Rosie's Old Ale | Barley John's Brew Pub

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67 Ratings

Brewed by:
Barley John's Brew Pub
Minnesota, United States

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 18.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by fantome on 03-01-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 67 |  Reviews: 25
Photo of Chaz
3.73/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark clear burgundy / amber in color, and appears still - no head or lacing. A slight swirl of the glass and you'll see some carbonation appear (which is also present on th plate). Nose is a plum overload with a good deal of both fusel and alcohol presence. Plummy, rum, raisins, and booze all over the place, much more a liquor than a beer - reminds me of Dogfish World Wide Stout in that it is out-style and thin in body. You'l find some interesting fruit and vegetable characteristics (grapeskin, banana, cherry) buried *way* underneath the warmth of the booze, but only if you're looking for them. This was oak aged, and sure enough there are notes of vanilla and marshmallow in here, but I'm thinking some more time in the oak wouldn't hurt. Drinkable but not for sessioning. Sticky and treacly sweet at times, but for what it is it's to be expected. Alcohol is warmer than I remember( downright hot at times) and paired well with the chipotle hummus appetizer. A sipper, probably best to start off with this one, and not a bad idea to have a designated driver as well. This was the 12/06 - 1/07 offering at 14%.

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Photo of tempest
3.75/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ordered a glass after dinner, made a very nice dessert. It reminded me a lot of a dessert wine or cordial in it's sweetness. That sweetness also seemed to indicate that this beer had a lot of sugar leftover (the last batch was 4% higher). Instead of the alcohol playing a large roll, the sweet malt dominated. This made for a very fruity and thick drink. It almost taste like plum wine with raisins and dates. I should also mention the appearance was a bit muddy, but that wasn't a huge factor. If you're at Barley John's, this is worth a try.

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Photo of cokes
3.8/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky burnt sienna with a scant topping of beige bubbles.
Nose looms heavy in the sugars and the booze. Like kiwis drenched in dark rum.
Begins titanically sweet. Prune and peach and pear (and kiwi again), all seared slight and caramelized. At this point, its pure brown sugar and molasses. The yeast is mostly cloaked, but clearly belgian-devired, bringing with a plaintain-like phenol. The finish is booze-driven, alternating between the caramel traits of Bourbon and the sweet heat of rum. Any hopping here is completely overmatched.
It's thick, but not binding huge. For a brew of this potency, the sweetness impacts drinkability moreso than the alcohol content.
It's decent, but single minded.

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Photo of
3.95/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Barley John's.

I was handed a dark copper fluid, capped by a tiny, creamy, light brown head. No lacing, but lotsa legs.

Aroma was quite strong. Port/sherry like. Dark fruits, very sweet, raisins and toffee.

Taste was much more sweet than bitter. Touch of smoke, initially. Again, port is a good comparison. Lots of raisins. Alcohol. Vanilla and bourbon. Bittering only seems to kick in at the end, more in aftertaste. Grassy in character. Nicely complex.

Medium in body, could/should be heavier. No real carbonation. Not dry. Mouthfeel is coating. Lots of ABV warming right off the bat.

I would love to have this again, but no more than one at a sitting. Very nice after dinner drink. Pair up with some sort of dark chocolate dessert.

Value - a bit pricey - $9 for a 6oz. pour.

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Photo of objectivemonkey
3.97/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm a little befuddled how I haven't reviewed this yet, have had every vintage of it so far. That said, was a little surprised as it was presented, and it was a bit brown, usually its more copperish. Eh, in a small snifter, with little head, shrinking pretty quick, no lacing. Aroma is hefty, to say the least. Its definitely bourbon aged, lots of sweets, plums, raisin, and that transfers over to the taste. Its a different cat than previous Rosies, and I'm all for evolution and experimentation, but I will say I liked previous versions better. That said, I'll still keep going back every year for it.

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Photo of Herky21
4/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of Bighuge
4/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An auburn/mahogany blend. Slight tan head with some retention. Aroma is sweet. Quite sweet actually. And alcoholic as well. Spicy too. The taste follows suit with quite bit of sweetness and spicy alcohol. All to be expected with an a/v this high. But while this is a good sipper, it lacks the malt depth and complexity of some of the better barleywines out there. (I'd rather drink an Old Ho anyday, for instance.) But I'll give this beer it's due. The alcohol isn't overbearing and there are some nice brown sugar accents and maybe even a little cinnamon to compliment the sweet and alcoholic aspects of this beer. A nice experiment that I'm glad I tried once (finally).

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Photo of KAF
4/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.1/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer came a foggy light caramel color that was a darker brown towards the middle. The head was a dark tan film that was sustained by a field of lazy bubbles.

Smells of marshmallow, red grapes, caramel, port, bourbon and powdered sugar.

Tastes of honey and caramel with a light floral jasmine. There’s also a bit of fruit cocktail juice. This also reminded me a bit of barbecue, but in a good way. The bourbon comes through very delicately and very well balanced.

Feels a bit heavy and dense. It’s also rather sticky but with a light thickening carbonation. This burned my stomach quite a bit too, much like a shot of whiskey.

Too sweet for me, but a nice desert.

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
4.12/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed on 1/27/07. 5oz pour at the brewpub. The board claimed this was 14%, I believe. Aroma flows as a bright, piquant and sharp aroma of clear cherries and pomegrante. Hints of port and cream show through in a heavily vinous and alcoholic aroma. Served at the right temperature this is a quite volatile and lucious aroma. Succulent and inviting. More vinous aged grapes and sweetness. Mature pear touches. It was dark in the brewpub, so it was hard to get a real read on the character, but it was a deep deep red with ochre fringes and little head. Flavor continues along these same lines with pear brandy, warmed sherry and a nip of oaked Mexican vanilla. Distant cherry pipe tobacco carries over some bright tropical fruits on a palate of incredibly dense sugar. I’m not sure I’ve ever put anything this sweet in my mouth. There are certain wisps of milk chocolate and black tea in the background. It just stings of corn syrup, brown sugar and pralines. It’s good, but could be way better with a bit less destructive cloyingness and that sickly sugar-yeast flavor that reminds me, unfortunately, of the high octane DFH beers. It really dominates the middle of the flavor profile. I really want more hops in this. I can’t reach out and get any. Maybe a bit singular, but still to produce a beer of this heft and complexity is quite an accomplishment.

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Photo of treyrab
4.2/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Tim for sending me a 12oz hand bottle of this nice summer warmer. Opened with a hiss and I was glad to see the carbonation was still kickin' in the bottle. Split with JoshCool into two snifters.

Batch 3 (3rd use of the barrel)

A: Pours a nice mahogany ruby red with slight bubbles but no head. Looking into the bottom of the snifter I can see some bubbles clinging to the side of the glass. Very still, crystal clear and great looking.

S: Bourbon is the first whiff and that is followed by a marriage of dark caramel malts, and bourbon soaked raisins and other various dark fruits. Bourbon is the most prevalent by far though.

T: Very, very nice. For being the 3rd use of the barrel, the bourbon flavors are just perfect. Not over the top, yet not so subdued either. The bourbon blends nicely with the burnt toffee and slight roasted flavors. Bourbon soaked dark fruits are really the icing on the cake though and bring the beer to a final close.

M/D: Low carbonation, but perfect for the beer.

Overall, a fantastic old ale that I wish were available more for those cold PA winter nights. Thanks again Tim!

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Photo of iRun2Beer
4.24/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of herman77
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of BeerBuilder
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A beer in Minnesota coming in at 28%, I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass me by. John, the brewer was not in at the time, but the bartender told us that it was a triple fermented beer using their beer, Wild Brunette. He told us that they used candi sugars to get the ABV up there. The bartender said that John guesses it is around 28%, but doesn’t know for sure.

It poured to a murky brown color with an off-white head that quickly diminished to a ring of lacing. The aroma was sweet, somewhat cidery with the aromas of dark fruits. I got the raisins and dates in the smell. It had a touch of smokiness, and was almost wine-like. The flavor was sweet and wine-like, with a solid malt profile and raisin and date flavors intermixed. It was a full-bodied brew, with definite alcohol warmth. For being such a big brew it was relatively smooth drinking. The alcoholic strength was very well hidden in this brew. An interestingly complex beer. Yummy

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Photo of CoolJosh
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Note: Hand bottle generously shared by gentleman Treyrab.

Poured into a snifter, this beer pours fairly low carbonated, to be expected given the bottling and the style. A very nice deep and rich dark brown with no translucency. No head.

The smell is very bold. Huge burnt toffee smells control the nose, and give way to a subtle kentucky mash scent. There is a bread-like smell that is very prominent. My sniffer is also picking up some salty characteristics, along the lines of a sweetened soy sauce.

This is a very unique beer. I am told that the listed abv on BA is incorrect, and that this beer is actually 20%!!! This is a great beer, and while there is so warmth in the mouth and throat after each sip, it is not overpowering. The roasted flavors are unbelievable. Tons of burnt malts that produce burnt toffee flavors and sweet chocolate tastes. The flavors aren't 100% developed but there is a lot of depth to this beer, as the complexity runs ramped on the palate. A nice oak compliment provides subtle nuances of vanilla. This beer is incredible, and I am savoring every sip of this. The bourbon flavors are done just right and lack the overpowering flavors that are found in beers like Goose Island BCS. As this beer warms, some nice darker fruits rise out. Decadent, man...

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Photo of zestar
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of jeffboo
4.28/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Starting gravity 1.240 finishing gravity 1.028, two additions of honey, candi sugar, and first running of Wild Brunette wort, with 3 yeasts (the last champagne) 6 weeks fermenting.

The brew is dark brown/ rich amber, depending on the light, with a nice tan head . Aroma of scorched brown sugar, rum, some alcohol but not what you might expect. The body is full but it has a real nice balance of malt and alcohol drying to prevent it from becoming cloying. Chewy malt flavors with rum, raisins, ripe cherries, light butterscotch which (with such a high abv) has no alcohol burn. It's in there but it doesn't overpower the beer. It has nice depth of flavor for such an experiment. The brewer was just having a try at something big after getting a bottle of DFH 120 min from a friend. He was shooting for 20% and the alcohol strength is just a calculation from the gravities. He was not trying to top anyones abv, nor wants to verify officially the strength. A portion is being saved to release in November 2004. I'll check back to see how it's aging. It's really worth checking out.

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Photo of gatornation
4.31/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours rusty dark brown with some ruby highlights, and a thin light tan head. smell is great bourbon and oak with light dark fruits . Taste very bourbon forward with raisin and plum mixing in ,toffee and toasted malt round this out. All components of above mentioned meld well together nothing dominates,lower carbonation with ABV warmth, this is a sipper.

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Photo of Hopstout
4.31/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of hopdog
4.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to beerguy101 for sharing his shared sample with me!

Poured a dark reddish-brown color with almost no head. Sweet. Little fruity. A little alcohol came through in the taste and aroma.

Rerate; larger sample courtesy of egajdzis (thanks!). Additional tastes and aromas of dark fruits, woody and vanilla. Increased the aroma score.

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Photo of Viggo
4.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub, served in a little port glass.

Pours a very lightly hazed ruby red, some brown, thin off white head forms, quickly disappears to a very thin ring, no lacing on the glass. Smell is intense, sherry, very sweet and boozy, bourbon, oak, toffee, whiskey, brown sugar, raisins, tons of fruit, alcohol, wow, really complex. Taste is similar, sweet at first, toffee and brown sugar, sherry, whiskey, bourbon, vanilla, super malty, cognac, oak, coconut, alcohol, pretty crazy. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation, some warmth going down but ABV is well hidden. Thin body but keeps it from getting too cloying. A pretty wacky beer, really neat sherry notes to it. Try it!

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Photo of Mistofminn
4.37/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The third and final brew I ordered for lunch at Barley John's. It was a long lunch.

Served in a 5.5 oz portion in a small brandy snifter. Little to no head. Color is a dark ruby/copper brown color.

The nose is fruity and boozey. Sweet malts, a woody character (from the Fitzgerald Boubron barrels ranging in age of 15-20 years, used for a third time), bourbon, dark dried fruits such as dates and raisins. Incredibly complex. There is more but I can't put a finger on it.

Admittedly the first taste you get is the warming alcohol presence. After that, the vanilla bouron flavor comes out, as well as dried raisins, dates and other fruits. There is almost a tart fruit flavor here as well. Sweet malty goodness, very impressive.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and hot. Medium body, you can definitely feel the heat from the alcohol. I believe the normal Rosie was 14% ABV, but for some reason the beer list listed this as "TBD." Not really sure why, but you can definitely tell it is far north of 10%. Drinkability is pretty high considering the specs.

Overall, a great beer to end lunch on. It is pretty pricey ($9 for a 5.5 oz pour) but in my opinion well worth the experience. Not something I would want on a regular basis, this is more of a treat that should be savored slowly over the course of a meal. The best offering I had at lunch, and I think it could stand up to the best Old Ale's in the world, honestly.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.37/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had a couple beers before this one, during dinner at the pub, for I wasn't going to just leap into the strongest friggin' beer in the world, and the waitress wasn't helping any, with all the little sample snits, unbidden and utterly appreciated.
Then, she finally arrived with these tiny snifter glasses, filled with a dark magneta brew, nearly opaque, but for the sliver of bright crimson at the sides. Only a slim, tight tan cap on this pour, and when I noted that my friend's serving had a larger head, just saying is all, she said, "oh, that was to get more in the glass for you!"
Aroma is flush with dark fruits, cherry, dates, prunes, backed with a distinctive whiskeyish character, like a mellow cognac with an extra spicy kick. I wished I'd asked for a larger glass, to see if the aroma might come out more, from a wider opening, but, alas. Not a very forward smell, either, rather cool and approachable.
Taste: a lush charge on the palate at first, velvety smooth, warm, toasty, the senses immediately sink into the effects of a certain sublimity. Something very good is happening on the tongue, and it's complexity takes time to unwind and work it's magic. Hops make a distinct impression on the taste, but there's hardly any bitterness, flavor is bright, fruity, and rings the palate happily. A medicinal feel comes forward in the taste, but an altogether pleasant one, like cherry cough syrup, but better tasting. Malt is thick here, as you'd guess, but doesn't insinuate itself too much in the profile, either.
The more Rosie's Ale gets at home in my mouth, the more it strikes me as a thoroughly amazing creation. Somehow, they've concocted a barleywine that has a rich cognac,/port/madeira character and a freakishly huge alcohol content, but it's put together so well that it's remarkably easy to put past the lips, and the body is supple and sweet, but never too much so. You know you've got an alcoholic beverage in you, and it slowly slinks into the system, but it never stings you, never knocks you about, as I remember other high ABV brews doing.
I had a pitcher of water brought out to keep me hydrated through this expedition, and when the waitress heard me request it, she nearly choked, thinking I'd asked for a pitcher of Rosie's! No, this tiny, 5 or 6 ounce snifter was enough ($7.25 per!), but it was so good, I'll be back for more. They ought to bottle this stuff and give Remy Martin a run for his money.
"It's what the blood of Christ would taste like," spouted my cheeky, blaspheming dinner partner. I had to quote him on that one. It was divine, and I'm anticipating how this tastes next year. Yep, the brewer, who named the brew after his daughter, is keeping a batch in an oak barrell for a year!
Amazing, that a tiny little box off the freeway in New Brighton is crafting such gigantic beer!

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Photo of Duff27
4.4/5  rDev -2.9%

Photo of Crosling
4.42/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Enchanting sugar laden raisin and vinous grape aroma. Brownish/burgundy color. Rich, full coating body. Sweet, well extracted sugary fruit flavors on the palate, vinous on the mid, which leads into a light but nicely balanced bourbon barrel contribution, with mocha, caramel and vanilla flavors. Nicely hidden alcohol. Awesomely tasty.

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Rosie's Old Ale from Barley John's Brew Pub
Beer rating: 4.53 out of 5 with 67 ratings