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Olde School Barleywine - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,017 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,017
Hads: 2,471
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 13.01%
Wants: 243
Gots: 714 | FT: 46
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  15.04% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: UnionMade on 10-10-2002

Bold, yet smooth! Fermented with dates and figs, this bone-crushing barleywine has a unique flavor.

85 IBU
ABV varies from 13-16%.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Olde School Barleywine Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,017 | Hads: 2,471
Photo of Czarkazm
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled 10/9/2013. Very nice crimson/blood orange color with an off white head slightly bigger than one would expect from a 15% barleywine. Very sweet smelling, overripe/fermented fruits, prunes, rum raisin bread. Super full mouth feel! The carbonation is really trying making an effort but it's not enough to cut into the candied caramel stickiness. Enjoyably cloying if enjoyed over the course of an hour or two. Flavor is very balanced, the booziness that was there has been tamed. Lots of dried dark fruits in the taste, belgian quad yeasty esters, boysenberry marmalade, and toffee. A thick syrupy treat

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Photo of Jjski
4.24/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 10/9/13
Fresh young things fail to interest me. I like them old, weathered and well experienced.

This is a mouthful of decadent tang, with ripe fruits of figs and dates. alcohol well masked by blankets of malt. Sweet, smooth, balanced

Don't turn on the lights, just keep it dark and enjoy the mature opportunity. It will surprise you: young ain't always the best

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A 10/9/13 bottle poured into a Dogfish Head snifter.

It is a murky, orange tinted mahogany color with a fairly large off white head that dissipates quickly, but does leave a fine ring.

Smells fairly sour amd musty. Some sweetness, and a little bit of alcohol.

Tastes much better than I expected. Very rich. A strong malt base with sweet caramelized brown sugar, caramel, toffee/butterscotch, a Fig Newton filling, sourness, and some floral hops. The hops are more subdued. It is definitely more on the English side of the spectrum now. There is just enough bitterness to balance out what feels like instant cavity causing sugars. The booze is really well integrated for 15%. I have had several in the 12% range that are hotter.

The body is syrupy, and sort of heavy, but very smooth.

This is an excellent beer. It is a sipper more from the richness standpont than the alcohol. If you are hesitant of American style barleywines, put one of these away for awhile.

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Photo of dro7
3.69/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Little to no head, very boozy and fruity smell. Low carbonation, think taste and feel, very sweet, yet extremely strong taste. Similar to a Belgian quad, but definitely not as carbonated and a sweeter taste. Extremely boozy smell. Overall good taste, similar to a barrel aged beer. You can only enjoy it in a small quantity because it is so thick and strong.

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Photo of rhynosorus
3.17/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Smell and taste dominated by booziness. Leaves little room for any other flavor or smell. Bottle 8 months old. Could use at least another year to mellow out

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Photo of jdcr8er
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a really good sipper. I had two in 2013. I bouth six in 2014, and now think i should have bought a case. The fig has gotten more forward after six months, balancing nicely with the sweetness. This beer is best served chilled, not cold or you will be pummeled by the 15%. Believe it. But as it warms, the booziness is subdued by the malt and hops. This beer has a dogfish exclamation point on the cap for a reason. Yowza, am i feeling good? Yes indeed.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.2/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Half Pint in Rochester, NY.

This one pours a clear light brown, with reddish tints. There's a very small, quickly disappearing head, and no lacing.

Smells quite sweet, there's some dark fruits, a bit of caramel, and stinging booze.

The booze on this one is honestly just too much, it just gives this bitter, lingering aftertaste that's really hard to push through. The flavor of the barleywine itself, underneath, is also not interesting enough to make you forget about how hot this one is. It almost feels like this was mixed with vodka, not good. Beyond that, I get some candied, sugary dark fruits, and some very sweet caramel flavors.

This is one slow sipper for sure- the drinkability is really low. The carbonation level is pretty low.

A bit of a miss for me. I know it's fairly well-regarded, but it just didn't hit the right notes for me.

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Photo of richj1970
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a clear light ruby red with one finger off white head that settled quickly to a thin ring. Some light lacing.

S: Light caramel and butterscotch mixed with some floral hops.

T: Caramel, dates, raisins, and some light floral hops. Some alcohol is apparent but easy drinking for 15% ABV.

M: Medium body and average carbonation. Finish is slightly sweet and a touch bitter.

O: A nice barleywine. I will try to grab some more when I see them.

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Photo of Borkman18
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best barley wines I have tasted in a while. Me and my friend always ask for it when we go to a store together. Plus, my buddy loves the high ABV barley wines so this one does the trick at 15%. Very tasty, not too malty as some barley wines tend to be.

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Photo of K-Dog
4.48/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2013 version, can't find a bottle date but about a year and a half of age to it. The smell is incredible. Can hardly taste the 15 percent alcohol but it hits you pretty fast and hard. The aging has done wonders to this beer. Definitely a sipper.

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Photo of Jmc181
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Unique. Super strong! Very flavorful, with a syrup-like thick consistency. Its flavors linger in the mouth long after swallowing. Beautiful orangey-copper in the glass, with virtually no head, but a satisfying carbonation.

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Photo of Gorf_Minor
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - orange hue, poured wine like, slight carbonation at the end, thin head

Aroma - fruity, tad bit of maltiness, wine like smell

Mouthfeel - soft mouthfeel with full body. Strong Alcohol smell and feel after first drink

Taste - strong tongue burn on first sip. Sweet malt, grape must, wine-like burn on the back end. Def boozy. I can def taste that 15%.

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Photo of arizcards
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a single at TW Camelback in late November for $5.49. This is a 2014 edition but not sure what the bottling date is.

Beer poured an orangish-brown with a nice thin head upon the initial pour.

Nose starts with the barleywine trademark dark fruits. But there is a strange alcohol presence that is a bit off.

Taste is dark fruits with a dry hop finish. Alcohol is too warming.

Mouthfeel is full and very smooth.

Overall not a bad beer but definitely one that would improve with age. Unfortunately I was only able to track down one bottle.

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Photo of dmgeng
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I really enjoy DFH and I thought that a barleywine by them would be pretty good.

A - Deep orange color. Pours thick that is slightly opaque. Big white head with good lacing.

S - Strong malt character with alcohol, some hops, and some dark fruits thrown in the mix. Definitely a barleywine that is malt forward and has the muchness that you would expect from the 15% ABV tag.

T - Initially it is complex with mostly the rich malt character holding true, then the alcohol along with some light citrus, herbal hops and then fruity yeast character. There is a boozy character to this beer but with the strong caramel/malt sweetness it is tolerable. The complex fruit is a nice flavor to help balance out the rich malt. There is only a slight hop bitterness but this beer is definitely malty sweet.

M - Huge mouth-feel with higher carbonation. It is heavy on the palate and the high carbonation really tries to bring all of the flavors alive on the tongue. I think it was very good but with the alcohol heat I'm sure that age is the key to this "Olde School" brew.

Overall, a very good representation of the style. I really enjoyed what this beer had to offer but the boozy character and high mouth-feel isn't what I would prefer to drink everyday. It has everything that you would want in an American Barleywine and if you haven't tried one and can tolerate the burn then this would be a great one to try.

Glass- Snifter

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

On tap at Fairfax alehouse poured into snifter. Copper body with thin bone head that quickly collapses to nothing. Aroma is butter, alcohol, candied fruit especially orange, and toffee. Flavor is apples and pears, dried dark fruit, orange, buttery, spicy alcohol note on the swallow. Full body, thick viscous texture, light carbonation, boozy finish.

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Photo of marct13
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This review is of both the 2012 and 2015 batches.

L: Both were poured from bottles into snifters. They were bright reddish color with the '12 being a bit darker.

S: Figs, dates, plums, and booze. Pretty much as advertised. The booze smell wasn't as prevalent in the '12

T: Followed the smell. This is a really different barleywine, but in a good way.

F: Medium body with just the right amount of carbonation.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 12 oz. bottle of this a few weeks back up in Totowa, never having this before. I don't have this style a whole lot and these tend to be a bit too strong for me but I really enjoyed this and felt that this was a solid, textbook example of the style for so many reasons. The alcohol was present but recessed and the flavors were present but not strong enough to drown out each other or the booze in this. Combine that with a slick mouthfeel and this was a winner that I'd love to have again before this winter finally goes away!

Solid pour to this, as the dark orange hue had a good head and just a hint of lacing the stuck around for the duration. Not a lot of carbonation to this as this had the appearance and consistency of a true Barleywine, or even a dark mead. Lots of booze and dark fruit in the nose, as the dates and figs were reinforced with apricot, crystalline sweetness, and honey. Slick and smooth, this went down well without being too sweet or overloaded with grain and barley. The sweetness stuck around in the aftertaste, along with the resin that had a buttery feel to it.

To be fair, this beer was a beast and one bottle would be enough for a sitting even though I could have easily cracked open another. It did not feel like 15% ABV but there was enough here to bowl me over in more than one way. Possibly the best offering outside of the 120 for Dogfish and grand enough to turn me on to the style - if you've never had something of this sort before, this would be an excellent choice to start with. Quite lovely from start to finish!

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Photo of spykespnoypbg
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Boozy scent and finish. Each sip lingers in mouth smoothly with a sweet aftertaste. I would drink again, smooth overall for its high ABV.

Would like to age a bottle and revisit.

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Photo of spacecake9
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy amber/orange. Small head that dies down quickly.
S - Great aroma, my first thought was peach, and then alcohol.
T - The alcohol flavor is definitely noticeable in this beer. A rare good beer where the alcohol dominates.
M - Medium mouth feel, light carbonation.
O - Strong barleywines are fairly new to me. This is a good beer that I would like to have again. Like to age it and see what flavors come out when the alcohol dies down.

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Photo of Antg8989
4.57/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich hazy amber. Certainly smells of figs and dates - tastes like it too. A little more than you'd expect from a barleywine. Not my favorite, but very good nonetheless. At over 15%, it's quite enjoyable, although it may not be for everyone.

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Photo of mchegash
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - 4/5
Pours a nice, fairly clear deep orange. About a single finger of head upon pouring, dissipates down to a thin layer on the top of the beer. Can see an average amount of carbonation rising up the beer.

Smell - 4.75/5
The smell is very strong--when I first poured, I could smell from like 2 feet away. The smell is hard to describe, but I know it smells very similar to Bell's Expedition Stout. They both have this unique, sweet, slightly fruity, very alcoholic smell. The first time I had an Expedition Stout, I wasn't that big a fan of the smell/flavor, but it's grown on me. So now for this beer I can give it quite a high rating. After taking my first sips, I also noticed that the smell had a noticeable metallic tinge to it.

Taste - 4/5
Sweet malts, the unique fruity/alcoholic flavor I mentioned above, though it's not as strong in the taste as in was in the smell. The beer has a noticeable metallic taste, but I feel it only slightly detracts from the flavor.

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium bodied, smooth, moderate level of medium-light intensity carbonation.

Overall - 4.25/5
Overall this was a great beer. Will definitely probably get again, some time in the future. The only downside is it's fairly pricey--$17 for a 4-pack.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/27/14.

This one pours into the snifter a beautiful copper-brown in color with a small head that leaves as much lacing as it can. Hazy in body all the way through. Huge boozy and dark fruit notes hit the nose at first sniff. The second whiff reveals the dates and figs in a very fruity and nutty aroma that resembles raisins. At first sip, this beer really displays its alcohol and adjunct contents. Big alcohol and slight hop bitterness hits the tongue and then morphs into the dark dates and figs. Again, the fruits turn into a raisin-like flavor and combine with the alcohol to give that classic, alcohol heavy barleywine taste. Mouthfeel is rather thick and this is a really slow sipper due to the alcohol content.

Overall, this is an incredibly strong and complex beer. It really reminds me of DFH Raison d'Extra, except with less offense and aggressive flavors. I really want to take the advice of the label and bury this in my yard for 2 years, but I guess my cellar works fine as well.

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Photo of Vne0
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is a light amber with a half finger head. Smell is very potent alcohol with figs and dates. Bold taste yet very palatable. Similar to the Dogfish 120 in many ways.
Overall a fantastic barelywine.

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

Look: Dark amber with about a finger of thick head. Lots of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Raisins and figs, spice, alcohol, some sort of "holiday" smell that reminds me of cookies. Sugarplums maybe?

Taste: Caramel, sugar, and molasses; red fruit - cherry and figs; a hint of bourbon or whiskey. A little bit of spice tying it all together.

Feel: Maybe a bit on the thin side, especially given the ABV, but it's smooth and very drinkable.

Overall: A good barleywine, and the addition of figs and dates is a nice touch. Would love to see how it ages, but for now, it's a nice one to sip on a winter evening.

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Photo of Ale-Be-Damned
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The first taste is first alcohol heavy with a gentle warming of my mouth, and throat upon swallowing. The feel is heavy and slightly syrupy. After the alcohol there is a presence of richer fruits like raisin and fig, some apple. This is definitely a sipper. I like it though, and have put some bottles in the cellar to rest. Cheers!

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 1,017 ratings.