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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

2,363 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,363
Reviews: 1,018
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 220
Gots: 654 | FT: 36
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: 2,363 | Reviews: 1,018 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of webmanspidey
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%

Dark golden color in a snifter. Sweet cider/vinegar smell. Very very sweet overwhelming caramel flavor dominates the taste. Hop profile hides in the background.

This definitely goes to the extreme in terms of strength and sweetness. I can't point out a lot of complex flavors as the sweet alcohol kind of overrides everything. This is not to say I don't enjoy it, however. It is delicious.. but a slow sipper. Another great beer from Dogfish Head.

Photo of RockerD
3.08/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Yeah dog it's a little pitchy.

Beer looks beautiful in glass. Has a nice Orange Burgundy appearance. Short head on this beer. As the head dissipated I got this great aura borealis effect in the beer with the bottles dancing on top of the extreme fermented beverage.

Great alcohol lacing, almost to the point of burning your nostrils. Smells of currant, cherries, licorice, sweet-floral scents and grass. I'm sensing some sort of Belgian characteristic???

As the beer tears my tongue apart I cannot believe how sweet it is! This beer taste like candied licorice (and I don't mean candy licorice). Amazing alcohol burn is evident in the after-taste.

I love Dogfish Head... I'm not in love with this beer. When you hear Dogfish Head and Barleywine your ears might perk up a little. However my senses didn't perk up too well to this one. On the bright side; I'm half in the bag after one. Cheers!

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

A clear mahogany color with a fair off-white head and nice lacing. The aroma is almost shocking, very much like a Belgian rather than a barleywine, clove and malt with alcohol predominate. The taste is a nice grapefruity malt and clove with lots of alcohol. It has a full body feel, almost oily, with understated carbonation but the 15% alcohol is quite a major theme here. Not to be sessioned needless to say. Certainly another quality brew from DFH, but as usual, so much alcohol is not a natural balance and I think it buries the potential of this otherwise tastey brew. As it is this one is a nice choice for something different if you like a strong beer.

Photo of mmmbeer
2.85/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz., conditioned, bottled on 10/16/06 and sampled at almost a year-and-a-half old. It pours into the snifter dark amber, nearly clear, with medium carbonation, and a frothy inch of tan head that reduces to a compact collar and leaves a few traces of lacing. Very fruity in the nose, with a heavy helping of malts and ethanol. It starts with raisins and figs, followed by a touch of aroma hops, and finishing with apricot and apple esters. On the palate there is a huge dose of warming, peppery alcohol that is pretty harsh. Some of the pleasing aspects from the scent are present, and there are some tasty notes here and there, but there is way too much alcohol to make this taste good. The body is acceptable: heavy and fairly dry, with consistent carbonation, and as far as drinkability is concerned - each sip feels like a shot, and the finish leaves me almost breathing flames. This is a beast of a beer that probably takes a good five years to become easily drinkable, but at 1.5 years old, it is still very harsh.

Photo of becktone
4.39/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes 12-16-08

Done back to back with Stone Old Guardian

Eye: This one looks great once poured. Head retention is pretty good, actually pretty damn good for a beer with 15% abv. The head is stable at about 1/2 a finger's width and is meringue-like in appearance. Lacing is composed of thinner sheets of lace. Color is orange-amber and is fairly clear, perhaps a bit of haziness, but I can still see right through this one.

Nose: As the cap is removed this beer's aroma fills the room. Upon closer inspection the aroma is very fruity. It really reminds me of dried fruit, like the kind you find in trail mix. Alcohol is in there as well. The fruit aroma is very similar to dried apricots. Grapefruit hop aroma in here as well, it blends well with the fruity aroma I get. Overall a very nice aroma, it eludes me, I can't quite put a finger on exactly what that fruity aroma is, but I really enjoy it. Hints of a strong malt backbone under all this.

edit: Got it! The fruity aroma in this beer smells exactly like canteloupe. Forget the trail mix dried fruits and apricot, its definitely the sweet aroma of canteloupe.

Tongue: Alcohol is right upfront, can't miss it. Its flavor is a big part of this brew. Upon first sip it dominates everything and warms the stomach. Under the alcohol is that sweet canteloupe flavor, but its not nearly as abundant as it was in the nose. Barely malt sweetness and flavor is in there as well, but is hard to describe as much more than that. Grapefruit and citrus hop flavors are present as well. Alcohol is pretty forward; but the more I sip on this the more the malt, hops, and that canteloupe flavor come through and the less the alcohol flavor is present. I like it, and will enjoy drinking the rest of this bottle.

Feel and Drinkability: As previously mentioned this one definitely warms as it goes down, great for the winter months. This is one that I'll definitely be sipping over the next hour or so. Alcohol is the last thing to taste, but once it diminishes the finish consists of some citrus hop and malt and that sweet canteloupe nectar. Carbonation is low, so low that I don't notice it until its looked for, were it higher it would ruin the beer and take away from the flavor and give this beer a feel that is wrong for the taste. Body is medium, lightened by the presence of high alcohol. This is one that I'll gladly drink more of and I'll recommend it to any who are looking for a great barleywine.

Photo of pmcadamis
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I got a 12 ozer of this at The Brewhaus in Springfield for only five bucks. Now, in terms of getting your money's worth this is the real deal. 15% ABV for five bones... that's essentially the "buzz" equivalent of three regular brews, not to mention the fact that this is a very, very well made beer. Kudos to my favorite bar in town!

A - This is cloudy and bronze with a small white cap. I'm not surprised that the head is small, and retention is wimpy due to the alcohol content. Looks good enough.

S - Oh shit! This smells like honeycomb cereal, clove honey, molasses, Gran's biscuits, and a pile of brown leaves. Sweet caramel, the gooey kind that you dip stuff in or cover caramel apples with. Some fruit is detectable too, apple predominately.

T - Caramel apple. This is like dipping a ripe juicy red delicious apple into that Marzochi's caramel dip that comes in a little tub. The alcohol is noticeable, but it adds to the zing of the fresh red apple skin. This is really, really tasty.

M - Full bodied to the max! This is almost solid at times... the viscosity complements the gooey caramel and ripe juicy apple notes nicely. The finish is boozy, I mean I'm breathing fumes here. But, as I always say in many of my reviews, I very much enjoy high alcohol presence due to my other beverage of choice... scotch.

D - This isn't one to drink more than one of; it's a slow sipper to be enjoyed the way one would enjoy scotch neat in a snifter. This is an incredible beer from a very incredible brewery.

Photo of ommegoose
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, bottled on 11/21/08. Poured into a pint glass. I'm feeling like a big boy tonight.

Really hazy tan, with orange trying to burst through. Color of dried dates. Color is maybe not to style, but the head outperforms other barleywines easily. Much better than expected considering the abv. Holds steady at a quarter inch, and leaves a full cap the whole way. Pretty impressive. Lacing runs in horizontal streaks. Possibly an issue with my glass. Still, I'm inclined now to be less apologetic of 12%+ beers having no head retention/lacing. This has better retention than most beers I've had, and this one is the strongest I've had to date. Really a nice accomplishment. I'm puzzled by the 3 and 3.5 scores.

Bursts with fresh citrus. Tropical fruit, strongly, the ones listed below. Peach. Vanilla caramel. BAs who love fruity aromas need to nose this one. Strong and enticing, making you wonder whether the flavor is near as good.

Wow, lots of flavor, lots of booze. Sweet tropical fruits. Like a serving of dried papaya, mango, pineapple, figs, coconut. Grapefruit a little further back. Reminds me of some wheatwines I've had. Fresh hoppy finish that tastes just lightly bitter, but keeps all that tropical fruit. I bet the IBUs are high, but just overwhelmed by the epic malt content here, which leans towards buttery caramel. Aftertaste of orange and papaya. Hot on the way down for sure. This beer is no joke. Picks up a nice tartness as it warms. I'm finding new things to like with every sip, such as a woody spiciness I've gotten towards the end. I'd recommend shaking out the sediment on this brew. It just doesn't quit.

Well, the alcohol is not at all a secret. Yeah, this is pretty fresh, and maybe should have been aged, but if a brewery is putting something on the shelf, I think they're telling you it's okay to drink right now. Carbonation is delicate, very nice. Hot, to say the least, but it's thick and coats the tongue. But you don't kill an IPA for being bitter, or a sour for being sour, so you can't really knock a 15% barleywine for being what it is.

What a contrast between this and Bigfoot, with Bigfoot leaning towards IIPA, and this more like what I expect American barleywines to be like. Hard to believe they are the same style. This one is not for everyone to be sure. Definitely an extreme beer. Still can't give this a great score in drinkability. It's a slow mover. But, now that I think about it, would I swap this for the 120 Minute at half the price? Uh, most likely. They share some similarities. It's too good a value at $5 or less to pass up. Some beers are great because they have their own unique flavor that's hard to describe, and others are great because they taste like so many other things. This one falls in the latter. Great beer experience for me with this beer. I hope I have the willpower to try it aged.

Photo of hellbilly
1.3/5  rDev -67.3%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

on tap at papago...

hazy brown amber with a small white head which fades to last as a film.

the aroma... well... bananas, bubblegum, caramel, piloncilla (presumably dates), more sugar and floral alcohol which actually smells like nail polish (confirmed by several).

i really had to work myself up to taste this... thing. it's the same... lots of hot floral cheaply manufactured booze with a starchy banana aftertaste.

the chewy texture and hot mouth feel just aren't going to get it done and certainly don't help the cause. yuck. 3/4/2/1/5/1.5

Photo of BeTheBall
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured in to my Delerium Tremens snifter, dark deep brown with a thick impressive head. Smelled of mal, vanilla, toffee, and alcohol. Taste was hot with alcohol, but also complex with everything that was in the nose. Still, alcohol is huge. If I wanted to taste this much alcohol, I would have ordered a Martini? Very strong for my tastes. Mouthfeel was very good and lively. Drinkability to me was low due to the hot alcohol flavor and smell. I think this needs some cellaring before I'll try the remaining three bottles.

Photo of coldmeat23
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

GLASS: Dogfish Head Tasting Goblet
TEMP: Cellared at approx 50 degrees
Bottled in 2007
Super thanks to TPerkinsBrewer for the hook-up!

Pours a beautiful golden honey tinged copper color. Slow pour produces a big head of light brown/dark tan super creamy foam. Retention is great. Lacing is beautiful, super sticky and continues all the way down the glass.

Fruits relaxing in a rum bath. Big notes of candi sugar. Hints of caramel and oak. Leather notes. Cherries, apples and a slice of pineapple. Figs. Hints of toasted grains mingling with sweet malts.

Mmmmm. Raisins, pears, apples and apricots, covered in sticky honey and candi sugars. Light hints of caramel with a very light touch of vanilla. Nice malty presence.
I like this one, now, but I'm sure it will continue to become better with even more age.

With the head that this produced, I thought that the carbonation level would have helped the body on this one. Sadly, I was wrong. This is actually a rather thin brew, and I think it would benefit from a thicker mouthfeel. But, maybe that's just me.

I think that this is a highly enjoyable and drinkable brew. While there is a level of warmth here, the 15%ABV is very well-hidden. I also think that it will continue on to become even more drinkable, the longer it is allowed to age.
Man, I sure do love Dogfish Head.

Photo of bigkahunas4
4.41/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my oversized DFH snifter. A big 1/2 finger head formed, lacking much retention, and settling to a swampy film. Body was murky brown, and not very appealing or eye catching. Nose was big, at the forefront were rum soaked fruit. Notes moved to alcohol, white grape, and a bit of a peppery spice. Quite inviting as apposed to it's visuals.

Taste started with a sweet candy, moving to a sticky honey. The finish began with a tart Ocean's Spray Cran light, ending with crisp alcohol. Mouthfeel had some slight viscosity on the tongue, a chewy body, with a dry finish.

MMMM... Certainly quite boozey, but such a delicious sipper. I love the flavor complexity in this one. Another wild, over the top, and awesome brew from DFH.

Photo of cvstrickland
3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 Bottling

Defying the brewer's label-instructions to "Open the bottle, pour the contents into two snifters...Enjoy..." I instead open the 12-ounce bottle and pour the the cellar-cool contents into a large tulip glass. Greedy? Me? Enjoy? Hmm...

Olde School is a twinkling-clear honey-amber color with a thick, fine-bubbled crown of pale beige foam atop. The head relaxes into a creamy sheet with a soft, slumping collar that leaves patchy lacing on the glass.

The smell is fruity with a note of vanilla-laced alcohol and the sticky sweetness of toasted grain, fermenting pineapple, and overripe figs. As the drink warms a bit, notes of caramel and brown sugar emerge bent on enhancing a malty perfume increasingly reminscent of Absolut infused with mushy fallen apples.

The taste is softly vinous and fruity and delivers a quick blast of warming from gullet to belly. The burly alcohol component is cleansing, liquory, and aromatic without straying into the edges of "medicinal" in quality, but the beer is nonetheless huge and potently fiery. Soft caramel and a persistent note of orchardfruit tingle on the edges of the flavor profile, hinting at more depth and flavor to be revealed if I follow Dogfish Head's other label-suggestion and bury the rest of my four-pack for a year [or two!] in a Ziploc bag out in the woods somewhere.

The drink is full-bodied with a super-fine sizzle of carbonation that lightens the syrup-load just enough. A sipper defined-- likely best "enjoyed" in two snifters, after all.

Photo of tmoneyba
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured hazy copper color with a large frothy light brown head that was mostly lasting with very good lacing.

Moderate fruity, yeast and alcohol aroma.

Medium to full body with a sticky texture and soft carbonation.

Heavy complex fruity balanced flavor with a heavy bittersweet finish of long duration.

This is a standout beer.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.16/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle $4. I'm no longer a Dogfish fan but I was curious about the barleywine. I was hoping my love for barleywine would trump the 15% ABV but it was not to be. This was a turbid orange color with not much head save a bubble or two. The smell was like citrus cleaning product and alcohol. The taste was too sweet, hot, not my thing at all.

Photo of bigeyedfish
3.02/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle purchased Fall 2007 at the Foodery in NoLibs; poured into an oversized wine glass at cellar temp.

A thin layer of off-white head coats the edges of the glass with blotches of head in the center of the beer. Light, mahogany body with visible carbonation coming up from the bottom of the glass. Lighter in color than most barleywines. Nice.

The aroma is huge of candied, sugary dark fruits. Plums, cherries with hints of oak and caramel and some alcohol presence on the nose. All really nice- a good preview of the big, thick barleywine that this beer is rumored to be.

Really, far too sweet. When they say the beer ages like a champ, it should really read that the beer ages to a champ; this one's about 15 months old and probably needs two or three times that to mellow out and become a great barleywine. Really thick tasting body (one of those potter stewart 'hard to define but know it when i see it' sensations) that is probably even more thick because it's being drank at room temp. Disappointingly, the only real noticeable flavor on the tongue is a lot of candied sugar and some hidden alcohol. The aftertaste hints strongly at alcohol with some tangerine-like elements present, but really, this beer is about candied sugar and alcohol.

Pretty unspectacular. Some mild carbonation, some pallet coating on the back of the mouth during the aftertaste. Not really a huge beer, viscosity wise. The color is the best clue about this beer. The mahogany is too light; the beer is too clear. I should have seen it coming. This beer is still too young, and you can see it.

It's boozy, it's too sweet, it's really alcoholic. Yeah, drink one and done.

I remember having one of these two falls ago- man how time flies since college- and thinking 'wow, this thing is too young; it'll be so much better in one year plus.' 15 months later, add 'still' to before 'thing' in the previous enquoted thought, and change the 'one' to 'at least three'. this is the seeing shamu of beers; am I happy I had it? sure. was it a tremendous let-down? you betcha.

Photo of Pencible
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured a hazy copper with a bit of tan head. It smelled intense like orange and raisin and honey wheat, with sweet caramel and sugary grapefruit. It tasted strongly of orange peel and lemon zest and sugary caramel, with sour cherry and a metallic alcohol flavor. It was fairly watery with no carbonation, and had a lasting bitter aftertaste with alcohol warming. Overall this was a very extreme beer with potent alcohol, but was ok to sip. It had nice flavor but was a bit harsh, which will hopefully mellow with age. It had decent body, but I would have preferred something a bit fuller. It was well balanced between the super bitterness and super sweetness, which was impressive for such an extreme beer. By the end of the glass, it was definitely growing on me.

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

This is a November 2008 bottle and the first of a four-pack I plan to cellar.

A - Clear copper with a thin, quickly disappearing head and a fair amount of carbonation for a barleywine.

S - Big sweet fruit - heavy on plum/prune scent.

T- More big fruity malt, mostly plum and dried apple and a little bit of toast. The malts are big but not top-heavy and alcohol is decently concealed. There must be enough hop content in there to keep the beer from tasting like sugar water, but I can't taste it directly.

M- This is the biggest disappointment for me in this beer, and the one least likely to improve with aging. It takes a while to absorb all the flavors in a barleywine like this, so I want a thick chewy texture, but this is fairly middle of the road. There's a decent carbonation hit and the alcohol only announces itself in the post-swallow residue, but I would like something more substantial to roll around my tongue while my taste buds do their thing.

D- Overall, this is a better than average barleywine fresh from the brewery. With the exception of Old Horizontal, they tend to be too hot or show little promise at any age. This has very good characteristics months after bottling and I'll be looking forward to the rest of the batch in coming years.

Photo of roadhouse
4.45/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this from a 12 oz. bottle (dated 11/21/08) into a Duvel glass.

Appearance is a cloudy copperish color with a three quarter inch off-white head that sinks to a skim. Not much in the lace department besides a few spots.

Aromas of raisins, figs, caramel malts, and some alcohol. Not extremely complex but very nice.

The taste is started off with an onslaught of candied fruit sweetness that is quickly tamed with the heavy and dark flavors of figs and raisins. The sweetness is balanced nicely by the hop bitterness, but not much comes through from them as far as flavor goes. Finish brings out a bit of the alcohol, but nearly as much as you might think considering the ABV.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, pretty chewy, with a fairly light carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good for what it is.

The dates and figs really work well in this. I think it's a strong candidate for more aging to improve it even more. I only got a single, but might go back for a 4 pack to cellar.

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

Got this one as an 'extra' during a trade with 'spacecoyote' (it was not an agreed part of the trade). I can't tell you how cool it was to receive this unexpected gift. This is the kind of gesture that great trading relationships are built on.

Served in a RR Tulip at 50° F. The bottle states that it was bottled on October 16, 2006. Along with a 8-10 year-old Westy 12, this is one of maybe half a dozen aged beers I've ever had.

A- Pours a dark translucent amber with a light tan head that recedes quickly and audibly. Minimal lacing.

S - Oaky, malty, and sweet. I don't get as much of the alcohol that others do, but this may be related to the fact that this beer is two and a half years old. It has smoothed out very nicely.

T -Again, very mild alcohol burn. This is 15%? I get a candy-maltiness, raisins, dark fruits, old citrus... but I think there's more hiding in there. Gonna let this one warm up to about 60° and see what happens.

Alright, that should do it. I definitely get more alcohol on both the nose and tongue now. Everything is a bit more pronounced, with perhaps more spiciness thrown in. Citrus character is much more apparent. I'm thinking this may be the perfect time to sample this vintage.

Pouring in the yeast gives a fuller, almost chewy feel. I really like this beer.

M - Mild and well-balanced carbonation. Smooth and creamy. Again, the abv is very well masked. Finish is slightly sweet but generally very clean and dry for such a full-bodied beer.

D - Very good for such a full-bodied high-abv brew. I would probably crack another if possible.

Again, thanks go out to BA member spacecoyote for allowing me to try an excellent beer that I likely would have otherwise never known existed.

Photo of discovolante65
4.39/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my favorite Duvel Tulip.

Nice amber/copper color that has a slight dark wood color to it. Little to no head, nice collar with a few bubbles.

Smell is alcohol before I even get close and was afraid of burning my sinuses if I got closer. Glad I decided to brave it, the alcohol must've burst out of the glass and disappeared as I received none of it when I jammed my snout in the glass. Apples, Pears and Figs, maybe even some raisins, with a slight hint of maple to it. I huffed this like an addict with a can of paint.

Taste was unbelievably complex. I should've done three different reviews on this. 1 would be out of the fridge, 2 would be 30 minutes later, and 3 would be after the hour passed. So many flavors and hints in this, it's tough to put a finger on all of it. I get caramelized pears and apples, a weird belgian sugar, and maple/brown sugar oatmeal. This is all well-balanced with malt up front and hops on the outs.

Mouthfeel- Smooth, full-bodied. More carbonation in the mouth than it looks in the glass. Smooth as fuck and surprised the hell out of me.

Drinkability- Well, it's a 15% Barleywine. You're not sessioning this bitch. There are two serving suggestions on the bottle, I did neither, although I wanted to share its greatness with someone else. I took it all down with a damn IV drips pace, but enjoyed every moment of its beauty. Nice Job DFH!!!

Photo of cnally
3.67/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

amber, dirty looking. bubbly head very thin and immediately disappearing.

malty, overly sweet scents and fruity tones. apple cider is all over the place. slight oaky notes.

the amount of hop quality is surprising. very direct hop flavor immediately. the alcohol is super present. fermented fruits is really how i would decribe it.

very sticky and heavy feel.

very high alcohol content. destructive, even. also, the sweetness and thickness is almost too much, but still an interesting brew.

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

Whoa! The alcohol just wafted off the surface out of the glass and knocked me off my feet before I sipped it. The color is a lovely lager-like deep amber, with a bit of a cherry hue. The flavor is a subtle mix of sweetness and grain, almost like an ale, but very smooth. Despite the strong smell of alcohol, this one didn't hit me until I was 3/4 through, and boy did it hit me. But as a sipping beer this very enjoyable.

Photo of zeff80
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a cloudy, reddish orange color with a small, thin, white head. It left soapy residue on the glass.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel, roasted malt, and dried fruits.

T - It tasted of raisin, sweet malts, candy sugar, and subtle bitter hops.

M - It was very smooth and soft with a chewy mouthfeel. A full-bodied beer.

D - This is a great tasting barley wine that is simply too strong to drink in large quantities.

Photo of FleeVT
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle with a "Bottled On" date into a snifter.

A: Pours a beautiful copper amber with slight haze and a very thin white head.

S: I was expecting to burn some nose hairs and was pleasantly surprised to find this not the case. This has a butterscotch front with toffey and some fruit esters.

T: Lots of fruit on the palate, dark fruit. Raisins, plum, and maybe a touch of apple. The butterscotch and toffee present themselves in the middle. A perfect balance of malts and hops with the characteristic kick of alcohol. After you swallow there is another round of tasting. This beer coats like cough syrup.

M: Smooth. Unbelievably smooth for the style with a tight carbonation that tickles the back of the throat.

D: A slow sipper at 15% but a wonderful treat for a cold night. Fantastic.

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

Dogfish Head..Definatley my favorite of 2008. Mr. Calagione takes a Barleywine,makes the strongest one possible,then ferments the beast with a yeast starter that has Champangne yeast,making it lighter than Bigfoot,for example,Brilliant!
Pours a deep burnished copper tone, reddish-cranberry tones, light head,settles quickly, lots of lacing. Light mahagony adds to the color palatte, yum.
Smells of rum,even congac soaked golden raisins,figs,phenolic over and undertones! Deep malted maplelike barley,a sweet lavender smell floating in there, bruised peaches, overripe apricots, wow what a bounty of complexity to be found here. Hops provide just the right amount of bitterness to the malt bill.
At first taste,one can only comment on the smoothness. A throat burning alcoholic beer is expected,yet a delicate, sweet,fruity balance of flavor is found. Figs, raisins,cherrys, a Belgian Quad amount of sweet-balance. If a Belgian yeast strain was added,this brew could easily pass as a Quadrupel.
Its hard to sip this beer, its not too hoppy,its not too malty,its perfect. Look at the BA definition of American Barleywine,and this beer is an intricate balance of all these qualities.
I would award perfect,but who has ever drank the perfect bier?
I don't really understand the low ratings other have awarded this brew. Extremly warming on a 20 degree night, will buy this again for the winter season.

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,363 ratings.