Strong Golden Barley Wine
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

Strong Golden Barley WineStrong Golden Barley Wine
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Barleywine - English
Ranked #184
Ranked #23,911
3.86 | pDev: 16.06%
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
England, United Kingdom
Very Good
Strong Golden Barley WineStrong Golden Barley Wine
Reviews: 32 | Ratings: 36 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of baconsausage
baconsausage from Vermont

3.75/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best before date is Jan 2010.

Pours a nice golden russet with a small amount of wispy white on top. Smells of dates and candy sugar, with a hint of citrus zest. Taste is a mix of vanilla, bread, candy sugar and dates, with a very faint hop bitterness that is more like lemon curd. Taste sort of falls off in the overall mouth feel, like it gets thin at the end. A nice tick, but overall nothing too spectacular.

Feb 29, 2012
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BeerResearcher from Massachusetts

4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cute 180ml bottle. 2010
Found in the small beer/wine section of the small convenience store next to our hotel in County Hall, Westminster.
Served in a globe-shaped glass.
It pours an oily golden color with a thin white head along with small specks of lacing.
A fumy Triple Sec-like aroma blasts out of the glass at first pour. Sweet doughy malt smells follow close behind. Wonderful fruit and citrus notes play nicely off the maltiness. A light smell of peppery spice floats in late.
The flavors mirror the aromas very closely. Add a taste of toffee and a somewhat harsh vodka-like warming alcohol taste in the breath.
The mouthfeel is a little syrupy, but that was to be expected.
I wanted to find another bottle the next night, but I guess I got the last one. I do count my blessings though for having stumbled upon a rare find.

Jan 21, 2012
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tempest from New York

4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Popped open a small, 2-year-old bottle I picked up in London. The clear gold beer had a short white head and light lacing. It held a big, soft honey and lavender taste with touches of bread and candy syrup. This maybe my favorite golden barleywine. The hops are nowhere to been seen or tasted, but the malts are luscious.

Oct 20, 2011
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trevorjn06 from Washington

3.99/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle dated 2004.
Pours a hazy brown/light mahogany. No head and very little carbonation.

Aroma is nice, lots of light raisins, caramels, sweet malt and toffee. Some light fruitiness. Well rounded and inviting. No hops aromas and no detectable alcohols.

Flavor follows the nose for the most part but is a bit mild and lacks depth. Lots of nice toffee and malt notes. There is some hot alcohol on the finish and the flavors on the finish are lacking a bit.

Mouthfeel is not as viscous as expected, but is pleasant.

Overall I prefer J.W. Lees Harvest ale or Thomas Hardys, they both have more complexity and depth.

Aug 06, 2011
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DaveHS from California

4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased off Toronado's bottle list. 180ml bottle with a July '09 "expiration date." Poured into a tasting glass.

A-Pours an appetizing cider-esque amber color with a thin ring of tiny white bubbles.

S-Musty, with aromas of apple and baking spices.

T/M-A pretty straightforward English Barleywine. You'd never know it was 10.2%ABV. Malty and sweet with a pleasant musty sweetness. The finish is buttery and a bit slick, with minimal carbonation.

D-Happy to finally try this one. It's solid, but nothing amazing. Will try it again in a year.

Nov 14, 2010
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Trizzle from England

4.39/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Quaint 180ml Bottle. Poured into wine glass.

Pours a clear amber. Minimal head. Good lacing.

Smells of apple candy, raisins, muscovado and vegemite.

Wow! Apple candy at the start disapears quickly to more raisins, muscovado sugar, christmas dried fruits, maple syrup and some yeast. It's quite a ride. Finishes dry, with a light bitterness and some honey. Top notch, with no indication of its ABV.

Mouth feel is medium bodied, silk and slightly viscous.

Goes down like a dream. A real treat.

Jan 09, 2010
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Viggo from Canada (ON)

3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tiny bottle, thanks to Rob for sharing at his tasting.

Pours a clear orange, some amber, medium sized white head forms, settles down to a thin ring and layer, some lace spots on the glass, looks alright.

Smell is nice, lots of caramel, big fruitiness, apricots, a bit of funky Stingo character but lighter, honey and treacle, musty, peaches, pretty neat, alcohol is well hidden.

Taste is similar, big caramel and fruit note, apricot, touch of alcohol, wood, honey, peaches and apricot, very malty, a bit of mustiness, pretty nice stuff, very different.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with light to medium carbonation, pretty drinkable for the ABV. Much better than Stingo. I kinda like this if a little weird. Thanks Rob!

Dec 03, 2009
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ritzkiss from Canada (ON)

3.3/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Teensy tiny 180ml bottle, 2008 vintage, brought by bobsy to his own barleywine tasting - thanks Rob and sorry to hog it!

Pours a crystal clear light golden honey color with almost glints of pink. Not much head.

Reminds me quite a bit of the Stingo which I had earlier, same kinda weird apple and grain combo. Hints of honey, yeasty bun dough, lemon pudding, light grassy hopping, tartness in the finish along with the faintest alcohol bite. Pretty damn smooth drinking though for over 10%, the flavors just don't seem to jive together and it reminds me of no other barleywine I've had - just odd. Not bad, just not great. Sammy Smith's standard brews seem better put together than their smaller line-up.

Nov 30, 2009
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DerBayer from Germany

4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is very sexy indeed with cloudy golden amber leaning on chestnut

Smell is of sweet caramel and honey with some floral hops. There s also herbs and spices with some grapes and apples in the background.

The taste is of much the same but somewhat tainted by a persistent sourness in the background.

The mouthfeel is creamy yet refreshing and I could drink this all day if it weren t for the lambic style sourness

Oct 11, 2009
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BigMcLargeHuge from Arizona

3.9/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of RB's very own madmitch76. The 6oz bottle pours crystal clear copper with gold edges and thin off white head. The aroma is full bringing up a rich combination of sweet caramel candy and dark fruity esters like dates, prunes, boysenberries and figs. Each draw ends with a touch of alcohol heat. Smells yum! The taste is very similar with a medium body ushering in rich caramel goodness mixing with dark fruity esters. It dries out a bit to midway with a touch of roasted malts and fading caramel and sweet dark fruity esters. It ends with lingering sweet caramel, prunes, dates and ripe cherries. Nice stuff.

Oct 07, 2009
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PartyBear from England

3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a room temperature 180ml bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Light reddish colour, like a whiskey. Small white head, with a lot of carbonation.

Aroma: Heavy on the alcohol, with warming malts, and hints of maple syrup. Quite fruity, possible banana, and figs.

Taste: Initially sweet in flavours, brown sugar, caramel, candy floss, molasses. This is followed by slightly grainy biscuity middle, which leads into a finish that is dominated by warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, oily, and warming.

Drinkability: A great barleywine, definitely up there with the like of Thomas Hardy ale, and J.E. Lees Harvest Ale. Perfectly balanced warming barleywine.

Sep 18, 2009
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rvdoorn from Netherlands

4.69/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Finally, I managed to get my hands on a bottle of this difficult to find beer again. I don't know why, but the last months it was impossible to find in the Netherlands... Anyhow, to celebrate, I decided to open it. I poured the beer into a sniffer. The beer pours a bright deep copper-amber color with a small white head that disappears fast.

Smell: Wow, what a great smell, dried fruits (plum raisin fig), caramel, cookies (yeast) and warming alcohol.One of the best smelling beers I ever had. I could spend the whole evening smelling it....

Taste: very similar to the smell, sweet fruits again (plums, hints of bananas), caramel, warming alcohol (becomes a bit too strong for my taste when the beer warms up too much) and an aftertaste of nice medium-bitter malts. The bitterness and sweetness of this beer are perfectly balanced, impressive.

Mouthfeel: The beer is relatively thick, with medium carbonation. Mouthfeel is incredibly smooth.

Overall: A great beer. In knew in advance that this is one of the most traditional barley wines out there, and one can taste the long lasting history. Everything is perfectly balanced, probably optimized over time! As mentioned by another reviewer, this is no complicated mud as most other barley wines out there. This one is simple but very good. Without any doubt my favorite barley wine until now. Highly recommendable

Aug 26, 2009
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PapaEugene from Netherlands

4.92/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Got introduced to this beer by a friend of mine. I first drank it in de Vlaamse Reus in Wageningen, one of the best bars in Holland for beer lovers.

After a lot of effort I managed to get my hands on a bottle. Very hard to get. Like all the Sam Smith beers this has a well refined taste. Don't expect a complex black mud. This beer is so refined that you can easily name all the flavors.

Poured into a Jopen 25 cl glass, It has a deep amber colour. Small white head that dissapears quickly, medium carbonation as I like it.

Smell is caramel, dried fruits, cookies and slightly alcoholic.

Taste is malty, toffee, again dried fruits, red fruits, some banana and pleasant alcohols.

This beer is in my top 3 of favorites. No use in tasting another beer if you just finished this one. Rich and defined. Now I just wish it was easy to pick it up.

Jul 30, 2009
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soulgrowl from England

4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, this unusually light barleywine shines a pleasant bronze topaz with a full, solid, and short-lived head. The boozy aroma is redolent of fruit and honey, with notes of plum wine, apricots, limoncello, lowland whisky, solvents, rum, and vanilla. Sweet yet balanced to the taste; full of butterscotch, maple, and toffee, with a surprisingly sharp hop bite adding lovely notes of pine and woody resin. The sharpness is heightened by a slap of alcohol that carries a light, warming burn; it borders on aggressive, but there is enough character in this beer that it doesn't come through as overwhelming. The mouthfeel is lush yet sparkly, fitting the sweet yet spicy flavor very well. Excellent stuff that slides down surprisingly easily even though the 10.2% alcohol is quite noticeable. A nice nightcap beer.

Jun 22, 2009
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Traquairlover from Virginia

3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bitterbill for this one.

180ml bottle poured into a tulip.

A = Very slightly translucent honey gold with a frothy but small bone white head that recedes slowly and settles into a thin layer of foam on surface.

S = Cinnamon bun dough, honey, some floral and nutty scents.

T = Tastes of honey, cinnamon bread, light caramel toffee, almost like a spiced mead but with sharper bitterness. Very interesting flavors and a long sweet finish.

M = Medium body, stinging carbonation, good mouthcoating.

D = This is a sipper, but it is very good and I would gladly have another.

May 01, 2009
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jwc215 from Arizona

3.5/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to bitterbill for this!

Best before end of July '09. 180 ml bottle, poured into a snifter.

The smell is grainy with a hint of caramel, fruity esters and some peppery alcohol.

The taste is of a cereal-like graininess with alcohol. A bit fruity with an herbal tinge. Honey and almond show as it progresses. Woody dryness in the finish.

It's a tad thin, falling short of full-bodied with a touch of fizz.

"Easy" enough for a 10%+ brew that shows the alcohol, though this small bottle is "enough".

Mar 02, 2009
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Wasatch from Colorado

4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to Bitterbill for this brew.

180ml Bottle
Best By: Jul 09

Poured into a tulip a very nice golden amber color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy off-white head, with some minimal sticky lacing. The nose is malty, fruity, with some caramel. The taste is malty, sweet, slightly fruity. Medium body. Very drinkable, this is a very tasty brew, thanks Bill.

Feb 24, 2009
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darklordlager from Wisconsin

3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours an amber caramel colour, with a 1/2" slightly off-white head that is quickly receding as this is typed.

Smells of caramel, biscuit, dark fruit, some alcohol is apparent as well.

Taste is very smooth for something 10.2% ABV. It starts out sweet, then revealing some darker fruits-plum, fading into a warming caramel taste. Layer of roasty complexity reveal themselves among the sweet flavours.

Mouthfeel is slick, coating the tongue as it slides on down.

Drinkability is limited due to the high alcohol characteristics of the style...but this one is smoooth.

Dec 25, 2008
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

4.08/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Best by July 2009.

This pours from 180ml bottle a hazy amber red with a 2 finger head of foam.

The smell is all malty and fruity. It has a sweet nose to it I'm liking it.

The taste, yep, that's an English BWSA alright. Loads of caramel malt with some nice notes of bread bringing the sweets..hmm..I think I taste some honey as well, dark fruity goodness(prunes, raisins) some light fig, and there's even a bit of hop bitterness mostly near the finish. Very tasty.
I'm feeling some warmth after the swallow but it doesn't show up in the taste at all.

The mouthfeel is on the high side of light and it's lightly carbonated. Head retention is excelent and there's a ton of sticky lacing.

Drinkability? The 10.2%abv is definitely there but this one is packaged perfect for a single serving. 180ml...cute little bottle.

Bottom line: This is a very nice example of the style and I'm pleased as punch that I got to try it.

Dec 12, 2008
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hegelec from Canada (ON)

3.82/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Purchased from a small beer importer in Ripon, Yorkshire in early August, and has been cellared at my home in Canada since then. Small (180 ml) bottle with a freshness date of Jan 09. Poured into an 8 oz tasting goblet.

Pours an incredibly enticing dark, clear gold. The head is minimal on the pour, and receeds quickly. There is little lacing. But damn ... the colour is just gorgeous!

The aroma is rich and sweet. Caramels, and hints of maple sugar. Dark fruit - figs, raisins. Not much hops presence on the nose.

The taste is not quite as syrupy as the nose lets on. However, it is still very full and rich. After a moment in the mouth, the hops finally shines through. Very nice balance between the sweet and the bitter.

More figs, honey ... am I tasting oak? The alcohol is sometimes assertive, and sometimes un-noticable. The lingering finish of alcohol, caramel, and hops is accented with hints of wood. Everything is clean and pleasant.

This is a full-bodied beer, properly sweet. This beer is only lightly carbonated, which is well-appreciated for this style.

Viz drinkability: the bottle disappeared pretty quickly, but let's be realistic. Would you eat three sundaes in one sitting?

Sep 28, 2008
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mdagnew from Northern Ireland

3.56/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Tiny 180ml nip bottle bought from Tuckers Maltings... Best before date of July 07...

Poured a deep coppery amber colour. White head poured small, loose and frothy then faded quickly to wispy covering with slightly thicker edging... no carbonation at all... very light random lacing...

Aroma - Rich dark dried fruits (raisins, figs, dates, prunes), loads of sweet treacle and molasses, toasted bread, toffee, very noticeable alcohol - rum notes, overripe fruits (banana and apple), toasted nuts, slight trace of cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness, fruit loaf / Christmas cake...

Taste - A slight let down after the excellent aroma... lots of (harsh ?) warming alcohol to the fore followed by toasted bready malts, spicy dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, apples), peppery hops, some sulphur traces, nutty, oaky and vanilla traces, some anise...

Feel - Pretty smooth with a hint of sharpness coming through... medium / full bodied... a bit too alcoholic to be very drinkable - definitely a night cap brew...

Overall - A pretty decent Barleywine if slightly unbalanced - if only the taste had lived up to the aroma.... defintely worth a try though...

Aug 26, 2008
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swizzlenuts from Wisconsin

3.71/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark red with a good sized head. The head goes away pretty quickly and leaves a nice ring; there is also a nice bit of carbonation.

It has a bit of the fruitiness that usual barley wines have, but it smells kind of diluted. The beer has the usual plums flavours and the sweetness that most barley wines have but, the alcohol is very present at the end with a slight bit of bitterness. The flavour is actually kind of weak, compared to most barley wines. The mouthfeel is creamy and thick, but not as much as most barley wines, seems a bit watery than most.

It's drinkable, but I don't think it'd be worth having another.

May 19, 2008
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seanyfo from Scotland

3.92/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 30cl pilsner flute

A- Dark copper, altbier like body, with an explosive cream head due to the shape of the glass, retains head well for the abv

S- Cinnamon, vanilla, christmas cake, fresh bready malts, toffee, caramel, prunes

T- Prunes and christmas cake, raisins up front, with a nice warming alcohol but slightly quick finish, not a lot of aftertaste here.

M- Moderate carbonation, full body

D- Obviously a sipper nightcap beer. Enjoyable but expecting more in the taste after the glorious smells.

Mar 01, 2008
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garcia2a from Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Before I begin, this is not a barley wine for those who only like big and bold American barley wines. UK barleys are lighter in body, but pack a ton of flavor.

Tadcaster is between York and Manchester and and easy stop from the highway. The Sam Smith folks do not get many Americans stopping by. They are a great lot and warm and welcoming, I suggest if you are near, stop in. I picked up a few bottles of this tasty at the brewery, they still have my bottle deposit!

The beer has a nice deep color that pours clear, smooth and easy. The nose is mindful of raisins, prunes and even figs. The body ans the color are lighter than an american barley wine, but has all of the flavor. A ton of taste that engages the entire mouth.

A tasty that really should make a seasonal appearance in the US. Easy sippin'.

Jun 13, 2007
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ArrogantB from Colorado

3.11/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A friend brought this small bottle back from Europe which I thought was very cool as I have been a Samuel Smith fan since before becoming a beer advocate. I do have to note that the bottle lists "seaweed finings" as an ingredient. WTF? Anyway, the appearance was the best part of this beer. It was a clear golden-ruby color with about twelve bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass. It looked great. Unfortunately it smelled like hot alcohol. The taste was mostly alcohol along with a "Sam Smith" taste that I find in all their beers. This beer actually got worse as it warmed. I expected more out of Samuel Smith but I was still happy to have had this beer.

Jun 12, 2007
Strong Golden Barley Wine from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 36 ratings