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Olde School Barleywine - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,329 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,329
Reviews: 1,010
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 212
Gots: 634 | FT: 33
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  15.04% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: UnionMade on 10-10-2002

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

85 IBU
ABV varies from 13-16%.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,329 | Reviews: 1,010 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of aubuc1
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle in to a snifter like goblet (I need a snifter). I am nervous about such a big beer.

Pours a clear amber brown with a thin offwhite head. So far so good.

Smell is a big alcohol bomb. Smells like a complicated barleywine. Fruity, malty, sweet, leathery. Very good.

Taste is better than I nervously expected. Pretty hot, but for 15% what do you expect. This beer definitely should age, but for what it is today, not too bad. Heat, grapey fruit, malt syrup.

A very good carbonation mouthfeel.

The heat makes it not too drinkable, but I will get another couple to let them rest.

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

Dark orange-amber color and very cloudy. Thick finely bubbled head. Beautiful lace.

Slightly sweet brandy-like aroma--you can tell this is a high alcohol brew.

Powerfully potent--has a wine-like warmth from the alcohol. While it is predominantly a malt brew, there is a generous amount of hops to give it some balance.

Photo of EnigmaticDream
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I bought this beer based purely on a. being 15% abv, b. I've never had a beer so strong, and c. trying something new.

Appearance - Nice dark amber color with no head. Cloudy which I'm guess may be cause by it being bottle conditioned.

Smell - I must say this beer reaks of alcohol. I made an imperial cider this past summer and it reminds me a lot of it. I'm not saying this is a bad thing but it definitely makes you not want to pound it!

Taste - Strong taste. Quite malty but also quite alcoholic. It has nice rich flavor but the alcohol over powers it.

Drinkability - This is definitely meant to be sipped not drunk quickly.

Overall I think with some aging this beer could be really good. I don't know if I'd take the advice on the side of the bottle of throwing it into the ground for a year rapped in a bag. I definitely this age would help lower the tones of the alcohol and allow for the flavor to become more prominent.

Photo of snaotheus
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer is too strong and too sweet to be very drinkable. But it's a pretty good beer, and worth savoring, slowly.

Cloudy amber in color, slightly fizzy, very little head and small amount of lacing.

Very sweet, but astringent flavor, with some cherry and citrus notes. Feels thick and syrupy.

Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 bottle - Pours a cloudy bright amber/orange color with a small ½ inch off-white head that does not want to dissipate. Smells of fruits, malts, and alcohol dominate. First sip is noticeably smooth with the malt backbone clearly in charge. An in your face alcohol presence tells you this is not your average barley wine. No sir, this is good. This is strong. As it warms, a plum fruitiness takes hold as the lonely hops continue to take a backseat. The 15% ABV is not well hidden but this puppy drinks amazingly easily despite the tasty high gravity. World Class.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one was pulled out of my cellar this evening. A very nice 2006 vintage bottle, I had been saving this one. Served chilled and poured into a wine glass, this one was consumed on 12/18/2008.

The pour was very nice, rich dark amber in color with a light amount of haze to it. A smallish white head then rose up from the bottom and settled down nicely into a small broken crown that eventually faded to leave a bare top.

Rich flavor here, smooth, with a thick feel and a candy like syrup consistency. The aroma was sweet, with hints of caramel, toffee, and some old faded hops. More light malts in the flavor with again a very sweet flavor to it. Complex and mellow with most of the alcohol flavor now long gone, this was really quite drinkable.

Overall I really enjoyed this one. One of the better aged barleywines i have had recently and definitely worth the money. About as solid as they come.

Photo of Floydster
3.52/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle purchased from Liquid Solutions for around six dollars, 2007 vintage, like the saying on label, poured into my Dogfish Head snifter, consumed 12/1/08, reviewed from notes, color was a dark orange with some brown, head was very small and off white, no retention or lacing, smell had lots of caramel, booze, dates, figs, sweetness, and vanilla, flavor was dominated by sweet malts and alcohol but not always in a bad way, not much else going on really, some citrus came to the surface by the end, too much esters, mouthfeel is sweet and hot, full syrupy body, needs more carbonation, taste lasts way too long, could not finish this bottle myself and 15% is there to be known, definitely a sipper, needs more age in my opinion, might revisit an older bottle, I will bug my friend to open is 750 ml in the future, still worth trying for its uniqueness and strength alone, Dogfish does not seem to disappoint on that end, worth trying

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.74/5  rDev -31%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle. Pours a clear light brown with a very small white head. Aroma of sweet fruits, apple, and alcohol. Flavor of sweetness initially, followed by some acetone and alcohol. The alcohol definitely gets to you and there is a real alcohol burn in the swallow. Drinkable but is it enjoyable? Hard to say...
Aroma: 5/10
Appearance: 4/5
Flavor: 6/10
Palate: 3/5
Overall: 13/20

Photo of JayQue
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy brownish/orange ice tea color. Fairly decent head and head retention for a monster of this octane level. Smell is impressive - caramel malts and pine - but so pronounced that you can smell it half way across the room.

Taste is sweet caramel malt with some spiciniess and an alcohol/piney hops finish. The alcohol cuts the sweetness a bit but this is still a sweet beer with a little alcohol burn as well

Mouthfeel is rich. This coats the tongue and tastebuds. The alcohol taste/burn lower the mouthfeel scores.

Drinkability is ok. A slow sipper based on the abv but I wouldn't want too much of this one anyway. A 12 oz'er is about right. A good beer, but I think Bigfoot and Legend are closer to my taste.

Photo of NoahSYGG
2.83/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

this is one of the first barleywines i have ever had. I was thinking it was going to be so much stronger than it was. For a beer that is 15% it hides it pretty good. The color is a slightly cloudy mahogany. The aroma is sweet with a good estery nose. The flavor is sweet, with a sour hint. The alcohol feeling is warm and cuddly. I couldnt drink more then 1 or 2. But I am glad I tried it. Another good effort from the boys in delaware.

Photo of PatrickJR
3.17/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into oversizes snifter.

A - A little paler than I'd expect; murky brown/orange. Quarter inch of head rises and falls like soda pop, minimal lacing.

S - Really digging the aroma here. Different that what I'd expect but quite unique. The alcohol is the driving force, but it really enhances the other aromas. Cherries, dark bread, pine, and iodine-like phenols are the best combination I can come up with.

T - Sadly this doesn't have the flavor I'd expect from the style. Very little sweetness compared to it's counterparts, and besides hints of butter and caramel with a moderate dose of piney hops, the alcohol is the central focus. It isn't as astringent as other high ABV beers, but it's just a bland and slightly phenolic taste. Olde School gains a half point for not being so damned bitter as other American barleywines.

M - This is where this behemoth of a beer fails miserably. Very thin, I daresay verging on light bodied. Worst of all the carbonation is EXTREMELY high, not just for the style but high in general. Mouthfeel alone might lead one to believe this is an APA or a light bodied hefeweizen. The mouthfeel is certainly highly responsible for a general lack of flavor.

D - To be a huge beer, it's not that hard to drink. Alcohol is evident but not quite over the top, and luckily the bitterness is kept at a minimum. Lighter body also equals higher drinkability. However barleywines aren't meant for chugging, and though it's a valiant attempt DFH should know how to craft a better barleywine than this.

Photo of SuperWhite92
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz 2008 bottle into a New Belgium Snifter thingy.

Looks good, a nice barleywine color. Maybe a bit lighter than I'd like, but plenty red to make up for it.

Smells slightly boozy, leathery, and a bit sweet.

Tastes of dark fruits, some cherry, a bit of leather, some alcohol (although not as much as I suspected).

Mouthfeel is good- a bit thin. Slightly acidic (maybe the alcohol?) and a perfect amount of carbonation.

I would drink this beer all night. Well, until I passed out. But it is a bit of a sipper.

Overall, I'm very pleased. I'm going to buy a bunch of this and hide it form myself to see how it does with a bit of time.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.61/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

4.0 A: Brown amber color. One finger of thick creamy light tan head with an agressive pour. I'm actually a bit surprised with how big the head got with all the alcohol content. Average retention, good lacing.

3.0 S: For as big as this beer is, there isn't much to the nose. Very disappointing. Dried fruit, herbal hops. That's all I could get out of it.

4.0 T: Sweet like a barleywine should be, but not as sweet as most (perhaps that's the result of the mad alcohol level). For this I'm thankful. Dried tropical fruit again. Hints of toasted malt. The higher than normal alcohol content actually detracts a bit from the taste initially. However, as you progress through the beer, the alcohol disappears. Some kind of fuckin magic trick I say.

3.5 M: Full body. Syruppy and chewy.

3.5 D: I don't know why they sell these in bombers. I got bottles and one of them is more than plenty. Couldn't imagine another 10 ounces of this stuff. Quality brew though.

Photo of inhoc00
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2 year aged Olde School Barleywine. Date of 10/16/06. Its winter in Chicago - break into the cellar and grap some aged barleywine!

A- this beer pours a light brown amber color with minimal head and lacing.

S- rasisons, figs, and that strong smell that heavy DFH beers seem to have.

T- Still pretty heavy alc but only upfront. Good deal of hops still present. Cherries? Brandy like characteristics.

M- Little carbonation. Dry.

D- This one is still really heavy with alc. Other DFH's with as much alc like WWS or 120 do a better balance job in hiding the alc but this one is still present. Have another bottle from 06 vintage. Check it next year.

Photo of wagenvolks
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a Duvel chalice. Bottled on 11/21/08--this is as fresh as it gets!

Pours a burnt orange, clean copper body with a sluggish carbonation level trickling upwards beneath a patchy, butter-tan head. The foam is impressive given the massive alcohol level, but quickly retreats like a good 15% ABV barleywine should, leaving a wispy lace of bubbles and eventually nothingness. The aroma is as boozy as it is intricate, with pink champagne, zest of orange & lemon, floral hops, pineapple, and starfruit. Rich toffee pulls through as it warms, although the booziness remains throughout, delivering sherry and cough syrup-like alcohol notes.

The flavor starts off with sweet, caramelized malts and spicy hops, but after that it's all alcohol -- every fluid ounce of ethanol is tasted in this fresh, beastly barleywine. Fusels mix with boozy rum and sherry-soaked dark fruits to deliver an intense, if not slightly off-putting taste. Body is hot with booze and on the thicker/overcarbonated side of things. Still, you can taste the craftsmanship in this one. Olde School isn't the most sippable--and certainly not the most sessionable--barleywine out there, but I'm excited to see how a few years in the cellar will "cool out" the hot alcohol presence. I will definitely update this review at the appropriate time.

Photo of corby112
3.25/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a dark amber color with a thin tan head. Aroma is dominated by alcohol but contains hints of malts and dark fruit. Sweet and syrup-like up front, followed by a strong alcohol warmth and a burning in your stomach. Not as hoppy as I would like. As a matter of fact the alcohol flavor is so prevelant that it overpowers most of the other flavors. Not a big fan.

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

A murky brown,red beer with a thin head that disappears.

Smell of alcohol and bog, sweet malt. Hints of red fruit and citric hops.

Taste is warm and alcoholic. There is an earthy sensation that is probably the dates and figs. Drinkability tends to get better every sip and although this is a high alcoholic beer, it drinks relatively easy. Malt is sweet and a bit caramellic and biscuity.

Photo of scottoale
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a trade with organicbrewer, thanks Josh! 12oz. brown bottle with a red pry-off cap and a Packaged in date notched 1 04. Must be over 4yrs. old...nice. Poured into a Chimay chalice a murky apricot orange-gold with 1/3" of off-white head and lots visible carbonation bubbling up everywhere. The head eventually settles leaving a ring and some surface patch.

Earthy and malty in the nose, caramel, grassy hops and a faint note of alcohol coming through.

The taste sweet and malty, yet nicely balanced. Plum, honey, grass, molasses and syrup like goodness. The hops have mellowed along with the alcohol from age. The taste reminds me alot of an aged Old Crustacean and I like it.

Good meaty body with the more than ample carbonation pushing things along...the alcohol is very tame for 15%, with just a gentle warming.

A very hearty barleywine that I think has aged gracefully, and that's good.

Photo of CrellMoset
3.87/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of dkachur - thanks! My portion poured into an Allagash flute.

Appearance: Pours an incredibly hazy reddish, orange copper with a one-finger off-white head. Lacing is surprisingly not as alcohol-retarded as I would expect and leaves some streaky splotches on the glass sides. Carbonation ... may be present, but I can't see it. Head has slightly below average retention.

Aroma: Holy crap. Smells like rubbing alcohol. But I also get salt and vinegar potato chips, bready caramel, spicy grassiness that's a little subdued. Darker fruits, lighter fruits, all sortsa fruits ... brown sugar, molasses. Big. Very big.

Taste: Very ... bigger? First of all, the spiciness is intense, and I can't tell if it's 'cause of the alcohol or the hops. I'm going to assume it's some unholy union of the two. Thick and chewy as all hell, with all sorts of crazy notes. Piney, grassy, leafy vegetal notes are the prominent hop notes, though I'm sure some of the stronger ones have faded. And the bitterness. Oh, the bitterness. It's augmented and covered by the alcohol, and the two work together in harmony and disharmony. Malts are complex, as well - dark, fructose notes, with raisins, dates, cherries, and other malty, bready notes, brown sugar, toffee, caramel.

Mouthfeel: Uneven, thick, chewy. Syrupy, actually evens as it warms. Probably not as thick or syrupy as it should be with this malt content or this alcohol level, however, so I can't knock it too much.

Drinkability: Whew. Yeah, 15.04% (that was measured with a machine, eh?) is a little high, even for a barleywine, and it showed here - the alcohol on this one burned. Harshly. But there is plenty of good stuff here, too - a hugely complex malt profile, plenty of interesting hoppy notes, and it's not nearly as bad in many places as it probably should have been. Give this one a try if you can find it - it's probably not gonna become a go-to lawnmower beer for you (and if so, I'd like to shake your hand), but it's an interesting one.

Photo of chefdaddy18042
4.82/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i'm sorry, this is my favorite beer. if you are a true barleywine afficianado or have an appreciation for them, this is the pinnacle of barleywines.

amazing oak essence matched with luscious overtones of rich earth. this beer truly proves itself worthy in the dogfish catalogue.

now i understand i am being biased in this review, but it still is an amazing brew that was concocted here.

Photo of russpowell
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from JasonA, cheers Jason!

Pours orange with a slight tan head. Not much head retention or lacing

S: Orchard fruit by the basket, brown sugar, leafy hops & honey

T: Pear brandy, brown sugar, breadyness & plums up front. Dryness & plums as this warms, along candi sugar & leafy hops. Finishes with a little boozeyness, super fruitty & with a bit of leafy hops

MF: Syrupy, warming, stick with near zero carbonation

Drinks easy, but the complexity & ABV will get to you. Damn fine barley wine!

Photo of bbothen
3.4/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rusty color with a small white head that dissapears quickly.

Smells very sweet, caramel, toffee, boozy, bready, desert like, syrup.

Huge sweetness, maple syrup, very rich, melted toffee, lingering sweetness & booze. Not my bag baby.

Syrupy, thick, slim to no carbonation.

For 15+% monster this drinks incredibly well.

Not a fan of the overly sweet character here. Still a great achievment & glad I had the opportunity to try.

Photo of changeup45
4.06/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a nice, bold barleywine from Dogfish Head. Clear amber color with a thin head and a little lacing which was nice considering the high abv. Sweet caramel, toffee and fig flavors with a rush of alcohol, sugars and spicy hops finishing it off. Very warming with some alcohol burn. At 15% abv I expect it to be hot, and it is, but not over the top. Not nearly as hoppy as I thought it might be. Perhaps the hot alcohols mask that a little. Nicely done, a relaxing sipper, and I have little doubt that this would get even better with some aging and it has mellowed a bit.

Photo of jwc215
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Vintage 2007 (on what looks like the store's tag):

Poured into a snifter (s - well- two, as per directions, which go on to explain alterate method of putting in a plastic bag and burying in ground for a year):

Pours bright orange-amber with a thin head - nicer retention in second than first, though that, too, recedes to a slowly vanishing patch. Some dots of lacing stick, but vanish.

The smell is of caramel, orange marmalade and peppery alcohol. Some apple appears when it hits room temperature.

The taste is of caramel, orange marmalade and graininess. Very strong and sweet. Alcohol is wildly hot, even raw. Sweetness turns to a dry finish.

The body is sufficient for a barleywine. Approaches (hits?) full-bodied. There is quite a bit of noticeable carbonation as I swirl it over my tongue. Even a small sip is quite numbing, though.

Now I "get" the two snifter thing. I needed a short break after the first. Second - at what became solid room temp. was pretty much the same - a slight more apple-ish (perhaps a slight tad fulller?). Ready for a good night's sleep after this one. As far as barleywines go. Well, nice but can't say one of my favorites.

Photo of paco1029384756
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky red/brown/orange mix with very little head and a thin ring of lacing.

Scent is massive, sugar sweetness blasts your sinuses, behind it is some caramel and strawberry. I can't get enough, I love the scent of this beer, but the slightly overpowering sugars keep this one from being perfect.

Taste is huge, fruitiness and sugars up front, some darker fruits lie behind. A good flavor, but suffers from an imbalance between sugars and malts.

Mouthfeel is heavy and clinging. I wouldn't expect any less from the other characteristics of this beer, and it fits very well.

Drinkability is actually quite good, but I wouldn't dare take this beer's strength for granted. A great sipper.

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