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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

2,247 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,247
Reviews: 992
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 205
Gots: 569 | 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: 2,247 | Reviews: 992 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of charlesw
2.98/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Um. What? I'm just going to review this as an English barleywine, eh? 'Cause, well, like, what? Who put this under 'merican, anyway? It has the characteristic underattenuation of the English style coupled with low bitterness and a high amount of fruit funk to it. The wife says... "Ew! What's that weird taste? I thought this was supposed to be a barleywine!" It was absofrickinglutely stunning blended with the southern tier DIPA, but, hey, that's life. Weird how two underattenuated beers would not taste that way at all when mixed!

Photo of TheBierBand
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 12 oz brown bottle (bottled in 2007) into a snifter. The pour reveiled a tight 1/4" head of off white/tan bubbles. These disappeared redily to a thick ring. The beer color is like nothing I've ever seen before.... a rust colored, deep orange and WAS clear until the yeast dregs (added on purpose from the bottom of the bottle) provided a swirling cloudiness.

I hardly picked up anything from the smell except a hint of candied cinnamon.

Taste: WOW! VERY GOOD... I was this close to giving it a "5". There is a lot goin' on here! A sweet malty taste, a fruity apple, prune, cherry taste AND a spicey cinnamon round out the flavor. HEY!, This stuffs GOOD! The alcohol at 15% abv(!) is apparent but not overly so.

Mouthfeel: Maybe just a bit too carbonated for my taste. Feels almost like a Belgian... but smoother.

Drinkability: I'll TRY to let the remaining 3 beers from the 4-pack age for a while and try again... but I don't know if I can let this hang out in my beer fridge that long! This is good stuff (like I've come to expect from Dogfish Head). Definately a sipper!... but you knew that!

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

Pours a deep copper color. Wispy head fades as the beer sits.

Aroma is fruity. Apples. Candied sugar. Banana. Herbal Hop.

The taste is strong and upfront. Alcohol warmth blends with hop spice to give you a bit of a whallop. Then a sweet candy like taste from the malt.

Like many a barleywine, the syrupy aftertaste coats your throat and lets the ale warm your palate.

A decent barleywine, but not the best.

Photo of pwoods
3.35/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks yaddy44 for this trade.

12oz. brown bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 2007.

A: Pours an average amber with good visibility. 1ish fingers of white, slightly rocky head. Good retention. Nearly no lacing.

S: Subtle. Citrus hops. Bready and sweet malts. Raw vegy? Alcohol is subtle at the start then comes through as it warms.

T/M: Wow. Very alcoholic. I mean, I know it's ABV is through the roof but wow... especially for next to no trace in the nose. Hops add some citrus and sourness of limes. Malts are cotton candy sweet with a rich butterscotch backbone. Body is kind of syrupy.

D: Way too hot for more than a one beer sipper. Got 2 more to lay down. Will see what 1-2(or 10) years does.

Photo of LarryV
2.45/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours a hazy orange-amber color with a fairly lively head. Sweet/sour aroma. There's some fruitiness in the taste, but the taste is dominated by a cloying sweetness. Alcohol is very noticeable and gives this a boozy quality. I really didn't like this beer, it's far too sweet imho. I put the remaining bottles aside to age for a year or more, hopefully it will improve with age. At $13.99 a 4 pack, this isn't a cheap beer and I expected a lot more from it.

Photo of BiereBlanche
4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap (I believe, might have been bottled, didn't see the pour) into a snifter at Deep Ellum, Allston MA.

Snifter's filled with a cloudy, dark red-amber. The thin tan off-white head slowly falls leaving surprising lacing, given the ABV. Sticks to the glass like syrup. The nose is incredibly sweet with massive doses of sugary malts, raisin, prunes. The smell is full and almost sticky. The high alcohol content is very well masked with no astringent notes. The taste matches up to the nose. Again, very very sweet and rich with the same sugary sweetness and raisin flavor. The bittering is quite low. The alcohol warming is much lower than I was expecting, with only a light alcoholic bite and minimal astringency. It's very well hidden for 15 per cent. The aftertaste is full, syrupy, sweet and full of raisin flavors. This is a big beer. Definitely invites sipping from a snifter like a cognac. Really no other way to drink it. It is drinkable given how well hidden the high alcohol is and how flavorful it is. It would make a very nice desert, but not a chance of drinking multiple bottles.

Photo of rye726
2.9/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

'07 Vintage 12oz bottle poured into a snifter at 45F.

Orangish brown color with a tan head that quickly dissapates. A nose of citrus hops, sweet malts and ripe fruits. There are also growing ester tones as it warms. The taste is very sweet and the alcohol quite noticeable. Ripe fruits, caramel and a big sweet maltiness. I cannot find the hop presence that was in the nose. A syrupy full body and low carbonation. Not the greatest mouthfeel or drinkability. I feel it needs more hops or another strong flavor besides the sweet malts to help balance it out. I am a fan of dogfish head's experimental brews, just not this one. it has potential, but is just not quite there. I am curious to see what a few years of hibernation will do to this.

Photo of bluegrassbrew
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a dark orange color with little head and no lace. 15% abv will do that though.

Smell is slightly off-putting. Very phenolic. Hot, hot alcohol.

Taste makes up for the smell though. Sweet malt and dark fruit. Hints of dates. Very nice.

Overall, this a tasty beer, but has several flaws IMO. Not your typical barleywine, but then again, what DFH brew is typical?

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

12 oz bottle purchased at the Wine Gallery in Brookline, MA. A: Cloudy amber with hints of orange, small amount of head that goes away pretty quickly, some lacing. S: Caramel, citrus, dark fruits, alcohol is present. T: Much more tart than I expected, very different from a regular barleywine. It's got a lot of citrus notes, the hops are a bit muted, some grassy earthiness toward the finish. M: Very thick, chewy, and smooth. D: Like I said, it's a really unique barleywine--it almost tastes more like an imperial pale ale. But it's really tasty. I've loved so much of the dogfish offerings that I almost expected this to have a bit more to say, but it's still great.

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

From the 12 oz bottle marked “bottled in 2007,” decanted into my cervoise. Very lightly hazed pale mahogany color with a small amount of carbonation rising up. Hard pour yields a thick, foamy tan head that fades slowly with great retention, leaving a solid cap and ring and plenty of sticky lacing. Nose of dark fruit. Hints of alcohol already. Indications of hops. In the mouth, an alcoholic assault tempered by sweet, dark, fruity malt tempered with a biting hop burn. Finishes on a warm alcoholic note. Viscosity is leaning toward the heavy side, semi-syrupy, with a surprising level of crisp carbonation that belies the rather flat-looking body. Drinkability… hmm. These things are tough to gague with these kinds of brews. It’s pricy and heavily alcoholic, yet I can enjoy a whole 12 oz serving, which is double what the bottle suggests.

Overall: As a barleywine, this one’s not outstanding. As a beer, however, it’s definitely head and shoulders above many if not most others. Someone said it’s like barleywine meets APA, and here I tend to agree. There are definite similarities between this and others of DFH’s American Pales. Still and all, this one’s worthwhile. Recommended.

Photo of mattster
2.83/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

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

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

Photo of NitroGen
2.78/5  rDev -30%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

P: 12 oz. 2007 Version in a brown longneck bottle.

A: Slight hazy reddish brown pour with absolutely no head, just a few bubbles with a slight soap detergent oily slick where the head/cover/bubbles usually go.

S: Sweet figs, raisons and a bit of alcohol vapors.

T: Slightly thick spicy bite with raisins and a heavy dose of pure sweetness that remains.

M: Found it interesting yet a bit unbalanced with a heavy sweetness left to sit on the palate. Hit of spice and fruit and barley and again the sweetness.

D: This one’s brothers and sisters are going into the closet for a year’s timeout to see if they can learn to play a little better next year.
Will try another store to see if I bought the only flat 4 pack in AZ. If that one is flat then I will be ready to try one in about a year.

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

<2007 version from 12oz bottle>
Pours a ruby colored copper with an off white head that soon settles to a fine lacing. Great aroma of alcohol sugars, ripened fruit and alcohol. Taste is of ripe dark fruit (figs, prunes etc.) and a husky malt background. Alcohol sugars are the story here. Medium full mouthfeel with a definite alcohol warming as it hits the gut. Alcohol is relatively well hidden considering the abv. If anything a bit too sweet for my taste in barley wine. I'll bet an aged bottle is tamed down a bit. Still a solid brew that is worth trying. Cheers.

Photo of tpd975
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Love me a good Barleywine and had never tried this one. Walked into the local beer store to find this one on the shelf. Grabbed two for now and two for later, can't wait to try.

A: Pours a nice amber reddish orange color with a medium head. The head does die down, but what is left leaves behind layer after layer of lacing as the contents in the glass disappear.

S: Nice sweet aroma. Big malt smells with hints of toffee and caramel. There are fruits esters laying below with hints of fresh peach and overripe banana.

T: Nice and big beer. I have heard people talking about the alcohol taste with this one, but to be honest I did not notice it. I did taste peanut brittle toffee, and peaches. The banana I smelled is there as well. A gentle dark brown sugar sweetness lingers in the finish.

M: Nice thick and smooth, like a Barleywine should be.

D: I really enjoyed it. The bottle says to split between two snifters. I say to hell with that and dumped it all into one chalice. And let me tell you I really enjoyed it.

Overall: Another wonderful beer by DFH. I love the big aggressive brews they put out and this one is exactly what I thought it would be. Big on flavor and big on ABV. I did not taste the alcohol, but believe me I did feel it. I have another one to enjoy now and two more to age. I will love trying the two that I cellar on its first and second birthday.

Photo of hellcatsjg
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Slightly cloudy amber beer, with little to no head or carbonation present to the eye.

Smell: Sweet figs, raisins, and alcohol. A bit of sweet caramel as well.

Taste: You get the sweetness and the dark fruits right away. The swallow brings the alcohol flavor and it's warming feeling. As you go and get accustomed to the 15% ABV, the sweetness takes center stage, and then as the beer warms, the alcohol makes itself known again. Not the most complex beer, but very good.

Mouthfeel: As with most DFH beers, very thick and filling. That is a plus in my book, so a very good score here. Sweetness coats the mouth and alcohol lingers after the swallow.

Drinkability: Thickness and ABV hurt here, but the taste saves it. Delicious beer whose drinkability is is quite high. Very good beer, another must buy from Dogfish Head.

Photo of vtfan77
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours an attractive rosy orange with a very small and extremely short-lived head, which is to be expected due to the 15% ABV.

S- Very fruity, much more so than most barleywines. Oranges and dates in the nose, along with some alcohol, although not as much as I would have thought.

T- The alcohol makes itself more known here. It's strong, but not overwhelming. Lots of fruity flavors; it's unclear which ones are caused by the abundant esters and which ones are from the natural fruit in the beer (it's fermented with dates and figs, per the website). I get more orange than anything else, along with some strawberry. The malt is hidden behind the fruity flavors, but is definitely there with a nice caramel presence. The beer finishes with some bitterness, which could be from hops or alcohol, or both.

M- Lighter than I would have expected. It's also quite fizzy with active carbonation.

D- Despite the alcohol, I was able to finish the bottle with relative ease, albeit over a rather long period of time. Still, I'd say this is surprisingly drinkable.

An interesting take on a barleywine. I liked the fruity flavors, and the alcohol really didn't get in the way as much as I thought it would. Still, I can't really say that there's anything to get particularly excited about here. It's a good beer, but not one that I'd go out of my way for. Well worth a try, though. Recommended.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

Photo of david131
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had this beer sitting in the cellar for a little over a year and I thought it might be time to give this big guy a try.

A- Poured a dark orange with a little amber in there for show. There were a few floaties and the small white head settled to a ring and a small center splotch.

S- WOW. Very aromatic. I get a lot of bubble gum and banana with a little bit of spice and cinnamon. The alcohol is apparent, but it not harsh. This kind of reminded me of its big brother- the 120 minute- due to the amount of alcohol sweetness that is apparent in the nose. Not harsh smelling and very quaffable.

T- Caramel, banana, alcohol. Some bubble gum and lots of spice and flavor. A little bit of alcohol burn, but could be way worse. The flavor is a little overwhelming, but it is complex and does not become a chore at all.

M- Very dry and a tad cloying. Pretty good for the amount of alcohol.

D- Yeah it's 15% and still a tad hot. I would wager that this could have sat for a lot more time, but I'm glad I tried it. I will be getting more to hold on to for an extended period of time. Unique is a good way to put this.

Photo of phisig137
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 2007. Pours a rich copper hue with a three finger head. Surprisingly great retention, considering the ABV. Decent lacing as well.

S- Loads of solvent alcohol on the nose. A touch of toffee sweetness, but mostly this smells like a paint thinner.

F- Rum soaked raisins, floating in brandy. Raisin, peach, and nectarine flavors dominate up front, with a bit of caramel. Finish is almost cognac like, fruity, sweet, vanilla, and loads of alcohol. Finish is incredibly hot, and burns going all the way down.

M- thick, heavy, and sticky.

D- low, a sipper for sure.

A beast of a barleywine. This one needs at least the one year recommended on the bottle. Without a doubt, this is the most prevalent alcohol presence you'll find in a DFH beer IMO. Overall, I wouldn't say it's great, but it DOES have great potential.... I'll have to see what happens in a few years.

Photo of Slatetank
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled Dated 10/16/06
Deceanted semi-cool into a snifter
A - A hazed bronze w/ a quickly collapsing tan head w/ a compact bead. The lace slides gently down the snifter's sides and the becomes a pattern of a fish in motion w/ a curled tail when viewed from above.

S - Tropical fruit -kiwi and brandied pears w/ a nutty sweet touch like a praline. A slight lactic sweet odor and a clove type spice w/ a boozy woodiness overlap in the nose.

M - Thick, syrupy malt w/ a rush of warmth and prickly piney hop bite dances on the tongue while a candy like sweetness encapsulates it. Drying heat mixes w/ gentle carbonation as the feel mellows. A brandy like effect remains as the intense booziness coats the mouth.

T - A hefty malty spice and piney hop blend assaults the sense of taste and punishes w/ a smooth blend of flavors that most in this style dream of replicating. The plum and rummy currant notes mix w/ a pepper, anise and other woody herbal flavors. A heart of fire is alive and well in this massive ale. Honeyish fig and raisiny sweet intensity doesn't even try to hide. Tart apple w/ a subtle dose of nutmeg and grapeskin like dry flavors are swirled into the thick yet complex malty flavor profile.

D - A bruiser, big, bold and still asking for all comers at 15% the warmth is noticeable, but pleasant. A good nightcap ale w/ eyelid dropping powers.

Photo of jaxon53
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served this one at cellar temperature from a twelve ounce bottle, into my Stone Old Guardian glass. Poured a deep copper that was capped with a two finger, rocky, off-white head. Head faded somewhat quickly but did leave a bit of lace behind. Did notice some tiny carbonation bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass. Smell was of thick malt, some bitter hops, musty dark fruits, and maybe some dried cherries. Had a bit of a cognac smell buried in the background. Maybe a bit of leather and dried tobacco as well. Pretty good flavor as well. Quite a bit hoppy, thick malt, plum, raisin, some woody notes, with a sweet caramel like flavor in the background. All of this finishes with a tremendous spicey alcohol burn. You can't miss the huge ABV in this one. A nice thick full mouthfeel that is dominated by the burn. Decent drikability but is definitely a sipper. This one will bite back.

Photo of sirk0rebreg
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

received in a BIF from leftmindedrighty (mucho props), 2005 vintage...poured into a sam adams glass...

beer pours a dark hazy amber color, minimal head that disappeared quickly...carbonation started strong and slowly fades to a very nice light carbonation...

smell is very sweet, reminds me of raisins and is very fruity as well...there is a slight hint of the alcohol present in the smell...

taste is very sweet, slight alcohol bite but it isn't as strong as the 15% abv would have you think...

drinkabilty probably suffers from the abv, at 15% i am not sure how many you could drink...great to sip while hanging out...excellent beer

Photo of bosco7
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage from the vintage list at the brewpub in Rohoboth. Served in a snifter at 51F.

Pours a pale orange color with perfect clarity. Head is smooth and creamy.

Smells of caramel, English toffee, rum, and some orange. Surprisingly not overwhelmingly boozy.

Big ass malt flavors-caramel, toffee, and toast. Some complex fruitiness in the middle that is hard to describe. Finishes with some earthy yeast flavors. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is huge and slick and so drinkable for a beer with 15% ABV.

Photo of Patrick999
4.58/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Into my snifter pours the standard rusty orange color for an American barleywine, with a little sediment. Head is there but doesn't last long. 2006 vintage

S - Stick your nose in there and inhale deeply - this one's a beauty. Toffee drenched in alcohol, rum raisin ice cream with a touch of floral hop.

T - Oddly enough, while the alcohol level is quite evident in the smell, it really doesn't taste like 15%. How is this monster alcohol so well hidden? You might be tempted to say it's hidden with massive sweetness...except for the fact that it isn't. This is not an overly sweet beer, especially by Dogfish Head standards...a vinous, rum-soaked-fruit, cured tobacco, raw vanilla sweetness is hinted at in the beginning, but gives way to an oaky, drying, bitter finish. This sets you up for the next sip nicely. Warming extracts more of the beer's complexity, as you'd expect.

M - Mouthfeel is great. Not so cloying and sticky, the somewhat dry finish and thin but active carbonation really helps out this beer's drinkability.

D - Drinkability is unparalleled for a beer of this strength. Drinks like a 9-10% beer....actually some 10% beers are tougher to get down than this. What a big, beautiful kick-ass beer. Age this for at least a few months - the big flavors and alcohol become a lot more integrated.

Edit: Tasting the 2007, it seems much sweeter than the 2006, more of an English style. I think I prefer the 2006, a beer I really did not consider all that sweet. The 2007 seems more along the lines of a Burton Baton. In fact, I think they put Burton Baton in my bottle by mistake. hehe

Photo of bennetj17
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 11-10-05. Clear, coppery-orange hue with a brilliant glow. Light frothy white foam, not much of a head really. The aroma has a decent dose of alcohol fume, plus some weak malt sugars coming through with a hint citrus fruit.

The flavor starts out a little on the tangy side with some plum and raisin fruit notes. It becomes more caramelly and sweet as it goes on before finishing with just enough hop bitterness to set things even. You can tell the alcohol presence although it really doesn't burn you at all going down which is key. The mouthfeel runs a little thin from the high ABV% but is very smooth. The carbonation is fine but potent enough making it very enjoyable.

Overall a good Barley Wine. The fact that this 15% ABV selection drinks as easily as those closer to 10% is impressive. At just under $4 for a 12 ounce bottle it's worth trying...

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,247 ratings.