Old Conundrum | FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

very good
10 Reviews
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Old ConundrumOld Conundrum

Brewed by:
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.05%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by nickd717 on 01-25-2010

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Reviews: 10 | Ratings: 59
Photo of snaotheus
3.86/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle served in a large snifter. I don't see any dates. I only poured about half the bottle, so I shouldn't have gotten much sediment.

Pours murky brown with little head. Looks like a bourbon barrel barleywine, that's for sure. Not quite still - minuscule bubbles crawling through the murk. Smell is booze, maple or vanilla, wood.

Taste is alcohol, strong wood flavor, a little char, mild vanilla sweetness, and a strong bitterness I'm having trouble placing.

Mouthfeel is smooth, moderately thick, with just the right level of carbonation -- just enough to keep it from feeling flat. Overall, a pretty good example of a bourbon barrel barleywine.

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Photo of kdahnke123
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Poured into a snifter at room temperature.
A - Pours a dark brown color with 1.5 fingers of beige head. The lacing is long lasting.
S - Bourbon and the fore, malt in the middle and a little hops on the finish.
T - Carmel and wood followed by a lot of bite from the hops.
M - Mouthfeel is medium with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O - A little too much bite for a good barley wine. Might be good with aging. Given the price, I'll pass on getting more.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a reddish copper color, there was a very thin head on top. The retention was minimal and the lacing wasn't really there either. The smell of the beer is sweet and malty. There is a bit of fruit-like aromas coming off of this beer also. The taste of the beer is sweet, lots of malt in this one, the complexity varies from sweet to bitter in the finish. The mouthfeel of the beer is smooth, not really all that carbonated... A little on the flat side. Overall this beer was a pretty good Barley Wine but I wouldn't have to seek it out in the future.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap at Blue Dog, I believe this is the standard version which packed a lot of flavor.

Old Conundrum Barleywine has a deep brown looking color with some hazy red and deep bronze peeping through. Oddly enough I got no bubbles on the top straight from the tap, so the beer looked pretty dead, yet there was some carb felt. The smell is big toffee, with a lot of toasted malt, some faint dark fruit, with honey. English styled with a nice amount of hops coming out giving off earth, surprised I get this much hop aroma out of this. Taste is pretty unique. The English malts give off toffee and the like, slight coffee grind, plum, apple, cocco. Full flavored, not a dud. Not sure if honey is used but I get that feeling. Body is above medium with carb not over bearing. This drank a lot easier than I thought it would, the 9% takes a hold after a while, but is not intruding. 50/50 makes big beer, and this is one of the better ones. I want to see them nail down a small ABV'ed Berliner Weisse.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.02/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


A slightly clear copper color with no head whatsoever. The head settled to a thin collar. Nose is of butterscotch, toffee, sticky caramel popcorn, and honey. Waves of sweetness upon sweetness. The flavor profile follows the nose. Ribbons of sticky caramel, toffee, burnt brown sugar, honey, and ethanol. Maybe a touch of rye and pine. Medium body with loads of sugary sweet malt. The finish is sweet, dry, and boozey. A nice American barleywine without loads of hops. Heavily reliant on malts, and I am ok with that. Well made.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at FoBAB 2011. This version was aged 225 days in a combination of rye and brandy barrels. Served in a pint-shaped FoBAB taster.

A - A generous amount of tan foam settles to a near-complete cap and thicker collar. Transparent dark brown body, but minimal lacework.

S - Earthy rye whiskey, caramel, and only a hint of brandy - it's already quite sweet so I think additional brandy flavor might have been overkill. Reminds me a little of Heaven Hill Imperial Eclipse, but with more caramel and toffee presence and less in the way of chocolate.

T - Taste is quite heavy on the barleywine base, with the oaky vanilla and brandy flavors showing up late on the palate. Plenty of toffee, milk chocolate, and caramel, and only a kiss of whiskey in the finish.

M - Smooth, medium-full body, with moderate-to-low carbonation. Some alcohol warmth - I though this was a bit stronger than the listed 9.05%.

D - A very nice, and fairly unique, barrel-aged barleywine. I found it quite easy to drink, particularly when other offerings at the festival became fatiguing. I'd order this if Todd would bottle some up - I always appreciate that he manages to pack so much flavor into beers on the lower end of the expected ABV range.

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Photo of pennywhistle
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My favourite barleywine. Slightly muddy, amber colour. Smells strongly of alcohol, but the flavour is subtle. Sweet, but not TOO sweet the way most barleywines are. Tastes and smells slightly of dried cherries. A little hoppy - just the right amount. I usually don't like barleywines much, but this is already a favourite. Only tricky part is remembering it's 9%, since the flavour is so delicious and gentle.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Consumed in a snifter and it pours an amber/burgundy colored ale with a cream colored head. Very sweet aroma with sticky-sweet candy, sugar, bubble gum and malt in the mix. Tangy and bitter on the initial tongue contact but then smooths out while in the mouth and blasts back with bitterness on the swallow. A lot going on here but it is all good and worth the ride. Full mouthfeel and the drinkability is very easy at "only" 9%. I am quickly becoming a fan of the FiftyFifty crew. Solid Barleywine.

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.43/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The appearance is a dark brown with a crisp khaki head. The head leaves very fast and transforms into a lacing over the brew. It leaves a medium-light leg on the glass. Poured into a 8 oz. snifter by the way.

The smell is of brown sugar, dark fruits and some fresh hops. This is all mildly pungent and does not leave an overwhelming impression.

The taste is good, but this in my opinion is not a barleywine but a American Strong Ale. This has some barlwine characteristics but nothing too strong stands out. There is some fresh hops with a malt background that is enjoyable. Overall average.

The mouthfeel is carbonated fairly strong and was it was served cold which did not help the mouthfeel. After it warmed up it was good, not really heavy on the palate.

Good drinkability, but there are better barleywines out there. Did not leave a memorable impression.

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Photo of nickd717
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at City Beer for FiftyFifty day. Weird how this has the same name as an old Flossmoor Station beer, and if I'm not mistaken, FiftyFifty's brewer worked at Flossmoor. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Pours a clear dark amber-brown color with a medium off-white head leaving some foam and bubbles as it settles.

Aroma is nice and hoppy, pretty much what you'd expect from a decent fresh barleywine. Caramel, toffee, wood, and earth in there.

Flavor is lots of sticky caramel malt, toffee, rough resinous and earthy hops, wood, and slight citrusy notes

Medium bodied, mildly syrupy and sticky, with average carbonation.

Overall pretty good, but not the standout that FiftyFifty's imperial stouts are.

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Old Conundrum from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
4.02 out of 5 based on 59 ratings.
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