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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

2,253 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,253
Reviews: 994
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 205
Gots: 574 | FT: 27
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: 2,253 | Reviews: 994 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Just over a year old bottle.
Pours a orangish, pink in color with no head forming at all. Smell is malty and still showing signs of the big alcohol level. Taste is showing more of the alcohol than was in the nose. There are also some light citrusy fruit and white wine qualities. It still needs some time in the cellar. Just don't know if the alcohol will ever diminish from this level. Still very drinkable and enjoyable.

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

A: Split a 2007 vintage 12 oz bottle with my wife. Poured my half into a small brandy snifter. A scant finger of head forms and rapidly dissipates with nice lacing. The beer is a nice medium amber with hints of red.

S: Complexity is the key word... fig, vanilla, oak, brown sugar, candy sweetness all show up. Any hop aromas have faded with the 9 months of age.

T: Dark fruits up front, maybe dates or yellow raisins. Residual sweetness shows up in the middle and a moderate amount of hop bitterness is evident late. There is a pretty obvious alcohol burn, but it isn't sharp enough to be unpleasant.

M: Surprisingly light for such a large malt bill. The carbonation and alcohol mingle together to produce a mild tingling sensation on the tongue. Slightly cloying late, but there is enough bitterness to cut through in the end. Overall, reminds me of a good whiskey, but without quite as much harsh buzz.

D: What can you say about a 15% barleywine? Find a friend or lover and share this over an hour or two!

Photo of tonistruth
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- clear copper brew with a decent holding thick foamy off white head

S- floral, fruity esters, alcohol, pine, sweet

T- sweet and fruity malts throughout, woody, citric and piney hops, toasted and caramel malts, sweet overall, alcohol toward and at finish, warms well

M- chewy, oily and sticky with a hot finish

D- complex with a good mouthfeel, enjoyable, big props for having such a high percentage brew that warms so well

Photo of johnd513
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first barleywine. 12oz bottle poured into my leffe goblet. The smell is sweet and fruity. The taste is sweet raisons. The mouthfeel is slick and creamy. A bit too sweet for my taste but still very good. Reminds me of DFH Raison D' etre but I enjoyed this brew much better. The alcohol is hidden well enough considering its 15% ABV but still a bit over the top for me.

Photo of Scoobydank
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L:Light caramel browness. Cloudy. Any head there was disspaers quickly.
S:Sweet toffee and raisons right away. Kind of an odd citrus orange smell.
T:Sweet toffee and raisons start you off right away, like the smell suggests. Caramel roastiness follows. Very cool citrus on the back. The citrus really sticks out.
M:Sharp tiny little packed in bubbles gives you a prickly feeling on the top of your tounge.
D:FANTASTIC!!!! Sublte hint of port with big fruity raisons. Very smooth for such a different take on the style.

Photo of bonbini26
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, paired with a vintage 1997 cigar

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: so much going on, i wish i could tell you more

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.

my father had a 15 year old port with his cigar, and he kept asking me for a sip of this, so just keep that in mind

Photo of yemenmocha
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours dark orange/brown color with modest off-white head that dissipates quickly.

Nose has mixed fruit such as canteloupe, peach, and hops. Maple & caramel are present also.

Palate has a lot of alcohol warmth, more dark fruit, malt sweetness, and mouth puckering hops at the end. Maple & caramel come through also, maybe some fig newtons.

Very slow drinking. More fruit oriented in flavors and aroma compared to most barleywines.

Photo of Gtreid
2.2/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Vintage 2007.
Poured into a snifter.

A: Nice orange, caramel color with almost one full finger of sandy head that does not retain well.

A: Did not like this. Astringent, and white board marker smell took me back. There were some sweet malts, and earthy, pine hops, but... As close as I can come to discribing this smell is, the purple scented marker you would use in grade school.

T: Not much better IMO. I did get some nice honey, and piney hop tones, as well as some sweet malts, but, I'm afraid the alcohol overwhelms this brew.

M&D: Medium to full body, the mouthfeel was actuauly quite nice and creamy. The drinkability, on the other hand was not. At 15% ABV, very strong, too strong. Not a good example of an American BW. Maybe I got a bad bottle? Will not be searching for this again. Skal.

Photo of ccrida
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

3/10/11 - update of the same batch (purchased 12/07). Still super sweet, generic DFH strong. Spicy. Can't say this one has really budged an inch in 3 years, wow, what a monster. two left i think, I'll give them a very long time, maybe 7 and 10 years total before a check in. Still pretty smooth, no real oxidation, perhaps a hint. Beet sugar, molasses.
6/12/08 -
12 oz bottle that I've cellared for about 6 months, poured into my Deschutes snifter. Olde School is a hazy copper with a large, khaki head that is slow to settle, forming a taller column in the middle as the sides subside, leaving heavy lace. Very impressive for such a big beer.

Smell is strong, spciy and fruit, unmistakable extreme DFH, much like the Raison D'extra IIRC. Pretty nice, very rich fruitiness to it, which helps mask the high ABV.

Taste is also very heavy on the English ale yeast fruity esters, and much smoother then I expected. The ABV is very well hidden, really just lingering vapors on the breath, even the finish is fairly clean, mostly sweet esters and malt.

Mouthfeel is slick, and the body is not nearly as thick as I feared.

Drinkability is surprisingly high, I thought I was in for a 2 hr sipper, but his sucker is going down with dangerous speed. I assume the 6 months I sat on this really helped, and I'm glad I've got a few more left, as this one is a winner, probably my favorite of the big as DFH brews to date. Still, it's worth noting that I find them all to taste very similar (well, I'm thinking of the 120 and raison D'extra), dominated by the esters and sweet malt and sugars. While this is a tasty, enjoyable beer in it's own right, much of my score reflects how well executed this is, as I homebrewer, I know making these monster beers is no easy task. Much more of an English BW in my mind.

Photo of BullCityB
2.9/5  rDev -27%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a beautiful deep amber with a nice rocky head. Very nice...

The aroma is quite rich. Spicy alcohols, some fruit, and caramel maltiness. The alcohol is, perhaps, a bit too present here. I know this beer is 15%, but still.

The flavor is rather unforgiving. This is a sipper, as the alcohol is rearing its head here as well. There's a lot of body here, and it's got plenty of spice, presumably from the alcohol. Very warming. I was expecting more fruit than is here, seeing as it's got some figs and, I believe, dates in there, but I guess it has mostly fermented away. Plenty of caramel malts in this one too, you can tell that as soon as it hits your tongue. All in all, it's odd. More alcohol than is ever necessary in an ale, a lot of sticky sweetness, and not a lot in the way of bitterness. I can't say this is my cup of tea. The combination of alcohol and sticky caramel flavors really mask almost everything else.

In the mouth, it's quite creamy. Pretty good, but a bit too sticky for my taste, at least when I'm this down on the flavor.

As far as drinkability goes, I'm wondering if I'll make it through the last half of this guy. It's huge, both in body and alcoholic strength, and that along with the flavor of this beer doesn't comprise a recipe for something that I can have more than one of, ever.

I had very high hopes for this bad-ass mofo, as it came highly recommended from the BA who gave me this bottle from his cellar. However, it just isn't for me. Too much alcohol, too much sweetness, and not enough hops. As someone who loves Dopplebocks and Baltic Porters, that says something.

Thanks to CWiggins for the bottle, it was worth a try!

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

Pours a ruby, brown color with an off-white head that falls fast and leaves a fine lace behind.

The smeel is boldly sweet and malty. The aroma reminds me of alcohol soaked fruit.

Tastes is sweet and syrupy with strong fruit flavors and a strong alcohol finish.

Smooth and medium bodied in the mouth with low carbonation.

A decent barleywine and another nice selection from Dogfish Head.

Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pour was a nice very dark red copper color. With an aggressive pour there was lots of head that subsided fast leaving spotty lacing.

S- Smells very sweet and fruity. Reminds me of many of the other DFH high ABV beers.

T- Very sweet and fruity. A nice raisin or date type of taste, very nice and malty. The spice of the alcohol makes for a nice finish. Upon a second taste the taste of cherries is present and a nice tandem to the raisin.

M- Nice and smooth, no carbination to get in the way of the flavors of the beer. The alcohol gives a very nice spice that may other wise have been over shadowed by the carbination.

D- Very easy to drink, reminds me almost of Samichlaus, but with more bite. I enjoy this very much.

Photo of petebritton2003
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

07 bottle No head once poured. Buttery, upfront aroma of caramel and some fruitiness. Sweet and warming alcohol with little bitterness in the taste. ok barlywine. I wiill save the others for years to come just cause it isn't quite there. i will still try this beer every year when it releases.

Photo of Oxymoron
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Kickin it old school. A delicate pour that comes out a chestnut brown with reddish hues throughout. Great clarity and a soft white heat with decent retention that hides to the side of the glass. Looking lacing as well.

The nose is rich with malt and solvent alcohol characteristics. To start the malt has some limited complexity with a husky and caramel nose. Some very noticeable fruity and ester notes. Some mostly raisin notes, but not much figs or plums. Some wine like and cherry mix. Some spicy peppery notes as well as some light banana, almost Belgian like. Bigger alcohol notes really come out strong almost off setting.

The taste is similar. Some malty notes with more of a caramel flavor coming out. Some residual solvent like alcohol really underlines every taste but does blend well. The fruity notes back off a bit but some raisin and figs come out. The winey flavors come out more with a white wine flavor mixed with a granny smith apple. The hops are limited but some earthy notes are perceivable.

The body is big, no kidding, and high perception of alcohol. Carbonation is limited but understandable with the ABV that is a bit of a deterrent. Though I rate this based off of this years, I have had Olde School after a year and though improves this beer could use more time.

Photo of botham
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip. I have been looking foreward to this one, and being review number 300, let it flow! pours a hazy reddish amber color with a single finger of light tan head that dissipates quickly and leaves light lacings.

aroma is reminiscent of a belgian dubbel, with a fruit character of grape, raisen, and distant berry notes. a semi-sour quality takes over the aroma, along with an earthy base that mixes in with the fruit.

taste is more of the same, with a mild alcoholic presence. fruity up front, with a finish of alcohol and dark fruit, along with residual raisen, apple, and a bit of caramel. overall a touch sour, with an almost tart quality in the finish. nicely concentrated, but still a bit boozy.

mouthfeel is full bodied with a sharp texture from CO2 and alcohol, along with a finish of soft CO2 and warming alcohol. for a 15 percent APV, this one masks the booze nicely.

drinkability is decent. this is defenitely a sipping brew, but the flavors and concentration here make it a rich and tasty one; and besides, the cowboy on the bottle will do you no wrong, he just wants you to enjoy the brew. cheers!

Photo of NCSUdo
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, bottled 2007

A: Pours a really beautiful ruby hued copper (almost a purple tint), under a quickly dissipating white head. Some retention and lace.

S: Very nice smell, no hint of alcohol. A lot of dark fruit, cherry, plum, sweet, little bit of piney hops, caramel.

T: Sweet, fruity, caramel, brown sugar, some warming alcohol. Not quite as boozy as I expected, but still pretty warm.

M/D: Full bodied, low carbonation, alcohol is there, but not huge. Drinkability, well, it's a sipper no doubt, but much more drinkable then I thought it would be.

Photo of charlzm
2.2/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Consumed 04/22/08.

Cloudy, dark honey hue. Good lacing, though not much of a head.

Aroma is sticky sweet and boozy.

The first thing I noticed when the beer entered my mouth is the flavor and heat of the alcohol. It's a big, big beer. Some acetone character as well. And sweetness. Lots of sweetness. Maybe honey?

Despite the powerful flavor, I am unable to pick out anything other than alcohol, acetone and sweetness. Perhaps I drank this too young (I bought the bottle only three months ago), but I must admit I am disappointed in this one.

Mouthfeel is thick and coating, a little cloying.

As is, not terribly drinkable. I'm glad I split this bottle four ways.

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

Poured from a bottle a deep orange-amber color with a thin ring of off-white head.

Aroma of white grapes, booze, raisins, and more booze.

Tastes of wine grapes, sour apple, honey, and booze. It's hard to keep 15% under wraps.

Medium mouthfeel, mouth warming, and moderate carbonation.

This is an American Barleywine on steroids. Made to drink slow and savor. Would have been better with the alcohol pulled back a bit. Still, one to try just for the experience.

Photo of kurtissellen
4.72/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an oversized wine glass yielding a small light brown head that quickly fades. Dark rich amber color that was clear and had lots of carbonation present. Scents of sweet figs and lots of alcohol!!. Taste bud overload with the first sip, detected sweet grapes, raisons, light molasses all the while carbonation tickles the tongue. Thick syrupy texture that leaves a lasting taste in the mouth. Simply delicious and with a high ABV I could drink myself into a coma with this one.

Photo of thickerfreakness
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A 12 ounce Bottled on 10/17/07

Poured this into my Duvel glass. Has a deep orange color and a nice one inch beige head that slowly settles to a thin layer of foam. Wow this smells really boozy. I can smell a little bit of raisin and some sweet fruit and caramel but mainly just booze. The taste is much like the smell. A little bit of honey and some sweet fruit and then the alcohol and strong sweet taste hits and leaves with a slightly bitter after taste. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy. The drinkability takes a big hit for the 15% abv and the strong alcohol taste. I had this around early January and decided to let it age some but this did not make much of a difference. Overall a pretty sweet, boozy barleywine that should definitely be shared.

Photo of joezak5
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a Duvel sniffter; clear and clean reddish brown with the most delicate tiny bubbles in the center. Little retention, good lacing.

Smell: Peppery and spicy apple cider malt. Deep and syrup with the alcohol peeking through.

Mouthfeel: Light and sweet with an almost external fizziness to the feel.

Taste: Peppery and cidery malt explosion. Womp you over the head warmth from the alcohol that blends just right with the sweetness. Pure pepper warmth on the finish.

Drinkability: A true sip and savor brew. There's a long and lingering finish.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.93/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a clearish, dark amber body with a medium-sized, short-lived, ivory-colored head.

Smell: Dusty dry malts with some candy syrup hints and notes of dried apricots and figs. Waft of booze.

Taste: More of a sugary candy taste than maltiness. Stray pinch of cinnamon. The special conditioning does bring a juicy fruitiness. All that harsh alcohol looming over the flavor. Hot, sugary finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Slightly sticky mouthfeel.

Drinkability: No thanks. Perhaps this one does temper a bit after being BURIED ALIVE, but as it stands now I just didn't care for it.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, bottled on 10/17/07. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a dark amber/orange/red color with a half inch off-white head. Head retention is average, lacing is good. The alcohol is very noticable in the aroma. It also smells like raisins, caramel, and citrusy hops, but it's overall a sweet smelling brew. The taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some spice and plums I can taste. Just like the aroma it's a sweet/boozy tasting beer, and I mean that in a good way. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy, rich and syrupy. Drinkability is good enough (it's definitely a sipper), but the alcohol takes away from the drinkability a bit. This one could have used some more aging, but all in all I thought the Olde School Barleywine is a good beer. Definitely recommended.

Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.1/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

poured into a snifter, this was an old burnished penny color with good clarity and no sediment. small, quickly diminishing off-white head. it had legs like a fortified wine and just little spots of lacing. looks thick. nose greets you with prominent alcohol/whiskey. also soft honeyed malts, dried fruit, toffee, and sourish notes underneath. taste is big, thick, sweet malt with alcohol and some spice providing some balance. huge bodied, viscous, and very lightly carbonated. big warming alcohol on the way down. this is an after-dinner sipper, much like a tawny port, madiera, brandy, or armagnac. would be a great match with a nice, smooth cigar.

Photo of ericj551
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Olde School Barleywine pours a slightly hazy orange, fairly light for a barleywine. Right off the bat, even as I open the bottle I smell fruity esters and an odd damp, yeasty aroma. There is also some citrusy hops and plenty of hints of the alcohol to come, sharp and spicy. The flavor is sweet and sharp, almost sour, nice and bitter. There is a kind of a caramely sweetness, but at this abv, it could easily be from the tons of pale malt in the beer. The hop flavor is there, but subdued, and a bitter chocolatey flavor comes through in the finish. Considering the alcohol content, the alcohol flavor is well masked, but at 15% it's pretty hard to hide, and it's definitely there. I would love to see this beer in a year or two, as DFH suggests, to see if it mellows out a bit.

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,253 ratings.