Big Worse
Mikkeller ApS

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Barleywine - American
Ranked #328
Ranked #23,356
3.83 | pDev: 14.88%
Mikkeller ApS
Very Good
Big WorseBig Worse
Notes: Brewed at De Proefbrouwerij.

Ingredients: Water, malt (pils and caramunich), candy sugar, hops (nugget, cascade and centennial) and ale yeast.
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Reviews: 250 | Ratings: 430 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by JohneHoodlum:
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JohneHoodlum from Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dec 07, 2011
More User Reviews:
Photo of charlesw
charlesw from New York

4.25/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

At last! A barleywine that actually tastes like one! It's about time! It looks like one, too! Deep amber but obviously you can see through it. Smells maybe a little grassy but big on prunes with maybe hints of malt. Tastes, well, fruity, malty and bitter. But, get this, balanced. Like, totally balanced. Sure, it's a little sweet and a little bitter and a little malty but... This one is balanced. Like crazy good balanced.

I'd give it a higher rating but I'm not thrilled with the slight apricot flavor (probably just they hops they're using - but, hey, whatever). Still, this stuff rocks! Not rocks $10 per 12oz, like I paid, but rocks! If you pay $5 a bottle you're getting a good deal on a good beer.

Jan 27, 2008
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mrfrancis from Kentucky

4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark, murky amber with no head.

S: Aromas of toffee, caramel, raisins, figs, prunes, and alcohol fill the nose.

T: Notes of toffee, caramel, dark bread, mild cocoa, prunes, raisins, figs, and earthy, mildly citrusy hops are balanced by warming alcohol. The finish is intense and long with toffee, dried fruit, and mild hop flavors.

M: Full-bodied and initially slick. The finish is decidedly sticky. Feels slightly watery for the style. Alcohol makes its presence known, but is not quite as forceful as some other examples of this style.

O: I find this to be a nice barleywine. I particularly love the fruity, sweet flavor profile and the fact that the hops don't overwhelm all of the malt and alcohol flavors. I just wish the body were a bit fuller...

Feb 20, 2012
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rajendra82 from Georgia

4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear, garnet colored body, and a small amount of carbonation brought out the wine aspects of the presentation quite nicely, as did the corked and caged green bottle. The aroma was very fruity, as I could smell plums, cherries, and pear. The taste was complex yet delicate, which is quite a feat for a 12% ABV beer. The fruits that I smelled were soaked in syrup apparently, as the hefty amount of malt made its presence known. The hops were in quite force here as well, because the finish was herbal and bitter. There was a woody dry flavor present in the background, and occasionally a little sourness was apparent as well. At first I was going to rate this a little lower in the taste category, as my first impression was that this was a little bland, but each sip revealed additional layers of complexity, and I was soon won over. A little thinner in the mouth than I typically like barleywines. More American than English in style if you ask me, and reminded me somewhat of Anchor Old Foghorn.

Jan 14, 2008
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kojevergas from Louisiana

3.15/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12.7 fl oz green glass bottle with standard pressure cap acquired at Wades Wines in Westlake Village, California. Cost was $11.49 plus tax. ABV 12.00%. Listed as a Barley-Wine Style Ale. Served into an EKU 28 stem-snifter in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are extraordinarily high; Mikkeller is me favourite brewery in the world (if we can call it one) and I adore barleywines. I am a bit perturbed by the green glass, Mikkel must surely know better. I'm tempted to blame De Proef. I also wonder why a standard pressure cap was chosen rather than a cork, though I harbour no suspicions of quality reduction as a result of the production choice.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of slight cream, dark white (yes, dark white...) colour as near to tan as it can get without brown hues, good thickness, great lacing, and one minute retention - altogether impressive for its 12.00% ABV. After the head recedes, the laced ring about the edges of the glass maintains for some time. Colour is a chestnut caramel amber; quasitransparent with some translucence. No floating yeast particles are visible, but I'm on the top half of the bottle still. The colour is vibrant and appealing. No bubble show is present, though no beer in the style has yet to produce one in my experience.

Sm: Cherry fruit esters, a fair amount of unexpected fruity hops with some hints of light bitterness but rather mild floral character, clean well layered malts, cream, a fresh pine hop note, back-end hints of some sort of darker fruit - perhaps fig or plum or thereabouts (more likely fig), and no caramel. Yeast is notably absent. No alcohol comes through. A mild to moderate aroma all around, and certainly a pleasant one. Refined, clean, and inviting. I'm excited to try it, though I'm wary of the hop content as I don't generally approve of hoppiness in barleywines (such beers tend to beg to be aged merely to tame the hops inexplicably).

T: Cherry, heavy hop content with altogether more of a bitter bite than I would like, clean well layered malts, slight hints of pine, and lilac. No yeast or alcohol comes through. Overly hoppy for my tastes. Complex, but of limited subtlety. Enjoyable. Pretty decently balanced and built. I just don't understand hoppy barleywines, but that said it's much better than something like Sierra Nevada's offerings. Too bitter.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with some pleasant underlying cream. Suits the flavours nicely. Adequate thickness and carbonation. A bit of a slight chewy character that works for it. Some dryness and coarseness from the hops helps round out the mouthfeel, though the finish is entirely too coarse.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, but far from the quality I expect from Mikkeller. I find it far too hoppy for a barleywine, and consequently I wouldn't get it again unless it was very well aged. Pricey for what it is, but I liked it. Hides its ABV very well.


May 06, 2012
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Phyl21ca from Canada

3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Fonefan: Poured a deep lightly hazy copper color ale with a nice foamy head with medium retention and no lacing. Aroma of citrusy hops is dominating with some light pear and some alcohol. Taste is a mix between some grapefruit hops, light caramel malt with phenols of alcohol. Medium body with average carbonation and some apparent alcohol which I didn't appreciate. Interesting take on the American barleywine style with a nice hops combination but I could do without all that alcohol.

Mar 10, 2008
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JDizzle from Indiana

4.25/5  rDev +11%

Feb 21, 2012
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Gueuzedude from Arizona

3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cork Date of August 2011; Sampled January 2008
Pours with a two-finger thick, large bubbled, amber tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a dark amber to plum color and shows an almost brilliantly clear, cranberry color when held up to the light. Quite hoppy in the aroma with notes of citrus, big pine / herbal notes, grapefruit, a touch of lychee, some tangerine, a hint of tropical fruit, some pine tar, woody hops and an herbal note. The finish has some noticeable warming / hot alcohol to it; it is sort of brandy or rum like. The aroma is fruity, even more so than solely from the hop character; aromas of berries and cherries are also noticeable.

Sweet and fruity tasting up front. The beer is quit a bit lighter in body than expected, though it is most certainly a Barley Wine. This finishes with an ample hop bitterness that becomes a bit green and astringent in the long finish (especially when coupled with the lingering, warming alcohol flavors found here). Flavors of orange-citrus oil, grapefruit, tangelo and lychee intermingle with sharp, menthol-like notes, pine flavors and a green herbal note. The fruity hop notes are the larges flavor contributor. Other than the hot alcohol flavors this beer is quite clean. Caramel malts contribute to the hop-fruit flavors, but have a hard time showing up distinctly on their own under the hop onslaught, though there is a touch of toasty malt in the finish.

The hot alcohol really detracts here, it adds a harsh astringency to this brew. This is a huge beer and should last for many years. I wish it was more drinkable right now as a young, super-hoppy Barley Wine though. If you wait a long time between each sip, this can be quite enjoyable, but back to back sips seem to magnify the effects of the hot alcohol on the flavor. In the end this show lots of potential, but is just too young right now.

Jan 20, 2008
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maximumu13 from Ohio

3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown almost caramel with almost no carbonation but a ton of sediment

S: Rich sweet smell very malty

T: At first the taste is very bland and then all of a sudden an explosion of flavor. All of the sweetness i expected from the malt a fruity roundness and a little bit of bitterness in the finish.

O :Nothing I wouldnt expect from Mikkeller a delicious multifaceted beer but i dont think i could drink more then one

Dec 23, 2011
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Crosling from Colorado

3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark orange, autumn color with a small, wispy head that disappears fairly quick. Nicely balanced nose, with hints of grapefruit-like hops, fruitcake, dough and honey covered fruits. Very characterful in flavor, with a nice honey-like sweetness, some fruits and caramel and toffee flavors. Body could have more texture and body. Still young, but its made some strides in the last six months. It seems to get more flavorful each time I have it. I really think it'll be great in a couple years.

Jun 21, 2008
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CruisaC from Ohio

3.09/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up on sale for ~$4 a bottle. Figured I'd give it a try.

Pours dead, no head, no carbonation. Uh-oh. Still as night in the glass. Dark brown

Smells like raisins, chalky vitamins, malt extract.

Taste very clean initially but soon a raisin meets astringent tastes follows. Not great. Not much good going on here.

Pretty thin, not helped by the fact at there's no carbonation. That may be ok for the occasional HOTD release (bourbon Fred), but this falls into Lost Abbey territory and not in a good way

I won't be finishing this. Pretty disappointing. I've got another bottle but I'm not too excited to give it another shot.

Mar 22, 2013
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merlin48 from Kentucky

3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12.7 oz green bottle pours into a snifter a hazy copper body with a small beige head that quickly falls to a cap. Some sparse spotty lace is left behind.

Aroma boasts bold notes of chewy caramel and fresh citrusy grapefruit.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with subdued carbonation and some spicy alcohol burn.

Taste has a dominant citrus rind bitterness. Some spicy alcohol burn suggests this one might need some maturation. Underlying malt backbone is sturdy and offers up some caramel sweetness. A mildly sweet citrusy orange presence appears midway through but quickly yields to the dominant hop bitterness.

Definitely an American style barleywine with assertive hop bitterness. A bit hot at this stage with an alcohol burn that is a bit distracting.

May 02, 2008
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fostachild from Canada

2.77/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

best before 02/07/12

pours a dark burgundy/brown colour with absolutely zero head.

smells sweet, has some fruit, molasses, and alcohol aromas.

taste is okay with some similar characteristics as the smell. didn't find this to have the best balance, with each sip being either too sweet or too boozy. overall kinda disappointed, it was sort of drinkable but not that enjoyable.

Dec 08, 2011
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WynnO from Florida

4.5/5  rDev +17.5%

Jun 14, 2014
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mjaggers from Virginia

4.25/5  rDev +11%

Apr 12, 2013
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John_M from Oregon

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

A very interesting beer from Mikkeller. Their take on a Belgian style barleywine DIPA perhaps?

The beer pours an orange tan color, with good head retention and lacing. This beer looks rich, viscuous and inviting. While this beer is pretty delicious, the nose on this bad boy had me going "wow." All kinds of stuff going on, but I got orange citrus, butter, honey, vanilla, cherry, butterscoth and toffee. Not all at once of course, but the aroma evolved as the beer sat in the glass, and each sip seemed to bring some other new flavor. The flavor on the palate generally replicates the nose, but there is huge blast of hoppy citrus on the finish. It really gives the beer a dry, hoppy finish, which is pretty surprising after the initial sweet flavor of honey, toffee, cherry and orange. While I felt as if the flavor profile really never came together with this beer, it was still one of the more interesting and intriguing beers I've ever tasted. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, and drinkability no better then fair. The abv. is fairly well disguised (though you can tell it's up there), but the dry hoppy finish hurts this beers drinkability just a tad IMHO.

Nevertheless, this was a fun beer to try. One thing I'll say about Mikkeller, you can count on them to always makes something interesting and fun to drink.

Aug 13, 2008
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dcloeren from Texas

1.54/5  rDev -59.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This was the worst beer I ever had hands down. I honestly have nothing positive to say about it. Poured a murky brown/rust color. Smelled of sweet malt and tart fruits. I thought maybe the name "Big Worse" was them being ironic or clever but apparently they were just being up front with everyone. This beer is the WORST beer ever. I almost felt bad for my sink for pouring it in there. I would have dumped it outside but I didnt have any weeds in my yard to kill at the time.


Jun 17, 2011
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Beaver13 from Colorado

3.31/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12.7 oz bottle, caged and corked. Pours a murky dark tea color with a thin off white head that quickly diminishes to a thin film and small collar.

The aroma is sweet candy-like caramel, melon and spicy alcohol
The flavor is sweet sugary caramel and dark fruits/melon with a big burnt bitter alcoholic burn at the finish. The mouthfeel is medium and slightly watery with low carbonation.

Overall, a big bitter barley wine. It's not very balanced at all and too alcoholic for me.

Dec 01, 2007
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Dope from Massachusetts

3.37/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: A ruddy, brownish-red pour. Like the color of rust. Big tan head that fades slowly, leaving just the lightest bits of lacing here and there. Extreme amount of sediment. To the point that I actually poured this through a strainer and a coffee filter (maybe the second time I've ever done this). It was horrible, one of the worst I've seen.

S: Big caramel malt with pungent raisin and apples. Hints of molasses and brown sugar. Boozy.

T: Raisiny throughout. Lots of bread, just a little toasty. Toffee, brown sugar and some resinous bitterness in the finish. A bit dry in the finish, oddly enough.

M: Heavy and thick for sure.

O: A simple and strong barleywine. Honestly I liked Big Worst better, it was better balanced and tastier in general, despite being flat. This one is pretty "meh".

Nov 10, 2012
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war."

--Ernest Hemingway

Seriously murky caramel brown with flashes of coral red and juicy orange when backlit with sunshine. The lid is small in size and golden ecru in color. It looks better once it settles, and is gracing the glass with a short, ragged collar of lace.

Not that it matters much, but the nose is more English than American. Then again, the beer is from a Danish brewery and is brewed in Belgium, so where does that leave us? Each sniff delivers an acceptably powerful blast of medium-dark fruit swimming in dark caramel sauce and citrus zest. Here's hoping the alcohol is as well-hidden on the palate.

This is an English barleywine all the way, no matter what hops were used. I had second thoughts about pulling the cork once the foil was removed and the date (14/08/11) came into view. I probably should have aged this bad boy another year at least. Even though it's a teensy bit rough right now, it isn't hot. It's still good beer that will probably be even better this time next year.

The malt profile is more brown than golden or amber, thanks to what must be a significant amount of CaraMunich. It gives the beer a heavily toasted and earthy character that is reminiscent of a good, rich doppelbock. Ripe figs are present as well. The American hops are still kickin with authority, adding flavors of candied orange and lemon peel, along with loads of finishing bitterness.

Actually, two years of rest would probably have been perfect. It tastes like there's some hidden complexity that is being frustrated by too much of an alcohol presence. $9.99 is a bit much for 375 ml of beer, but I just might pick up another bottle to see what aging can accomplish. Drinkability (at the moment) suffers a little.

Mikkeller's stated aim was to brew a 'simple yet heavy' beer. Even though they failed to achieve the latter, the mouthfeel is right about where most English barleywines live. At least those that aren't ultra sappy and sticky. It's still a fraction too light, with just the right amount of subtle carbonation.

Big Worse is big in some respects and not so big in others. It isn't the best barleywine that I've ever had, but it's far from the worst. Bottom line: this is an enjoyable Danish-Belgian sipper that is probably optimal at whatever date is printed on the cork.

May 14, 2009
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shoegueuze from California

3.76/5  rDev -1.8%

Oct 04, 2014
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Sammy from Canada

3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 edition. No head. Some brown colour. Smell like a strong ale. Buttery mouthfeel,caramel and a little spicey, with some tartness. Probably aged OK. Drinkable for style. Boozy.Something to numb you before going out in a snowstorm.
Thanks Jason as forgot to post review last time.

Jul 14, 2010
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OldPenguinHunter from California

4.57/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

I had this after a few months of staring at it in my beer fridge, poured into a Duvel glass.

A: A nice dark caramel color, pours a finger and a half of head, in which the lacing is all that is left after a minute or so, my buddy's pored 3 (he poured pretty quick though).
S: The smell is redolent of caramel apples, oak, vanilla, and a bit of 12yr Glenlivet scotch, or candied fruits. Very appetizing and it does fill the room.
T: This was just amazing, a great beer, soft and spicy, heavy with alcohol. The taste matches the smell profile. I was having this with some gorgonzola dolce, pears and warm walnuts, the best dessert ever, and pairing with this beer.
M: Sort of typical of barley wines, heavy and boozy. soft carbonation.
D: The only reason why I put this at a 3 is because, if you plan on drinking more than one, you're gonna be thrashed. The beer gets to be overwhelming in both alcohol and flavor, (the sweetness gets to my tum-tum.)

Overall, this is a great beer, whenever I come across it, I usually buy two or three bottles and drink them over the course of a few months, unless greedy guests come over empty-handed and thirsty (you know who you are...).

Mar 11, 2011
WOLFGANG from South Carolina

3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Jul 11, 2013
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IlludiumQ36 from Alabama

4/5  rDev +4.4%

Feb 05, 2012
Big Worse from Mikkeller ApS
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 430 ratings