1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Olde School Barleywine - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,329 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,329
Reviews: 1,010
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 212
Gots: 634 | FT: 33
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Olde School Barleywine Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,329 | Reviews: 1,010 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of amneziak
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a medium dark umber orange color with medium cloudiness. Because of the extremely high alcohol content (15% ABV), only a small amount of head actually poured out into my tulip glass. It soon disappeared into nowhere leaving behind a very small ring of white head around the circumference of the glass. Lacing is moderate but not enough to get excited about and there is a pretty good amount of carbonation after twirling the beer around.

Smell: There is definitely a lot of caramel and fruits (golden raisins, dates, and dried apricots) in the nose which seem to overpower even any bit of hops that should be in the beer. I'm also getting a bit of a burning sensation from the alcohol presence. I can tell this is going to be a huge beer. Guess I better go put my big boy pants on right quick.

Taste: The flavor is a lot nicer than I had expected. There is a lot of caramel but also some very nice floral components that even stand up to the strong alcohol presence. In some ways I'd say this beer is approaching some of the same characteristics of a nice rum. It's sweet, heavy, and just loaded with intensity.

Mouthfeel: The alcohol presence really rules the roost here. The tongue just can't get past the burn and the sweetness isn't too far behind. As the beer begins to get close to room temperature the bitterness from the hops (which really can't be tasted) begin to peak through. Overall, though, caramel and heat.

Overall: One thing is for sure - Mr. Calagione does not skimp on alcohol. I currently have three DFH beers in the cellar that are all over 15% ABV. The 120-Minute is 20%!!! What's the deal? Anyway, I'm just about done with this small 12 ounce beer and I'm feeling very warm and sleepy. This is not the best Barleywine I've had and I will definitely put a post-it note on my other bottle of this so I can remember to let it sit at least a year or two before busting it open.

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

A - Pours nice dark copper, some nice head, leaves fast. Clingy lacing apparent.

S - Tropical, banana, and BOOZE. Carribean cocktail. Astringent too.

T - Taste follows smell exactly. Good stuff, though.

M - Medium body, good carb, balance a little off.

D - Not so much, man , nice, but enough is enough.

Photo of Proteus93
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured with a remarkably large head, considering the ABV. I would have thought it would have been a short little thing, but it's a good finger and some of off-white cream over a hazy brownish pour. It's got an appearance like powdered iced-tea brewed way too strong.

S: Some boozy fumes with a surprisingly fruity scent. Pear and some ripe apple, all smelling quite sugary and candy-like.

T + M: Big flavour... much of it is dominated by alcohol, which isn't surprising. Sweet, almost sticky, and the fruitiness is noted on the palate, like the nose. Plenty of alcohol warming over the tongue and all the way down.

D: Intense and big, I'd be curious to leave it for a year as suggested. It has plenty of potential, for certain. I think a year would do it well.

Photo of schroederm
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

In a tulip:

Poured with no head really, maybe it was too cold? Attractive hazy golden brown body. The smell is impressive: alcohol jumps out first, backed by figs, banana, and maraschino cherry. HUGE flavor. Tons of alcohol, fruitiness, and general sweetness. Tart. Green apple, cherry, and raisin in there. It's quite thick, but carbonation is a bit biting. To be honest, this brew would be tough to drink a lot of, but just because of its in your face flavor.

Photo of nrbw23
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a clear amber with a thin offwhite head. Head recedes quickly to nothing and leaves no lacing.

S- Smells very sweet. Caramel, maple syrup, brown sugar and fruits. Hops are hiding in the background. Alcohol is ever present with this 15%.

T- The sweetness was very surprising for me. Didn't quite expect that at all. Pretty much just like the nose but stronger. Malts follow while I pick up some darker fruits, and the hops well not quite sure where they are. The alcohol is nice.

M- Body is probably on the thinner side of medium and the carbonation is right on.

D- I had no problems drinking this one and enjoyed very much. I got one in the cellar and went against the bottles instructions of burying it in the back yard. Looking forward to this one in a year.

Photo of jdhilt
4.72/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours with a two-finger, bubbly cream head that fades quickly and leaves some lace. Pale, cloudy amber color, ton of yeast left in bottle. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is sweet malt and alcohol. Flavor is raisins and alcohol, finishes smooth and sweet NOT a session beer . . . savor this beer. This is one of the best barley wines brewed in the States. $16.49 for a 4-pak of 12oz bottles from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA

Photo of Shumista
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another high abv brew from DFH, these are always interesting. Poured half of a 12 oz. bottle into a scotch glass (I figured I'd be sipping it, and my snifter is dirty).

A- Olde School Barleywine pours a deep amber/copper, with an off white head that is fizzier than I expected that dissipates quickly.
S- A little bit too boozy to be pleasant, definitely interesting though. Huge aroma, I smelled this one the minute I popped the top off. Fruity, malty sweet smell along with the alcohol mentioned above.
T- Fruity, malty, sweet, boozy, hot, bitter...boozy, hot. I am looking forward to aging a few of these to see how the taste mellows over time. I would dig a hole like the label instructs, but I think the back of my closet will work just as well.
M- Thick, medium carbonation, mouth-coating.
D- I think I'll polish off the rest of the four-pack...and then succumb to alcohol poisoning and die.

my bottom line: A bit hot and boozy without any age on it, and 15%...are you kidding me? Probably best to try a single before dropping $15 plus on a 4 pack.

Photo of aquatonex
4.83/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had quite a few barleywines but this one is one of the best ones I have had!

Pours dark mahogany with a little bit of swirly head, not much lacing, not overly carbonated. Smells like a liqueur with malts. Taste is also more like a carbonated liqueur than a beer, but considering the 15% there is no burn, it is all very balanced, sweet, and heady. As my girlfriend described, who hates other barleywines, this is what barleywines should taste like. It's everything you ever wanted in one, with exception of the roughness (which is nice change).

Photo of 88blkiroc
4.63/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Smell: The smell is faint when cold but develops as it warms. Currants, golden raisins, green apple, apricot with a background of alcohol are the main flavors but this one is complex.

Appearance: Pours a thick amber color like dark honey. Slight head that fades quickly. Very nice looking.

Mouth feel: Holy cow this is thick, its coats your mouth in flavor. Decent carbonation.

Taste: There are so many flavors going here its tough to catch them all with only one glass. Strong flavors of dried fruit and a thick caramel taste. As it warms it developed a fig flavor to it. A slight bitter hoppy taste at the finish and the alcohol gets you on the back of the tongue.

I just cant get enough from the guys at Dogfish Head. This is another one of their fun to drink rockers of a beer. Still the best brewery in America in my humble opinion. This one is another complex triumph of American brewing ingenuity and experimentation. Keep it coming.

Photo of jwhawkins81
2.98/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Aroma - Sweet alcohol with hints of malt and fruit

Appearance - Cloudy golden red with decent carbonation and no real head to speak of.

Taste - Wow, way strong flavor. First fruity but then a ton of alcohol burn. I've never tasted a beer with this much burn to it. Obviously I should have followed the directions instructing me to dig a hole and place the bottle in for three years. Age will really help this beer out.

Mouthfeel - Is tastes like burning

Drinkability - At 15% ABV what do you think?

I got get a hold of another one of these to age.

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.54/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This sample of DFH Olde School was bottled in 06' and I'm tasting it in March of 09'. I tend to prefer barleywines aged, especially when they are 15% ABV. Are they ever 15%ABV besides this one? Maybe sometimes, I guess.

A light orange-yellow body, probably close to apricot. Pours with hardly any head at all.

Smell? It smells boozy and fruity with more booze and fruit after that. Maybe some more booze too.

The taste is the same as the smell. Some figs and sugary sweetness with a bunch of booze. Warming and biting alcohol.

A big, heavy body that is pretty full and very low on the carbonation. Very warming.

Maybe this is considered drinkable for a 15%abv beer, but even a whole 12oz bottle might be a challenge. Interesting and pretty good beer overall though I would say.

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

I'm in general a fan of dogfish head. SN's is better, but this is quite good.

A- Hazy copper with active carbonation and some murky sediment. Nice head that leaves good lacing.

S- Alcohol is hard in this one. Orange and other fruits with strong hops and a little zest to it. Odd tinge there as well.

T- Tasty. Lots of different fruits coming out and some malt-like caramel or toffee followed by hops. Pretty spicy too and really complex. Alcohol sting hits on the finish.

M- Thick, really thick but smooth. Average carbonation.

D- Try it. You could hit enjoy one slowly but the ABV prevents having many.

Photo of TheMistler
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy copper orange. Off white, creamy head dissipates quickly, with the thin wispiness indicative of many high-ABV brews. Large bubbles comprise the ample ring.

As noted by many others, a nose that combines sweet malt notes with alcohol. Cherries. Slightly burnt caramel. Spices - currant. Dark bread, dough, which seems linked the Belgian characteristics others have mentioned. A strong whiff of alcohol comes through.

Lots of alcohol to the taste, finishing dry, with a slight singeing feel, as if I'd just taken a shot of... rum, I'd say. Cherries, licorice. Toffee.

Surprisingly strong carbonation, with some noticeable prickliness. Medium bodied, a tad chewy.

A nice sipper, but take a sip too big and its not the most enjoyable of alcohol kicks.

Photo of allergictomacros
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper in the glass, with a hefty sediment left in the bottle. Head is weak to unremarkable. Intense malty aroma with lots of alcohol, dried dark fruit, and molassesy sugariness. Hints of grape. Straight-up barleywine flavours - tons of malt and alcohol, assertively bitter finish, and a touch of apple in the middle. A sipper for sure. In my mind, the bitterness might be a bit too strong relative to the rest of the flavours. Somewhat sweet and acidic, but very astringent as well.

Photo of Strix
3.48/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy amber with a decent head.

Smells of alcohol and sweetness.

Lots of sweetness and alcohol in the taste too. I get brown sugar, pepper, honey, and alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

Mouthfeel slick.

If you're in the mood for a strong nightcap, this might be nice. Fresh, it was a little hot for me, maybe it will settle down in a few years.

Photo of soupermirl
3.71/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

O.K. Good color, almost foggy looking, unfiltered like. Pretty light amber color. Head was lacking a little but ringer stuck around for a while. Smelled strong, a bit yeastie, malt and hops balanced great. Nice Barley Wine... Taste a bit strong, but no more than other Barley wines, pretty much like it should be. Clean aftertaste. Mouthfeel is great, with clean after... For a barley wine, pretty easy to sip, but not a full force drinker.

Photo of webmanspidey
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%

Dark golden color in a snifter. Sweet cider/vinegar smell. Very very sweet overwhelming caramel flavor dominates the taste. Hop profile hides in the background.

This definitely goes to the extreme in terms of strength and sweetness. I can't point out a lot of complex flavors as the sweet alcohol kind of overrides everything. This is not to say I don't enjoy it, however. It is delicious.. but a slow sipper. Another great beer from Dogfish Head.

Photo of RockerD
3.08/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Yeah dog it's a little pitchy.

Beer looks beautiful in glass. Has a nice Orange Burgundy appearance. Short head on this beer. As the head dissipated I got this great aura borealis effect in the beer with the bottles dancing on top of the extreme fermented beverage.

Great alcohol lacing, almost to the point of burning your nostrils. Smells of currant, cherries, licorice, sweet-floral scents and grass. I'm sensing some sort of Belgian characteristic???

As the beer tears my tongue apart I cannot believe how sweet it is! This beer taste like candied licorice (and I don't mean candy licorice). Amazing alcohol burn is evident in the after-taste.

I love Dogfish Head... I'm not in love with this beer. When you hear Dogfish Head and Barleywine your ears might perk up a little. However my senses didn't perk up too well to this one. On the bright side; I'm half in the bag after one. Cheers!

Photo of Durge
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A clear mahogany color with a fair off-white head and nice lacing. The aroma is almost shocking, very much like a Belgian rather than a barleywine, clove and malt with alcohol predominate. The taste is a nice grapefruity malt and clove with lots of alcohol. It has a full body feel, almost oily, with understated carbonation but the 15% alcohol is quite a major theme here. Not to be sessioned needless to say. Certainly another quality brew from DFH, but as usual, so much alcohol is not a natural balance and I think it buries the potential of this otherwise tastey brew. As it is this one is a nice choice for something different if you like a strong beer.

Photo of mmmbeer
2.85/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz., conditioned, bottled on 10/16/06 and sampled at almost a year-and-a-half old. It pours into the snifter dark amber, nearly clear, with medium carbonation, and a frothy inch of tan head that reduces to a compact collar and leaves a few traces of lacing. Very fruity in the nose, with a heavy helping of malts and ethanol. It starts with raisins and figs, followed by a touch of aroma hops, and finishing with apricot and apple esters. On the palate there is a huge dose of warming, peppery alcohol that is pretty harsh. Some of the pleasing aspects from the scent are present, and there are some tasty notes here and there, but there is way too much alcohol to make this taste good. The body is acceptable: heavy and fairly dry, with consistent carbonation, and as far as drinkability is concerned - each sip feels like a shot, and the finish leaves me almost breathing flames. This is a beast of a beer that probably takes a good five years to become easily drinkable, but at 1.5 years old, it is still very harsh.

Photo of becktone
4.39/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes 12-16-08

Done back to back with Stone Old Guardian

Eye: This one looks great once poured. Head retention is pretty good, actually pretty damn good for a beer with 15% abv. The head is stable at about 1/2 a finger's width and is meringue-like in appearance. Lacing is composed of thinner sheets of lace. Color is orange-amber and is fairly clear, perhaps a bit of haziness, but I can still see right through this one.

Nose: As the cap is removed this beer's aroma fills the room. Upon closer inspection the aroma is very fruity. It really reminds me of dried fruit, like the kind you find in trail mix. Alcohol is in there as well. The fruit aroma is very similar to dried apricots. Grapefruit hop aroma in here as well, it blends well with the fruity aroma I get. Overall a very nice aroma, it eludes me, I can't quite put a finger on exactly what that fruity aroma is, but I really enjoy it. Hints of a strong malt backbone under all this.

edit: Got it! The fruity aroma in this beer smells exactly like canteloupe. Forget the trail mix dried fruits and apricot, its definitely the sweet aroma of canteloupe.

Tongue: Alcohol is right upfront, can't miss it. Its flavor is a big part of this brew. Upon first sip it dominates everything and warms the stomach. Under the alcohol is that sweet canteloupe flavor, but its not nearly as abundant as it was in the nose. Barely malt sweetness and flavor is in there as well, but is hard to describe as much more than that. Grapefruit and citrus hop flavors are present as well. Alcohol is pretty forward; but the more I sip on this the more the malt, hops, and that canteloupe flavor come through and the less the alcohol flavor is present. I like it, and will enjoy drinking the rest of this bottle.

Feel and Drinkability: As previously mentioned this one definitely warms as it goes down, great for the winter months. This is one that I'll definitely be sipping over the next hour or so. Alcohol is the last thing to taste, but once it diminishes the finish consists of some citrus hop and malt and that sweet canteloupe nectar. Carbonation is low, so low that I don't notice it until its looked for, were it higher it would ruin the beer and take away from the flavor and give this beer a feel that is wrong for the taste. Body is medium, lightened by the presence of high alcohol. This is one that I'll gladly drink more of and I'll recommend it to any who are looking for a great barleywine.

Photo of pmcadamis
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I got a 12 ozer of this at The Brewhaus in Springfield for only five bucks. Now, in terms of getting your money's worth this is the real deal. 15% ABV for five bones... that's essentially the "buzz" equivalent of three regular brews, not to mention the fact that this is a very, very well made beer. Kudos to my favorite bar in town!

A - This is cloudy and bronze with a small white cap. I'm not surprised that the head is small, and retention is wimpy due to the alcohol content. Looks good enough.

S - Oh shit! This smells like honeycomb cereal, clove honey, molasses, Gran's biscuits, and a pile of brown leaves. Sweet caramel, the gooey kind that you dip stuff in or cover caramel apples with. Some fruit is detectable too, apple predominately.

T - Caramel apple. This is like dipping a ripe juicy red delicious apple into that Marzochi's caramel dip that comes in a little tub. The alcohol is noticeable, but it adds to the zing of the fresh red apple skin. This is really, really tasty.

M - Full bodied to the max! This is almost solid at times... the viscosity complements the gooey caramel and ripe juicy apple notes nicely. The finish is boozy, I mean I'm breathing fumes here. But, as I always say in many of my reviews, I very much enjoy high alcohol presence due to my other beverage of choice... scotch.

D - This isn't one to drink more than one of; it's a slow sipper to be enjoyed the way one would enjoy scotch neat in a snifter. This is an incredible beer from a very incredible brewery.

Photo of ommegoose
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, bottled on 11/21/08. Poured into a pint glass. I'm feeling like a big boy tonight.

Really hazy tan, with orange trying to burst through. Color of dried dates. Color is maybe not to style, but the head outperforms other barleywines easily. Much better than expected considering the abv. Holds steady at a quarter inch, and leaves a full cap the whole way. Pretty impressive. Lacing runs in horizontal streaks. Possibly an issue with my glass. Still, I'm inclined now to be less apologetic of 12%+ beers having no head retention/lacing. This has better retention than most beers I've had, and this one is the strongest I've had to date. Really a nice accomplishment. I'm puzzled by the 3 and 3.5 scores.

Bursts with fresh citrus. Tropical fruit, strongly, the ones listed below. Peach. Vanilla caramel. BAs who love fruity aromas need to nose this one. Strong and enticing, making you wonder whether the flavor is near as good.

Wow, lots of flavor, lots of booze. Sweet tropical fruits. Like a serving of dried papaya, mango, pineapple, figs, coconut. Grapefruit a little further back. Reminds me of some wheatwines I've had. Fresh hoppy finish that tastes just lightly bitter, but keeps all that tropical fruit. I bet the IBUs are high, but just overwhelmed by the epic malt content here, which leans towards buttery caramel. Aftertaste of orange and papaya. Hot on the way down for sure. This beer is no joke. Picks up a nice tartness as it warms. I'm finding new things to like with every sip, such as a woody spiciness I've gotten towards the end. I'd recommend shaking out the sediment on this brew. It just doesn't quit.

Well, the alcohol is not at all a secret. Yeah, this is pretty fresh, and maybe should have been aged, but if a brewery is putting something on the shelf, I think they're telling you it's okay to drink right now. Carbonation is delicate, very nice. Hot, to say the least, but it's thick and coats the tongue. But you don't kill an IPA for being bitter, or a sour for being sour, so you can't really knock a 15% barleywine for being what it is.

What a contrast between this and Bigfoot, with Bigfoot leaning towards IIPA, and this more like what I expect American barleywines to be like. Hard to believe they are the same style. This one is not for everyone to be sure. Definitely an extreme beer. Still can't give this a great score in drinkability. It's a slow mover. But, now that I think about it, would I swap this for the 120 Minute at half the price? Uh, most likely. They share some similarities. It's too good a value at $5 or less to pass up. Some beers are great because they have their own unique flavor that's hard to describe, and others are great because they taste like so many other things. This one falls in the latter. Great beer experience for me with this beer. I hope I have the willpower to try it aged.

Photo of hellbilly
1.3/5  rDev -67.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

on tap at papago...

hazy brown amber with a small white head which fades to last as a film.

the aroma... well... bananas, bubblegum, caramel, piloncilla (presumably dates), more sugar and floral alcohol which actually smells like nail polish (confirmed by several).

i really had to work myself up to taste this... thing. it's the same... lots of hot floral cheaply manufactured booze with a starchy banana aftertaste.

the chewy texture and hot mouth feel just aren't going to get it done and certainly don't help the cause. yuck. 3/4/2/1/5/1.5

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

Poured in to my Delerium Tremens snifter, dark deep brown with a thick impressive head. Smelled of mal, vanilla, toffee, and alcohol. Taste was hot with alcohol, but also complex with everything that was in the nose. Still, alcohol is huge. If I wanted to taste this much alcohol, I would have ordered a Martini? Very strong for my tastes. Mouthfeel was very good and lively. Drinkability to me was low due to the hot alcohol flavor and smell. I think this needs some cellaring before I'll try the remaining three bottles.

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,329 ratings.