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: 32 | Ratings: 133
Photo of StonedTrippin
4/5  rDev -2.4%
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 biboergosum
4.14/5  rDev +1%
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 Phyl21ca
3.68/5  rDev -10.2%
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 mothman
4/5  rDev -2.4%
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 liamt07
4.35/5  rDev +6.1%
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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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.16/5  rDev +1.5%
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 Derek
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
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 -2.7%
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 wordemupg
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
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 Jwale73
3.73/5  rDev -9%
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 Viggo
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle, big thanks to bobsy for sharing this rarity!

Pours a muddy orange brown, relatively opaque and cloudy, thin tan head forms and settles down to a thin ring around the glass, some lace spots stick to the glass.

Smell is intense, hugely caramelized and malty, toffee, raisins, rum, some wood, lots of dark fruit, alcohol, a bit of vanilla and bourbon, biscuit, more caramel, dates, a bit of weird fruitiness but I'm digging it.

Taste is similar, tons of caramel and toffee, Werthers candies, bsicuit, raisin and date, some alcohol, a bit of wood, more rum/bourbon booziness, vanilla, more toffee, very rich and decadent flavour.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, pretty chewy, with low carbonation. Wow, this is a big barleywine. Maybe more in the Hardys Old ale vein, but pretty fantastic stuff, thanks Rob!

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Photo of Rutager
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
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 andrenaline
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
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 papat444
4.41/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

***2011 Vintage***

Thanks to 4ster for this one.

Poured from a 650ml. bottle.

Appearance: A nice copper body with a decent head that leaves some lacing behind.

Smell: Rich, sweet candy; strong leather; mild whiskey twang; powerful dried fruits, foremost apricots.

Taste: Like alcoholic candy; sweet tempered by fusel alcohol; caramel; lots of pungent dried fruit; real full.

Mouthfeel: Gentle giant with a bite at the end; caresses the palate; bit sticky; warming but never too hot.

Overall: This is a great barleywine. Very happy to have had a chance to try this.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.39/5  rDev -17.3%
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 ONovoMexicano
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
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 bobsy
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Canadian Brewing Awards beer of the year.

Pours a deep oak with a small hazy off white head that left some decent lace spots. Big sweet malt nose that screams toffee. Lots of brown sugar, some diacetyl and warmin alcohol. Just the part...

Good toffee taste, with a nice sweetness that combines well with the warming alcohol, but is also cut by the presence of some leafy hops. Really, really nice balance and a satisfying flavour. Chewy, smooth body is just right.

Hard to say whether this is the best beer in Canada, but its certainly a contender.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
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 DenisKolkin
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
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 Docrock
4.58/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Central City Brewpub, 10 oz serving in a snifter:

A : deep mahogany colored with minimal head that dissipated rapidly. Nice lacing as well.

S : beautiful caramel malt, hint of plums and a deep nuttiness. Only a hint of the alcohol content is evident.

T : wonderful, nice and thick, everything that was on the nose is present, plums, some light candy character and a deep earthy nuttiness like an English walnut, not a flavor I usually get in Eng Barleywines.

M : thick and just slightly chewy. Minimal carbonation which was the only low point of the beer but not overly detracting considering the abv. Very smooth.

O : an outstanding example of a non BA English Barleywine. Can't wait to try the BA version! Well done Central City.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
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 CalgaryFMC
3.84/5  rDev -6.3%
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 DaftCaskBC
4.42/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Alibi Room in Vancouver.

A: Slight head over deep amber liquid.

S: Sweet malt dominates the smell profile.

T: Sweet malt with a nice addition of a bitter hoppy presence.

M: Medium viscosity and low carbonation.

O: Very tasty and drinkable. Sweeter than most barleywines I have had, but that is fine by me.

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Photo of ritzkiss
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared by bobsy, forgot we had this one! Odd because it is quite a remarkable beer.

Pours a nice rich caramel brown with hints of amber and ruby, good head. Nose is rich (RICH) toffee and brown sugar, hint of dark fruits. You can tell this is going to be sweet. Taste brings you in, the sweetness balanced by a light bittering pinch from the hops. Toffee abounds, toast, dark plums, caramel, a nip of cocoa, a hint of earthy woodiness but not the normal accompanying dryness, bit of booze in the finish. Silky thick mouthfeel. A very rich treat, if anything I wish for a bit more balance in the hops and dryness but that's more personal preference than anything wrong, certainly in the English vein of the style. This is a really nice, deep barleywine, well deserving of accolades. Thanks for the opportunity to try this Rob!

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Photo of Mlkluther
3.74/5  rDev -8.8%
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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Thor's Hammer Barley Wine from Central City Brewers + Distillers
4.1 out of 5 based on 133 ratings.
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