Hellbender Barleywine
Pisgah Brewing Co.

Hellbender BarleywineHellbender Barleywine
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Style:
British Barleywine
Ranked #93
ABV:
9.8%
Score:
89
Ranked #8,275
Avg:
4.01 | pDev: 7.48%
Reviews:
62
Ratings:
107
From:
Pisgah Brewing Co.
 
North Carolina, United States
Avail:
Rotating
Wants
  90
Gots
  7
SCORE
89
Very Good
Hellbender BarleywineHellbender Barleywine
Notes:
Reviews: 62 | Ratings: 107 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Metalmonk:
Photo of Metalmonk
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dirty-white head, not huge but lasts a good while. Color of the liquid is reddish copper, hazy and almost opaque, although a shadowy hand can be seen through it when held to light.

Huge candy-like syrupy malts dominate the aroma. A little black tea, a lot of toffee and caramel, dabs of vanilla and sherry. Wowza.

Flavor brings all of that in, minus the black tea and adding brown sugar (and wouldn't you know: this is actually brewed with brown sugar). Citrus fruits come in, although they're polite and well-integrated. Toffee and caramel are big here, and the vanilla twists around something that reminds of sweet cherries, sour cherries and strawberry Twizzlers (hmm). Something like cinnamon-flavored ice cream comes in, emphasis on the "cream," and that leads me to thinking "deep fried ice cream." Would be an amazing thing to pair Hellbender with, anyway. Candy-like presence remains on the tongue, but never gets too sweet. Likewise, alcohol remains tempered and merely one component of the flavor (the label states both 9.8% and 10.2% as the ABV...either way, it's big). Seems this is one of few barleywines that is not only complex, but subtle...doesn't hammer you over the head with its bigness. Just catches up with you, if you're not careful.

Smooth feel, although a tinglier ride than expected thanks to ample carbonation. It's not bothersome or even unlikable, and it keeps the round, sticky, syrupy body in check.

Interesting, very drinkable, a little different from the norm. And this beer is a total win-win...Pisgah donates a portion of sales to Wild South, a non-profit that works to save fragile/endangered ecosystems (win), and it tastes freaking fantastic (the other win).

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More User Reviews:
Photo of stakem
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bomber poured into a teku. The brew appears a clear mahogany color with really no head formation, just a couple large bubbles hang on the surface. A swirl produces of legs of alcohol clinging to the glass.

The aroma is malty sweet with caramel/molasses before getting fruity in nature from a combination of hops and alcohol. A bit of herbal and earthy feel towards the back of the nose.

The taste is sweet with a grainy aspect like biscuit malt. Contrasting that sweetness is an earthy herbal hop inclusion. It is fruity almost like apple and raison mixing with a mild oxidation aspect towards the finish.

This is a medium bodied brew with a low level of carbonation. It has a creeping alcohol warmth and overall is well made. Not the best nor worst barleywine ive had. Worth trying if you get the chance.

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Photo of mikeincharleston
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of GeezLynn
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle (22oz) purchased from City Beverage (Raleigh) .

A: Body is light brown and shows a pretty strawberry hue under the light. Produces a scant white head with decent retention.
S: Caramel, brown sugar, toffee. Also a bit buttery and likely to be very sweet – not expecting much in the way of hops or alcohol at this age.
T: Has become quite fruity at this point – dates, marmalade, lots of brown sugar and a bit of stale bread. Surprisingly, still enough bitterness to cut the sweetness. Finishes with raisin bread, vanilla, pine needle bitterness and has hung onto a slight ethanol bite.
M: Medium body – a bit tannic and dry, and surprisingly, a decent amount of carbonation.

Figured it was getting risky to ignore this any longer, but if you enjoy smooth/sweet aged barleywines, this could have gone longer. Didn’t notice much in the way of oxidation and the carbonation was still adequate. Nice beer.

 922 characters

Photo of twowheelssoar
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of brystmar
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of Drknight
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of dougofthefuture
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mikesgroove for the great extra. I have heard of Pisgah, but this will be the first beer of theirs I have a chance to try... poured into my tulip after warming from fridge temp for about 25 minutes. 2009 22 oz bottle.

A - Just a 1/2 finger head here. Nice tiny bubble lacing, and a great ruby red color. High clarity.

S - Smells great - caramel, warm brandy-like alcohol, toffee. Low hop presence - I would have guessed English Barleywine, but what do I know?

T&M - There is a lot of sweetness here, but it isn't overdone. A nice yeasty spice is here too, which works well in absence of hops. Mouthfeel is creamy, but finishes a little light. There is a strange harshness to the aftertaste as well. I can't pin it, but perhaps age would mellow this out a bit...

D - About right for what it is. I'm splitting this bottle and happy with my 11 oz. A pretty good BW, and I'm glad to have had a chance to try it!

 921 characters

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of steve8robin
3.21/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got this as an extra in a trade...

A: A deep ruby red with a thick off-white head that slowly fades.

S: Not a big scent off of this one. Bitter hops upfront with a sweetness in the middle.

T: A bit too hoppy for me. Not much else going on.

M: Not too much going on here.

D: Goes down good. Decent smoothness.

All in all, this is an ok brew. Not life-altering, but good. Try once, but not worth hunting down.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.49/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big thanks to Bobby8405 for sharing this. Very surprised at how great it tastes, despite the less-than-stellar score.

A - Caramel-brown hue, wispy head.

S - Caramel, toffee, hop, and biscuit are all rip-roaring fantastic. This is what a Barleywine is supposed to be.

T - Damn. The awesomeness continues. Great taste, it takes the elements of the nose and adds a creamy vanilla element that is sublimely balancing like the proverbial icing on the cake.

M - Silky and luxurious. Perhaps could use some balancing vigor.

D - Glad I have another one of these tucked away.

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Photo of aasher
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of IrishColonial
3.25/5  rDev -19%

Photo of MacQ32
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of thagr81us
4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had during an afternoon ticking session at Pisgah! Served from tap into a shaker pint. Poured red-orange with a one finger bone white head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, citrus, and citrus hop. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, citrus, and citrus hop. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good Barleywine. Very nice aroma and flavor going on here. The citrus aspect I got in this one really made the beer for me. Even at 9.8% there was no sign of the alcohol in this one at for me. This one is definitely worth trying without a doubt!

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Photo of Wamba
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Photo of bcostner1
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

Photo of Brewsed
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of duff247
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of mc4z
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of thehooksman
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Beautifully red and clear, no head to speak of though.

Aroma: For me, this was the best part. Lots of aromas of dark fruit and molasses.

Flavor: Begins with lots of sweet malt up front (very sweet), but a surprising bitter hop presence quickly follows that is not at all detected in the nose. Upon reading this seems to be expected of an English Barleywine. Also contributing to the finishing bitterness is the alcohol content.

Mouthfeel: Full body, but not too thick. Smooth. Some alcohol heat.

I've had barleywines in the past and decided they weren't really my thing. I chose this one to give the style another go and it's definitely a winner. Good for sipping and savoring.

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Photo of pathman
4/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of YobroitsJoe
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Hellbender Barleywine from Pisgah Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 107 ratings