Cigar City / Swamp Head Church On A Hill
Cigar City Brewing

Cigar City / Swamp Head Church On A HillCigar City / Swamp Head Church On A Hill
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
English Barleywine
4.03 | pDev: 10.42%
Cigar City Brewing
Florida, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Cigar City / Swamp Head Church On A HillCigar City / Swamp Head Church On A Hill
Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 93 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.43/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

Pours a murky dark orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, honey, and cardboard aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and herbal hop flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with slight oxidized aromas that don't show up in the taste.

 610 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Shared bottle pours clear red-amber with a modest head.

Unusual aroma with a suggestion of rum and brandy. Soft fruits, light malts, and alcohol esters dominate the flavor. ABV partially hidden but not so in the aroma.

Medium body with rather low carbonation.

 262 characters

Photo of wisrarebeer
3.22/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A: deep, rosy copper color, clear, poured with head that dissipated, very dark in color
S: very mild nose, sweet roasted malt, sweet plums, slight medicinal
T: ok but pretty cloying, somewhat one dimensional with syrupy sweet taste up front and some bitter finish but just your average barley wine, some EtOH noticeable
M: balanced, somewhat cloying, more malt forward than hops

 378 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Gord for this bottle. Could not find a bottle date on this one.
Poured in to snifter.

A - Dark copper colour; almost completely opaque. A thin layer of light brown head formed and quickly reduced to a ring around the edges of the glass.

S - Very sweet with dark caramel, brown sugar, raisins and toffee aromas.

T - Caramel, brown sugar, toffee and raisins. Very sweet overall with a big warming alcohol presence that nicely cuts through the sweetness.

M -Medium to full body. Somewhat sludgy and sticky. Light carbonation.

 538 characters

Photo of jeonseh
3.38/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled shared at NWI Tasting Group Meetup - December

A - Looks a lot like Leon except a lighter brown. Very hazy with a small layer of foam on the top. Reminds me of apple cider

S - Not too much of a nose that I picked up. Slight vanilla, caramel and bready malt

T - Caramel and vanilla up front along with bready malt. Finish has a slight astringency to it that is a bit abrasive

MF - Medium body with a light stickiness. Light astringent and alcoholic presence that leaves a tingle on the tongue

O - A solid barleywine but it is nowhere as near as good as the variants (Leon and Cognac Church).

 602 characters

Photo of thagr81us
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to my boy Jefe73 for sending me this one awhile back! Thanks brother! Shared during BRoss242’s send-off party before he moves! Will miss you man! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured a dark red-brown with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, fruit, dark fruit, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, caramel hop, sweet alcohol, and dark fruit. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was a fairly good brew. I had only really heard about this one and then it showed up at my doorstep. A really solid example of the style as far as flavor and aroma goes. Nice dark fruit notes with a nice touch of sweet alcohol to blend in nicely. A really well done brew that I would love to try a barrel aged version of. I suggest you get on this when you can.

 972 characters

Photo of corby112
2.98/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Draft at the brewer on 3/13/12.

Pours a dark copper, almost brown color with golden amber edges and a two finger yellowish-beige head that quickly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lace left behind.

Sweet, boozy aroma with roasted malt, zesty spice and vinous dark fruit notes. Lots of strong ethanol that overtakes everything until it warms up a bit. Underneath there is some roasted leathery malt along with some candy sugar, pepper, plum and raisin.

Medium bodied and ery similar to the aroma with a dominant sweet, boozy flavor. Lots of alcohol overpowering the other notes until it warms up considerably. The high abv is not well masked at all. After a while, some roasted malt and dark fruit flavor appears. Hits of peppery spice and candy sugar followed by chocolate malt, plum, raisin and fig. Not terrible but pretty harsh and difficult to finish. Too one dimensional with overpowering alcohol flavor.

 929 characters

Photo of oline73
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into my Hunahpu's snifter.

Appearance: Pours a reddish brown with a layer of off white head that leaves a ring around the pour.

Smell: Just a bit sweet with lots of dark fruit and some caramel malt. I'm getting some hops and then some warm alcohol with each sniff.

Taste: This is not a very sweet beer. I would have expected more given the abv. I am getting some caramel from the malt along with some citrus peel hops. There is an alcohol burn in the finish, but I would still call this one smooth.

Mouthfeel: The body is just a bit syrupy with tingly carbonation and a finish that is a tad dry.

Overall: I could have used just a little more sweetness to counter the bitterness. Overall this is still a nice barleywine and I would have another.

 772 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.63/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a CBS snifter. No bottle date, which is weird for a current CCB beer.

Appearance - Mahogany with a nice khaki head. Two fingers in the CBS snifter is not bad. Decent retention, too. No lacing, but that's not surprising at 13%.

Smell - Nutty, malty, and extremely fruity. Dark fruits and some estery fruits as well. Almost like they used a Belgian yeast. General booziness about it, but not 13% boozy.

Taste - Sweet, toffee, caramel malt. Quickly goes to a grainy bitterness and a dry astringent finish. Again, it's got esters that are not to style. Almost acidic tasting, too. Strange and not what I expect.

Mouthfeel - Extremely dry for 13%, although it doesn't taste like 13%. To its credit, it tastes closer to 10%. The astringent finish verges on unpleasant.

Overall - It's decent. Maybe a little better than decent. I don't think I can say it's well-made, due to the off-flavors, but for a 13% ABV barleywine, it's still pretty good. I guess I'm basically forgiving some flaws due to its size.

 1,029 characters

Photo of Treebs
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle served in a Portsmouth tulip. Big thanks to Eric (Holland) for the bottle!

A: Pours a dark plum color with some light brown hues mixed in with a light khaki head forming on the pour. It leaves some splotchy and random lace around the glass.

S: Dark fruits, mostly raisins and figs with a sweet fruit juice flavor and some alc. Malty caramal and burnt sugar also.

T: Slight oxidation with some plum flesh, dates and figs. Sweet raisins and some boozy and fruity alcohol. some burnt sugar and mild molasses as well.

M: Medium bodied with some medium to low carbonation and some dark fruits flavors left on the palate.

O: This was a nice solid beer, but it left me wanting some more. I needed a little more malt and a little less dark fruit flavor to balance it out.

 782 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a reddish brown color with good carbonation leaving a nice tan cap, some lacing

S: Big toffee and caramel sweetness with dark fruits, nuts

T: A very nice sweeetness from a nice blend of toffee, caramel with a nice older dark fruits presence. Booze is noticable but masked. Loads of nuts here. Residual sugar and fruity esters. A very decadent and tasty barleywine

M: Full bodied, creamy, tasty with a sweet, sticky but dry finish

O: Amazing representation of the style

 483 characters

Photo of babaracas
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy reddish dark brown, one finger of medium brown foam, settles to a ring with blobs of lace here and there. Smell: heavily caramelized sugar, bready (pumpernickel-ish), plum, date, booze, mild earthy hopping, slightly buttery. Taste: dark brown sugar, booze, pumpernickel, date, ends with more booze and a balancing earthy bitterness. Extremely delicious, but also pretty boozy. Probably phenomenal with age. Very creamy feel. Liked this better than Roosevelt, though it’s more "straightforward", I suppose.

 520 characters

Photo of maximum12
4.59/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to moose3285, who sent me this matched pair of barleywines. I know Cigar City makes great stuff & Swamp Head made a great saison, not my favorite style, so expectations are mesospheric. Big 750 ML bottle, & extra points from this History minor. Split with my wife.

Poured into a pair of oversized snifters, this is an indistinct, muddy brown. Minimal carbonation. The smell, the smell, I inhale for so long I fog up the inside of the snifter. Giant caramel & sweet malts, ripe apples, blackstrap molasses. Fantastic way to fire up a beer drinker.

Church on a Hill is like a .22 slug of alcohol to the liver. This is a stingingly hot beer, with enough alcohol to drown an entire colony of ticks (my grandpa used to do that). After that blow, there's the promised land of rich, decadent caramel, riddled with an Edenic horn of dark, figgy fruits. Massive serving of scorched sugars. Surprising, welcome slap of hop bitterness right on the sharp end of the brew, offsetting the sweetness a bit. Despite all the mayhem, this doesn't feel heavy, & I find it going away in larger mouthfuls than it should. This could shut down my consciousness if I had a few glasses.

I normally find collaboration beers to be a watering down of what each brewer brings to the table: this is the rare, clear winner. An excellent barleywine with an excellent pedigree & some excellent historical references. What the hell else would one want in a beer? This is sniffing elite-class barleywine territory. Can't wait to try the other.

 1,526 characters

Photo of gford217
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle.

Pours a deep chestnut brown with light amber hints around the edges underneath a small, thick tan head.

Aroma is very sweet with some red apples, caramel malts and molasses. There are hints of dark fruits, fig and plums, with some tobacco and leather that I've come to expect from certain CCB beers.

Taste is sweet but it has a more abrasive kick than I got from the aroma. There are some caramel malts and candied apples but the finish is really boozy and the alcohol certainly shows with a burn that lingers with an abrasive bitterness as well.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with a combo of caramelized sugar and alcohol lingering on the palate.

I like this beer much better than the Roosevelt. I absolutely think this will be better in a year or so as the alcohol really burns. Really nice.

 820 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle share in Hoboken, NJ.

A: Pours a reddish brown to dark brown in color. The beer has a thin light beige head that quickly reduces to a very thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light lacing is observed.

S: Lots of sweetness in the aroma with toffee and caramel (burnt sugar) present from the malts. Some lighter smells of dark fruits and a light nuttiness.

T: The flavor is more well balanced than a lot of barleywines as it is not as sweet as expected. There is some sweetness from the dark fruits and toffee/caramel but there is some light bitterness and nuttiness (almost almond-like).

M: Full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Creamy. Some light alcohol heat in the finish.

O: One of the less sweet barleywines that I have had recently and an enjoyable one. This beer is big, with some alcohol presence, so you really want it more as a sipper. I enjoyed this one.

 889 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 03/30/12 notes. Thanks to raveskdr for sharing this one; thanks Chris!

a - Pours a medium reddish brown color with a few tan bubbles, and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sweet dark fruits, oak, caramel malts, toffee, toasted malts, and sugar. Sweet and a lot of fruit but very nice.

t - Tastes of sweet dark fruits, caramel malts, toffee, raisins, figs, sweet alcohol, sugar, toasted malts, bready malts. Tiny bit more alcohol than the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Tiny bit hot.

o - Overall a pretty nice barleywine. A touch hot but considering the ABV not bad at all. Lots of sweet dark fruits, would like to have it again.

 660 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.22/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer served in a plastic pint glass, beer is brown and hazy with a nice off white / tan head of small bubbles, some lacing low carbonation, looks good.

Aroma is sweet, very malty a little boozy, aggressive, I like the aroma.

Beer is medium to big in body, sweet up front with a nice finish, lots of malt character, a mild smokiness at the end, bitterness from the grain, I'd have it again, better than Churchill.

 414 characters

Photo of Tumble
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle on a Cigar City tour. Very tasty barleywine with big, bold flavors. 22 oz bomber. Also had on tap on the tour.
Very sticky, but not sweet like some other barleywines. Bit of an alcohol punch, but not overpowering.
Peeled Church-on-a-Hill label off and found original Churchill label.

 303 characters

Photo of Sean9689
3.62/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at CCB.

A - Pours a reddish/brown color, cream-colored head, super-thin collar.

S - Dark fruits, heavy booze, caramel, burnt sugars, toffee. The booze is pretty big on this one, but the dark sugars help take what would be an overpowering amount and lessen it a bit.

T - Bigger booze here then the nose. Dark fruits, harsh bitter alcohol bite, caramel, burnt sugars. Finish is light sweetness overtaken by a bitter boozy bite.

M - Medium to full, light carbonation, creamy booze finish.

O - Really too hot for me to enjoy all that much. With some age, I could see this smoothing out to really pick up everything, but the alcohol is just too much right now.

 667 characters

Photo of Holland
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: looks thick, deep brown color with lighter highlights, a good sized tan head, and good lacing that stays.

S: almond comes out strong in the smell, with some sweetness and maltiness it makes it smell a lot like baklava. Good smell, and very interesting.

T: more roasted malt forward than the smell. Very well balanced barleywine with some sweetness and very little hops. Still some nuttiness detected.

M: full bodied and great carbonation for the thickness. It coats the mouth, but there's still plenty of carbonation. I probably drank it from 45 and 70 degrees, and it was wonderful the whole time.

O: excellent beer overall. I'm excited to age a bottle and try it again next year or so.

 697 characters

Photo of Deadheadbill
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is the sister beer to Roosevelt, the American style barley wine collab by CCB and Swamphead.

Pours a dark reddish brown with little head. Smells of toffee, sweet fruits and slight hops. It is malty and sweet in the mid-palate, with caramel, toffee and sweet fruits again. Very rich and warming mouthfeel. It is both sweeter and less hoppy than the Roosevelt which is how it should be.

An outstanding offering from CCB/Swamphead.

 436 characters

Cigar City / Swamp Head Church On A Hill from Cigar City Brewing
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 93 ratings