Olde School Barleywine - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,437 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,437
Reviews: 1,035
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 228
Gots: 699 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,437 | Reviews: 1,035
Reviews by inhoc00:
Photo of inhoc00
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2 year aged Olde School Barleywine. Date of 10/16/06. Its winter in Chicago - break into the cellar and grap some aged barleywine!

A- this beer pours a light brown amber color with minimal head and lacing.

S- rasisons, figs, and that strong smell that heavy DFH beers seem to have.

T- Still pretty heavy alc but only upfront. Good deal of hops still present. Cherries? Brandy like characteristics.

M- Little carbonation. Dry.

D- This one is still really heavy with alc. Other DFH's with as much alc like WWS or 120 do a better balance job in hiding the alc but this one is still present. Have another bottle from 06 vintage. Check it next year.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a murky orange/brown color with a nice sticky head,aroma is malty and buttery with light alcohol notes.Taste is malty and lightly sweet with some burnt fruit flavors ending with a nice buttery taste that lingers in the mouth.Dogfish Head is becoming my favorite east coast brewery (have yet to visit Victory) they pull no punches and make some really good,interesting brews.

Photo of RoyalT
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This one is light-colored for a BW. It’s orange and hazy with a moderate head.

Smell – This DFH offering has a light, fruity aroma that reminds me of a pear-based white wine that I had once in Temecula. It’s very delicate but hardy at the same time. The ABV is huge at the nose.

Taste – The malty white wine flavors come out more so at the taste. This one has a lot of raw sugar to it as well. It’s very sweet with a solid, helpful malt base. The big grapes and fermented sugars rule the roost of this flavor profile. There’s a typical DFH hop balance that signs the brewery’s name to this ale.

Mouthfeel – This is medium to full-bodied with some actual carbonation, which is unusual for the style. It has a nice, fluffy mouthfeel.

Drinkability – This is a big ABV monster in its rawest form, although I would guess that this would diminish with cellaring, which is probably highly recommended. In its purest form this one will give you hop burps and a hangover.

Photo of tectactoe
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark-amber, almost maroon-like color, a bit hazy and cloudy; small off-white head reduced to a ring around the glass quickly and didn't leave any notable lacing. Smell was strong and very in-your-face - dried, dark fruits; figs, plums, raisins soaked in alcohol. Boozy, but not quite leading you to think it's a 15%-er. Some sweetness and caramelized sugar notes abound as well. Taste is full of caramel and toffee malts all around; fruity and sweet with figs and plums and some other fruits that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe a hint of licorice. Alcohol is warming and apparent; doesn't quite feel like 15%, but it's certain strong and induces sipping rather than gulping. Some hops here and there, may be hard to detect at first over the abundance of malt, but they are a dry, ashy, slightly floral in flavor. Aftertaste is full of burnt sugar, date sweetness, and a touch of toffee and alcohol. Medium-thick body, almost syrupy; sticky, abrasive, low carbonation.

Pretty good American barleywine from DFH. Certainly not anything groundbreaking here, but at 15$ a 4-pack, it's certainly not a bad choice.

Photo of MadScientist
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: A cloudy dull mohagany, deep amber beer with a quick to fade slight light tan head.

S: A rich malty, raisiny smell with a surprisingly subtle perfume alcohol aroma. The alcohol may be masked by the malt sweetness. There is a slight umami and no diacetyl.

T: A smooth raisin and almost maple syrup with out the sweetness sort of taste going on having a very noticeable alcohol presence. The medium-high hops bitterness takes over next with an orange peel like fruity flavor that seems pithy from the bitterness. The balance is bitter with the bitterness and pithiness lingering long into the after taste. The finish is slight off-dry.

M: There a bunch of heat from the first sip but it doesn't seem to impacting me this far in. Te body is medium-full with moderate carbonation.

O: A much more subdued beer than the one I encountered almost five years ago though I do rather enjoy the huge hops bill that this enormous malt foundation provides when young. It's worth aging a couple years but I review a younger bottle at some time as this isn't an entirely fair score for this beer that while built to last shows better in its youth.
Bottled On 11/21/2008

Photo of kaimcm
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle poured into La Fin goblet
A: gorgeous, deep amber, literally glows in the glass. egg white whipped head, big bubbles, super light and creamy. makes me want to scoop it out and just dollop it on a belgian waffle.

S: raisins, green apples, brown sugar, bakery pastry richness, alcohol.

T: coating malt and sugar up front, vanilla, white grapes, delicate and delicious vinous quality. malt coats mouth with nice balance of sugar and substance. hints of spice on the back of the throat. alcohol really comes out as the beer warms, but is extremely balanced at 15%. finishes warm reminiscent of rum, then dries leaving the palate begging for more.

M: slick and chewy, perfect viscosity, coating. leaves me wanting more. good weight, not to heavy and syrupy.

D: could drink this everynight, and would if it was available.

This is a one incredible nectar, and nectar is the perfect word for it. The biggest little brewery that could...rock on Dogfish.

Photo of wesbrownyeah
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oyeah... Massive beers from a great brewery Dogfish Head Olde School Barley Wine 15% alcohol. Bottled in 2009. (*11)

A- Pours a evil thick and hued orangish brown fluid that produce little to none head leaving mild lacing. It looks very good espescially knowing the 120 is excellent.

S- Familier smell of the 120 dogfish ipa heavy does of ester alcohol, grapefruit hops, danky malts and a musky sweetness.

T-M- Taste is as good as i expected by the smell. A beautiful bouquet of fresh grassy hops, thick malty backbone, revved up alcohol content and massive brown sugary thickness. Excellent. I love the mouthfeel of the dogfish neon capped beers. Bold thickness of tons of malt and alcohol put together perfectly to give you that lasting danky sweet feel on the tongue. A true boozer beer that only impresses.

D- I'm going to buy a four pack of this stuff from my local beer store... wouldn't recommend drinking more that a few though. Easy to drink. Use caution.

Photo of drumline
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a tulip glass

Appearance - Pours an orange/amber-ish color, with a head that disappears quickly

Smell - Very sweet aroma. Lots of fruity and caramel flavors.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Sweet caramel malty taste, with a nice citrusy hop bitterness throughout to give some balance. Slight boozy alcohol warmth in the finish. Just the right amount of carbonation.

Drinkability - At 15% ABV, I won't have more than one a night. As with a lot of other high ABV Dogfish brews, the alcohol is hidden very well.

I have one bottle left that I'll be letting sit for a while and see what happens. It should age well.

Photo of AdvocateFan
2.4/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Murky darkish amber. Pours with an admirably sized head for a beer of this ABV. The nose is hugely sweet, but sharp, almost spicy from the massive alcohol content. Big sugar alcohols. Mead-like. Some notes of baked apples. Solvent-like. Acetone (yes, nail polish remover.) The booze actually burns the eyes as the vapors rise. Dark rum-soaked raisins. Cherries. Flavor hits with a rush of hot booze, like ultra-octane apple cider, dark cherries, fig jam, vodka-infused plums, tej/honey-wine-like notes... Shit... this is boozy in all kinds of ways. Spiked maple syrup... There's a late tannin-like astringency that sticks all over the tongue and ushers in the finish, which wraps things up with grape skins, chewed lemon seeds, blonde tobacco, and alcohol burn/heat, and an indefinitely-lasting acetone impression and burn. No lie, this is like nail polish remover in the aftertaste. This batch was bottled November 2008. Reviewed 11 months after bottling. Still very, very hot. I will wait at least 2 years before trying my next bottle. I've had vintages from 2006 or so, when they were still young, and I recall enjoying them much more than this one. Interesting for the shock factor, but this was not a pleasurable experience. There's extreme, and then there's mischief. This beer seems to be headed toward the latter. An odd juxtaposition with the vintage imagery and "olde school" reference in the name--this is not olde school. Nor is it new school. This is out of control do-it-yourself "home school" where you spike your beer with liquor to create a homebrew beer cocktail (while your girlfriend takes off her nail polish...)

Photo of tuckevalastin
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle Dated 11/21/08

I had two of these left from when I bought them around the time the bottle is dated. I decided to drink one now.. the other will age some more. I've had it fresh but this review is of the 13month aged bottled.

A- Looks a little something like Apple Cider with no head to speak of.

S- Strong smell of booze but with a sweet note that makes it quite nice.

T- Nice flavor that's almost surprisingly sweet but boy does it burn. Even after a year of aging this beer bites back.

M- The beer is hot but the flavor doesn't linger.

D- 15% abv makes this a pretty hefty beer but it doesn't show as much as other brews. It's clear that it is a strong beer but it doesn't lower the drinkablility much at all. That said, it is a high alcohol beer so it isn't one to shotgun by any means.

I'm not a huge barleywine follower but I will be excited to open up the last one of these from this pack. Definetly worth trying.

Photo of rwinzing
3.74/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz. bottle into my DFH snifter. Beer is a dark amber and has a cream color head. Very small head which vanished quickly.

Smell was very malty with hint of boozyness

T - Very nice barleywine flavor a little hot but not to boozy or hoppy. Will balance with age

M - average not to thin but no much either

overall - good barleywine. Would perfer it a little mellower

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It was with some trepidation that I tried this beer. The 15% ABV was a bit intimidating, as was the advice on the label of the 12oz bottle to pour it into two snifters and enjoy. Nevertheless, I soldiered on. The beer was a red/orange color with virtually no head. It had a predominately fruity aroma, banana and raisin. A little caramel. Robust taste. The alcohol was noticeable without being intrusive, and quite warming. I found it to be quite drinkable, as long as it's 6 to 12 ounces at a time.

Photo of Todd
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle. Packaging date is unreadable. Beer pours bright copper-ish, initially, topped with a very tight white foam head that settles to an even lace with stick along the glass. Appearance quickly becomes cloudy due to unfiltered dregs in the bottle.

Candied fruits, toffee, diacetyl and apples in the nose.

Extremely smooth as the first sip coats the palate with a near syrup-like texture. Bold ripe dark and candied fruits punch out with notes of apricot and raisin. Notes of orange, too. Spicy alcohol stings the palate with an immediate warming effect and vodka-like presence. Sweet with toffee and a sugar-like presence. Loads of apple-ish flavors and feel on the palate with pear and pear skin beneath. Finish dries up a bit.

Alcohol is a bit over-the-top and assertive, but other than that it's a fairly solid Barley Wine. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of sponberg
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bright amber, slightly cloudy, chance of snow, with a persistent head and a fruity/alcoholic nose.

Starts out really fruity - full of ripe apricot, pear, and sort of tropical (mango? pineapple? Something from the South Pacific) flavors with a yeasty undertone, some toffee/caramel sweetness, and a balancing hop spice/alcohol warmth that makes it VERY quaffable. The finish gets warmer, and that's the only time that you'll notice the alcohol. This is 15%?!?!? Wow. Cannot tell from drinking it. Danger, Will Robinson! Two of these will have you searching for license plates. Sneaky as hell.

A very, very tasty barleywine in the lighter color, fruity-malt vein. Hides its alcohol better than the Raison D'Etre, which is a bit more than half as strong.

Photo of marvin213
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's a dark brown elixir, medicinal particles having settled to the bottom. It looks foreboding, even ominous.  Having basically no head, a small swirl of carbonation slowly circles the cap. It's as opaque as mud, save the very bottom in which I see the solids have settled.  This is serious.

The aroma is so unique. I consistently think of gumballs...not the fruity, twenty-five cent variety that kids clamor for, but a Willy Wonka, everlasting gobstopper sort of smell.  It really smells sweetly concentrated.  Smelling certainly isn't as menacing as looking at this sucker.  There is a stark contrast between nose and eye, and the nose is actually better.

The taste is raw power and, like a fine wine, I'm sure this one improves as it mellows with time. Less than a year old (November bottling date), each sip packs a punch.  I'd like to see some fool chug this. Maybe I'm missing something, but the taste is simple:  it's sweet, sweet alcohol. I'm more familiar with English-style barleywines, but I'm wondering if the American variety is supposed to suggest a militaristic type of superiority. Maybe it has less to do with America (Happy Independence Day, regardless), and more to do with Dogfish Head.

As I mentioned, there's nothing overly complex about the liquid.  It's sweet and, with the alcohol tinge, it tingles the cheeks.  It feels more carbonated than it looks.  I acknowledge, however, that it might be more burn I feel than tingly tickle.  You have to feel it because you can't just swallow it down, so I have to say (at least for this young'n) that mouthfeel is a relative weakness.

Always tough to rate a big double-digit (15%er here) when it comes to drinkability.  After each sip, you have to face that menacing appearance I've described above. As I make my way thru, I sometimes feel like my drink's mean-muggin' me.  For sure, this is an appropriate selection to share. It's also neat (and strong) enough to make that worthwhile.   

Photo of mverity
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2010 bottle share at Proof. Poured amber brown with almost no head. Aroma is a warm, sweet malty bomb, with a slight hint of dark fruit. Taste is somehow sweet citrus, earthy, and a touch of that dark fruit. Kinda boozey. Medium body, almost no carbonation. Great beer overall.

Photo of Doomcifer
3.94/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty clear, copper color...pretty light considering its a barley wine. Not much of a head to speak of. Lacing = nil.

Smells of sweet malts, dark fruits, cherries, raspberries, red twizzlers, bananas, very fruity...couldnt pick up much alcohol in the nose.

Taste is more sweet malts, dark fruits, cherries, and here comes the hotness. Alcohol is pretty prevalent now. The finish may be a little harsh but nothing that bad at all....unlike other Barely Wines I have had that weren't even close to 15% abv. Lots of sherry notes. Slight hop finish.

Mouthfeel is very velvety with mediocre carbonation.

Drinkable? LOL It depends what you mean by drinkable I suppose. There is no way I would drink more than one of these due solely to the high alcohol content. I dont enjoy falling over myself. It is, however, drinkable due to the fact that it is a very tasty and enjoyable beer. Definitely a sipper! This should age EXTREMELY WELL.

Photo of Jason
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml brown champagne magnum with a “Packaged On” date on the side of the label,

Appearance: Dull and hazy orange amber colour, haze is from both chill haze and very loose sediment in the bottle. Light carbonation creates a thin off white lace.

Smell: Herbal veggie hop aroma with an orangey backing, a touch buttery and alcoholic in the nose as well.

Taste & Mouthfeel : Creamy slick mouth feel with a light to moderate carbonation the provides a little smoothness amongst the semi-dense body. Big maltiness laced with ripe fruit and earthy yeast. A hidden alcohol lays under a twang of fruitiness and earthy yeast. A little buttery and the hops drop a spike of bitterness. Alcoholic warmth comes soon after with a spicy kick.

Drinkability & Notes: Big flavours are bursting with aleish ripeness, where is the 15% abv? There is alcohol there but I have had smaller barleywines that can’t hide the alcohol like this. Watch out on this one as it catches up with you.

Photo of merlin48
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in Dec, 2003. Instructions on label say to "seal bottle in plastic bag, walk into the woods, dig a 4x4 hole, bury, and return in one year." Or something to that effect. This very young, Olde School pours a hazed, apricot color into a tulip glass. No head, except for a film and collar of lace. Small islands of lace form a chain down the glass as it slowly empties.
Aroma is very fruity. Cantelope, mango, and plums are up front, with a vinous note in the background.
Mouthfeel features a syrupy, fruit sweetness and minmal carbonation.This one is full bodied.
There is a yeasty, earthiness most of the way through, that compliments the dominant fruit flavors of the nose very well. Plum, cantelope, and mango lead the parade of fruitiness. Midway through, after room temperature is reached, the hops begin to assert, with a spruce pine and citrusy tangerine emerging to balance the bigtime maltiness. This barleywine can only be appreciated, by this reviewer anyway, at room temerature.
The big abv is well hidden, for the most part, but I would still recommend this one as a nightcap, or dessert sipper. It certainly lacks the hops presence of most westcoast barleywines I've sampled. I would love to try an older vintage of this to see how it ages. This young version reminds me more of a DFH 120 Minute IPA than the minimal number of other barleywines I've tried. Of course, you can make a good argument that the 120 Minute is also a barleywine. All things considered, this Olde School was a very pleasant experience.

Photo of Billolick
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, with "bottled in" dating. Was gonna cellar this one for awhile, but had nothing in the house to review,so I broke down...Alas I need to go beer shopping...This is a sweet, and strong BW. Not very hoppy, mostly sweet fruity notes, alcohol present, but well hidden for 15 %. If yiou love mellow big beers this is a must. high quality sipper, seek and enjoy!

Photo of warriorsoul
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to IrishMike for this 2003 vintage.
Love the label/artwork on this brew...as most of the Dogfish offerings.
Pours a cloudy orange w/ less than a half finger of tan head...lacing has almost no cling and head disappears very rapidly, leaving a small patch of clouds on top.
Smell is a sweet alcohol, but in such a warming and inviting way...buttery caramel and floral hops inticing the nose.
The taste is so mellow it is unbelievable. This is just my second time drinking a somewhat aged BW and I am real pleased. Makes me able to keep the many others I have downstairs that much longer.
Again, alcohol is apparent (how do you hide 15%), but it is not harsh...sugary sweet w/ a malt explosion. Finishes slightly bitter, but cleans up within seconds...more flavors of raisins, cherries, and vanilla as it warms up.
Mouthfeel is thick...drinkability suffers a bit only due to the fact that I couldn't make it up the stairs if I had more than two of these.
Thanks again to IrishMike for the chance to try this one...surprised I've let this one go for so long.

Photo of tigg924
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: light redish brown, medium carbonation, clear, smallish head

Smell: sweet fruit, malt, pineapple, raisin, bubblegum and sugarcane--a lot going on here

Taste: hops, especially in the finish, malt, pineapple, raisin, and sugarcane

Mouthfeel: very sweet, light bodied, smooth, with a semi-bitter finish

Drinkability: Another winner from Dogfish Head. One of my favorite brews in the style and by them. Super high ABV, but I can barely taste the alcohol.

Photo of badbeer
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a wonderful amber color with a very small amount of white head that quickly retreated leaving a ring around the glass and somewhat spotty lacing. Smell of apricots, figs, oranges, vanilla, and some brown sugar. Taste starts out with orange and apricot, then turns to a more caramel and brown sugar flavor, finishing with some darker fruits of which plum and raison seem to be most noticeable and a hint of piney hops and alcohol warmth at the very end. Mouthfeel is heavy, but seems to be about right with very little carbonation. A very enjoyable drink, but one to be enjoyed in moderation.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle. 2009 vintage.

The beer pours an orange-amber color with a white head. The aroma is extremely boozy. I get some dark fruit, brandy, caramel, raisins and bourbon notes.

The flavor is also very boozy. I get some bourbon, brandy, brown sugar, maple and vanilla. I know the beer is not barrel-aged, but it tastes a whole lot like whiskey.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of mattster
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

12oz Bottle dated 2007 poured into a snifter glass. Large amount of bubbles... Nice half inch head - breaks up after 2 minutes to a small lacy layer over top of beer. Color is a rich mahogany, very hazy.

Nice smell.. Hints of spice - maybe corriander? Slight subtle citrus.
Taste somewhat bitter, I like the barley taste, I do taste more alcohol than I would have expected from this. I've had stronger DFH beers with less of an alcoholic bite.
I have been a huge DFH fan since I first discovered them, but this is not one of thier better beers. I enjoy a good barleywine, and this one is average at best. I don't want to jump out too much here because a beer of 15% can improve over time, at which case, I'll try it again and give it another review.

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,437 ratings.