Cucapá Barleywine | Cucapá Brewing Company

very good
38 Reviews
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Cucapá BarleywineCucapá Barleywine

Brewed by:
Cucapá Brewing Company

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This one was retired, although the Cucapá guys decided to brew it as a Winter seasonal.

The bottle was changed, though

Added by rallison on 01-28-2007

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Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 46
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.06/5  rDev -46.9%
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).

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Photo of charlesw
2.65/5  rDev -31.7%
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.

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Photo of apridar
2.67/5  rDev -31.2%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -22.7%
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.

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Photo of Phelps
3.52/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.53/5  rDev -9%
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.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

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Photo of madpentzer
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

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Photo of Trilogy31
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
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".

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Photo of seand
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

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Photo of BretSikkink
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of nickd717
3.92/5  rDev +1%
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.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.92/5  rDev +1%
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.

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Photo of seaoflament
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of cervezale
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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Photo of rallison
4/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of Overlord
4/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of scottoale
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
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!

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Cucapá Barleywine from Cucapá Brewing Company
3.88 out of 5 based on 46 ratings.
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