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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
89
very good

282 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 282
Reviews: 114
rAvg: 4
pDev: 11.5%
Wants: 57
Gots: 91 | FT: 10
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: 282 | Reviews: 114 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

t0rin0, Aug 23, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour sampled at mrbubbler's tasting courtesy of mrbubbler himself.

2010 vintage. Bottle # 1959/3000.

Pours a murky honey orange with a tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, citrus zest, vanilla, and bourbon. Taste is the same with a woody aftertaste. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a smooth and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barleywine with a nice barrel aged presence.

UCLABrewN84, Apr 09, 2012
Photo of Thorpe429
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thakns to mages64 for getting this bottle out to me in a BIF a ways back. Served in a SAVOR snifter as part of our barrel-aged barleywine tasting.

Pours a golden-copper color with an off-white head. Average amount of lacing with a thin collar throughout.

Nose is fairly weak and non-descript with faint notes of bourbon and light caramel. Flavor goes up from there with heavy notes of bourbon and oak plus light vanilla and toffee. Caramel malt throughout.

Mouthfeel is chewy and nice with a great bourbon smoothness. Nice oak character and a buttery-vanilla smoothness. Low carbonation.

Really a nice brew. Glad I got to try this one.

Thorpe429, Aug 21, 2011
Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

zestar, Aug 10, 2014
Photo of nmann08
2.75/5  rDev -31.3%

nmann08, Feb 09, 2014
Photo of brentk56
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #0007 out of 3000 (2010 bottling)

Appearance: This is a beautiful barleywine, pouring an ice tea brown color with a two finder head that leaves a smattering of lace around the chalice

Smell: Toffee, apricot, oak and some fusel alcohol

Taste: Toffee and apricots, up front, with an earthy hop balance developing by mid-palate, when the fusel alcohol arrives; after the swallow, the oak and vanilla add a complex dimension that lingers, after the swallow, along with the apricot malt

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; perhaps a little too thick

Drinkability: This is an extraordinary barleywine that is only going to improve with a year or two of age; while some complain that it is too sweet or lacks hops, I would point out that this is much more in the English style and is a superb example

Thanks, sholle, for the opportunity

brentk56, Feb 01, 2011
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
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 BEERchitect
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The fruity and malty-succulence all plays out in a display of balance and battle that play out in this hoppy-bitter and malty-sweet ever strong ale- this is Olde bluehair Barley Wine.

The stately beer pours with a hazy and rusty appearance of browns and slightly reddish hue. Billowing to the rim is the expansive lightly tanned head creates a liquefied foamy head with tremendous staying power and sticky lace. This beer is stately, rustic, and masculine looking throughout.

Brown sugar, freshly kilned barley, and molasses starts to frame the aromatic matrix, but also introduce the strong alcohol notes of rum and the estery scent of plumb, grape, and fig. Yet the musty malt character takes stage.

Flavors closely mimic the aromas as the beer starts with a sweet malt taste of the molasses, brown sugar, and sun kissed barley kernel. Yet the beer develops quickly into a rummy, port-like mid palate of fruit- resembling grape, fig, date, blackberry, plumb, and raison. Light herbal hops inform the flavor with under lying flavors of lemongrass but developing into a timid resonant of pine and fresh cut grassy bitterness to finish.

Full bodied but mysteriously refreshing, Old Bluechair delivers a wallop of malty-rich texture with a carbonated creamy effect. But the mid palate creeps in with a lightly peppery heat at mid palate that develops into alcohol heat to finish. Doing so with a hoppy resin dryness and ethanol warmth that closes the beer with confidence and semi-dry character that drives a malty fruit aftertaste.

BEERchitect, Apr 05, 2012
Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev 0%

Texasfan549, Nov 10, 2012
Photo of mikesgroove
4.4/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

brown in color with a light tan head on top that hung around for a good few minutes before settling down into a thin layer on top. One of the best aromas I have ever come across. Rich bourbon notes just rippling across the nose. Lots of toffee and vanilla, light touchs of oak and a piney hop presence as well. So immacualtly complex. Nothing subtle about this beast at all. Rich toffee and oak flavors are all over the place. Huge hop notes coming through with a nice alcohol hotness that is really well placed. A very tight flavor here with a long lingering vanilla flavor that lasted long after my last sip.

mikesgroove, Sep 19, 2011
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev 0%

kjkinsey, Nov 03, 2012
Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Forgot to write down who shared this beer at Sour Fest. Think it was Jake or Alex.

A: The pour is amber in color with a two finger khaki head.

S: A solid aroma which really shows a lot of balance between the barrel and the beer. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak come through initially and the nice caramel, brown sugar, and molasses notes follow.

T: Much the same story on the palate. The brown sugar, caramel, and toffee flavors dominate. Just a touch of dark fruit in there, too. There is still plenty of barrel contribution here with a moderate bourbon flavor and a bit of oak and vanilla.

M: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: I have really enjoyed the barrel aged Big Sky beers I've had and this was no exception.

womencantsail, Jun 28, 2011
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

ygtbsm94, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
3.25/5  rDev -18.8%

GRG1313, Sep 07, 2013
Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

spycow, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottle number #1976 of 3000.
10.5% ABV.
Poured a fizzy brass tinged medium brown,again a rather fizzy one finger off white head atop.Toasty oak and vanilla aromas with a bit of caramel,mainly all barrel aged aromas here,flavors are toasty with heavy vanilla and caramel,just a slight drying earthiness in the finish.As the beer warmed more malt nuances came into play like dark fruit and some cakiness.Its a bit sharp in the mouth but not to annoying,its pretty good but a little one dimensional with the barrel aging really taking over the beer.I dont think its worth the big price paid.

oberon, Dec 27, 2010
Photo of zeff80
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, golden-orange color with a one-finger, off-white head of foam. It left thin rings of sticky lace.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel, vanilla and mild bourbon notes.

T - Good caramel sweetness with some spicy hop bite. There is a nice vanilla presence.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with some alcohol heat.

D - This is a really good barleywine. Great balance and taste. My new favorite Big Sky brew....gotta find some Ivan now.

zeff80, Feb 21, 2011
Photo of biboergosum
3.34/5  rDev -16.5%

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 JAHMUR
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

JAHMUR, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of SocalKicks
3.5/5  rDev -12.5%

SocalKicks, Jun 23, 2014
Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml foil topped bottle. # 1349/1800. Thanks goes to beerbeagle for hooking me up with this in the Secret Bunny '08 BIF. Split this one with some fellow BA members. Poured into a snifter.

Pours a brilliant clear ruby red, with a thin foamy off-white head. This bunches around the edges with a thin wispy covering in the middle. Flare-up is very solid, leaving a rich looking latticework of lace back. Bourbon dominates the aroma, with some backing notes of woody oak and vanilla. Floral hops glide underneath, as does caramel, bread, citrus, and a maybe a touch of dark fruits in the back as well.

The taste is once again straight up Bourbon, that is well integrated with notes of citrus, vanilla, coconut, brown sugar, caramel, and dough standing out most to me. Bourbon and alcohol mix with hops and roast to end the profile with a warm and bitter feel that lingers. The mouthfeel is big feeling, with a full bodied and creamier feel. There is also a more tangible vicous layer that runs underneath, that carries a lot of the alcohol and warmth through the profile. A definite alcohol sting is present as well but it seems to come more from the Bourbon character then it does the ABV.

A pleasant suprise for sure, I liked the integration between the barrel notes and regular Barleywine flavors in this. While still a bit warm and a steady sipper, I'd love to see how this one would mellow and age over a couple of years.

Kegatron, Apr 20, 2009
Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a lucky pick up at Goebbels in Wichita.

Bottle #1319 of 3000 opens with a major pop! Pours caramel with a pinky of khaki lacing. Nice viscious look to this, good head retention & some lacing

S: Toffee, dark fruit & slight boozeyness

T: Rich dark fruit, Bourbon, leafy hops, a touch boozey vanilla. Honey, figgyness, a bit of smokey toffee as this warms, along with some booze-soaked cherries. Finishes oaky dry with nice Bourbon notes, figs& sweet toffee. Slight deduction for lack of American BW hop profile, would've maxed this out as an English BW. Wish I had some more bottles...

MF: Chewy, smooth carbonation, great balance, nice warming sensation

Drinks too easy for the ABV & style

russpowell, Mar 20, 2011
Photo of MasterSki
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to joe1510 for sharing this bottle. #886 of 1800, served in a snifter.

A - Pours with a ridiculous amount of tan foam that takes forever to dissipate and leaves a good amount of lacing. Transparent fuschia color with tons of bubbles. Really unique and impressive for a barleywine.

S - Burnt brown sugar, roasted caramel malts, some faded hops, and some light bourbon and oaky barrel notes as well. It's nice, but nothing unusual for a bourbon barrel barleywine.

T - The taste is a lot sweeter, with a lot of the burnt sugar character and tannins in the finish. Caramel, brown sugar, light vanilla and oak notes. Not much of the hop presence that I initially smelled.

M - Surprisingly well carbonated - medium body, fairly sticky, a little heat at the back end.

D - The alcohol isn't all that well hidden - I thought this was more than 8.75%. The tannic bite in the finish also makes it a little hard to drink a lot.

MasterSki, Nov 22, 2009
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Limited Edition Olde Bluehair...Big Sky Brewing, Barrel-aged & Bottle Conditioned. Ale Aged in American Oak Bourbon Barrels. 10.5% abv.

Number 1307 of 3000. "Imagine a tango: a man and a woman dancing, their eyes locked upon one another, then take your first bite of Olde Bluehair, Big Sky Brewing Company's Barley Wine. A taste of apricots, honey flavors, a sliver of vanilla, and a hint of caramel round out this barley wine. Like so many things in life, Olde Bluehair just gets better with time."

Thoroughly hazed, magenta hued, thick, wonderful, rocky, lacy, off-white head. Big, lasting, very impressive. So far, so good.

Aroma: whiskey hits first, leather, vanilla, dark fruits, cherries, sweet, bold, rich, huge. I'm getting it, both parts of this beer are working well, in full effect. I'm getting the barleywine, I'm getting the bourbon barrel.

Now, what's it taste like?

Boom, boom, here comes hops, next bourbon, then alcohol. Bam! Immenseness and richosity. A flash of hops, then a blitz of bourbon, then the caramel malt, and, yeah, I can detect apricot, sure....honey, yeah, a little. Getting drier now, not so juicy, well rounded, not too over the top. I'm kind of loving it. Big plum, date, raisin-y, dark fruits aplenty, sweet a bit, then dry, and, yeah, rounded. Good balance, for such a big one.

Hey, now, this is several varieties of yum, yes, it is. Now, it's getting woody oaky, that part is coming into play. The thicker parts of the bourbon character have given way for other pleasures.

This works. This is good. This is Mmm + yum, plus, oh, yeah.

feloniousmonk, Mar 10, 2011
Photo of drabmuh
4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Thorpe at a small tasting the other day. Thanks Mike. This was the sleeper hit of the night for me.

Beer is golden in color and mostly clear with a thin wispy head of small white bubbles, low carbonation, low lacing, low retention.

Aroma is sweet with hints of vanilla, oak, and bourbon, nice.

Beer is medium in body and sweet up front with a mildly dry finish, a nice bourbon character on the midpalate and a great finish with more in the body in the midpalate than expected. The toffee comes through nicely and finishes strong. I really enjoyed it, one of the better beers of the night IMO.

drabmuh, Aug 23, 2011
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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.