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

2,367 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,367
Reviews: 1,019
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 222
Gots: 659 | FT: 37
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: 2,367 | Reviews: 1,019 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ritzkiss
3.31/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz, 2005 vintage supplied by viggo to Rob's great barleywine tasting - thanks Eric!

Pours a orangey/ruby caramel color, almost dark amber, lays down some lacing - still some nice carbonation here!

Whooo, this still smells heavy! Booze, thick thick caramel sweetness, hints of citrus.

This beer has either gone down hill with aging or needs a few more years. Rich sumptuous caramel that borders on cloying, very sweet, lots of booze still especially in the finish, burns on the way down, still a light citrus hop profile, biscuits, toffee. All seems a bit muddled and obscured by the double whammy of the booze and sweetness. Perhaps it was more complex fresh and it has now disintegrated into what it is or with more time it will mellow yet - or both. As it is, hard to drink more than a small sample.

Photo of bobsy
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Viggo brought along a 2005 bottle to our barleywine tasting - thanks for sharing, Eric!

Pours a rich orange with a wispy white head. Sweet caramel aroma mixing in with dark fruit. I'm not sure whether the hops have dropped out over the years, but this is all about the malt right now. Sweet, sticky brown sugar overlays pears and dark fruit, with a touch of smoke and some alcohol warmth in the finish. Like I said, very limited hop presence. Smooth body, but a little too sticky and cloying.

This is a touch too sweet for my tastes, and I feel like it would benefit from a more extended aging period.

Photo of erosier
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours a nice orange-amber color with a thick white colored head that fades slowly to a film over the beer and leaves nice lacing down the glass.
S: Smells of sweet roasted malts, vinous fruits, and some apple at the end.
T: Tastes of very nice roasted and toasted malt base followed by very fruity tastes mainly of vinous fruits, then some apple and citrus flavors, and a hint of a smokey flavor as well. Very complex, very interesting.
M: Very smooth, very warming, perfect amount of carbonation, a bit hot from the alcohol.
D: Pretty drinkable, very complex and very interesting beer. The flavors mixed very well and it did not feel as alcoholic as it is. This is nice barleywine.

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

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a snifter. It pours a clear amber with a very thin white head, no lacing. The aroma is very bourbonish. The flavor is hot sweet booze. The finish lingers and is very sweet. The beer has medium body, average carbonation and a sticky mouthfeel. The booze is a bit too hot for me. It needs a little more balance or age to make it more drinkable.

Photo of steve8robin
4.21/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I first tried this brew on tap in NYC and was very impressed. I was excited to find some back home at the local store.

A: Very deep transparent copper color. Little head at the beginning which quickly dissipated into a small reminant of itself. The color is a nice deep color.

S: Nothing super special about the smell on this one. Just smells hoppy.

T: The taste definitely makes up for the smell. Has a deep fruit taste with what tastes like a hint of caramel flavor. This tastes fantastic.

M: Good carbonation that leaves a nice sticky flavor on this inside of your mouth.

D: This one goes down super easy. For a 15% ABV brew, this is very easy to handle. Just wait until you stand up after a bottle of this, heh.

All in all, this is a great boozy beer that can get you feeling good without sacrificing taste.

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

Nice beer, pours reddish orange not alot of head. Tastes citrusy and sweet. Smells tangy. Has a very warm mouthfeel with a crisp bitter hoppy finish. Quite drinkable although quite a powerhouse to drink. It's been along time since I've tasted one like this

Photo of emsoud726
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one surprised me a bit. Having previously tasted the 120 minute, I was expecting a beer that would knock me out considering a ABV from DFH.

The beer poured smoothly from the bottle into a small snifter. Very minimal head, barely any lacing. Dark amber - almost cognac-like - color.

Scent didn't blow me away. Not too intense with the alcohol. Thought mostly of baked apple, and hearty fruits. Then again, I had this beer after Thanksgiving desert, so this could have just been my surroundings.

The taste was very well balanced. Sweetness was not too overpowering, but certainly present. Very little aftertaste; practically cleansed the palate. Other reviews have remarked this beer as going "flat" quickly. Did not experience this; the champagne-like texture decreased from the initial pour, but hardly disappeared completely.

Overall, enjoyed this beer a great deal. As opposed to DFH 120 which I am still reluctant to approach a second time despite its quality, I didn't feel the sting of this 15%+ ABV. Would highly consider having another in the future.

Photo of Cakanator
4.67/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow had this one from the bottle the other night. For me to have a 15% barley and think that it is drinking good now is a rarity. From experience Rogue Crusty needs time because of the hot nature of it, but this one was drinking so smooth and powerful. I knew I was going to get bombed after the first tip but that it was refined and elegent. so much sweetness and hop that I was confused this was a barley. I can see this one in 5 years being amazing and I think DFH is hopeing so too. Well done!

Photo of TheKingsOfHop
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle shared between to wine glasses:

A: After an aggressive pour there is little head retention, it is more of a thin white lace resting afloat a nectorine like complexion. The deep amber center is surrounded by a sweet golden trim.

S: Strong malty overtones blanketing apricots and warm apples. The aroma emulates a tropical fruit basket.

T: Piercing citrus on the tip of the tongue with flavors of tree fruits such as apples and pears with notes of apricots and fig. There is also a slight smokey pepperyness on the palate.

M: This medium bodied barley wine is perfectly carbonated with an expected but delightful warmth coming from the 15% ABV.

D: It is almost scary how easy it is to consume such a strong brew. One of the better barley wines we have tried.

The Kings of Hop

Photo of homebrewhawk
3.25/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GbVDave for this one. 12 oz. bottle served in a snifter. Bottle conditioned. Poured a hazy amber with a quickly dissipating white head. Fairly alcoholic nose. Plenty of malt sweetness as well. A little port-like oxidation. Full bodied and a little syrupy. Very sweet with some dark fruit flavors. Plenty of hop bitterness, but not enough to balance the sweetness. Seemed under attenuated.

Photo of mikey711
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Split a bottle, pouring mine into a snifter at cellar temperature.

A: It had a big puffy head that looked like it belonged on an oatmeal stout. The lacing is ok and the beer itself is a murky mahogany color with no visibility through it.

S: Leather, booze, molasses, and figs/plums.

T: Super sweet and very fruity. Some smokiness and leather but mostly fruit.

M: A bit harsh, but it is not as hot as it was.

D: half a bottle is fine because the sweetness is very intense. I can remember drinking this fresh and actually liking it much more which is strange.

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 BigMcLargeHuge
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured clear copper with thin white ring of foam. Big dark fruit aroma of dates, plums and raisins that smack you in the face. Behind the fruit is a sizable alcohol aroma. The flavor is oddly similar to the aroma with big plum, date, raisin and pepper notes just out shining the hot alcohol taste. The alcohol influence has eased a bit over the last couple of months. Another six to ten months may be when it starts to peek. I look forward to trying this again next year.

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.12/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is the end of the beers I bought from Capones. Poured into a snifter.Cloudy amber color with an off white fizzy heading. Lacing that sticks around the edges.Turns completely flat half way through the tasting.

Smell is off apple right off the bat,a slight sourness and just flat out alcohol.

Taste is all boozy.Slight fruitiness a little hoppy towards the backend along with some raisin and little more apple. This starts out good but is immediatley wiped out by the heavy alcohol.

Mouthfeel mid-way through is destroyed by the the rubbing alcohol taste towards the end.Full bodied a little dead and a definite palate scolder.

Drink is not too good. I usually like most dogfish head beers and this one falls somewhere in the middle. A little much to have more than a couple but enough to try one.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wish DFH would put years on some of their bottles, not sure what vintage this is but it's at least a couple years old, 12oz bottle.

Pours a very hazy orange, this beer is very murky, hardly any head at all with no lacing.

The nose is surprisingly weak, bit o' malt and raisins.

The taste has a bit of heat to it but it's not overwhelming and is quite smooth, the flavors are a mix of malt and raisins along with some spice and other dark fruits, for 15% the strength is well hidden regardless of the little heat.

Photo of weeare138
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to grassrootsvt for the '05 bottle. I've been keeping it in my cellar for a little over 4 years now...
Appears a transparent dark gold with a small, white head of fluff that quickly fades into a gentle cap. Spotty bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of ripened dark cherries, raisins, figs, brown sugar, caramel, and rum.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with standout raisin flavor and a touch of sugary citrus flowing along the palate.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, hot of abv, with a slick finish.

Photo of augustgarage
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained in trade from ShogoKawada (thanks!). Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish Head snifter.

Liquid is a creamy gradient of ochre, rust, and copper with a whispy island of foam in the center of the glass, and a thin collar of bubbles. Nice lacing despite the absence of head. Oily legs are so thick and persitent they seem to suffer from elephantiasis. Remains opaque as it warms...

Potently bready, perhaps more so even then eisbock. Sweet and sour fruits in the nose: dates, yuzu - along with a vinuous quality accompanied by alcohol (grappa comes to mind). Fruity/spicy hop notes as well, though no pine or grapefruit notes.

The palate entry is intensely malty (though not roasted), like biting into a thick crusty heel of artisanal bread studded with currants and lightly spiced and dusted with course white sugar. Slighty musty and oaky, and sweet with pleasant hop bitterness and alcohol vying for attention like a cool breeze. Refreshing despite being rustic and heavy.

Low carbonation, full and silky, but not syrupy. Well done.

At 15%+ this is obviously a sipper, but I drained my sample quickly despite trying to savor every taste. Remarkably drinkable.

Hops seem a little too subdued for this style, and while I generally prefer the estery complexity of 90 minute IPA, a more resinous West-coast hop style might have been a better choice here. Over-all a fantastic beer though, which cries out for cellaring.

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

Bottled on 11/10/05. Poured into my DFH shaker glass. Olde School appears a murky honeyed copper color with barely half an inch of fizzy, quickly fading light tan foam. Aromas and flavors consist of prunes, raisins, sweet cherries, dark brown sugar, sugary dates, figs, molasses, cherry vanilla, mild alcohol, dark fruits, rich caramel, a bit port wine like. Tasty and quite complex at this point. Since the alcohol has mellowed quite a bit, this is just a pleasure to sip on over the course of an hour or so. Decent medium body with ample carbonation as well. Glad I have a few more of these down in the cellar.

Photo of bbeane
4.29/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a Dogfish Head snifter... little head or lacing. Dark amber color with some sediment and little activity

S- A delightful aroma combination of sweet malt, plum, molasses, and alcohol

T- Very sweet malty taste... of plum and molasses and maybe some citrus. Has a warming alcohol finish

M- Light to medium body. Malty sweetness sticks to your tastebuds. Finishes with a strong alcohol taste/feel

D- Probably couldn't put as many down as I would like to without falling off my stool. Very tasty. Probably the best barley wine style beer I've had


Photo of ShogoKawada
3.81/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I think this is the last DFH extreme beer available that I haven't tried. Served from a 12oz bottle into a wide-mouthed snifter. Served at room temperature. Bottled 11/21/2008, so this one's got 9 months on it.

A- a nice copper color with a quickly settling but still impressive head. At 15%, it's damn impressive, actually.

S- Barleywine's standard profile, malty sweetness, boozy alcohol, mild ester notes, strong but not overpowering or off-putting.

T- Way better than I was expecting. The alcohol numbs the tongue, and like most extreme DFH beers, after the ABV dissipates from the tongue the flavors come out to play. There's a pretty good hop bite, a malty richness, and a sugary sweetness. The alcohol is here, and is prob. the main event, but is not overbearing in anyway. Great warmth from this one. Makes me wonder what this tastes like fresh, because the hops are unmistakable. The overall flavor profile can be described as apples and oranges soaked in brandy with a bit of black peppercorn.

M- Crisp, peppery, thick, warming, numbing, and awesome. The ABV is expertly blended... While hot on the tongue this beer is meant to shock and awe... and it does!

D- Simply great. One of the east coast's jewels.

Photo of PreacherBrewer
3.06/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Beautiful deep muted red. the most beautfiul beer i think i've ever seen! It sits in my snifter, confident. it doesn't invite, it commands attention and respect. thus, i comply and indulge.

Smell - Alcohol smacks you in the face. on the second sniff, i caught some cherry/redish-fruity aromas. Apricot. A very pleasing aroma after you get used to the alcohol on the nose. Now it invites you to taste.

Taste - Candy flavoring is accompanied by sweet caramel. BIG alcohol taste is dominate. In the background you can pick out some spices floating around in your glass. Very complex. Very strong alcohol.

Mouthfeel - This beer is quite harsh on the palate. It takes a few sips to get used too. You must sip this beer. It is a very mouth filling beer, even when take little sips. It's numbing, so space out your sips so that your taste buds have time to regain consciousness.

Drinkability - I hate to say it, but it gets a below average grade for drinkability. It has everything going for it but the alcohol content. It's just too strong to really savor and enjoy. The Alcohol is like a brick wall between you and an amazing barleywine. If the peeps at DFH read this, please do something to reduce the ABV to 11-12%. You have an amazing beer here that is overwhelmed with the presence of alcohol. That is the tension that i felt while sipping this tantalizingly abrasive beer.

Photo of argock
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. Bottled on date of 11/21/08. Single purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $4.35.

A: Beautiful garnet with thin vanilla ice cream cap of head with minimal retention and no lacing.

S: Mostly fruity, spicy alcohol with a tinge of dark fruit and light herbal hops and leather

T: The taste is hefty on vanilla, and not so much on alcohol which is amazing given the ABV. Caramel and raisin dominate the malt side with vanilla accentuating and some herbal, leafy hops to finish. Alcohol is undoubtedly there, but it does not put you to bed like you'd think it would.

M: Feel is luxurious and smooth with minimal carbonation and relatively short fruity aftertaste.

D: The ABV is not as big on drinkability as I would have thought and the vanilla accents help to temper the heat. A good, interesting beer that I am going to pick up a couple of bottle and sit them down for a long while and see what materializes.

Photo of thryn
3.63/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 11/21/08.

This is a pretty beer. It is a shimmering coppery hue, with a light straw-colored head that recedes quickly, leaving some lace behind and a nice film of fine lace atop the beer as well.

It smells very nice, if still a bit hot, but at 15% ABV, I'd be surprised if it weren't! Oak, vanilla, and a ton of dark fruit. Some hops as well.

It tastes pretty great but could probably use a little more age to really smooth out and become awesome. More hops than in the nose, but this isn't a hop bomb of a BW like BigFoot or something. Booze is prominent throughout, but a ton of vanilla and dark fruit come through. Web site says it is fermented with dates and figs, and the date sweetness and flavor is detectable. Something is imparting a spicy character. A bit too hot at the finish.

A wonderfully full, but not too heavy mouthfeel. Slick and sticky at the same time. A bit creamy. Low carbonation. Outstanding.

Pretty drinkable for what it is, and I imagine it would smooth out amazingly with a bit more time on it. I will probably pick up another 4-pack and leave it somewhere to forget about for a while.

Photo of bamadog
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked some of this up on a recent trip to Blacksburg. This is easily the hottest beer I've ever attempted to drink. I was really excited at first, but the alcohol is just way too big in this for me to really enjoy.

Appearance: Appearance is quite pretty - a nice deep coppery color with ruby highlights; comes with a short head that is just a few shades lighter than the body; head doesn't last long at all and fades to an uneven skim and a thick ring around the surface; an oily looking film clings to the side of the glass; body is quite thick and chewy looking and shows moderate carbonation.

Smell: Big alcohol right away really dominates the nose; quite a strong presence of apples of a more sour variety and some sweeter malts round out the smell. The presence of alcohol, even as strong as it is in the nose, doesn't really give me the full picture of how big this is really going to be in the mouth...

Taste: Whoa. Alcohol, burning, whiskey-like alcohol. This is hot. The apple flavor is next and it's very much like a hard cider and that is followed by a sweet caramel like malty flavor, but really, in the beginning and end, it's all alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Hot from the big ABV and it's tingly and it dries really quickly. Big alcohol vapor burns the breath and consistently reminds me of how big this bad boy is.

Drinkability: The taste isn't all that bad, despite the overwhelming alcohol, as I enjoy the apple/caramel flavors once I can find them. But, the ABV is too big in this beer to be something that I would try to enjoy more than one of, in fact, I think I would prefer to split the bottle and just have half.

Photo of thekevlarkid
3.08/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Off the tap at American Flatbread this (15%) beer was a cloudy amber/ruby color. The head was beige and thin and left a thin collar with good lacing. The aroma was notably punchy, alcohol, fruity esters and citrus fruits. The flavors were similar dominated by alcohol, citrusy alcohol esters, light yeast and a faint hops profile. Highly acidic, tart and aggressively alcoholic - not a beer I would recommend more than one of. The mouthfeel was good, the body medium/full and the carbonation average. Old School? Yes. Drinkable? Not so much.

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,367 ratings.