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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Olde Bluehair Barley WineOlde Bluehair Barley Wine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

307 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 307
Reviews: 120
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 11.28%
Wants: 61
Gots: 89 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 01-24-2009

75 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 307 | Reviews: 120 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ktrillionaire
2.38/5  rDev -40.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to AgentZero for sharing this unusual brew.

A - It pours a sappy golden hue, and has a big foamy tan head that looks like pancake batter.

S - The nose is strange; it initially led me to suspect that the brew is possibly infected, but as I taste it, and smell it some more, I am convinced that it is just strange. Apricots, dark corn syrup, citric hops and vanilla come together in Olde Bluehair for an unholy communion of unfortunate proportions. Well, its not quite on the 'unholy' level, I just wanted to use the phrase, really.

T - The taste is more bizarre than the aroma; there is something 'off' here, though I cannot exactly put my finger on it. The taste is generally comprised of dried medium fruit, especially apricot and papaya, dry grassiness and rotten oak, grainy corn syrup notes, some weird chalky note and general disagreement between the incongruous elements of the flavor.

M - The feel is unspecial. It is sticky and soft, not tremendously enhancing.

O - Ha! This beer was on my 'wants' for a long time, along with Ivan; glad I didn't trade for this one in particular.

Photo of Beerlover
2.5/5  rDev -37.3%

Photo of rab53
2.5/5  rDev -37.3%

Photo of snaotheus
2.59/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750ml bottle poured into an oversized snifter

I'm a little concerned about this bottle, there was almost no hiss when I popped the top. Don't know if it's normally pretty still, or if something happened.

Basically no head. Basically no carbonation. This detracts from the appearance. I know that barleywines are not usually that active, but there's nothing going on here. Color is a nice rich deep bronzey brown, maybe slightly cloudy. Smell is alcohol with a background of smoke and wood.

Taste is sweet and sour and smokey, alcohol comes out quite a bit. A little astringent.

Mouthfeel is flat, a little watery. Due to too much alcohol in the flavor and unpleasant flatness, I have not enjoyed this much.

Photo of matttttYCE
2.68/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2010 Vintage, #2618 of 3000

Appearance - Poured into my Stone IRS balloon/snifter glass. Head is very frothy and luscious, about 1 1/2 finger high and off-white colored. Head fades very slowly. Moderate sticky lacing. Color of the brew is a root beer color with red highlights when held to the light.

Smell - Smell is...interesting to say the least. I get lots of sweet caramel malts, caramel, butterscotch, sweet fruit, apricot, a bit of plum possibly, honey, interesting slight tart notes and slight smell of apple juice or apple cider, along with some light notes of Bourbon and vanilla in the background. Really not at all what I was expecting from the aroma. Seems a bit disjointed as a whole. There's a slight chance this bottle is infected but more so I think it's just the odd way the brew smells.

Taste - Taste is pretty similar to the nose. Lots of sweet caramel malts, caramel and molasses, butterscotch, sweet fruit, apricot, fig, honey, toffee, slight Bourbon and vanilla notes, and again those slight hints of tartness and apple juice or apple cider. It's an off taste to me, but I think that may just be how the brewer intended it to be and not an infected bottle.

Mouthfeel - Consistency is silky smooth, carbonation is higher than I would have liked for a barrel aged Barleywine, round would probably describe it. Body is medium, slightly chewy, finish is medium. Leaves a taste of sweetness, caramel malt, toffee, and fruit/tart/green apple tastes in my mouth.

Overall - If this isn't infected, it's really not to my liking. There's the possibility that I got an infected bottle or that there is a good deal of bottle variation. Whatever I had, I didn't really care for it. I'll try the next vintage I can get my hands on to compare to this one (especially to see if there may have just been an infection in this bottle, but I don't think that's the case).

Photo of waltonc
2.7/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Had a bottle of this with JoeySchlitz a couple nights ago. Pours completely flat and looks like juice. Smells almost good, but there's a slight hint of cheese that is off-putting. If it weren't for that, this would smell good. Tastes rich and buttery, sweet butterscotch notes. Not hoppy at all (no complaints about that). Not a very refined or polished taste, but pretty unique. Mouthfeel is where this is really lacking. Absolutely no carbonation makes this a bit disgusting after only a few sips. Big Sky should do something to fix the carbonation. Perhaps force carbonate it? Why in the world is this sold in 750 ml bottles? 6 oz would be better.

4/24/09 Update: Had this on tap at Monk's Kettle, and it was much better than the bottled version. None of the cheese, and it was well-carbonated. I'd give it a 4.3 overall on tap.

Photo of mendvicdog
2.75/5  rDev -31.1%

Photo of nmann08
2.75/5  rDev -31.1%

Photo of Rifugium
2.76/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared at a recent tasting, not sure who brought it. Also not sure of the vintage or number, etc.

This was a very weird barleywine, and I don't really know what was going on with this bottle. Possibly infected. The cap came off with a massive *hiss* and after everyone poured out their share of tan foam, even more foam filled half the bottle as it sat there on the table. I can't say I've ever seen a "barleywine" that carbonated.

Once the massive head settled to a reasonable level, the liquid below it was a dull chestnut brown color, with a gooey murkiness to it. In the nose, phenols and some herbal bitterness, lesser notes of caramel and yeast. The taste was definitely weird and off, but I actually didn't think it was completely undrinkable. There were flavors of caramel and bready (bretty?) yeast, cooking sherry, and actually lots of herbal hops. Not very good, and possibly infected, but as I said, I didn't find it undrinkable, surprisingly. Did I go back for more after my little sampler? Nope. Light-medium body and pretty thinned out in the mouthfeel. Overall, this beer was a huge mess, and not at all what I like in my barleywines.

Photo of brian23456
2.84/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle #1183/1800, poured into a couple large snifters.

A- Starts with a big head as far as BW's go, dies down to a thin ring. Reddish brown color, not much for lacing.

S- Caramel, brown sugar, raisins, alcohol and a very tiny amount of bourbon. All the smells are very faint though, actually not much smell at all.

T- Hmmm.. I may be tasting everything I smelled. But its hard to tell because the flavor is just as muted as the smell.

M- Light body, low carbonation and some warmth.

D- Goes down easy, very unoffensive and well-balanced.

A little dissapointing overall but definatley not bad. Just really plain and forgetable.

Photo of EricCioe
3/5  rDev -24.8%

Photo of DrNo
3/5  rDev -24.8%

Photo of ajs4bd
3/5  rDev -24.8%

Photo of mattsander
3.03/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was a 2012 vintage.

A: Medium brown, decent clarity, thin/large bubbles and a gusher.

S: Brettanomyces infected w/o a doubt, medicinal/cottony, damn and earthy. I cant really detect a lot of the base beer but it smells alright.

T: The brett funk dominated this for me, just ruined by infection. I'm sure the clean bottles are much better.

M: Super thin/overcarbonated.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Foamy as hell. Murky red. Looks light and overcarbonated.

Smell - Light malt notes. A ton of bourbon and a little oak.

Taste - Oaky and astringent. Overcarbonated. Caramel comes through more here as the bourbon is lighter. Nothing special in the flavor. Maybe a little fruity.

Mouthfeel - Way overcarbonated. Astringent and dry. Kinda ruins the experience.

Overall - The flavors are ok, but it's mouthfeel is a tremendous let down. Thin, kinda they way I felt about Ivan the Terrible.

Photo of Spider889
3.18/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review from notes.

Pours with a super tall head of an off-white linen color. Decent lace.

Smells very sweet for a barleywine. Brown sugar and sweet oaky tannins.

The taste has a mild char flavor to it, oak, cherry and vanilla flavors.

Overall this is just a little 'off' for a typical barleywine.

Photo of kbutler1
3.19/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle. #2062 of 3000. Poured into a tulip glass a murky orange, apricot color with a light tan head. Sweet aroma in the nose of fruit and slight citrus hops. Very subtle aroma for a Barley Wine. Sweet start wtih some latent hops. Pretty smooth but not extremely flavorful. Nice head retention though.

Photo of DanGeo
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Photo of leschkie
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Photo of GRG1313
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Photo of Jameswoody
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Photo of KlayWey
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

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.

Photo of Corson
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

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.

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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 307 ratings.