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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

1,014 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,014
Hads: 2,446
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 12.34%
Wants: 237
Gots: 715 | 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: 2,446
Photo of dar482
4.11/5  rDev +5.7%
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. (258 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
4/5  rDev +2.8%
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. (699 characters)

Photo of Conserving_water_Aaron
1.99/5  rDev -48.8%
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. (482 characters)

Photo of stephenjmoore
3.99/5  rDev +2.6%
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. (487 characters)

Photo of Abe_Froman
4.11/5  rDev +5.7%
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. (357 characters)

Photo of teromous
2.86/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle

A: Very nice clarity on a burnt-umber colored body with a thin white foamy head that resides to a ring, leaving a white halo of lacing on the glass. Very good head, especially considering the high ABV.

S: Not an extremely pleasant scent to say the least. Alcohol, some green apple, and a a slightly musty scent kind-of like wet dog. I tried for a good two minutes to find another word for it but that's what it reminds me of. It isn't persistent on the nose, just after not smelling the glass for a bit and revisiting it will the dog arise.

T: Alcohol, then a bit like cardboard. A slight note of caramel. Not a very complex beer but not a bad one either. No hop flavor or noticeable bitterness.

M: The mouthfeel of this beer is truly outstanding. It's smooth and full without being heavy or syrupy.

O: Overall I found the beer a bit hard to drink because of the very awkward nose. It has a wonderful appearance and mouthfeel, however the taste is quite bland for a Barleywine of any type, but especially for one that boasts "figs and dates" on the label. A lone date has more flavor and complexity than this beer. I rated the flavor as "okay" because it's a decent tasting high alcohol beer; just not one I would boast about. I won't be buying the beer again. (1,277 characters)

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

12 fl. oz. bottle
Served in a snifter
Bottled in 2010, 15% abv

A - It is the color of a blood moon. It is clear with less than an inch of beige head.

S - It has a fruity aroma once I get past the alcohol smell. I has a fig and date thing going on. I get some sugary sweet aromas, too.

T - The taste is similar to the nose. It tastes like fruit soaked in alcohol. The alcohol taste diminishes after it warms. It has a candied sweetness. The figs and dates comes through at this point.

M - Moderate and smooth.

O - It is pretty good. It is a little too sweet, but that is to be expected given the abv. It makes for a nice sipper on a chilly spring evening. (662 characters)

Photo of inlimbo77
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz, 2013
DFH signature glass

A: Pours a deep orange with reddish hued color. Half finger of slightly off white head. Lots of carbonation streaming from the DFH logo. Sticky lacing.

S: Getting a good amount of fruit right up front. Definitely those figs and dates. Some hops even.

T: Typical DFH yeast. Pulling that date and fig character. This beer might be really nice in a BA version. Sweetness in the mid palate. Finish had long lingering stale fruity flavors. Some dryness.

M: Medium bodied leading to full. (518 characters)

Photo of magictacosinus
3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Had this a little while ago in Arcata - I usually see 30 proof beers and beyond as liqueurs, so I split one 12oz bottle into a tulip glass with some friends. Paired with homemade spicy curry and naan to help cut the anticipated sweetness down a bit.

Pours an orange amber color that's deeply cloudy with a surprisingly large bone white head that's frothy and thick. Granted, it doesn't really stick around for very long, nor does it leave behind any sticky lacing clinging to the glass, but a ring persists throughout. If it weren't for the ring, this would look like a cloudier Amontillado Sherry. Viscous as all hell, and pretty much up there with one of the more monstrous beers I've seen to date.

As expected, this smells intensely sweet and boozy, although luckily a lot of fruity and spicy aspects do come through. Figs and dates soaked in honey, as well as raisins, plums, and a toffee/butterscotch covered sweetness that follows. Some floral notes, ranging towards violets, as well as some brief peppery flavors that soon become overpowered by the sugar and booze. Spices such as clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are also present, but more fascinatingly enough is the brief banana yeasty funk that's at the finish, combined with a toasted buttery flavor. This slightly stings the nostrils, but it's nothing incredibly harsh - only quite demanding, even at this point.

Yeah, they weren't kidding about this being an extreme offering! Enormous sweetness from the fruit coats the palate, with caramelized dates, figs, prunes, and raisins all swirling around with extra sweet notes of burnt toffee, butterscotch, and a brief buttery sensation at the finish. It's a little bitter and spicy at the center, but the sugar eventually becomes predominant at the finish, as does the alcohol. A citrus buzz, maybe one of orange peel, miraculously makes its way through, although there's nothing more in addition to it. Extremely sweet, with a slightly warming afterglow, but never super boozy or syrupy overall. Carbonation is decent, but it does lose itself over time, which promotes a sludgy feel. Granted, my serving portion was perfect, as was the food pairing of super spicy food to cut the sweetness, but it's definitely intense and ridiculous.

This folds the envelope for American barleywines, and becomes a liqueur-like fruit concoction with its high emphasis on the fruits and sweet aspects of the malts. I usually do not like American barleywines as much, but this highly resembles its English counterpart with its extra sweet, fruity malt profile. If they could somehow throw this in some kind of barrel (I'm thinking rye whiskey or Sherry), this would only further reveal its obvious liqueur leaning qualities. Cheers to DFH for experimenting as always, although maybe they should consider packaging some of these strong beers in 6oz bottles for practical purposes. (2,872 characters)

Photo of vic21234
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled on date is 11/21/08, this was one of the first beers I put down to begin my cellar.

A- Pours a murky mahogany color, with remnants of what looks to be an amber color along the sides of the glass. 5 years of sediment was also very apparent on the pour as expected. Tons of lacing along the sides of the glass.

S- Tons of alcohol notes on the nose still, as well as a sweet maltiness. The alcohol really dominates the aroma.

T- Starts very sweet with some dark fruit and raisin graininess before giving way to the alcohol. The malts are apparent at the back of each sip and the hop character when fresh is definitely muted.

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation, still drinking rather hot with a warming sensation after each sip.

I'm happy overall with my 5 year aging experiment on this one. I remember it being very hot fresh, and though it may have toned down a bit, it still lets you know that its 15% ABV with each sip. (971 characters)

Photo of JamesMN
4.23/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 10/9/13.

Appearance: Semi-translucent copper/orange color with a thin off-white cap of foam. Initially poured a decent head, surprising given the 15% ABV.

Aroma: Drunken figs and a ton of caramel malt provide an enticingly sweet aroma. Surprisingly no alcohol present here.

Taste: Huge swelling of flavors from the first sip. Starts with smooth heat and moderate hop bitterness. The heat never lets up but supplies a wonderful robustness to the overall flavor and the palate adjusts to it with alarming readiness. The hop character is sweet orange nectar (which I've found to be a staple of the style) and the bitterness probably clocks in around 80 IBUs but the malty caramel sweetness keeps everything in check. This is a pretty fresh bottle as far as high ABV beers are concerned but it tastes like something that's been aging to perfection for some time. The added figs and dates come through in a sweet kick before a last trickle of bitterness takes over and transitions into an aftertaste of long lasting orange hop bitterness. Really well done.

Mouthfeel: Full in body but not cloying and only moderately sticky. Very smooth carbonation, given a somewhat vigorous pour. The shocker here is the great drinkability, though it is a sipper at heart.

Final Thoughts: Olde School has reminded me of why I like the barleywine style in the first place, huge flavor and delicate balance. I was nearly turned off of the style after initially enjoying it because of the many poorly made brews out there. Make no mistake, DFH brews the real deal. Would I drink it again? Yes. (1,586 characters)

Photo of BierJager89
4.55/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Hazy orange with a white ring of head.

S: Earthy fruity and malty smells, peach, orange peel, grapefruit peel, figs and dates are present, and maybe just a touch of oak (might just be my imagination) in the nose.

T: Wow. Figs, dates, plums, peach, papaya, a touch of alcohol astringency, and an orange-forward citric finish. Tastes wonderful, alcohol presence is quite subdued at 15%.

M: Medium bodied, a touch spicy-feeling with the alcohol, but pretty smooth.

O: Probably my favorite beer from DFH. It's definitely worth a try. (544 characters)

Photo of joe1510
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle
$16.99 4-Pack
Cheap Cheap Liquors - Plainfield, IL

Bottled: 10/9/13

Olde School proudly shows off a beautifully clear chestnut body witha bit of a ruby tint when backlit. Big streams of tiny carbonation bubbles rush up the sides of the glass keeping the yellowed white head in place. The head shows some strong staying power and leaves fluffy chunk lacing down the glass. A damn good looking barleywine is Olde School.

The nose shows all sorts of those sweet, candy/dessert like qualities of good English style barleywines. Both brown and white sugar are noticeable off the bat. Toffee, plum pudding, rich dates and some darker fruits that blend together which I'm guessing the figs play a part. As this beer warms black cherry emerges with sweet English puddings and such. My only complaint is the lack of intensity.

Brown sugar and a drizzle of molasses get things going in the flavor profile. The brown sugar is dense and sweet. Figs, dates, cherries, and prunes are all a part of this massive beer. Toffee and brandy also play their roles. This beer is huge and there is an alcohol component but I must say it's nicely integrated all things considered.

Dogfish Head really nailed the mouthfeel on this beer. The sheer size will usually add a little sweet stick but Dogfish somehow made the body silky smooth and the carbonation incredibly airy. There's a small alcohol burn on the swallow and the finish is nicely dry leaving behind a soft bitterness along the tongue.

If you're in the mood for a massive, sweet, yet somehow easy drinking (relatively) barleywine than you could do a lot worse than Olde School. I can't say I drink very much Dogfish Head beer but Olde School is one I will pick up in the future. This is a beer you could sit on for years with no poor outcome. (1,798 characters)

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.61/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: a light amber color, almost orange. fairly hazy but not opaque. two fingers of a tannish head that leaves a lacing around the edges.

Smell: huge smell as soon as the cap cracks. dried fruit. figs and dates. sweet caramel malts. lots of malty sweetness. maybe a touch creamy. hint of alcohol. just a bit too strong with the alcohol

Taste: opens up with a brief hint of bready malts. quickly switches to dried fruits. definite pruney/date taste. caramel and toffee malt sweetness and some nuttiness. very subtle herbal hop just for balance and a kick of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: alcohol warmth, heavy body, sticky. just a touch chewy.

Overall: amazing flavors. and unbelievable drinkability for 15%. very different from the other barleywines today but very true to the style. wonderfully brewed beer and easily a top barleywine. (839 characters)

Photo of DerekQXQX
3.21/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I am sitting here, drinking this beer with my Girlfriend of a year. She is beautiful. On the beer scale, I'd give her a...4.1?

I'd cellar her to see if she matures. But I don't know...

This beer is pretty good. Not as smooth or drinkable as other barleywines I've had. I can really taste the alcohol, those saying it has no carbonation are right on the money. Real boozy, dark fruit taste. Perhaps not my thing but I can see how it is quality and how snobs would like it. (474 characters)

Photo of mverity
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2010 bottle share at Proof. Poured amber brown with almost no head. Aroma is a warm, sweet malty bomb, with a slight hint of dark fruit. Taste is somehow sweet citrus, earthy, and a touch of that dark fruit. Kinda boozey. Medium body, almost no carbonation. Great beer overall. (277 characters)

Photo of scottbrew4u
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter from 12 oz bottle at cellar temperature.
A: Clear amber color with ruby highlights and a bubbly tan head.
This head settles nicely to a thin dancing layer of bubbles.
S: Smell of fresh brown bread soaked in cognac. Then there is dates and vanilla notes. More layers of bread and roasted barley. Some fresh figs add nicely to the sweetness. Some peppery hops add a respite to the sweet aromas.
T: Layer upon layer of roasted barley and caramel and vanilla sweetness unfold sip after sip. Healthy hit from the dates and figs makes you know the bring it real at Dogfish Head. Fresh baked bread and a taste of cognac give this beer more depth and strength. Hops are spicy and just enough to keep the sweetness down a notch.
M: Soft but full body with some smoothness to it. Carbonation is crisp but not over sharp. Some heat from the alcohol lets you know you are into a solid barleywine.
O: A lot going on in this beer especially at cellar temperature. There is so much to enjoy with each taste. It is a great example of the style. If there is any less desirable trait to this brew, it would be a touch too much of the figs. It coats the mouth a bit in my opinion. I would definitely recommend this beer to barleywine lovers and I will be getting more! (1,277 characters)

Photo of Stu_Grimson
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- pours smooth red to amber with little head if any, but with some lacing

S- lots going on here, I get an earthy and fruity smelly, some dates and raisins for sure. Overall it just smell delicious with toffee and caramel as well

T- again lots going on with the fruity flavors that hit you from the dates and I get a little vanilla and caramel as well and a medium alcohol taste

M- it was medium to full but closer to medium with a little tingle from the carbonation and a little alcohol in the finish

O- I enjoyed this one with all it's different flavors and I didn't realize it was 15% until I looked at the bottle, defiantly keeping one to try next year (660 characters)

Photo of MCain04
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 vintage poured into Crooked Stave snifter

Pours a murky red, amber brown body with an off-white head which dissipates quickly with rimming around the edge.

Smells sweet with candied jolly rancher cherry flavor, some vanilla and toffee, caramel, alcohol esters, white grapes, nicely aromatic.

Taste is akin to the smell with vanilla, toffee, caramel, and cherries. Heavy alcohol taste, every bit of the 15%. Definitely a sipper.

Mouthfeel is medium to full, medium carbonation, a little prickly, alcohol solvent has a drying effect on the finish.

Overall, a year on this brew hasn't yet toned down the alcohol and booze on this brew. Flavors are still strong, but this needs time to mellow, perhaps 2-3 years. (718 characters)

Photo of Dave_Treat
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 bottle. Served cold and let warm over time

Appearance: Clear amber, little head on a soft pour.

Smell: definitely smell the alcohol. A very nice sweet, dark fruit smell underneath

Taste: Very nice sweet BW flavor. Very smooth but comes across as a little too boozy, but that should be expected at 15%. Will cellar one of these and have next year.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, light carbonation.

Overall: Very good barley wine, it not a little too strong on the alcohol. I will definitely try it again with a year on it.

Serving type: bottle (547 characters)

Photo of ac22rush
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a medium to light amber with a thin champagne like thin head.

The nose is full of white grapes, pomegranate, cherry, and some vanilla.

Smooth in the mouth with massive hop character to start and gives way to a smooth fruity/earthy from the malt and yeast. The alcohol doesn't quite hit till the end.

I let this beer warm slightly before I actually sipped it for a 15% beer it was quit easy to drink and until the alcohol warmed my soul it was hard to tell that it was even that big of a beer.

Pretty good beer in my opinion nothing really went above and beyond for me but I would enjoy this brew again in the future. Cheers! (638 characters)

Photo of bhyndthebottle
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Had the 2013 Olde school in a bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Poured a beautiful medium amber with a larger soft head that quickly disappears leaving light lacing. Wonderfully clear.

Smell: Definitely comes on a little boozy. At 15%, you would actually expect more, but comes across rather nice. A little lightness comes from the figs.

Taste: Comes across with barely any hops and slightly sweet. The alcohol that was prevalent in the nose is now nonexistent. Very nice and smooth, with the dates and figs showing nicely in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full bodied, with not a lot of carbonation. Nicely done, but expected a little more body and carbonation.

Overall: This is another fine release from Dog Fish Head. Should age well, but I would not do more than a year. The dates and figs added a nice lightness in the alcohol taste.
Well Done! (866 characters)

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

The beer pours a light and creamy white head that dissipates quickly. The beer is a deep ruby red that is clear. The beer has a fairly sweet and fruity smell with a hint of alcohol. some hints of dark fruits but sweet malts are the primary smell with a slight hints of hops. The taste is somewhat similar to the smell. Sweet malts dominate the palates with dark fruits and a hint of hops as well as a bit of alcohol as well. The feel is fairly syrupy but still pretty good and smooth. The beer is heavy bodied but still feels lighter than most other barleywine. Overall, a decent barleywince and worth buying at least once. (623 characters)

Photo of TheosTheories
3.84/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- deep orange with a finger of head, good amount of carbonation coming up, looks pretty good.

S- I'm getting thick syrup, the figs and dates are coming through strong, nice caramel toffee sweetness, little hints of alcohol, but is covered by a lot of sweet malts.

T- the dates and figs are up front, really sweet beer, molasses with some caramelized sugar, big sweet malts, and finishes with the warmth from the alcohol, but it goes down nice.

M- thick and syrupy, sticky on the palate, hardly any carbonation.

O- not bad for what it is. I am a big fan of barley wines, and I've had better but this is still a pretty good beer. A little too much alcohol but hey it's dogfish head, what do you expect. Probably would go nice with a cigar, and some age on it. (766 characters)

Photo of mt24turner
4.01/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a nice deep orange almost red
smell- sweet syrupy, with hints of alcohol
taste- love the taste of this beer! its very warming but not near hot, huge dark fruit flavor and syrupy flavors but nothing out of balance just enough hop bitterness
mouthfeel is smooth, low carbonation and full body.
overall- this is a great cold night beer, warming and scotch-like sure to warm your bones (396 characters)

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