The Vermonster | Rock Art Brewery

very good
243 Reviews
The VermonsterThe Vermonster

Brewed by:
Rock Art Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
We brewed The Vermonster with 110 pounds of malt per barrel and jacked up the pour into a wide mouth thin glass goblet.

Added by BeerBeing on 09-23-2007

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 243 | Ratings: 588
Photo of Sammy
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A great barleywine. Hoppy and balanced, and surprising 100 IBU, certainly can't taste it. Aroma is very nice. Big soapy white head on a brown body, inviting. Good bitterness. Dry hopping, leads to dry and pleasant hopped finish. Very drinkable.Medium mouthfeel.

 261 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour at the bottle share hosted by Adam Fine Wine & Liquor held at Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach, CA.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a thin cap on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, and some fruity aromas. Taste is much the same with a sweet flavor and a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is drinkable but I think it smells better than it tastes.

 640 characters

Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very hazy brownish red in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation around the sides of the glass. It poured with a half finger high light beige head that died down and consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and a thick collar around the edge.
S: The aroma is rather boozy and has some notes of caramel malts and hints of pine resin hops.
T: Like the smell, the initial taste has flavors of caramel malts and some hints of sweetness, but this quickly transitions to a light to moderate amount of bitterness from the underlying hops that lingers into the finish. Hints of pine resin from the hops are noticeable.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. A significant amount of warming from the alcohol is present.
O: This beer masks its alcohol very well from the taste and is also rather drinkable for the style because it's packed with lots of hop bitterness that prevent this from being too malty or sweet.

 1,011 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Undoubtedly the feel-good story of 2009 with the controversy over the naming rights of the beer. But does the beer live up to the notoriety?

Vermonster begins with a deep mohogany-deep brown color and an uncertain level of haze. Great head formation reduced to a thick blanket then hold firm through the session. Lacing is incredible.

Aromas of deeply toasted malts should hold their own, but the hops (with no uncertainty) dominate the nose. Perfumy, boquet, and citrus come to mind as the hop oil aroma hits the olfactories. Flowery, pungent, and spicy, the aroma is very complex.

Flavors also favor the hops, but with a shift. Those softer more floral notes turn to the taste of citrus rinds, grapefruit, pine resin, and fresh-cut grasses. Toasty malts with some melanoidins create the malty balance against the aggressive bittering hops. Deep toffee and bread crusts give the impression of Scottish Wee Heavies but the hops say otherwise. The aggressive taste of hops and toast begin my comparisons to Arrogant Bastard Ale.

The body is full and creamy up front with a malty froathiness that stops shy of chewy. For a Barleywine, this beer is firmly attenuated, leaving little sweetness against the hop onslaught. Finishes with a malty-dry texture and with no appologies.

Vermonster is a beer worth fighting for its name. The beer is caught somewhere between an American Barleywine, American Strong Ale, and a Wee Heavy- a testiment to creativity and complexity. Job well done.

Thanks indiapaleale!

 1,507 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel color with a full, creamy head that leaves sheets of lace

Smell: Rich caramel aroma, with significant piney bitter tones; tobacco and spearmint, too

Taste: Although there is a rich caramel flavor from the get go, it doesn't take too long for the resinous, piney hops to make an entrance, bringing the tobacco and spearmint flavors with them; after the swallow, the chocolate minty flavors take over but the pithy, piney flavors linger into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation and considerable warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: Though the flavor is complex and the mouthfeel is fine, the assault on the tastebuds limits the drinkability of this beer

Though it has aged about a year since imagineiii sent it to me, this beer still has a lot of hoppy bitterness going for it; thanks for the opportunity

 863 characters

Photo of largadeer
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An extra from craytonic, thanks! Surprisingly, I haven't tried this one before.

Murky in the pour, a rusty copper hue. A small off-white head tops the body, quickly settling to a collar. Not the most appetizing looking barleywine.

The aroma exhudes caramelized malts, dates and resiny hops, fruit preserves. It has a slight sherry quality to it.

Unexpectedly delicious, this has a big caramel malt flavor to it with undertones of dark fruit and sherry, reminding me of traditional English barleywines, only with significantly more hops. The malt character is rich without lending excessive sweetness, almost nutty in character. Full-bodied with a long resiny finish, plenty complex but easy to sip on; this is one of the finer American barleywines I've had this year.

 770 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared this over the weekend with a few BA's. Sadly my notes went through the wash, but i've salvaged enough for a coherent review...

Ah, the infamous Vermonster. Thanks to makdeco for tossing this my way awhile back!

It poured a dark orange with a reddish ruby glint to it in the light. A crown of sticky lace capped the beer off nicely.

Some potent fruit and green herbal hop notes in the aroma, nestled in on a giant pillow of caramel malt. Flavor was rich with a substantial green hop character and bitterness. Big caramel/toffee flavor, fairly balanced malt/hops even though they both have a huge presence. Rich, but easy to drink and not overly sweet, it has a firmly bitter and dry aftertaste. A definite sipper that is probably best shared.

Thanks again Mark!

 773 characters

Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a dark amber with just a layer of light tan head. The head fades to a ring around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Sweet caramel malt and dark fruit with a hint of alcohol. There is some bitter hops in there as well.

Taste: The bitterness really dominates every thing else. The malt was there, but it was completely overshadowed. The finish was very bitter citrus peel and grassy hops along with some warm alcohol.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side of medium. The carbonation is tingly and the finish is mildly dry.

Overall: The smell was very nice, but the malt really disappeared behind the hops. Tasted more like an ipa than a barleywine. Good but not great.

 724 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
2.31/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Picked this up at Julio's last March before KTG. Figured Id give it a try after all the press.

Pours a moderate copper with an off white head. Smell is sweet malt, red fruits, alcohol, and a touch of caramel. Taste goes quite a bit downhill with some astringencies and a bit of a metallic flavor. The sweetness comes through, but that's about it. Mouthfeel is slightly boozy and off-puttingly dry. Poor drinkability, which is disappointing as I was quite looking forward to breaking this out with the cool weather.

 515 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a dark brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, floral hops, brown sugar and some fruit.

T: The taste starts out with sweet flavors of brown sugar, caramel and a little bit of fruit. Then a nice strong grassy hops bitterness follows. The malt character is hearty and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, very good representation of style, this is a very solid Barleywine to drink for as long as you can handle it.

 767 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.16/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, mahogany-hued body with a small, creamy, light beige head.

Smell: Sharp lemon, pine hop nose with, as it warms a tad, some basic caramel malt notes coming through.

Taste: Caramel malts with a fairly restrained sweetness. Citrus and pine resin shoot forward with the hops delivering a caustic, citric bitterness. The alcohol really starts to but up against the other flavors. Dry, heat-packed finish with a prolonged, lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: Low drinkability brought on primarily by both the apparent alcohol and brash, overdone bitterness, leaving this one a slow, grumpy sipper. Exhibits an alarming trend in American barleywines. Little malt depth, hop character, and just tons of coarse bitterness and booze. Bartender, can I get a water?

 835 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

"Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels."


Slightly more burnt orange than brick red, with gemstone-like clarity. The beer is capped with several fingers of sandstone colored foam that has hundreds of glassy bubbles piled on top. Those bubbles transfer themselves to the glass as sticky lace, thereby adding to an already wonderful look.

The nose is malt-dominant, is somewhat orange fruity and does a pretty good job of hiding the alcohol. Unfortunately, it's a bit lacking when it comes to power and personality. Hopes are still high that the beer will come through with flying colors on the palate.

Well, maybe not flying colors, but they aren't exactly earthbound either. Interestingly, I'm reminded of Stone Old Guardian, which isn't a bad beer to pattern one's barleywine after. My best guess is that this bomber is from 2007 (that's when the bottle was manufactured). If so, then the still hot alcohol is inexcusable. Thankfully, it isn't a deal breaker, especially since it calms down as the beer continues to warm.

There must have been a ton of hops initially (Rock Art claims 100 IBUs) because there's still plenty of bitterness to counteract the considerable malt sweetness. The flavor profile includes rock candy, steely caramel, orange oil, toasted white oak and white rum. I'm pretty sure the beer never saw the inside of a barrel, but it tastes like it.

The mouthfeel gets it done in fine fashion. It's medium-full for the style and is as smooth as possible given the raspiness imparted by lots of alpha acids and an unmasked alcohol bite. Actually, at mid-bomber, mouthfeel is turning into mouth(can't)feel. Are we sure the ABV isn't a few percentage points higher?

Vermonster is a pretty cool name for a barleywine brewed in The Green Mountain State. Trouble is, the beer is hot rather than cool, even at almost 2 years of age. Time to slow down so that my brain doesn't become as numb as my tongue. Thanks Vermonthiker.

 2,043 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this one from Timmush, cheers Tim!

Pours an effervescent copper with 2+ fingers of tan head. Murks up a bit, above average head retention & lacing

S: Much breadyness, some apricot & figs, some pineyness once warm

T: Follows the nose, huge malt backbone, dryness & a touch of brown sugar & shortbread up front.
Subtle herbal & woody hops, some cakeyness, grapefruit & orange rind as this warms. Finishes with woody & herbal hops, breadyness that thins out just a bit at the very end

MF: Chewy, fairly firm carbonation, & great balance, nice warming sensation

Very nice, skews malty, but in my wheel house, yum

 618 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

brown, though you can see some light through it, no head and a nice lace top it off. Smell is hopped for sure, but with a subtle sugary undertone, and a hint of alcohol too. Taste is not very strong at all. There is the natural piney hoppness you would expect from a barley wine, but not too strong, there is also a sugary, nuttiness about it as well. The alcohol is there, and that keeps this a sipper. It is actually nicely carbonated, and not harsh going down, has the warm feeling on the way. Overall this was a good brew,

 526 characters

Photo of billab914
4.07/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a Shipyard pint glass. Deep mahogany in color with a thin, sticky white head barely covering the top of the beer. Decent head retention and very nice lacing as I drank it.

The aroma shows a lot of American style hoppiness to it with grapefruit and a little pineapple coming out. The sweeter, malty, caramel flavors are there as well and mix nicely with the citrusy hops. Very nice and flavorful aroma overall.

The taste has more of the hoppy, citrusy, juicy flavors to it up front. Midway and through the finish I get more of the malty, caramel like flavors to it. Grapefruit and pine come back in the finish as well. Not a ton of depth to the maltiness, but it mixes with the hoppiness pretty well.

The mouthfeel is about average for the style and carbonation is a little above average. Overall it was a very nice beer. It was definitely a very hop forward version of the style, but it worked well for it. Very flavorful and easy drinking for the style and a very good beer overall.

 1,005 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A three finger, beige head that goes rocky over time and leaves generous lace on the glass. The color is an orange-amber with a very slight haze.

There's something about the latest batches of barley wines getting a generous dose of hops. The smell of this one is no exception--flowery and predominant. The malt and alcohol content are very much in the background.

Whoa, this is a hoppy beer. While the alcohol content says barley wine at 10%. The flavor says double IPA. In fact, it's so highly hopped, I cannot detect the malt (very odd for a barley wine). The alcohol only shows up with the warmth in the throat when I swallow. The body is thin.

My favorite style is Double IPA. So, I would say that this is a good and quite drinkable beer. However, I think it is miss labled as a barley wine.

 798 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12/31/10 notes. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Thanks to nmann08 for sharing this one; thanks Nate.

a - Pours a deep mahogany color with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of hops, dark fruit, caramel malts, sweet fruit and sugar, and bready malts.

t - Tastes of fruity hops and malts, alcohol, and caramel malts.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

d - A pretty nice barleywine. Would like to try again sometime.

 477 characters

Photo of vfgccp
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A – Plum mahogany body with ice tea highlights. Bone white head has great retention and lace.

S – Sweet malt, hint of cranberry, caramel, and Riesen chocolates. Fairly restrained for a barleywine.

T – Mellow opening of malt and a nice, light caramel sweetness. The center brings out a woody bitterness wrapped around toasty malt. Alcohol gently warms the finish.

M – Super smooth. Rich, medium-full body with a warm and lightly bitter backend.

O – One of the more drinkable barleywines straight off the shelf, especially at 10%.

 542 characters

Photo of stakem
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, this brew appears a clear amber color with ruby and orange coloration around the edges. It forms a finger of silky tan head that holds across the top and laces with a webbing of patchy and spotty lace.

The smell of the brew is fruity with a combination of caramel malt, sugary sweetness, fruity and citrus hops. Some notes of grass and minerals emerge across the back. There is little to no indication of the 10% alcohol except for the fruity esters which really mesh well with the hops. As it warms, it starts to smell more like citrus zest and fresh grains.

The taste is toasty caramel malt with a big incorporation of alcohol that is fusel and solvent. Quite bold in the taste verse how subtle it was in the nose. There is a hop bitterness that is both herbal and somewhat mineral filled. There is a lasting aftertaste that includes a touch of sulfur and a grain aspect that is musty.

This is a medium bodies brew with a modest amount of carbonation. Bold fusel abv and modest bitterness compliment one another. For a barleywine, this is like a hybrid of the styles, smells sweet and English-like but is boldly filled with alcohol and bitterness like the american counter part. Not bad, it's worth trying.

 1,234 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep burnished copper color with a sticky off white head that leaves a fair bit of lace on the way down. Smells of brown sugar, caramel, toffee, vanilla, pine, slight touch of alcohol. Taste is sweet caramel malt cut in half with bitter pine resin. Malty sweet with enough hop bitterness to keep everything in check. Surprisingly balanced taste for a beer that brags about 100 Ibu's. Alcohol is well hidden on this one. Long lingering hop bitterness in the finish. Resinous and sticky mouthfeel, full body, light to medium level of carbonation. I like this one a lot. Reminds me of Bigfoot with a year or two on it when the malt starts to show up. Why did I wait so long to try this one?

 695 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.43/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass. Nothing notched for dating, bottle was purchased though at the brewery so no excuses here. I assume it's quite recent.

Off the pour a real big head, three fingers deep with a large marshmallow like consistency, off white. Body color is a dull brown/red amber body, fairly opaque. Pretty big head for a barleywine there.

Subtle and small nose, faint toasted cinnamon and malt sugars. Clean with a mellow hop angle. Fairly simple, but a little buried, but nothing too bad.

Palate hits with a huge hop presence. Dry needle like pine and faint resin hit in the mid palate. Swallow is filled with lots of earth and dirt. Light bodied palate feel with a somewhat wet consistency. Woody, with lots of hop oil finish and aftertaste, quite extreme.

Overall it's an interesting take on a barleywine and extremely hop forward so if that's your thing you'll probably like it, but where is the malt presence and depth on this? I am not into sugar rushes, but even I would want a little bit of sweetness and caramel on this compared to most barleywines.

 1,089 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, poured into snifter:

Pours dark amber/burgundy with an off-white head that is nice at the start, though settles to a thin swirl. A thick ring leaves some thin lines of lacing that become spots. I was between scores, but the color is nice and the head isn't bad for style/abv, so I gave it the higher of the two scores.

The smell is of caramel/toffee with a bit of brown sugar. Citric fruitiness and a touch of pine come through, as does a whiff of warming alcohol.

The taste is of a caramel/toffee sweetness that is almost overrun by bitterness at the start - citrus, some pine, a touch of aspirin, but connect and balance out nicely not long into the progression. Glad I didn't share this one, as I enjoyed it the more it went along. The warming alcohol is there, but reasonably well-covered for abv and not raw or sharp. Finishes with a bitter dryness.

Seems fuller than I remember the Ridge Runner (the brewery's other barleywine) being, though honestly that's not saying a whole lot, as it was on the thinner side of the style). Still, this could still be even thicker/richer for the style. But, it does help drinkability, which is easy for the style/abv. Drinks well for a 10% brew. This is a solid choice for a barleywine that lands on the bitter side of the spectrum, and for only four bucks and change for a 22 ounce bottle.

 1,351 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a dark caramel-amber coloring with a frothy, foamy, cream colored head that settles into a retaining surface coat. Nose of cedar and pine tassels, rich and resiny hops, and toffee sweetness. Flavors are rich and robust, with a decent balance throughout. Hoppy forward, with citrus and tropical fruit notes on a toffee rich backbone. Notes of booze highlight, as well as some earthy tones. The aftertaste is peppery, bitter, and toffee sweet. Well balanced. Bittersweet, slightly drying finish. Heavy brew.

 558 characters

Photo of GClarkage
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

10/10/08- Purchased at a cheese shop in Vermont,

Presentation- 22oz bottle with no freshness info. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Deep amber in color. Pours with a full one inch plus a bit head. A small rim remains for the duration of the beer. Lacing is light and streaky.

Smell- Smells like a malty english IPA. Has that english hop nose with a heavy toasted malt scent. Smells bready as well.

Taste- Even tastes english! This is my first beer that tastes like a DEIPA (Dobule English IPA). It's got an equal english hoppy flavor (not a 100 plus IBU rating though), and a equal toasted malty flavor. Kind of a mix between a barleywine and a DIPA. Well balanced. Alcohol is noticed, but not in your face.

Mouthfeel- Moderate-normal carbonation. Medium lasting bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability- Very well balanced, grows on you as you consume. Quite nice and different in a hoppy way.

 899 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Label notched: 28/MAY/2012. Seems about right for when I bought this. Poured in to tulip.

A - Dark amber, brown towards the centre. One finger of light brown head.

S - Sweet up front - caramel, toffee and earthy/floral hop aromas.

T - Sweet caramel and toffee flavours at first with a big hop bitterness and a warming alcohol presence throughout. Some citrus, floral and earthy flavours come through from the hops.

M - Medium body, light carbonation. A lot of stickiness from the hop oils, which is somewhat surprising given the lack of freshness.

 554 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
The Vermonster from Rock Art Brewery
3.88 out of 5 based on 588 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.