Olde School Barleywine - Dogfish Head Brewery

Not Rated.
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

2,433 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,433
Reviews: 1,034
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 12.85%
Wants: 228
Gots: 697 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,433 | Reviews: 1,034
Photo of kkleu357
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light reddish orange body. Medium fast dissipating head. Has that dogfish head smell. Fruity fig aroma. Very fruity tasting for a barleywine.

Photo of bnes09
3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
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!

Photo of iTunesUpdates
5/5  rDev +25.9%

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!

Photo of TimG_0913
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%

I think this is one of the better barley wines. I haven't had many, but this one is close to the top of the list.

Photo of embass
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

Photo of oshbeer
4/5  rDev +0.8%

2014 smoothest bw I have ever had.

Photo of PaulyB83
3.37/5  rDev -15.1%
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.

Photo of SomethingClever
4.71/5  rDev +18.6%
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.

Photo of treznor
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

Photo of briandaube
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

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.

Photo of Poti0nseller
4/5  rDev +0.8%

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.

Photo of TallSaint
4/5  rDev +0.8%

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.

Photo of yarnbomb
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

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.

Photo of Samp01
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of draheim
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

Photo of Juuroumaru
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

Photo of LambicPentameter
3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

Photo of dbauer78
4.65/5  rDev +17.1%
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.

Photo of dar482
4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The beer comes in an amber red.

The aroma is big amounts of brown sugar and caramel sweetness.

The flavor follows with earth, pine, wood, lots of sugary sweetness with a woody and earthy finish.

For the alcohol, a well made American barleywine style brew.

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

This poured with a silky brown color and a right thick head of immense foam.

The nose was subtle but varied with a tad boozy scent. As it warmed the booze subsided and a chocolatey fudge and dried dark fruit became more apparent.

The flavor was so interesting as it changed many times as it warmed. I got a lot of dried fruit at the front but it became more chocolatey as it went. Caramel and toffee began to mix with raisin and prune. Fig than became prevalent near the end as the wine properties came across.

This has a nice thickness, very smooth, but it does thin as it warms.

I really enjoyed this as it became something different at every sip plus its 15pct ABV and made me feel good.

Photo of Conserving_water_Aaron
1.99/5  rDev -49.9%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Old School ale has a good appearance in a glass and a nice white head. With the smell there's alot going on with the figs and dates. The taste is just too much, and by that I mean it's way bitter. Definitely only 1 a night beer. The abv is 15% wich is overboard and you can definitely taste that. I am curious what this beer would taste like aged for a couple years and I think that's all it's got going for it. Not a total disappointment, just another one for the craft collection.

Photo of stephenjmoore
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A- Transparent amber body with a ruby tint. Head is not existent, with just some tan bubbles on top.

S- Sugary sweet caramel, bready malt, hints of dark fruit.

T- A blast of sweet malt, toasted bread, raisins, dried figs. Big, deep, complex and sweet. Oh and some booze, but the aging mellowed it some.

M- Heavy and syrupy, a sipper for sure. Medium-low carbonation.

O- A big, gargantuan Barleywine that benefits vastly from extended aging. Huge flavor, but very sweet.

Photo of Abe_Froman
4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.
2013 bottling.

Pours a hazy golden honey color. A little of white head that dissipates quickly.

A sweet nose with hints of alcohol

Tastes of fruits, mostly fig, and honey. A strong alcohol after taste.

The flavor lingers the sides of the tongue and leaves pleasant hints of fruit after the alcohol bite fades.

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 2,433 ratings.