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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

1,017 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,017
Hads: 2,472
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 20.15%
Wants: 243
Gots: 713 | FT: 46
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: 1,017 | Hads: 2,472
Photo of NEhophead
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle.

A thin white head that remains as a sheet throughout the glass. Ringed lacing with a lot of strength. A hazy peach appearance with some yeast floaters scattered at the base of the glass. Plenty of noticeable carbonation.

Faint fruit aromas: pear, apple, and cherry; hints of honey and a strong alcohol presence.

A honey, vanilla sweetness drives this barley wine. Apple and pear tones that provide a slight tartness. Very complex alcohol component that is noticeable but extremely well masked. The bitterness is not as powerful compared to other barley wines due to the sweet and sour qualities.

Very smooth; the honey sweetness coats the palate. Still a bit thick but given the 15% abv, quite light on the palate.

This guy is trouble. Very tough to believe it's 15% abv. I'd grab another pint or two, but I'd probably be put on my ass. A treat and a must try if you like the style.

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Photo of nixhecks
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cloudy copper-orange color with a thin white head that had good retention, and leaving a little lace. Noticable carbonation streaming from the bits of sediment. Aroma was very sweet, much like an apple cider. Sweet malts and a bit of alchohol blend perfectly with the very fruity nose. Flavor is much like the aroma, but with a richer bouquet of fruit aspects which range from apple and concord grapes to a darker, plum-like malty finish. Slight warmth on the throat is the only sign of the very high ABV, which is attractively higher than many other barleywines that I have tried. Mouthfeel is heavy and syrupy, and this aspect is balanced nicely by the high level of fine carbonation. I'll be damned if I am not hugely tempted also by the label's suggestion to bury a couple bottles to allow them to age - that would make for an exciting little time capsule. One of the best barleywines I have ever had, hands down.

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Photo of AllThingsNinja
2.85/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I had high hopes for this high octane barleywine but was disappointed by the beer's lack of complexity. While I'm certain that it took a fair amount of skill to veil the 15% abv it seemed although the resulting brew was rather lackluster. The golden brown ale formed a fair amount of head but seemed a bit light in color for the style. The aroma was dominated by alcohol and citrus notes. The flavor was built on a creamy sweet malt body with a cloying amaretto hop presence and a noticeable (but not 15% noticeable) alcohol presence. It was a medium bodied, slippery and slimy brew. A passable brew, but not outstanding. I have a few in my cellar that I'm going to try to age, but can't imagine that much interesting will come from this lackadaisical brew.

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Photo of Southernbrew
3.87/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours orange-brown witha small, quickly dissapating head.

Nose full of bitterness, dark fruits, caramel and alcohol.

Full bodied, with almost no noticable carbonation. Very syrup like, mouth is coated. Weak bitterness blends with dark fruits and rum flavors. An alcohol burn is present but not overpowering. The sweetness becomes more pronounced then finishes with an apple flavor mixed with alcohol.

For 15%, the alcohol is pretty well hidden. I'd like to see a bit more bitterness but this is pretty good. I think a little aging could help out.

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Photo of Todd
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle. Packaging date is unreadable. Beer pours bright copper-ish, initially, topped with a very tight white foam head that settles to an even lace with stick along the glass. Appearance quickly becomes cloudy due to unfiltered dregs in the bottle.

Candied fruits, toffee, diacetyl and apples in the nose.

Extremely smooth as the first sip coats the palate with a near syrup-like texture. Bold ripe dark and candied fruits punch out with notes of apricot and raisin. Notes of orange, too. Spicy alcohol stings the palate with an immediate warming effect and vodka-like presence. Sweet with toffee and a sugar-like presence. Loads of apple-ish flavors and feel on the palate with pear and pear skin beneath. Finish dries up a bit.

Alcohol is a bit over-the-top and assertive, but other than that it's a fairly solid Barley Wine. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of mzwolinski
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This is probably one of the lightest-colored barleywines I've ever seen -- sort of a hazy orange, with just a thin, finely-bubbled head.

The aroma is strong a solvent-like, with an aggressive piney hop character.

The taste, however, has a much stronger malt character than one would expect from either the aroma or the color. Fairly rough in the mouth. Strong, sharp alcohol esters and powerful hops help to balance the malt, whlie still leaving an overall syrupy impression in my mouth. The finish is resinous, sweet, and slightly spicy.

The alcohol here is definitely detectable, but not too bad for 15%. Not all that drinkable right now, but I must stress that I drank this pretty fresh. I think it would benefit greatly from a year or two worth of cellaring.

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Photo of lou91
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dull clear golden color with a potent alcohol nose. Yummy – great alcohol warmth with a sweetness perfectly maxed out. There is little by the way of complexity. There are elements of an ice bock, mai bock and mead blend. The label instructs you to bury it in the ground and drink it in a year. I don’t think this has long-term aging potential but one year aging may cool the alcohol burn. Foodery in Philly.

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Photo of Billolick
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle, with "bottled in" dating. Was gonna cellar this one for awhile, but had nothing in the house to review,so I broke down...Alas I need to go beer shopping...This is a sweet, and strong BW. Not very hoppy, mostly sweet fruity notes, alcohol present, but well hidden for 15 %. If yiou love mellow big beers this is a must. high quality sipper, seek and enjoy!

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

$4.99/12 oz. No vintage listed.

DFH Olde School pours into the glass a copper with gold highlights. A tiny fizzing head that only appears with vigourous pour action. One distinct lace ring is all the beer could muster.

Heavy apple and plum notes on the nose. Hints of long-mulled cider. Layers of bready/biscuity English malt layers. Some critic and veggielicious hop tones float up on further investigation, and only the slightest bits of booze can be detected.

The taste is "immacuately orchestrated" as noted in my beer-pad. More of the winey-bitey cider character noted on nose. Earthy hop/yeast interaction tickles and delights the taste buds. Major tummy warming. Where the hell is the alcohol? I would never believe the 15%, and still really don't. Nothing is over-wrought or forced here.

Mouthfeel is like drinking slick rich liquified toffee. Along the lines of the 120 in mouthfeel without the super oily hop grease.

Art in a bottle.

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Photo of bigbeerdrinka
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy dark amber with a good inch of bubbly white head which recedes rather quickly without much of a lace.

Smells of white and dark grapes, along with other such estery aromas like fig and possibly plum. Some light malts are present along with apples, and a slight alcohol tone. Not a bad scent but i'd expect to smell a little more malt in the nose.

Taste: This beer tastes of smooth fruits (white grapes and plums) with a spicy hot aftertaste with just a minor amount of bittering towards the end. Hops are present just at the end along with tastes of bananas and a warm alcohol, which adds and nice finish to the beer.

Mouthfeel: This beer is slightly chewy but extremely smooth. A nice body to this beer, with minimal carbonation.

Drinkability: This beer is shocking for 15% alcohol. I cannot believe it, what a super smooth beer. Goes down like your typical IPA, which can be a bad thing if you try to tackle on more than one.

Overall: The taste was not overwhelming nor out of control (which I was expecting for a dogfish head brew), but overall the smoothness of this beer was quite amazing.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a 2002 vintage corked and caged 750.
I am sampling this brew as part of a recent barleywine tasting with some southern CT friends.

The brew pours a bright orange color with some cloudiness present. The head is minimal with only a faint beige colored edge layer on my wine glass.
Aroma is light and fruity with apples and some grapes coming out. I also notice a bit of buttery scents.
First sip reveals a rather full bodied, slightly syrupy brew with a very faint gentle rolling carbonation.
Flavor is very sweet with some toffee, sugary hints, and fruit with figs, apple again and perhaps some maple syrup. I dont get any hops but they may have faded over the past two years. I get a very light alcohol warmth on the swallow, not bad for 15% abv.
This brew was quite a treat and would be great with dessert.
Wonder if the newer years are as good??

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Photo of meathookjones
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

With the greatness of DFH’s other huge beers I was excited to try this and picked up a few 12ozers. This poured a nice deep orange color with a huge frothy head that dropped quickly to a bubbly collar. There was decent lacing left in this as I drank it. HOLY SWEETNESS, the nose is strong with a fruity malt sweetness that almost completely dominates the smell. Even after warming the only other smell I could detect was the slightest hint of alcohol. Taste is much the same as the smell, extremely sweet with fruity malts a little too much so even. Slight earthy hop notes can be found as well, but the 15% sure stays hidden in this one. A nice slightly bitter finish is present to try and tame the sweetness. Olde School has a very full and rich mouthfeel that coats your mouth with sweetness. Insane drinkability for a 15% but the sweetness was starting to be a little much for me by the end of the glass. Overall an excellent barley wine from DFH, I will see what happens with the other bottles in a year or so.

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Photo of 99bottles
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an odd barleywine, yet I am still glad I found it. It pours a dark copper with a decent inch of yellowish-off white head that has moderate retention. The initial smells are of sweet malted barley and light alchohol. The taste is much sweeter than a "normal" barleywine, and tastes of vanilla extract and corn syrup / maple syrup with the faintest touch of hops in the finish. Carmelized sugar and some fruity esters of peach and pear come through. The alcohol content sticks out, but not in way you might expect (like fumes burning your nostrils). It lightly warms and makes this immesely filling. The mouthfeel is rich and yet thin, giving the most telltale signs of the high abv. But 15% ? I've had harsher 9% barleywines. Drinkability is very good, but after one bottle the sweetness and the alcohol were getting to be too much. It does go down easily though. I'm very impressed at this offering, and would certainly seek it out again.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a nice, deep yellow beer that poured with little head. I got it in a 12 oz. capped bottle, not corked.

The aroma was very complex... light aromatic hoppiness, some tangy citrus, with rich malt undertones. It held much promise.

The flavor was rich and smooth malt, but there was a little too much prominence on the alcohol... understandable, given the high ABV of this one. Just a little too much for my taste. Still, a very worthy brew.

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Photo of GuinnessSmurf
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dogfish Head makes such great beers, don't they? I was really excited to taste their take on barley wine.

The beer pours a nice cloudy brown/yellow that sticks and clings the glass any way it can. There is heavy sediment at the bottom of the glass.

The beer smells sweet like white grapes and also has the scent of dark alcohols.

The taste begins sweet and sugary but then there is a hoppy flavor that drys up to a strong alcohol finish. The beer really accomplishes a lot here. It is a very smooth, gradual transfer between flavors and sensations - great pacing! The aftertaste is long and appropriate. It gives you time to think about the journey.

Overall the mouthfeel is right on. It has a very big, thick texture that is filling and inviting. I think that it could probably replace a meal.

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Photo of cbl2
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Medium brown with small white head that has good retention.


To be honest, I had been drinking quiet a while at the Dogfish Head Brewpub before I got to this one, so it is difficult to discern anything in particular.


Bursting with sweetness and carbonation, this one warms as it goes down. Alcohol is present, but I would never have guessed 15% when I consumed this (very deceiving, be careful!). An overall well balanced brew with tropical fruit and maple syrup overtones.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12ozer bottle bought as a single from Spirit Haus, Amherst, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint, formed a dense 3/4" white head over the dark golden/honey hued brew. Good lacing, and this offering has a light aroma of pale malts, and slightly fruity aftertaste. Flavor is initially of pale malts, but quickly rounds out with sweetness and a warming alcohol effect. The mouthfeel is SO smooth, you would forget it was 15% except that the warming feeling is like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going. long after the mouthful is gone. Drinkability is high in that I would look for it again, certainly not a repeat in one session, I have a kid now you know, have to set an example...

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Photo of Truh
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Quaffed on 4/7/2004. 12 oz. bottle poured into shaker glass.

Poured extremely clear and lucid. Was mesmerized by the slowly ascending carbonation, as if wading through honey. A tight, thin head lasted throughout. Light copper in hue, with some golden tinges. Can smell the treacle-like bouquet from about a foot away. Up close, there are some lime and vanilla scents, and the alcohol is almost overwhelming. Maple, orange, and other citrus notes, with the aforementioned alcohol, assault the senses on first sip, that smooths down to a gentle sugariness. Crunchy, slightly hot mouthfeel that drives down the core of the mouth, and ends feeling, though not tasting, somewhat rubbery.

A fine barleywine, and one I wish they would bring back in the 750ml size!

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Photo of Afterburner
4.55/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Cloudy bronze color with no head whatsoever and minimal collaring.

Smell: Malty and fruity, with a hint of yeast bite. Hints of orange and mint.

Taste: Malt sweetness all over the place. Starts off as a maple-y sort of sweetness, transmogrifying into a profound malt flavor halfway through. Strong cotton candy flavor in the finish. Alcohol burn also present throughout, particularly in the finish. Hints of plum and cherry make themselves known as well. Very faint hop presence, enough to be noticeable.

Mouthfeel: It's just a *smidge* on the thin side, but only just. On the whole it's just how I like my barleywines: viscous, with just enough carbonation to give it some texture.

Drinkability: This is an excellent beer. It was smooth, easy drinking, and leaves one wanting more. Another winner from Dogfish.

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Photo of rabidawg
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Surprisingly pale copper with heavy carbonation. Huge head that settles to a small cap, lasting until the end.

Smell: Sweet malts and alcohol, dried figs and rum. Spicy, yet obviously sweet.

Taste: Initial prickly carbonation. Oh so complex and delicious. Sweet with being cloying, boozy without being hot. Very juicy and warming. Dry in the finish, and pleasantly bitter from the few living hops that push their way to the surface. Excellent beer. This is what a high ABV beer should be.

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4.3/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amber, with a slight head. No over whelming alcohol smell or even hint of the ABV. Actually went down like a regular beer, which can be dangerous. Very slight hop presense. I wonder if anyone actually buries it? I'm thinking I might and did it up in a year. Ultimate cellaring.

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Photo of taez555
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

This beer pours a big white head with a beautiful orange glow.

The nose is just a big bouquet of sweet malt, crisp clean sugar, alcohol, and a tiny floral and woody note.

The taste is full-bodied and very clean. Clean sugary sweet malts. Touches of caramel, earth notes, hint of wood, mellowed earth hops with a slight citrus touch. Warming with every sip but completely drinkable. A nice subtle even bitterness from start to finish.

All I can say is… 15% my ass? Where do they hide the alcohol in this baby? Dogfish head must have some secret machine to remove any big beer flavors. This beer tastes like it could be 6 or 7%. Crazy.
Beyond that, just a classic “old school” english style barley wine.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

slightly cloudy amber, surprisingly light colored. not much of a head, but there is still some lacing. sweet fruit aromas dominate, with some berries plums and bitter citrus, and some sort of melon flavor like cantelope. some hops are present in the smell along with some alcohol. raspberry, plum and apricot flavors, along with some caramel and a barely percievable melon flavor. there is also a pleasant yeastiness, along with mild grapefruit hop flavor. it has cherry-like aftertaste. the 15% abv is hidden very well. the mouthfeel is odd as it is very full bodied without being syrupy, but has a stiff carbonation that hits the roof of your mouth with each sip. not a problem, but odd. with a little more hop presence, this is a beer, while very good now, has the potential to be excellent. i'll be putting a few bottles in the cellar to let the flavors meld a bit. make sure you give this a few mintues to warm, this only gets better as it approaches room temp.
05's olde school seems a little different form years past.
the smell seems to be more berry like with a very fresh strawberry aroma and almosttwizzler-like smell at times. a good amount of melon type aroma too. the taste is also VERY fruity and berry-like. very sweet. the 15% doesn't seems quite as well masked. as it was, but is still well hidden.

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Photo of merlin48
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in Dec, 2003. Instructions on label say to "seal bottle in plastic bag, walk into the woods, dig a 4x4 hole, bury, and return in one year." Or something to that effect. This very young, Olde School pours a hazed, apricot color into a tulip glass. No head, except for a film and collar of lace. Small islands of lace form a chain down the glass as it slowly empties.
Aroma is very fruity. Cantelope, mango, and plums are up front, with a vinous note in the background.
Mouthfeel features a syrupy, fruit sweetness and minmal carbonation.This one is full bodied.
There is a yeasty, earthiness most of the way through, that compliments the dominant fruit flavors of the nose very well. Plum, cantelope, and mango lead the parade of fruitiness. Midway through, after room temperature is reached, the hops begin to assert, with a spruce pine and citrusy tangerine emerging to balance the bigtime maltiness. This barleywine can only be appreciated, by this reviewer anyway, at room temerature.
The big abv is well hidden, for the most part, but I would still recommend this one as a nightcap, or dessert sipper. It certainly lacks the hops presence of most westcoast barleywines I've sampled. I would love to try an older vintage of this to see how it ages. This young version reminds me more of a DFH 120 Minute IPA than the minimal number of other barleywines I've tried. Of course, you can make a good argument that the 120 Minute is also a barleywine. All things considered, this Olde School was a very pleasant experience.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy light amber with orange tints. No head forms but alcoholic tannins clearly visible on the glass.
Aroma of raw caramel malt with heavy, oily, resiny hops with some citrus notes.
Flavor s sweet caramel, powerful citrusy hops and a sweet, medicinal alcoholic note.
Mouthfeel starts with a heavy sweet hit and finishes with a dry, spicy alcohol hit.
Drinkability is good, love to get this one on draught to draw out more complexity.

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 1,017 ratings.