Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine - Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
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Ratings: 193 | Reviews: 173 | Display Reviews Only:
3.03/5 rDev -24.4%
500ml cobalt blue flip-top (first commercial brew I've seen in one of these) poured into a cervoise, Old Marley is a very dark ruddy brown, which even with an aggressive pour yields only a large bubbled, quickly settling tan collar that leaves scattered lace. No date that I can find on the label or flip-top, but I just bought it in Boston the other day and assume it's from last winter, or a recent batch if it's a year-rounder.
Smell is very strong and rich, and initially had me fearing the first sip, as it's pretty heavy on the booze. As it opens up, more chocolate and caramel, perhaps a hint of vanilla, but really more bourbon then anything else from the barrel aging.
Taste is thankfully, smoother and pretty tasty, with the booze on the nose well pretty well hidden by the richness of the malt, savor for the dry finish, with alcohol vapors lingering on the breath. Not as sweet as most English BWs, with the hoppiness mainly in the firm bitterness, this ones all about the darker malts, although not roasty or anything. Even though it looks like a Porter, it's definitely not, although for some reason I'd probably think of it as and olde ale more then a barlywine. I don't get any of the smokiness or vanilla from the bourbon barrel referenced on the labor, but I do get strait bourbon notes, like wet barrels. Either way, it's ok but not terribly exciting.
Mouthfeel is slick, not as heavy as it looks though, but basically flat.
Drinkability is ok, but it could use some time for the booziness to round out. While I don't like BWs this dark, I assume those malts would contribute to this aging very well over the long term. I would have been better off saving this for winter, but the bulky bottle seemed like a hassle (and possible leaker) for flying home. Overall, it maintains the streak highly rated New England brews I picked up on this trip that just didn't measure up. I must be getting really spoiled in Portland!
08-11-2008 22:28:56 | More by ccrida
3.7/5 rDev -7.7%
This one comes by my #1 supplier....BeerTruth.
A: Pours a murky chestnut brown with very little foam. It does manage a tiny little floating lilly pad. Little carbonation and no lace.
S: Hints of Oak, vanilla, caramel, and booze soaked dark fruit.
T: Nice sweet and malty. The oak really comes out nicely without being overthetop. Nice caramel toffee sweetness turns to a light oaky booze soaked dark fruit finish.
M: Full in body low in carbonation.
D: Not too bad, good level of oak.
08-09-2008 16:10:44 | More by tpd975
3.68/5 rDev -8.2%
Cheers to ppotrias for this one!
Pours an effervescent chestnut with minimal brown head. Bubbles cling to the side of my Kostrizer chalice. they clear after this warms then this takes on a viscous appearance. Average head retention & lacing, murks up a bit at the bottom of the bottle
S: Slight toasted malt & leafy hops. Vanilla surfaces as this warms
T: Vanilla & oakyness up front along with dryness & leafy hops. Hop tea & figs show as this warms, along with some booze. Finishes figgy with much dryness, some raisins & more leafy hops; plus whispers of bourbon & maybe cherry
MF: Medium bodied with some wetness. plus moderate carbonation
Drinks very easy for the style & ABV, could easily pass for an English BW as well. Not bad. Wish more folks would use the blue glass, pretty & functional!
04-11-2008 05:04:09 | More by russpowell
4.1/5 rDev +2.2%
Served from the cobalt blue swingtop bottle stamped "BOTTLED IN 2004", exactly as directed on the label -- "by letting a small amount warm in a brandy snifter".
A - Deep, clear, fiery, burnt-orange in color. For a four-year old beer (in a swingtop bottle, no less) I was very impressed with the inital burst of cocoa brown head and the carbonation action in the glass. The head does subside quickly (as do almost all barleywines), but leaves behind wispy foam and large, soapy bubbles. Lacing is very sparse and erratic, but the legs that show after a swirl are quite nice.
S - Wow. The cask aging coupled by the cellaring brings out all the warmth of the vanillin in a way that completely works so well with the earthy hops and liquor-soaked maltiness. Alcohol is present, but so well incorporated that you must concentrate to actually pick it out. A swirl around the snifter also reveals smoked pine and aged leather. Very complex and satisfying.
T - Only a slight toasted caramel sweetness up front with an immediate dryness that imparts the beer's age and strength. Notes of pine sap and char are found in the middle along with nuances of aged (Stilton?) cheese -- which would go superbly with this beer. Also easily noticeable are the vanillin/oak notes. The finish is quite dry and bitter, with only a hint of maltiness offering any repreive. Aftertaste brings notes of green, earthy hops and slight must. Very deep and intriguing.
M - Slick and cohesive entering the mouth, but not as viscous as one might think. Just a slight tingle of fleeting carbonation. The swallow is quick and easy, but without any real bravado.
D - This is definitely one interesting barleywine, and to date the most aged barleywine I've had. Drinkability is good, given the fact that it's a huge beer that's not to be trifled with in any other manner than slow and casual. This beer is all about finesse and subtelty. There is nothing "big" about it other than the ABV. I must say that this bottle definitely withstood the test of time and came out quite well developed. I wonder what another year would have done...
04-06-2008 03:22:30 | More by EPseja
3.1/5 rDev -22.7%
I think the brewery is to blame for what was wrong with this beer. It had one of those awful swing tops on it and I am blamming this for the complete lack of CO2 and possible begginings of oxidation. There was a sticker on the top that said 2006.
The beer poured a murky brown/red color with absolutely no head. The color it self wasn't bad but it was very hazy.
The smell and taste were very mild to say the least. I can appreciate a good english barleywine but I was confused by this one. The smell is of aged malt and a touch of cardboard (hence my remarks of the onset of oxidation). It wasn't offensive, actually it was mildly pleasant. No hop smell to speak of.
The taste was bitter and malty. No hop taste though. I enjoy a good aged barleywine as that sweet malt profile can really be quite good if it doesn't get contaminated. The bitterness on this one was harsh, either bacteria or more likely, the hops used. In the end it wasn't awful but it was like a bad homebrew.
It had a good thick body to it and was drinkable but not overly enjoyable.
After reading the reviews on this site I think I would like to try a new one. And hopefully it isn't over hyped like so many beers on this site are.
03-20-2008 22:32:12 | More by t0rin0
4.1/5 rDev +2.2%
Swing-top blue bottle from A-1 To-Go in Gardiner. Pours murky dark brown almost black opaque body with no head. Caramel and chocolate malts dominate a rather feint aroma. Tastes of caramel, toffee, and chocolate more than anything else, with a hint of alcohol toward the finish and no hops present that I can tell (unusual for an American Barleywine). Still very flavorful and complex though. Very full mouth-feel that borders on viscous with virtually no carbonation to speak of (seems flat). While the body and lack of carbonation hurt the drinkability, the pleasant flavors help immensely, making you crave another sip. That said, it's definitely a sipper. A solid barleywine and among my favorites for the style.
03-09-2008 01:53:37 | More by MrHurmateeowish
4.13/5 rDev +3%
Lots of thanks to Jyp for the bottle, and may he remember me when he goes off on all his grad school visits later this year... No vintage on bottle. Into the snifter...
A - No head, dense, dark amber body.
S - This is a beautiful beer. Big aromas of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, cedear, pine, and fruity esters. Good hop presence, but not overwhelming. I'm quite impressed.
T - This beer starts out with a simple malt sweetness akin to most amber ales. A bit of fruit and a lot of hops start to hit at midpalate, and add some much needed depth. The swallow brings notes of coffee and wood, which was nice, and continue to make a pleasing, long finish. Alcohol was present throughout, but never really too intense.
M - Quite silky, actually, but not very full... Almost doesn't feel like a barleywine...
D - I'm torn on this one. The flavor left me desiring more complexity at times, and at others seemed focused and balenced. I will say this though, I do not feel the need to avoid this beer.
02-16-2008 06:06:21 | More by SammyDavisJrJrJr
4.28/5 rDev +6.7%
Poured from a nice flip-top bottle, 2006 vintage.
Dark brown with no head at all. Some coppery/red hues.
Smells strongly of fruit and a little malty.
This tastes excellent. I expected a super sweet brew since this is a couple of years old. It is not. Up front some sweetness, following by chocolate maltiness. A little bit of roasted character. Finishes with a little hop bite.
I love the mouthfeel, thick and creamy. Like a thick stout.
This is heavy and strong, which makes it hard to drink a lot. However, it tastes great and feels great in the mouth.
02-11-2008 00:34:03 | More by Hojaminbag
3.38/5 rDev -15.7%
Poured from a beautiful dark blue 500 ml flip top bottle into a snifter (said "Bottled in 2006" though I bought it like 3 weeks ago). Beer pours a dark coppery brown color with no head and no visible carbonation. The appearance took a big hit because I expect some carbonation and at least a small head in my barleywines. This could be due to the aging.
Smell was of oaky vanilla mixed in with some alcohol and very slight fruitiness. A smoky scent was also present, though very light.
Taste was mostly the oaky vanilla that I was smelling (the label says it was aged in oak bourbon barrels for 1 month, though it tasted and smelled more like it spent 6 months in the barrels). There was a very slight fruitiness to the taste and a large malt sweetness. The beer was too sweet. I couldn't taste any hops. Again, this is all likely due to the aging.
Mouthfeel was nice and smooth and thick (it's a heavy sticky liquid). The beer is drinkable because it had a good flavor.
Notes: I don't know if I'd call this a barleywine. It's more of a strong ale as it lacked a lot of the common characteristics of a barleywine. I'd buy it again and drink it, but not when I'm expecting a barleywine. I found it a bit expensive for what it was. I'm going to guess that this is much better fresh when the hops flavors haven't disappeared. I'll re-review if I come across a fresher bottle.
01-31-2008 03:17:19 | More by RunawayJim
2.75/5 rDev -31.4%
a: This is a dark amber/orange color. It pours with a large white head that has good lace and retention.
s: The bottle says this was aged for a month in the barrel, but in that short time smokey oak aromas have completely taken over. However, some dark fruit, alcohol, and vanilla do manage to peek through. Too much wood.
t: Mirrors the smell, unfortunately. Oak is the dominant feature here as well. Some alcohol, cherry and vanilla.
m: Both the body and carbonation are above average.
d: My least favorite barleywine so far. Cool bottle though.
01-19-2008 19:02:46 | More by DIM
4.47/5 rDev +11.5%
The beer poured a very dark brown with a tight, dense tan cap that showed good retention and some streaky lacing. The aroma was malty and rich, dominated by toffee and caramel. Notes of dried fruit, chocolate/cocoa powder, and smoke were also evident. These characters carried into the flavour, plus the moderate bitterness had a resinous edge to it. There was a little more fruit, some citrusy hops and it finished with a bit of smoke and hint of alcohol. Full bodied with smooth, silky carbonation and light warmth. Really nice texture. This stuff is great! I really liked the overall balance and the maltiness was delicious.
01-18-2008 23:45:17 | More by DrJay
4/5 rDev -0.2%
Appearance: Deep dark brown, with a small but well-retained head. It looks pretty cloudy, but it's hard to tell really.
Smell: Caramel smell. I get one time a hint of a sour/acidic smell... maybe a byproduct of the oak? I catch some alcohol smell. There's a lot of raisiny dark fruit.
Taste: My first impression is a very hoppy-alcohol taste with a huge malt presence. Chocolately raisins slightly smoked coat my mouth. Alcohol warms my throat. Hops linger on my tongue. This is a big full beer with a nice mellow complexity. Get just a hint of tanginess, sort of validating that one-shot of acid in the nose. But that somehow makes it seem more authentic.
Mouthfeel: Huge, big and round, not soft. Really, smooth.
Drinkability: This is a great sipper, perfect for an afterdinner chat with friends and loved ones, while nibbling on fine bonbons and blue cheese.
01-14-2008 00:29:23 | More by ksbrainard
4.43/5 rDev +10.5%
2005 Vintage, picked up in Newport, RI in 2006.
I was immediately hit by how silky smooth and drinkable this was. There's a wonderful vanilla oak and roasted grains (almost smoky) that comes to the front. That's followed by subtle malts and hops which are good, but don't quite stand up to the oak. I guess its a little unfortunate that it doesn't end as well as it starts. Rather, I guess it points out how unfortunate it is I don't have a second bottle.
01-05-2008 05:16:26 | More by tempest
4.38/5 rDev +9.2%
OK, a year ago, when i thought i knew what i preferred...and American Barleywine was my beverage of choice, this guys was at the top of my 'wish list'. The deep blue bottle contributed to the fascination. A barely translucent dark brown color, and when poured aggressively, yields a huge foamy light head that resists fading. Surprisingly more lacing than i would have expected. The smell has 'a bunch more' chocolaty malt character than i would have possibly imagined. While there is no comparison to my experience with Behemoth... this one is no less special (read that as early over-rating syndrome). The aroma is sweet and malty; a significant caramel experience. The 10% ABV is really well hidden IMO. The darkness really sets it into a full body character. Full flavored, chocolate malt and caramel; nicely complex with a whole lot to consider. Not a typical American Barleywine, if there is such a thing. I will scoop up whatever i can 'fine at Table & Vine. Thanks a lot WesWes the opportunity to sample this one. Happy Holidays... and best wishes for your next 2000 reviews.
12-17-2007 23:34:55 | More by jjayjaye
4.6/5 rDev +14.7%
I love this beer, and I'm surprised to see so many people hating on it. Perhaps there are some consistency issues? I'm revieewing a 2006 I opened about a month ago and took notes on. haven't had the 2007 yet, so can't say how it compares. Pours a dark, murkey brown with a big offwhite headthat fades to a thin cap and leaves some great lacing. The smell has warming alcohol, brandied fruit, sweet malt, and smells lightly spiced at the end. The taste starts with rich brandied fruit, sweet malt, vanilla, and cherries, followed by a long earthy hop bitterness and some oaky tannins. Delightful. The mouthfeel is big, sweet, creamy, smooth, and with nice tannic structure. Delicious fireside digestif.
11-30-2007 15:23:36 | More by Georgiabeer
3.18/5 rDev -20.7%
Not sure if this is the current or a prior years release. no dates on the bottle. While I dig the blue swingtop bottle, my review is based solely on the brew itself.
A - muddy, murky dark brown with a small trickle of off-white lacing.
S - dark ripe fruits, burnt malts/harsh bitter notes with underlying bourbon, oak and vanilla
T - more or less as it smells. Seems to have been heavily hopped and some of that edge is taken off by the barrel aging. The initial aroma and first quarter of the glass have a harsh burnt / overboiled harsh hop taste that gradually mellows out.
M - medium to full bodied, mildy carbonated
D - I bought 2 since it's a bit of a haul to get to the brewery. Definitely one in a session. While it mellowed out over the course of the glass, it was a bit tough to approach for a while.
11-20-2007 18:52:05 | More by barleywinebrewer
3.8/5 rDev -5.2%
I had been looking forward to trying this for sometime maybe a bit of a letdown,great pour into an imperial pint glass a mix of deep amber and ruddy brown a nice tight one finger tan colored head atop.Great mix of juicy sweet cherry and resiny hop in the nose with an underlying vanilla/oak element as well that became more pervasive as it warmed.Flavors started out great that big splash of cherry hits up front with a noticeable brown sugar note the hops come through with a decent pine punch,the big wood and vanilla flavors come through in the finish and get bigger as you drink more to the point where the oaky flavors become a bit much after awhile.I think the aging in the oak barrels maybe added to much to this beer I love the malt to hop complexities but I could have done without so much oak and vanilla,still pretty damn good.
I will say it did have great sleep inducing qualities it knocked me right out and it was quite warming as well.
10-13-2007 11:54:37 | More by oberon
3.13/5 rDev -21.9%
2006 Swing top, still sealed bottle.
A Poured a rather dull looking dark brown liquid. Rather uninspiring as it had no head what so ever and show no real signes of left. It was rather opaque so I could not tell whether there was ample carbonation or not, however I doubt that there was much as I said earlier no head at all. No lace either. Overall this was rather uninspiring to look at, and really quite dull. Not what I would normally expect a barley wine to look like, or really what I have seen in the past.
S Aroma was charged with alcohol and had a rather brandy like aroma to it. There were some detectable notes of sweetness to be found if you really looked, but again you had to really look. Some light caramel and perhaps some nuttiness in the back, but overall it was not really impressive on the nose either. I was frankly starting to get a little worried here and was not so sure how this was going to turn out.
T Ugh, I really hate when I am disappointed by a brew, and this one really was letting me down. It was not very hot, I mean the abv was somewhat hidden inside, but the bidy was just lifeless. Some underlying hop notes could be found, and there was a decent amount of sweetness to it iff you looked, but taken as a whole, it was just not that impressive. The flavors were toned down far to much for it to really stand out, and the aftertaste was kinda stale. Bready, with a touch of brandy mixed in. This was really not going well here.
M Very flat here, to be honest one of the flattest mouthfeels I have had in a while. There was just no life to this, no body at all. It was an uncarbonated, thin mess. Ok, so it was not that bad, but still, I expected a bit better here, especially from the brewer, but I just do not know what it was about this one, it just was totally and completely flat and lifeless. A little thin as well. A barleywine should fill you up, it should be almost a meal sometimes, and this was liked a hopped up thin ale, just no where near as robust as I would have thought that it would be.
D Not very good. I really struggled through 500ml on this one. It just was not bringing anything to the table. It wasnt that it was too strong, and it was the lack of body, of really full flavor that hurt this one here the most. I just could not get past that. I wish it had just a little more to it and it would have been nice, but I have to be honest I am just really not a fan here.
Overall I was not impressed. I know there are some out there that really love this, and maybe I just got a bad bottle, but it was just not good. There is really no way I would try and track this down again as it really just did nothing for me. If someone has some out there and think I may have just gotten a bad one, by all means please send me one and let me re try this as it really should have been better then it was.
10-06-2007 01:13:22 | More by mikesgroove
4.25/5 rDev +6%
Really no noticeable lace or head on this very dark...almost black...tea-amber pour.
Aroma of dark brown sugar and dark candied fruits...raisins, prunes, plums. Almost a brandy type aroma in the end.
Flavor is no surprise. Very dark roasted malt gives flavors of dark fruits such as raisins and prunes then some dark brown sugar...a little molasas....and then some nice bitter hops making a balance of it all.
Aftertaste is bitter hops...dark bitter hops...and strong alcohol. Alcohol warms the insides for a long time after swallowing.
Great sipping barleywine...great to discover new depths and layers as it warms in your glass and you take time to indulge.
09-30-2007 06:37:56 | More by IntriqKen
4.13/5 rDev +3%
Big thanks to the DrJay for sending this my way for BC2!
Pours a cloudy brownish red, very brilliant ruby highlights in the light, massively thick tan head, some nice lacing, looks pretty great. Smell is a little weird, lots of citrus character, orange rinds, yeast, bread, smells Belgian-like, plums, caramel, sweet malts, ends up being pretty unique. Wow. Taste is insane chocolate/toffee cake, butter, citrus/floral, more toffee, dark fruits, plummy, alcohol is well hidden, bit of a sourn oakiness in the finish, nicely balanced. Very thick and sticky body, low carbonation, very heavy in the mouth, flavour really lingers. Good points and bad, that kind of sourness puts me off a bit, but the flavour is super thick and chewy. I like it. Thanks Jay!
08-29-2007 03:09:06 | More by Viggo
4.05/5 rDev +1%
Bottle poured into a Tulip glass. 2006 vintage.
Appearance - Deep brown, nearly black, with a tan head that starts thick but fades quickly.
Smell - Big malts with a pleasant sweetness.
Taste - Slightly harsh, but a big sweet caramel maltiness. The finish is well balanced with a nice hop bitterness. Not a big aftertaste for such a big beer.
Mouthfeel - Smooth, creamy, and full. This is probably the best part of the beer.
Drinkability - A very drinkable barleywine that is complex, but not overpowering. High alcohol makes for a strong drink, but it's never too much.
07-30-2007 00:52:19 | More by BWMKappaSig
3.93/5 rDev -2%
Not sure what vintage this is, the label is gone from the top of the bottle.
Beer pours a very dark brown color, with a nice white head on top. Gotta love the bottle, the shape is great, and a great cobalt blue color... Nice!
Aromas are of grains, biscuit, and dark fruits. There is also a bourbon like smell as well.
Beer tastes strong. The general flavor is of dark fruits and creamy malts. There is also a bit of smoke and oak. Some strong boozy flavors and tart bitter hops tasted on the finish. The booze flavors really stand out, more than the other flavors. It's a sturdy and interesting barley wine, that probably could have sat in the cellar for quite a while longer.
Mouthfeel is thick and kind of prickly from the alcohol.
Drinkability is good. This is a unique barley wine. It's strong, and it is a definite sipper. But it is tasty and enjoyable... I'll enjoy this bottle, it will just take a while to finish.
Received this bottle from jaxon53, thanks again!
07-29-2007 21:47:19 | More by flexabull
4.08/5 rDev +1.7%
got this bottle from jaxon53 as part of the Brews 'N Tunes BIF, Summer '07 Tour. thanks jason!
500ml swingtop blue bottle served in my old guardian glass.
pours fairly hazy medium brown colour with a small fairly dense tan head. the head drops fairly fast but leaves a bit of spotty lace.
aroma is great. slightly resinous piney hops. bit of alcohol. big bready malt, with light biscuit. bit of caramel and toffee. some nice earthy character too.
taste is good. big chewy bready malt. medium-high bitterness level. slightly resinous piney hops, but more earthy character coming through here than in the aroma. little alcohol, but mostly as warmth on the way down. light toffee sweetness. there's something a little odd in the flavour that i can't quite put my finger on. i expected more citrus and pine hop character in an american barleywine, but that's not quite it. almost a bit of tangy flavour or something. not entirely off-putting, but doesn't feel quite right either. reading the bottle, maybe it's the vanilla coming through from the barrel aging. i did find that most of this subsided as it warmed.
mouthfeel is good. nice medium-low carbonation level. big chewy body.
drinkability is good. the alcohol is hidden very well. balanced and nice. a sipper, but an enjoyable one.
06-21-2007 01:09:11 | More by grub
3.18/5 rDev -20.7%
2007 bottling -- this edition of Old Marley, according to the brewery rep, was made using second fill (beer-wise) bourbon barrels, which means the wood notes will be lesser than last years' version. Pours a very pretty chestnut brown with tinges of ruby when held to the light. The head is thin and fades to a collar quickly. The smell is pretty tame, with some light English, yeasty fruit notes, but the main element here is a sourish, winey smell. That smell carries over into the taste, where that thin, winey note composes the finish. Otherwise there are very sweet, marshmallowy malts at the beginning, but the biggest note, unfortunately, is that winey unpleasantness. Mouthfeel is quite thick and rather still, with some stickiness. Overall, this is a beer that is obviously helped by the bourbon barrel aging it had in 2006. We'll see how this one ages, but for now it's showing some weaknesses without the oak influence.
06-18-2007 03:18:00 | More by geexploitation
2.25/5 rDev -43.9%
500 ml bottle
A: Pours nearly black with a small bubbly head that quickly subsides to a frothy ring. Specks of lacing.
S: Not much smell at all. Oaky aroma with a bit of alcohol.
T: Balanced taste with both malt and hops qualities. The barrel aging is quite noticable and imparts a woody character with a slight vanilla taste. Overall, the taste is stale (oxidized perhaps?) with a flavor that just doesn't do much for me.
M: Full-bodied with moderate carbonation that feels a bit prickly.
D: I loved the doppelbock, but I'm kicking myself for spending $7 on this. A huge disapointment. When compared to other barleywines, this one is lacking in just about every category.
06-14-2007 23:22:17 | More by klewis
Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine from Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 193 ratings.