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Irish Walker - Olde Hickory Brewery

Not Rated.
Irish WalkerIrish Walker

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

232 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 232
Reviews: 84
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 9.16%
Wants: 41
Gots: 87 | FT: 17
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: oberon on 12-25-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 232 | Reviews: 84 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brentk56
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
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

brentk56, May 07, 2011
Photo of andrewinski1
3.55/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Bendurgin for sharing! Poured into a tulip. Nice dark amber color. A reasonable head of about an eighth inch.

The aroma indicates plum and raisins. This has a very fruity aroma. The aroma is full of sweet malt.

The taste has a fruity flavor similar to the aroma. The hops are a bit more noticeable and give a bit of a minty flavor.

The body is middling and not particularly heavy. The carbonation is soft allowing the fruitiness to shine.

I like this a good deal. This has a nice full flavor to it. *edit: The ABV on our bottle says 9.6%, not 7.7%.

andrewinski1, Apr 25, 2011
Photo of Bendurgin
3.6/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this as an extra in a recent trade with Craytonic. Thanks! Poured intoa tulip. This one pours a nice vibrant amber color. It appears a dark brown in the class with a bubbly light tan head. Thin lace.

A little bit of cocoa in this. Mollasses, brown sugar and a dark fruit. A little bit of citrus hops round it out. The flavor is a bit toasty with some cocoa, citrus, toffee and licorice to this. This one is kind of on the hoppy side.

Good feel here. A big full body with good carbonation. A little bit on the sticky side. Overall not a bad barely wine. I don't really feel like this one is doing anything super special, but it's enjoyable and well made.

Bendurgin, Apr 25, 2011
Photo of Lukafer
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes:

2009 Vintage

Pours a dark amber with a fingers of tan head.  Smells are dark fruits, sweet malts and a little alcohol.  Tastes are dark fruits, malts, really smooth and really mellow.  Mouthfeel is good, drinkability is high. Overall a really good beer I'd like to try again.

Lukafer, Apr 15, 2011
Photo of MasterSki
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

MasterSki, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of wedge
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Dark clouded chestnut color with a small, bubbly, creamy head. Aromas of bread, dark fruit, raisins, toffee, booze, and slight oxidation. Sweet caramel, ripe fruit, rich bitter chocolate, molasses, tobacco, vanilla, and a surprise balancing hop note. All very smooth and tasty with far less alcohol presence. Slick, creamy mouthfeel. Goes down easy!

wedge, Feb 27, 2011
Photo of prototypic
4.18/5  rDev +6.4%
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!

prototypic, Feb 26, 2011
Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Barleywine tasting 2011, the final countdown. 2010 bottle.

A wonderful burnished red, browning sausages and velvet kisses. Smells of large vats of two row, burnt sugars and smooth kisses.

Taste is a bit thin, has almost a soda style carbonation with hints of lemon and butter. Cinnamon, earth, and caramel.

A nice brew, a solid entry in a day of silly.

olympuszymurgus, Feb 20, 2011
Photo of scifan
4.35/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a review of the 2010 version.
Poured into my Portsmouth ballon glass. Irish Walker is a nice ruby amber with a nice khaki head that leaves some lacing as it recedes into a wispy ring around the glass.
Smells slightly sweet with toffee and caramel dominating the nose. Has some nice dark fruit aromas as I'm picking up some fig and dates. A touch of tobacco and just a tinge of floral hops finish out the nose.
The first sip reveals tasty toffee and caramel flavors, toasted malts provide some contrast from the sweetness. Classis english hops provide a nice clean, dry finish and for such a high abv I can't detect any alcohol.
Has a great big mouthfeel and you can tell its definitely a "big" beer, but it never gets too thick or cloying and has a nice finish. I shouldn't have any problem finishing this 22. Olde Hickory is quickly becoming my favorite brewery in NC with awesome brews like this one.
P.S. I think it would be incredible bourbon barrel aged.

scifan, Feb 05, 2011
Photo of craytonic
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Duckworth's

Appearance: Rich vibrant ruby-amber with decent head and lacing.

Smell: Fruits (raisins, figs), brown sugar, honey, caramel, toffee

Taste: Loads of caramel and toffee with raisins, figs, brown sugar, cinnamon and honey. A bit nutty with some maple syrup in the background. Made me think of fruitcake for some reason

Mouthfeel: Creamy, could use a tad more carbonation.

Drinkability: Goes down easy enough, this is a good one that is headed in the right direction.

craytonic, Jan 07, 2011
Photo of blackie
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a: wine glass, deep copper-brown in color with something of a murky haze, compact head with some good retention

s: sweet aromas of toffee and heavily caramelized malts, backed with a woodsy citrus hop profile, sweet dried fruits, rustic and within good limits of balance, like

m: carbonation low and smooth, body full and slick

t: big malt-forward barleywine, sweet fruits, rich caramel and toffee flavors, mild alcohol, hops have a nice presence of earthy citrus, finishing with a balancing bitter

d: no problems, a nice barleywine from Hickory

bomber kindly split by a friend back in the 'ville

2012 bomber consumed 01.2014, straight from the cellar: Very rich, lovely beer. Heavy on sweet toffee and brown sugar concentrations with a touch of dark, figgy fruit leather belied by the deep brown hue of the beer. dates. caramel. sticky, sweet, nice alcohol. hops provide a lingering bitterness. very nice after one year. straightforward complexity and very tasty. old scores were 4s

blackie, Jan 05, 2011
Photo of GehenHerzog
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Vintner Wine Market (Charlotte, NC) poured into a Tulip glass

A- Pour a dark amber with a khaki head.

S- Dark fruits, spice and hops. Mainly dark fruits. dark fruits, rum, spice, slightly aged hops, spicy malt

T- Tastes of cherries and raisins . A little bit of hops in the backend.

M- Good carbonation and very smooth almost silky.

D- Not too boozy tasting at all for an almost 10%abv beer.

This is a solid beer that I would like to find a bottle of. I think it would be very good with some age on it. So if I can find another bottle I will cellar it and see how it is in a couple of years.

Another good beer from Olde Hickory, which is becoming one of my favorite "local" breweries.

GehenHerzog, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of dirtylou
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
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

dirtylou, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of alleykatking
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

alleykatking, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of wcudwight
4.43/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle. Dark brown with some amber and burgundy hues in it. Large lasting khaki colored head that holds it's shape until the glass is empty. This beer is pure eye-candy. Smells sweet. I can't quite put my finger on what kind of sweet. Just sweet. It's also very fruity. Cherries, Peaches, Fruit cocktail.
Wonderful malt heavy flavors of burnt toast, sweetness, cherries and peaches as in the nose. Chicory maybe. Hint of pine. With a bourbon finish. Very good beer. I wish I had bought more. Mouthfeel is smooth and full. Very easy to drink for a barleywine.

wcudwight, Dec 13, 2010
Photo of Mora2000
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Mora2000, Nov 27, 2010
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

BeerAdvocate, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of ktrillionaire
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to jahuneyc for the hook-up. 2010 vintage, gold wax.

A - Deep maple-brown, translucent, somewhat slight head of soapy tan bubbles

S - At first I get some charred caramel and herbal-catty hop, then strudel-like impressions. Really, this smells a lot like an Old Ale.

T - The taste is really just like an American Old Ale (i.e. fresh GD Hibernation or Bell's Third Coast...) I get a lot of charred sugar, herbal hoppiness, and oxidation. There is also a bitter astringency that reminds me of the digestif Fernet-Branca, and it lingers extensively on the finish.

M - Thinner, for a Barleywine, though this is very much akin to an Old Ale (as oft-noted by yours truly) and as such it is very reasonable in feel.

D - This kind of grew on me after a bit. I was not a huge fan at first, but I re-capped the brew and had several pours over a two-day period and found it to be quite nice after a while.

ktrillionaire, Nov 15, 2010
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.

cpetrone84, Oct 30, 2010
Photo of SFLpunk
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. 9.8% ABV. Purchased at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville, NC. $7 and change.

Appearance: Pours really dark brown/red with very thin off-white head.

Nose: Sticky sweet and somewhat smoky in a wet charred wood. Lovely old wood, tanned leather, and cream.

Palate: Medium bodied and very earthy. Leathery fruit, prunes, dried figs, dates, and other dried berries. Malt is darkly roasted and I wouldn't be surprised to find some black patent in there, even just a small amount. Hops play a supporting role and some citrus/pine is sneaking through but that will fade soon. The main flavors are of rough-cut pine boards, cherries, and dark amber malt.

Notes: An interesting twist on the barley-wine style and unique for sure. It's a little cloying, though. Despite the dark chewy flavors there is a certain "lifted" quality to the beer which is great and helps keep it from being totally syrupy.

SFLpunk, Oct 26, 2010
Photo of Crittervision
3.5/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

vintage 2009, consumed 3-12-10

opaque brown, ruby edges, a wonderful head with fluffy, yellowy bubbles.

aroma is of raisins, fig newtons, ultra sweet, delectable, and reminiscent of these raisin filled cake bars that used to be ever-present in my parents pantry when i was younger.

tastes of raisins, minerals, celery, smoky, with a vinous touch.

mouthfeel is a bit powdery and a bit watery. i definitely expected more from the smell.

this one turns into a sipper rather quickly, and not because of a heavy body or high alcohol content.

Crittervision, Oct 05, 2010
Photo of atsprings
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 waxed bottle into a Hopus glass pours a crisp brown with a thin khaki head that diminishes to a ring and leaves slight lacing on the glass. Aroma is loads of burnt caramel, leather, dried fruits and a bit of charred wood. The taste is loads of dried fruits with some molasses and an interesting earthy hop finish. The beer is a bit on the heavy side, but smoother than I expected for a young 9.8% Barleywine. This is certainly an enjoyable beer, one I would love to pick up another bottle of for the cellar.

atsprings, Sep 16, 2010
Photo of steve8robin
4.28/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Extra in a trade. 22oz bomber 2010 vintage...

A: Super deep blood red that is hard to see all the way through because it's so dark. 1 inch tan head that fades at a decent pace. Very good.

S: I get a blend of earthy hops and some sugary dark fruits. Some booziness on the backend with some awesome sugary malts, raisin, caramel, and hints of cherries blended in. Very good.

T: This kind of tastes like a chocolate covered cherry. I get, obviously, a sugary chocolate and sweet cherry upfront blended with some hints of dry earthy hops. Hints of raisin and raspberry on the backend. Good.

M: A very good balance of carbonation and flavor. Very good.

D: This goes down super easy. Great brew.

This one kinf of surprised me. I've only tried the Imperial Stout from Olde Hickory and that was phenomenal. Now I try this one, which is not rated amazingly on BA, but this brew is really awesome. Definitely give this a try if you like big beers and barleywines. I think I want to try some more brews from OH now.

steve8robin, Sep 05, 2010
Photo of sitarist
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage

Pours a deep chestnut color...you cant see through it...1 finger of off white head falls to a ring with spots of lacing on the glass.

I smell toffee and sweet fruits...there is also a musty odor.

I taste toffee, burnt caramel, nutmeg, dates, and pecans. Both the flavor and aroma remind me of pecan sticky buns.

Heavy but not too heavy, sticky, and dry.

It is one to sip.

sitarist, Aug 27, 2010
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.

glid02, Aug 08, 2010
Irish Walker from Olde Hickory Brewery
88 out of 100 based on 232 ratings.