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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

2,322 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,322
Reviews: 1,007
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 13.1%
Wants: 214
Gots: 625 | FT: 30
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: 2,322 | Reviews: 1,007 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of soupyman10
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this one at the DFH Alehouse. Pours a deep reddish color with some light off-white foam on top that quickly dissolved down. Syrupy looking. Nose is caramel sweetness, grapes and some alcohol in the background. Taste is similar. Dates and sweet fruitiness, alcohol comes through fairly strong later on. Warming booze. Body is syrupy but actually a little thin. Overall, quite tasty. The alcohol is a little strong, but doesn't really detract that much from the flavor.

Photo of BeerSox
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into snifter.

Slightly hazy ruby red with a thin light tan head that quickly settles to a thin rim along the glass.

Supersweet malt aroma along with some citrusy hops. The alcohol is present, but for it's amount, not too obvious.

The taste is the syrupy malts mixed with the citrusy hops. The malts are cloyingly sweet, with the alcohol biting on the tongue with each sip. The finish is the strong hops and the strong alcohol.

This one is tasty, but it's also overwhelmingly bitter and the alcohol is pretty strong. This would probably make a good desert beer after a big meal, but otherwise, it's pretty heavy. Recommended (as the only beer you drink in a night).

Photo of atsprings
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 and 2007 tasted side by side. both poured a crisp dark orange with a thin head that diminished to a ring. Aroma is more profound from the 07 glass, both have burnt caramel and subtle hops, but the 07 is more abundant. The 07 has a much more cloying sweetness that is toned down in the 06. Dried fruits, sweet apples and some caramel flavor dominate the taste in both. The beer is certainly heavy with lots of syrupy alcohol. While there are many better Barley Wines out there, this one does stand out with the 15% abv and unique DFH touch to it, it is certainly a sipper, however.

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

12 oz longneck bottle, sporting a really sweet label and one of those yellow 'warning' caps. $2.75 from Abe's in Bethlehem. Poured into a wide tulip for swirling.

Pours a nice caramel copper color, a good bit of red mixed in and orange around the edges. A surprisingly large whitish head that recedes to a bubbly collar that disappears completely by the time the beer is done. Little carbonation.

Smell is very boozy at first, but without seeming so hot. Also a big helping of fruit and sweet, caramel malt. Pretty standard for a barleywine, but kicked up a notch or so.

Taste is very much like the smell, malt sweetness takes the forefront here, though. Mouthfeel verges on full, but without the dark malts of a stout it almost seems a little syrupy. Almost. Still very good. The alcohol in this one would keep me from grabbing another, tonight, but i would love to drink this again. Glad i got two more to cellar.

Photo of slvrmon82
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one definitely packs a punch to it. Pours a red to orange with a little haze. Little to no head on this beer. Dissipates almost immediately. Not a lot of carbonation to this one. Smell is overpowering. Lots of alcohol with lots of spice overpower the nose. Taste is traditional barleywine but has the alcohol right up front. Very strong. Finishes with sweet and fruity accents. Mouthfeel is a little thick a little syrupy. Drinkability is not all there. Probably because of the 15% ABV and the heaviness. A couple will set you good though.Definitely worth the pickup and a must for Dogfish fans.

Photo of steelcutoats
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my second favorite beer offered by Dogfish Head. My sister bought me a case of this for my birthday back in October of "07". I had been waiting almost 11 months for it to be released, after missing it altogether the previous year. When I found out that it would be released soon I called all the beer distributors in the area and asked if they'd be getting a shipment in. The only one was Vecenie Distributing Co. in Millvale, PA. When I finally got a hold of it, I immediately threw a four pack in the fridge for consumption. It is now four months later and time to finally review.

This beer is truly epic. I believe the term "bone-crusher" is used to describe it on Dogfish Heads website and it couldn't be any further from the truth. It poured a deep copper red into my favorite snifter. There wasn't much of a head and little lacing. The nose is very shard with hints of dates, raisins and honey. The taste is sweet and malty, almost like Gulden Draak. I will definitely be cellaring the rest of this case for further enjoyment.

Photo of ziggy13
4.28/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter to enjoy this one fully....

A - Somewhere between amber and red with minimal cream head and minimal lacing. Somewhat cloudy for a barleywine. A sign of effervescence is there too.

S - The alcohol hits you in the nose along with a sweet malty goodness. Finally there is a slight remnants of hop characteristics.

T - The sweetness hits immediately followed promptly by the alcohol, but its a very pleasant alcohol taste. There are flavors of dark fruits there too, maybe dates, red grapes, and raisins. Finally it finishes with a flowery hop taste. A very complex tasting experience.

M - A little chunky here and it coats the tongue for a long time after it is gone.

D - Because of the 15% ABV it makes it a little hard to have more than one or two. But this fact still doesn't take anything away from this beer.

This has been consistently one of my favorite barleywines ever. If you like a less-hopped barleywine then this one is for you. There are alot of wine characteristics here and its just a very smooth experience. Top Notch. Cheers!

Photo of dreadnatty08
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled, 2007.
Pours a really gorgeous ruby and caramel color with plentiful open bubbled head. Probably the nicest looking beer I've had in a while. Good tracing in the glass, and from a half bottle pour, very clear. Aromas are just awash in raisins, prunes, candy sugar, lightly toasted malts and an overall sense that yes, this is 15% abv. Some slight citrus and herbal notes from the hops as well. On the palate, it is slick, sweet and something to really sip and think about. It reminds me a bit of 120 min except maltier and slightly toastier. I understand the difficulty of brewing a drinkable beer that is an excess of 11%, and that it will be exceptionally sweet. That being said, if it was classified as an old ale, I really enjoy it. No, it's not balanced, but quite a fine sipper. While Raison d'Extra I didn't care for as much, this is another great boundary pushing beer by DFH.

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

2006 vintage

a: Olde school is a clear, light golden amber color. It pours with a medium sized white head that has good lace and retention.

s: Big sherry alcohol smells hit the nose hard right away. Sour cherries and raisins are obvious as well. There was something sweet that reminded me of apples as well.

t: Huge flavors of sour cherries and flowery apples start things off. Some sweet raisins and peats are noticeable as well. There is a massive blanket of alcohol over everything.

m: The carbonation gives this a nice creamy texture. The body is a bit thin however.

d: Even after a year, this is still just too hot. There have been some remarkable improvements so far though. I can't wait to see what some more time in the cellar yields.

Photo of budgood1
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours out a cloudy, amber, orange tinted colour, with a thin bubbly head appearing, supported by some slow rising carbonation. nice looking lace. bright, tropical fruit aroma...brown sugar, x-mas spice, belgianesque...very inviting. flavours follow suit in the fruiten aspects...pineapple, mango, some banana, green apples, pears, and a big grapefruit type hop blast. nice caramel maltiness is definitely an afterthought in the taste, but holds up the world with an altas like strength. a big boozy spiciness blankets the entire works. quite raw, and the flavours don't seem to play nice with each other in the grand scheme of this brew. the addition of the dregs makes it more of a yeasty and fruity behemoth! it opens up more as it warms to room temperature, also. the body is massive, with a quite light, spritzy and lively mouthfeel to keep things interesting. dangerously sippable...although the booziness is apparent and sits warmingly in the belly. just tastes damn good.

i really enjoyed this bottle. some serious cellaring is appropriate for this concoction...i'm sure it will develop some complexities with a few years. although fresh and raw it's a boozy hot, hoppy, and happy monster.

my other three bottles are destined for future greatness. defintiely worth seeking out.

Photo of t0rin0
3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My roomate and I split one of these while watching the last of the dirty harry movies. What better way to enjoy the movie than by having a beer thats got almost as many percentage abv as the man with no name has confirmed kills in a short 90 minutes.

Perhaps I should have tried this before I tried the 120 minute IPA as this seems to be milder version of that beer in terms of smell and taste. The beer poured into our pint glasses with a nice 1/2 inch head that actually stuck around for a little while (a bit different than previous reviews). The beer was a bit light in color for a barleywine and was a copper color that was quite clear.

The smell was strong of the grapefruit hops mixing with alcohol. Again, very similar to 120 minute IPA. The sweetness of the malt in the background was a little stronger than I expected. It was a nice compromise. The flavor was real strong on malt and hops but little to no alcohol could be detected until it was swallowed. It burned going down.

Overall its a very drinkable barleywine, but with an intensity like this it might be advisable to warm your palate with another beer first to fully enjoy this.

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

This is the next to last bottle of a case I purchased at the Milton brewery last year. It was bottled on 10/16/06. I can't believe I haven't reviewed it yet!

12oz bottle poured into a Dogfish snifter.

Dark copper color is presented as the brew is poured into the glass. A thin, white foam develops on the surface, but it doesn't last long and eventually becomes narrow lines of bubbles all over the top. Aromas of spices and caramel dominate, while dark ripe fruits and brown sugar linger in the background. Diacetyls are at a minimum. The flavor is big and bold; strong, fruity flavors on the front, sugary sweetness with strong malts in the middle, and a hoppy, sweet finish that lingers forever. It's a near perfect tasting experience, although it's really strong for a barleywine.

As it warms, the flavors intensify and the liquid becomes thicker and stickier. It almost reaches a port-like consistency.

The alcohol baffles me. I've had stronger beers than this (Dogfish 120 IPA, WorldWide Stout, Raison D'extra), but they don't go to my head like this one. One of the worst mistakes of my life occurred on the evening when I decided to drink two 12oz bottles of this beer. I awoke at 3am with my head spinning and feeling quite nauseous. I'll never do that again

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

12-oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A = Copper, amber color (like an oloroso sherry), medium carbonation, very little head formation, fine lines of bubbles remain on surface though.

S = Very sour smells (almost some Flanders red notes), tart apples, raw yogurt, also some spiciness with notes that are almost like cinnamon on toast.

T = After the smell I was really not sure what to expect, but the taste brings home that this is in fact a barley wine. There is a strong flavor of barley with some hops bitterness. Very complex flavors. I don't really even notice the alcohol, though there is a warm burn from it, this is almost more like drinking a Madeira wine than drinking a beer. I have several of these bottles, I am very curious to see how it ages.

M = Medium bodied, carbonation produces a slight tickle and foaming when swishing but nothing else, mouthcoat is very good.

D = This is a really interesting drink, I find it hard to compare to other American barley wines (which is how it is categorized as I write this review), I would really compare it more to a J.W. Lees English barley wine. Though that is an imperfect comparison, too, because they are not really alike. I am just trying to categorize it and as with many DFH offerings, it is a hard thing to do. It would make a great after dinner drink (maybe also an aperitif). Possibly a great drink with dinner, but I am not sure of the right course.

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

12oz bottle

A: Pours a reddish copper hue with a modest bubbly head. Fine sediment suspended throughout. Spotty lacing.

S: Dark fruits, a touch of caramel, and a sherry-like alcohol smell

T: Quite sweet. Fruity with a very strong alcohol kick and moderate hop character. Seems very unbalanced to me with not enough flavor to support the high alcohol content.

M: Full-bodied with moderate carbonation. A lingering heat and bitterness is somewhat harsh.

D: A decent beer, but quite difficult to drink. This one is way too hot right now of my taste, but then again, this is probably a young bottle. If the alcohol mellows a bit with some age, this good be a very good brew.

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

I was pretty impressed with this heavy-hitting barley wine. It had an astringent flavor that was malty, buttery, and a bit sulfur-y (but in a good way).

Appearance was a dark red-brown and was slightly hazy. Aroma was pretty sweet and fruity, although the high ABV was evident from my first sniff. Flavor was malty, but with a lot of slightly sweet alcohol esters. I also got a pretty large amount of diacetyl and some sulfur notes I couldn't quite place in the taste. Still, the taste was complex and a bit intriguing. Mouthfeel was astringent and drying, again belying the high ABV.

This was a good barley-wine; and I would recommend it.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, purchased at Lone Hill Liquors in Glendora, CA,

A: Pours a medium burnt orange, with a nice, but small white head, leaving sparse lacing, but nice swirls in the middle of the beer.

S: Very malty, molasses, powerfully alcoholic, the ethanol just jumps out at you, a little bit of raisin/dark fruit too.

T: This is a very malty barleywine, but it's refreshing since I'm kind of growing tired of the overall bitter take on American barleywine. This is a beer where the malt is king. Molasses and dark fruit abound, some butter rum and brandy are there too, very complex.

M: Smooth, silky, rich, viscous, though it has a lightness about it that I wouldn't expect in a 15% beer.

D: Another winner from Dogfish Head, this would make a great after dinner drink.

Photo of Stoneman78
4.43/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Light red/bright orange hue, thin off-white head that mostly dissipates, moderate lacing
S- Blend of sweet citrus and floral hops, bread malts, and alcohol, subtle tones of spices and tobacco
T- Fruit syrup and citrus flavors initially, bitter hops pop in as do flavors of pears, brown sugar, bread malts, and raisins, finishes sweet with an alcohol warming
M- Full-bodied, thick and viscous texture, mild carbonation
D- Well-balanced and surprisingly light and fruity for this style, the alcohol is well masked at 15%, this is a very pleasant sipping beer for the evening/after dinner

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

Pours a fully clouded dark brownish orange. Nose is almost candy-like. Definite peach tones there. Flavor is extremely sweet. Mild noticeable alcohol. Seems way too tight to pull any thick or noticeable characteristics off of it. Feel is good on the liquid and the carbonation is good as well. This is drinking fairly nice now, but it could use a lot more time to mellow down.

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

A - 2.5 fingers of light tan head on a dark copper body. Clarity is pretty good but there is some particulate matter floating in the beer. The head settles slowly and leaves thick, sticky lace.

S - Lots of velvety hops up front. Raisins, caramel, pepper, and a hint of chocolate. Deep fruity notes as well: plums and dates as well as brighter, tropical fruits like pineapple and strawberries.

T - Surprisingly fruity and tart. Initial impression is of juicy strawberries and black cherries. The sweet fruitiness continues in the middle as spicy yeast and hop notes chime in. Towards the finish the alcohol asserts itself in a way that compliments the spicy peppers and licorice notes of the yeast and hops.

M - Thick, syrupy body with moderate carbonation and a very sweet finish.

D - For a 15% ABV beer this is spectacularly drinkable. It uses its alcoholic strength to compliment the hops and yeast spice in a way that is pleasantly reminiscent of the Sam Adams Imperial Pils. The juicy fruit presence was very surprising and quite nice. I must say that this is a very welcome 180 reversal from their dismal Immort Ale.

Photo of cproioi
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The beer had a deep amber body with an off white head that dissipated into a film across the top. Very little carbonation present in the body. The smell was largely of sweet juicy fruit with a slight American hops notes, also present was large alcoholic notes. The taste was very similar to the smell, juicy and chewy malts with hops appearing at the end of the taste. This was a sipping beer that I saved a couple and I am going to lay them down and see how they age.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Dark amber and very carbonated. Small amounts of bubbly head that disappear quickly.

S: Sweet, deep, nasal scent dominates. Very fruity, like a mixture of apples and citrus.

T: Whoa! Very alcoholic, though it stays almost entirely out of the nose. Strong yet still sweet. Somewhat syrupy malt carries a natural-tasting sweetness, like a strong fruit juice. Sweetness yields to mild bitterness at the finish.

M: Very carbonated but fairly smooth. Interesting warmth in the back of the mouth and throat. Aftertaste is a little bitter, though.

D: Drinking this beer late at night, watching the frost form on my window, I almost feel like Bilbo Baggins himself. I think it has to do with this beer's ABV.

Expensive, good, and extremely potent, I'll be buying a few more for the cellar and as occasional late-night treats.

Photo of peabody
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours out like a dark ice tea with very little suds.
Smell is an old lady's powder. Very floral with an oily sticky aroma.
Alcohol is very prevalant, no doubt but this is one great sipping drink.
I taste raisin and pumpkin spice with caramel sugar.
Mouthfeel is oily but the alcohol keeps every sip to a clean ending.
Drinkability is fantastic here. Just watch how you down this and it will treat you right. Great sipper.

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

I continue to be impressed by the whole Dogfish Head line of ales. This Olde School barleywine poured a nice orange-amber color with very little head, though there was a constant carbonation release throughout the time I savored this ale. And like all barleywines, this one must be savored slowly. The nose is pleasant enough, but there is quite a lot of alcohol smell - as is to be expected. The taste is where this ale shines. It is sweet followed by a pleasant alcohol bite and finishes with a surprise hint of faint citrus and toast. Highly recommended.

Photo of eberkman
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear violet-copper into a snifter. A fairly aggressive pour produces no head -- just a quickly vanishing sheet at the top.

The nose presents an instant whiff of raisin bread mixed with some alcohol bite. Invitingly fragrant.

The taste is overwhelming sweetness, which seems like a DFH trademark. Raisins upon raisins, apples, molasses, the slightest tinge of grapefruitiness at the end, but relatively little hoppiness, especially compared to other American barleywines I've tried. Nice alcohol warming on the way down -- almost akin to a good cognac.

Feels slick and oily on the tongue and the roof of the mouth -- not a lot of carbonation, but the alcohol bite nonetheless gives it a briskness.

At a whopping 15 pct ABV, this is an amazingly drinkable brew, but the cloyingly rich sweetness grows a little bit fatiguing by the end.

Certainly worth it as a nice late-evening wind-down with a good book at bedtime. I'll certainly sleep well tonight.

Photo of ksbrainard
3.1/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: This beer is a hazy sort of purplish-brown. A very interesting color. There are hardly any bubbles.

Smell: It smells like I was just prying apart a raisin with my fingers, and now I am smelling the raisin carcass left on the plate. There is a hint of green apple in there, with a sense of alchol to it. It is sweet, deep, rich, and inviting.

Taste: The taste is really sweet, like sugary apple juice, but with a big kick of alcohol spice and warmth to cut off the finish rather abruptly. It reminds me of Mr. Boston's Blackberry Brandy, but not blackberry, but rather the way I imagine an apple-cherry flavor version would taste. I wonder if there are any hops in there... I suppose there may be some bitterness in there. This is another lollipop beer from DFH. The alcohol becomes hard to handle in the middle, but as you power through, it returns to absurd candy sweetness.

Mouthfeel: It is actually kind of watery and refreshing, in that fruit juice way. This is quite a feat given the style and ABV of this beer, but it is not what you might expect or want from a Barley Wine.

Drinkability: This is easy to drink, for the most part. It is tasty, but it is really too sugary sweet for me to really fully enjoy the whole thing. A creamy and salty piece of Maytag Blue cheese helped to balance it a bit, but it only went so far.

I gotta believe that this one will age like a champ. Of the four pack, I'm going to save the other three (OK maybe just two of them) to see how it goes. I'll get back to you on this in three years.

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,322 ratings.