Irish Walker - Olde Hickory Brewery

Not Rated.
Irish WalkerIrish Walker

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BA SCORE
88
very good

90 Reviews
THE BROS
94
outstanding

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Reviews: 90
Hads: 297
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 4.07%
Wants: 42
Gots: 99 | FT: 16
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 90 | Hads: 297
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.64/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I brought this one to share at jmgrub’s tasting.

Thanks to Jzmhector for sending me this one!

Pours a clear brown with a foamy tan head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, molasses, and citrus zest. Taste is of malt, citrus zest, and slight brown sugar and molasses flavors. There is a medium sort of medicinal bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine but the bitterness is a bit weird on this one. (620 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
3.3/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to a generous BA for providing this growler at the Friday night pre-BA Sexual Chocolate tasting. Served in a Foothills sampler glass.

Pours dark brown with a short tan head that quickly recedes to a thin collar. The nose brings some light whiskey character along with caramel and a bit of booze. Nothing much else than that. This is especially apparent in the flavor, which unfortunately tastes mostly like watered-down whiskey and doesn't have malt or other backing. Light to medium body without too much booze, which is fairly impressive. Decent enough overall, but I'd rather stick with some of their other beers. (624 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.87/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2010 Bottling

Appearance: Pours a cola color with a smidge of a head that fades away altogether too quickly though it does leave a splendid array of viscous dots

Smell: Fruity aroma, with some citrus as well as apple, pear and raisin elements

Taste: Very different malt character, with a ton of fruit up front; quite a kitchen sink of citrus, light fruits and dark fruits, with a nutty, caramel character underneath; after the swallow, a bit of spearmint enters the picture and lingers into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with low to moderate carbonation; surprisingly thin for the ABV

Overall: I enjoyed this but am not quite sure what to make of it; perhaps a year has changed its character but this is the fruitiest barleywine I have ever encountered

Discovered the 2009 in my cellar the next day, so here is the comparison:

Appearance: Much better head retention than the 2010; more lacing as well 4.0

Smell: Now there is the malt that was missing in the 2010; the fruitiness is there also, but it is far better balanced 4.5

Taste: Very similar to the 2010 but, as with the aroma, there is a better balance to the caramel malt 4.0

Mouthfeel: Feels more like a barleywine though the carbonation is a bit too prickly 3.5

Overall: So, a year older and with a 2% lower ABV, the 2009 is clearly the better beer 4.0 (1,329 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.37/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

dark brown. Very thick looking on the pour with a minimum amount of head coming up through it. A bout a half inch of off white foam rose up through it

Hints of raisins and figs, light earthy, roasted malts and a good touch of alcohol. Very complex nose, and unique for the style.
Rich tastes of oak and vanilla, hints of roasted malts and caramel. Lots of bourbon like flavors swirling around. Very tight and nicely done. A bit of alcohol, just enough to thicken it up a bit. A really nice and very full barley wine. Finish was strong, with a healthy dose of bourbon and spice lingering in the mouth for what seemed like forever. (631 characters)

Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev 0%
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. (444 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.86/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Release.

Appearance: Pours a deep, deep, dark mahogany body with a goodly foamy, yellow-beige head.

Smell: Sweetish scent of toasted sugars, toasted barley, and a mix of dark fruits and berries with an underlying note of sturdy English hops.

Taste: Commences with a big sweetness, though not overly sweet, and with a toasted maltiness, faintly nutty, and, in the distance, a very, very small hint of roast. Splash of liquor. Dark fruits. Spicy, earthy hops with ample bitterness. Bittersweet on the drying, warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel.

Overall: This one kinda makes me think of an Imperial Irish Red Ale, though maybe I'm taking too much away from the word "Irish". Decent flavor, though the appearance and texture were quite nice. (790 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
3.5/5  rDev -10.9%
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. (1,172 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to cwguy5 for this one.

Very light fizzy head, touch of lacing, mostly clear dark molasses ruby brown color.

Nose tons of dark malts and fruits, aged brown malts, caramel, toffee, molasses, etc. touch of oak and a bit of light whisky. Fruit bring fig, date, brandy soaked raisin with brown sugar, hint of creamy malt.

Taste starts rich and lush, creamy darker malts, brown malts with tons of brown sugar and molasses, caramel, toffee, chewy granola bar. Then fruit with more brandy soaked raisin, plum, fig, date, soft aged malts. Hint of a whisky flavor. Towards the end brings a light earthy hops. Finishes semi sweet with tons more juicy fruits and dark malts and sweets, still decent sweetness with a nice spicy hop bitterness.

Mouth is a bit bigger bodied, decent carb, hint of warming booze.

Overall very nice, great fruits, hint of whisky and barrel, good sweetness and malts, balanced fairly well. (917 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
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! (905 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of the infamous Jason Allen. I'm thinking this was the 2010 vintage based on my memory of the label. Served in a Stone IRS tulip.

A - Quick-dissolving dime of foam that settles to a thin ring and a few wisps, leaving tiny spots of lace. Transparent blood red body.

S - Burnt sugars, toffee, dark fruits, cotton candy, light chocolate, toasted grains, and a touch of citrus hop aroma.

T - Taste is heavy on sugars (brown sugar, caramel) along with candied dark fruits. There's some roasted malt that brings balance and keeps things from being cloying. Hops impart light bitterness to the finish as well. Well-hidden alcohol (this batch was 9.8%) makes this very easy drinking for the style.

M - Slightly overcarbonated for a barleywine, but otherwise quite nice. Full smooth body with minimal warmth.

D - This is quite a good barleywine. If I were feeling ambitious I could probably tackle a bomber on my own. Olde Hickory, please put this in a (PvW?) bourbon barrel as it'd be a big hit. (1,008 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 06/25/11 notes. Shared by nmann08 at a recent tasting I believe; thanks Nate. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into my Bruery tulip. 2010 vintage.

a - Pours a hazy, dark brown color with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Very light spotty lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of caramel malts, toffee, light hops, toasted malts, oak, vanill, and bready malts. Lots of malts, especially caramel.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, vanilla, oak, toffee, and bready malts. Again a lot of malts, but the vanilla is very nice in the taste.

m - Medium body and light carbonation. Very smooth and creamy, and very easy to drink.

o - Overall I thought this was a really good barleywine and something I would love to have again sometime. Lots of caramel and vanilla, which are some of my favorite characteristics. (825 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.38/5  rDev -14%
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. (315 characters)

Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
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. (434 characters)

Photo of tdm168
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
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. (430 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.74/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured a cola brown color with a tan cap which fades leaving whispy bubbles and light lacing clinging to the edge of the glass

S: Sweet caramel meets toffee meets dark fruits. Rather straightforward and simplistic,l common for the style.

T: Initial but subtle booze sting coupled with toffee, caramel and underlying dark fruits plus residual sugary sweetness. A bit high on carbonation upfront. It finishes smooth, sweet, near decadence and lightly sticky

M: Medium to big bodied but I felt it need a bit more in the middle to make it fuller, well rounded and decadent

O: Good example of the style. (606 characters)

Photo of akorsak
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
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). (778 characters)

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +1.8%
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. (802 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
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 (476 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a reddish copper with two finger head and lace ring down glass. Boozy, alkie aroma with bourbon, wood, hint of vanilla, caramel/sugary goodiness and touches of dark fruits (mostly figs and toffee). Fuller bodied, chewey, pronounced alcohol bite with a touch of burn on backend, this is a slow sipper b/c it will hit you and hit hard. That being said, well balanced, not overpowering in any sense, love the dark fruit and sweetness that balances with the alcohol and wood for a quality barley wine. Would love to see how this ages so I guess I'm buying another bottle. (574 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
3/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-pours a dark mahogony brown with ruby edges and a tan creamy head.

S-the nose has lots of caramel, hints of chocolate malt and slightly burnt toasted malts, notes of citrus hops in the back.

T-big time caramel and chocolate malt, hints of meat, slightly ashy, prunes, raisins with a decent bit of hop presence in the back, juicy grapefuit and citrus. So new but seems a little oxidized in the flavor.

M-medium body, slightly thin, creamy and soft with lower carb but enough to hold.

D-messy and slightly oxidized already, very singular with a dirty malt overload. not offensive but certainly not good. (607 characters)

Photo of thagr81us
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
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! (746 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.92/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to nc41 for a box overflowing with Olde Hickory goodness, a brewery I've grown rather fond of. 22 oz. bottle with 2012 stamped into the green wax.

Before I get to the pour, I had to get out the flamethrower; another brewery that waxes like it's sealing a bank vault. The brew is very dark for a barleywine, only a few strokes of red shy of black. Nose is sweet malts & drip-thick molasses. I swear I smell a sidebar of scotch, too. Repeatedly. Huh. Whatever, it's awful nice.

Irish Walker might be trying to invent a new style, 'cause this ain't my great-grandmother's barleywine. All sorts of things through the grater: right off the bat is a figginess that's pleasantly sprinkled with sugar, no bite, with an echo of darker fruits. More pleasant molasses, & another swig of scotch-like taste - which really sticks to the teeth. Herbs on the backside, pounded with everything else, help give this a unique profile. Stupid drinkable.

Mucho points for the weirding, I've never had a barleywine like this before, & it's felony drinkable with that 10% ABV. Another winner from Olde Hickory, this is a very good beer. (1,126 characters)

Photo of cosmicevan
4.36/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage that i picked up last year when i was in NC (or maybe i picked it up longer ago?) none-the-less, enjoyed from an olde hickory half pint taster glass thingie.

a - brew poured a stunning ruby brown with crimson highlights. to the light you can somewhat see through it...massive cream colored head that hung out for ages and coated the glass as it vanished. pretty amazing looking.

s - nose is amazing. nougat, toffee, caramel...lush english barleywine. butterscotch. just spot on for what i like. really rich and thick with tons of candy.

t - taste matches the nose, just fantastic. really rich and thick and lush toffee butterscotch. caramel, nougat...you get the point. great barleywine.

m - fairly chewy and thick...a bit boozy on the finish.

o - overall, really great english barleywine. this sort of tows the line of old ale...really what i love about the english barleywine style. this is a keeper...would definitely have again. (950 characters)

Photo of gford217
3.72/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, 2012 vintage.

Pours deep mahnogany in the glass that shows through as a cleat copper when held up to light. There's a small fizzy tan head that doesn't stick around long.

Aroma is sugary sweet with caramalized sugar, toffee, and some overripe dark fruits.

Taste has a slight bitterness up front with at least a hint of hops which is more than I got in the nose. It's still mostly about the caramelized sugars and malt sweetness with light vanilla and toffee notes.

Mouthfeel is slick and smooth with low carbonation and little bitterness. It's probably a tad lighter bodied than most in the style.

A solid if unspectacular barleywine with little complexity but a nice sweet body with some fruity notes. (720 characters)

Photo of Bung
3.62/5  rDev -7.9%
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. (583 characters)

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Irish Walker from Olde Hickory Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 90 ratings.