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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Olde Bluehair Barley WineOlde Bluehair Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

295 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 295
Reviews: 117
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 11.53%
Wants: 61
Gots: 89 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
75 IBU

(Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 01-24-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 295 | Reviews: 117 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 1497/1800. Dark caramel brown with apple red and Sunkist accents when the glass is backlit with the rising October sun. The khaki colored crown is more a loose collection of unsticky bubbles than a creamy slice of foam, which is a fairly common occurence when it comes to higher-ABV, barrel-aged beer. In all fairness, the head becomes melty-creamy in the end and stays at the thick disk stage for a prolonged period of time.

The nose is classic caramel malt barleywine (pale, crystal, and chocolate), with wonderful whiskey notes from the American oak bourbon barrels. More hoppiness would be nice, but this Limited Edition ale has been chilling out my cellar for the past year or so. Maybe the hops will make an appearance on the palate.

Barrel Aged Olde Bluehair Barley Wine tastes exactly like it smells... which is a very good thing. It's on the gentle side for the style, thanks to the original 75 IBUs being countered by mucho malt, and the ABV being 8.75% rather than double digits. That doesn't mean that this little old lady lacks punch. On the contrary.

Pale malt offsets chocolate malt, and caramel-crystal emerges as the winner. Having said that, pleasant hints of cocoa nibness are easily identified, more so than in most American barleywines. There's a ton of medium-dark fruitiness and the bourbon influence is right on the money. Caramelized sugar, oak and vanilla bean tantalize the buds with each sip. Thankfully, the beer isn't the least bit boozy.

The next highest taste score is tempting, but Bluehair doesn't have that extra gear, that extra certain something to get it over the hump. No qualms, though, about bumping the drinkability score. This stuff is disappearing more quickly than is advisable if I want to remain coherent enough to finish this review and still make sense.

With respect to mouthfeel, think aged English barleywine or old ale. In other words, it isn't thick and chewy and it isn't as creamily carbonated as your typical Belgian ale. No matter, because the beer's size and laid back bubbles work fine in combination, which increases (ease of) drinkability even more.

In my humble opinion, Big Sky is one of America's most underappreciated breweries. They have gotten more of my money (thanks to their outstanding IPA) than anyone else in this country over the past several years. Barrel Aged Olde Bluehair Barley Wine may not be transcent beer, but it's a delicous and drinkable effort that is well worth the purchase price.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 13, 2010
Photo of wethorseblanket
4/5  rDev +0.3%

wethorseblanket, Nov 22, 2014
Photo of infinitebruner
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

November 13, 2014

750 ml bottle, snifter

A – Dark amber, copper, very high clarity. An inch-plus of off-white, slightly tannish foam head, very high retention.

S – Dark sweet raisin bread, caramel sauce, melted warm toffee. Perhaps some fruity hop aroma far in the background, but malt and sugar are prominent. Vanilla flan, mild oak, sherry, and some warm alcohol round out the nose.

T – Golden raisins and light toffee, and warm, thick, dense honey bread. Vanilla is high, some mild oaky character. Hops are fruity and herbal but mostly show as bitterness. The bitterness becomes a bit strong as the beer warms, to the point that it overwhelms the all of the amazing malt character.

M – Very juicy up front, some sudsy carbonation, and a relatively dry finish. A nice level of bitterness at provides a counter to the prominent malty sweetness, before completely taking over the beer. A very mild alcohol burn.

O – Barrel aging seems to be coming off a bit harsh, and the hops stay way too prominent. Good beer but needs some maturing.

infinitebruner, Nov 20, 2014
Photo of a77cj7
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

a77cj7, Nov 18, 2014
Photo of iL0VEbeer
4/5  rDev +0.3%

iL0VEbeer, Nov 17, 2014
Photo of jmbot4371
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%

jmbot4371, Nov 15, 2014
Photo of KAF
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

KAF, Nov 08, 2014
Photo of Norseman
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Norseman, Oct 28, 2014
Photo of mrebeka
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%

mrebeka, Oct 26, 2014
Photo of archyquaffer
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Poured from a corked 750 ml bottle into a schooner glass. A moderate pour produces a big, billowing sticky head of about 2 inches. I'm forced to sip the foam for awhile. The beer is a hazy, fairly pale brown, with a swirling gusher of carbonation.

I perceive a nuttiness and vanilla in the aroma, but also a rather rank smell that detracts a bit. The beer is quite bitter, even astringent, with loads of earthy hops and tannins. A boozy warming sets in almost immediately. I'm not getting a lot of estery flavors- it could use some. In particular, a desired dark fruit quality seems mostly absent. Very little caramel qualities either. The flavors simply don't mesh well, and the alcohol is harsh.

This bottle is vintage 2013, imbibed at the end of September 2014. Perhaps it could use some additional aging. As it is, this beer is pretty tough to drink- it 's extremely bitter, with some rather unsavory off-flavors and aromas.

Edit: the above review was perhaps too dependent on initial impressions. The weird flavors do mellow some as the beer progresses. I increased the score by a quarter point.

archyquaffer, Sep 30, 2014
Photo of leaddog
3.35/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2013 vintage 10.2%. Bottle # 1665 of 3750.

Appearance - Pours a deep amber hue with three fingers of fluffy cream-coloured head.

Smell - Dark fruit (plum), earthy hops, oak/woodiness, alcohol, caramel.

Taste - Flavours of dark fruit, oak and alcohol. Touch of sweetness from caramel. A little bit of earthy hops, but not as much as I was expecting.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall - A so-so American barleywine. There is a good malt presence along with the woodiness from the oak barrels, but I was hoping for more assertive bitterness from the hops. This one is a definitely a sipper as the ABV is quite noticeable.

leaddog, Sep 27, 2014
Photo of WILD-THING
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

WILD-THING, Sep 22, 2014
Photo of Corson
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Corson, Sep 21, 2014
Photo of Beerlover
2.5/5  rDev -37.3%

Beerlover, Sep 21, 2014
Photo of BeersAndBears
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

BeersAndBears, Sep 18, 2014
Photo of DanGeo
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

DanGeo, Sep 08, 2014
Photo of biboergosum
3.34/5  rDev -16.3%

750ml caged and corked bottle, 10.2% ABV. 2014 is already getting long in the tooth, so I guess it's OK to pop this 2013 vintage edition of Olde Bluehair.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, medium copper amber colour, with a teeming, barely contained tower of puffy, thinly foamy, and bubbly tan head, which leaves some patchy and sudsy layered cloud formation lace around the glass as it lazily recedes. Not your daddy's barleywine, so far.

It smells of acrid Bourbon barrels - more musty staves and over-proof booze than caramel, vanilla, or spice - reduced brown sugar, edgy molasses, black pepper, gritty pale and toffee-accent malt, dead yeast, wet leather, chewing tobacco, gritty earthy hops, and a swirling, barely restrained booziness. The taste is a lot more rounded, and yet plain - understated grainy caramel malt, still rather woody barrel essences - raw wood (natch), metallic vanilla, muted spice - powdered chalk, weird, fairly unattractive phenols, and herbal, weedy hops - the kind that seem beholden to the not so well masked alcohol.

The bubbles are pretty heady and pervasive throughout in their overwrought frothiness, the body a bit on the lee side of actual medium weight, and smooth, sure, but assailed from unseen vectors on all sides. It finishes mostly dry, the woodiness finally laying waste and claim to victory, all others merely book-ended by the lingering, as ever was, alcohol.

Ok, so, what we have here, is a seemingly and strangely bottle-reconditioned (the froth, she don't lie) barleywine, of English-style extraction (the hops apparently just incapable of speaking for themselves), with some of the titular old-lady's, um, blue-haired musty crustiness resplendent everywhere. Nah, not for me, not for me at all.

biboergosum, Sep 03, 2014
Photo of stallion_air21
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%

stallion_air21, Aug 30, 2014
Photo of JonnyRebel
4.56/5  rDev +14.3%

JonnyRebel, Aug 25, 2014
Photo of Justinsosmart
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%

Justinsosmart, Aug 17, 2014
Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

zestar, Aug 10, 2014
Photo of Gotti311
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Gotti311, Aug 05, 2014
Photo of lonewolfcry
4/5  rDev +0.3%

lonewolfcry, Aug 05, 2014
Photo of JoelClark
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

JoelClark, Aug 03, 2014
Photo of CCutch
3.75/5  rDev -6%

CCutch, Jul 29, 2014
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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 295 ratings.