Cucapá Barleywine
Cucapá Brewing Company

Cucapá BarleywineCucapá Barleywine
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Barleywine - American
Ranked #229
Ranked #19,666
3.91 | pDev: 14.07%
Cucapá Brewing Company
Very Good
Cucapá BarleywineCucapá Barleywine
Notes: This one was retired, although the Cucapá guys decided to brew it as a Winter seasonal.

The bottle was changed, though
Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 47 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of apridar
apridar from England

2.67/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

New bottle, poured it into a cold mug. Very cloudy amber/brown with 2 fingers foam and some lacing. Taste is heavy on malts and alcohol (no surprise at 10%). Almost no malt smell and very limited hops. Overall ok, not great.

Jul 15, 2015
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brokensail from California

3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a copper color with a small tan head. Sweet and fruity on the nose with plenty of caramel, sugar, and toffee. A light toastiness, some floral hops, and a hint of alcohol. The flavor has a mild bitterness, alcohol, and lots of malt notes. Some toasted bread, caramel, and toffee notes. A light fruitiness to the beer, which I find enjoyable. Not bad, but not my favorite either.

Aug 07, 2012
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RblWthACoz from Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a good barleywine, for the most part. I think it's positive attributes are mostly that it is a beer with "potential." With that in mind, it seems like it could use several more years of age to mellow and even it out. Too sweet and malty in a bright kind of way. Needs to be rounded out. For what it is now, it is still fairly good. But I do feel like some age, and maybe some recipe tweaking, could make an even nicer brew.

Jul 30, 2012
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LiquidAmber from Washington

3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a slightly cloudy medium to dark red amber. Active lively thin off-white head forms on pouring, but dissipates rapidly, leaving no trace nor lacing. Aroma has all the barley wine characteristics, sweet caramel malt, dark and dried fruit. Flavor follows, dominated by sweet malt, dark fruit and alcohol. Finishes with hints of vanilla, whiskey barrel and moderate hops. Medium bodied, but the lack of carbonation detracts from the overall mouth feel. A nice barley wine with no real stand out qualities. A bit more carbonation and less booziness would bring out the good flavor a bit more. Glad I tried this and hopefully a promising hint of good things to come from south of the border.

Apr 09, 2012
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky brown with a khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form randomly around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, alcohol, and some herbal hop aromas. Taste is the same with a dry hop finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine but it smells better than it tastes. It's interesting to see a barleywine coming out of Mexico for sure.

Mar 25, 2012
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karait95 from Mexico

4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: excellent looking, a very dark amber color more like reddish brown, good head formed by light brown mixed bubbles, dissipates not fast and leaves traces behind on the glass. Carbonation is medium and body looks also medium.

S: alcohol and some dark fruits are sensed at once but hops are not to hidden behind for a penetrating aroma.

T: flavor is very good, it is balanced between malts, fruits and hops but alcohol and hops are the main part, as expected for the style this one is complex for the palette.

M: this starts with some sweetness that changes very quickly into bittersweet and at last a long bitter ending.

Feb 08, 2012
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seand from California

3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear red amber, with a fair amount of light tan head. Not much retains - just a couple spots of film on the surface and a ring around the edge of the glass - but it's enough to leave small spots of lacing.

S: Rich, thick, nutty sweetness. Some leather, and a lightly burnt bitter note.

T: Very sweet and very boozy. Finishes with a heavy burnt bitter not that is also somewhat floral; relatively dry.

M: Full body, low to medium but prickly carbonation.

Overall it's not bad. Certainly unlike any other beer I've tried from Mexico. I'm not a huge fan of the flavor mix - it's a little too burnt - but that may just be personal preference.

Oct 22, 2011
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Vanlingleipa from California

4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This barleywine's taste is soft compared to most barleywines and that's a relief. Too often, my tastebuds feel battered by the intensity and denseness of several other barleywines that approach the strength and consistency of syrup concentrate.

The Cucapa BW is thin only by comparison to the black holes of the barleywine world, however, it doesn't lack flavor. There is a brightness to the roasted malt/molasses that is the dominant flavor here - bright and strong, but not to the point of overkill. A slight edge of bitter hops comes in towards the end and lingers, a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the malt and molasses.

Everything said and done and tasted, this is a quality brew - the first I've ever sampled from Mexico. Tip of the hat and I'm looking forward to trying their other offerings.

Sep 27, 2011
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Trilogy31 from California

3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy chestnut with a creamy off white brownish seafoam head leaving no lacing. The nose brings rich nougat, prunes, bourbon booze, sweet caramel and a light port character. The nose is full blown sweet caramel and bourbon barrel, vanilla and finishes with pleasant hop bitterness which cuts the sweetness - though as it warms it really begins to show its booze and the balance is a bit lost. A nice beer and one i would never guess its "terrior".

Sep 22, 2011
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark pecan brown that becomes blurry blood orange when backlit with morning sunshine. The golden sandstone colored cascading crown has settled out to becomes a thick slab of sponge-like foam that is hanging around for an impressive length of time.

Caramel malt (dominant by far) and assorted fruits make up the nose. Along with dates and figs, there's a hint from citrus zest buried way down deep. This one could go either way on the palate.

For starters, Cucapa Barley Wine Ale is waaay too thin. The flavors seem fine in the first few sips, but with such a massive malt deficit, they don't have the opporunity to sink in and truly impress. Here's hoping that the passage of time and the loss of the slight starting chill will work some magic.

It might be the mouthfeel, but this CBC offering seems more like an English barleywine than an American one. Specifics include tons of steely caramel, (not that sweet) brown sugar, a surprising amount of anise/black licorice, ripe figs, a splash of tangy citrus juice and a half-splash of white rum. Sneakily complex beer here.

By the bottom of the first glass... if we think of this as an aged English barleywine... and round up... the mouthfeel ekes out an above-average score. The barely audible escape of CO2 on crown cracking was worrisome, but the carbonation is both fine and dandy.

Cucapa Barley Wine Ale is interesting beer that is growing on me with each successive sip. Is it the best that the country of Mexico has to offer? Bohemia is pretty solid, but with respect to big beer... yeah, it just might be.

May 05, 2011
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Phelps from Arizona

3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very dark, mostly opaque maroon, fading to notes of burnt orange at the edges. It’s crowned with a fizzy, dense head of khaki that disappears quickly, become a large, frothy ring. Not much in the way of lace.

In the nose I get sweet grape juice and deeper notes of dates, along with some orange peel, toasted pumpernickel and a hint of alcohol. Not terribly complex, but a decent barleywine aroma.

The bottle claims that “since its conception it has been rated as the best beer that Mexico has ever produced.” I’d assume this is akin to being the best football player to ever come out of Pahrump, but I’ll lend that it is rather enjoyable. I get a deep, figgy sweetness that blends with bitter orange peel, toasty bread, some molasses and even a port-like character. The finish is clean, with just a hint of lingering citric bitterness on the sides of the tongue. It’s not bad, but rather delicately flavored for a barleywine. I’m afraid the chicken dinner I’m eating alongside might overpower it.

Peppery medium-light carbonation amidst a pleasant medium body. The amazing thing here is the alcohol, or lack thereof — I can’t pick up a trace of it except the number it’s doing on my head.

Gracias, Cucapa! Whereas most Mexican beers taste like they were brewed with the water we’re told never to drink, you've managed to produce a very approachable barleywine.

Apr 14, 2011
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madpentzer from California

3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed off notes from a tasting at Beer U: Craft Beer Around the World at Stone Brewery.

Appearance - Poured a dark amber with a finger of head.

Smell - Could smell the alcohol up front followed by some citrusy hops and sweet malt. The sweet smell almost smelled sugary.

Taste - Lots of hops, malt and alcohol. A complete assault on the taste buds. I tend to like barley wine's that have been aged at least a year if not more, and I'm sure the taste would be better if this wasn't so fresh.

Mouthfeel - Thick and sticky, this one is definitely a sipper.

Overall - A very good barley wine, but would be much better with age on it IMO.

Apr 09, 2011
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HalfFull from California

3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a capped 750 ml. bottle into a wine glass. Shows a deep copper to light brown in color with highlights of crimson with a bit of an orange hue. Half inch cap of tan foam settles to a light cap, offering spotty lace.

Notes of caramel and brown sugar are nicely muddled with dried fruits and some peaty alcohol notes. Fairly well balanced and pleasant, albeit a touch light as for typical volatility. Hops aren't a major player for this offering.

The taste is a surprise given the aroma, with caramel and some candied orange covered with a bit of dilute chocolate licqueur. Offers a moderate feel which becomes notably fuller with some warming. Bit of hop/chocolate spice on the finish lingers moderately.

Smooth and citrus sweet with orange/tangerine yet not thick or cloying at all. ABV noted in the aroma but otherwise well cloaked making this a rather quaffable brew of sipping strength. More English in style as a Barleywine.

Mar 29, 2011
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GarthDanielson from Virginia

3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. The beer is a deep, dark amber-brown with a thick, foamy light brown/tan head that disappears very quickly. The beer has heavy malt and barley smells, as well as sugar/molasses and alcohol highlights, balanced with some very faint spices. The beer tastes very rich and dark, with forward flavors of sweet wine, dark malt, molasses, and roasted barley. The beer is very full and round in mouth, with a hint of sour undertones. It finishes fairly smoothly, with a sweet and sour aftertaste. The roasted notes also tag through into the aftertaste. Pretty drinkable, despite the robust feel and body of the beer and flavors. Helps to go along with some food that can balance the flavors, like extremely spicy fare.

Jan 24, 2011
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DaveHS from California

4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours the color of burnt orange peels, with ruby highlights and an inch or so of creamy, khaki colored head. Leaves almost no lacing, just a few traces of streaky foam cling to the glass.

S- Aromas of burnt caramel, roasted peanuts, figs, butterscotch and biscuity malt.

T/M-The first sip is doughy and sweet, with a touch of booziness. This soon yields to mouth coating earthiness, reminiscent of old leather, stale tobacco, and musty old wood. An undercurrent of hoppy bitterness runs from beginning to end, keeping the butterscotch sweetness from overwhelming the more subtle flavors. The finish is piney and bitter. My one problem with this beer is that the finish is unrefined. It's on the boozy side, and this serves to amplify the bitterness, making what should be a lush, lingering finish dry and somewhat abrupt.

D- I think a year or two in the bottle would smooth things out. This is a minor complaint, considering how many other elements are successful.

Jan 16, 2011
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steve8robin from Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this as an extra in a trade. Thanks Matt. 750ml bottle...

A: it looks like super dark murky iced tea that's hard to see through. Small tan head that quickly fades to a lace atop the brew. Decent.

S: Kind of a little watery caramel toffee upfront blended with some malty banana in the middle. Some faint raisin on the backend. Decent.

T: Heavy caramel sugar malts upfront. Blended with some nice boozy raisin. Hints of almost a bready cracker taste on the backemd. This is surprisingly good. Very good.

M: Medium body with a great carbonation feel. Very good.

D: This is surprisingly easy to drink with the abv.

All in all, this is a good brew. Solid barleywine for sure. I would definitely try this one again.

Oct 21, 2010
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Gueuzedude from Arizona

3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 750ml Bottle; Sampled October 2010
A solid pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a two-finger thick, richly amber tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a dark amber / red color that shows a brilliantly clear, cranberry-red hue when held up to the light. The aroma smells of caramel coated hazel nuts and concentrated dried fruit laden holiday sweet breads. Some light herbal notes in the finish hint at once more present hop aromas and there is a light, almost caramelized / candied citrus character barely noticeable in the finish (this was clearly never an overly aggressively hopped Barley Wine though). At off angles this beer does pick up a solid menthol and herbaceous hop character, though this can be somewhat fleeting. Notes of something like allspice, intermingle with a really rich, toasted maltiness that has aged into a really nice nutty quality. The aroma is actually somewhat muted for what I would expect from a Barley Wine, but it is really nice and complex.

Thick and rich feeling as it hits my tongue, it has a light'ish sweetness that is mostly caramelized up front, but it finishes with a really unexpected, phenolic smokiness. I don't think the smokiness was intended here, but it is just harsh enough that it could be from Peat-smoked malt, but my guess is that something else has taken hold here. The smokiness leans a bit towards plastic at times, though it is not so strong that it dominates everything in this beer. This has a nice, light herbal character here; somewhat grassy, not really quite menthol like, with the aged malt it really sort of reminds me of tobacco and perhaps some leather notes. There is a fairly solid bitterness here, but this is clearly a malt accented beer as this is what dominates the finish and palate; the beer clings to the palate long after each sip with a rich caramelized heft and this is clearly a sipping, contemplative brew.

A bit weird in the end; the smoky plastic character is definitely a bit out of place and it might explain why the aroma was a bit more muted than I expected. Still this is actually fairly enjoyable & even the smokiness adds something at times.

Oct 15, 2010
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BigMcLargeHuge from Arizona

4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of ratebeer's jarspag. Thanks Jared. Pours amber with ruby edges and tan head. The aroma is sweet English style barleywine with caramel covered red apples, prunes and dates as well as some yummy molasses. The taste is smooth and sweet with malts, caramel and some muted yet bitter pine hops. It seems to smell like an English style but tastes like the hoppy American style barleywine. Very nice stuff either way in my book.

Jun 13, 2010
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barleywinefiend from Washington

4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage

A: Poured a glowing but ruddy orange color with good carbonation and a nice white head.

S: Smells of sweet malt, butter and some citrus

T: Wow. Good, very good. Lots of sweet malt, apricot, butter, bread, some wood, candy sugar

M: Nice body and well carbonated

D: I would love to get my hands on another one!

May 31, 2010
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Overlord from California

4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much like being the tallest dwarf, being the best Mexican produced beer is a dubious distinction. But, for what it's worth, this brew is it! Compared to its brethren, it stands heads and shoulders above someone standing heads and shoulders above a dwarf.

Pours a slightly ruddy orange. Cloudy. Maybe half an inch of off-white head.

Smell is the best thing about the beer. As others note, there are some alcohol aromas, but there are also some pleasant grapefruit-y and earthy hops, and a big sweet brown sugary caramel malt backing. I'd give it a 4.25. But, I can't, so I will round up some other score.

Taste is nice. I mean, I'm not going to write a poem about it, but it's a solid, nice tasting barleywine. Caramel malt, some bracing hops to back it (the hops are definitely taking second stage to brown sugary sweet malt), and a nice little bit of a earthy, almost smoky aftertaste.

Juicy. Pleasantly quaffable.

May 03, 2010
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nickd717 from California

3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by someone at the Bruery Reserve Society Initiation.

Pours a mostly clear orangish-amber color with a decent off-white head.

Aroma is caramel malt, wood, dark fruits, and faded hops.

Flavor is pretty solid with caramel, toffee, vanilla, fruity notes, mild sherry oxidation, wood, and citrusy hops.

Medium body for the style with some booze and a some slight hop oils.

Drinkability is high for the style. This may be the best Mexican beer I've had, not that that is saying too much.

Jan 20, 2010
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FtownThrowDown from Ohio

3.55/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a ruby brown in color. There's a half inch head that forms on the pour, but is quickly gone after a few moments.
Smell is very nice. Fruity with just a hint of hops. Nice malty backbone.
Taste is just less eventful than the nose. Nice caramel malts, huge mouthfeel. A little more carbonated than I like, but it still works.
Decent enough beer. My first messican barleywine and it's not bad.

Dec 21, 2009
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a medium amber color ale with a small bubbly head with minimal retention and not much lacing. Aroma of sweet malt is not overly complex. Taste is dominated by sweet malt with light dry fruit notes with a toffee-like finish. Body is about average with low carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Lacking complexity and not something I would wish to have very often.

Sep 19, 2009
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LilBeerDoctor from New York

2.06/5  rDev -47.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Reviewed on 06/04/2009. Bottle at PPRBSG09. Pours a clear brown with a very small head. Aroma of vegetal notes, prunes, and raisins. Flavor is equally vegetal and gross and rather boozy (although apparently I am the only one to dislike this beer so much...oh well).

Jul 11, 2009
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cervezale from Mexico

3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Intense dark red copper color. Good head formation and good lace retention. It denotes legs on the glass representing its nice alcohol content and character. Aromas of sweet malts and caramels. The initial taste is very profound on sweet malts with a little dose of hops which do not overthrow its sweet maltiness and alcohol. A nice onterpretation of the style. Good with a nice cigar on a chimey.

Jun 25, 2009
Cucapá Barleywine from Cucapá Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 47 ratings