetness all around.
D: I could enjoy another but...

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.56/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2005 Edition. Polished persimmon with a warm maraschino cherry blush. The upper third of the snifter is filled with a beautiful chunk of foam that is the color of peanut shells. I love the clotted cream look and the impressive amount of lace that is beginning to appear on the sloping sides of the glass. Very nice.

I'm less enthusiastic about the beer's nose. On the positive side of the ledger, there's almost no alcohol emanating from the glass. On the negative side, BOBA lacks power, depth and breadth. A little toffee, a little fruit... that's about it. English barleywine is the correct call because there's much more maltiness than hoppiness goin' on.

The aroma score is nearly the next one down. The flavor score is nearly the next one up. This big ale improves a little when it comes time for taste bud submersion, but it still lacks the guts that all good barleywines need to have. It's too simple, too shallow. Although the alcohol isn't aggressive for most of the mouthful, the shortage of flavor means that it appears on the finish with more heat than is desired.

As far as specifics.... candied cherries and oranges swimming in caramel sauce and grain alcohol. There are plenty of alpha acids floating around, with hop bitterness (not necessarily good hop flavor) keeping abreast of malt sweetness at all points along the journey. As far as additional ingredients, does anyone really think that we don't know what 'organic cane juice' is? It's called sugar.

The mouthfeel needs to be more full and more sticky. Maybe it's the solvent-like properties of the unmasked alcohol, but I like my barleywines to be more lush and more lingering than this.

With a few notable exceptions (especially their fabulous Farmhouse Ale), Bison Brewing is an also-ran in the highly competitive world of California craft beer. I can think of any number of left coast barleywines that I like more than I like this one.

Photo of nvsblman
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Orange-ish brown in color with about a finger of very light brown head. Smells sweet with a bit of flower and orange rind. Taste is strongly caramel and toffee. Also a little fruity with a light bitterness. Mouthfeel is slightly dry and very smooth. Pretty easy to drink for it's strength.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.58/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Label claims it is a 2005 vintage. Orange, clean looking with a minimal smell plus alcohol. Taste is some toffee as promised by the label but still thin. As it warmed it got better but this just didn’t do it for me. I wonder if the fact that it is organic has anything to do with the lack of "oomph" in the taste.

Photo of bort11
3.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Received as part of the New Anniversary Bomber Bif, thanks to Solomon420.

22 oz bottle, 2005 vintage. Poured into a tulip glass. Fluffy khaki tan head that has a moderate lacing. Color is a dark reddish orange.
Smell is slightly bitter toffee flavor. A little buttery. Taste has more caramel malted flavor that finishes with a mild hops bitterness. Hops are more floral than citric.
Mouthfeel is a little thin, but the carbonation gives a smooth creaminess. Not too bad, goes down pretty smooth. Don't really feel the alcohol...much.

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Bison Organic Barleywine Ale from Bison Brewing
82 out of 100 based on 57 ratings.