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 barczar
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy copper brown with minimal cream head.

Deep caramel, brown sugar, and sharp citrus form the initial aroma. Grapefruit, pine, and honeysuckle emerge.

Flavor reveals underpinnings of lemon, grapefruit, and tangerine, with pithy bitterness finishing the profile, slightly resiny. The backbone is substantial malt, which gives an illusion of sweetness that is just enough to counter the brutal bittering hops.

Body is thick and almost syrupy, with minimal carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Great contrast of malt and hops. Well balanced in extremes, with enough flavoring hops to keep things interesting. This would probably age well.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

From the 22 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on Friday the 13th of December 2013.

The color is brown amber all the way through with pretty good clarity and a short lasting off-white head that becomes a ring and leaves limited lacing.

Barley malts are big on the nose along with a kind of overripe pear quality. Overripe fruit anyway. Thin hops. No booze. Overall a rather mellow scent for an 11.6% Barleywine.

Light to medium body, which is a bit unusual compared to Barleywines I have had in the past.

The taste is definitely malt and fruit forward but at the same time not in your face. Light to medium bitterness. Unlike other fresh Barleywines I have tried this one is not a pucker-up malt explosion. It feels like it has already cellared and mellowed for a year. Nicely done Smuttynose!

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2013 Vintage

A: Pours a dark burnt orange color with a fingers worth of head that takes a couple minutes to fade down to a nice cap

S: Sweet malts, quite a bit of fruity esters, and a touch of alcohol are right up front. Some caramel and toffee notes are in the back, with a touch of dark fruit

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with a big hit from the fruity esters, which is balanced nicely by the light malt sweetness. Alcohol powers through in the back, giving the esters a nice backing. The caramel and toffee notes help to round things off in the finish. There is also a nice light bitterness in the finish

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Nearing a fuller body. A little dry from the alcohol

O: Fresh, this is a solid brew. It could use a few months to a year of age, which would mellow out the alcohol a little and really help to showcase the maltiness a bit more. Can't really beat the price point either, which is the case with all of the Smuttynose Big Beer Series

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Photo of KFBR392
3.94/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh 2013 bottle

Appearance: A very transparent amber red/light brown color. Extremely low active carbonation in glass and on the pour. Slight random lacing with each drink.

Smell: A creamy smooth barley jumps right out of the glass. Some earthy fruit with medium to heavy hop bitterness. Mild oak rounds out the back side.

Taste: The front is subtle and smooth barley and medium bodied hops. Rolls into an increasingly potent body of the flavor continuing to open up. Fruitiness pops up on the back end of the beer with some slight soapy creamy tones.

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy bitterness with lots of bright fruit left on the palate long after drinking.

Overall: A very good barleywine. Will only improve with age. The Smuttynose big beer series are always so solid and come at a great price.

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Photo of ferrari29
4.27/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer poured from bottle into a Snifter shaped glass

Aged for one year - bottle conditioned in 2011

A - Dark orange opaque colored body; very thin white/beige colored head; doesn't hold well and dissipates very quickly; tiny amount of lacing, that doesn't stick much; plenty of visible floating sediment

S - Cotton candy; brown sugar; caramel and maple syrup; touch of roasted malt; high ABV; vanilla; hints of pine

T - Beer has a very sweet taste of brown sugar; heavy dark fruit like raisin and fig; slight hop aftertaste with a light burn; very boozy taste; maple syrup; caramel; roasted malt flavor

M - Thin and slightly effervescent; sweet front and bitter back-end flavor; hops leave a tingling feel on the tongue; medium body

D - Overall this is a great drink; probably got a bit boozier of time, so I suggest letting it sit for a year or two; great sweet and bitter hop balance

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Photo of papat444
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

***2009 Vintage***

Thanks to gosox8787 for this one.

Poured from a bomber and split with my wife.

Appearance: Brassy-red, fairly clear but bright with 3 fingers of very light tan head that has a few minutes of retention on it.

Smell: Resiny hops(!) is surprising followed by fruit jam, nuts and dried berries.

Taste: Dried dark fruits, candi sugar, leather, jammy a bit with sharp herbs.

Mouthfeel: Bit heavy with heat showing up but it is smooth and mellow after. Not impressed by the body as it feels lacking.

Overall: Mellow, alright but even though flavor is good, the rest is ordinary IMO.

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Photo of BostonHops
3.69/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bomber served in a snifter.
2011 vintage.

pours a deep copper/amber tone with a 1"+ of beige colored head. very nice retention and lacing. outstanding presentation.

i'm reading reviews describing the nose as aromatic but to me it's a good deal more subdued than i typically look for in my barleywines; evident are notes of caramel malt, candied fruit, and alcohol. taste is a moderate improvement with the sweet maltiness from the nose pulling through, joined by a hoppy presence i missed in the aroma - particularly in the finish... definitely sweet but not cloyingly so.

medium bodied mouthfeel with average carbonation. overall i i'd have to say this offering is reasonably tasty and enjoyable - well worth a try - though nothing transcendent.

originally reviewed: 03-14-2011

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Photo of Odysseyalien
4.36/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap originally spring 2012 somewhere in NYC. Found it in bottles today at Readington Wine and Spirits in East Whitehouse Station, NJ.

A: Cloudy...deep copper color.

S: hoppy aromas.

T: Bitterness is very subtle...sweet...maple syrup...brown sugar...light on the hops...bitter on the backend. Very yummy!

M: Medium light body. Light effervescence. Not clear when this bottle was filled but sometime between 2007 and 2011.

O: I love British barleywines. I'm finding a number of American barleywines that I really dig too and this is up there in my top two or three. I had looked for this in bottles for over a year and found it today. Had on tap last year. I'll have to get more when I'm back at this store. Oh, it's a happy day!

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.27/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber picked up on a recommendation at Knightly Spirits in Orlando. 2011 edition.

Poured into a goblet. A hazy amber brew, with visible sediment that suspends in the glass until it finally settles. A thin head is all that survives. Not the best looking brew I'll admit, but few barleywines ever are.

The nose is quite inviting: big caramel, malt, bread, peach, a bit of booze and citrus. Quintessential American barleywine nose here.

Tastes excellent - flavorful and complex. The citrus hops added a lovely counterpart to the sweet malty blast at the beginning. Dry grain to the finish. Notes of peach, apricot, wine. Nice chewy feel, medium bodied, excellent carbonation. Slightly meaty with the sediment.

Great barleywine, highly recommended.

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Photo of Rob315
4.67/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Dark copper color with ruby / garnett highlights. Minimal head, nice amount of bubbles slowly rise from the bottom of the glass.

S: Huge toffe notes upfrot, bread, figs, caramel, molasses, sweet rum cake

T / MF: luscious creamy mouthfeel presents notes of rich chewy caramels, toffee candies, candied sugar, dark fruits, raisins and plums come to mind, nice thick bready notes,

Overall: Incredibile, very smooth with layers of complexity and a thick but not heavy body make this a brew that commands your attention and respect. I'd love to see what more age would do for this beer. Cheers!

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Photo of hosehead83
3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a "bomber" bottle (2011 vintage) into a wine goblet.
Deep amber/gold in color, with a short, bone-white head of foam.
Aroma-Sweet malt,fruity.
Taste-Sweet toasted malt backed by fruity esters, hops almost entirely in the background. Slowly warming finish. Very smooth,easygoing barleywine.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.32/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lugged this gal home to Alaska from Maine over a year ago, and my curiosity finally got the best of me.

Light medium amber with modest head, retention and even less lacing. A little bit hazy, but I don't mind the looks of live beer. Looks good, though this category matters little to me.

Boozy, and malty sweet with plenty of caramel. And some detectable hop presence as well. It works for me. Good balance generally, though the booze is kinda strongish. But in a mellow way, if that makes sense. Like a big dude who is gentle. I like it. Fresh, it might burn a little.

Like the nose but better. Definitely some pine/floral/citrus hop presence asserting itself into the caramel sweetness. And it's less boozy tasting than the nose, not than I minded it in the nose...Balanced and complex. Really good.

Good carb, rich full body, medium viscosity, and smooth from start to finish.

See above. Really nice barleywine. Maybe not quite elite of the elite, but really good. No question.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap at Mugs Alehouse in Brooklyn, NY

A: Pours a slightly hazy golden amber in color with a thin off-white head that reduces to a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing is observed.

S: There is a fair amount of alcohol present in the aroma of this beer along with the sweet caramel malts and grassy hops.

T: Some caramel malt sweetness followed by a good dose of hops and a lingering bitterness in the finish. The hop flavor comes across as slightly grassy.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky and there is a slight presence of alcohol heat in the finish.

O: Pretty decent sipping beer though the presence of the alcohol makes it a less than easy drinker.

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Photo of metter98
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy reddish orange in color and poured with a thin ring of white bubbles around the edge of the glass and some lacing on the surface.
S: There are light to moderately strong aromas of caramel malts in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of caramel malts and a bit of malty sweetness mixed in with a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There are some hints of stickiness.
O: This beer is a good representation of the style and has a nice balance between malts and hops.

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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.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

A: Poured a light, opaque amber color with a tannish head.

S: Nose is big on caramel and brown sugar.

T: Tastes very sweet from the caramel and toffee. Some faded piney and citrus hops leaves a very nice, smooth and delicous taste. Booze is well masked by the flavor.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth, sweet and rather big.

O: Very Good. Ages like a champ!

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

Huge thanks on this growler from Miamilice.

This had a great amount of carbonation for being shipped. Sweet growler. Thick and sticky amber molasses mixed.color.

Apples, caramels, vanilla, muggy molasses. It's sweet. The hops are so faint, almost oxidized hops of Belgians.

Apples, caramels, mingled hops, oxidized hops, light cardboard. The alcohol is hot still if you let this sit. Unbelievable that the hops and malts mellowed but the alcohol did not.

So thankful for this beer.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2004 as reviewed on 2/7/12.

Loads of dark, ripe fruit still hanging on with this eight year old example. Plump malt with hints of grapes, pine, caramel, and a hint of wet paper. Bitterness is minimal and the alcohol is warming but smooth. Holding up nice in the cellar.

Vintage 2007 as reviewed on 1/6/08

Pours dark amber with a chill haze. Beige, thick head of two inches with an exagerated pour. Lacework of mostly dots with a few streaks throughout the duration.
Aromatics are laden with pineapple skin, tangerine pith, and caramel drizzeled grapefruit. Medium malt with grapefruit oils and peppery alcohol.
Mouthfeel is on the full side of medium, sticky, and puckering.
The pallet starts off aggresively with plenty of high-alpha bitterness, citrus bite, and caramel malt.
Almost numbing on the tongue with alcohol, hops, and puckering grapefruit. Very nice.
Finishes with lingering warmth, drying bitterness, and pithy citrus flesh.

I prefer this barleywine screamingly fresh, as this one is, as opposed to a vintage version.

Vintage 2005 as reviewed on 12/2/08

22oz bottle at 56 degrees.

Pours sparkling clear amber with a ruby hue and two inches of beige head. A reluctant settling of the head revealed a mess of ripped sheets of lacework and a partial skim coat on the surface.

Aromatics lead off with candied malt, figs, raisins, wet boards, and dried grapefruit.
Caramel with hints of leather and cardboard follow through.

On the thick and meaty side of medium bodied. A sticky, sappy, and almost chewy mouthfeel.

Sweet malt rushes forth on the palate, with candied figs, raisins, and toffee right behind. Bitter grapefruit with drizzled caramel follow through along with heat on the throat.

Finishes with a lingering interplay of bitterness, sweet malt, and warming alcohol.

This one's going on 3.5 years and holding up very well. Plenty of hop presence and minimal oxidation.

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Photo of rlee1390
3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Cloudy amber orange, one finger head that doesn't last and lots of sediment.

S-Lots of barley with a hint of hops.

T-Some spice, barley and a nice earthy hop finish as well.

M-Medium bodied but little carbonation.

O-A nice barleywine but it could have used a little more hops, especially when it is listed here as an American Barleywine.

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Photo of superspak
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2011 bottle; so it is probably about a year old now. Pours hazy reddish orange color with a nice 1 finger dense khaki head with good retention that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, apple skin, biscuit, grapefruit, pine, herbal spiciness, citrus peel, molasses, some dark fruit, and a bit of alcohol. Nice and well balanced barleywine aromas here. Taste of big caramel, orange zest, pine, biscuit, dark fruit, grapefruit, herbal spiciness, molasses, toffee, and toasted malt. Decent amount of bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of big caramel, citrus, pine, molasses, and herbal spiciness on the finish for a while. Medium carbonation and full bodied; with a very creamy and slick mouthfeel. At 11.6% this is most certainly a sipper, and I would expect it to be. Good balance of flavors and bitterness; with a nice malt forward profile. Alcohol is fairly well hidden with only a warming present on the finish. Overall this is a very nice and well balanced barelywine. Nice flavor profile and very enjoyable stuff.

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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.

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Photo of ajcormier
4.67/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage on tap @ Portsmouth Brewery
10oz pour into a "bubble glass"

RIDICULOUS... really. One of the most beautiful aged barleywines I've ever had. Started with a nice vanilla off white head but faded quickly leaving some residual legs on the glass. Notes of caramel and toffee with a tinge of sweet fruit like strawberries, little bitterness lingers on the end a little. It had great mouth feel coating the palate until finally cleaning up 45 seconds after the swallow. There was a little more ethanol on the nose than I would have preferred for such a aged beer but the taste and aroma quickly changed that. Tasted more like 6% with little alcohol burn. Mellowed right out over the past 8 years.

Every Sunday they have a special beer on in their down stairs lounge. From Burton Baton and Paolo Santo to vintage Smuttynose beers. Check 'em out.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.85/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Kind of an orange-amber color, mostly clear, with not much head but ok lacing.

Smell is big and barley, a little spicy, with some nice citrus.

Taste is good, nice barley, spicy hops, pepper, pungent malt base, citrus peel, a little booze.

Feel is very warming and boozy, with a tangy, spicy, warming finish.

A nice barleywine. Next bottle I get I think I'll age it though.

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Photo of sespourteille
3.63/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark right off the bat, this deeply red ale sucks in ambient light like a black hole. A strong taste on the first couple sips mellows out into a very chocolaty taste that makes you want to keep drinking. Pretty standard Barley wine that is good for an occasion. Large enough to share so invite the friends to try some. Strong so drink it early on!

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Photo of BeerLover99
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: cloudy burnt orange body, finger off-white head,
excellent lacing

S: big barley and malt nose, boozy scent, grapefruit

T: sweet grapefruit, barley, malt, earthy/pine,
long bitter sticky finish

M: med/heavy body, big sticky/oily mouth

O: Quite nice, just a shade under world class.
can't put my finger on it; would get again
and suggest to others, but could be better.
Maybe a tad too much bitterness in the finish?


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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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