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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.
very good

121 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 121
Hads: 325
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 18.3%
Wants: 61
Gots: 90 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

75 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 121 | Hads: 325
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A brownish liquid comes out without much in the way of head. Some bubbles, but didn't amount to much. Aroma was boozy at first, but settled into an appreciable mix of toffee, vanilla, wood and bourbon.

Taste, still boozy, but with each sip, got better and better. Carbonation was better than expected after the not sexy pour. Nice bourbon and vanilla integration, this beer just kept getting better. Waves of caramel complimenting the toffee. By the end of it, you're wondering where the initial notes of alcohol went. Its like they fly out the bottle like the ghosts on Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark after the first sip and whiff. Sweetness level is just where it should be.

Pretty much a must try for any barleywine fan. Decently priced, picked mine up for $13 I believe in AZ, saw it for the price in Bend, OR as well.

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Photo of hardy008
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage, number 2060 of 3000.

Pours a hazy caramel brown with a two finger light tan head with very good retention and nice lacing. The aroma has caramel, toffee, apricots, and vanilla.

Sweet flavor with caramel, toffee, apricots, honey, vanilla, oak, raisins, and light hop bitterness. Not much balance, as this is a sweet beer, but that is not a problem for me. I like this beer quite a bit.

Full bodied, chewy, smooth, and properly carbonated. Sweet aftertaste, and the alcohol is pretty well hidden for 10.50 %, but then again, I held onto this for a while before drinking it. I recommend trying this beer, if you get the chance.

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Photo of corby112
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml, 2010 vintage, bottle 2126/3000, shared with shadowane.

Pours a cloudy, dark amber color with golden ruby edges and a one finger frothy, yellowish beige head. Very good retention slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves chunks of lacing behind.

Musty, earthy aroma with lots of dark fruit, leather and wood. Nice barrel in the nose with toasted oak and vanilla notes but only subtle bourbon. Lots of leathery malts as well as some fig and raisin.

Medium body with soft carbonation up front with a strong barrel presence that's a bit harsh with lots of toasted oak and sweet booz. As it warms there is some vanilla and the sweeter malts and dark fruit notes shine. Leathery and musty with some sweet caramel and nut along with hints of fig, plum and apple.  Decent but kind of harsh up front. Finishes nice.

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Photo of mikedrinksbeer2
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes, on-tap into snifter.

A - Deep hazy amber nearing brown in color with a minimal head that leaves some spot cling remains.

S - Toasty malt scent, hint of alcohol.

T - Strong, mirrors the scent, maily malty sweet with an slight alcohol finish.

M - Slightly sticky, un-carbonated, decent.

O - A nice offering, but not my favorite Big Sky brew. Recommended to Barleywine fans.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review #1000!
750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage. Bottle# 1297 of 3000.

(A)- Pours a hazy amber hue. Produced a giant white frothy head with surprising retention and mountains of lace.

(S)- Rich. Bits of a woody oak, roasted caramel, toffee, honey, and subtle bourbon. A delectable aroma.

(T)- A nice subtle brown sugar sweetness. Bits of caramel, subtle oak, and mild slick bourbon.

(M)- A mellow to higher carbonation level. A nice balance of sweet, oaky, and booze, though by no means hot.

(D)- A solid barleywine. Age could further help this out to its advantage, though it is quite nice. Rich, but a mellow/subtle barrel aging.

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to sweemzander for opening this one.

(A) Pours a brownish color with a slight bit of cloudiness. Ruby hues when held to the light. The barrel aging definitely took some effect on the coloration of this beer. About a half inch head on this beast.

(S) There area a lot of fruits and sweeter aromas. Fig and dark sugar, but then there is some lighter roasted malt present. As it opens there is a note of licorice.

(T) Taste is a lot like the nose. There is fig and a good amount of dark dried fruits. The barrel wood gives a great characteristic to this beer. Doesn't really hit like a barleywine usually wood and I think it's because the woods toned it down a bit. Other residual sugars linger as well as the hint of a licorice taste.

(M) Solid medium body, slightly grainy, and ends dry.

(O) This was a different one. I really liked it, but it caught me off guard not tasting as I would expect a baleywine to taste. The barrel did wonders for the flavor. It was a solid beer and I look forward to revisiting this one in the future.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml corked and caged bottle poured into tulip 26/9/11 #717/3000

A reddish amber with a shit load of suspended particles and the most yeast I've ever seen in a bottle, short lived foam leaves no lace but the color makes up for it

S smells of a caramel apple, a little booze, brandy and bourbon with just a little raisin of all things

T thankfully the flavor mimics the smell quite well but not with the same intensity, a little more booze then I could smell and its rather sweet but still quite good. nice wet wood flavor comes out even more as it warms

M warm but I wouldn't say hot, thick but not chewy and a long finish of apple butterscotch is quite pleasant

O pretty solid brew that's mellow without years behind it, great smell and feel and 4.25 may have been dropped if it were an option

thanks Adam for bringing this obscure gem my way, not sure what some time would do to this seeing how its already a mellow brew but I'd like to find out and I doubt I ever will

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Photo of gueuzer
4.79/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

App- Mahogany with a lacy white head

Sm- Best barley wine aroma I've ever come across. Bourbon with plum pudding.

Ta- Phenomenal. Spot on oxidation notes coming through with toffee, raisins, stone fruits, mixed with a subtle bourbon and generous oak tones.

Ov- Drinks like a 10 yr old barleywine. great balance. Very hard to beat.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

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Photo of seeswo
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours an off colored orange with a small tannish head. Caramel malts, vanilla, oak, toffee waft off of the nose. The taste is like the nose with the vanilla from the bourbon melding very nicely with the caramel and toffee base beer flavors. Actual bourbon and oak are subdued. Sweet, but not excessively so from a slight hop balance. Mouthfeel is relatively large with a light carbonation. Seems right for the style. Overall, this beer is a really nice option for the BA Barleywine category as a fairly accessible and not too expensive option. Almost the definition of a B+ beer in my book.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage picked up back in December.

Pours a light yellowed orange. Light off-white head. Smells like caramel almost a toffee aroma. Very malty with some light vanilla and a touch of oak. Barrel isn't huge on the nose. Tastes sweet and malty, again lots of caramel, barrel characteristics are strong but not overwhelming. Well balances . Overall very enjoyable

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Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to someone for sharing this at the May Freetail bottle release. This is a beer I have been looking forward to trying, hopefully it does not disappoint.

The beer pours a copper color with a white head. The aroma is what I expected. I get a ton of bourbon notes as well as some maple and toffee. The alcohol is also noticeable.

The flavor is similar. I get a lot of toffee and caramel malts along with some bourbon whiskey, vanilla and maple notes. There is also a nice oaked quality to the flavor which melds well with everything else that is going on.

Medium to thick, slightly syrupy mouthfeel and low carbonation. A very nice barrel-aged beer.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap @ Blue Palms Brewhouse - served in a snifter.

Burnt orange to carmine gradient with a lasting beige collar and a faint surface slick. Faint sandy lacing, no legs.

Leather, tobacco, prunes, pine, peach pits, and stewed fruit in the nose. Lightly hoppy with a hint of burnt sugar.

White pepper, evergreen, spearmint, alfalfa, and moderate bitterness accompanied by a milky malt note. Complexity suddently vanishes in the woody dry finish, drawing you back immediately to see if the flavor profile was all an illusion...

Tinkgly, well carbonated (almost too much so) and not-quite-slick.

Well balanced, though malt-heads and hop-heads alike may find something missing if they are glass-half-empty types.

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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).

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Photo of claspada
4.27/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle. It was numbered 2000-something of 3000. Bad job by me but I was tired and recycled the bottle without thinking. Recently reassembled by apartment post-Irene flooding.

Pours a slightly hazy ice tea brown color with amber hues and a small inch of eggshell head that leaves a smattering of lace around the chalice.

Aromas begin with a ton of butterscotch, toffee, dried fruits and vanilla. The barrel has lended a barrage of influence here. Also some oak, brown sugar and caramelized malts are present. Pure bourbon smell emerges slightly as it warms.

The tastes begin with toffee dried fruits. Next I get the oak tannins and vanillas and caramel, brown sugar and toffee sweetness. As it warms you get a little more of the earthiness, hints of butterscotch and the alcohol/bourbon flavors become more predominant. Fruitiness is prevalent throughout.

The mouthfeel is full to medium bodied with ample carbonation. Really spot on for the style preventing this from being to syrupy which is always a plus for me. Finish is deceptively dry due to the barrel flavors and alcohol presence.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer after a long hard day. It really reminded me of a less aggressive, yet still full-flavored Firestone Walker Abacus. Abacus is a more complex beer but also much more in your face. Each has its time and place and I was definitely more in the mood for this "Abacus Lite". Highly recommended and I will be seeking this out each year it becomes available.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  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.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of thagr81us
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to my boy Lunch for sending me this one in a past trade! Shared this one with a huge number of BAs during the ORF '11 release. 2010 Vintage! Bottle #1827 of 3000! Served from bottle into a sampler snifter. Poured red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, and wood. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. The barrel aging on this brew really mellowed out a lot of the flavors that are typical in a big ABV Barleywine. This fact made this one really drinkable for all who had the chance to try it. The aroma was pretty good as well, but nothing awe-inspiring by any means. Definitely worth trying if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle thanks to Harrymel. Caramel color, decent but short head. Smells pretty good like caramel, malts. The taste is also quite nice, malt, toffee, caramel, and just a touch of barrel. I really liked how the barrel aging was very subdued and didn't make a bourbon bomb out of this one. Recommended if you like barleywines.

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Photo of Allpe45
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 edition
Bottle #2609

Appears reddish brown with a creamy tan cap, recedes quickly but leaves plenty of lacing. Just a bit hazy. Smells predominantly of bourbon, sweet fruits, caramel malt, toffee and wood. Despite the powerful bourbon aroma, it does not seem hot. Taste matches the smell but there is much more balance. Caramel and toffee maltiness up front, alcohol soaked dark fruits in the middle, and barrel in the finish. The bourbon is very well integrated, adding flavor throughout and a subtle warmth to the finish. Medium-full body, low carbonation, very smooth texture at first but leaves a sticky residual feeling. Easy to drink but the strength is noticeable after a few sips.

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Photo of ferrari29
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer poured from bottle into a Stone stemless 4 oz. tasting glass - 2010 Limited Edition

A - Brown maroon colored body; cloudy; two finger creme colored foam formed with a rocky head; thick poured looking body; floating sediment; no lacing formed on the side the glass

S - Bourbon, oatmeal; caramel malt back-end; some celery; subtle hints of anise; high ABV content; fig and dark fruit

T - Bourbon oak aged barrel taste; caramel; fantastic brown sugary blast; toffee; dry oak rinse finish; touch of fig, raisin and dark fruit at the end to finish off a great blend of flavors

M - Smooth; slightly chewy; effervescent and leaves a somewhat dry aftertaste

D - Awesome drink; great taste and smell; I love this stuff; don't pass it up if you have a chance to try a sip or two; goes down nice and smooth, I'll definitely have to try more beers from Big Sky, they impressed me with this batch

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Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of loren01
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a reddish/brown color, decent sized head with good lacing down the glass
S: Smells very strong of oak, bourbon and dark fruits.
T: Strond oak and bourbon flavors. Sweet fig flavors as well
M: Full bodied, thick and chewy beer
O: Interesting flavor in this barleywine, not like anything i've had before. I would buy this again but probably special occasions, its a spendy one.

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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.

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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.

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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 121 ratings.