Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

Olde School Barleywine - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

1,014 Reviews
THE BROS
86
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,014
Hads: 2,445
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 7.97%
Wants: 237
Gots: 714 | FT: 45
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Olde School Barleywine Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,014 | Hads: 2,445
Photo of Gear54
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap served in a snifter.

Look is great. Cloudy amber in color with a finger of thick head and light lace.

Very booze heavy in smell and taste. The dates and figs are present but almost totally over powered by the alcohol.

I almost feel like this beer was a big young. I will try this again, next time fr a bottle with a date. (334 characters)

Photo of Pawoto
3.1/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I like DFH, I like barley wines and I like big beers...so this should have been a slam dunk...but this was a miss for me. Nose is pure booze, up front the taste is all booze...i think there were some yummy flavors in there somewhere, but totally overpowered. I bought 4 and drank 1 so I'll see how the others do in the cellar for a couple of years. (351 characters)

Photo of ZebraCakez
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep golden amber color, small one finger head of light colored foam

S: Alcohol, with a fruity note buried in there somewhere.

T: Initially, it's all booze. If your a person who can't handle straight shots at the bar, don't bother. Find your way through the alcohol and your rewarded with a fantastic sweet fruity finish.

F: Light and well carbonated, a pleasant feel.

O: As with all of DFH's Caution Cap series, this is just a crazy strong, blown-up take on the style. Not the best barleywine on the market, but it's an absolute blast to drink. At 15%, it is not for the weak.... but if you like a brew that challenges you, this is totally worth a shot. (670 characters)

Photo of Bowers-Brew
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served @ 50deg. F. in snifter. Bottled on 10/27/14

I wanted to try one fresh, but maybe I shouldn't have tried it quite this fresh. It's very hot, dates and figs are washed out from the alcohol. I won't touch the remaining bottles for at least 1 year. I hope it cleans up with age. Prost! (294 characters)

Photo of Apellonious
3.67/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle bought this week (assuming 2014 but no bottle date )poured into a tulip glass.

A - Semi cloudy amber orange with one finger head. Moves to a thin lace.

S - Off. Sure, its boozy. If you sniff real hard you may pick up something else, maybe fig?

T - Let it sit. Booze, fig, some dark fruit, metallic notes. I have another bottle, not planning on opening it for quite some time.


M- The mouthfeel is interesting. Not as sticky as most barleywines. The carbonation is average, right in the middle.

O - I'll be honest, never drank a 15% before, but the initial smell and some of the notes were off to me. Have to assume this is new, but I have no idea. Will try it again in 12 months to see if it evens out. (728 characters)

Photo of marchoftheclouds
4.75/5  rDev +22.1%

I could drink this all day. We'll maybe until I fell down! Smooth, smooth, smooth. Hard to believe at 15% ABV. Wonderful, unique flavor. Not perfect or my favorite style, but very, very close. (192 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Tipples. Pours orange with a small off white head. Aroma of booze, sweet caramel, figs, fruits. Big and sweet. Flavor is also huge sweetness, fruit flavors, honey and caramel, booze, and a little more booze. Heavy bodied, medium carbonation, hot on the throat. This was decent enough I guess. Wouldn’t pay the $5 or $6 again for a bottle again though. (365 characters)

Photo of outdoor7or24
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%

12 oz bottle poured into snifter. Purchased at CBX in Charleston, SC.
A: pours a deep orange copper, very thin white foam head, few spots of stringy lacing
S: tropical fruits, malty, some booziness, sweet orange, brown sugar
M: medium creamy body
T: spicy, slight sweet orange, malt, tropical fruit, can get some dates on the taste buds, oak, burnt sugar, booziness, a burning hot spice towards the end, some hops creating a slight bitterness
O: good brew, a sipper at 15%, maybe letting it age will take some of the alcohol heat bite off. (539 characters)

Photo of bnes09
3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dense orange color. Half finger head on the pour with pour retention and minimal lacing when poured into snifter glass as recommended on the bottle. Super dense, rich, malty aroma with nice dark fruits mingled within. Did I mention boozy in the nose? Wow! The flavor is intense. Heavy malt character hits right away with a maple syrup-soaked biscuit quality. Intensely sweet dark fruits hit mid drink. Figs and dates, of course. Hops are mild, even at 85 IBU, underneath the malt fortress. Hops are earthy with a pine-like, herbal tone. Medicinal quality in the finish, almost like Nyquil and probably a result of the alcohol. Dense, syrupy body. About as thick as beer can get, I think. Very different. Would serve well as a winter warmer. Will try to cellar and compare. Drink with the utmost care and respect. Take small sips! (845 characters)

Photo of iTunesUpdates
5/5  rDev +28.5%

I don't see why this gets so much hate. I absolutely love the taste of this beer. I think the upfront burn is what makes it so great. I'll be cellaring the other 3 to see how this one develops! (193 characters)

Photo of embass
4.02/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz poured into a snifter

A: amber color.

S&M: smells of toffee, raisins and booze. Taste is similar with some hops.

M: medium-bodied with a higher than normal amount of carbonation for a bw.

O: very good overall; like the abv and smoothness. (248 characters)

Photo of PaulyB83
3.37/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Bottled 10/27/14
Poured into a snifter

A- Pours a hazy medium-dark amber but clears nicely as it warms. Thin off white head that dissipated quickly.

S- Smells like a sweet Marsala wine but with more alcohol presence. I get those date and fig sweet dried fruits but there is a big alcohol aroma that really covers them up. The alcohol aroma is very reminiscent of the one in World Wide Stout, they probably use the same yeast.

T- Dried fruits, getting even a little hop presence but the alcohol is again pretty overwhelming. I realize it's 15% but I just had too many other high ABV beers that hid the alcohol better to not consider it a detraction. It does leave a nice fig and date sweetness flavor in the aftertaste.

M- On the lighter side of medium, more carbonation than I would expect.

O- I didn't care much for this one and I don't really get all the high ratings for it. It seems like another beer Dogfish Head wants you to age before you drink but my belief is a beer should be good fresh first and if it gets better with some age well that is a bonus. Would like to try this with some age but I really don't think I'll be buying another bottle anytime soon. (1,176 characters)

Photo of SomethingClever
4.71/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz poured into a snifter

A: color was not what I was expecting the clarity is amazing and a amber color...are we sure thus us a Barleywine

S: toffee, dates, figs and booze lots of booze actually has a very nice smell

T: this is borderline sherry but smooth no bitterness or even harshness from the booze you get just a lot of apricot,fig, dates, and jam flavors with deep toffee candy like tastes

M: not as viscous as you would think it's got a nice body but it's not cloying or thick

O: this beer floors me for 15% I remember having it on tap a year ago and thinking this is great. The bottle version had done nothing to change that opinion. It has tastes for days and the booze for being 15% is well hidden. (720 characters)

Photo of treznor
4.37/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Still somewhat hot (though not all that unexpected for a 15% beer), the flavor was quite mellow (hmm... maybe mellow isn't quite the right word...) and malt-forward. The hops were there but not over-powering at all. All around, a very solid beer. (246 characters)

Photo of briandaube
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%

My first shot at one of these, but I figured since I keep seeing people complain about those not reviewing beers and just "ticking" I'd try one out.

For an American barleywine I wasn't slammed with hops, which isn't a bad thing. Definitely picked up some of the fruit on the finish quickly followed by a nice alcohol warmth. I haven't had a ton of barleywines but this is already a favorite. I'm thinking ill pick up a couple to age. (436 characters)

Photo of Poti0nseller
4/5  rDev +2.8%

The bold body accented with a semi-fruity flavor gave this beer a great overall profile. I personally found the aftertaste to be similar to that of honey...I love honey. (170 characters)

Photo of TallSaint
4/5  rDev +2.8%

October 2nd, 2014

This bottle has been aged a year.

The sweet dates and figs fill the nostrils. Spice is evident as well. A slightly floral element appears in the background. Booze is here but it's restrained.

The sweetness of the malt shows upfront with notes of molasses -- the dates and figs quickly follow, bolstering the midpalate and transitioning to the sugarcane sweet backend. Booze, dark fruits and sweet wort finish off the beer. The finish is long -- the booze disappears surprisingly fast but the sweetness lingers forever. This beer has aged excellently; it is now extremely well integrated --the age has rounded the beer off.

This beer is dense and heavy on the palate. It is palate filling despite this and it costs the whole mouth. Carbonation is very light and is almost completely gone after drinking half.

A superb barley wine that has aged excellently. There is some oxidation late mid-palate that manifests as a metallic twang but it does not take away from the beer. (998 characters)

Photo of yarnbomb
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%

At Hops in the Hills this summer, I had the first pour off a fresh keg. WOW. I usually age these bottles but that fresh one was just off the charts of incredible. (162 characters)

Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2012. A honey colored hue on the pour, no head. Aroma is of sweet caramel vanilla woodsy essence, very fruity and yeast, some sweet alcohol esters as well. Taste is sweet caramel, honey and vanilla undertones, fruity, yeast and mild spiced hops, some dark intermingled fruit figs and dates. Palate is full flavored, creamy, smooth and nicely balanced wit good carbonation. The finish is a cornucopia of the aforementioned flavors and aromas, leaves a slight tongue numbing feeling from the alcohol, although it is well behaved. Aging seems to have mellowed it out, which I find enjoyable. Leaves a nice satisfyingly warm feeling. Overall a very good smooth and enjoyable brew. (684 characters)

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into signature tulip glass, bottled in 2010A. Pours hazy reddish copper color with a 1 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, pear, apple, caramel, brown sugar, toast, toffee, brown bread, light herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good complexity and balance of big fruitiness and dark/bready malt sweetness; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, pear, apple, caramel, brown sugar, toast, toffee, brown bread, herbal, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Slight earthy/peppery bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, pear, apple, caramel, brown sugar, toast, toffee, brown bread, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and balance of fruitiness and dark/bready malt sweetness; with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a smooth, fairly crisp, and lightly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barleywine style! All around great complexity and balance of fruitiness and dark/bready malt sweetness; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering. (1,471 characters)

Photo of draheim
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz (2011) into a tulip. Pours a murky amber w/ a thin khaki head.

Aroma is fruity and herbal with tons of sugary caramel malt and floral hops. Toffee, vanilla, spice, dried apricots, and booze.

Taste is sugary sweet, warming. Caramel, dried fruit, toffee, floral hops. The warmth of the alcohol is there, but not so much the flavor. What alcohol presence there is complements the bold flavors.

Mouthfeel is sticky and chewy, but carbonation keeps it drinkable.

Overall a really nice sipper of a barleywine. (512 characters)

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 poured into an oversized wine glass.

A- the pour produces a thin khaki-colored head that quickly dissipates. The body looks like butterscotch and/or caramel and also seems to have the thickness of these.

S- Oaken, raisiny, port-like, brown sugar. These flavors all waft in and out along with a boozy aroma.

T- Huge caramelized sugar flavor with the continued port and raisin. It tastes like a dessert digestif. The alcohol has completely disappeared from the taste.

M- Smooth, silky, and without a trace of carbonation. It's sweet but not cloying and has a bit of dryness at the finish.

Again, this is a dessert beer. But a tasty one. (648 characters)

Photo of Juuroumaru
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a burnt orange with a nice light tan head. Head retention doesnt hold for very long.
S- I get dark fruit which obviously comes from the figs and dates. if it wasnt for the label i might say currants.
T- Seriously smooth for 15% with a great dark fruit finish. Sweetness from the caramel malts but a good sweetness.
M- Medium bodied with a great coat.
O- Awesome what they did with this beer. so strong but yet so well balanced. (436 characters)

Photo of LambicPentameter
3.84/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Reviewing from notes after drinking on 4/19/14. Enjoyed out of a 12 oz brown bottle with a bottling date of 10/9/13, so this one is sitting right about at six months of age. Poured into a large 22 oz snifter glass.

Appearance - Pours a rich carmine red with vermilion highlights and darker notes of brick where the one finger of khaki foam shades the body from the light source with small, tight bubbles save for a few smatterings of larger bubbles resulting from the froth of the pour. Retention is moderate to slight, with the head slinking away to leave a film of head and a thick ringlet around the edge of the glass. No lacing to speak of.

Smell - Woo, the time this one has sat certainly hasn't done much to the booziness, unless this beer started out as a ethanol bomb. Admittedly, the sweetness from the malt and figs is seemingly working to draw out more of the characteristics of the alcohol. With some time and warmth, the aroma calms down a bit to reveal notes of caramel and molasses as well as candied fig and medium fruits. There are also some hints at hoppy bitterness, but really the malt dominates the smell.

Taste - Similar to the aroma, the ABV is not hidden in the slightest--you taste every bit of the 15%, but oddly it works well with the sweetness from the malt and figs. There is some definite heat to the taste--and no I don't mean spicy heat. The finish has notes of bitterness where I didn't get it before. That's the first sign of the hoppiness that one might expect from a beer that styles itself "American" barleywine. Really, the booze far too overt in this beer for it to be one that I really latch onto.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with a certain thickness to it, almost viscous, along with low carbonation and a burn in the chest after you swallow, like you might expect from a distilled liquor.

Overall, a good enough beer, but one that clearly needs some age to be enjoyable. I'd heard this one was hot if you drink it fresh, and based on my experience at six months, I'd have a hard time disagreeing. I wish I had another bottle to sit on a bit longer and see how it was drinking after a year, but for the time being, it's a decent beer. I'd also change the classification, only because the figs add a sweetness that reminded me more of the English style than the super hoppy, bitter American style. (2,341 characters)

Photo of dbauer78
4.65/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A. almost no head, cloudy, a deep red mahogany in color
S. very boozy, the figs and dates definitely come though as well as a nice sweetness
T. sweet on the front end and the booze kick you later on. can taste some carmel malts as well as some dark fruit flavor, and a very slight bitterness.
M. thick syrupy, light on the carbonation
O. its a huge barleywine, big on the booze and everything else. At 15% its definitely one that good to sip on after diner, wouldnt want many more than that. (493 characters)

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 1,014 ratings.