Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Burly Wine | Half Pints Brewing Company

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Burly WineBurly Wine
76 Ratings
Burly WineBurly Wine

Brewed by:
Half Pints Brewing Company
Manitoba, Canada

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
2010 - Tan with new labels (341 mL only)
2009 - Blue (341 mL only)
2008 - Green (341 mL & 660 mL)
2007 - Red (660mL released in 2007, 341 mL released in 2008)
2006 - Tan (660 mL only)

Added by fisherman34 on 12-10-2006

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 76 |  Reviews: 58
Photo of bottlerocket24
5/5  rDev +19.9%

Photo of Noxious26
4.92/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I believe this is the 2008 vintage. 341ml bottle with a green wax dip over the cap. Purchased at Willow Park in Calgary in September 2010. Poured in a snifter.

Beige head is just a thin cap on the pour and quickly recedes to a couple of thin islands. Minimal carbonation. Cloudy and reddish amber in colour.

Aroma is rich and full. Dried fruit, caramel, grapefruit, sweet malts. Surprisingly strong with so little head or carbonation. Hints of the alcohol become apparent as it warms.

Big, bold and rich flavours roll across the tongue. The malt is right up front with caramel and dried fruit. Then the hops come in around the middle to make a wonderfully balanced centre. Everything smoothly melds into a hoppier finish. Citrus and herbal hop notes in the finish. Aftertaste is long and drawn out. This has mellowed nicely with age and all of the characteristics blend together beautifully.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and smooth. For this much alcohol, it's amazingly drinkable. Just a little resin-y and oily.

World class! One of the top 2 Barleywines I've ever had the privilege of tasting. The other one was made by the same brewer while at a different brewery/brewpub. Why the heck did I wait so long to crack this?!?

 1,225 characters

Photo of IronDjinn
4.57/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The 2008 edition from a 341 ml brown bottle, nice touch with the green wax around the neck and cap as a seal plus aesthetic addition. However on that note allow the bottle to warm up in room temperature to make it easier to peel that wax off from around the cap, and prevent it from falling in the glass during the pour.

A hazed chestnut brown in appearance, one finger of light beige head that slowly settles to a frothy cap.

Aroma starts out malty with bready and toffee notes, then amps up a bit in the middle with spice and alcohol warmth, and continues along that calibre with some carob, brown sugar and faint wet grassy hops near the end. Not overwhelming, but enjoyable and effective.

My first sip of this barleywine was gorgeous.... The following ones were just as good. Rich chewy malt, bready, caramel and chocolate notes. That spicy alcohol warmth pops up in the middle and continues long into the aftertaste along its own seperate tangent. Just a touch of grassy, piney hops on the finish, which lingers on into the aftertaste on its own tragection as well. As the ale warms a burnt woody character emerges, providing a drying character to the aftertaste. This is a barleywine experienced on several different layers.

Mouthfeel is on the fuller end of the spectrum, but not thick, full in the mouth but with enough viscosity that one doesn't have to choke it down, or take deep breaths between each sip.

Kudos to Dave and crew on another masterful rendition, this stuff must be dynamite when it ages more, as it is excellent now while it's still young. I'll definitely be buying more--hell, I'll get a paper route if I have to in order to afford more of this stuff.

 1,683 characters

Photo of MAB
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The wax coating over the top of the bottlecap is interesting but, ultimately, stupid. I ended up with shards of wax in my beer after pouring it into a glass.

While the aroma is sweet and malty, it is subtle.
The flavor sure isn't though: Big malty goodness, thick, almost syrupy, and with some hops for balance.
Everything I want a barleywine to be. Outstanding.

 363 characters

Photo of FrostyWPG
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of C4NUCKb33rLOV3R
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of Howlader
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of maltyb
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of IanSpindler
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of seldomseen
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of marty21
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: 2010 vintage. Pours a clear deep copper/light brown with a one finger off white head. Settles to a thin cap. Leaves a little bit of lacing.

S: I get a caramel malt smell with light hops and some dark fruit.

T: For the taste I get caramel and raisins and a good hoppy taste. Finishes with a nice bitter hop bite. You get a slight warming feeling but don't taste any of the alcohol.

M: Light carbonation with a light to medium body but more on the light side.

D: This was my first Burlywine from Half Pints but immediately it became one of my favorites. I bought a few so I can age them, especially since this is the last year they're making them for awhile. It had a lot of traits that reminded me of Half Pints Humulus Ludicrous which is another one of my favorites. This was actually quite drinkable which you need to look out for with the 10.5 Abv.


2009 Vintage
Reviewed 01/26/11

A: Pours a dakr copper/orange with a small off white head. Settles to a thin cap with a thick ring around the glass.

S: Caramel Malt and citrus hops.

T: Caramel malt with a bit of a hoppy bitterness at the end. The taste is a lot more blendid and mellower compared to a fresh burly wine. It reminds me a lot of their Humulus Ludicrous.

M: Light carbonation with a medium body. Very drinkable.

D: I really enjoyed this one. With just over a year of aging the bite isn't as hard. You don't notice any alcohol at all. Can't wait to try some more 2009 and 2010 vintages with some more years of agiing.

 1,499 characters

Photo of Derek
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Amber with a light, tan head. Some retention, great lacing. Impressive for its strength.

S: Brown sugar, toffee, marmalade, figs, nuts & earthy orange aroma.

T: Figs, plums, candied fruit, brown sugar, nuts, toffee, marmalade, nectarine, assertive bitterness, alcohol is extremely well-hidden.

M: Well attenuated, moderately-full body has a slight residual sweentess & some hop acidity.

D: One hell of an English barley wine & it's incredibly drinkable for its strength.

I've wanted to try this for a while... thanks to Wildone and CanBIF5!

 549 characters

Photo of kjyost
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage

Poured into a large wine glass, where it had a thick mocha head atop a a deep red, that could be barely seen through when held against light. Left light lacing on the glass as the head quickly dissipated. Nose has sweet malt, fruit (apricot?) and a bit of spice with evidence of the alcohol underneath.

This has mellowed nicely with age, with the strong alcohol character having been muted (although still evident) since I tried one last year. The beer is malty and slightly sweet, with a bit of spice (cloves?) on the palate. The carbonation is quite low, but it coats the mouth nicely leaving a light bitterness, although a mouthfeel that is lighter than I would have expected. I shall sip away at this for a while on this -20C night.

Enjoyable. We'll see how another year does it...

 801 characters

Photo of cratez
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle at Volo poured into an oversized snifter.

Pours a murky, dark brown hue with amber edges and a sizeable tan cap. Cloudy with quite a bit of sediment.

Smell and taste are chocolate, cocoa powder, roasted malt, sticky caramel and pale malts, brown sugar, toffee, dried fruit (plum, black berries), mincemeat, cherries, vanilla, maple syrup, and a resinous, herbal hop finish.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, viscous and lightly gooey. The hops produce a spicy bitterness on the palate with a long, drying finish. More American than English, I'd say. The ABV is undetectable, which is unusual for the style. Hence this is more drinkable than one would expect.

I can see why Burly Wine is ranked as one of Canada's top brews - it's a delectable strong ale that's perfect for sipping on a cold winter evening.

 819 characters

Photo of BDTyre
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Wow! One of the better barley wines I've had.

Murky, copper-brown with a good, white head. Rich, malty smell with vanilla, plum and brown sugar toffee hints. The taste is complex, with hints of citrus fruit, raisins, caramel, vanilla, port. Oddly enough, it likes the alcohol warmth and cloying syrup taste I tend to find in most barley wines.

A little low on the carbonation, but by far one of the best barley wines I've ever had.

 433 characters

Photo of jrenihan
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer is dark amber/copper in colour. A vigorous pour results in a moderate white head. Head is very thick and full. Good retention.

Smell is alcohol, caramel malt, wood, smoke and a bit of fruit (I get a bit of graoe?). Very full scent, big and bold.

Big malt flavours in the taste; lots of caramel and bread, but not terribly sweet. The hops provide a good counterbalance. Has a very woody flavour, perhaps oak, that make it seem as if it was aged in oak barrels, though not barrels that held booze previously. Booze is noticeable but in a good way. Somewhat bitter finish. Very nice.

Moderate carbonation, full bodied but not as big as many barleywines. Slightly syrupy.

Overall, very nice. Really a good barleywine. Has this beer seriously been retired??? Crazy.

 769 characters

Photo of Jeffo
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was able to drink a bomber of the the green-waxed 2008 vintage of this; cheers to oakbluff for that one. She was a beauty! This review is off a more recent vintage sent by kjyost, which ended up being equally as wonderful. Cheers!

Fun story too. A mate of mine lived in Winnipeg for a few years while working at the university there. We got into drinking one night and it turns out Half Pints was his favorite brewery and he hadn't had any since moving back to Ontario a couple years back. So, out came the Half Pints! He was pretty surprised to say the least.

From a 12oz bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2010
IBU: 75

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, medium looking, off-white head with decent retention. Head quickly fades to a faint wisp and ring. Maroon red in color, opaque, with zero carbonation evident. A ring remains until the end leaving some falling dots of lacing down the glass. Good looking barleywine for sure.

SMELL: Lots of caramel and toffee, with some nice red fruit notes as well. Some cedar wood notes and floral hops round it out nicely, though the caramel and toffee aromas steal the show a bit. Bold and enticing. Very ncie.

TASTE: Big flavors of caramel and toffee, as the nose suggestd, with butterscotch in there as well. Some piney hops and sweet honeydew melon notes at the swallow, moving into a big and persistent finish of caramel and toffee sweetness, red fruity notes, and a hint of hop bitterness as well. Quite flavorful. A touch more bitterness would make this other-worldly, but it's a real treat as it is.

PALATE: Medium-fuller body and medium levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down fine with a bit of a scratch at the swallow, finishing slightly mouth-coating. Nice here.

OVERALL: This is really well executed. The aromas and flavora are impressive and nicely balanced, and the feel is full with just the right amount of kick to it. Very impressive and extremely enjoyable. Both the 2008 and 2010 bottles went down very easily. Too bad they decided to retire this one. Can I be the first to sign the resurrection petition? Cheers guys!

 2,096 characters

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

A - Reddish, slightly cloudy-looking. A decent head with not much lacing. Love the wax seal, but the wax is dangerously crumbly - take care it doesn't get into the beer!

S - Strong and malty.

T - Sweet and malty as befits the style. A surprisingly rich flavour, reasonably complex but not chaotic like e.g. Brooklyn Monster. Hops light but present in just the right amount to make this more than a dessert beer.

M - Very smooth, medium-bodied and not too syrupy - excellent!

D - I could easily have more than one of these at a sitting. Dangerous.

 551 characters

Photo of Dawkfan
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage

A- Pour is a murky ruddy brown with a small khaki colored head, lacing is ok for a big beer.

S- The nose is really sweet, but good. Toffee, dark treacle, honey, and dark fruits. Underneath the sweetness is a citrus element and a small trace of the alcohol even after more than 2 years in my cellar.

T- More of the sweet stuff without the fruit carries through on the palate, the hops are much more pronounced here, but they're more herbal and slightly bitter on the finish and linger with some heat from the alcohol.

M- Creamy going down, finish is somewhat sticky and drying. Subtle carbonation, average body.

O- This is a rich beer as it should be. I really started to enjoy this near the end, maybe that's because I'm fairly flush in the face. I think Half Pints is in my top 5 breweries in Canada, solid stuff, check them out if you can!

 859 characters

Photo of Voonder
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark amber colour with some ruby notes, thin off-white head. Good looking barleywine. Smell - very strong cognac like aroma, some yeast and some sweet fruity flavours, cherry perhaps. Very strong great flavour. Alcohol is noticeable.
Taste - sweet and fruity upfront - plums, hint of cherry, cognac/brendy flavor is still there but a bit faded. Very complex, creamy, chewy, full bodied. Great brew! This is my first half pint brew and I can't wait to try more of their stuff. This is very solid brew. It is drinkable for style and ABV. Delicious sipper.

 565 characters

Photo of wordemupg
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle poured into Corsendonk Chalice dec6 2009

A a hazy golden amber with some suspended particles and a thumbs worth of head that had good retention for the style and left some lace

S a little nutty with loads of caramel and a little booze

T the booze is a little more concealed and I pick up on a little cherry but other then that as it smells

M full bodied, chewy and low carbonation

D great for 10.5% a little dangerous if you ask me

green wax over the top so that makes it 2008 I think, a few red wax bottles are hidden safely in my mothers basement where I can't drink them. good example of the style and I love the fact it's Canadian

 653 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this a few times, but the most recent was at Volo. 12oz 2008 bottle with blue wax. Served in a snifter.

A - Semi-hazed ruby red color with hints of blood orange. Dime-sized film that dissipates to a thin ring. Some legs too. Great color - underwhelming head and retention.

S - Big raisin aroma, some light tannic character, burnt sugars, dark fruits, faded citrus hops. Reminds me a little of the aged bottle of Stone X that I had.

T - The taste is actually better, which is quite the oddity for this style of brew. Liquid caramel, milk chocolate, some fruitiness, roasty and and bitter aftertaste. This has definitely mellowed a bit in the past 6 months, as the ABV is pretty much undetectable. I'd love to see what a barrel would do to this brew.

M - Medium-thick body, very smooth and creamy, dry finish, a bit of warmth after a few sips. Spot on for an English barleywine.

D - It's a sipper, but not a chore. I had no problem putting down 12oz on my own and I'd have been up for another one if not for the price (damn Canadian beer taxes). The only thing really hampering mass consumption is the slight buzz that picked up near the end of the bottle.

 1,168 characters

Photo of allergictomacros
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber with a capped, and waxed top. Gotta be careful to leave the wax on the bottle...

A - Hazy, syrupy looking orange with 1.5 inches of light yellow foam. Very dense, long lasting, and rocky head could leave a touch more lacing as it recedes.

S - Big candy and fruit aromas upfront. Apple, and dried pineapple come to mind. Some grassy hops show up later. Not much in the way of pure maltiness in the nose.

T/M - Mmm good. Heavy, but good. Feels oddly light on the tongue until the alcohol and bitterness kicks you in the teeth. Thick mouthfeel with only a hint of carbonation despite the solid head. Again, tropical fruit an an apple flavour in this, but a very solid hop in the back as well. Sweet, as expected, but well balanced between the alcohol, fruit and hops. Doesn't feel nearly as heavy now as my first impression.

D - Very solid brew, and a solid choice for my 500th review. Loaded with flavour and surprisingly drinkable for a big barleywine. Well balanced.

 977 characters

Photo of andrenaline
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've been saving the 2009 and 2010 vintages for a back-to-back tasting...

2009 Vintage in a Tulip Glass
A - Pours a nice hazy copper colour with an amber brown hue, solid finger of head with solid retention and some nice sheeting lacing.

S - Quite sweet with some delicious caramel notes, touch of earthy, leafy hops. Some bitter espresso is coming through alongside a fruit punch scent.

T - Quite the tasty barley wine. The caramel flavours come through quite nicely alongside some bitter espresso notes, much like the scent. There's a bitterness that lingers from the hops and leaves a leafy green flavour on the tongue. ABV is incredibly well hidden with only the faintest touch of heat on the palette.

M - Perfect carbonation level, coming off a bit syropy, but in a non-offensive way with small carbonation bubbles. Goes down incredibly smooth and finishes nicely with a touch of dryness.

O - There's a reason this is a top rated barley wine. Easily one of the best I've had the pleasure of trying, and certainly a high quality example of the style. Half Pints pulls off another winner. Top notch indeed!


2010 Vintage in a Tulip Glass
A - Same as the 2009 vintage, nice hazy copper colour with an amber brown hue, finger and a half of head and some nice sticky lacing.

S - Again, sweet caramel notes, some leafy green hops, though a a hint of ABV is detectable this time. Not quite as fruity as the 2009 vintage either.

T - The caramel notes come through nicely with a bit of a toffee flavour, the bitter leafy hops are a bit more prominent this time, though the ABV heat is also more detectable. A maple supgary sweetness lingers alongside the leafy hops.

M - A bit lighter on the palette, coming off a tad thin, but again nothing overly offensive. Still smooth as ice going down though and finishes nicely with a touch of dryness.

O - Perhaps its a mental thing, but I certainly found that aging helped to enhance the flavours, scent and mouthfeel of this barley wine. Don't get me wrong, the 2010 vintage is delicious, but this is definitely something worth putting in your cell for a year to mellow out. Wonderful offering and I'm glad I was able to do a back-to-back on this one. To the extent you can find some, hoard it!

 2,280 characters

Photo of Cwrw
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ahh. Finally another Canadian Prairie barleywine contender, to go along with Alley Kat and Wild Rose. Welcome aboard, half pints!

The bottle, wearing a really plain label, sports a green wax covering the top of the neck. First I've seen on a Canadian bottle. Nice touch, Half Pints.

The beer pours a very clear dark honey colour. Excellent solid off-white head, which lasted quite noticeably (with perhaps a couple swirling coaxes from my hand). Nice.

Aroma. You want barley? You got it. This is like sticking your nose into a cup of freshly ground barley...and...rye. Yeah, huge hints of rye here. This aroma is huge on the fat, grainy, cereal notes. Wow. Very different from either Alley Kat or Wild Rose's variety, and actually quite different from most barleywines I've tried, period. Sweet bubblegum notes at first, then huge hits of syrupy cereal. Lots of vanilla and maple syrup, and brown sugar over heated wheat in milk. Breakfast never smelt so good.

The flavour is very similar to what the nose promises, with perhaps not the cloying sweetness the aroma (almost) suggests. Alcohol is not really noticeable. This really puts the "barley" back into barleywine for me--the grainy freshly ground cereal notes are perceived more than Alley Kat or Wild Rose. Reminds me a little of Mill Sreet's version. Very tasty. Nicely dry on the finish but not overmuch. A small grassy hop profile on the way down the gullet. Body is perhaps a tad thinner than expected, but this is a great addition to the Canadian barleywine family. Welcome to the table, half pints.

 1,565 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Burly Wine from Half Pints Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.17 out of 5 with 76 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.