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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

2,249 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,249
Reviews: 992
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 205
Gots: 571 | 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: 2,249 | Reviews: 992 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BigJTrucker
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle dated 10/16/06. Pours an amber color similar to an unpasteurized apple juice. Smells like candied fruit, perhaps apricots, maybe also of molasses or brown sugar. Alcohol smell is not readilly apparent. Taste is of dried fruit and is very smooth. A very delightful, SIPPING type of beer. Drink it too quickly and it WILL catch up with you.

Photo of cbn
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a twelve ounce brown bottle pours clear golden orange sunshine with about a billion bubbles creating a thin firm creamy-white head. at room temp(71) this beer is really lively in the glass!

as the bottle cap removed ripe banana and a subtle sweet pie crust malt aroma, butterscotch and sweet white wine.

flavors peculiar to single-malt scotch and fine sherry express and linger. sweet confectioners sugar forms a velvety coat, muscat grape finish.

sweet smooth velvet to the tongue, bitter thin astringent to the pallet.

approach this offering with open mind and RESPECT.

Photo of BuckSpin
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour a pint and listen up. There's a little story to this beer.

1st, thanks to Warriorsoul for this in a trade. He set me up really well. When we traded I still lived in Western PA, so this lovely 11oz came all bubblewrapped and packing popcorned from Mass. That was in the summer of 2005. One by one I sampled (and enjoyed) the other beers he sent, but cellared this one for "the right time".

Fast forward to Janaury 2006. We move to midcoast Maine, and I personally bubblewrap all my beauties in the basement (no, not like that guy in "Silence of the Lambs" with the woman in the pit) for travel to New England. So Mr. Olde School returns home, and moves into a new cellar, where he hung out with a lot of new friends from up "heay".

Now its Valentine's Day February 2007. Our well traveled friend has been patiently waiting for the short side of 2 years, well over 18 months. Now the snow falls, and falls, and falls, and school is closed and the wife is home and we spend a quiet, cold day together. I end up shoveling close to 18 inches of snow over a 2 hour period. I'm cold, I've got a lil' chill, I've worked hard today. I was a good hubby on Valentines...what can I do to reward myself & shake off this BRRRR.

Ahhhh...I know just the guy. Its time.

The offering: a cellar aged (20+ months) c.2005 Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine, allowed to warm
Presentation: an 11oz bottle conditioned road warrior in an oversized crystal snifter

It poured crisp & clean, a bright, warm brassy Jack-O-Latern pumpkin glow orange with golden tones. Some mild bottom bubbling but it fades quickly, as does the pinky's worth of loose winter white/ivory mixed foam. It returns nicely as I agitate the brew, and laces subtly and consistently.

Nose is rich, strong alcohol (who knows what the 15% ABV has become in this time?) sharp on the inhale, fruits like orange & apricot, spices like soft clove, caramel at the hard ball stage of development, almost burnt sweetness, plus the odd sense of smelling a bed of rocks.

Its surprisingly smooth, soft, almost creamy ,a lite peppery quality, pleasantly bittersweet like a well made candy. The sugars on the nose are present, the malts surprisingly take a supporting cameo...interesting. Its very even & balanced as it warms & mingles on the pallete and numbs the teeth with alcohol, warm, intoxicating, a new bitterness rises, then it finishes a little sweet, but not syrupy, leaving a pleasing bittersweetness behind that does film a little but not obnoxiously.

A side note is that, on the 1st two sips, the oddest sensation of smelling something smoldering filled my nasal cavaties, so much so I put it down to check the house! Very peculiar.

This drank remarkably easy, almost a bit alarming in how smooth it went down. While I couldn't have slammed it down, I have certainly tasted beers that required more pacing than this, which surprises me. While not completely hidden, it does mask the high ABV pretty well.

Overall I am surprised at how smooth this was, and how easy it was to drink. I will have to search out the 2007 version to compare young & old.

Rest well, my well traveled friend. You were certainly worth all the miles & bubblewrap! If you have a chance to cellar this, by all means do so.

Photo of Tbone
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is a 2002 vintage that I laid down for 4+ years after finding it overly harsh when first released.

Poured a hazy amber with almost no head.

Odor is musty and yeasty. The once bitter grapfruit hop character now comes across as overripe apricots.
The taste imparts these same qualities, but there is also a slight sourness that is not unpleasant and blends into the remnants of the citrusy hop notes.

It has little carbonation and its mouthfeel is more like a port than a beer.
Half of this bomber was more than enough for me, so I would have to say drinkability is somewhat low.

Photo of psinderson
3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into snifter glass.

Appearance: Beautiful turbid amber red color with a thick caramel colored head.

Smell: Wow..very complex aroma of sour citrus, caramel and brown sugar. After a few whiffs, a strong, deep maltiness develops. Very cool.

Taste: Sweet warming alcohol. Strong brown sugar and dark caramel flavors. Finishes rather clean with some hoppiness.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, as expected, very clean feeling.

Drinkability: For the style, this could be dangerous. However, it could be too complex for some.,

Photo of frazbri
2.17/5  rDev -45.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Olde School Barleywine poured ruddy red with a short white head that seemed to regenerate around the edge of the goblet. Aroma had notes of orange, lemon, sweet tart candy, and banana. Flavor started with banana nut bread and licorish. There was a lemon cake flavor in the middle, but the finish was alcohol and bitterness. The mouthfeel was fairly thick and a little bit chewy, while the carbonation was a little on the high side for a barleywine.

I struggled with this one. Some of the flavors just didn't mesh well for me. The alcohol burn was over the edge, too. Olde School was a chore to finish, much like homework for this beer drinker.

Photo of crzyd12
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Deep orange color with an average head that dissolves quickly and little lacing. Strong scents of hops. Flavors are sweet and well balanced. the strong hop scent does not come through in the taste. The high alcohol content of this brew is apparent and makes for an initially crisp mouthfeel, which subsides as you continue to drink. This is a very drinkable barleywine though it should be shared with a friend as suggested on the bottle.

Photo of jhicks12
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy orange rust color

Smell: Very some citrus and other fruit, sweet malt and a stinging alcohol smell

Taste: Sweet malty and citrus taste with a bitter oily hop flavors as well then finishes with an chilly, warming alcohol taste.

Mouthfeel nice carbonation and and warming mouthfeel.

Drinkability: I love the flavors but this is a stong one, so when you have a 12 oz bottle of the Olde school barleywine and follow that up with a Russian imperial from Stone, you end up taking a nice, i'm a little buzzed nap at 3pm on a saturday!

Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 11/10/05.
Pours a clear, crisp looking light coppery gold. Rapidly rising head that quickly falls to almost nothing.
Smell is sublime, sweet fruits, caramel, very slight citrus/grassy hops.
Taste is very smooth and mellow, The hops have melted away to reveal the fruity malts. The alcohol is hidden amazingly well. Almost detect no alcohol at all! Sweet pears, raisins, caramel, and very slight citrus hops.
Smooth and slick on the mouth and very drinkable. Scarily drinkable. At 15% I could easily pass out on this one. All in all more like an English Barleywine than an American, but who the hell cares. It's great!

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

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a Brooklyn snifter glass.

Pours a bright, hazy copper color, with a faint amount of white head.

The smell is sweet and potent, with hints of vanilla, malt, and fruit.

The flavor is all sweet up front, with malt and fruit flavors dominating; towards the middle, the flavor is more oak-y bourbon, and the finish is bitter wood and alcohol.

The mouthfeel is slightly thick, as is to be expected. Drinkability is, well, what you'd expect. The bottle explicitly recommends splitting it between two people (or aging it in the ground for a year), so take your cues from that. I found it perfectly drinkable for the style and strength, however.

Overall, this is another insanely over-the-top ale from the boys in lower Delaware. If you're a barelywine fan, or someone just looking to try something a little different, I'd recommend it.

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

Pours a dark orange with a small head that quickly fades and leaves little lacing. At this abv that is noy surprising. The smell is a little fainter than expected. but there are nice notes of honey, yeast, strong malt that doesn't quite approach soy sauce level, and some spicy notes. The taste is surprisingly dry and bitter. There is sweetness here, but it doesn't predominate. The initial impression is that this needs more time in the bottle. As my example was bottled on 11/16/06, I'm sure that's true. A dry bitterness to start followed by sweet malt and alcohol then some spicy hops followed by a sticky maltiness. The mouthfeel is dry with a little stickiness on the finish. This is drinkable as is, but probably much more of a knock out after a year in the cellar.

Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.35/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

A - Hazy reddish copper with about one finger of head. A few speck of lacing too. Considering the abv, that is a miraculous achievement. Addition of the yeast makes it very cloudy and more orange than red.

S - Vanilla, bourbon, apricot, caramel malt, faint pine hops and alcohol. The vanilla is really strong. It defines the odor. The alcohol quickly dominate as the beer warms a bit.

T - Rather disappointing here. Extremely boozy. A bit of sweet malt and a light fruitiness, like a mx of apricot and cherry flavor, can be decerned through the alcohol. The aftertaste has bitterness to it from pine hop, but this is still overshadowed by a boozy alcohol.

M - Thin, and astonishingly smooth considering the alcoholic taste. It tastes a bit like it should go down as smoothly as a shot of Vladimir Vodka, but it actually created no sort of feeling on the throat. The taste is still ruined of course. It is refreshing on the throat, but a little drying on the front of the mouth. Addition of the yeast gives the beer a thicker texture.

D - Pretty bad. Everywhere except for the taste is good on this beer. It is absurdly boozy, even compared with Raison de Extra or WWS. This alcohol completely ruins the beer! I don't care how high the alcohol is, it should NOT mask the other flavors of the beer. This is a serious disappointment. Too strong to session (obviously). It is also not exactly inviting me back for another. I remember having this two years ago, perhaps when my tastes were less refined or the recipe was different, and I adored it. I might buy this again if someone I trust tells me that this years batch is not as boozy. Otherwise, I'm done with Olde School.

Photo of wavz
3.38/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured straight down the middle of the snifter gives a nice caramel head to the barleywine that stays around for a min or two but with little if any lacing. The barleywine has a great sunflower orange hue.

S- Sweet malts, cinnamon, a hint of orange and candy.

T- First thing that hits you is the heat (acl. 15 %) and hopfully this will fade as I age this one. Big hops, spices, oranges, apricots, but the heat in this one is way off the charts.

M- Thick & viscus with low carbonation, just like a good barleywine should be.

D- I'm gonna let this one age for about a year and write a new review then, but I'm looking forward to trying it when it mellows. Still a good barleywine.

Photo of gonzo138
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- pours a reddish amber sort of color with a cream colored head that does not retain all that well but does lace nicely

S- bits of rich sweet malt and citrusy hops come through at first but are then overwhelmed by a huge alcohol aroma, which was a little over the top but was still pleasant

T- same as smell, the sweet fruity malts and citrusy hop profiles are there but alchohol taste overwhelms a bit, not as much as I was expecting for a beer with such a high ABV%

M- low corbonation and a full thick body, just like any good barleywine

D- this beer could use a few years in the cellar to mellow it out a bit, a little mad that this is the last one available to me till they brew it next year, I'm gonna pick a few more up then and let them age for a while

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love to try DFH brews. They just get sooo off the wall that you need to experience it to see for yourself. Sometimes great, sometimes decent, sometimes not for me. This barleywine is on my list of must tries for a variety of reasons.

Acquired via trade! I am now able to say I've had it. Following the entertaining label I poured this into an Atlantic Brewing snifter.

A - Nice golden orange in color. A smal white head quickly settles to the sides of the glass.
S - Did someone pour a peach in my glass? Dominated fruit / peach with a hint of citrus.
T - Boozy alcohol followed up by a ripe peach type fruit flavor. Malts were thin and background subtle at best.
M - medium bodied and hot.
D - one was plenty for a sitting. aside from the obvious ABV, this one is a strong flavor and really a finish the evening type of beer.

SO, the above being stated - yes I would love to put a case in the cellar and see it mature in 10-20 years. I can only imagine how this one will mellow in time.

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

Picked this one up in Kentucky over the holidays of ‘06
poured into a goblet

A: Amber copper color with a small ½ finger white head. The head settles with the bigger bubbles, still, not as attractive as a Belgian.

S: Nutty, chocolatey malts. Can smell the alcohol pretty strongly.

T: Well, I think they’re might be some alcohol in this one. It’s just too much, it’s not good for the flavor. I think I’ll like this one better after a year of aging. As for now, the alcohol is almost gagging. Someone needs to tame this beast.

M: medium body, maybe a little thicker. My mouth and throat sure have warmed up while drinking this one.

D: No more than one for me. I’d prefer a half pint of this one. Still, at this percentage, I guess this is to be expected.

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

Amber-red translucent body with about a half an inch of off-white head. Smells alcoholic and fruity. Tastes like apricot and alcohol. Citrusy hops are also there, along with just a slight hint of a roasty malt? Kind of harsh, but the alcohol is relatively well-hidden. Medium-bodied, syrupy mouthfeel... Not at all what I was expecting... Doesn't taste like any barley wine I've had... Tastes more like Apri-hop... It's a well-crafted ale, but not something I'll be getting again probably...

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

I bought a four pack of this just because I enjoy Dogfishhead, and I had not experienced the barleywine. I was, for some reason, expecting a little something rough around the edges with a younger feel. I was happily mistaken.

At 15%, this beer is EXTRAORDINARY. A fine balance between sweetness, alcohol and hops. It has a character somewhere in the range of port and on the very near side of scotch, and a distinct beer quality that cannot be asociated with either. A heavy light-malt nose and round, citrus accent in the flavor. Unable to hold a head at room temprature, I wonder if colder temps will be more favorable, but I drink my barleywine with a sense of warmth. The near copper color of the brew is absolutely clear and there is no residual yeast.

My one regret about this beer is that the strenght is such that I can't drink more than two in an evening. Thought I do that in small glasses, it renders me inable to add a late-night scotch or other entitlement as it is so purely stong onto itself. Know, clearly, what you are getting into. Expect something as interesting as Samichlaus, and don't be afraid to enjoy it on the same level.

Photo of Brent
2.95/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured a dark chestnut. An immediate waft of rubbing alcohol from the glass. First sip is highly alcoholic flavors awash in sweet, caramel-candy malt. Harsh and a bit of a struggle. As the beer warms, the alcohol, rather surprisingly, merges a bit with the malt, but still retains a strong note throughout. Sweetness tones down a little, and some darker fruit flavors peek through. My bottle was just a few months old, so perhaps a bit of age will tame this down. As it was, it was just too rough to be enjoyable.

Photo of bjohnson
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep red and peach color with a frothy one finger white head. Nice pillow like retention on this. Tight lacing
S: Passion fruit, pears, orange, and sweet caramel in the nose. Seems like there are too many aromas to identify and they all get muddled together.
T/M: Thick and juicy like a gusher just burst in my mouth. Creamy on the palate. Maltyness has a big backbone here interlaced with fruits--pears, apples, raspberries, raisins. Slight caramel notes too. Bitterness that leaves the mouth surprisingly dry--I would have thought this to not be this dry. Warms the chest and throat right up
D: A sipping night cap brew. I wonder how this would do in the cellar for a couple of years--the bitterness might mellow a tad. Tasty offering from DFH and another wildly high abv. Definitely worth a try.

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

2005 bottle. Trying this one again just about a year from my first review of this beer.
Bright orange/glowing copper in color, fluffy white head, nice retention with little lacing.
Sweet citrus aromas, orange rind, sweet sugary candy, whiffs of solvent alcohol, slightly grainy.
Sweet maltiness upfront, pinches of bitter citrus, some citursy hoppiness shows through suprisingly well, warming alcohol in the finish.
Medium bodied mouthfeel for the style but with good carbonation.
Considering the 15%abv this is a very drinkable beer. Drinks like a less hoppy big IPA. This beer is a great example of what age can do for some beers. The sweetness that was most prominent and drowned out a lot of other flavors in my fresh bottle mellowed and compliments now rather than overwhelms. Worth leaving for a year IMO.

Photo of cjgator3
3.3/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an orangish amber color that produces a half inch white head that eventually turns into a white ring around the glass that leaves sporadic lacing around the edge of the glass. The aroma is certainly boozy with some fruit (mostly apples) and a wierd metallic twanginess in the background. The taste starts out smooth and malty which makes room for ripe fruit and finally the alcohol kicks in. You can definately feel the warmth of the alcohol all the way down with this one. Overall, this is a fairly new bottle that definately needs some time to mellow out a little. I have another one that I will keep for awhile and will review again in a year or two. Not bad, but it definately could use some aging as the bottle suggests.

Photo of dawg
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured cold from the bottle into my DFH snifter. Looks thick and syrupy. Thin filmy head vanished forming a ring with some clinging laces.

Nose is very friuty and creamy, ripe. Smells like fresh sliced fruitcake. Alcohol is very present in the nose. Also smell sugar. No hop smells whatsoever.

Feel is very warming. Tiny bubbles soften the syrupy feel. Pleasant.

Interesting yeasty taste. I'd like to use this strain on a heavy IPA. Heavy malty tastes. Crisp dark fruit tastes. Aftertaste heavy in alcohol and dryness in the back sides of the tongue.

Drinks good.

Photo of bobbyc881
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter... glowing orange with a very thin head. Slightly cloudy, sparse carbonation.

Aroma is citrusy along with darker fruits, and an obvious presence of alcohol. Slight medicinal smells, too.

Taste begins sweet like raisins, with a sharp spike of hop bitterness down the middle. Finishes with a punch of alcohol and an accompanying dry taste. Some lingering sweetness, more so when it warms up. (This is probably a rather young bottle... I'll definately be aging this). Flavors are a touch abrasive, and I'll be looking forward to trying this once it's mellowed.

Medium-thick mouthfeel, with some sticky sweetness.

Drinkability... at 15%, it's rough, but goes down nice.

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

A - rusty orange with a thin white quickly lacing head, a very few slow bubbles of carbonation

S - alocohol strong but caged, with a dark sweetness, like raisins/dates/or dark cherries, a nice typical barleywine, typical but above average

T - that great dark molasses type of sweetness that i would expect from a great barleywine, those dark cherries as well, high alcohol, which is balanced but could be hidden a bit better

M&D - a great barleywine, smooth and velvety, among the top few, however one of the highest ABV's also, which is good, i enjoy it, but it will turn some off and does take away from the drinkability

DFH does it again!

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,249 ratings.