Barrel Chested
Upland Brewing Company

Barrel ChestedBarrel Chested
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American Barleywine
Ranked #45
Ranked #4,185
4.11 | pDev: 7.54%
Upland Brewing Company
Indiana, United States
Barrel ChestedBarrel Chested
Notes: 2014: Willet Bourbon barrel-aged

A complex strong ale aged in Willett bourbon barrels, this gentle giant pours a deep copper and offers a seductive sweetness and intriguing complexity.
Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 178 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of johnnnniee
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sample at EBF Saturday
Mostly clear deep golden color. Big sweet caramel and brown sugary maltiness with plenty of alcohol and bourbon vanilla character. Nice sipper

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Photo of mjpolzin
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A decent tasting barleywine with flavors of dried fruit and biscuity malts. I was left wanting a little more though. I don't want to say it tasted bland but it could have been a little more complex.

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Photo of maximum12
3.56/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ndpunk, who knocked this long-time want off my list a while back, & I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. 12 oz. bottle enjoyed in a Holiday Inn outside of beautiful Albert Lea, MN. Yeah. I should have brought either (a) more beer or (b) gotten sick & hared off into the state park within spitting distance.

Alas, I am starting at this single brew. Filtered copper that if melted right, could join the plumbing under my sink at home. Aroma brings plenty of sweet malt, vanilla, nutmeg. Huh.

Barrel-Chested is more about the barleywine than the barrel. Chest-deep sweetness, sugar-covered caramel, brown sugar, raw stone fruit peels…good lord, I just had my teeth cleaned yesterday (sorry Cheryl!). Crowding the raw sugar mill is alcohol, baring its teeth. Very light barrel at the end lends an aura of bourbon rather than actual taste: bit of vanilla & wood, but barely. Thick & syrupy & is feeding my sweet-tooth with both hands.

A barleywine that might someday act as the spokesbeer for Crystal Sugar. Too light on the barrel, this slips down into the standard, good, solid territory.

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Photo of Ri0
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured 12oz bottle into snifter. Bottled 10/2015. It is a clear chestnut brown with a 1 finger light tan head that leaves some spotty lacing on the glass. The smell is of sweet bourbon, caramel, toffee, with some woody and a subtle dark fruit notes. Flavor has some sweetness of burnt brown sugar, caramel, toffee, bourbon and oak. Feel is medium, with some warming alcohol and lower carbonation. I enjoyed it.

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Photo of brentk56
4.51/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled: Oct. 2015

Appearance: Pours a clear mahogany with a nice head forming through a bubble show; produces the leggiest lacing I have ever seen

Smell: Treacle-laced Bourbon, with date and fig tones; earthy hops, oak and vanilla add complexity

Taste: Treacle forward, with the date and fig tones building; in the middle, the Bourbon comes on, with its boozy oak and vanilla character; earthy hops cut into the sweetness through the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; limited warmth in the gullet

Overall: I much prefer English barleywines to their American counterparts and this beer exemplifies my preference; an excellent example from a style that I really enjoy

Thanks, darktronica,.for the opportunity

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Photo of Dravin
4.15/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. The bottled on date was Oct '15.

It pours a nice amber-brown with a finger of beige head that quickly settles into a couple floating islands of foam and a ring around the edge of the glass. This beer is bourbon, raisins, vanilla, caramel, and oak. It's got a nice bitterness to the barelywine base that is a nice counterpoint to the sweet and warm flavors going. A sturdy body and low carbonation leave it hefty on the palate but hefty is to be expected from the style. Despite the sweet finish it doesn't come across as syrupy or clingy.

The barrel character of this beer isn't as aggressive as some I've had such as Backwoods Bastard but the softer character allows the beer to shine a little bit more and while softer there is no doubting the beer is bourbon barrel aged. It's a fantastic desert and nightcap all in one glass.

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Photo of NoYouDidnt
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Deep Amber pour, no head. Smells of bourbon, raisin, dark fruit, vanilla caramel. Tastes real similar. This is quite a treat. I will be happy to pick this up again next year.

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Photo of dleigh
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful dark reddish brown--crimson-amber when you shine a light through it. Plenty of off-white head. Smells of dark fruits and caramel with some subtle breadiness in there. Tastes like dark fruits, caramel, with a nice vanilla aftertaste. Definitely a little boozy. There are some hops in there giving it a bitterness that is actually my least favorite part of an otherwise wonderful beer--they feel a little bit dissonant with the rest. Coats the tongue for a nice mouthfeel. Overall, a great BA barleywine. I'm fairly new to barleywines, and the only other barleywine I've spent time with is Mother of All Storms, and while this is not as good (what is?), this is fantastic.

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Photo of mlb430
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: dark copper/reddish brown with light tan head.
S: vanilla and caramel w/ notes of bourbon and dark fruits.
T: same as nose. Hops give it depth and a little random peppery quality on the back end (to me). Malty linger.
M: medium body. Carb is moderate.
O: great drinking experience. Might have been better with a little more body, hard to say.

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Photo of 2beerdogs
4.02/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to @Prager62 for this Midwest beauty.
Deep aged copper in color, some loose frothy foam that dissipates to a thin oatmeal colored whisp.
Smell starts with caramel, rich dates, some boozy warmth with a nice hint of vanilla. But the caramel and date smell really tempts. Flavors of caramel and dates are instantly joined by some boozy warmth while the vanilla is more subtle than it was in the nose, yet still peeking through. As I swallow, I notice oaky wood that heads towards a dryness that seems to be brought on by the hops...heading in the direction of an American barleywine. Mouthfeel is almost creamy, elegantly hefty. Overall, a very solid, complex offering.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - The beer was a murky brown color with little carbonation evident.

Smell - The nose was light booze though dark fruits were present.

Taste - The booze began the taste, though it does not overwhelm. Nores of vanilla, raisins, and a hint of nuts were also present. I was hoping for more sweetness in an English barleywine. The aftertaste consisted mostly of the raisins and booze.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation top an appropriate thickness level.

Overall - I wanted more sweetness and even a little more booze. This beer does not go far enough.

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Photo of king75
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very solid barrel aged barleywine. A little on the sweeter side for the style but still very well done and enjoyable. I wish I would have bought a 6 pack

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Photo of stompilator
4.43/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a chalice.

A - Poured a deep, very murky copper. Two-finger, somewhat frothy head.

S - Plums, berries, oak, and booze.

T - Wood hits immediately, fading into deep notes of dark fruit with a heavily-roasted malt sitting under it. Hops begin to emerge briefly with the fruit, and the barrely booziness ultimately dominates the end. Strong residual sweetness and booziness.

M - Huge body, with a light crispness.

O - This beer really goes places. It's got a little bit of everything, and it's balanced oh so well.

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Photo of Gear54
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

From a bottle into a snifter

Color is not quite bronze with very little foam and light lace left on the glass. Very light in carbonation.

Smell is heavy with vanilla and barley. The aroma has a slight boozy note as well. Also getting some toasted malts and carmel

Taste follows nose here. Vanilla toasted malts and carmel are prominent with some woody sweetness. Really a nice combo of flavors

Overall this is a really smooth brew with tons of flavor. One of the few times I think boozy smell and flavor add to the experience. The abv could sneak up if your not careful.

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Photo of YancyUnger
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Excited to see Upland make this style, but remained skeptical. Really enjoyed it. Carmel and sweet on the front with characteristics on the back. See why some found it a bit boozy. Glad to have something this good locally.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.19/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Well, when you make a beer like this, why wouldn't you stick your chest out? Upland's fancy Willet barrel aged barleywine is the stuff of mythical creatures. Yet it now grazes the palate with a stern wallop of barley and booze.

Deep and bronzen, the beer's dark clarity casts chestnut highlights as it showers the nose with oh so sweet barley. Maple, molasses and sorghum saturates the aromas and weaves into the dark, dehydrated and stone fruits but with a bourbon-soaked edge.

Its taste is awash with decadent sweetness. All those molasses, maple flavors seep deeply into each tastebuds with unapologetic succulence. Dates, figs, raisins, plum and prune give an earthy, rootish sweetness while complex tobacco and chocolate nuances tether through its taste.

Dense, rich and strikingly of fruitcake, the full body of the beer is dissected only by the strong booze of both natural barleywine alcohol and also the bourbon spirit which carries its own vanilla, caramel, coconut and weathered oak into a long and rewarding finish. Surprisingly, the achilles heel of it all is in its over-extended dryness that prevents it from even more savory character.

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Photo of REVZEB
4.13/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Had on tap. Love the willet barrel character brought into this barleywine. Felt like the underlying ale was sweeter, with toffee, golden raisin, and malt, needed the roasted and robust nature of the willet bourbon. Overall has a nice wood backbone with molasses notes added to all the rest.

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Photo of Jason
4.06/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle, sample from the brewery.

L: Tight tiny bubbled lace with some retention, dark brassy brown hue shows off its clarity.

S: Caramel, vanilla, wood tannin, faint booziness, cake batter, toasty

T: Quite a malt bomb with complimenting flavors from the barrel aging, slightly boozy with a healthy dose of wood tannin. Malt sweetness is met by a balancing hop bitterness.

F: Creamy smooth with a lush full body.

Very well put together, barrel aging is assertive yet leaves this beer be a barleywine all the same.

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Photo of tmentzer
3.23/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Loads of caramel and even some toasted coconut on the nose. Sweet on the tongue with a warm finish. Definitely a cold-weather beer. Not near the top of my list for barleywines but a nice beer.

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Photo of PBRmeasap1980
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Redish brown hue with not much lacing or head, but whats there is white
S- Bourbon on the nose for sure. Sweet
T- Bourbon carries this away. Effeminately sweet but a clean finish
F- A little thin
O- Pretty nice offering for $12 for 4 x 12oz bottles

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Photo of chinchill
3.77/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a bottle.
Clear reddish-mahogany body with a decent head.
Sweet aroma and flavor.
Moderately complex. Lingering aftertaste with alcohol esters ad dark fruits.

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Photo of PaulyB83
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled Dec. 2014. Poured into a snifter.

L- Deep garnet, light chill haze but cleared up as it warmed, half finger khaki head that dissipated to nothing. Some alcohol legs.

S- Medium aromas of dried dark fruits of raisins, dates, oak, vanilla, some alcohol but all well balanced.

T- A bit more alcohol than in the aroma but still not overpowering, nice amount of barrel presence of vanilla and oak, dark dried fruits, ends with a dry woody note and a slight hop bitterness. A light sweetness.

F- On the lighter side of heavy, good amount of carbonation in the mouth.

O- Very pleasantly surprised by this beer. It has many of the great flavors of the bigger known BA barleywines but a bit turned down. Also very surprised by how affordable this beer is at $13 for a 4 pack. Would love to get more of this.

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Photo of barczar
4.05/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Aroma is rich and malty, fairly sweet, with prune and raisin and deep caramel.

Flavor is more harsh and boozy. Lacks the depth promised in the aroma.

Tried on draft and preferred it. Ages well, also. The malt complexity comes through in flavor.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from a 12 oz bottle in a Rhinegeist snifter. This approachable bourbon barrel barely wine pours a rusty brown with a nice big bubble head of foam and solid lacing from the slowly dissipating head. Nose of smooth bourbon, butterscotch, yellow raisins, rich malts, and a dash of vanilla. Flavors are complex and smooth with brown sugars and raisin flavors coming on in the front and sides. Bourbon flavors come in at the rear with a light vanilla characteristic blending nicely with a light hop balance in the back. Warming and smooth with moderate carbonation and a wet finish makes this one of the better barley wines I have had in a long time.

A smooth equal to the sum of it's parts----balanced. Excellent

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.94/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a MadTree snifter. The pour is dark and reddish-brown, slightly hazy, and sports a nice sustained 1.5 inches of off-white head. The nose has lots of sweet toasted malt, rich bourbon, some oak, and marshmallows.

Full body, creamy feel, and lots of sweetness. Typical English Barleywine character: sweet, sweet, sweet. Caramel, treacle toffee, and toasted malt are presented at their bready best, all enhanced by faint bourbon, vanilla, figs, and oaky notes. I definitely get some boozy notes near the finish as everything heats up with some fusel alcohol notes. All is good though, as the heat is not too harsh. Just enough to bite you a wee bit.

Can't believe this was only $10 for a 4-pack. Terrific bargain at that price. It's far from the best examples of the style (Sucaba, BBCBW, etc.), but an enjoyable treat that was easy to get and not too hard on the wallet. Very comparable to Weyerbacher Insanity, only with a bit more heat. Some age in the bottle might smooth things out a little.

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Barrel Chested from Upland Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 178 ratings