Strong Golden Barley Wine | Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)

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Strong Golden Barley WineStrong Golden Barley Wine
Very Good
36 Ratings
Strong Golden Barley WineStrong Golden Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by saltydog on 07-09-2004

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 36 |  Reviews: 32
Reviews by PapaEugene:
Photo of PapaEugene
4.92/5  rDev +29.8%
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of tempest
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

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Photo of baconsausage
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
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.

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Photo of Andrew99
2/5  rDev -47.2%

Photo of jwc215
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
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".

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Photo of DaveHS
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of mdagnew
3.56/5  rDev -6.1%
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...

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Photo of saltydog
2.64/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The idea of a barleywine from the venerable Samuel Smith brewery sounds wonderful, but the beer itself is pretty disappointing. Nice orange/tan color, quite clear, not much head retention. But once you smell and taste the beer you see where it's gone wrong. This beer is way out of balance, dominated by a fruity, phenolic, estery hot alcohol flavor. Neither the malt flavors nor the hops make much impression past the hot alcohol. It's very harsh, and not very drinkable. And this is coming from a fan of barleywines.

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Photo of seanyfo
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of haz77
3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Pours an clear orangey-chestnut with a creamy finger of white head. This falls to a bubbly island and ring. Small streamers rinse very slowly.

S - Toffee, cherries, berries, phenols, some syrupy sourness, rum.

T - Sweet, chewy, fruity malts up front. Tartness comes through in the middle, along with some floral flavours. Finish is syrupy, with rum notes. Alcohol appears from the middle, but doesn't really set in until the aftertaste, leaving a satisfying warmth at the back of the mouth and throat.

M - Full bodied, with soft carbonation. Smooth and creamy.

D - Reminded me somewhat of Samichlaus. Not particularly drinkable, which is expected and isn't a problem. A solid offering worth trying.

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Photo of Viggo
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
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!

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Photo of garcia2a
4.47/5  rDev +17.9%
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'.

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Photo of cypressbob
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

180ml nip bottle served in a Dobbelen tulip, opened with my newly acquired Beeradvocate opener

Pours with a rich copper body. A few reddy rusty hints, very small but tight head forms with fair retention. Some little yeasty patches forming, tiny bubbles of lacing up and down the glass only very few though

Smell, strong whiff of whiskyesque vapours, thick and syrupy esters of raisins and prunes, steamed golden syrup pudding. A touch of banana and apricot, heady alcohol aroma really kicks the aromatic spicy fruit into touch. Bourbon and molasses come into play with a thick sticky malt extract character floating around in the background, like diet JW Lees in some respects as far as the nose goes. Some spicy alcoholic nutmeg and cinnamon on the finish

Taste, almost tobacco tar like bitterness, very boozy and fairly thin mouthfeel for a beer of this size. The dried and fresh fruit comes through supported by the alcohol, spicy almost orange and grapefruit like zestiness. Bready, sticky, golden syrup malt character, lots of slightly harsh acetonic alcoholic flavours, slight weak hop bitterness on the finish and left on the palette along with a slightly greasy residue

Seems to be a bit of a hit or miss ale on here. I really wasn't sure quite what to expect but I was pleasantly suprised. The aromas are quite pungent and gratifying whilst the flavour is maybe a little lacking for a beer of this size. The overly evident alcohol is definitely a problem in many regards although its not enough to detract you from at least trying this beer once. I found it for £1.09 for a 180ml nip and at that price its definitely worth the money. A rare and slightly bizarre offering from Samuel Smith, that said worth a try.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

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Photo of swizzlenuts
3.71/5  rDev -2.1%
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.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of DerBayer
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
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

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Photo of rvdoorn
4.69/5  rDev +23.7%
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

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1996 Vintage
Best before date of December 1997.

"Nip" sized bottle poured barely carbonated with large white bubbles when forced.
Body is tarnished brass and hazy.
Sweet and chewy in the nose, toffee laiden malt and fruits.
English hops meld with mild oxidation and yeastiness.
Finishes with a chaulky tartness and honey steeped juniper with apple peel.
Juicy and sweet on the pallet with coppery undertones.
A syrupy body reveals a tangerine malt character with a pleasing drying bitterness.
Finishes with spiced honey, tart grapes, and a whisper of warming cinnamon spiked alcohol.
The oxidation is a detraction after 9 years, and I don't think it was bottle conditioned.
Young, this beer was balanced and tasty, but never huge.
All things condsidered, it held up well.

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Photo of ybnorml
4.39/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A clean dark copper beer. Has a small off white head. Solid Toffee character dominates the aroma up front with a light hint of dried fruitand the alcohol settleing in on the backside. WOW. That toffee character again dominates the taste with that lovely balance of dried fruit and a nice warm alcohol note.

I purchased 6 of these on a trip to England a year and a half ago. I have give all the others away as gifts. I wish I had bought a case.
I poured this in my Rapscallion glass to get the full aroma.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of PartyBear
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of Trizzle
4.39/5  rDev +15.8%
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.

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Strong Golden Barley Wine from Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
Beer rating: 3.79 out of 5 with 36 ratings