XS Old Crustacean | Rogue Ales

1,275 Ratings
XS Old CrustaceanXS Old Crustacean

Brewed by:
Rogue Ales
Oregon, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly "Old Crustacean"

8 Ingredients:
Hugh Baird Carastan and Rogue Micro Barley Farm DareTM & RiskTM Malts; Chinook and Rogue Micro Hopyard Revolution & Freedom Hops, Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

110 IBU
83 AA
57º Lovibond

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-03-2001

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Ratings: 1,275 |  Reviews: 708
Photo of Ieatlambfries
3.66/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This example was an 03 that I've aged about 2 years. Served in a tulip glass.

Appearance is a super dark copper orange. Absolutely no head to speak of. Just a mild foam during the pour which was gone almost immediately.

Smell is sweet. raisin like, malty with a hint of soy sauce

Taste is sweet dried fruits up front. Raisins and figs. This gives way to an intense piney hoppy bitterness. Big citrus rind flavor that curls your lips. some hot alcohol vapors on the exhale.

Mouthfeel is heavy. Slight carbonation. Thick.

Drinkability is a hard one. I love the taste, but at over 11% not easy to give a high rating.

Overall an intense barley wine. In my opinion not quite as accessible as say a Big Foot. But, definitely more extreme.

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Photo of joedon
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bad-ass barley wine on tap at the Rogue Ale House in San Francisco.

Served in 12 ounce glasses (since the lawyers don't think the average drinker can handle anything bigger?).

Very dark brown but a small tan head.

Not a big aroma but what is there is very hoppy.

Big flavor, lots and lots of hops; maybe even a bit much. Perhaps this beer still needs more ageing. Big malt and residual sugars but good balance.

Thick, chewy on the tongue with lots of lingering hops in the aftertaste. Excellent sipping for a cool, rainy afternoon. Not for big gulps but perfect for sipping and conversation.

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Photo of badbeer
3.74/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750mL Ceramic XS bottle, poured into Tripel Karmeliet chalice.

Red, mostly brown color, tan head that quickly went away leaving no lacing or anything behind. Very malty backbone, caramel and dark fruit, with a floralness not far behind. Very nice caramel maltiness, but the hops are not blended enough, there is the maltiness and then a very strong bitterness following. Pretty good but I think needs some age to perfect its flavor. Mouthfeel is full bodied and a low carbonation level. Took quite a while to finish the glass, but perhaps I'll age one for a few years, I imagine it could turn out quite nicely.

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Photo of scottoale
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In a word...WOW!
Alrighty then, not sure of the exact vintage of this Old Crusty, it comes in the big 750ml, black ceramic XS edition bottle w/cap and flip top ceramic stopper as well. Nice presentation of this fine Rogue barleywine, pours into my small tulip glass a very dark copper-brown with an ivory half inch of short lasting head. A few specks of lace as the head dwindles.

Smell is dark, roasty and chocolaty, with floral notes creeping through. A tad of burnt something and sharp, spicy hops penatrate the rich, roasty foreground of previous sniffs...complex, I think so !

Burnt black patent malt grabs your tongue...bitter black coffee and baking chocolate, rip your tastebuds off the bat. The extremely high IBU's of the mega hops used, over-powers the fore mentioned with a pungenty bitter bite...whoa!!! This extremely potent brew needs to rest a few more years to mellow and mature to tame the powerful characteristics at hand here...seriously! I truly believe this stuff will age to an incredible Barleywine in at least 2years. It is way too young at this point, giving indication that it has only been bottle for no more than 2years max. Two more years minimum should yield a truly top-notch BW, no doubt...judging by the Old Crusty's since it's inception.

Still very tasty, it's got sharp edges that need to be honed by time, plain and simple.

Although patience is essential for proper cellaring, it will pay off well if you sit on this, for a few more years. Great things don't usually happen overnight, but with a bit of patience, you will be rewarded greatly!

Being what it is, I love the stuff from now...till then, what can I say?


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Photo of ommegangpbr
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 ounce bottle into a goblet.
I'm guessing this bottle is at least a couple years old making it quite a bit smoother than a fresh sample.
Looks pretty typical for a barley wine. No head, some lacing, a murky dark maple syrup color. Smells quite sweet; mostly malts with some floral hop scent.
Taste is quite sweet with an upfront hop attack. Nothing terribly interesting as far as the style goes but it has got what you need for a barley wine fix.
Mouthfeel is very resinous. Very piney. I imagine a fresh incarnation would be quite harsh on the palate. As this is, it's pretty sticky leaving a lingering bitterness.
I've had enough barley wine now to not be overwhelmed by this one. Maybe I'd pick up a $3 12 ounce every once in awhile, but I wouldn't bother with $13+ ceramic bottles.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.7/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 version on tap at Naja's. 3 years of aging has done well for this offering. Pours a dark brown to black, some light can get through this filtered body. Nice solid tan head graces the top of this huge beer.

I think the biggest thing aging has done to this brew is it mellowed it out. Its still a humongous offering that defies my senses. Speaking in generalities I'd say this is a heavily malted, syrupy, caramel bomber. But the hop profile is smashing every taste bud with bitterness, much less than the fresh version but this bitch still holds a punch. As it warmed the hops really started to shine. I will have to say its not shy about the alcohol and it is a bit astringent at times but overall its a gem.

Notes: These huge barleywines like Old Guardian and this Old Crustacean are so incredible with a few years of age on them. Drink a few now and drink a few later. For those folks that are cellaring this bad boy and are wondering when to drink it I'd say that although now is Awesome, another year or two would still do this some good.

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Photo of Fugazme
4.32/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep ruby red/brown... excellent, thick head. Off-white in color... leaves a 1/4" cap and some very good stick to the glass.

Aroma is of caramel and sugary sweetness. Some maple and malt. A small bit of berry. Some pine. Hops as it warms. Dried fruit.

Thick, thick and creamy on the palate. It glides over the tongue.
Alcohol burn and vapor. Quite dry.

Taste is huge. Malt then hops...

An excellent beer... one to share.

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Photo of orfeu
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Pizza Plant Walker Center. Served in 10-ounce goblet. Deep rubied brown with dense beigeish-brown head. This was served from a refrigerated keg, and therefore too cold for a barleywine, but I was still able to pick up armoas of sweet caramel malts, bourbon soaked cherries and a menacing pine forest of hops. The huge, sweet, malty beginnings of this first sip are immediately thrashed into oblivion by the most massive, earth-scorching hop bitterness I've ever encountered. Woody, pine-struck acridity lingers infinitely...or so it seems. I don't know when this one was kegged, but it sure as hell tastes fresh to me. A bubblegum sweetness tries to emerge as the beer warms. Huge, chewy mouthfeel; medium body. My impression is that this is a promising barleywine if properly aged for a number of years -- like at least three. Right now, at least, the drinkability has to be low, because the hops are almost too obnoxious to really enjoy. I'm all for palate expansion, but beer drinking shouldn't ever feel like a chore.

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Photo of mynie
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Old XS bottle

Slow pours a very nice, tight head atop a dark pink body. Pretty, and oddly reminiscent of a boiled lobster shell.

Incredibly rich smell. Raisins, passion fruit, caramel, bread dough, and giant hops. They hit you all at once so that you have to step back and check yourself.

Time has been kind to this brew. In spite of its aging, the first thing that hits the tongue is a mighty hop whallop, and them time sort of seems to stand still while you recover, finding yourselve naked and shaking in the middle of a forest of fiery borwn hops and big caramel yeast.

Quite the fine Barley wine.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was part of a Rogue sampler I offered to some friends. I liked this better than they did. It was a dark red/brown color with a thick white head and some interesting lacing. I could detect fruit, wine, and caramel in the odor. The taste was all hops, and more hops, with some sweetness. Mouthfeel was just a touch cloying, but still a nice beer.

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Photo of Mandrake
4.23/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml XS ceramic bottle, purchased Feb. 2006.

Pours a beautiful deep ruby red with a larger head than I'd expected, given the style and ABV, that is a light tan, lasts well, and leaves the most incerdible creamy lacing. Smell is big, with port and rum alcohol apparent, and some currant, plum, and spices coming through with the fairly light hops. Taste is bold, with good hoppiness on top of the cherry, currant, and plum fruitiness. Plenty of port wine grapes and a touch of hot alcohol are also in the mix. Tastes are complex, but not exceptionally well balanced. Mouthfeel is thick and sticky, not cloying or oppressive, but promoting a finish that seems to go on forever. Drinkability is pretty good, but a bit more balance would improve it markedly. A great barleywine, but just a touch too over the top to be truly stupendous. Might improve with age.

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Photo of Sephiroth
3.89/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap for Gravity Head at Rich O's in New Albany. Kegged in 2002. Arrives in what I think is a thistle glass. It is stemmed, not as wide or curvaceous as a tulip, and doesn't flare out as much at the top.

A nice head sits atop the beer, which was served nearly ice cold. My perception of the aroma was certainly affected by the few smokers, so I will only say that the smell wasn't as good as my bottled samples of this vintage.

Wow. Hoppy doesn't even begin to describe this beer. After letting it warm a bit, the hops are still overwhelming. I detect a slight, ever so slight malty sweetness, a vinous quality. This part of the flavor is quickly emasculated by the hops. The mouthfeel is scalding. I would describe the drinkability as scathingly hoppy.

In comparison to the 2002 bottled version, this draft Old Crusty has not mellowed nearly as much. I consider myself a hophead, but this needs more time. I wonder if I should even attempt to drink one of the younger, ceramic bottles. I think I'll wait.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
1.68/5  rDev -58.1%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

A - Scarlet amber ichor with a thin head that barely covered the surface and vanished nearly instantly. Swirling reveals how the brew viscously clings to the sides. There is an odd yellow color in the beer too.

S - Alcohol is extremely dominant here. When I drank this, I didn't realize this was only 11.3%, Rogue does a terrible job of masking it. I have had many high abv beers at this level and I cannot thing of one that is as harsh on the nose. It is like sniffing rubbing alcohol. I can barely detect anything underneath that, but there is a faint caramel malt and a touch of pine.

T - Alcohol! My first thoughts are of battery acid (not that I've ever drank it, but I imagine this is what it tastes like). A caramel malt sweetness with some bourbon character, then the beer turns to an oppressive hop bitterness for the finish. After a while the aftertaste takes on an ocean water / salt flavor. I didn't expect that at all, but I suppose that would account for the name.

M - Numbs the mouth, a lot. Kills germs, or at least it pretends to do that. Refreshes the front of the mouth while drying the back. It is viscous and smooth. A little while after drinking this, part of my mouth started to bleed. I don't think it is a coincidence.

D - The drinkability is bad, even for a barleywine. A few of us shared the gigantic ceramic fifth. My half glass was a distressing chore to finish. It might improve with age. I will pass in the future unless some tells me it was well aged. Sessions unthinkable. Food might be okay, if the beer was.

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Photo of Dewey0603
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a very dark ruby with a huge tan foamy head. The smell is very strong and very good. The armo has alot of fruit,raisins, prunes,or grapes, and a fair amount hops. The bottle says this is a 2003 vintage,so I lucked out. The taste has a creaminess to it that lessons the high alcohol content. You can still feel the alcohol,but the fruit and hops have more of a presence. The m/f is heavy and the flavors are very well balanced. Too many barleywines have too much of a dark fruit flavor that there almost like brandy,but Rogue does it right with a good mix of fruit and hops.

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Photo of oracle
4.92/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

10 oz pour of 2002 vintage at Gravity Head 2006

Beer arrived a cloudy brownish gold with a bubbly craggy head that left large amounts of lacing to mark it's all too swift passage.

Smell was HUGELY hoppy, with strong citrus notes. The high alcohol content was also very obvious as well.

Taste is just excellent, with a strong blast of hops to start off that quickly mellows out into a complex set of flavors. A little citrus and pine with a little sweetness in the finish.

I finished mine and immediately wanted another, but there were too many other specialty beers to try in the festival. Even if there weren't, drinking a lot of this in a short period of time is not the best way to enjoy it.

The high abv and strength of flavor demands attention when drinking this beer. The very antitheses of a session beer, drink and enjoy slowly and in moderation.

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Photo of crwills
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had the pleasure of sampling a vintage 1997 bottle of Old Crustacean from the cellar at Beerbistro in Toronto. Kept the bottle too -- a teeny little 7 oz. with the date and year stamped on it. This is my first real 'vintage' beer, so I figured it was worth saving a keepsake.

The beer was poured into a large brandy snifter and, appropriately enough, had the colour and appearance of a good brandy. The tiny bottle barely filled the bottom of the large glass, but it was more than enough.

Smell is very winey, with a strong alcohol presence and lots of spicy notes. Couldn't tell you what spices, but that's what stood out to me.

Taste is huge and intense, even though this beer was 9 years old and supposedly mellows with age. Powerful malty mouthfeel, strong flavours of raisins and overripe plums, ear-warming alcohol, and bready notes. But what really stands out for me more than other barleywines I've had is the bitter hop intensity. I looked at the bottle before taking a sip, and was shocked at the 120 IBU. It doesn't come off as hop-crazy as a big double-IPA, but you can definitely feel the bite, especially in the long-lasting dry and bitter aftertaste.

Overall, a great experience. Recommend anyone in the Toronto area who is a fan of this beer head to Beerbistro. They have 4 different vintages of Old Crustacean in the cellar (1997, 98, 2001, 2002 I believe), and it would be really cool to see how it ages over time (although at $12 CDN a pop it better be a special occasion).

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Photo of dawg
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

Couldn't decide what to do with the bottle that I purchased earlier this week. 0.750l ceramic bottle with a reclosable mechanism.


After posting to the forum, I decided to go ahead and crack it open.

Poured a generous portion in to a pint glass about 2/3 full. Dark and murkey, muddy brown like perturbed swamp water. Head appeared light tan and fluffy, then vanished into a lace ring/skim layer. Almost intimidated by the brown water appearance.

At first it didn't smell like much. I took a small sip and was blasted in the face with intensity.


This is some serious stuff. Pungent nose and pungent tongue. Alcohol is prevalent, as is bitter and intense hops. Almost of hop concentrate if a thing exhists. Or maybe like a hop reduction. Very very intense. Almost violent. Just the hard nose makes my eyes glaze and this sip feels like my tongue is swelling up. Pretty damn intense.

I am suprised that I don't get any pine or bitter grapefruit as I expected. Sometimes too much hops, to me, tastes like stomach bile. Not this one. Instead I get some very dark fruits poking in right after the blast. Almost like prune, or perhaps dates. Not picking up too much more as the intensity has my senses overwhelmed and numbed. Remindes me of rocket fuel.

Definately syrup and thin alcohol combined. Feel burns as it passes the tongue and about half way to the stomach I have more burn.

I don't have a huge Americal Barley Wine or even a big Barley Wine background for comparison, but this is some interesting stuff. I'm not huge on the style but this is an awesome experience. I need to get another one to cellar. Maybe a couple more.

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Photo of mentor
3.38/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2002 bottling obtained from Liquor Max in Fort Collins. Pours a half finger of light brown head. Thick frothy mat on top of a slightly cloudy dark brown liquid. Smells of alcohol, chocolate, pine-sol hops, and soured caramel. Tastes alcoholic, chocolate, caramel, hop bitter. Sharp crisp pine mixes with the alcohol to make a sort of winter-fresh character. As it warms, the hops begin to dominate and turn the beer more towards pine-sol characteristics. A very intense and somewhat brutal beer. Not one I'm fond to try again. Thick dextrinous mouthfeel and modest carbonation.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a dark foggy brown with light red highlights giving it the appearance of cherry Coke. When I poured it, my glass was a third barley wine, a third head and the remaining third was a sluggish combination of the two. It took a few seconds to settle, and was a lot of fun to admire. The head then quickly fell to a ring. Smelled of sweet caramel malt with some milk chocolate, prunes, maraschino cherries and a solvent alcohol that was mixed into a resinous pine hops. The flavor began with an up front dry pine then picked up some sweet cream and a delightful woody barley. Finished with a dark chocolate and some intense dry piney hops with an alcohol burn. Unfortunately, I inhaled through my mouth while drinking and choked on solvent vapors. The mouth feel was medium bodied and sticky with a light carbonation. This is an alright beer that’s a little heavy on the hops with a far too obvious alcohol. This could definitely stand to spend some time in the cellar.

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Photo of PatYoda
3.41/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2002 version.

Pours a clear brown with ruby highlights. It has a small head which lingers for a while as a ring around the glass, not bad for a barleywine. Smell is deep caramel malt and sugary pine cones. A nice dose of alchol in there limits the smellability.

Taste is pretty one dimensional. It's sweet in a caramel malt / molasses way, but not cloyingly so, and the hops certainly balance it out very well with a piney bitterness which lingers long into the finish. At this point, this beer doesn't lean towards hops or malt because both are very strong. I can imagine that in its infancy this was very harshly hoppy and difficult to drink though. I have not had a fresh version. As it is now, the alcohol makes itself known and does prohibit drinkability a bit, and the strong hopping makes this a sipper. My main complaint isn't the alcohol though - it's that the beer doesn't have enough going on to make it interesting to me. It's too simple. I like complex malt flavors in my barleywines.

Having said that, the mouthfeel definitely impressed me. It's very thick and syrupy, just like a good barleywine should be.

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Photo of zeio
2.54/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I trust Draegers San Mateo to pick good beers from this list and others - but I had a 750 ml of old crustacean barley wine and it was vile. Could be a corked / bunk bottle, but this stuff was seriously unrefined, and I can take a foul arrogant bitter ale with the best of them, but this stuff was not worth the price. Shame on those who charge top buck for foul ups. I was chowing on Nice and McChouffe for a comparison and there was none. If you pay 10 - 15 for 500 - 750 mls, the stuff should be erotic. Rogue is now for me UNTRUSTED for charging and brewing this crap.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
3.67/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 edition, aged in the capable hands of Bottleworks Seattle. Pours an extremely dark mahogany that reminds me of iced tea brewed for too long. A tiny tan head fizzes up then drifts away, first to a tiny ring, then to nothing whatsoever. This is only my second Barleywine, but this is about what I expect one to look like.

Grassy, slightly earthy; Roasted brown sugar, rum, whiskey.

Flavors complexify as it warms (not surprising); The grassy flavors are the first to hit the palate, a sort of steamed-vegetable flavor that is quickly overwhelmed by the dark, hot sugar alcohol flavors that follow. This is an '03 and I think it's probably benefitted from some aging, as the flavors are quite smooth; There are some slightly harsh nut flavors that really spice up the finish.

Minimal carbonation, smooth, with a tight character due to the alcohol. It leaves a lazy burn behind.

This is the best barleywine I've tried so far (best out of two). It's quite an interesting style - not what I'm used to, but I respect it.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.29/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Somewhat murky, reddish and garnet in color. Big hoppy and grassy aroma Sort of "locker room" sweat which doesnt mean a bad thing. Big sweet malty flavor-alcohol burn is slight though right upfront. Serious hop levels. Great grapefruit flavors. Slick and oily mouthfeel. Very viscuous on the tongue. A hell of a beer. Get some.

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Photo of lpayette
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bought this vintage 2002 12oz. bottle at EBI in Saratoga Springs for $3.

Pours a beautiful darkist amber with an off-white redish/brown head, which sticks to the glass fairly well.

Smells of alcohol, malts , some fruity aromas, and molasses.

Tastes- this beer is huge in every way- not just alcohol content. Upon the first sip I was bombarded with flavor. It only slightly settles down after that first shock to the palate. Big malt, big fruityness, big hops, big alcohol, and big taste throughout this beast. There is also some definite salt-water taste, which is interesting but once I noticed it- quite honestly it bothered me and ruined some of my enjoyment.

Would love to try this without that salt water taste, as it really affected the drinkability.

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Photo of mattcrill
4.28/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 bottling

Appearance: Pours a cloudy brick red with a tan head that fades to a thin layer of carbonation on the top.

Smell: Wonderful blend of powerful malts and bittering hops. A very powerful and welcoming aroma.

Taste: A strong malty base followed by a nice hoppy bitterness. Just a touch of alcohol coating the palate. Wow...what a nice balance of all the great things you expect in a barleywine. Definitely toward the malty spectrum but enough hops to keep you interested.

Mouthfeel: Medium and oily. Light but appropriate carbonation.

Drinkability: One to sip and enjoy. Take your time. Light a fire and enjoy a winter day with this one. Very nice. Another winner from Rogue.

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XS Old Crustacean from Rogue Ales
4.01 out of 5 based on 1,275 ratings.
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