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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 355 | Ratings: 605
Photo of calsbeek
2.56/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a nice coppery orange with a perfect little head into a snifer.
all down hill from there.
The nose is bourbony and boozey which is not bad in and of itself, but its just too much. no balance and overthetop even for a barleywine.
The first taste was okay, but the beer was too cold (fridge temp) for the style and as it warmed, the flavors went all out of whack again. Medicinal and boozey. Hot.
The mouthfeel is fine. Nice carbonation and good body but nothign to right home about.
Finally, the beer is so hard to drink. I could never get through the entire bomber on my own and even splitting 22 oz. with my wife, I'm finding it hard to reach the bottom of my glass.
Glad I tried it, but I won't look hard to find my next bottle.

 738 characters

Photo of mcallister
2.73/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Crystal clear, clean crimson colored with amber disitinction. Sparsely seperated off white head fades into flimy bubbles thick and wide forming a ring around the glass with a solid center.

Big candy sugar nose similar to the coating on a candy apple. Some toffee malts. Alcohol is very present also. Huge citrus hop character with stone fruit close behind. Nectarine type aromas with a light grapefruit dusting. Spicey qualaties with some floral rose petal aromatics. Honey as well. Seems like it's missing a big malt backbone.

Well this beer is lacking a mid-palate. Candy sugar laced with honey at first sip and then the mid is basically alcohol. Malt is lacking especially for a barley wine. Mainly hop driven with a bitter finish. Citrusy and lacking the stone fruit of the nose. Thin and lacking body, depth, backbone, and complexity. Very dissapointing and not something I'll drink much.

 899 characters

Photo of scottum
2.73/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This is not amoung the better barleywines I've had. Pours a deep amber with a nice head and a bunch of floating particles. Tastes sickly sweet and bitter at the same time. But not a good bitter or a good sickly sweet. The aftertaste is very annoying, but the only thing in front of me to clean it is more of this beer. D'oh! Drinkable, but nothing here to jump up and down about or stock a celler with.

 402 characters

Photo of joedon
2.88/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I've had this beer in bottles on a couple of tries and was quite pleased. When I had the chance to try it on tap, I was very hopeful to give it a try.

At the Sunset Grill and Tap in Boston today, I had a snifter of the Barleywine. It was a big disappointment. The hot alcohol taste dominated everything and made it very nearly undrinkable. I'm not sure what the difference with the bottled version might be but apparently, something went wrong with this keg. Nice bitterness, good color and lacing and lots of malt flavor and aroma. But the burning alcohol dominated everything else. Also had a bit of metallic-chemical aftertaste.

 633 characters

Photo of AJPainter
2.99/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a deep chestnut with a thick white head which dissipates pretty quickly but leaves some nice lacing. I get some hops and a little malt from the aroma and taste, but there's something else; something I can't quite put my finger on, and I don't find particularly pleasant. It might be vinous, it might just be hot and need to be cellared a little longer, I don't know.

I might get another of these at some point to cellar for a few more months, but I'm not so keen on this right now.

 491 characters

Photo of JDV
3/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark amber color. Sudsy whitish head that doesn't last too long. Smell is fruity and vegetal to me. Not particularly appealing but not bad. Taste is caramel with hops in balance but with a definite alcohol presence noticeable. Slightly thin, and flavor was too alcohol driven for it to be very enjoyable.

 312 characters

Photo of samie85
3.1/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A-Pours a slightly hazy orange color with a finger and a half of white head.

S-Sweet caramel malt with some citrusy hop notes and some dark fruit.

T-Dark plum with a defined bitterness and a slight ethanol note on the finish.

M-Rich and chewy with a medium-heavy body, low carbonation, and a very warm mouth and throatfeel.

D-Honestly the alcohol on this one is way too noticeable and detracts form the beer even after 6+ months of aging. Not my cup of tea at all.

 468 characters

Photo of maximum12
3.15/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a bottle of reliable Smuttynose across the river in Wisconsin...a while back, I guess. Notch on the label is 2009, so this either aged in the store or in my basement.

Pours into a couple of snifters, very dark orange, with significant sediment, even allowing for a couple ounces left in the bottom of the bottle. Lots of caramel & oranges in the nose, malt sweetness, & the beginning shadow of oxidation.

Smutty Barleywine reps the style with under-stated style. Overwhelmingly sweet, a combo of sugar, malts, & rock candy rakes the tender skin of my delicate mouth, it's hat tilted jauntily. Caramel juts its sticky nose out, & alcohol wants too much attention, even after a long rest. Oxidation is just starting to appear. Bare fruit skins. Maybe pear, maybe apple, with the juice sucked out.

Pretty standard barleywine; decent enough, but the sweetness is really tough to get past. I think it's damaged the roof of my mouth. Not as good as some of the fine Smuttynose brews I've had in the past, but decent enough.

 1,033 characters

Photo of flexabull
3.16/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of andrewski1, thanks again!

Pours a bright dark amber color with a small white head and decent lacing.

Aromas are odd. Lots of pine needles, light fruits, some citrus, and an odd an unpleasant celery note. This doesn't smell like a barley wine.

Taste is better than the smell. Hints of fruits, light nuttiness, and faint creamy sweetness. Finish is mineral like and bitter, with some warm alcohol.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, decent body and carbonation.

Overall, this comes off to me as a miss. The maltiness is really lacking, and the taste ends up being more like a middle of the road double IPA instead of a barley wine. Not a bad beer, but not a real good one either.

 692 characters

Photo of drabmuh
3.18/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Pizza P. Ugh, not a fan. Beer is brown with a wispy tan head of small bubbles, no lacing, no carbonation to speak of, low retention.

Aroma is sweet and boozy, lots of alcohol in the nose.

Beer is thin and harsh, very hot, thins out on the end and has a really dry finish, leaves me wanting a glass of water after every sip, I didn't like and won't have it again.

 374 characters

Photo of nvsblman
3.18/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear reddish brown with about a finger of light brown head. Piney and earthy hop aroma with a good dose of sweet caramel. Sadly the alcohol flavor is the dominant flavor. There is some caramel in the background, and a bitter finish, but there's not much getting past the alcohol. Thin/medium bodied with lots of carbonation. This one needed some age on it to tame the alcohol a little, but I'd be interested in giving it another shot.

 435 characters

Photo of wailingwench
3.19/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Vintage 2005: Initially poured into a goblet and a pint. The result was (somehow) 2 different beers.

Beer 1: Translucent, light, hazy orange with brown swirls and burnt orange center. Thin head upon pour, zer retention or lacing. Heavy on the darkfruit, rum, black cherry, rich malt. More of a Grand Cru.

Beer 2: Dark brown with burnt orange edges. Huge pillowy off white head.Superb retention with toms of lacing. Overwhelming resinous bitter hop. Astringent alcohol. Double IPAish.

I then made a decision to mix them. I wish I had kept beer 1 to myself and made my g/f drink beer 2. The results were not as I had wished, so here it goes (with regret)....

Eye Candy: Hazy translucent, evil looking, reddish-brown. Slight head, minimal retention.

The Nose Knows: Quick flash of dark fruit overpowered by intense bitter penetrating pine hop aroma.

Taste: Touch of something smooth, toffee/caramel. Not enough to tell. Unrefined pine hops overpower, finishes astringent alcohol. Leaves you with a flammable breath feeling.

Bender Factor: I only wish I had the first half of the pour. This clearly needs to mellow out. Regardless, I am awaiting its public release.

 1,183 characters

Photo of ZappaCat
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Grabbed the 2007 release as soon as I saw it on the shelf. Generally speaking, I'm impressed with Smutty's Big Beer releases, and I've been enjoying the diversity of barleywines recently, discovering that no two are overbearingly similar. This after going my whole beer drinking career talking shit about the style...

Pours a deep mahogany, with no head whatsoever. Smells fruity like sweet apples (or maybe fresh cut pumpkin even) with a tinge of booze. I'm not sure I've ever smelled apple so heavily on a beer before.

First taste is boozy, which I find a bit disappointing. I tend to go for barleywines with a nice balance of flavor, but upfront the alcohol is steering the ship. That apple does pop up in the middle back of the tongue and lingers slightly, which is pretty nice. On certain sips I taste the fruitiness as being almost grape-like. Also quite pleasant. Unfortunately it isn't the fruitiness that lingers, but an alcoholic bite that makes way for an almost medicine like aftertaste, which isn't hugely pleasant, although not entirely a bad thing either.

I'd say this has the pro of many barleywines, which is every sip tastes somewhat different than the last. The downside is that most of these varying complex flavors are overshadowed by a strong sense of alcohol. 10% ABV is certainly high, but I've had higher that don't taste this boozy. This unfortunately is what drove me away from the style when I first tried it however many years back. I can still appreciate this ale, however there are others I'd prefer to spend my money on. I do wonder how this would taste after a year or two in the basement...

Still, price to quality ratio is quite high. I'll buy another, throw it downstairs, and crack it next December next to the 2008 release. Until then...

 1,779 characters

Photo of avylover
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a deep brown ruby color with a white head. There are tons of floaties,some large, in this brew and I can only hope that it's yeast. Appearance suffers greatly because of this. I'm a little apprehensive at this point, but here goes....

Smell is mega malty, sweet bread ,hop & alcohol vapors. Taste is very sweet & too medicinal at first. It seems to mellow after a few sips. There's some nice breadiness in there, and a slight hop bitterness & some alcohol in the finish. Can't help but wonder about these floaties. Mouthfeel is thick & smooth, but the aftertaste is medicinal. Not a very drinkable barleywine as I'm not sure I can finish my pint.

 656 characters

Photo of Kadonny
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Not sure what year this is, but I am pretty sure it's no more than a year old.

A: A dark brown orange color with a slight off white head. Murky and thick with minimal glass lacing.

S: Sweet fruity smells with hints of caramel and a nice hops nose.

T: Wow, a huge hit of malty sweetness with dried fruit flavors, raisins, caramel and some floral earthy hops. Sweetness comes back in in the end, almost too much so. This reminds me more of an english style barleywine with more alcohol. Finish is all alcohol bite. Very hot.

M: Full and coating and extremely hot with alcohol. This beer needs age.

D: Low. By the end of the first glass the alcohol had beaten up my palate plus the sweetness got cloying.

Maybe this beer needs more age (probably so), but I did not enjoy this at all. I struggled to finish it and I feel this may need 3-5 years of age on it to round out. Still I'm glad I tried it, but I won't go back to it. I'll stick with Bigfoot, Old Guard and Old Ho and Old Ruff.

 1,029 characters

Photo of Scooter77
3.26/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a burnt amber color with red highlights topped off by a 1/4-inch bubbly froth. The head retention is virtually non-existent, leaving no lace. The isn’t much of an aroma, but I did detect hints of fruit, caramel, and alcohol. The taste is very bold. The alcohol, which is very strong, is the first thing to hit the taste buds. Once you get past that alcohol taste there is a nice medley of flavors with toasted malt and caramelized sugar being the primary ones. There are also some sweet fruit undertones. There was a very slick, oily texture left on my tongue, which seemed to hold the bitter aftertaste in my mouth for a long time. This is an average barleywine, moderately drinkable.

 692 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.28/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2006 vintage, 22 oz., 10% ABV. Good looking ruby color, very clear. Thin white head disappears very quickly.

Caramel, candy sweet malt in the aroma. A good blast of citrusy hops in the nose as well. Big alcohol presence.

Candy like malt sweetness at the front, but then it drops off in the middle. Not much backbone at all. Some citrusy bitterness at the end. Something is missing.

Good body, but this really seems to be lacking something. Rather disappointing.

 470 characters

Photo of johlendorf
3.28/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Big heavy beer. I'm taking my time with it on a Monday night. Not recommended for serious drinking sessions.

A = Reddish brown. Thick head dissipates quickly.

S = Alcohol, plums and other dark fruits.

T = Overwhelming alcohol. Dark fruit and roasted malts.

M = Heavy, a little clingy at the end.

D = This is all I will have tonight.

This actually is pretty good if you like a barleywine, but it seems like they didn't even try to mask the ABV.

 449 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
3.28/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a pure amber color with a lasting collar, light lacing.
Aroma is a mixture of warming alcohol and caramel butterscotch, some light spiced notes.
Flavors are rich malts cut through with a alcohol warmth that has a touch of solvent like heat, goes a hair to far for most, but if you like heat then it will be a positive addition to this glass. The hops additions blend with the caramel malts but can be picked out as flavors of pine, tastes like some big C hops.
Mouthfeel is on the thinner side of medium, a little more attenuated and less sticky then most barleywines around.

 582 characters

Photo of HappyHourHero
3.32/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Small yellowish khaki colored head that faded quickly to a film. Ruby brown colored beer with an amber tinge. Aroma of sweet malts and alcoholic grapefruit candy. Flowery hops up front right into slick sweet malt. A moderate bodied beer with very light carbonation and a slightly bitter and alcoholic finish that leaves a warm feeling in your stomach. It could have used more carbonation and some bite, too sweet for the flavor.

 428 characters

Photo of Citadel82
3.32/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I drank this after having a few Dale's Pale Ale. I was a bit disappointed as I have found the Smuttynose product line to be excellent for the most part.

Poured a murky, ruby brown with a shortlived tan head that left some decent lacing.

Aroma was alcohol and citrus with some sweet malt.

Taste was not very balanced. I know this is a big beer but the hoppiness and alcohol were way over the top and had too many sharp edges. This beer needs to be allowed to mature some in my opnion.

It is drinkable but will be more drinkable given some time.

 556 characters

Photo of gbontrag
3.33/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

med haze to the crimson amber ale, but large pine colored froth is impressive. Aroma of hopped caramel and alcohol, and a little creme fraiche. Tastes of bruised fruits and alcohol. Otherwise, it's relatively dull. Bitter up front, carried by alcohol to a bitter finish. Reminds me of a hot toddy. Has a bergamot finish-astingent, herbal, medicinal. Caramel to burnt caramel to smoke. Begins with dried golden raisins, a little earthy floral flourishes. Tastes like whiskey. Quite amazing in that regard. I enjoyed sipping it, but wish I'd had this one fresh.

 559 characters

Photo of veggiemafia
3.33/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Kind of weird. Did some things near-perfectly, but one of those things was not taste, I don't think.

Pours beautifully into a snifter, forming a moderate head with good retention for a barleywine. Seriously, just gorgeous.

Smell is great, sweet malts, some nuttiness and a very slight smoky astringency. Grainy, sweet, honey notes, really nice.

Taste is just too sweet and too boozy for me. With more of a hop balance and less just cloying, intense sweetness and maybe a slightly lighter body I'd love it, this is just a bit too much for me.

Mouthfeel is great, if a little heavy, as previously mentioned. Syrupy, even.

Drinkability is not this beer's high point for me, and I'm glad I was splitting a bomber with someone else.

 742 characters

Photo of Crosling
3.34/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Burgundy color. Sherry-like oxidation is unfortunately, very profound in the aroma. Nuts and ripe fruits are present in the aroma as well, with hints of peanut brittle, caramel corn and mocha. The mouth experience is quite tame, considering the style. Unfortunate oxidation initially on the palate, while on the mid-palate ripe fruity esters and mocha hints are present, which leads into a caramel, port-like finish.

 416 characters

Photo of GolgiIPAratus
3.35/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled: 8.26.05

Pours a slightly hazy dark ruby tinted copper. Thick 1.5 inch eggnog head hangs out and fades gracefully.

The aroma is hardcore barley malts, sweet and rich with caramel. Hints of the alcohol level sneak in as well.

The taste is lower in the barley flavor than the nose indicates. A tanginess followed by a bitter and oily mouth coating of hops finishes of the flavors. Medium carbonation sits decently in your mouth. Hop oils hang out after each sip.

This is a slow goer, made to sip and savor. It wasn’t my favorite Barleywine style ale I've had to date, but that doesn't make it bad by any means. And it’s definitely a good local offering. (to me in MA) I’d like to see what some time would do with this. I think some sweet maltiness could really come through.

 795 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 605 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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