Thor's Hammer Barley Wine | Central City Brewers + Distillers

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Thor's Hammer Barley WineThor's Hammer Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Central City Brewers + Distillers
British Columbia, Canada

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by astout on 09-26-2009

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Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 135
Photo of Jeffo
3.39/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Rutager last summer. Cheers dude!

From a bomber into a snifter
Vintage: 2011
Had this one and the bourbon barrel version together.

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, looser, fizzy, off-white head with lousy retention. Head quickly fades to a ring only. Mahogany red in color, clear, with no carbonation evident. A light ring remains but no real lacing.

SMELL: Caramel malts with lots of fruity aromas. Dried fruits, red fruits, berries, raspberries, toffee aromas and spicy alcohol on the nose. Complex and interesting.

TASTE: Boozy for sure. Caramel and toffee sweetness up front, with lots of dried and red fruits and spicy alcohol as well. Big and boozy finish of raspberries, more dried fruits, toffee sweetness, brown sugar and lots of spicy alcohol. Minimal bitterness and very sweet and boozy.

PALATE: Medium body and slightly higher levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down okay with a scratch at the swallow and finishes somewhat sticky on the palate. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: Boozy and overly sweet. That said, there are lots of interesting and complex sweet flavors for sure, but some more bitterness as balance would make this more enjoyable to drink. In other words, the malt bill works well, but the hops could be re-worked a little. Still, a good beer that I was glad to try, though I would definitely take the barrel aged version of this nine times out of ten.

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Photo of DrSpaceman
3.41/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours cloudy amber, little to no head. Aroma is caramel malts, dried fruits, and tobacco. Taste is dark malt, caramel, and figs with slight alcohol heat. Body is a bit thin, could definitely use some aging.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.68/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a cloudy copper color ale with a medium size foamy head with medium retention with minimal lacing. Aroma consists of sweet caramelized malt with grainy cereal notes and some warming alcohol notes. Taste is dominated by sweet caramelized malt with some grainy cereal notes and a quite a bit of residual sugar. Body is quite full with good carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Quite enjoyable but I could have done without the light grainy cereal notes.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz. bottle served in a tulip. Pours a dull mahogany hue with a hazy clarity and a sudsy head that immediately disperses into a tight ring around the shoulders. Nose expresses ethanol, wood and prunes with vinous notes on the end. Taste isn't too bad - a bit dull, but less caustic than suggested by the nose with the addition of burnt sugar notes which follow the vinous/acidic figgy/pruney character. Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style. Light-medium in body with a slight acidity and an almost still carbonation. Finishes with just a kiss of residual heat. Overall, I have to say that I did enjoy this beer. It doesn't have the punch in the face flavor that a JW Lees puts out, but it's drinkable without being cloying while still getting it's point across. Alcohol is extremely well-hidden as well. Not a beer I would recommend cellaring - I could see this one oxidizing fairly quickly.

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Photo of Mlkluther
3.74/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This barley wine is reminiscent of a Trappist Quadrupel. Dark stone fruit flavours with a sweetness in the finish. The boozieness of the beer come through but it is not offensive.

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Photo of astout
3.84/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this today at Central City brew pub along with a tasting flight of some of their other stuff. I had absolutely no idea they even made a barley wine and it was not advertised, I asked the server and she said they still had a little bit left from their last and only brewing in february. She was not sure but thought that Gary would be brewing some up again this winter. Please note that this was on tap and months old when considering my review.

Pours a dark rich brown colour with a slight, very slight hazyness and zero carbonation or head.

Smell's of a combination of brown butter and toffee, very sweet and warming aroma with a slight alcohol small in the background.

On the palate it starts of with the sweet toffee and butter notes that dominate the nose but has a sneaky amount of bitter hop presence that comes in mid palate and lingers on the finish. Not an overly citric or piney hop flavour just a faint amount of spice and good bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the beer otherwise.

Has a rich buttery mouthfeel with no carbonation and good weight. Carries the acohol fairly well but you are still aware it is there especially in the finish.

Fairly drinkable barley wine but it really made me wonder two things; 1. what would this have been like 6 months ago? and 2. What sorts of fantastic things could happen if only these guys had a bottling line (ditto for their IIPA and Raspberry Wheat)

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.84/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bomber poured into a snifter. 2013 vintage. A muddy dark brown color with five towering fingers of frothy beige foam, recalls tan dish suds or sponge toffee with bigger bubbles. Leaves a slick buttery lacing on the glass.

Assertive aroma that hits sweet, nutty, vinous, and boozy domains ... Whiskey barrel, plum/prune, raisin, burnt sugar, brown apples, hard biscuits, dry nuts. The alcohol is not concealed here. Flavor is a curious combination of nutty, woody, and tart/astringent vinous notes. Huge walnut flavor as advertised along with concentrated prunes, figs, apples, and pears. A little molasses and vanilla. Quite dry and tannic yet thick and reasonably chewy. Robust booze on the palate. Low key carbonation. Finishes semi-dry, with lingering burnt sugar and dark sour fruit notes.

I don't know ... Has ample depth of character yet not my favorite barleywine. Dare I say that this is overly nutty and sour, which produces a bit of a clash. YMMV.

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Photo of Derek
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Hazy, deep amber, thin ring of retention, leaves a little leg.

S: Plenty of alcohol in the aroma, dark fruit, toffee, candied pineapple, vanilla and a hint of spice.

T: Alcohol is up front, golden raisins, dates, toffee, light caramel, marmalade, good bitterness, warming alcohol.

M: Well-attenuated, fairly full body has a drying alcohol finish.

D: A bit of a brute. I'd love to see this in a bottle, as it would surely benefit with age.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.99/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the ottawa lcbo for $10. Maybe a touch too much of a burnt sugar taste and a little too sweet, but the alcohol is very well hidden and it's a solid Barleywine.

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Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tan head. Caramel ruby color.

Traditional bwine flavors. Caramel, toffee, and chocolate. Green and hoppy with some bitterness.

Medium bodied.

Decent bwine. Nothing crazy, but spot on for not being BA.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this one had gold wax on it. not sure if that is indicative of barrel ageing or not, or whether all of these are in fact barrel aged. its cool beer, english in nature, but still spicy and chunky and bitter and raw and american in some ways. i suppose a good mix of both styles. aside from looking flat, it looks good. a little fluff on the sides, a murky red amber beer, hazy, strong. it smells strong too, boozy and sweet, but with a sturdy english grain base and quite a bit of hops. the flavor is just like the nose, i do get some oak and extra vanilla booze, i guess it might as well have been pushed through a barrel, it has all the right characteristics for that. i somehow expected this to be an imperial stout, maybe the name, maybe the label, but its definitely a barleywine. i was misinformed there. badly really, but the beer is excellent, constantly improving as it warms up. a little oxidation on it even though this isnt old, but its sort of flattering to the malt profile in this instance. i havent liked most of the beers from these guys very much, but this is a tasty offering, a step in the right direction for sure. something i think is fairly priced and a suitable fall brew for a chilly night. packaging looks great too. are they all aged in barrels or are there two different beers?

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This was a good bourbon barrel barleywine, English-style, but it was not elite. Dead flat in the glass, cola-brown color. Aromas of bourbon and wet, overripe fruits waft up. Pours like liquid caramel. Tastes of booze and dark, moldy fruit; vanilla and wood weave throughout; lighter airs of bourbon whiskey touch the roof of the mouth; medium-weight, and smooth, with some flash of heat up front, but muted after that first sip. Enjoyable drinking - I mean, who complains about a bourbon barrel barley wine, right? At about $12 though, this is something to get your hands on. Cheers.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.07/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber poured into a tulip.

Caramel color on the pour. Blonde hues. Oatmeal head and lace. Film remains almost throughout as I drink the brew. 4.25

Smell is a bit on the soy sauce tip but also caramel, faint port wine, raisin and dark fruit. 3.5

Taste is a major step up. Caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit. Rich and sweet in flavor. Delicious. 4.25

A light spicy hop bite, but otherwise sweet, rich, full in body. Incredibly easy to drink. 4.25

2 years (this was from May 2014) did this incredibly well. Excellent.

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Photo of andrenaline
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Been sitting on this for a couple years now. Pours like flat cola, no head, nothing at all. Nose is loaded with bourbon, oak, raisins, caramel and leafy green hops. Loads of flavour, heavy bourbon, candied fruit, toffee and caramel, hints of raisins and bitter hops. There was nearly no carbonation, so almost flat body, syrupy and finished wet. An intensely flavourful brew, but the lack of carbonation really was a drawback. Luckily every other aspect of it made up for it's weakness.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.08/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a hazy rust color orange with a tan head that was creamy but fell fast. Malty nose with a strong scent of nuts, mild dark fruits and some tantalizing citrus form american hops. Reminds me of nougat. Nutty, mild alcohol presence in the finihs as a freindly warming. Spicy peppery hops are the surprise in this one. Citric and a bit tangy they really show off the nuttiness of this beer. They also keep the finish from becoming too syrupy. The scent of bourbon and wood on this one i sso well integrated that it is not that strong at first. You only start to notice the wood as a light airy feeling at first then you can taste a bit of it with some very flowery bourbon. The bourbon is not too strong either.

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Photo of spree92
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a 10oz. goblet at room temp. A cloudy, deep red that had a small head. Heavy alcohol aroma with belgian yeast, dried fruit and caramel. The warmth of the alcohol was very strong in the taste. There was also the dryness of the chewy yeast.
A very heavy beer, the high% was a bit to prolific for my taste, but perfect for a nice barleywine.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.14/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

650ml, gold wax sealed bottle, the 2014 vintage. We've had the barrel-aged version in Alberta for a while now, but not this, no, not this. Matured for a whole year in the bottle, how nice of them.

This beer pours a hazy, murky, and dark red-brick brown colour, with one flabby finger of somewhat puffy, loosely foamy, and certainly bubbly beige head, which leaves a bit of heavy summertime windshield bug splatter lace around the glass as things quite slowly sink away.

It smells of bready and doughy caramel malt, toffee pudding, sauced-up black orchard fruit, reduced brown sugar syrup, a bit o' that under the basement stairs in your folks' old house thing, a touch of edgy yeast, herbal and leafy hops, and a hovering, ready to pounce phenolic booziness. The taste is rather sweet caramel/toffee/treacle malt, more baked demerara sugar, orange juice concentrate, pithy red grapefruit, macerated prunes, chocolate-covered cherries, a slightly yeasty mustiness, some strange earthy nuts, and more herbal and leafy green hoppiness, with that lurking alcohol a brick wrapped in old socks.

The carbonation is fairly subdued in its seemingly put-upon frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight, and mostly smooth, but for that weirdly bitter herbal and musty character lounging about like its Dad owns the place. It finishes sweet, but at least in a more or less moderated sense - all that caramel and friends facing some duly lingering hoppy, musty, and dry martini offsets.

Well, Thor's Hammer is indeed one solid-ass thwack across the palate - lots of robust and complex flavours abounding, and with a morphing 23-proof alcohol measure that seems more in league with Loki. Cool to finally be able to try, and on an appropriately cold and drink yer sorrows away sort of evening at that. Skål!

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Photo of TheBierdimpfe
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Almost opaque ruby color, weak 2 finger head, good legs. Flavors of dark berries, cherries, walnuts, grapes, plum, molasses, toffee, herbal spices. Thick desert like sugary feel. Medium strength finish, well rounded, thick fruity syrupy feel, with an oaky end. Overall high quality stuff. Delicious fruity flavors, a little earthy, very vinous and alcoholic. Really a blast to drink, nicely balanced, well intensified, great appetizer.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.16/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Chris for this bottle. 2011 Vintage.
Poured in to snifter.

A - Swampy ruby/brown colour with half a finger of khaki coloured head.

S - Sweet caramel, toffee, raisins and some fruity notes.

T - Sweet and dry with dark caramel, brown sugar, dried fruit, raisins and figs. A very unique and interesting barleywine profile.

M - Medium body. Silky. Light carbonation.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

650 ml bomber served fairly cold into a tulip. purchased the 2015 vintage bottle from the LCBO for $9.95 CDN. Waxed bottle. Not for the faint of heart. This is actually my third crack at reviewing this and all I can say is it feels like Thor's Hammer across the forehead in the morning if you've been drinking other things before this behemoth.

Appearance - Ruddy auburn colored beer with viscosity somewhere between water and maple syrup. A fine half finger of yellow-tinged head rests on top and recedes moderately. Thin frothy wisps linger for the duration of the glass.

Smell - Some assertive piney hops with a massive malt bill, molasses and caramel are stars here. Plenty boozy as 11.5% ABV is a little more difficult to disguise.

Taste - Huge flavor rush. Piney and astringent hops, plenty of bitterness, some caramel, molasses, liquorice, a faint metallic booziness.

Mouthfeel - Smooth syrupy body that has a malty sweetness that approaches cloying but the pine resin hops keep that in check. Astringent and drying due to the alcohol content, there's also a certain warmth in the back of the throat after only a couple sips indicating the potency of this brew,

Overall - Thor's Hammer is an appropriate name for this brew, a huge malt bomb with legendary strength, a sipper for the coldest days or greatest victories and not for the faint of heart. Worth a try if you dare. Advisable to share but tasty enough that you might not want to.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

650ml gold waxed bomber poured into tulip 21/6/14, big thanks towards Rutager for the personal whale

A dark reddish brown with a tight finger of tan foam that has decent retention and leaves a few random patches of lace

S herbal hops, heavy amounts of caramel and brown sugar, sugar coated raisins, figs, candy crusted nuts, a little booze, vanilla, more brown sugar, smells aged but I'm nearly certain this is a fresh release

T mimics the smell with just a hint of citrus peel and a little molasses, nutty with heaps of caramel, hops come out a little more, just a hint of pine resin, no complaints here

M thick and syrupy, a little heat, enough bubbles to give it some life, very sticky on the lips, just a hint of heat, herbal rind lingers for ever on the finish

O big and malty with hops making an appearance here and there, rich and sweet with well hidden booze, solid stuff

I've been hunting this one for a long, long time, I've seen the price tag on the shelf with no bottles behind it, trades have fallen through, missed out on a tasting where it was poured, I got my hands on the barrel aged version a ways back but still the original version had eluded me. I can't thank Rutager enough for the personal whale, I enjoyed the opportunity to finally drink it more then the beer itself, (and its damn good beer)

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Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.26/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Day 22 of the Parallel 49/Central City advent calendar. 330ml bottle poured into tulip.

Pours a hazy brick brown with a thin ring of beige head around the edges of the glass that leaves hilly horizon lace as it recedes.

Smells awesome. Freshly baked Italian bread, dried orchard fruit, pancake syrup and bourbon whiskey.

Tastes of heavy dark cake, spiced preserved fruit, candied nuts, dry tobacco, boozy wood and faint, shell-shocked hops.

Feels rich, thick and creamy. Full bodied with mild carbonation.

Verdict: Highly recommended. I tend not to like barleywine, but this is a goddamn winner.

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Photo of Rutager
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2011, first bottling of this fine brew which I've enjoyed on tap several times.

Appearance. Purs a rich and hazy burnt orange with a finger of thick, orange tinted head that leaves some great lacing.

Smell. Caramel, oranges, brown sugar and some piney, citrusy hops with a little booze and maybe just a little sweet spice.

Taste. Big sweet brown sugar and caramel, floral booze, a touch of molasses, and some pine and citrus in the bitter hoppy finish. Not too shabs.

Mouthfeel. Full bodied to say the least. Thick and a little sticky with some nice warming booze. Medium-low carbonation.

Overall. A nice tasting, hoppy barleywine that's really hitting the spot right now. I don't think I'll get to the BA version tonight (*hic*), but soon my pretty...

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Photo of ludachris
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Its body is a gorgeous shade of mahogany red. Quite murky with honey amber highlights. Less than an inch of off-white head recedes almost as quickly as it formed. A sheet of alcohol film sticks to the sides of the glass. This is a hefty looking lady.

The first impression is sticky and heavy. Lots of warm toffee and butterscotch. A clean and sweet alcohol scent is ever present. Gooey dates and raisins add to its richness. Its hop character is earthy and subdued. For both the style and its alcohol content, the nose is incredibly refined and balanced.

Chocolate gets integrated into the mix. The nose is mirrored in the center, which is largely made up of dates and toffee. Sweet booze cuts through the middle and leads to a semi-dry finish. Jammy esters come through as it sits.

Slick and creamy with a low but suiting level of carbonation. Just as in the nose and taste, the feel is incredibly clean and refined.

At 11.5% ABV, this is meant for sharing but Central City makes this easy to have for one. An excellent example of the style.

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Photo of liamt07
4.35/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottling courtesy of Jason, 650ml into a tulip.

Reddish brown, tan head with nice retention and lacing. Nose of candied dark fruits, caramel, toffee, alcohol and brown sugar. Taste has some hops, candied and caramel notes again, plums and some other similar fruit character. Medium full body, low carbonation. Alcohol is felt, but not too big on the palate. An excellent English BW.

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Thor's Hammer Barley Wine from Central City Brewers + Distillers
4.11 out of 5 based on 135 ratings.
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