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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

2,366 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,366
Reviews: 1,019
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 222
Gots: 659 | 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: 2,366 | Reviews: 1,019 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

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

08/12/08- Recieved in a trade with Connecticuitpoet.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a Jan '04 bottling date. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Pretty murky pour with mini and microscopic sediment pieces floating around. Deep orange, almost rust color. Leaves very slight lace markings behind.

Smell- Traditional English Barleywine nose. Very carmely and malty with some muted fruity hops in the background.

Taste- Tried this one maybe a year or so too late. Has a slight off taste in the malt. Headed towards a light cardboard taste. Still quite good though. Hops are still there with a citrus fruity flavor while the caramel malts carry the beer with a very sweet flavor.

Mouthfeel- Medium to lower carbonation level. Slight hoppy aftertaste as well as a thick and creamy caramel feel during consumption.

Drinkability- Wish I had tried this last year. As is, it's still a very good barleywine after 4 1/2 years on the shelf.

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

Just over a year old bottle.
Pours a orangish, pink in color with no head forming at all. Smell is malty and still showing signs of the big alcohol level. Taste is showing more of the alcohol than was in the nose. There are also some light citrusy fruit and white wine qualities. It still needs some time in the cellar. Just don't know if the alcohol will ever diminish from this level. Still very drinkable and enjoyable.

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

A: Split a 2007 vintage 12 oz bottle with my wife. Poured my half into a small brandy snifter. A scant finger of head forms and rapidly dissipates with nice lacing. The beer is a nice medium amber with hints of red.

S: Complexity is the key word... fig, vanilla, oak, brown sugar, candy sweetness all show up. Any hop aromas have faded with the 9 months of age.

T: Dark fruits up front, maybe dates or yellow raisins. Residual sweetness shows up in the middle and a moderate amount of hop bitterness is evident late. There is a pretty obvious alcohol burn, but it isn't sharp enough to be unpleasant.

M: Surprisingly light for such a large malt bill. The carbonation and alcohol mingle together to produce a mild tingling sensation on the tongue. Slightly cloying late, but there is enough bitterness to cut through in the end. Overall, reminds me of a good whiskey, but without quite as much harsh buzz.

D: What can you say about a 15% barleywine? Find a friend or lover and share this over an hour or two!

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

A- clear copper brew with a decent holding thick foamy off white head

S- floral, fruity esters, alcohol, pine, sweet

T- sweet and fruity malts throughout, woody, citric and piney hops, toasted and caramel malts, sweet overall, alcohol toward and at finish, warms well

M- chewy, oily and sticky with a hot finish

D- complex with a good mouthfeel, enjoyable, big props for having such a high percentage brew that warms so well

Photo of johnd513
3.86/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My first barleywine. 12oz bottle poured into my leffe goblet. The smell is sweet and fruity. The taste is sweet raisons. The mouthfeel is slick and creamy. A bit too sweet for my taste but still very good. Reminds me of DFH Raison D' etre but I enjoyed this brew much better. The alcohol is hidden well enough considering its 15% ABV but still a bit over the top for me.

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

L:Light caramel browness. Cloudy. Any head there was disspaers quickly.
S:Sweet toffee and raisons right away. Kind of an odd citrus orange smell.
T:Sweet toffee and raisons start you off right away, like the smell suggests. Caramel roastiness follows. Very cool citrus on the back. The citrus really sticks out.
M:Sharp tiny little packed in bubbles gives you a prickly feeling on the top of your tounge.
D:FANTASTIC!!!! Sublte hint of port with big fruity raisons. Very smooth for such a different take on the style.

Photo of bonbini26
4.57/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, paired with a vintage 1997 cigar

Appearance: Dull and hazy orange amber colour, haze is from both chill haze and very loose sediment in the bottle. Light carbonation creates a thin off white lace.

Smell: so much going on, i wish i could tell you more

Taste & Mouthfeel : Creamy slick mouth feel with a light to moderate carbonation the provides a little smoothness amongst the semi-dense body. Big maltiness laced with ripe fruit and earthy yeast. A hidden alcohol lays under a twang of fruitiness and earthy yeast. A little buttery and the hops drop a spike of bitterness. Alcoholic warmth comes soon after with a spicy kick.

Drinkability & Notes: Big flavours are bursting with aleish ripeness, where is the 15% abv? There is alcohol there but I have had smaller barleywines that can't hide the alcohol like this. Watch out on this one as it catches up with you.

my father had a 15 year old port with his cigar, and he kept asking me for a sip of this, so just keep that in mind

Photo of yemenmocha
3.77/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours dark orange/brown color with modest off-white head that dissipates quickly.

Nose has mixed fruit such as canteloupe, peach, and hops. Maple & caramel are present also.

Palate has a lot of alcohol warmth, more dark fruit, malt sweetness, and mouth puckering hops at the end. Maple & caramel come through also, maybe some fig newtons.

Very slow drinking. More fruit oriented in flavors and aroma compared to most barleywines.

Photo of Gtreid
2.22/5  rDev -44.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Vintage 2007.
Poured into a snifter.

A: Nice orange, caramel color with almost one full finger of sandy head that does not retain well.

A: Did not like this. Astringent, and white board marker smell took me back. There were some sweet malts, and earthy, pine hops, but... As close as I can come to discribing this smell is, the purple scented marker you would use in grade school.

T: Not much better IMO. I did get some nice honey, and piney hop tones, as well as some sweet malts, but, I'm afraid the alcohol overwhelms this brew.

M&D: Medium to full body, the mouthfeel was actuauly quite nice and creamy. The drinkability, on the other hand was not. At 15% ABV, very strong, too strong. Not a good example of an American BW. Maybe I got a bad bottle? Will not be searching for this again. Skal.

Photo of ccrida
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

3/10/11 - update of the same batch (purchased 12/07). Still super sweet, generic DFH strong. Spicy. Can't say this one has really budged an inch in 3 years, wow, what a monster. two left i think, I'll give them a very long time, maybe 7 and 10 years total before a check in. Still pretty smooth, no real oxidation, perhaps a hint. Beet sugar, molasses.
6/12/08 -
12 oz bottle that I've cellared for about 6 months, poured into my Deschutes snifter. Olde School is a hazy copper with a large, khaki head that is slow to settle, forming a taller column in the middle as the sides subside, leaving heavy lace. Very impressive for such a big beer.

Smell is strong, spciy and fruit, unmistakable extreme DFH, much like the Raison D'extra IIRC. Pretty nice, very rich fruitiness to it, which helps mask the high ABV.

Taste is also very heavy on the English ale yeast fruity esters, and much smoother then I expected. The ABV is very well hidden, really just lingering vapors on the breath, even the finish is fairly clean, mostly sweet esters and malt.

Mouthfeel is slick, and the body is not nearly as thick as I feared.

Drinkability is surprisingly high, I thought I was in for a 2 hr sipper, but his sucker is going down with dangerous speed. I assume the 6 months I sat on this really helped, and I'm glad I've got a few more left, as this one is a winner, probably my favorite of the big as DFH brews to date. Still, it's worth noting that I find them all to taste very similar (well, I'm thinking of the 120 and raison D'extra), dominated by the esters and sweet malt and sugars. While this is a tasty, enjoyable beer in it's own right, much of my score reflects how well executed this is, as I homebrewer, I know making these monster beers is no easy task. Much more of an English BW in my mind.

Photo of BullCityB
2.96/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a beautiful deep amber with a nice rocky head. Very nice...

The aroma is quite rich. Spicy alcohols, some fruit, and caramel maltiness. The alcohol is, perhaps, a bit too present here. I know this beer is 15%, but still.

The flavor is rather unforgiving. This is a sipper, as the alcohol is rearing its head here as well. There's a lot of body here, and it's got plenty of spice, presumably from the alcohol. Very warming. I was expecting more fruit than is here, seeing as it's got some figs and, I believe, dates in there, but I guess it has mostly fermented away. Plenty of caramel malts in this one too, you can tell that as soon as it hits your tongue. All in all, it's odd. More alcohol than is ever necessary in an ale, a lot of sticky sweetness, and not a lot in the way of bitterness. I can't say this is my cup of tea. The combination of alcohol and sticky caramel flavors really mask almost everything else.

In the mouth, it's quite creamy. Pretty good, but a bit too sticky for my taste, at least when I'm this down on the flavor.

As far as drinkability goes, I'm wondering if I'll make it through the last half of this guy. It's huge, both in body and alcoholic strength, and that along with the flavor of this beer doesn't comprise a recipe for something that I can have more than one of, ever.

I had very high hopes for this bad-ass mofo, as it came highly recommended from the BA who gave me this bottle from his cellar. However, it just isn't for me. Too much alcohol, too much sweetness, and not enough hops. As someone who loves Dopplebocks and Baltic Porters, that says something.

Thanks to CWiggins for the bottle, it was worth a try!

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

Pours a ruby, brown color with an off-white head that falls fast and leaves a fine lace behind.

The smeel is boldly sweet and malty. The aroma reminds me of alcohol soaked fruit.

Tastes is sweet and syrupy with strong fruit flavors and a strong alcohol finish.

Smooth and medium bodied in the mouth with low carbonation.

A decent barleywine and another nice selection from Dogfish Head.

Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pour was a nice very dark red copper color. With an aggressive pour there was lots of head that subsided fast leaving spotty lacing.

S- Smells very sweet and fruity. Reminds me of many of the other DFH high ABV beers.

T- Very sweet and fruity. A nice raisin or date type of taste, very nice and malty. The spice of the alcohol makes for a nice finish. Upon a second taste the taste of cherries is present and a nice tandem to the raisin.

M- Nice and smooth, no carbination to get in the way of the flavors of the beer. The alcohol gives a very nice spice that may other wise have been over shadowed by the carbination.

D- Very easy to drink, reminds me almost of Samichlaus, but with more bite. I enjoy this very much.

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,366 ratings.