Wooden Hell - Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery

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Wooden HellWooden Hell

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BA SCORE
98
world-class

88 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 88
Hads: 151
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 4.86%
Wants: 577
Gots: 8 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mcallister on 04-29-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

GABF 2006 Strong Barrel Aged Bronze, Woodford Reserve Barrel Aged Barleywine
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 88 | Hads: 151
Photo of scottfrie
4.85/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Holy hell it’s a Wooden Hell! A huge thank you to Chad for sharing his bottle. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a dark woody brown with a thin dark-tan head that faded into a bubbly collar.
S: Complex notes of raisins, vanilla, warming alcohol and a bit of dark fruit come to my nose.
T: Vanilla, toffee, milk chocolate, barrel spices, earthy hops, and spicy bourbon are easy to pick out. This beer is smooth as hell. It’s also has a subtle sweetness and a touch of warming alcohol in the finish.
M: Really creamy and smooth without an oily or greasy mouthfeel. The body is thick and the carbonation is low.
O: This is one super complex brew and just amazingly complex and smooth. Wooden Hell definitely lives up to the hype. Thanks again for sharing, Chad. (764 characters)

Photo of jampics2
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big huge thanks to Paul AKA Dr. Gonzo for the bottle share at our pre-DLD tasting. I got a few oz's and my wife was nice enough to give me most of her pour too. Served at generally room temp into a snifter.

This beer looks nice in the glass. There's a great color - a mixture of copper, amber, chesnut and garnet swirled and decadant looking. Next to no head,- no, make that no head, but that's OK considering the ABV and time spent in the barrel. I'd like for a bit of foam, even a soapy bubble or two, though to make this look less dead.

The smell is intoxicating! There's a huge barrel presence that is expressive and really savory. I get notes of oak, a touch of tannin, some bourbon, and a hint of vanilla atop a nice bed of caramel, burned sugar, toffee and a touch of oxidation. Aside from the bourbon, there's no booze in the nose. Very close to perfection but could be a bit bolder.

The taste is equally impressive. This has aged like a champion and is smooth and silky. The typical Barleywine notes of caramelized sugar and dark fruit start the experience with some sweet notes. Then, the barrel transitions the brew from basic to brilliant. A touch of brown sugar and maple is eclipsed by bourbon and oak. There's a touch of vanilla and just a hint of booze that pairs well with the mild hop bitterness. Some mild oxidation gives sherry notes to the sweet finish. Any rough edges have been sanded by time. This is one giant progressing flavor experience, not separate little bits here or there. On second thought, impressive is weak - this is fantastic!

The mouthfeel knocks me back down to Earth a bit from the high of the flavor. The beer is medium bodied but could have just a bit more heft. The carbonation is just a touch high as well. I'm in love with Kuhnhenn's BA Barleywine and, sure, it's a 15% but has just a certain feel I wish was present here - slick and syrupy but not still and slimey. But the hint of booze at the end is held in check and this finishes well.

Overall, there's not much to say other than this is a worthy beer. I'm not sure it's worth the huge auction prices or trading half a cellar, as there are a few (MOAS/TPS and Kuhnhenn BA BW) that are more easily obtained and just as good. But I highly encourage everyone to find someone as cool as Paul to share a bottle with you! Thanks again for the chance to try a brew I never thought I'd cross paths with! (2,401 characters)

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.72/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured up by the awesomeness that is Bryan Shimkos at pre-DLD festivites.

A - It pours a sappy maple-amber hue, and is capped with a polite film of wispy tan micro-froth.

S - Excellent nose; I immediately think of the candy confection called 'turtles'. Notes of toffee, caramel, buttery oak, hazelnut-chocolate and vanilla are astonishingly integrated.

T - My biggest impression is that of mild surprise: despite the candy-like elements of the nose, the flavor is not terribly sweet, given the style. It is more like a collection of sweet-type flavors, expressed with unusual reserve. The relative dryness afforded by the wood makes for sublime and delectable complexity. In addition to the continuation of 'turtle' notes found in the aroma, there is an added impression of maple syrup, and freshly charred wood barrel which seems distinctly apparent.

M - The feel is silky-smooth and softly carbonated, and is quite nice. But it still can't hang with a good JW Lees.

O - Fantastic beer, justifiably esteemed. (1,014 characters)

Photo of Lunch
4.55/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Matt (Huhzubendah) happened upon this bottle and figured that we might as well give it a try. Shared generously by Matt at a recent tasting at his manor amongst a fine goddamn group of freaks and noblemen.

Well...goddamn...I never thought that I would get a chance to try this beer as I had written it off long ago. I honestly did not go into this tasting thinking that this would live up to the hype that rarity tends to create. Luckily this guy was very wrong.

As I poured the beer into my Cigar City snifter, I was greeted with a rich aroma of bourbon and some sweet caramel malt. The beer was a beautiful dark caramel with some golden hues. More head than I expected (this is always a good thing...am I right or am I right?). The nose also showed notes of toffee and wood and was very rich and extremely complex.

The taste was certainly wonderful and there was not a hint of oxidation which was also a surprise. Alcohol was certainly minimal and never impeded the flavor or drinkability. Shit is nice as the kids say. Loads of malts with rich layers of caramel, toffee, oak, vanilla and wood. Bourbon and a candied sugar surrounds the flavors.

A very full bodied adult beverage that is slightly syrupy and sticky with a perfect carbonation. This was a great experience and about goddamn time that Huhzubendah brought something tasty to a tasting (just kidding...but not really)

Thanks again Matt for sharing this rare treat at one of his epic (I don't legitimately use this term) tastings and I must say that I'm still a little hard. (1,542 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
4.59/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Whoa, bottle opened by Huhzubendah at his place this weekend with some other fine beers. Poured into a wine glass.

There are some beers that you don't think you are going to ever sample or get, and then through some unknown mechanism of karma or generosity or both you find yourself holding a glass of Wooden Hell with a few other guys. It was an awesome experience and great night overall. Also, WH is the best barleywine I've ever had.

Beer is pretty dark brown, mostly clear with a thin off white head of small bubbles, not much retention but it leaves some lacing behind.

Aroma is very impressive. Sweet, sugar, caramel followed by some liquor / bourbon aromas. Some oakiness and mild vanilla. Very inviting aroma.

Beer is medium bodied, not very carbonated on the palate, overall the lead off is this nice candied flavor that fills the palate and balances the beer well with the mild bitterness at the finish. The early midpalate is a liquory / bourbon flavor that fills out the beer without making it boozy, really drinkable. Very balanced, very great. Even my wife liked it when she took a sip and she doesn't like barleywines at all. (1,147 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.94/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From 03/19/11 notes. HUGE thanks to Huhzubendah for sharing this one; thanks Matthew, never thought I'd get to try this one! Served in a tulip.

a - Pours a somewhat clear medium-brown color with one inch of off white head and very light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some sweet molasses or sugar. Light oxidation evident but doesn't take anything away from the smell. Absolutely amazing smell.

t - Tastes of vanilla, caramel malts, oak, bourbon, tofee, and syrup/molasses to sweeten the taste a little bit. Again, the taste is amazing and perfect for a barleywine.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. The body is super smooth and creamy, and no real hotness from the bourbno at all. Felt like I could have drank a whole bottle by myself, and would want to.

d - I was a little afraid that this one wouldn't live up to the hype, but it really did. I enjoy barleywines quite a bit and love MoaS, and this one was much better in my opinion; it's one of the best beers I've ever had. The smell and taste were such a great combination of caramel, vanilla, and bourbon, and the mouthfeel was perfect. Very glad I got to try this one. (1,179 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.64/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A ginormous amount of thanks to Huhzubendah for sharing this bottle. Served in a Bruery tulip.

The pours yields a moderately-dark brown elixir that borders on copper and seems to shine. There is a nice half-finger head that forms after the pour, sticking around for a bit of time. A few slight rings of lacing stick to the glass as it goes down. The nose is absolutely phenomenal. Just wow. It starts off with a strong showing of caramelized sugar and is then followed up by very, very smooth notes of bourbon and the accompanying oak and light vanilla. Slide notes of oxidation carry over well and fit right in.

Flavor is ridiculously good. The strong notes of caramel and brown sugar push to the front and meld beautifully with bourbon undertones. Really quite smooth. A bit of sweetness fades into very light amounts of alcohol alongside fine bourbon. Very mild oak presence pairs with a decent amount of vanilla. The mouthfeel really makes this beer. It's uber-smooth with just a touch of alcohol warmth. Age has treated this beer really, really well.

This was an incredible experience, and huge thanks go out to Matt for sharing this with us. This was perhaps the best barleywine that I've ever had, and I was supremely happy to share it amongst a fine group of friends. Cheers. (1,287 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A huge thank you to David for hooking me up with this rare gem. I shared with this with a few good buddies yesterday.

Served in my Cantillon tulip.

The beer appears dark brown and mildly hazy. Crimson and sunburst highlights are evident as the light peaks through the liquid. It's slightly hazy but certainly not opaque, as one can see through the body to some degree. The head measures approximately a quarter inch and leaves some good lacing on the glass.

The aroma is fabulous, with scents of sugary caramels and candies, vanilla, oak, malt, and bourbon.

The flavor is exceptional. Vanilla and oak meld beautifully with a light bourbon note. Sugary sweet caramel tones are amazingly tasty. This is one of the only barleywines I have ever had that has a prominent sweetness about it, yet would never become cloying. Brown sugar and malt flavors are supremely enjoyable.

Wooden Hell really shines in the feel department. Ridiculously smooth, this beer goes down effortlessly. Alcohol content is an afterthought. The aging process could only have assisted what I'm certain was an already terrific beer.

Overall, the best barrel-aged barleywine I have ever had and one of the best beers I have had the pleasure to taste. (1,226 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
4.37/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chilled bottle into a glass. Generously shared by nerd to celebrate my, uh, nerdy accomplishment. Thanks, Mike.

A: Pours a hazy, dark chestnut body that is essentially opaque in my glass, though it appears clearer in smaller quantities. It's capped by a beige head, 1 finger in height, with decent retention. No lace, and there's only a small bead on the beer when all is said and done.

S: A well-integrated nose of vanilla, bourbon, caramel, and brown sugar. There's a small element of oak, along with something spicy that the three of us feel is similar to Coca-Cola. I suggested cardamom, which isn't quite there; Ted suggested ginger, which isn't it either. Intriguing for sure.

T: While the initial blast is a melange of sweet flavors, ranging from caramel to brown sugar and maple, the taste eventually becomes defined by vanilla and bourbon. The odd thing is that it's not imbalanced in that direction. It's nicely contrasted by a small hop bitterness, which becomes more apparent in the aftertaste, coupled with the small spice (cardamom? ginger?) that we picked up in the nose. The overall effect is reminiscent of honey (somewhere, alfrantzell recaps a Black Xantus). Small, sherry-like notes of oxidation. I see why Mike is in love with this beer.

M: It's quite smooth. The carbonation supports the body just right. While it showcases a number of sweet flavors, it carries enough contrasting bitterness to buoy the experience.

D: I don't give rare beers high scores willy-nilly, but I think this earns it. I like it substantially more than Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine and Pelican Mother of All Storms. It's not worth destroying the cellar for, but it's a well-crafted beer that shows what well-integrated barrel flavors can do to an English barleywine. (1,786 characters)

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a ton of people who traded with me for this one. I consider myself very lucky to be able to open and share one of these and still have another to cellar if I wish. 4oz. pour from a 22oz. waxed and capped bomber into a brandy snifter. Shared at a tasting on 2/19/11. Reviewed from notes.

A: Standard pour yields an clear, amber colored brew with no head and no lacing. Nice legs though. A bit dissapointing but considering the age and style, not unexpected.

S: Very subtle overall. Sweet brown sugar, molasses, caramel, and some toffee notes. Slight bit of booziness here and there that sprinkle the other flavors rather than masking them. Not the most aromatic but very enticing and appropriate.

T: Opens very subtle brown sugar, caramel, and molasses that comes in step by step. Incredible balance and each and every flavor that surfaces complements the whole experience perfectly. Honey with a subtle, amber-maple, sappy hop bitterness towards the end. Brown sugar and toffee notes at the finish with a slightly accented tickle of booze. Aftertaste is sweet but very quickly gone.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Oily and slick in the mouth with a slight tickle of booze and bubbles going down. Heat is present but it's complementary the whole way and never overwhelming. Slightly spicy finish with a clean, almost evaporating aftertaste. Very nicely done.

D: Is this beer worth the hype? Yes. Absolutely, one of, if not the most subtle and balanced barrel-aged beers I've had to date. Having said that, is this the best english barleywine I've ever had? Probably not... with The Perfect Storm edging it out slightly. Still though, if you're lucky enough to come across this, you're in for a real treat. An astoundingly well crafted beer. (1,771 characters)

Photo of callmemickey
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed January 2011.

A: Dark chestnut brown body, Thin khaki skim. Light soapy lacing.

S: Rich malts with a pleasant underlying sweetness. Brown sugar, caramel, toffee, hints of sherry, booze, bourbon, and vanilla. Quite the complexity with subtle interplay between the aromas.

T: Absolutely wonderful... I get quite a bit of brown sugar and caramel up front with a restrained faint bourbon, oak and vanilla. Nice maltiness that delivers a boat load of flavor without overwhelming the palate.

M: Smooth, medium-full bodied. Sweet, but not cloying finish with a hint of bitterness.

D: One of the best barrel aged barleywines out there... easily.

EDIT: I've had a few pours from bottles since my official review. They have been showing some signs of oxidation. (767 characters)

Photo of GRG1313
4.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

While I have over 3,500 personal reviews, this is my 500th review on Beer Advocate. Figured I'd make it a "special" review.

Thus, thanks to Jer for sharing this one at our Whale tasting at his housewarming party. I'm going to do this review like I've never done...I hope no one is offended.

"Wooden Hell" - take the best bottle of whiskey you've got, maybe a big 23 year old Pappy's. Mix in a gang full of rich molasses, fresh brown sugar, thick rich carmel, bitter and sweet toffee, big dark chocolate, perhaps a bit of fruity scotch, some rich roasted coffee and then just reduce the hell out of it. The sweet, malty, rich, thick, wonderful extract that's left?...that's Wooden Hell. Wow. (694 characters)

Photo of Jmoore50
4.49/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally acquired this one through a great trade. A thank you has to go out to this trade, you know who you are. One of the beers that I have been wanting to try since joining BA.

The beer pours out a cloudy, murky, hazy brown color into my tulip glass. It still has a great level of carbonation and produces a khaki tan head that sticks around for a minute or two. No lacing but alcoholic legs coat my glass once I start working through it.

One of the best smelling beers I have had of late. Sweet notes of caramel, lots of vanilla, toffee, and sweet bourbon barrel. A also noticed a bit of raisins and plumbs in the smell, delicious.

Well it is a very good beer. Burnt caramel, vanilla bean, chewy toffee, honey, and a nice bourbon booze. I could pick up some dark fruit and molasses, all really sweet. The grain bill has turned into a great aged barleywine, and with the barrel producing some great vanilla and bourbon flavors this thing is delightful.

A nice creamy mouthfeel that still owns a great carbonation. It is not overly sweet, and once a taste has been taken the bourbon brings an enjoyable heat to the table.

A thick beer with loads of flavor make this one a sipper. It opens up a bit once it sits out for a while, bringing out some of the more subtle fruit and barrel flavors.

Now, with all of this said I do have some opinions on this beer. I think it is at it's peak right now because after tasting it I couldn't notice anything specific that would benefit from aging. It is not overly hot, the barrel is integrated perfectly into the beer as a whole. Still has a great carbonation that, if lost, would hurt the beer exponentially.
I have had a better barrel aged barelywine, and it was in my hometown. Great Basin Brewery made an Old Fitz Barleywine earlier in 2010 that was a few notches better than this. Lower bottle counts and national acclaim from the GABF push this beer to new heights.

I am so glad that I got to try this once allusive beer. (1,980 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jer for sharing this one. So glad to finally have tried it.

A: The pour is a dark amber, almost chestnut, color with a thin tan head.

S: Pretty much what I was expecting/hoping for in the nose. Lots of vanilla and bourbon along with brown sugar and dark fruits. A slight oak not, but there's some nice chocolate oxidation taking place.

T: Quite sweet with lots of caramel, brown sugar, and toffee. Plenty of bourbon and vanilla are present as well. I get some wood and dark fruit here, along with a bit of warming alcohol.

M: The body is medium with a low to medium carbonation that is quite smooth on the tongue.

D: This was surprisingly easy to drink, but I guess that's part of what makes it so good. You can pick up the oxidation, but it's not to the point of detriment at this point. (803 characters)

Photo of Overlord
4.2/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Jerz for hosting an awesome tasting (and for opening this!) and for so many generous beer connoisseurs who made the event possible.

Pours a translucent-along-the-edges mahogany brown. Glows amber orange along the top. Almost no head, just an off-white crust. Very attractive beer.

Smells like supple bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar notes. A hint of woodsy sherry-ness. Hmm. Very nice aroma.

The taste is a large brown sugary vanilla bourbon oak presence, but it's a bit oxidized. Some really prevalent sherry notes in there. As I sip my 2.3 oz., the brown sugar becomes more and more noticeably, and a bit of earthy nuttiness shines through. A sticky, thick beer without much carbonation.

Really happy to have had a chance to try this. If I could have only checked off "M," my personal "get" list would have been nearly complete. (849 characters)

Photo of JAXSON
4.92/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This review will probably read like a book, but this is one of the few beers I've had that merits such description.

Bottle, summer 2009:
22oz bottle, thanks Bryan! Nose is super malty, with a plethora of raisins and some dark chocolate. Bold, rich flavor really dominated by that malty raisin character. A nice, stoic presence. Creamy and full in the mouth. Approaches a slightly-aged Hardy's Ale in it's sweet malty character. Reminds me the most of Bullfrog Oak Aged Old Toad. Paired with some pineapple, the sweetness is allayed. Bourbon comes through in the finish, and more so as it warms. Nice and really bold, but not as lush and balanced as I had hoped. -- 4.0

Bottle, July 2010:
Pour is medium chestnut, somewhat red around the edges. head settles to a nice beige ring with spotty lacing. Nose is big and pungent. First impression is of heavy malts and bourbon. A nice tobacco, aged leather quality really shines. Of course dark fruits like figs and raisins. Flavor is initially quite sweet, but the sugars are tempered by the oak and bourbon. A bit short and spicy in the finish. Really complex and enjoyable flavor profile. My main knock on this right now is that the body is a tad thin, which keeps the flavors from carrying through as they might. So many things going on -- the heavy malt, bourbon, spicy oak, dark fruits, and tobacco. Impressive English style barleywine here, made so complex through the barrel aging. I think it's a bit better than it was last summer. -- 4.4

Bottle, November 2010:
Pours clear dark red with a small head. Large, sticky malt, base beer really comes through compared to the Brandy and Bourbon Old Stock which were sampled right before this. Light and vibrant yet large and full. Sweet lighter fruits, almost a red apple sweetness. Baked goods and a vinous kiss of plum. So much more nuance than even the best bourbon barrel barley wines I've sampled, some right beside this. Huge body, sweet, endlessly complex. As it opens more a touch of maple syrup and a bit of pine sap come out.

Having tried it next to a bunch of other barrel aged barley wines and old ales made it clear how good this is. It didn't just assume the character of the barrel and become washed out like so many do, even good ones (Old Stock Reserves). It was somewhat in the American style as that pine sap and maple became more distinct. The sweet apple quality was incredible and like nothing I've had in a barley wine before. Some people have compared this to Perfect Storm and it might merit consideration, but having them back to back, this just destroyed it. I'm not trying to "suck off" this beer so much but it really was one of the top 3-4 bottles I've ever had and it seems to keep improving with time. (2,733 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
4.83/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Huge thanks to Jeremy for sharing this gem!

A-pours a transparent deep ruby red with a nice tan colored head.

S-the nose has very little barrel, hints of woood and faint bourbon, strong malt body, chocolate and dark raisins, hints of sweeter toffee, vibrant fruits of sour apple and ripe plums.

T-this is quite good, light notes of bourbon with hints of dry wood, chocolate malts, dark raisins, toffee. it transitions into some sweeter fruits, dark ripe plums with notes of sour apples.

M-very full body, extremely smooth and creamy on the palate, strong carbonation with a crisp clean wet finish.

D-this is extremely tasty, well integrated flavors and very complex malt body. the barrel accentuates the malt complexity and adds to it rather than overshadowing it. the body is huge and still so drinkable. fantastic stuff! (827 characters)

Photo of mikey711
4.37/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Going through my sock draw i happened to find my notes for this and Deviation! What did you find in your sock drawer. This was enjoyed at some point over the summer, late june i believe

A: Deep mahogony with a faint layer of carbonation, decent lace and slightly cloudy

S: Heavy bourbon with hints of graham cracker, vanilla, some dark fruit (raisins and prunes). there is also a touch of smokiness and a slightly leather compenent. very complex and enjoyable

T: The bourbon is very present and somewhat sweet like a rye whiskey. big vanilla notes that blends nicely with the graham cracker

M: Thinner than i expected and there is a slight bit of harness

D: overall this was a great beer that i was very happy to have been able to try. personally, khuhnenn BBBW is a bit better but i would jump at the chance to try this one again (835 characters)

Photo of Deuane
4.89/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to petesuphi for washing our shriveled, soured up tongues out with this delicious barrel aged malt bomb! Enjoyed at the end of the Mother of all Sour tastings.

A-Deep, dark copper with a thin tan head that reduced to a thin wispy ring and left spotty flecks of lace.

S-Although I could be descriptive with a boatload of commentary I am obliged to quote StormKing47 for the aroma descriptor---"This smells like a smack in the dick!"

T-Massive complexity and then some! Caramelized marshmallow, sweet vanilla, carbonized apple, oak, butterscotch, rich bourbon notes are very prevalent. Underlying tones of dark chocolate, turbinado and a mysterious earthiness.

M-Medium to medium-heavy, somewhat rich, but not overly viscous. Drinks like V.S.O.P. cognac or a finely aged bourbon. Alcohol burn is still present after all these years but is not unwelcome.

D-Succinctly put---Simply Amazing! Without question on of the finest barrel aged brews I have ever had the opportunity to raise to my lips, tickle my palate and warm my tummy. Well done Mr. Van Wyk, well done! (1,078 characters)

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
3.6/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A huge thanks to treyrab for sharing this at our second epic tasting of 2010, and third overall. Poured my share into a tulip glass.

Colored deep brown and glowing with ruby highlights, a vigorous pour produces only thin and wispy bubbles. The body is crystal clear. This is pretty much right on for a barleywine, though the consistency looks a bit thin as it cascades into my glass.

The aroma is phenomenal. So often bourbon barrels impart too much bourbon for the character of the beer, but this is artfully done. The first impressions are of caramel, toffee, and the classic nutty maltiness of a barleywine. These give way to the barrel notes...oak, vanilla, and bourbon, in that order. There is also a prominent dark fruit aroma characterized by dates that comes around for the finish to round it all out.

The taste continues to impress, at least initially. The bourbon strengthens on the palate and joins the caramel up front. These then give way to nuts, vanilla, oak, and the dates. Unfortunately, this dark fruitiness is also accompanied by some not-so-graceful or flavor-enhancing oxidation that imparts some off and cardboardy flavors on the palate that linger after the finish. There are some alcohol esters, but they are neither overwhelming nor offensive in any way. This is a very good American barleywine, but it doesn't blow me away. And given the barrel-aging, this is only average, as there are far better out there.

The appearance of low carbonation is misleading, as this is still packed with fizz that makes me cough on my first sip. The balance of flavors is phenomenal, with the bourbon highly evident, edifying the flavor profile while remaining subtle. Too bad it's oxidizing...this coulda been really good. The texture is just a touch thin for my liking, but this is good beer. Age will likely not be kind to this, based on the oxidation that is already evident. (1,893 characters)

Photo of treyrab
4.22/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought out this beer midway through the Pittsburgh Tasting of the Ages on October 2. One of the most anticipated beers of the day. Split five ways. Reviewing mine from a snifter-style glass.

A: Poured very vigorously to only yield a thin ring of a head. Almost no head at all. Pours like a fine bourbon or whiskey in terms of stillness and color. Clear dark amber with some very slight carbonation bubbles trickling up.

S: Huge vanilla whiskey notes with burnt toffee, rich, dark brown sugar, some light chocolate, and perhaps some blackstrap molasses. Rich, some slight oxidation, and sweet bourbon.

T: Complex. The sweet whiskey and vanilla notes are very forceful and blend with the bitterness of the dark toffee, slight chocolate, and dark, burnt brown sugar. Hops are not really found in this one, as it is really all malts that take over.

M/D: A nice, creamy and rich mouthfeel. Perhaps a tad on the thin side. Drinks like a bourbon. A solid American Barleywine, but I would put others ahead of it, and it was below expectations. (1,041 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
4.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big props to scubarex for cracking this open at our Epic Chicago Tasting.

Review #450

A - A nice, deep brown that turns yellow on the edges. Nice head that rises about one finger, no lacing.

S - Lots of vanilla and oak, so smooth for a barley wine. Dark fruit backbone, with a nice bourbon touch. This smells incredibly smooth.

T - One of the smooothest barley wines I've ever had. No bite whatsoever, great vanilla favor. The oak and bourbon come through great, fantastic balance. This is an amazing tasting beer that completely blew my mind. Quite complex. Awesome.

M - Great carbonation goes well with a smooth and medium bodied beer.

D - All day long. This beer is amazing, completely lives up to the hype, I cannot drink this enough. (744 characters)

Photo of wagenvolks
4.89/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A night of epic proportions...one million thanks to thickerfreakness for sharing this gem of a beer! Split 6 ways, my portion in a Meantime snifter.

Wooden Hell pours an attractive chestnut-amber body with a nice depth to the hazy hue. The manila head vanishes quickly, leaving a thin wisp of foam on top. Rich nutty caramel and toffee sweetness greets the nose, followed by earthy hops and dried fruit notes of fig and prune. A flash of boozy bourbon, but more subtle than most. No real signs of oxidation--I think it's safe to say this beer is holding up well.

The flavor is something to fawn over. Gooey caramel candies coat the palate; beneath that are layers of butterscotch and dusty chocolate crumbles. Booze tastes sharp and still quite green despite Wooden Hell's age. Whisky wood and vanilla linger on the finish, but the heat is nicely restrained. Carbonation is tight, making for a creamy mouthfeel that keeps the thick body in check. Both spritzy and vinous on the finish with a flash of alcohol. No overpowering heat, cloying sweetness, or laboriously thick body. Everything is in perfect balance in this beer. Amazing stuff, worth the hype. Thanks again Chuck! (1,177 characters)

Photo of xpimptastikx
4.85/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally! Thank you again Charles!
Two weekends of tastings that destroyed my wants list.
Cell phone notes

Pours a cloudy caramel with thin tan head, decent lacing. Smell is what I imagined; toffee, malt, caramel, slight alcohol presence, and brown sugar. Taste is more of the nose, with a beautiful balance. The heat is still present at 2 years, but welcomed in a BA barleywine, almost expected. This is favorite to date, I just wish I could have had a perfect storm next to it. (480 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
4.76/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review # 1000, this is about as fitting as it gets.

Thanks to Russ for sharing this with us at our Chicago tasting...The pour is not much to look at, a slightly watery brown without much carbonation at all...The aroma and taste are both awesome and dominated by a super smooth and not at all coy or irritataing vanilla. I just keep coming back to smooth, so easy velvety and easy to drink and just the right amount of vanilla with a backbone of oak and a touch of hopoy wood on the back end. I literally just kept sniffing this for like 15 minutes because the aroma was that good...The feel is super nice, very easy to drink, not alcohol at all...The vanilla makes it a tad of a sipper but I really had to contain myself to not drink this in one gulp.

The best barleywine around, awesome all around. Try it if you can. (820 characters)

Wooden Hell from Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery
98 out of 100 based on 88 ratings.