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Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine - Thomas Hooker Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Thomas Hooker Old Marley BarleywineThomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

194 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 194
Reviews: 174
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 13.47%
Wants: 44
Gots: 5 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company visit their website
Connecticut, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
This traditional American Ale blends copious amounts of five different malts and various English and American hops to yield a rich and flavorful brew.

We age our Barleywine in oak bourbon- casks to add vanilla and smoky notes, then blend these flavors into a full-blown sensory experience to enjoy on a cold winter's eve.
Old Marley Barleywine is extremely complex and full-bodied in flavor. The drinker will be rewarded by first letting a small amount warm in a brandy snifter , then sipping it, similar to a fine sherry.

74 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 03-08-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 194 | Reviews: 174 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of davey101
1.85/5  rDev -53.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

I normally don't bash beers, or post reviews for beer I dislike. However I'm making an exception for this beer. I love Thomas Hooker, but this beer has some problems.

I absolutely love the presentation, a blue tinted pop top 500ml. Its looks amazing, it really does. And that why its been in my cellar for the last few months. This is a 2010 vintage. A pop of the top reveals....whats that? Zilch. Zero noise. This can't be good. An aggressive pour yields some awkward large soapy bubbles that pop quickly...and zero head. A sip confirms that this is still and flat. Yup...the seal went bad.

The smell is amazing. I smell some candied dark fruits, caramel, and frankly...the smell is of a quality barley wine. However this is undrinkable. Buy these with caution! These tops are really flimsy and barely air tight. I'm glad I only picked up one since these were $7.

davey101, Jul 09, 2011
Photo of Mess
2.28/5  rDev -43.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Been saving this baby for a cold winter eve. Bottled in 2004 served cellar temp in a wine glass. Slight hiss when the flip top popped was promising.

A - Rich browny- red mahogany, but no head. Absolutely still.

S - Earthy, sherry-like. Toast.

T - Biscuity. Meaty almost. Slightly sour and earthy. Umami in a beer?

M - Really dry, and yet slick - is that possible?

D - Meatiness is strong. Obviously has had some oxidation and past its prime. I guess aging flip-tops is risky, and it didn't pan out this time. Probably a good pairing with a rare steak.

Mess, Mar 12, 2011
Photo of srandycarter
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Raw prune juice, near white head leaves fast. Tight sudsy lacing near surface.

S - Some Roasted barley, cocoa.

T - Ok, no freshness date, but I am really disappointed. Flavor has some aspects of coffee and chocolate and malt, with some hops. But the whole thing has a cidery tart underfinish that does not belong.

M - Medium body, fair carb, sour finish.

D - One is enough. Check please.

srandycarter, May 08, 2010
Photo of Durge
4.58/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A solid dark brown colored brew with a fair light tan colored head and solid lacing. The aroma brings sour apple and raisins, port/sherry and maple nut. Fermenting dark fruits. Wow! The flavor brings big time tart apple malt, and a curious burnt oak alcohol. As it warms it just gets mellower and more beautiful. Somewhat resinous with very limited carbonation, silky and near full bodied. Not a highly drinkable brew but there is no reason to rush this lusciously flavored concoction. Tart malt dominates, raisin/prune, dark chocolate, just a beutiful barleywine to savor, probably will improve with a nice chunk of your favorite cheese! Bravo Hooker!!

Durge, Apr 26, 2010
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 500ml swingtop - bottled in 2006. Poured into my nonic pint glass and allowed to warm up a bit. Appears a clear dark auburn color with barely a finger of off white foam. Nose and flavors consist of raisins, molasses, prunes, dark cherries, caramel, fruity, brown sugar, a touch of oak and vanilla. Medium to full bodied for the style with ample carbonation. Nice with a hunk of sharp cheddar.

ClockworkOrange, Mar 04, 2010
Photo of asabreed
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. blue growler-type bottle poured into a Brooklyn tulip. Vintage 2006 thin yellow strip taped to the top of the white cap.

Appearance: Literally no head after there's the subtlest pop of the top, but a small amount of bubbles due to the high pour at the top. A syrup-colored brown in the light, though it seems to be a bit darker with a bigger pour and if it's outside of direct light.

Smell: Initial ripe and smoky wood aromas, along with sweeter caramel, vanilla, and maple. Mild bourbon coming through, but it's not dominant. There's almost a less sweet Kahlua type liqueur aroma coming through too. Could possible be mistaken for a lighter RIS with it's heavy aromas coming through. Some lighter sherry aromas as it warms, along with some darker cherries for fruit esters. But mostly there's the good smoke, wood, and mild bourbon aromas coming through nicely as an amalgam, and it seems to be working pretty well as a triumvirate. Also, about an hour after it continues to warm, there's some good honey and tobacco earthiness coming through.

Taste: First off, the lack of carbonation is evident here, but oddly enough that doesn't detract, since it does seem almost unlike a beer / Barleywine and more like a sherry or liqueur in some ways. Again, there's some wood, smoke, and bourbon flavors as prominent, but they're all nuanced and balanced. And there's a good middle to back end maple and caramel combination and woody sweetness, along with a presence of figs and mild dark cherries. Age has certainly helped this in the long run I imagine. There's possible a good sense of mellowing hops at the end too, which is something that didn't come out in the aroma as much. The hop presence brings some earthiness and grain flavors to the mix too. And like the aroma, after it warms after about an hour, there's an interesting darker tobacco presence, along with a nice burst of chocolate powder sweetness.

Mouthfeel: This would be lower if there wasn't a decent shot of back end carbonation, but it's obviously not a light-bodied brew, and even with the lack of carbonation the creaminess of the body works without being too cloying. That said, this is a beer after all, and I'm not sure I'm supposed to be liking this as is, though I imagine it probably has something to do with the age. I haven't found this in too many places, but this seems like a good candidate to compare to a fresh bottle for sure.

Drinkability: The mouthfeel and appearance move this down a half lower for me. That said, it's a big, complex, and tasty version of the style, though it's not for those on training wheels. It's smokier than most due to the cask aging, but aside from the carbonation and look, I really enjoyed the whole experience.

asabreed, Jan 20, 2010
Photo of donniecuffs
2.95/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a hazy brown/red with less than a finger of head, and spotty lacing. The smell was ridiculously sweet; pineapple, bad milk chocolate (think hollow Easter bunny), burnt figs. The taste wasn't much different; lots of sweet pineapple fruitiness followed by some caramel'ish flavor, and then a big alcohol burn on the finish. Very syrupy throughout; not very pleasant on the palate. I had a tough time finishing the bottle.

donniecuffs, Dec 15, 2009
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to someone for opening this brew. Pours dark brown with minimal head. The aroma is light with sweetness, hints of alcohol and not much else. The flavor starts with light dark fruitiness that is exceedingly smooth. Then the sweetness hits with hints of molasses, sweet roasted malts and faint caramel. Then the taste turns more bitter and slightly tart with vague hoppiness and a bit of astringency. The alcohol shows up near the finish along with more caramelness.

BigMcLargeHuge, Oct 07, 2009
Photo of brentk56
3.13/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

2006 bottling

Appearance: Pours a murky dark ruby color with a minimal head and no lace; I know...high ABV and all that but this did not age well

Smell: Charred dark fruit, licorice, tamarind and soy sauce

Taste: Tamarind and burnt caramel up front, with a building medicinal bitter edge appearing by mid-palate; after the swallow, the flavors mellow out and the sweeter caramel and dark fruit elements dominate the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous with very low carbonation

Drinkability: I'll have to try this again as this bottle did not age very well; suffice to say, even with the low carbonation, the flavors were somewhat unbalanced

brentk56, Sep 30, 2009
Photo of ShogoKawada
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This was an interesting beer. Definate wine barrel qualities, a nice drying effect. Nose is sweet, and for the ABV, this beer is incredibly smooth and mellow. So much so that I had a hard time believing that it was 10%. I think this bottle had some age on it, although there was no date marked.

The mouthfeel was full and smooth, with a pretty good malt sweetness and fruity notes. This barleywine was a very close distance to some reds and whites I've had... this would be a perfect beer to give to wine lovers because of the flavors and the smoothness. I liked this beer, a bit pricey, but still very solid brew. Worth obtaining if you can.

I gave it a 5/5 for drinkability because its the smoothest barleywine I've ever had. Very nice.

ShogoKawada, Sep 19, 2009
Photo of glid02
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased from Decatur Wine and Spirits in Decatur, GA.

Pours a hazy dark copper color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of tart black cherries with caramel malts, toffee, milk chocolate, and hints of vanilla.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet caramel malt flavors up front are quickly overtaken by tart cherry flavors that follow through to a mildly crisp ending that leaves toffee and vanilla flavors lingering on the palate.

Mouthfeel is good. It has a solid thickness and moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is alright. The flavors are all there but I had quite a time getting past the tart cherry flavors.

Overall I feel as though this bottle was off a bit - the first few sips were good but as it warmed tart flavors took over all other flavors and made it less enjoyable. I'll be keeping my eyes out to try this in the future to see if this was just a bad bottle.

glid02, Sep 16, 2009
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 2006 courtesy of far333

Poured a deep orange almost brownish color with a small tannish, little carbonation. Nose is malt all the way. Caramel, toffee, fruits Taste is caramel, brown sugar, molasses, woody, fruits, tofee. ABV is lighter as it mellowed out over the years. This was approaching or getting ready to make a turn but it was saved just in time. Average bwine.

barleywinefiend, Sep 08, 2009
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.73/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep cloudy burgundy color ale with a very thin foamy head with some retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with hints of vanilla and bourbon. Taste is also a well balanced mix between some sweet malt with notes of vanilla and light bourbon but no notes of alcohol. Body is quite full with limited filtration and low carbonation with no signs of alcohol which is quite a feat considering the ABV. Very well done though a bit too sweet for my own taste.

Phyl21ca, Jul 06, 2009
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled this at an epic tasting hosted by EinWeizenbitte. Thanks a ton Todd!

Appearance: Pours out syrupy and earthy brown in color. Almost opaque. No head or lacing to speak of.

Smell: Sweet, smokey, sugary. Oak and molasses are definitely apparent, and some mild alcohol floats about as well. No real hop character.

Taste: Woody and smokey yet again with a good amount of molasses. Vanilla also quite present. Hops come through just a bit in the end. Some alcoholic dryness in finish.

Mouthfeel: Full, hearty, and dry. Tons of malt. Meh.

Drinkability: I only sampled about 3oz. of this, and that was enough. I didn't have any problem with this barleywine; it was actually quite decent. I just found it to be boring. Next!

ThreeWiseMen, May 18, 2009
Photo of mikeyv35
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on 04/14/2009
500ml. swing-top bottle into Snifter glass
2008 Vintage

This brew pours a deep brown mahogany color with a very minimal head of a few bubbles on the outer edge of the glass, and little to no lacing is present. Smells of nuttiness, light tobacco, vanilla, and oak from the 1 month barrel aging. Taste is pretty consistent with the smell finishing with a very mild hop bitterness and slight alcohol warmth. The mouthfeel is slick at first, but finishes clean due to the high 10% ABV. Brew is surprisingly drinkable due to having a great flavor profile and well-masked ABV - however more than 2 of these bottles is a downward spiral toward disaster. Will definately be drinking more of this brew. The only problem I have with this one is it seems more Old Ale than American Barleywine based on appearance and taste, but they are in the same family. Reminds me of Thomas Hardy's but is not quite on that level.

Thank you to 7ways who is an excellent trader and threw this in as an extra!

mikeyv35, Apr 16, 2009
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.63/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A deep ruby brownish color with a copper edge that looks extremely appetizing. Seems to me that the high alcohol content has destroyed any hope of getting any head out of this one. That is fine with me though. Looks thick and heavy. I want to taste it.

Candied sugars and roasted malts fill the nose and are complemented by dark fruits and dark chocolate. It is also incredibly hoppy. The cascade hops are definitely contributing a lot right here.

Bittersweet chocolate and plums greet the palate nicely as a slight alcohol flavor warms the mouth. Cascade hops with a malty sweetness follow with darker fruits and candied sugars in the background. The taste that is left after the swallow is phenomenal. Decadently sweet with a touch of hop bitterness.

Nice and smooth with some tingly bubbles on the palate. Light to medium texture. This beer becomes incredibly complex as it warms. It has a ton of character no matter when you drink it, cold or closer to 52 degrees, though I recommend the latter. Extremely sweet...too much so to have a bunch, but extremely enjoyable.

NittanyBeerFan, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of Lothore
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Very dark brown and nearly impossible to see through. Very little, dark brown head.

S- Dark fruits, raisins, sweet.

T- Plum, dark fruit, fig, sweet, toasted bread.

M- Little to no carbonation, fairly thick.

D- I need more carbonation in my beer. This was not one of my favorites but it seemed like a well put together beer.

Lothore, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of Beertracker
3.03/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

TH Old Marley (2006 Vintage) pours up heavily w/o much carbonation that creates a low, thin tannish-white head that barely rings the glass above the bright, deep mahogany-reddish brown body. The aroma is quite fruity (cherry cordial, horseapple, sandplum) with an apparent caramel & light chocolate roastiness supplimented by hints of bourbon (char) oak, sherry & vanilla. No detecteable hops. Alcohol noted, vinous. No diacetyl. The flavor starts off cloying sweet from the kettle carmelization then carries to an unexpectedly tart (cherry), winey (acetic, sherry, wild), cheek warming finish. There's really not much hop bitterness to balance all of the malt sweetness. This medium-full bodied old ale is quite chewy & somewhat astringent from the oak. This is decently enjoyable as an old ale, but totally misses the mark for an American-style barleywine. Maybe a bottle or cask infection has spoiled this one as it cellar aged? I'll have to revisit this one someday with a fresh bottled maybe paired with some warm, cranberry-orange baked brie. I must admit to being dissapointed, so it's time to put Old (Jacob) Marley to bed!

CHEERS! Beertracker

*Trader's Note: Thanks to Damian for the opportunity!

Beertracker, Mar 02, 2009
Photo of Stimack
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

We decided to crack this one open on New Years Eve, I have had it for a couple of years now aging as it was a 2006 bottle. The brew poured to a very murky brown color with no visible carbonation. The aromas where of rich malts that gave off scents of plum, apple, brown sugar with a strong back of alcohol, very warming. The flavors where very nice, somewhat similar to the the aroma's but a wood like flavor comes out clearly. That mixed with the fruit and alcohol flavor give it a nice taste and feel. With the alcohol this one is clearly a sipper (IMO). Overall this is a nice brew, not sure I would go out looking for this one again since I can not find it in NY, had to pick it up while in CT.

Stimack, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of charlesw
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

No carbonation at all. Bummer. Muddy (opaque) medium brown. Smells like a good English barleywine - full, sweet, fruity (plums, raisins). Ah. The taste is a surprise. Sure it's sweet and fruity, like in the nose, but there's chocolate and coffee and a good dose of bitter at the end. A bit of hop sourness. Nice, full mouth and pretty close to balanced. Alas, it needs more carbonation to help with that balance. It's way worth a try and very interesting and sure could be a really good beer - it's just not quite there.

charlesw, Dec 15, 2008
Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.78/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

(2006 Bottle - 11/07)

Appearance: Pours a filthy-looking, dark brown body with a small, bubbly off-white head. Truly, a grody sight.

Smell: Aroma of charred wood, dark malts, prunes, pine, and brown sugar.

Taste: Starts with a subtle brown sugar sweetness and dark maltiness that's trampled by a brash bourbon flavor along with notes of pine, ash-covered wood, and dash of soy. The flavors just don't mesh well at all. Plenty of hop bitterness in the sour, fusel alcohol finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: I didn't really dig this back in '06 and I'm not diggin' it now. Some breweries come up aces in their bourbon barrel aging, others just make a mess.

12-09-08 Update!

If I am to believe this little yellow sticker, this was Bottled in 2006. I did NOT enjoy it a year, but, who knows, maybe things are finally looking UP for the Old Marley Barleywine.

Appearance: Pours a murky, brown body with no real head beyond the few bubbles coaxed out by a heavy, hopeful pour.

Smell: Malty nose smelling of brown sugar, dark caramel, hot chocolate mix, and the notes given off by the barrel aging: vanilla and toasted oak.

Taste: Loads of charred, toasted wood in the taste with the caramel, brown sugar malt flavors trying to tip-toe around. Starting to show just a bit of oxidization. Spicy, piney, earthy hops with a fair amount of bitterness remaining. Again, this still rides out into the still hot, burning finish. 2009 maybe?

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Zilch on the carbonation front.

Drinkability: Well, it's gotten a little bit better since last year and the two years since bottling, but not by much.

ChainGangGuy, Dec 10, 2008
Photo of Vancer
3.1/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From my 2007 Secret Santa cartdan, thanks again!

First time ever for a blue bottle - 500ml. Pours a mahogany brown, but a lifeless head and no lace what-so-ever.

Classic aroma of caramel, hops, spice and malt. Quaff is surprising also, cloying thick sweetness finishing with a medicine chocolate and vanilla. Thank goodness for the bourbon barrel aging to add some kick.

A true sipper, I still can't believe the sweetness of this brew - more hops next time!

Vancer, Nov 16, 2008
Photo of tmoneyba
4.43/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle on 11/04/2008.

Poured a dark brown color with an average frothy brown head that mostly lasted with good lacing.

Moderate to heavy roasted malty aroma.

Medium to heavy body.

Medium to heavy woody scotch flavor with a medium woody scotch finish of moderate to long duration.

This is a standout beer that is excellent for style.

tmoneyba, Nov 12, 2008
Photo of CrellMoset
3.63/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Five Points Bottle Shop, Athens, GA. Not such a fan of the flip top anymore. Poured into a 22 oz. Terrapin glass.

Appearance: Glug glug glug. This one rolls out of the bottle, crawls out of the bottle, gently seeps out of the bottle, a deep, thick, lazy brown liquid. An aggressive pour coaxes a one-finger tan, meringue head out of this one, but it fades relatively quickly, actually. It does leave some pleasant-looking lacing, though ... so I 'm gonna kick it up for a 4.0.

Aroma: Strangely neutral, with faint hints of grass and hay, pears, apple skins, white grapes ... a lot of the same light, fruity estery notes found in the other TH bottle I just had. Almost smells like cherry kool-aid at some points - not a good sign. Ok, update, it's getting better as it warms - I'm getting some faint, leafy hops at this point, a little more fusel alcohol, some darker, more pleasant fruits. Still funky notes, but better.

Taste: Hardly any hops at all. Lots of light, fruity, off-notes. Buttery. Tart. Faint ... you know, proper barleywine notes. There's a little coffee, a little chocolate and toffee, and some other stuff, but oy.

Mouthfeel: Wonderfully smooth and even, medium bodied, a little thick and syrupy without being too thick and syrupy.

Drinkability: Damnit Thomas Hooker. I had high hopes for you. I cracked the Liberator earlier in the evening and was blown away ... followed it up with the Imperial Porter and was disappointed ... and now I end it up with the Old Marley. The latter two were almost definitely infected. And whenever I have an infected beer, I always feel the need to buy it AGAIN to review it "properly," the way the brewer's intended it, which turns into a huge monetary issue. But, anyway, the foundation's are fine, but, again, we got problems.

CrellMoset, Oct 14, 2008
Photo of pittvkyle7
4.05/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- A very dark brown, not much light can get through. A small brown head that clings to the side.

S- huge malty aroma. Carmalized sugars, dark fruit, raisins and prunes.

T- again mostly a "malt bonmb" roasted grains come through with carmalized sugar. A fruity yeast with the same dark fruits coming through in the taste as in the scent. Alcohol warmth is present but not very strong. A well balanced bitterness, not as bitter as most barleywines I've had. The finish is sweet and bitter but mostly mild.

M- full bodied and slightly syrupy. Low level of carbonation make this very smooth.

D- Nice and drinkable, but it is 10% so...
I think the low levels of bitterness add to the drinkability of this barleywine. Nicely done.

pittvkyle7, Aug 26, 2008
Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine from Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 194 ratings.