Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series) | Smuttynose Brewing Company

very good
355 Reviews
Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series)Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series)

Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
First brewed in England, these potent, malty monsters were frequently aged before being put into small bottles and sold as strong beers or even medicinal tonics. The American version has been blown up with more alcohol, larger bottles and more hops.

Smuttynose Barleywine straddles these two branches of the barleywine tree. When you taste it, you’ll notice deep, rich caramel malt flavors, balanced with hop bitterness. Fruity hop flavors act as a garnish for its amped-up but classic flavor. For a more refined experience, tuck a few bottles away for a year or two. The alcohol will mellow and the hop aromas will fade into the background, leaving the luscious malt to shine on its own.

65 IBU

2007 - 11.4%
2009 - 11.1%

Added by UncleJimbo on 02-04-1999

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Reviews: 355 | Ratings: 605
Photo of Ciocanelu
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy orange color. Sweet aroma with dark sugar, dark fruits and earthy hops. Taste starts hoppy with earthy notes, walnuts, figs, really nice. Easy drinking, well hidden alcohol, bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of Ri0
4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured 22 oz bottle into chalice. Vintage 2013. A rusty color with a 1.5 finger dirty white head. Decent retention that slowly fades into a collar and leaves spotty lacing on the glass. Thick caramel and toffee make up the sweetness. Dark fruits with a nice earthy, piney aroma from the hops. Two years later this still has a bitterness to it along with some alcohol. It is pleasant because of the caramel and toffee mixed with some dark fruit. Hints of citrus and pine make up a bitter finish. Medium body with soft carbonation. A bit warming. Well done BW that reminds me of a favorite from Central Waters that is no longer made.

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Photo of JMS1512
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On the docket: Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (part of the BIG BEER Series). Bottle conditioned, and brewed in 2013. Excellent- pre-aged. No waiting needed.

Poured into: Jester King Snörkel snifter.

S: An opaque tawny, brown body sits below a quick-rising khaki head. After a minute or so, the head dies down, sitting tight and sudsy. I’ve not even had a sip, and there’s lacing on the glass, medium bands of beauty.

A: This big beer boasts fig, caramel and pine in the initial aroma. Further inhalation provides sweet malt and certain fusel booziness. It smells characteristic of an American Barleywine.

T: The taste mimics much of the aroma, adding a bit of earthy, spicy hop signature. The malt sired toasted brown bread and caramel. When on the cold side, the alcohol is masked. When warm, it’s easier to detect. Bitterness helps balance out the sweetness.

F: Some carbonation present, enough to keep the sweetness from dominating and creating fatigue. Medium body, dry bitter finish that lasts and lasts. Woo!

O: In addition to being a favorite style, I also appreciate that this example produced by a respected American brewer bridges the gap between treacle-sweet English BWs and hop-bomb, abrasive US versions (fresh Bigfoot comes to mind). Thus one hits all the marks- hoppy, boozy (in a good way- not hot and solventy), nice initial sweetness. A fine example of the style.

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Photo of KensWorld
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage bomber. Nice 1 finger cream colored head. Somewhat unusual to see this head on a 2 year old barleywine. It leaves nice big bubbles and nice creamy ring. Color is cloudy reddish Amber. Smells great! Candy and shall I say buttered popcorn. Very interesting smell. Carmel dominates the tastebuds. Very sweet at first then leaving a very bitter hoppy aftertaste. Overall a Very strong and powerful barleywine that is somewhat one sided lacking balance. 4.00

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Photo of smanson56
4.16/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 2013 bottle bought from the brewery and aged at 50* for 2 years. This poured a nice reddish orange color with a nice malty nose. The 2 years of aging has really mellowed this beer from when it was fresh. A nice true barleywine now. Looking to getting another year or two one the rest of the bottles I have.

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Photo of mlockman
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Even after two years of cellaring, the flavor was still a bit too hop-forward for my taste. While I did grow more accustomed to the flavor as it drank down, I felt the hop presence really overshadowed the malt flavors I was looking for. That being said, I am unusually averse to the flavor of hops, so this perhaps doesn't reflect poorly on the quality of the beer, it just isn't for me. Honestly, I think this is a great candidate for bourbon barrel aging. As I was drinking it, I kept picking up a lot of similarities to the underlying notes of Bell's Saturn (which I found phenomenal, by the way) only sans the delicious bourbon flavors.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.44/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The 2015 version, on tap, in a snifter at Church Key.

O - A disappoint, wanted and thought this beer should be more substantial, maybe the lowest rating I have ever given for a beer style I like very much. - 3.5

A - 4

S - 3.75

T - More of a DIPA than a Barley Wine, expected more malt and sweetness to balance the bitter along with more body - 3.25

MF - Medium bodied with a dry finish, unexpectedly thin - 3

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Photo of JiminKY
4.37/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 version on draft into a narrow, footed half pint. Cloudy caramel color, tan head circling the glass, and thin, sticky lace rings marking each sip level.

I've liked most Smuttynose, though it hasn't been distributed here long. Never had their barley wine, so I can't compare this to other years or when it was fresh.

As for barley wines, in general, it is one of my favorite styles and I have drunk many—at many stages of age.

This seems to have aged well. It is smooth, well-balanced, and free of any musty or other "off" characteristics. Two years seems like a sweet spot on this one, though at 10.6 abv, it could probably do 2 more and still be delicious.

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Photo of stortore
3.94/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 bottle, 10.6%, into a Pipeworks snifter

Nice copper color, a little murky looking. Aroma is a good balance of malt and citrusy hops. Taste is initially malty and a bit sweet, a little brown sugar. Hops kick in on the way down, with a pretty strong, but pleasant hop bitterness on the back end. Good body for the style. Very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.19/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Smutty barley wine vintage 2013.
This beast pours a hazy orange with a THICK lightly tan off white head and astounding lacing.
The nose is of thick sweet malt, moderate hops, caramel, and moderately strong grain. Flavors
are big caramel malts up front. Nice fruity flavors abound with peaches smashing into a solid
wall of moderately bitter hops. Smooth mouth feel with a light sweetly bitter aftertaste.
A most excellent example, and one worth laying down for a number of years.
THIS is one BIG ale from the Smutty ones!


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Photo of zac16125
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a snifter
Vintage 2013

A: Pours a hazy, nearly opaque orangish brown with 1 fingers width of light tan head. Head dissipates down fairly quickly, and leaves a fair amount of lacing.

S: Typical American barleywine notes with candied sugar, caramel/toffee, a nutty character, and some piney and citrus hops.

T: Fair amount of hops with piney and citrus rind bitterness, coupled with lots of malt flavors including caramel/toffee and burnt sugar.

M/D: Medium body, appropriately low carbonation, pretty smooth, ABV well restrained, drinkability is good.

O: Overall, a really good American Barleywine.

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Photo of RickS95
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

They nail the look with a light caramel color and dirty white/almost yellow head. The beer is rich and hazy, showing it's full of "stuff." The head is only about a finger thick and doesn't retain all that well, but it leaves an attractive lace. While not a perfect look, it fits the style well.

They describe it as having the scent of fruity esters and they're accurate. It's doesn't scream fruit like some Belgians do, but for the style, it is on the fruity side. That typical oaky vanilla scent is present as well, but somewhat tempered by the fruit esters. Hops do not overwhelm the sinuses.

A lot of barleywines have a taste that matches the smell with an oaky vanilla flavor. This has it, but it marries quite well with the fruity flavors presented. The hop presence is very pronounced, but the malty backbones provides balance. As you'd expected from 10.6% ABV, the alcohol is always present.

Very boozy. It's full of heat. I feel my BAC rising with each sip...and you sip this. What I get mostly is the's very hot, from the second it hits your lips. There is some sweetness and bitterness, but neither overwhelms. Extremely full bodied. But again, it's mostly the heat you take from this. Very warming.

No barleywine is easy to drink, but this is among the easier of the type to sip. I'm certainly going to sleep well tonight.

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Photo of smcolw
4.34/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Small head that settles to a thin layer of bubbles throughout the tasting. The color is dark amber and clear.

Semisweet nose with a nice floral hop balancing presence.

Excellent pale to crystal malt base. There's also an excellent hop counterpoint that creates balance and interest. Creamy, full body but the carbonation fits for this beer. Simply put, this is hoppy barley wine that the masses could enjoy.

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Photo of karengarys
3.71/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

this pours hazy burnt orangish leaving a small fluffy layer of extremely small bubble foam. I slow pour to avoid a large head. It laces down the side of the glass quite a bit.

smell of rasins, fruit, some spices I can't put my finger on.... floral... yummy!

Taste, to me, is plum, cinnamon, correander, pepper. I've got this thing with pepper, I don't know why I always pick it up... Whenever I'm at a tasting and I say "pepper", everybody looks at me like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears... ...but I'm picking up a hint of pepper.

Guess what? The alcohol is almost completely hidden!

Mouthfeel is decent, somewhat thick, oily, but also creamy.

This is a nice hefty drink. Finish is a bit bitter, asprin like, I dropped the taste from 3.75 to 3.5 because of that aftertaste.

Actually, this is my favorite barleywine that I recall. Nice, balanced, even, no serious edges. As I recall, in my area, it was also less expensive for a bomber than most. I don't recall the price, sorry!

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Photo of MaineBrewing
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Poured from bomber into snifter vigorously to produce a 2 finger off white head with dark ruby red amber body. The color is beautiful and enticing. No lacing, legs galore. Head disappeared and left nothing but a tiny ring that remained throughout.

S - Strong hop aroma, floral, earthy, pepper... the malt notes cut through with a raisin bread character, molasses, burnt sugar, tobacco, more earthiness and a kick of alcohol

T - Very fresh taste, would benefit from aging, a little hot and hop forward... but enjoyable nonetheless. It kicks you with hop bitterness and resolves with a complex malt taste of raisin and molasses with notes of bread, wet tarp, burnt sugar, and just an overall mellow sweetness. It ends with a nice bitter, pungent alcohol and peppery yeast bouquet... this taste lingers.

M - Thick slow sipping, fitting for the style. Alcohol is very warming, more so compared to other examples, again I think this aspect would benefit form aging as well.

O - Fitting for the american barleywine category, at least this sample, though I have had some aged and it really mellows out quite nicely. This is hop forward and hot, but is still very drinkable/enjoyable. Taste was a little less complex than some other examples, but overall a well executed barleywine, I do have at least one of these every year and I will continue the trend.

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Photo of sommersb
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 03-03-2014
Freshness: 2013 Vintage
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Tulip
Purchased: Single from Chuck's, Bowling Green KY

A: Hazy, orange-red beer capped by an offwhite head. The head fades fairly soon but leaves behind a beautiful pattern of lace.

S: Very pleasant aromas start with earthy hops, then follow with rich caramel malts. Other smells elicit thoughts of wood and also dark fruits such as raisins and figs.

T: The first sip yields a good balancing act between hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness. The flavors keep switching between the rich fruits, bitter hops and sweet malts. You also get some alcohol heat.

M: Full-bodied and delightfully chewy with also a high carbonation level. The finish is quite bitter but is also balanced with the big malt notes, just as you'd expect from a barleywine.

O: An excellent barleywine; my only complaint would be it was a bit hot in the alcohol department. This is one that would be even better after some cellar time I suspect.

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Photo of ChipMurray
4.44/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in Vermont last week. Absolutely impressed by how good it is. I intend on doing a fuller review when time permits.
A thick, viscous pour, yet a medium mouthfeel, very succulent.
Malty with a hint of sweetness, not cloying.
Definitely hoppy, but overall in great balance.
An exemplary barleywine, and I should have expected no less from Smuttynose.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.29/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Original review: 4L, 4S, 4.25T, 4.25F, 4 O on 2/3/2014 - 4.13

1 pt 6 fl oz bottle from Brawleys -2013 version - Bottle says ABV 10.6

A - Cloudy ruby/orange, with a thin half finger head. A good amount of lacing retention on the side of the glass

S - Dark fruit, bread, orange, faint hops

T - Dark fruit, fig, malts, bread. Very smooth considering the ABV and lack of age. The hops make an appearance on the finish.

M - Carbonation is mid to mild, but there is a definite amount of heft in the mouthfeel.

O - I was happy to have the opportunity to try this, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the style. A more muted form of Bigfoot, if I had to compare it with another.

New Review: 2013 version (bought recently from Kelly's in MA) ON 7/25/2015, poured into a tulip glass.

This may be the sweet spot. Changes to the above original review, bump the Appearance to 4.25, main difference was a clear pour. The aroma matches my original notes, with a little less orange and more fig/dark fruit. The taste bumps up to 4.5, it has much more depth in the figs/dark fruit area, the balance is perfect, and there is little, if any, semblance of heat. The mouthfeel remains the same (enter Zep symbol here), and bumped up the overall .25 to 4. 25. You could tell the bottle was treated well, and it definitely became more balanced and deep with another 16-17 months of age.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Got a bottle for $6.79 at Giant Eagle. At around 11% hopefully its good. Bottled 2013

A - Well for 11% I got a decent 1/2 inch of opaque colored head that sticks around for a bit. Beer is somewhat hazy amber brown no sediment floaties.
S - Smells balanced resinous pine meets some toffee and sugar malts. Very well crafted with no ethanol smells.
T - Love me some hoppy barley wines! Very bitter somewhat citrus and lemon hop hints meets herbal tobacco and sweet caramel malts. Reminds me of a bigger version of "Monster Barleywine" Tasty.
M - Big beer but drinks with a medium body. Sip worthy don't chug!

Overall I was rather impressed this is a very smooth hoppy Barleywine and for under 7 dollars a bottle worth picking up.

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Photo of brentk56
3.82/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2013 bottling; 10.6% ABV

Appearance: A very impressive showering of foam as the head builds up over the clear amber liquid; spotty lacing lines the side of the glass

Smell: Very resinous, with caramel tones buttressing

Taste: Resinous and piney, up front, with an abrasive tobacco bitterness that builds; the caramel malt flavors are overwhelmed by the the hops but linger underneath into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: This beer will become much more user-friendly with a year or two of age on it but right now it is brash and abrasive

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Photo of KnNashua
4.85/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Honey (fall amber), a beautiful gold with just a very slight tint of red, bubbly, small white head (my bottle was not as red or the head off white as others say, maybe a difference this year?)

Smell: citrus, yeast, sweet

Taste: Complex, first, early, mid then after tastes, all strong but none out copete or overwelm, slight sweet fruitness but not too much, good bitter but not overboard.

Mouthfeel: smooth, lasting dry but lingering sudsyness only thing not perfect about it.

At 11+% APV depending on year (not sure about this bottle conditioned 2013) strong but alcohol is not noticable (Beer Adv review says 7%, its clearly not and is ~11% as details above say)

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Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.72/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into tulip; surprisingly light and clear orange; by looks, this could be an amber ale or even a DIPA. Creamy white head, descends very slowly leaving tons of lacing.
Smell is very interesting; very malty, with soft grain and a hint of nutty sweetness with some lighter fruitiness as well, and a hint of wine-like booze.
Taste is tons of toasted grain malt, nutty and soft, caramel and hints of sweetness and fruit. Slight pinch of crisp hops at the end cleans up the sticky aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is smooth and full, well-carbonated.
Overall, every barleywine I've had is unique, and this one continues the trend. It's delicious, malty, smooth, and the alcohol is hidden entirely. Awesome job, not that I'd expect anything less from Smuttynose.

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Photo of NeedBeerHere
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours out a really nice maroon in color with a great two finger white head with good retention and lot's of good lacing. Smell is really sweet with nice candy sugars, lot's of caramel hops that give you great sugar, a little bit a of dark fruits, and a little bit of toffee. Taste is really sweet as one would expect but there is also a little bitter hops that weren't present in the nose that add to the complexity. Really a nice barley wine as there is some balance with the hops that I typically don't see in this style. Mouth fell is really pretty thick that goes with the style. I really like this as there are a lot of things going on here that meld together that I don't typically see in this style. Overall a really big beer that makes me want more as this beer brings balance that you normally don't see in the style.

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Photo of mikeg67
4.27/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

22 oz 2013 bottle. Pours dark amber with long lasting white head. Aroma is caramel malt, cherry and herbal hops. Body is full and slightly crisp. A lot of herbal hops, caramel malt, cherry and alcohol fill the mouth. Finish is long and very dry. Great, complex brew.

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Photo of CloudStrife
3.87/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled conditioned in 2013. 10.6% stamped on the neck.

A: Pours a hazy orangish amber with a slightly yellowed head. Can barely make out any visible carbonation. Leaves some nice lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Initially I notice a nice dose of hops which add a citrusy floral aroma. Bit of dark fruit from the malt. Can smell the alcohol.

T: Nice blend going on here, initially there is a pretty bitter hop flavor. Then the malts catchup on the backend adding in their sweetness and fruit qualities. Has a bit of a molasses or carmel tone to it as well. Booze doesnt hesitate to show its face.

M: Medium to full body with a creamy mouthfeel. Pretty sticky and resinous on the backend. Leaves your mouth a bit dry.

Overall this one certainly fulfills the "big beer series" name. A bit rambunctious now, this one will benefit with age. Pick one up if youre not scared of something strong.

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Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 605 ratings.
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