Annularity | FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

very good
22 Reviews
no score
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Brewed by:
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
FiftyFifty’s Blonde Barleywine hopped with Calypso and El Dorado hops and aged in Rittenhouse Rye Barrels.

Added by Beerandraiderfan on 05-23-2012

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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 86
Photo of Arbitrator
2.8/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


A: Pours a honey-golden body with a pinky finger of off-white head.

S: Very tannic, with a modest, slightly buttery rye whiskey nose. Mild dark fruit with some vanilla.

T: I was warned this would be boozy, but it wasn't; apparently it was hotter and hoppier when fresh, but that has faded considerably. The front end is malty and relatively mellow, imparting a vanilla-whiskey breadiness, leading into honey in the mid-taste, and closing with a fairly bitter, tannic back end.

M: Medium-bodied. No heat, but it is more astringent than it needs to be; that probably worked a lot better when the beer was fresh (and hoppier). I didn't get a chance to try it then. Wish I had.

O: I'm glad I tried it, but this isn't in the range of Eclipse. In our tasting discussion, opinions ranged from 3.2 to 3.8, with the median around 3.4 and me on the lower end (natch). I just wasn't all that impressed when comparing against other barrel-aged barleywines in recent memory: Sucaba, King Henry, Sebago BA Barleywine, BA Old Ruffian, etc...

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Photo of xnicknj
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap at monks

Pours a light golden color with some darker orange hues. Thin patch of white head dissolves into a few spots of lacing on the glass.

An interesting mix of punchy, citrusy, somewhat sweet hops and bourbon in the nose. Vanilla with bitterness, followed by caramel and bread crust. Boozy and sweet at the same time.

Hoppy and bright up front with a nice cuvee of citrus fruits. A little sweet towards the middle with a dash of vanilla infused bourbon and a suggestion of passion fruit. Decent malt backbone with caramel and light bread crust. Smooth and warm in the finish with another dash of hops.

Fuller medium body, decent carbonation, sticky and lingering on the tongue with a round creaminess. This was interesting, although I found it a little sweet at times - still highly drinkable though, considering the ABV.

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Photo of cvm4
3.72/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L - Pours a cloudy amber in color with an eggshell one finger head.

S - Very oak forward. Sweet honey, citrus and malts come through.

T - Sweet caramel and malts at first that develops into a bitter hop note and has an oak finish.

F - Full bodied and low carbonation. A bit of alcohol heat, but not too bad.

O - Nice take on a blond barleywine.

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Photo of oline73
3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a tasting snifter. This was opened at a BA Barleywine tasting.

This one is lighter in color than most of the other barleywines. There is more of a citrus like bitterness in this beer than the other beers from the tasting. There is a sweet note, but the bitter is dominant. I would say this is a strong ale/double IPA before it's a barleywine. I would have liked the sweetness to be a bit more prevalent.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to mrbubbler for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

Pours a hazy orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Thin streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, honey, fruit, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with brown sugar, caramel, honey, and wood flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of wood bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a barrel aged presence that is only giving off wood qualities at this point in time.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

650 ml bottle. Pours a hazy golden amber with a small white head that has good retention and leaves a lot of small spots of lacing of lacing on the glass. The aroma is oak, caramel, and is quite fruity with pineapple, plum, and fig. There is also some bourbon and a bit of alcohol. The taste is sweet with caramel and oak. There is also some pineapple and tropical fruit as well as a bit off bourbon. The finish has a bit of alcohol, some bitterness, and a light astringency. Medium body. Medium-low carbonation. Not bad. Not great. The tropical fruit notes remind me a bit of Gratitude.

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Photo of chinchill
3.79/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Oak aging is subtle at most in the aroma, but it's obvious in tasting, where it mainly provides woody and (fainter) rye whisky flavors. Fruit and booze in the nose.
Nicely complex and soft for style but alcohol should be more hidden .

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Photo of drpimento
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is odd with a thick cream-colored, slow to settle head, some sticky lace, and part hazy - part cloudy honey amber color. Aroma is caramel malt, hop, bit or whiskey. Flavor is hugely sweet at first, long bitter finish. Light carbonation and lots of alcohol warmth. A bit heavy handed for me.

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Photo of Tommo
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This is a huge beer. Very drinkable despite the high abv, but nothing really popping out for me. Caramel and sweetness on the front and booze on the back. Not bad

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Photo of womencantsail
3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks, Shane!

Pours sort of an orange color with a small white head. Nose is heavily woody, but not all that much in the way of the whiskey. Quite a lot of piney hop character with a definite citrus bite to it as well. Sweet malt and bread are also present. The flavor is a bit too bitter initially but seems to mellow out as it warms. The citrus and fruity hop flavors really come through, as does the sweetness of the beer.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.96/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle opened on 2.3.14

A - Pours a cloudy, light brown with a huge foamy light tan head that doesn't move.

S - Sweet citrus, oaky, spices.

T - Very light and subtle lemon-citrus, oak and some subtle winter spice.

D - Good carbonation with a lighter then expected body.

O - Light and citrusy. Oak is ther, but it is pretty mild.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.12/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4



A: Yellow gold with a big white head.

S: Restrained whiskey presence initially with light oxidation. There's a touch of date and a nice vanilla profile. Lightly bready with notes of caramel as well as citrus and a dash of pine. The beer really opens up after a few minutes and the vanilla and whiskey become more apparent.

T: Boozy with big whiskey and vanilla notes. Lower moderate bitterness meets citrus and well hidden alcohol. Lightly tannic with evident oak. Nice rich caramel presence.

M: Medium body with medium carbonation. Lots of alcohol warming.

Overall: A very nice beer. It improved when allowed to open up for a few minutes. I think a little time in the cellar (3-6 months) might be good for this. And by cellar I mean an actual temperature controlled area, not a hot closet.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes taken from a bottleshare at the Phoenix Sun in NYC. Thanks kindly to Alex for sharing.

a - soft orange with no head. opaque.
s - smells like oranges.
t - soft barleywine. oranges and tangerines with some booziness glazed over the top.
m - a bit boozy but soft enough. bit of a sting.
o - overall fairly nice blonde barleywine. boozy, but enjoyable with great tangerine and orange notes.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle poured into a snifter
(A)- Pours an orange amber with some off-white froth.
(S)- A lightly spicy but fruity honey character. Subtle dry oak and vanilla
(T)- Smooth honey meets a fruity orange citrus character meeting dry oak sweetness
(M)- Good carbonation level. A nice balance of fruity honey and oaky goodness amidst some sweet malts.
(O)- A nice blonde barleywine. Quite fruity but with a good body to it. Thankfully, not overly hopped or sickly sweet

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

A: Poured into a snifter to a nice dark gold topped by a finger of dense off white head that fades quickly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing
S: Smells of old pine and citrusy hops with some caramel, vanilla and oak
T: Taste is the faded pine and citrus with some nice barrel presence. The honey sweetness comes through at times as well. Good bit of oakyness with some caramel and vanilla. Nice herbal hop notes as well with what almost seems like menthol. Swallow is caramel sweetness, slight alcohol, vanilla and more oak as well as some lingering pine and citrus.
M: this one is full in the mouth with soft but adequate carbonation and a drying finish that battles with oily hops.
O: This is a fun and interesting beer. It is well hopped and has a great malt backbone. This one has almost a year on it and it's tasting great. The beer and the barrel play well off of each other so this one is a joy to drink. If you see it then try it.

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Photo of maximum12
4.27/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the last men standing from my two weeks of ‘working’ in CA, & thrilled I was to locate this on the shelf. 22 oz. trademark FiftyFifty bottle split with my wife.

The pour is more Nicole Kidman than Farrah Fawcett (hair-wise), well, if Ms. Kidman didn’t shower for a couple of weeks. Focus, now, focus. The nose is sweet honey, sweet malts, sweet vanilla. Time seems to have pilloried the hops in this one.

Annularity would ideally be Bi-Weekly or at least Monthularity. There’s a Hopslamesque quality here with a wallop of Honey (anyone ever see that movie…if so, I’m sorry) that delivers a cold, mulled sweetness. Light hoppy bitterness w/resin crowds in behind & holds the sweetness a bit (no flag) at bay. Spiciness & vanilla tangle happily; whiskey is slight. The thing is tied up with a wood bow that runs all the way through to the next sip. Thick, but I want to sip this for hours.

FiftyFifty - ever thought of opening up an outpost in the Twin Cities? Guarantee I could almost support you single-handedly. Another excellent beer from an excellent brewery that’s not just about the stouts.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Hazy red-orange with a thin finger of slightly off-white head. Fades fairly quickly.

S - Sweet caramel malts, caramelized sugars, citrus, pine, and grapefruit hops, Bourbon, oak, vanilla, rye, brown sugar, some booze.

T - Sweet caramel malts, brown sugar, caramelized malts, citrus, grapefruit, and pine hops, some nice lightly resiny bitterness, Bourbon, oak, vanilla, spicy rye, some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a warming, sweet, and bitter finish.

D - Fantastic barrel aged barleywine. Great malt and hop flavor.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.39/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2012)

Thanks for opening this with me, BdubleEdubleRUN!

Dark golden yellow with a thin near-white crown that leaves spots of lacing down the glass. Appropriate.

The aroma is an intoxicating combination of vanilla and earthy bourbon. The barrel has transformed the base beer, I'm sure. The vanilla is a lovely, complex note of earthy and sweet, while the barrel layers play together nicely. There's even a hint of bright citrus.

The flavor is also incredibly complex yet immediately delicious and drinkable. Big notes of vanilla, bourbon, earth, wood, and mild hops intermingle nicely. There's the slightest bit of alcohol, but complementary.

Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

I really enjoyed this one.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the tap, into a little plastic wide mouthed cup. Wouldn't describe this beer as blonde, it looks more like a hearty ipa. Has that current of orange running through it more than anything yellow or blonde. Smallish amount of offwhite head on the top.

Aroma, smells like the right amount of bourbon, nothing over the top, small tobacco like notes, even smaller rum sweetness, larger vanilla aroma.

Taste, wow, heaven, tons of flavor packed into a relatively light body here. Immediately brought Abacus into my realm of consciousness, the amount of coconut was big and awesome. Caramel all over it. Bourbon obvious, but not overpowering. A great creamy, smoothness to the mouthfeel, really an effortless 10% beer to drink. There's even more vanilla to it than in the aroma. The oak notes are real bright, you get the best of both worlds, it has a high oak quotient that seems almost like it would be virgin oak if not for the perfectly delicate bourbon (and seemingly rum) touches on this. Really didn't pick up any hop notes on this one, so I was hesitant to call it an American Barleywine, but there isn't a blonde barleywine, and the only other one I'm aware of (Behemoth) is an American creation, so I went with said classification v. British/English.

This beer was kind of an awakening to me. I really have never been a big fan of bourbon barrel barleywines. I've often said I don't think they have the body to handle bourbon, you need to use an imperial stout to manage such a thing. And since then, I've had some great ones like BB4D, Abacus, MOAS etc. . .

And then there's this beer, a blonde barleywine, with less body than any of those great examples, and it just nails it for me. Never felt like I was breathing fire like in some of the bigger barrel aged barleywines. I can't wait to share it again with friends.

EDIT: Had a bottle of this while koufax21 was out over the holidays, not as good as fresh. Bummer, but 4.68 was the rating on tap. We'll see how it shakes out averaged with the bottles.

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

Popping the cap releases spice, vanilla, bourbon and honey aromas. It pours hazy copper tinted amber under an off-white foam cap. This is a big, chewy beer with a big honey, bourbon, oak caramel palate. It is fruity and boozy but the alcohol is not particularly hot. It has a spicy bitter finish that suggests a mixed drink with a hint of tartness underneath and overall has a good balance between the malt, honey, alcohol and bitterness.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.54/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

With the look of an ipa comes the blonde barleywine, barrel aged. Orange and dark yellow in the color. 1/4" white head. Aroma was solid bourbon aroma that the brewery does so well. Sweeter than expected, lots of vanilla stands out against a non stout base I guess.

Smacks of Helldorado, lots of bourbon, light blonde barleywine body, sweet, vanilla, oak. Even some coconut. Caramel notes. Easy drinking mouthfeel for 10%. A little bit of hop bitterness. Went through a year or two of rough spots age wise, but its drinking great again. I've had it on tap a few times, a few bottles, so this score is an average of all of them, but wow, the first time on tap and the last time out of the bottle were top notch, if not almost 5 years apart.

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Photo of maputnam25
4.94/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Among the best beers I've tasted recently. While tasting with my dad, I mused aloud: "You know how some barrel aged beers can get a little much towards the end, and you sort of have to force yourself to finish them? This is just the want to keep drinking it!" FiftyFifty has ingeniously used the pure sweetness of honey to balance out the oak and bourbon flavors that accompany the barrel-aging process. Vanilla and buttery flavors ensue; complex sour fruity notes underlay this balance that I could only describe as rhubarb, of all things.

My only regret is that I didn't buy another bottle. A truly great beer.

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Annularity from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
4.02 out of 5 based on 86 ratings.
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