Cucapá Barleywine
Cucapá Brewing Company

Cucapá BarleywineCucapá Barleywine
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Barleywine - American
Ranked #237
Ranked #20,038
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
Reviews by jophish17:
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jophish17 from Georgia

3/5  rDev -23.3%

Dec 09, 2011
More User Reviews:
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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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brewandbbq from New Hampshire

3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle at 56 degrees.

Pours dark amber with a ruby tinge. Perfect clarity and a thin, tan head that was short-lived. A partial, ringed skim coat remained on the surface for the duration as well as some dotted lacework.

Aromatics lead off with burnt sugars, caramel-drizzeled fruits, and sweet malt. Shades of candied apples, toffee, and sugared figs follow through.

On the full side of medium bodied, with a sticky, almost syrupy mouthfeel. Tacky and chewy.

Crystle malt, scorched sugars, and a sharp bitterness start the palate. A building acrid note builds on top of the bitterness, as well as caramel and slightly stinging alcohol. Hints of brown sugar and pine bark follow through.

Finishes with a lingering, acrid bitterness, sweet crystle, and warming alcohol. An almost numbing alcohol bite endures.

This is one big barleywine out of Mexico. Very aggresive in alcohol and bitterness. The acrid, burnt malt character is rough to take though, as well as loads of residuals.

May 05, 2009
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charlesw from New York

2.65/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Deep amber-brown - certainly not opaque. No head regardless how hard I try. Plus for the color, minus for the opacity and head.

Smells malty (caramels) and grassy. Ah. And oxidized barleywine. Almost smells like a barleywine.

Tastes like oxidized barleywine and really deep, rich milk caramel and some funky weird light bitter twist. Sure, it's a little like some barleywines. It's like andygator in that the malt backbone is very light. It's like gratitude in that it's oxidized. It's certainly not an american style - where are the hops? It's not an english style - no fruit (prunes, raisins, etc) and it doesn't have enough body.

The bottle claims it's the best beer in mexico. Well. Golly. So, my advice is to avoid splashing when making it and to hop it up A LOT. Then you might get to an OK barleywine. To get a great barleywine I'd think it best to just start over from scratch.

Jun 01, 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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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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Pepeton from Mexico

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

My bottle was from a last Winter batch that some local BAs got directly from the brewery. We bought several cases of their offerings and got them via freight truck 'cause it's illegal here in México to send alcohol thru standard couriers.

Now the review:
Pours a dark amber-reddish, with a tiny head with no retention. It left a very nice lacing, though.

Smell is a complex mix of caramel malts, ripe dark fruits, some spices and noble hops. Amazingly I don't pick up any alcohol, despite it's 10% ABV. Nice.

Taste is very balanced. Malts are, no doubt, it's backbone, then you begin to find whre all the aroma complexities come from.

Mouthfeel is intense, being such a big beer. Thick body, almost oily. Has a good bitter aftertaste. Very well rounded beer.

Drinkability is certainly high --one beer once in a while.


Nov 20, 2008
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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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rallison from California

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

On-tap at Liars Club. This beer impressed me. By far the best beer I've had from Mexico. Nice very dark brown color. Not much of a head. Smelled sweet, not very hoppy. Taste was similar. Lots of caramel/toffee sweetness, but also not overly sweet nor cloying. Mouthfeel was rich and creamy. Drinkability at first was low for me, but as I kept drinking, I kept enjoying more.

This would have been a very good barleywine attempt from an American brewer. So, to have this come from Mexico, a country with basically no experience with such a style, is impressive. I am really looking forward to other ambitious attempts from this brewer. I know this barleywine is popping up at a few places around southern California - you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Jan 28, 2007
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fido from Mexico

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

Cucapá Barley Wine pours a nice dark amber color with two fingers of white head; Smells of sweet, bread, malt, bit of alcohol, some fruit, caramel and hops; Taste very nice, deep sweet fruity malt flavor; Mouthfeel is creamy; Considering the alcohol, is a very drinkable beer.

I recommend it.

Por esos 25 años.


Jan 29, 2009
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scottoale from California

4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml. green champagne bottle with gold foil over bottle cap and neck. It pours a darkish amber-copper with good clarity and a finger thick, creamy beige foam. Good carbonation and decent head retention. The head fluffs back up with a few swirls of the tulip while enhancing the aroma.

Smells of sweet bisquity malt, vanilla, earth and oak. As it warms a bit, molasses comes through...sweet malty brew with some earthiness.

The flavor doesn't disappoint, starting off full of malty goodness. Not too sweet bisquit doughy malt with notes of molasses and vanilla that soon turn tobacco like with oak tannins and some earthy hops. From there to the finish the hops bitter things nicely, bringing a solid balance to the big brew. The alcohol is there but never makes a spectacle of itself. A very well composed barleywine here.

Fairly full body with active carbonation from start to finish, I didn't see this in the brew on tap which had very subtle carbonation. I definetely prefer this bottled version to the draft version which I have had several times in the past.

A very drinkable and solid barleywine that I will happily buy again in the future...and brewed in Mexico!

Jun 15, 2009
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beergeekjoey from Virginia

4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Stone World Bistro and Gardens.

I thought that this beer was phenomenal - it is probably the best balanced and most complex American style BW I have tried that is this young. It was not identified as to vintage on the menu, but the bartender said it was a 2006. 8 oz. serving in a snifter-style glass.

Lovely ruddy appearance -- crystal clear.

Aroma is deliciously complex. There are notes from malt, hops, and a variety of sweeter alcohols, without overpowering NW hops or harsh alcohols. Many of the complexities associated with aged BW are already present - raisin, plum, date and leather aromas are noticeable. No oxidation notes -- sherry or the like.

Taste follows the aroma. The flavor is rich and complex, with no hint of harshness from high hopping or fusel alcohols. The balance in phenomenal -- neither hops nor malt dominate, and the interaction between them simply brings out the best in each. The malt is rich without being cloying and the hops balance with bitterness and add perfumy and fruity flavors.

Mouthfeel is very full and creamy. It is rather surprising that this is identified as a 10 ABV beer -- the alcohol is noted mainly as flavor and a warmth as is flows down the throat -- there is little heat up front.

It is certainly strong, however, but it is sneaky -- it seems less potent than it is because of that superb balance. That makes it very drinkable, but dangerous.

VERY enjoyable -- highly recommended.

Mar 17, 2007
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BretSikkink from Mexico

3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Red-brown color with a large-bubbled tan head with minimal retention but decent lacing. A little spotty in the head department, but there's probably going to be a ton of booze.

The nose is caramelly rich, with hints of raisins soaked in booze. Okay not so much hints as big wafts of fusel alcohols.

The taste is similarly rich and full, though not very complex. The hops are a little in the background compared to many west coast Barleywines, but obviously significantly larger than the English variety.

Strong caramel and toffee flavors that bring a lot of sweetness, along with a full-as-hell mouthfeel that gets to be syrupy and a bit too boozy as it warms.

Definitely a different animal from the cask to the bottle. Drinkability is a little lower I feel from the bottle - with the cask you assume the warm service temperature and concomitant thickness and possibly syrupy character. From the bottle, this barleywine should be a little more refined. I'm sure it would age beautifully, but I would be hard pressed to conjecture the results.

Feb 04, 2009
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seaoflament from California

3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sampled during Stone's 11th Anniversary event. I have to say that I was hoping to see this one at the event and was glad to try it.

Color is a light maple syrup with great amount of foam. Nice lacing and head retention as well.

Aroma, had to let this one warm up a bit, is of alcohol, caramel malts, fermented grapes and dark fruits like prunes, raisins and figs. Slight hop presence in the finish.

Tastes sweet and malty, a bit of dark fruit mix and a slight hop finish. Warm alcohol sensation. Not at all simple but not overly complex. Very nice beer to see coming from down south, more should be brewed this good.

Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy and tingly on the tongue. Warm on the finish, very good. Carbonation is also very well played in the beers profile.

Drinkability--It's a hitter, you can feel, but not so much taste, the alcohol in this one. One would probably be enough for me.

Great surprise.

Sep 09, 2007
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srandycarter from California

4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark orange amber, small off white head that clears to ring fast. Fairly clear, lots of cascading bubble around top ring.

S - Brown sugar alcohol and deep sweet wort like malt.

T - Brown sugar very apparent, butterscotch definitely there as a backup flavor, caramel and sufficient bitterness not to make it super cloying.

M - Fairly dense, coating, good carb, and pretty nice balance considering how thick and sweet it is.

D - Good stuff. Would fill me up eventually. Pretty heavy. Thus far, my FAVORITE Mexican beer!

May 27, 2009
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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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t0rin0 from California

3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

Sep 18, 2012
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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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hellbilly from Arizona

4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

served on cask at papago...

clear burgundy brown with a soft toasted almond colored head and random spots of lace.

very comforting aroma... chocolate, toasted nuttiness, roasted grains, muted orange, faint pine, nearly burnt caramel/brown sugar and lots of perfumey flowers.

surprisingly, the palate is not sweet... or harsh... or alcoholic... i'm confused. it's lightly astringent from the roast but it is so well proportioned and smooth... seemingly like it's already aged! flavors of orange, raisins, caramel-y butterscotch without the sweet, chocolate covered toasted nuts, faint pine, a light spiciness (cinnamon, maybe pepper), grassy herbal hops and a dry floral finish. buttery texture from the cask. medium to full bodied without any stickiness.

low residual sugar makes it crazy easy to drink... even without carbonation or bitterness.

it does lack a bit of complexity but this is the beez neez...

Dec 16, 2008
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gerardoluna from Mexico

4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

mmmm! mmm! mmmh!!! great beer, trust me, i eat some bread with "ahuacate" a mexican vegetal before try this beer and Booom! An extraordinary flavor round in my mouth [ i leave the veggie and take a chaiser of coffe liquor mmm!!!! try it!!]
Great flavor, amazing balance in the malt and hop this beer is called over here Cucapa "Barley Wine" please put the cd of miles davis and cannonbal aderley and turn on the volume with the song called "atumn leaves"

Dec 23, 2008
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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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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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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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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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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
Cucapá Barleywine from Cucapá Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 47 ratings