Young's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale | Young & Co Brewery PLC

very good
315 Reviews
Young's Old Nick Barley Wine AleYoung's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale

Brewed by:
Young & Co Brewery PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Quaffer on 09-05-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 315 | Ratings: 329
Photo of Metalmonk
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The day I turned 21, I bought this beer because 1) I could, 2) I wanted to try something completely different than the familiar macro/light swill, and 3) I was looking to get drunk. I hated it. But how times change...

Pours out a slightly hazy deep ruby color, under a rocky light tan head that holds out for a good while.

Aroma: if this ain't the most Belgian-smellin' English barleywine... Boasts a yeasty/fruity nose that is more in line with that country's strong ales. Plenty of sour cherry, pungent yeast and alcohol/chocolate roundness. Surprising how much alcohol hits the nose. It might be 7.2%, but smells almost double that.

The flavor isn't quite as inviting or accessible as the aroma, but it does have its own depth. Rum-soaked raisins, vanilla extract, chocolate-covered toffee, raspberry pipe tobacco and molasses are felt, but they're nearly bowled over by a sharp mineral smack on the finish. The mouthfeel, while wonderfully creamy, also has a certain watery thinness that I still haven't quite come to appreciate in many English ales.

This is very good, with intriguing character, even unique, but also feels a little unbalanced. I would gladly visit this again to see how it does in a different environment and with different age on the bottle.

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Photo of sethmeister
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into rapscallion snifter at about 55 degrees. best before june 07 date

Dark reddish brown body looks near black in the glass with a voluminous creamy frothy tan head which abides but leaves very little lace.

Scent is caramel and dark sweet fruits with a slightly vinous port-like character.

Taste is vanila and dark sweet fruits (plums and cherries) with a touch of candy sugar sweetness and an ever so slight alcohol warming in the throat. Sweetness lingers with an oaky finish and a hint of diacetyl butteriness. Low hop presence here as its clear this is an English barleywine not an American.

Mouthfeel is a creamy chewey medium which is enhanced by the terrifically creamy weighty foam head.

Drinkability is surprisingly high and the abv is managed well.

This is a lovely smooth English barley wine. There are no brash or green qualities here and hopheads will most likely find it a bit too smooth and subdued.

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

500 ml brown bottle, courtesy of Cardinal pub, Stavanger. ABV is 7.2%. Brewed at the Ram brewery, shortly before closing, BB date 20. Sep. 2007 (will probably be good much longer than that). Code L6263 07:57 Y. Hazy deep brown colour, large and lasting tan head. Nice aroma of malts and hops (no surprise), hints of vanilla, chocolate, raisins and leather. The flavour is perfectly balanced between the malts and hops, both elements being present in generous amounts. Notes of caramel, toffee and oak. Sweet, but not too much. I drank it colder than the recommended room temperature, and don’t regret that. A hoppy bitterness + oak in the aftertaste. A very nice beer - I hope "Wells and Young’s" will keep it in their portfolio.

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Photo of schusterbauer
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

dark ruby color, to the point of being muddy brown, with a gray head that releases a lot of aroma as it dissolves. smell is strong and sweet -- fruity and malty. i noted that it smelled like port wine, and then when i went to throw the bottle away, realized that it actually suggests serving the beer as an alternative to port wine.
flavors are nice -- strong dark fruit juices, caramel malts, slight hops, candy sugar. really nice flavor profile, but everything needs to be turned up an extra 50%. same proportions, just more. as it stands, it lacks a boldness that is expected of a barley wine. it starts well, and finishes warmly, but in between there is something that falls a bit flat. a really nice beer that only disappoints due to the fact that it does hint at greatness.

i like the size of the bottle (16.9 oz.), and the price (~$3) -- both factors ensure that i'll most likely drink this again in the future.

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

Poured a clear dark brown color with better than a full finger fluffy light tan head that resists fading. Visible carbonation keeps the head going. Some lacing present.

The smell is of a sweet fig or other dark fruit, but earthy from the yeast and even though the ABV is on the lighter side, there is a hint of alcohol.

The mouth is heavy and somewhat complex. First kind of creamy, but also a ting from the hop and carbonation. True to the labeling, It finishes with a bitterness not generally found in the American version of this style.

The flavor is a more subtle warm malty caramel that mirrors the nose. Glad that i had the opportunity to consider it.

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Photo of jettjon
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 500 ml bottle with “best before 10 NOV 06” date, this one was sampled in March 2007 with no apparent problems from aging. Poured into the cervoise a very deep brown color, ruby red in the light with heavy, clingy carbonation in the pour. One-finger cap of creamy brown-tan foam that fades at a leisurely rate down to a thin cap and ring with scattered, sticky lace. Nose is exceptional, even before the beer warms from fridge temperature. Heavy dark fruits such as dark grape juice, banana, sweet malt, and crisp hops along with trace alcohol, caramel and brown sugar. Quite a bouquet. Taste follows nose but not quite as phenomenally; delicious caramel malt is followed by hints of plums and dark fruit culminating in a dry, hoppy bitter finish with coffee notes. Mouth is solidly chewy-creamy with moderate crisp carbonation; smooth overall. Drinkability is outstanding: this is a delicious and mellow brew that is highly enjoyable; 7.2% ABV is respectable but doesn’t get in the way.

Overall: An outstanding brew, rivaling some of the best quads I’ve had. I can’t speak for the style as I’m relatively inexperienced with barley wines, but this is a delicious beer in its own right. Wholeheartedly recommended.

Additional note: I don’t usually buy into label hype, but this time they got it spot on: “Malty, velvety-smooth and full bodied with sumptuous flavors of fruit and hops with complex bitterness on the finish.” Hell, yes.

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

For coming up with the same numbers for each factor, this was a tough beer to review. I like it, let me get that out of the way.

This is one of the darker barleywines I've encountered, and was blown away by the hops, or lack thereof, in the aroma. Very little oiliness, quite a bit of dark caramel hop.

The flavor to me is a little lacking, although still complex and impressive. Hence the 4. Toffee flavor, very malty. A slight hop edge, although I would prefer more. Probably in the 50 IBU range, which makes it an unremarkable IPA to my Americanized tongue. That combined with the much stronger malt presence than an IPA would have really puts the bitterness on the backburner.

A little slick in the mouth, nothing too great. The drinkability probably could get bumped up just because it's so low on the barleywine abv scale. The reason I gave it a 4 is that many times what is too strikingly bitter on first taste becomes somewhat addictive. I'm also not being pulled in by the herbal/spice aftertaste.

Excellent English barleywine, like I said, I really enjoy it. Other than J.W. Lees' efforts, this is a perfect example of the style. Side note: I thought the English were allowed to say Barley Wine. Old Nick's is labeled a Barleywine Style Ale, like the American versions.

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Photo of brdc
3.62/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a barley wine on the lower end of alcohol spectrum, which was somewhat of a surprise to me.
It is dark red, with a nice foamy head that leaves a good lacing behind.
Nose is pleasant, mostly malts with some caramels, chocolate and roasted malts, some fruitiness and minimal alcohol smell which is atypical, but more pleasant than I usually think barleywines are.
This is medium to full bodied, with some fruitiness, milder alcohol than the usual, some sweetness with a milder hop bite than the usual.
I cannot really make up my mind, will have to come back to this one. First impression is of a milder, easier to drink barleywine than the average but it also did not strike me as "great".

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Photo of angie497
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It poured a very dark reddish amber, practically brown - it seemed very clear but it's too dark to be transparent. The head is almost tan, about two fingers thick, and disappeared quickly.

The aroma is almost surprisingly sweet and very malty. There’s also quite a bit of fruitiness, plum or raisin, and a hint of yeast.

The sweetness was the first thing I noticed about the flavor. There’s a definite caramel flavor with a hint of chocolate as well as the plum and raisin flavors. There’s enough hop bitterness to give Old Nick a nice edge. The high alcohol content also gives the beer a nice bite.

It had a smooth, creamy mouth feel and rich body, and it’s nicely carbonated. It’s not as syrupy or heavy as you might expect from a barley wine, and it’s very drinkable. I normally think of a barley wine as a beer to sip slowly, to make one last for the evening, but this one is light enough to enjoy two or three.

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Photo of theopholis
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Poured a very dark amber. Almost black. Has a good, off-white head, but it has little staying power. Leaves a decent lace however.

Aroma- Packed with malt sweetness and some fruitiness. Very little hops, which is a little disapointing for a Barleywine, but I'll with-hold judgement for now. Also some black cherries and plum in there. Also, a faint, but very sweet, bready, malty yeastiness. Yum.

Taste- Very nice, and smooth. Not as hoppy as most barley wines, but very good all the same. Mostly smooth malt sweetness with hints of bittering and flavoring hops. Some dark fruit in there; plum and raisins. Without being overpowering, the sweetness is ever-present. I swear, you can even taste it on your lips.

Mouthfeel- Medium body for the style. Smooth and creamy for a barley wine. I'd almost hink it was nitrogen charged. Good carboantion level. Not as heavy or syrupy as you might expect for a barley wine, which makes this one a nice change of pace.

Drinkability- Pretty good for a barly wine. Most of them are sippin' beers. This one, you could drink one or 2 of before having your tastebuds overwhelmed. Not the best barley wine, but a worthy effort

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Photo of jwc215
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 pt. 0.9 fl.oz. bottle - best before 17 Aug 07.

Pours ruby with a thick, rocky, off-white head that is very well-retained for style. Broken rings of lacing stick to the glass.

The smell is of toffee, dark fruits, slightly spicy.

The taste is toffeeish and grainy malty sweetness. Some dark fruits and an earthy, hop-bitter undertone balance out the sweetness, while leaving it suitably sweet. Some peppery alcohol gives it a mild warmth.

It's full-bodied and smooth.

Easily drinkable, esp. for style. It's fairly modest abv plays a part in its easy drinkability, though it's still appropriately potent. A classic of the style.

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Photo of pweis909
4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A tawny white foam formed, with tight thin bubbles that ring the glass with lace as the head dissipates. The liquid is dark amber, with garnet tones at the edges when held to light. Translucent but not transparent, either because it is just a little too dark, or the bubbles disperse light

Fruity aroma – maybe some banana and but stronger pear, intense pear. Nursed through the evening, as the beer got warmer and the foam dissipated, the aroma took on a stronger alcohol character, and the fruit took a back seat.

The first sip reveals a soft, chewy chocolate and a faint sourness that seems to be associated with the fruit. The finish has an alcoholic bitterness, not a hoppy bitter.

The alcohol is noticeable. One 25 oz bottle spread over 2hours is plenty for an evening. Because some of the interesting aromatic intensity is lost with time, I recommend sharing a bottle with a friend or two.

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Photo of joe1510
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml. Bottle
Binny's Orland

Best before 6/07

Old nick poured crimson red. This stuff is way darker than I expected. When held to the light it reminds me of strong iced tea. On the pour the head grew to a delicious looking 2+ fingers of beige that fell agonizingly slow to a thick cap and rim of creaminess. This beer looks extremely tasty.

The smell is packed with fruitiness and spice. There's big aromas of figs, red pear, and some nutmeg. Dark cherries mingle in and out with hints of oak. A very mild breadiness shows itself in the background. Very nice. Could be a little more pronounced though.

The flavor is just like the aroma. More subdued but all the flavors are there. Without naming everything again the dark fruits are everywhere with along with something new. Bread pudding with raisins. There is a quick metallic flash follwed by a pear skin grittiness. Nicely done.

Mouthfeel is good. Creamy and smooth. Slow moving with a tongue tickling tingle on the swallow.

I could easily enjoy a few of these and it's something I'm sure Friends of mine not familiar with beers of this type would also appreciate. Good winter brew.

This is an easily found barleywine that is definately a treat. Will happily be picking more of these up in the future. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of Jessefive
3.04/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

This beer had a nice sweet, malty flavor that was offset by a unimpressive thin body and virtually no head. I was able to pick out some prune and coffee flavors. There was a gently bitter finish. It was a very drinkable, though unremarkable barleywine.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
2.45/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice black-amber. Head is about a half-finger with some white foam haze resting on the top of the liquid. Lacing is splattery and fine. Pretty nice looking, fits the bottle color scheme and the Devil motif pretty well.

Smell: A sweet malt smell, but nothing particularly overpowering nor inviting. Raisins, cinnamon, and dark fruits. Almost a lager-like aroma to it, and a sort of vinous quality that reminds me, unfortunately, too much of Newcastle "Brown," which consistently makes me want to puke. Not a good aroma for me.

Taste: Even worse on the vinous Newcastle lager-likeness. Raisins, plums, alcohol, a slight smoke otherwise. Not my thing.

Mouthfeel: Decent carbonation, otherwise a little spicy.

Drinkability: I can't recommend this beer, as much I would like to. I had heard great things about Old Nick, so I'm surprised at my reaction. Just too much like cheap wine or something to me. Not, again, my cup of tea. About halfway through the bottle, this became a drain pour.

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Photo of JasonCoop
4.63/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours a deep, dark reddish brown. poured aggressively to get a nice off-white foam. drinking it from a large snifter, it looks great.

a lot of caramel blended with some chocolate in the aroma. smells sweet and malty.

taste is nice and sweet right up front. a lot of caramel type malts. the malty sweetness is a good match for the abv. nice and balanced.

the mouthfeel is pretty creamy up front with a good bite in the finish. a nice lingering sweet taste. one of the most mellow and drinkable barley wines i've sampled. great flavor and not so overpowering as some other examples in this style.

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

This is a great English Barley Wine.

This big beer pored into a snifter with a deep, darkish amber hue. The off-white/burnt orange combo describes the decent, but fairly quickly dissipating head. Smelled of sweeter malts, subtle raisin and faint graham cracker crust. The tastes of malt, dark fruits, and warming low alcohol traces, finished with relatively lower hop characteristics ( as in the English tradition, as opposed to the hop bombs made in the US ). This beer felt heavy on the mouth, but not overly thick, making it much easier to consume. Paired great with the strong cheese platter I had during a late night rendezvous in the kitchen...Enjoy

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This bottle is from 2001, I believe.

A: Deep garnett brown with pomegranite highlights when held to the light. Head is a solid sand color with a medium cream consistency.

S: Cherries, plums, prunes, brown sugar and port.

T: Sherry, oak and rum raisin splash across the palate. Bittering chocolate with satured dried dark fruits continue on with the adventure. Sort of a cherry cough syrup aspect to it in the finish mixed with caramel. Lingering mild bitterness and toffee salt water taffy.

M: Thinner than your average barleywine. Medium body but surprisingly thin.

D: A very nice example of an English barleywine. I enjoyed this but would have liked the alcohol to be a bit more pronounced for complexity purposes.

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Photo of scorched
3.43/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I bought this on the recommendation of a fellow beer lover, employed by The Anderson's in Columbus, OH. I have only had two different kinds of Barley Wine's in my day (other than this one) and this one had to be the least flavorful of all of them, however, still definitely a barley wine.

Upon cracking open the bottle, there was very little fizz, however; upon pouring, it had a substantial head. The head retention was fairly good.

The aroma was a little lacking. Once again, still a barley wine, but then again, a little under-par for what I'm used to.

The flavor, was fairly robust, given the style of the beer, but still a little less robust than what I am used to in a barley wine. A bit nutty, which is odd.

The mouthfeel is very nice. It could stay in there for quite a while without overwhelming the taste buds, which I find a bit disappointing, because in a barley wine, I expect to be overwhelmed.

The drinkability is pretty high, given the lack of over...whelmingness (is that a word?)

Overall, if you're going to start drinking Barley Wine, this one is the one to start on... if you're a wuss...

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Photo of marcobrau
3.42/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I haven't had an Old Nick in ages, so I thought I'd revist this beer, especially as it seemed the store had a fresh shipment of Young's products. It's been many, many years since I illegally sipped one of these out of the bottle in a forest preserve in Palos Park...

Anyhow, this bottle of Old Nick pours and amber to light brown just as I remembered it. It seemed to have more carbonation than I remember, but it's been several years. I'm a bit let down by the fairly neutral aroma, but this beer looks good, with a thick head that drops to a thin layer of foam leaving some lace. This is a fairly tasty malt-accented (it is from England after all) barleywine. This ale could use some more complexity, but the caramel-toffee malt flavor is good, just short of being too sweet. Sadly quite clean for an English ale, but still not a bad beer, just not that interesting. Just a hint of ale fruitiness surfaces as the beer warms up into the 60s. Very smooth, though, and dangerously quaffable for the style -- much too strong to be a session beer and not complex (or strong) enough to make it a sippin' beer.

Probably a good, if very basic, introduction to barleywine for a newbie craft beer drinker.

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Photo of jhollick
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deliciously thick and clingy head. Color is a super deep ruby, casting itself as black in all but the right light.

Smelled of yeast, clove, citrus, bread, caramel, bread, and a touch of oatmeal. As I expected, the mouthfeel was thick, creamy, and velvety smooth. It has a very impressive heft.

Roasted malts hit the mouth right off, and a quick bite follows from the minimal hops. Toffee and almond flavors linger, and there is some subtle mossy and smoky character. The sweetness peeks through at the end, giving some balance to this roasted and rather bitter barleywine. Some dark berries have a subtle effect, but this isn't near as sweet as the nose indicated to me.

Take it easy and savor this. You're in no danger of getting rocked, but then again that's not why you bought Old Nick. You could guzzle it, but you shouldn't. The subtlety and balance is what I love about this beer, and it is what I love about many of Englands finer beers. This is a beer that I can't wait to have again.

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Photo of gunnerman
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Barley wine glass, nice mohaganny pour with a nice 2 finger head that leaves very nice lace on the glass. Smell is sweet alchol smell with hints of fig juice. Taste is carbonated bread and sweet figs, this goes down very smoothly and was nicly sipped, not my favorite but it was pretty tasty.

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Photo of Vancer
4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a superb BW, even though it’s <only> 7.2%. The English versions are good too, they have a robust malty flavor with an English bitter backbone. It also has a winter warmer spice kick too. Just superb, too bad ya gotta pay the import/shipping costs for this.

Oh, and a great deep oak pour, foamy ol’ tan whipped egg topping. I’d recommend everyone popping one of these to compare with the American version BWs – they’re close cousins and good to have over for dinner. What a great world of beer.

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Photo of davidchollar
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass, my first English Barley Wine appears a very solid dark brown. There is a rather big, gorgeous off-white head that sticks around for a long time.

The smell is obvious from a distance, even as I type up the appearance and before I take my first official sniff. I like that in a beer, and I find that appearance and smell make such a big difference as they are your first impression of a beer. Dark fruits, raisins, cherries, bread and malt are dominant. Any trace of hops or alcohol is is hidden, as for the style and of a not too high abv.

Oh yes, Young's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale is definitely a "velvety smooth and full-bodied beer" as advertised on the label. The "dark ruby colour" however, just advertising. No way this near black could be considered ruby. And the "complex bitterness on the finish"? I didn't really think so at first, but I realize some of the last few big beers I've had have been imperial stouts and double IPAs that I picked up in the States. So my tastes have been forever altered, but in fairness this is in no way a simple beer. It has a lot going on, and although on the sweet side, pretty well-rounded and drinkable.

The only other barley wine I have ever tried is Anchor's Old Foghorn, and I haven't had one of those in a long time. But I just read the style description for this, and I would say this fits perfectly. It has a big, malty sweetness that is immediately obvious in the smell and the taste. In fact, this beer really reminds me of Gouden Carolus Christmas, (only without the trademark belgian yeast) a Belgian Strong Dark Ale that I am familiar with after enjoying several 750s. I will definitely get this again. Young's is becoming one of my favorite breweries for having such a great variety of styles and never disappointing!

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

It's probably been a good 18 months since I last had a Young's Old Nick, and during that time I have expanded my beer tasting across several different styles and many versions thereof. So it was always going to be an interesting experience to see how one of my old favourites stood up to the test of my now more educated palate.

Well I'm happy to report that it was a happy reunion with my old friend, and whilst these days I am now aware that there are better beers out there (if only you have the courage to venture out of your comfort zone and try them) Old Nick still stands up as a good beer, especially if like me, you are fond of the sweeter English style Barley Wines.

Although viewed as something of a lightweight for its style, Old Nick nevertheless punches above its weight, and I was a bit surprised how quickly it went to my head, since I am used to shifting beers with several more abv points than the 7.2 listed on the bottle.

Finally, to state the obvious, as the beer continued to warm towards the middle and then the end, the taste just got better and better. If I had been a cat, my purrs would have been almost deafening by the end.

Next on the list to revisit in this category is Anchor Old Foghorn, which if my memory serves me correctly, may have the beating of Old Nick. That's some compliment.

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Young's Old Nick Barley Wine Ale from Young & Co Brewery PLC
3.97 out of 5 based on 329 ratings.
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