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Irish Walker - Olde Hickory Brewery

Not Rated.
Irish WalkerIrish Walker

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

282 Ratings
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 282
Reviews: 92
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 9.34%
Wants: 40
Gots: 96 | FT: 18
Brewed by:
Olde Hickory Brewery visit their website
North Carolina, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  10.14% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: oberon on 12-25-2009

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 282 | Reviews: 92
Reviews by 1Adam12:
More User Reviews:
Photo of humuloner22
4.46/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Irish Walker (2014)

I had seen this beer around for years and then last spring I decided I would try it and damned if it wasn’t there. So, I waited around and then it popped up sometime around the summer, at least that is when I bought this one. I had read that barleywine’s do better with some age, so I have waited until now to try this one. So, it’s got like 6 months on it. I had only tried one barleywine previous to this one, at least that I was aware of.

Appearance: Pours with a dark rich reddish brown color. Beautiful in the glass. I decent amount of head that settles into virtually nothing. Just a film over the top of the beer once it relaxes. (4.75)

Smell: Sweet, boozey, and dark fruits dominate the aroma. It almost has a boozy prune juice smell going on. (4.25)

Taste: Dark fruits dominate this one. Its sweet, and it is boozy I would recommend that you share this, as it is 10% abv. Not that you couldn’t but this is a very rich beer. It actually says on the bottle to share with friends. I get, a lot of those winter dark fruits, almost fruitcake like flavors going on. This is called an English style barleywine because it has less hop dominance than American styles and I although I have not had many of this style, I would have to agree there is no hops in this one, if there is, you certainly cannot taste them. Plumbs, figs, cereal notes dominate. In the aftertaste you get a bit of hop assertiveness but it is very mild. (4.5)

Overall: This is a well made beer, by one of my favorite local brewers. I may have to grab a few more up to cellar, before they are gone again. One note they have just began the transition to 12/ 6 packs and they have changed the label style. Personally I kind of like the older labels. I noticed the Lindley Park, which was one of their more sought after beers had the wax omitted and I suspect the Event Horizon will too. This may be the last of the, shall I say “reserve” beers from them that has the wax coating around the cap. If that interests you, I doubt next years will have it! (4.5)

Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev +1%

22oz Bomber
$9.99
Brawley's - Charlotte

2014 Vintage

Irish Walker is chestnut brown as it pours with a ruby hue but when the glass is full it's flat out dark, basically as dark brown as brown can get. A frothy milk chocolate crown sits atop the body. The beige foam doesn't grow much but does stick around for ages and leaves puffy drink lines down the glass.

This barleywine is English all the way. Sugary plum and raisins in spades, orange marmalade, black cherry, a veritable fruitcake in a glass. Deep, rich caramel and a drizzle of molasses bring through some sweetness though a touch of toffee is included as well. Soda bread and cashews add more depth still. This beer just keeps getting deeper and deeper. My descriptors barely scratch the surface but are the most noticeable.

The flavor profile is much the same, staggering in its depth. Deep caramel lays the foundation and gets richer as it works through until you're finally left with molasses. Dark fruits; figs, raisins, plums, black cherries all pop up in the front, that fruitcake again. Soda bread and tea leaf hops join the fray mid palate while flashes of stone fruit hit. The finish is a touch boozy which adds to the overall dessert quality of this beer, port like. With the booze comes back the dark fruits. Depth.

The body on this beast of a beer is full and robust. The sweetness, luckily, vanishes fairly quickly and actually dries up in good time. Carbonation is soft and helps boost the velvety feel. This beer, while most safely served in small sample sizes, is so easy to consume I would consider it dangerous.

I thoroughly enjoy a good English style barleywine and Irish Walker is just that. The complexity is immense. The depth, staggering. The....Nevermind. It's good. Go get some!

Photo of tillmac62
3.97/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014 release. Pours a dark brown, just like a porter. Normal head volume and retention, excellent lacing. Dark fruit nose of plums, raisins and dates over a light note of alcohol. As it warms, molasses is evident along with a caramel note.. Light full body with a nice creamy texture. Slightly below normal carbonation, with a bit of effervescence in the finish, buttresses the body/texture. The flavor profile is intense, very complex and reasonably balanced. It begins with a burst of blended dark fruits that flow into a molasses sweetness. In the middle, the molasses fades into a caramel note that is rather sweet and covers the alcohol that lurks underneath. While reasonably covered, the alcohol still exhibits a slight astringency in the middle. In the finish, alcohol dominates and leaves that nice burn at the back of the throat. As it all fades away, it is a bit dry and prune notes are detected. I'm not a big barley wine fan, but this one hits the outstanding mark.

Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 Vintage.

Poured into an oversized wine glass a rich deep amber with a clingy one finger slight off white head that left multiple layers of broken lace.Deep fruit in the nose, along with brown sugar and sweet alcohol.Its a bit hot being that its this years vitage,the flavors are deep in fruity malt,mainly raisin with big brown sugar,alcohol dripped plums.Its hot, but its a damn good sipper,I plan on getting one to let sit for awhile.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #33 (Oct 2009):

Hazy amber glow with a short-stacked head on top. Rum raisins, Christmas pudding and brown bread in the nose. Actually, the aroma screams RAISINS!! Carbonation comes in low- key and smooth but fluffy enough to flaunt the creamy body. Not incredibly warming, a bit mellow for a Barleywine, but a few sips and the alcohol does settle in. Hops take a backseat to the let the malt work its magic as it dances from toasted bread to slightly roasted to grassy. Some timid esters--no doubt they are the way they are after a year's maturation. Speaking of age, there is a slight edge of oxidation that compliments more than anything else, though the chance to cellar this beer might be in question.

While on the shorter end of the spectrum with its less than domineering level of alcohol, it is a damn good English Barleywine.

Photo of marvin213
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A mahogany beer from Hickory, NC: how fitting for arguably THE place to buy real wood furniture in America! The dark brown mud initially has a frothy, beckoning head...but it rapidly mellows to a film.

Sweet toffee and molasses smack the nose. Fresh outta the fridge I might be missing something, but there's a caramel earthiness that's sweet like ice cream but tough like leather.

It's chewy. As is often the case for barleywines, you feel them more than you taste them. It's a malt-sided barleywine, so even new and fresh there's little bitterness. What can I say? I all too often want more hops! It's balanced, and its candied barleyness warms the gut. To its credit, the beer avoids "chalky" and "chemical" despite its big body and 10+ ABV. Tastes good and really feels even better. Overall, I'm pretty pleased!

Photo of merlin48
3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber pours a clear chestnut body with a skimpy beige head that quickly falls to a collar. A few spots of lace are left on the snifter.

Aroma is toffee and vague citrusy hops.

Medium body is smooth and coating, with a subtle carbonation.

Taste is well rounded. Toffee, molasses, and brown sugar maltiness dominates but is nicely edged by earthy and citrusy hops. A bit of alcohol warmth is present. Finishes with an earthy hop bitterness.

Enjoyable barleywine that might need a few months of age to tone down the heat.

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure why the 2009 and 2010 versions are listed under one rating. It seems like a 2-plus percentage jump in ABV would be enough to earn a split.

2010 version.

The beer pours a red color with a white head. The aroma is brown sugar, molasses and roasted malt. The flavor is brown sugar, alcohol, chocolate, molasses, maple syrup and vanilla. A very complex, but still drinkable barleywine. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of mjtiernan
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle poured into an oversized snifter

A: One finger head. Cloudy dark brown with a reddish hue. Speckled lacing dots the glass throughout.

S: Delicious caramel, caramelized brown sugar, vanilla, a little fig and some phenols. Really inviting.

T: The caramel and caramelized brown sugar follow through. Some dark fruit, and then floral hops and grassiness to add another dimension. Finishes with a pronounced, but not-too-bitter hop bite. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M: Full bodied. Drinkability is exceedingly high for a 10% barleywine. The hop bitterness in the finish thankfully helps to keep you in check so you don’t start slugging it down.

O: This is real good. Not overly complex, but crazy smooth and well balanced. The flavors work from start to finish with no single characteristic shoving its way to the forefront. I’d be happy to drink this again.

Photo of mondegreen
3.57/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Thirsty Monk South in Asheville.

Pours a cloudy brown with a thin off white head. Aroma of molasses sweetness and slight dark fruits. Taste follows with a light sweetness and moderate spice. Pretty true to style in the taste department, but the mouth is way thin. Finishes fairlyclean for a Barleywine. Overall, a good interpretation of an English Barleywine, but a little too light to be called great.

Photo of chinchill
3.38/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Large shared bottle pours dark reddish-brown with a decent head.
The aroma is somewhat boozy with a dark malt base and notes of dates and soft ripe fruits.
The flavor largely follows but has a sou note that seems out of place and a very bitter aspect to the aftertaste.
Smooth, full body with medium carbonation.

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Brodie - much obliged!

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a one-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with good amounts of toffee. Also present are very slight amounts of grainy toastiness and heavier amounts of earthy hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sticky caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by smooth toffee. Midway through the sip the sweetness fades a bit with the addition of small amounts of toasted flavors and earthy hops. The malt flavors carry through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without any problems and could have another.

Photo of lanamj
3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Duckworths park road. Poured into a pilsner glass.

A- Poured with about 1/2 inch white soapy head the dissipate to a thin layer of bubbles that hold nicely. Copper in color and very translucent.

S- Light aromas of toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, molasses, dark fruit and booze. Not to heavy on the nose kinda light.

T- Follows the nose but with the strength the nose was lacking.There is also a hop profile that I didn't pick up on the nose. Very nice.

M- Smooth but thin. I like the carbonation but being a fan of the, chewy, kinda flat barleywines this might be a wee aggressive. In saying that its true to the style of an english barleywine.

O- A great beer I find myself ordering again and again. Good job OHB. I have yet to enjoy aged I bet it will improve 10 fold.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, even soupy-looking rusted brown. Light tan head is thin and disappears to a skim quickly. Not a ton of lace.

Aroma is plum, mineral, dusty milk chocolate, slight bit of alcohol. Would have been nicer if the mineral didn't come in and take over as it does.

Notes of chocolate nibs, plum, fig, raisin, mineral/metal, soap, and toffee on the tongue. Hops show up more in the finish than anything, although they're not very bright -- maybe they're already starting to fade and change? (This bottle is from 2009.)

Nice silky smoothness the the texture, bubbles caress and tickle but are primarily soft, with a slight stickiness giving gravity to an otherwise velvety feel.

This is more like a Scotch Ale, but for a barleywine, it's just a "B." But B = Good! Too much of that metallic edge comes in, and probably too fruity-tart as well. But there's enough here to make it worth a try; there's a really good beer in here somewhere. And at 7.7%, it's not gonna totally lay you flat or anything.

Photo of tdm168
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into a snifter

A - very dark brownish amber with a thin lacing of off white head that fades quickly

S - figs, dates, plums, candy sugar, caramel

T - caramel, bread, candy sugar, figs, dates, raisins, plums, faint chocolate, alcohol, mild hop bitterness in the finish

M - full bodied, smooth, warm, well carbonated

This is a solid barleywine. It has good flavor and very good balance. I really enjoyed this beer.

Photo of dirtylou
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on-tap, Vintner's charlotte

appearance: served in an unbranded tulip, hazy dark amber body, moderate beige froth

smell; dark fruits, rum, spice, slightly aged hops, spicy malt

taste: This english barlewine is of considerably less bulk than many others of the style - the hops tasted a bit faded, caramel and orange peel, bready, rum, cinnamon. The pieces are there, but it doesnt come together in the end

mouthfeel: medium, sticky, boozier than the abv

drinkability: good

Photo of RickS95
3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage

It pours a rich looking brown, a bit on the darkish side, with some red notes. There is almost no head at all.

Smells a bit fruity, if you can get past the alcohol and the malt.

The taste is well balanced between high malt and alcohol, and the dark fruitiness. There's a bit of a red apple flavor that enhances the sweetness and overwhelms almost any notion of hops.

For a barleywine, this is as mild on the palate as I can recall. It starts off sweet from the fruit and that's the sensation until well into the finish with just slight heat from the alcohol. If you didn't know better, you'd not think of this as a barleywine.

This was much better than I expected. It's sweet, but not overly sweet, and that sweetness keeps any hoppiness or alcohol well in check. Would love to drink this again.

Photo of prototypic
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Many thanks to the might kkipple for the bottle!

2010 Release

Irish Walker pours a very deep red/copper color. It's a little hazy, but backlighting reveals really nice scarlet highlights. A light tan head forms on top. It's a finger or so deep, and recedes quickly. Lacing was sticky, but definitely light in volume. Not too surprising given the abv.

The nose is quite good. The malt base is slightly sweet smelling, and features mostly caramel malts, cocoa-esque chocolate, and toasted malts. It's a good mix. Dark fruit notes of raisin and plum are noted. Perhaps a little cherry. It definitely has a fruit cake vibe going. It features some light earthy and herbal notes on the secondary level. There are some hop remnants, but they've mostly faded. Alcohol is blended extremely well and is barely noticeable.

The flavor is good. It has a very solid malt base. Caramel, toffee, light cocoa, and toasted malt flavors are all in the mix. It's slightly sweet. Dark fruit flavors of raisin, fig, and plum add quality depth. Cherry is there, but it's very subtle. Light tobacco and leathery notes complement the other flavors well. It's a little earthy and grain late. There are some light, earthy hop flavors. I suspect they've faded to a large degree. It's not bitter at all. Alcohol is masked extremely well. My bottle indicates the abv is 9.8%. I would've never guessed anywhere near that. Finishes malty and herbal.

Irish Walker has body that's on the lighter side of medium. It honestly feels a little thin. Given the wealth of malt flavor, that's somewhat surprising. Carbonation is mid-range. Overall, it feels pretty good. Drinkability is good for such a big beer. The flavor is impressive, and it's deceptive as far as size goes.

Irish Walker is my first experience with Olde Hickory Brewery. I'm impressed. This is good stuff. It's a very balanced, approachable English Barleywine. The flavor is spot-on for the style. If you're into English Barleywines, you simply must check this one out. It's big on flavor, and hides its heft extremely well. This bomber is disappearing surprisingly fast. Easy recommendation. Thanks a ton, Dan!

Photo of russpowell
4.23/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on draft before & it was pretty good, will be interested to see how this compares...hate the wax sealing

2010 vintage pours chestnut with 2 fingers of mocha colored head. Sheets of horizontal lacing & above average head retention

S: Breadyness & dark fruit

T: Follows the nose, plus cakey notes along with treacle , dryness & even more figs & just a kiss of woody hops & booze up front. Figs, cherries dates, dryness & leafy hops, carob & wisp of booze as this warms, as well as short bread. Finishes figgy, dry, with a raisins & leafy hops & just a hint of plum brandy

MF: Pretty chewy with low carbonation & great balance, nice warming sensation overall

My bottle states a 9.8% ABV, this is well hidden. I like this better than the draft version I had last summer. This is a faithful take on the style that is working for me. I am digging the bigger bottled beers coming from NC hometown!

Photo of Kegatron
3.5/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz wax topped bomber into a couple of snifters. Thanks go to Barscream for sharing this one with me. 2009 Edition.

Pours a ruddy amber, with a thin frothy head of light mocha foam. This retains with some rich edges, leaving back a smattering of spotty lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma smells of brown sugars, toffee, herbal hops, a touch of more burnt feeling grains, and then alcohol notes of spice and warmth.

The taste is similar to the nose, with caramel, green citrus, grainy roast, brown sugars, and some additional herbal tones. This finishes dry, spicy and bitter. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with a firm creaminess on the tongue that then spreads out into the rest of the mouth. I’m getting a little sweet and spicy warmth here out of the body but its overall pretty smooth if maybe a little thin feeling.

This was decent. The complexity seemed to be there but the flavors themselves just didn’t leave much of a bold impression on me, which coupled with the thinner feel of the body to make for a moderately enjoyable but ultimately forgettable drinking experience. This one seemed liked it’s spent enough time in the bottle already.

Photo of thagr81us
4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage! Served from tap into a flared pilsner. Poured a deep red-orange with a half finger off-white (slight light brown hue) that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, bitter hop, sweet alcohol, and caramel. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark chocolate, sweet alcohol, caramel, and bitter hop. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. The flavor profile on this one was quite nice and complex. With this being a barleywine, it had all of the flavors one would expect to find in one without a doubt. The aroma was quite nice as well for the style. Definitely worth trying if you have the chance!

Photo of alleykatking
4.02/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle. Thanks to Lukafer for sharing this bottle. 2009 vintage I think.

A- Pours a deep brown color. One and a half finger light off white head shows low retention. Light spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. A nice looking barleywine but a step above average.

S- Light toffee malts and caramel malts make the backbone to this beer. Darker fruits mainly raisins pop through and take hold of the aroma. There is a light bready overtone to the overall nose. No real hops are detected except for very light hints of citrus in the tail end. Alcohol tingles the nose but is not over the top like some barleywines.

T- Darker fruits throw an assault on the tastebuds right off the bat. Caramel bready notes give this beer some deeper flavor from the fruits. Light toffee hints throughout the entire beer. Alcohol is low but from the middle of the beer on to the ending. The hops on the back end of the beer is light and citrusy. There is a dominate flavor throughout though of figs and raisins.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the beer and style. Medium high alcohol drying on the palate. Balanced flavors for the style with the malts and darker fruits being the main balancers. Clean tasting as no off flavors presented themselves. Darker fruits are left on the palate with a light alcohol burn in the aftertaste.

D- This beer was a nice drinker. Nothing over the top but a nice darker fruit malty balanced barleywine. A refreshing take on a English style Barleywine. Would love to try this again. Alcohol heat was low and balanced the beer well.

Photo of Treyliff
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage, poured into oversized wine glass

A- pours murky dark brown color with a small fizzy off-white head that reduces quickly, leaving nothing behind

S- lots of lush dark cherry aroma up front with some vinous notes along with rasin and red grape. Butterscotch and caramel candy, tons of sweet malt with notes of caramalized brown sugar and dark bread

T- lots of dark fruits up front with an emphasis on black cherry and fig, hints of chocolate and walnut, followed by a huge wave of melted caramel with brown sugar, some earthy herbal notes close it out with more caramel linger

M- medium viscous body with low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel and a thick finish that coats the mouth, light oxidization

O- over a year of cellering has produced a wonderful cherry/caramel forward sipper

Photo of Bung
3.62/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 version, which matches with the 7.7 version from the Amos & Howard brewpub.
Semi-cloudy dark amber pour, just a thin layer of light cream head.

Aroma, Brown sugary sweet malt. Toffee. Smells English to me.

Taste, very subdued from the aroma. Much more herbal, light citrus to go with the brown sugar and toffee. Not too much breadiness, not quite enough body here. Faint toast in the finish.

Medium body, low carbonation. Drinks pretty easy with its thinness. Alcohol hidden.

I almost wonder if this was just not quite "big" enough for cellering much more than a year or so.

Photo of akorsak
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to BillyRoss for this wax-covered bomber bottle. A big barleywine from Olde Hickory.

A: The ale is a tawny brown color, deeper and darker, with a thin off-white head. That head doesn't last long.

S: Big big big. The barleywine brings the thick, murky caramel malt aromas, concentrated with molasses in the undertow. Toffee comes along with the caramel, a chewy fullness.

T: The maltiness runs the show, practically no hop bitterness to get in the way of things. The caramel and toffee are there from sip one, full and dense with intensity. Rather sweet at times, the last few sips were a little too toffee-like. A good barleywine, albeit a little too sweet at times.

M: The mouthfeel is a malt assault, syrupy and rich. I recommend splitting it with someone (or two).

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Irish Walker from Olde Hickory Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.