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Olde School Barleywine - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,070 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,070
Reviews: 970
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 192
Gots: 496 | FT: 24
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  15.04% ABV

Availability: Fall

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

85 IBU
ABV varies from 13-16%.

(Beer added by: UnionMade on 10-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,070 | Reviews: 970 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nlmartin
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was poured from the bottle into a wide mouthed wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours a very pleasing clear golden amber coloration. The head was an off honey coloration that was short lived. Streaks of lace remain on the glass.

Smell: The beer has a definate spicy alchol smell. The beer has a very nice raisin bread smell. Some piney spicyness makes itself known.

Taste: The beer has a very nice fruity base. There is a great raisin apple and pear combo going on here. Dam this is good stuff. The alcohol has a slight spicy play with the taste. The hops are not overwhelming in relation to many other barleywines.

Mouthfeel: The beer is full bodied with nice carbonation. The mouthfeel is very slick and slightly oily. The alcohol is very warming in the taste.

Drinkability: This is a dangerously drinkable brew. This beer is a big and bad. The alcohol may be a bit boisterous for some peoples taste but I want more.

nlmartin, Feb 23, 2006
Photo of danielocean03
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured an exceptionally clear orange hued coppery color into two snifters as directed by bottle directions. Left a thin, white half finger head even with a rougher pour, left thin sticky lacing. Aroma is sweet, smells richly of caramel malt, with a nice fruitiness, along with hints of hops and alcohol also present. Taste begins sweet and fruity, then bready/grainy, then leaves off with a nice hoppy bitterness, along with a slight nip of alcohol. The 15% abv is hidden very,very well, one could easily mistake it for far less as sweet and smooth as this barleywine is. Mouthfeel is moderate to heavier bodied, coating the mouth with an oil-slick feeling afterwards. Light on carbonation, slight bitter aftertaste. Frighteningly drinkable, admirably complex. This is my first and far from last barleywine. Overall another enjoyable offering from the folks at Dogfish Head. Would seek out again.

danielocean03, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of Maestro
4.85/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

appearance: This one is the lightest in color of any barleywine I have sampled. The beer pours an orange color with a thin, frothy head and a bit of lacing is present.

smell: The malts seem to be more present than anything else in this beer. I appreciate the crisp, refreshing scent of citrus.

taste: very citrus and filled with a malt presence that doesn't seem to be heavy. The beer has a great complexity that has all the characteristics of a great barleywine without the heaviness of most. Some hops come through in this one, too.

mouthfeel: very clean and crisp...even refreshing.

drinkability: scary...be very, very careful. It goes down too smoothly.

Maestro, Feb 09, 2006
Photo of jaluria
3.18/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured a soft brown color with orange & copper hues and a mighty white colored head that remained intact for sometime. Aromas of alcohol and citrus seemed to dominate, though some pine and earthy scents were present, though faint. The taste was semi-sweet with a fair amount of hop bitterness upfront. The sweet, roasted malts came out nicely in the tail end of each sip with a lingering dryness in the finish. The alcohol was hidden to a certain extent in that did not overly dominate the flavors in the beer as I thought it might with such a high ABV. The mild carbonation and fruity flavors coated my mouth nicely, but the drinkability just wasn't there for me. I'm glad I shared this 12 oz. bottle, because I wouldn't have been able to finish it. Interesting to try, but not a great barleywine.

jaluria, Feb 02, 2006
Photo of snilsen13
4.6/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had maybe four or five barley wines now, in recent memory, and this one tops them all. I'm thankful there's some on the shelf. Unfortunately, my mood, gatious that I have these bottles, is going to color this review. I also paid $3 a bottle, roughly, and I think that's a really good price, so that'll color my mood too. PLus, I think barley wine has become my prefered drink as I mostly have nightcaps now.... you get the idea.
Pours slightly transluscent, dark amber brown, small foamy head. Smells not too sweet or bitter, that's good to me. Taste is not explosive. There are sweet flavors that aren't overpowering a good amount of hoppiness for such a stiff brew, and remarkable lack of booziness. The aftertaste has all kinds of subtle complexities, and fades away cleanly. You get the warm fuzzy feeling pretty quickly, by the second or third gulp.
The only hesitancy I have to give the drinkability a perfect 5 is that there's nothing too amazing in the sensation of drinking it. This beer would definately benefit from aging - the cleanliness should allow some pronounced flavors without anything nasty happening. Perhaps after a year this'll be a perfect barley wine. Beermail me if you know where some is being sold (Boston area).

snilsen13, Jan 31, 2006
Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured into the glass murky golden amber with an white and low head which lasted well and lace the glass.

The aroma was citrusy with a strong grapefruit nostil sensation. The aroma was mainly piney and resinous hops with some caramel and some alcohol burn.

The flavor was malty with a lower level of bittering than expected. The beer also contained a higher than expected level of diacetyl. The flavor was caramel and malty with a strong toffee flavor that lasted a very long time. The bittering was piney and citrusy, but was at a low level. The flavors were extremely muted and was almost like drinking a beverage with artificial lemon flavoring and malt.

The finish was dry with lasting citrus flavor and toffee into the aftertaste. The body was medium full and the carbonation was high enough to add a carbonic bite to the beer. This beer was a bit on the difficult side to consume. I cannot say I would recommend it as a well crafted barleywine.

12 ounce bottle. Either an 03 or an 04, impossible to tell, let's say it is an 04.

GCBrewingCo, Jan 30, 2006
Photo of badbeer
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

badbeer, Jan 29, 2006
Photo of jakester
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is from a 12 oz. bottle I bought at Union Jack's on the Manatawny. I drank it in a goblet. No date on the bottle or label.

Pours a beautiful clear gold/amber with a one finger head of just off-white foam. The head falls to islands and a ring, with intermittent splotches of lacing. Carbonation appears fairly active.

Aroma is very clean crystal malt, fruity as hell, with notes of citrus, pears, apples, mangos, spicy/floral hops, vanilla, and faint alcohol at the end. Alcohol surprisingly well hidden in the smell.

Flavor is really smooth bready pale malt, an almost balancing level of hop bitterness, fruits like above, vanilla, and pretty damn sweet. I can hardly taste alcohol, although I can already feel it. Aftertaste is warm and caramely sweet.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, with soft carbonation. This beer is incredibly smooth for its size, which is HUGE! It's also very sticky. There is some warmth at the end, but I would never believe this is 15%. Finish is sweet and heat.

This is as "drinkable" as 15% can get. A remarkable, delicious effort from DFH. I don't like everything they make, but this is truly magnificent.

jakester, Jan 28, 2006
Photo of Jredner
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is light and somewhat hoppy. Opaque orange in color. Very still with no head. Much more fruity and wine tasting than most Barleywines I have had. Lacks the oxidization I find off putting. Alcohol is definitely there, but amazingly well hidden. There is a fruity flavor through all flavor ranges, but if I didn’t know dates and figs were used I wouldn’t have guessed those two. Another amazingly unique beer by DFH.

Jredner, Jan 27, 2006
Photo of kaimcm
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
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.

kaimcm, Jan 24, 2006
Photo of gbarron
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition from a 12 oz. bottle

A - perfectly clear golden color; reminiscient of a nice mead; forms a tight netting of bubbles into a bright white head about a finger thick; slowly disappears into a creamy little foam just a centimeter or so thick; hangs around to the end, very little lacing

S - sweet malt smell, tinge of alcohol. Flowery, sugary smells abound - hints of vanilla, honey, maybe a little oak? Very little hop aroma, maybe a little noble smell in the background. Some light, grassy notes.

T - big beer, big malt profile. Strong flavors of malt, honey, vanilla, cotton candy. Almost tastes like a Belgian strong ale of sorts. Very little hop flavor or bitterness present, but I'm sure it's there otherwise this beer would be far more sweet than it already is. Alcohol present but well hidden. Warms your throat a little bit going down.

M - perfect for a big barleywine like this. If it were thicker, it would really hurt the beer as far as drinkability goes. Light to medium body. Slightly effervescent. Sweet but not too sticky.

D - one of the most drinkable barleywines I've ever had. I could easily sit down with two of these (or more if it weren't for the alcohol) in an evening.

Overall - an outstanding American barleywine. Highly recommended.

gbarron, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of Gusler
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A deep amber on the pour from the 12-ounce brown bottle is it me or is the norm for Barley Wines a deep brown? Who cares I guess as long as it’s a good tasting beer Right?

The beer after its disinterment from the 12-ounce brown bottle a clarion amber with a monstrous light tan head that is creamy in texture with the left over lace a tight girdle that clings to the glass like Ebenezer Scrooge to a gold sovereign. Nose has a nice malt presence a hint of hops, sweet like vanilla taffy. Start is also sweet with a good grain presence and the top moderate in feel. Finish is adequately acidic, the alcohol noticeable and the hops subdued, dry and pleasing to the palate, what can I say about Dogfish Head beers accept I love’em, and they do so good with DISCO Music. Lol

Gusler, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of IceAce
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce bottle absent of bottling date

Pours dark gold with a light tan tightly packed collar of foam with much more staying power than most barleywines. Lacing is a cut above also. Clarity is excellent in my Old Guardian glass.

The aroma is mostly fruity sweet with figs and raisons and just a hint of pine forest hop with little mention of the 15% ABV.

Entry is quiet with little notice of carbonation. Midtaste features sweet figs, raisons, plums, and sugar which all seem to collide in the middle-rear of the tongue. Finish begins with a micro-burst of piney hop juice and a long slow figgy-sweet fade leaving lip-smacking goodness on the lips.

Would love to try this a.) again tomorrow with sweet & sour pork, b.) a year from now after it has had a long sleep, and / or c.) a combination of a+b.

IceAce, Jan 15, 2006
Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear dark golden body with a fluffy white head that leaves a pastiche of lacing marks around the glass

Smell: Lots of rum-soaked fruit flavors - apricots, figs, oranges - all of which are subsumed by the alcohol smells

Taste: Remarkably smooth fruit and toffee start; orange tartness kicks in mid-palate along with a jarring amount of fusel alcohol flavors; a touch buttery on the finish

Mouthfeel: Fairly heavy body, somewhat syrupy; low carbonation

Drinkability: Taste when only three months old, this brew shows some very interesting character and unusual flavor; I'll look forward to seeing what this is like with some age on it

brentk56, Jan 15, 2006
Photo of BillyB
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance : Orange to copper color with a faint white head. Slight ruby highlights when held up to the light.

Aroma: Mandarin orange?, definite citrusy hop aroma. Mango?

Taste/Mouthfeel: Sweet syrupy mouthfeel, not much carbonation. Sticky like a sweet liquer. Alcohol warmth is very strong.

It is drinkable in the sense that you can definitely enjoy one but more than that is a little rough on the palate. An overwhelming beer.

BillyB, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of Sephiroth
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle is dated from January of 2004: Pours with little carbonation, the body is a toasted golden color. Head is retained as an oil slick on the surface of the beer. Smells of malt, a somewhat raw sweetness, and alcohol.

Age has done this one well. The somewhat cloying sweetness of fresh Olde School has dryed to a smooth malt flavor. The hops that are left seem floral, and this tastes more like an English barleywine to me. Mouthfeel is heavy, a little syrupy, I like it. Highly drinkable in what may be middle-age for this beer.

Sephiroth, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a brilliantly clear full copper color that is topped by a frothy, pale tan colored head. The aroma is quite sweet smelling with soft notes of orange, hints of mint, some sort of a funky note reminiscent of tropical fruit, and a bright herbal note. The aroma is nice, but for some reason is not all that inviting.

The taste is quite sweet with lots of fruit notes reminiscent of green raisins, dessert wine grapes, and hints of sweet plums. There is a fair amount of hopping here, but it plays second fiddle to the sweet malt. There is a light (at least relative to the malt) bitterness in the finish, which is preceded by a soft herbal hop flavor that accentuates the sweet fruity notes.

This is definitely has the characteristic flavors of Dogfish Head's other higher alcohol beers; the intense sweet malt and fruit character. This is pretty good, but seems to be missing a lot of complexity that would make this more fittingly a contemplative sipping brew that the alcohol level demands.

Gueuzedude, Jan 05, 2006
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.23/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, 2005 vintage I assume, into a large snifter. I used two pours as the bottle recommends. A fairly light colored barley wine is revealed. Bronze in color with great clarity. Little to no head is formed on the first pour, but as I agitate gently before tasting, a nice appearance of bubbles jump to the top and leave a ring around the glass.

Alcohol is definitely present in the aroma. Smells a bit yeasty as well. Raisins and figs, followed by fermented pear. Fruity aromas.

Taste is a little more subdued. The alcohol is well hidden, especially for a 15er. Mediterranean tastes come to mind with this one. Black olives (of which I am not a fan) and sort of a smoky tomato with some capers. Some sort of medicinal qualites are present, like a cough syrup or Nyquil. Sweet tasting.

A really like the mouthfeel. The carbonation make for a pleasant experience. The alcohol will rear its head in the end as the beer warms. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I think I will try this one in another year to see if the flavor improves. Hopefully, it will.

SaCkErZ9, Jan 03, 2006
Photo of deBeers
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First off don't pour this beer into a pint glass. Use a wine glass, snifter, etc. The directions recommend pouring into two sifters.

This (bottle conditioned) beer is suprisingly drinkable or should I say sippable for such a high abv. It pours of delicate golden straw/honey hue with a slightly sweet peaty/scotch body with a touch of honey and a good amount of bitterness when first poured. Alleviate much bitterness by aerating the beer...it also pours a nice white creamy one finger head which dissipates to a concentric ring within 10 minutes or so. That's why I like pouring this into a wine glass pour by pour to keep this refreshing.

Olde School should be at the most, slightly chilled, yet allowed to warm while imbibing. A sipper for sure as mentioned above. This barleywine was paired a swishersweet black n' mild (apple flavored) which matched lovely with the peaty scotch undertones in the barleywine.

This can be aged obviously but imho it's highly drinkable now. Although I don't know the year of my bottle but I suspect it's 05. Also am recalling a sweetness to this barleywine and maybe a touch of honey? Medium mouthfeel. Definately worth a try and laying one or more down. Might have to seek out the larger bottle.


deBeers, Jan 02, 2006
Photo of RealityDeviant
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. brown bottle obtained from River City Cellars. Although it does not state it on the bottle, it is from last month’s release. No freshness date can be found on the bottle, but I don’t think I could be less worried. As with the DFH Raison d’Extra, I like the artwork on the label.

Appearance: This brew pours with a transparent and deep copper coloration. It appears to have a light carbonation but maintains a light, white lacing.

Smell: Initially, I would say that the aroma of caramel malts and alcohol are most noticeable upon first smell. Of course, this is followed by the more subdued notes of dark fruit and brown sugar. I also detect what might be a hint of pine resin.

Taste: I’m surprised that the flavor of the beer is as delicate as it is. Starting off with an almost syrupy/caramel sweetness, it leads into a mixture of light toffee and fig. The light overall bitterness of the beer is found almost entirely towards the finish, which concludes with a hint of honey. It’s worth noting that the honey flavor dies out long before the bitter twang does. It has a pleasant and long-lingering finish.

Mouthful: I would think it falls towards the lighter end of the “medium” spectrum, but it’s certainly medium-bodied. With its light carbonation and relative sweetness, the texture is akin to a light syrup.

Drinkability: This is a highly drinkable American Barleywine, especially when compared to some of the other examples of the style that I’ve had in the past. I don’t think I can see drinking more than two glasses of this, however, because the sweetness could become too overbearing.

Notes: For a brew weighing in at 15%, it certainly does not seem like it. I can note the alcohol in the flavor and in the smell, but my senses pick up something more like 9% or 10%. Cheers to DFH for producing a beer with a well-concealed ABV. As with a lot of their beers, the price makes me whimper but the product makes me smile.

RealityDeviant, Dec 21, 2005
Photo of silver0rlead
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on date of november 11th, 2005: Pours a slightly murky copper color with a thick tan head that retains impressively well for a 15% brew. The aroma is quite malty, with a big rum soaked fruit character (apples, grapes, oranges, plums), some citrus and floral hops, caramel apples, vanilla, toasted bread and ethanol. The flavor starts off with candied fruit soaked in rum, floral citrus and piney hops, toasted bread, vanilla, oak, and a big alcohol wallop. The mouthfeel is medium, with moderate body and light carbonation, and the finish is a bit sweet and alcohol ridden. Drinkability is better than i expected, DFH did well concealing the alcohol in this, though it is still very present. An interesting barleywine, not over the top hoppy like many, could definately age for a few years.

silver0rlead, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of jmz62565
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a amber color with a nice creamy head.The color is lighter than other barleywines and the head disappears too fast.The smell is alcohol filled with sugar,malt,and hops.The taste has a very strong sweetness to it that dominated.The taste is like baking sugar.There's not the fruit taste that other barleywines have.There's also a carmel and alcohol aftertaste that make this a little rich.It's a good taste,but it's really nothing special.The m/f is medium and not really well balanced.This is a good beer,but I really thought a barleywine from Dogfish Head would be better.

jmz62565, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of TheBlackMallard
3.1/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper with plenty of carbonation. Leaves no head, just a slight soapy ring around the top of the glass with nice lacing. Smell of carmelized sugar. Tastes are of sweet alcohol with slight bitter and fruityness (it may be the color but apple maybe?). Medium to heavy mouthfeel, carbonation still very present. Pretty drinkable but I expected more from DFH. Not very impressive or exciting.

TheBlackMallard, Dec 17, 2005
Photo of lackenhauser
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice, bright, coppery, golden color. Nice amount of bubbles slowly rising to the top. Mellow, low aroma. Slight hopiness to it. Underlying malty sweetness-mustiness in there as well. Big malt flavor. Nicely (and lightly) hopped. Great caramel flavors. Slight alcohol tinge. Killer body-thick and viscuous though not overly so. The whole package is really well balanced here. A fantastic brew. Really has become quite the beer from the sample I had 3 years ago. A real sipper. I find myself wanting to take large tastes to really enjoy it and after half a glass I can feel its effects. Damn good beer.

lackenhauser, Dec 10, 2005
Photo of sinistrsam
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This barleywine poured a golden amber color with plenty of caronation and no head. The aroma suprised me; almost a white-wine nose, a little like the Russian River I rated a while back. Obviously a different style and brewery but just a faint resemblance. Anyhow, atop the white wine thing was apple, spice, yeast and major hoppy tones. I was dying to dive right in, but was somewhat disappointed; the wine taste was gone; replaced by a good ammount of very obvious alcohol, sweet malts, flowery hops, possibly vanilla, and (please excuse going way out on a limb) a mild taste of over-ripe bananas. It was very carbonated and biting, but that, along with the taste slightly improved as it warmed.

sinistrsam, Dec 10, 2005
Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,070 ratings.