Fire Drake Barleywine | John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House

very good
12 Ratings
no score
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Brewed by:
John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
Massachusetts, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-03-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 12 |  Reviews: 12
Photo of connecticutpoet
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh, I had waited several years to actually go to John Harvard's at a time they were serving this, and the heavens finally came into conjunction for me. Was it worth the wait?

This beer arrived in a small (8 ounce) glass, a medium amber-brown with a thin layer of foam on top and a bit of a haze. Looked good - I expected there would be little to no head as served.

Aroma was of crisp, lemony-citrus hops, with slightly sweet malts underneath. Balanced more to the hops, as I expected, although I was a bit surprised to smell the lemon in there as opposed to a blast of grapefruit.

Upon the taste, the first thing that came to me was the bitter. Which, from the nose, was expected. That was followed quickly by tart apples and clean, crisp malts, which faded into a bitter alpha-acid aftertaste. Well-proportioned for a hophead such as myself.

Mouthfeel was chewy, although with only eight ounces I couldn't take the larger swallows I wished I could, so I couldn't get the full effect. Nice.

Drinkability was deceptive. It went down easily, felt wonderful and a bit warming, but when I stood up, I knew that I had definitely had a good barleywine.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

had this on a random stop in CT for dinner on the way home. bonus, a barleywine on tap!

A - regular pint glass, cloudy reddish brown color, decent off tan head.

S - dark ripe fruits, sweet malts, citric notes

T - very sweet malts, dark ripe fruit notes, citric hop effect.

M - full bodied, good carbonation, thick across the tongue with a lingering hop effect

D - drinks decent. One was enough for me during this dinner.

Comes across as a youngish barleywine. I'd love to try this with some more time on it to settle out the flavors. Surprised to see it listed here as an english barleywine but maybe I was the one that was off during this dinner. Definitely not cask conditioned for this serving.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - first of all, this arrived in a regular pint glass, did not get the snifter, so not 100% sure it came cask, is this on a regular tap as well? regardless... it looks great, a dark burnt umber sort of ruddy muddy colored with a half finger of tannish head

S - the aroma is dominated by roasted nuts and malts with the sweet tang of sweet molasses, some dark fruits like raisins and/or dates

T - very strongly sweet without being sickly sweet, great malts, roastes to a delicious prefection with a balance with a deep earthy flavor, a great brew

M&D - silky, nearly velvety, a great mouthcoat, smooth and easy down, a delicious barleywine, well done harvard's

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Photo of RedChrome
3.63/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark colored body with ruby hue when held to light. Quarter inch tan head faded quickly, but left a thin layer on top. Lots of meandering tiny bubbles seen barely in the body. Thin lace layer around the glass.

A guit subdued aroma for the style. Malt scents abound with hints of fruit wafting in ends. Just the slightest presence of alcohol on the very deep ends of a nose full.

Sweet, without being sickening, taste of dark furits, and drisp grains. A nice combination with a shifting aftertaste. No taste of alcohol.

A very dry sense on the tongue, with a light carbonation tingle. Thick consistancy on the mouth surfaces.

A very denect choice. Great to pair with a plate of Italian sharp cheese. A supurb effort with a hidden alcohol presence. Well worth a try.

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Photo of jim102864
3.65/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Made my rare visit to JH in Manchester following my packy run to Manchester Liquors, the finest in all the land.

Nice pour from a cask of this interesting interpretation of the style. Dark chocolate brown with a numeg brown and creamy head. The presentation of this inviting brew in a snifter glass seems to be a perfect marriage.

Nose on this is anise with liquorice whispers and perhaps somewhat herbal. Maybe it's nutmeg. Can't quite put my finger on this but it has a pleasant aroma. Earthy like english cask ales tend to be.

Taste is also difficult to target. There seems to be an aftertaste from the malt that isn't bad but doesn't impress. Might be black licorice, perhaps something in the order of clove. It's grassy and earthy but beyond that I can't nail this down.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy with maltiness and no bitterness at all, simply true to style.

Not a session brew and really one to enjoy but not beyond perhaps two rounds.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the brewpub.

Small (10oz?) tulip glass presentation. Slight 1/4" dark tan head over dark caramel brew, with good sticky lacing. Aroma is sweet, with alcohol tendencies. Taste has nice malty body, coupled with a slight hops bitterness, and warming all it touches as it goes down the hatch. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent for the style, and another one worth revisiting at John Harvard's. Besides, how many cask barleywines do you really see at a brewpub, anyways? Gotta check those out.

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Photo of Boto
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was served in a 10oz. snifter. It was drawn from a beer engine, as this was a cask-conditioned brew. There was a rich mahagony color to the beer. There was a bit of a head to it, which took awhile to settle out. The aroma was sweet, malty, with hints of fruits. Also a hint of alcohol to the nose. This beer gave you a nice warming feeling as you drank it. Rich, complex flavors of fruits and malts. This was aged fairly well. This was many leaps and bounds ahead of a Barleywine that they made here a few years back. Superb!

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Photo of Hagbard
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a little 10 ounce pilsener glass because they were all out of snifters. This was a little dissappointing, but at least the waitress didn't ignore it and hope I wouldn't say anything, she let me know as soon as she set it down.

This review was done by memore because I didn't have the chance to take notes. However, it was such a good beer I felt the need to add it regardless.

Beautiful amber red color, that looks wonderful as the light hits it (although there wasn't much light so I don't think I got the full effect). There was very little head, but what was there looked creamy and stayed around for the entire time.

Smelled of dark, dried fruits with a bit of hops. The taste was outstanding! Started off slightly sweet with various dark fruit tastes like plum. Not cloying in the least. There was a nice hop kick to it almost immediately that added vast complexity to it. The alcohol teased the back of your throat as it went down, giving you a little reminder not to overdue it. It was on cask, so the mouthfeel was extremely creamy with a little carbonation.

This was a wonderfully complex beer. I left the restaurant cursing to my wife about CT's anti-growler laws. I wanted to bring some home...I could have had many of these! If you are in the area, you owe it to yourself to try this wonderful creation.

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Photo of necoadam
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got a chance to go to John Harvard's last night with a few people and we had some of this very stunning beer. Appearance was a dark red/orange with some very nice carbonation. Yet, when you take a sip of it, you hardly detect any carbonation. I took a sip of this excellent beer and was thrilled. It was perhaps the smoothest beer I've had yet. It's something to die for. I wish they had pitchers of this stuff, I loved it that much. There were hints of caramel and plums, but it was perfectly put together. It went down very easy. I could of drank this all night over there. Probably one of the best beers I've had yet (and smoothest). If you're in the area, go get a glass of this stuff, you won't regret it.

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Photo of UnionMade
4.36/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Ahhhh...the firedrake.
The beer arrives in a snifter, still cascading slightly from the beer engine pour. It slowly settles into a viscous looking ruddy brown, slightly cloudy, topped with a thick taupe head. Carbonation bubbles rise slowly, as if they were trying to rise through molten sludge. This beer could actually double for dragon spittle in a LARP meeting, I'm sure. The head thins out to a ring of white, with some spiraling mist in the middle. Now it gives the appearance of some wizard's mystical scrying device. I'm really playing up this whole firedrake angle.
Sniffing the dragon's spittle, my nostrils are instantly cleared. Very powerful, with a vinous quality to the malt. Loads of caramel, and a slight burnt aroma. Massive fruitiness lies beneath, emitting a thinner-like perfume of heady dark fruit. Heaps of raisin, plum, fig, and even a suggestion of nutmeg. Some alcohol scurries beneath all of this, well masked save for a flickering shadow in the cavern. Lying atop all of this is a brutish cudgel of citric hops. The dragon's nostrils are trailing smoke. My ass is grass.
Braving a sip, my tastebuds scream for mercy as the dragon rears up and opens his maw. A syrupy sweet caramel maltiness flares up immediately, with flickers of biscuit and molasses. The air grows thick with heat, my arms flailing in a syrupy slickness. Volatile, solvent-like esters follow, seeming to fill the air with combustible fuel, preparing for immolation. Heaps of heady plum, raisin, fig, and a touch of date. The esters continue into the finish, providing a constant source of fuel for the hellish flame. In true evil fashion the wyrm is unrelenting, and he finally spews forth a blast of flame, as I'm still stunned from the malty shock. The inferno of hops engulfs me, charring any sense of taste I still have left. It's silky warmth relaxes me as I give in to my fate. Rind-like citric hops blast in, white hot in intensity. Herbal and piney flames lick at any flammable material. The end of the blast is a faint sting of solvent alcohol, with embers of blackberry and plum dancing across my charred remains.
The firedrake hunkers down over it's heap of gold, pulling out a long golden sword, which is more like one of those plastic cocktail swords in his scaly claws. He spears the smoldering husk of my remains, pops it into his mouth and rumbles,
" least they deliver."

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Photo of mikeys01
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on cask yesterday at the Manchester, CT John Harvard's gathering with several other CT BA's. My first glass was served in a 10 oz snifter, the second in a small pilsner/bar glass. Poured a nice deep burnt ambler with flashes of ruby in the depths, with a surprisingly full (for a cask ale) off white head that lingered and laced the glass through most of the sipping. Aroma is a mix of floral and citric hops, along with a definite caramel sweetness. Carbonation is moderate for cask ale.
Taste is nicely hoppy at first with just a bit of bite and bitterness, and is then followed by a huge burst of fruity esters. I’m thinking of raisins, slightly over-ripe pears, and a bit of grapefruit. Body is fairly full and a nice balance is maintained with caramelized sweet malt and a resounding finish of intense alcohol warmth. Although relatively young, a very drinkable libation indeed. Fairly smooth, goes down much easier than some other more mature barleywines, perhaps dangerously so. Very good stuff…

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just had this at the brew house today. Met up with some other CT BAs for a tasting, was cool to meet some great people!
My sample was served in a brandy snifter about 10 oz.
The brew was a very dark, amber color, not a lot of light getting through my glass. About a cm beige, creamy, head that stayed through most of the drink. Also, nice tight latticework on the glass.
The aroma is mostly floral hops but not overpowering, maybe some caramel scents coming through.

First sip reveals very mild carbonation (cask ale), brew is fairly thick with maybe a little of an oily mouthfeel, but this is kind of nice. Hops dominate the flavor but are very crisp and refreshing. Definitely a robust brew! The alcohol gives a little kick in the back of my throat and I can feel the effects a little about half way through my glass.
Wish I had brought a driver so I could have another. Maybe next time I am heading to MA I will stop in and try another sample.

Definitely recommend this to anyone who is in the Manchester CT area!

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Fire Drake Barleywine from John Harvard's Brewery & Ale House
4.28 out of 5 based on 12 ratings.
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