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Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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English Barleywine
4.08 | pDev: 10.78%
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Our Finest RegardsOur Finest Regards
Notes: From Pretty Things to you this winter season: “Our Finest Regards”. Four years into our project and we’re grateful and amazed that so many people love and support great beer these days. The fact that we’re still here is a credit to you all.

But for the question of primary importance: What is the beer? Well, it’s our Pretty Things barleywine. Inspired by malted barley, a tribute to the barleycorn. Yes, it’s simple, but that’s what barleywines are all about. Ever since brewing in England, Dann has dreamed of making a barley-focused beer using the malts of Yorkshire (and never hesitates to plug his favorite: Thomas Fawcett & Sons). The American version of a barleywine is normally a sad beer indeed, lots of hops and alcohol but the star of the show is left scratching his chin in the eaves of the theatre. This is not one of those beers. The English invented this style and they’re the only ones who know how to make one, save the rare American brewer.

Give barley a chance and this mysterious little grain can do grand things!
To get the density of sugars needed for this sort of beer, we employed “double mashing”. The brewhouse that we work on can only get to maybe 18 plato for a single running of wort: but we wanted 27 plato! So we combined two brews by running wort into the kettle and then using it to mash in the second batch. We don’t take credit for this idea. We’re certain it has been done many, many times before. But it wasn’t until Will Meyers (the great Cantabridgian Cervecero) brought this method to our attention that we realized we could brew a barleywine of proper gravity… (he never told us that he hadn’t actually performed this sort of brewing before!). Anyway, it works!!
Expect an aroma of juicy sultanas, wet wood, green apple, malted milk balls, marzipan and alcohol deliciousness. It’s got a medium body and is a little more spritsy than we’re sure the Brits would like. Serve over 50 degrees fahrenheit in a stemmed glass.

Very suitable to drink this year or next, or even the winter after that!
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Photo of REVZEB
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Was thankful to my in-laws for scoring a bottle of this for the holidays. Pours a clear toffee brown with quickly faded head. Smell is sweet, filled with brown sugar, sweet malt, toffee, molasses, chocolate, boozy barley and candy orange zest. Tasty is eclectic in that it is too refined to become a heavy barleywine, but still packs plenty of flavor: all from the smell and add big malts, flower, nuts, and caramel. Body is spot on and very smooth. A fitting finale!

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REVZEB from Illinois, Jan 26, 2019
Photo of illpass78
3.42/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Split a bomber with some buds in summer ‘16.

Appearance: Honestly I don’t remember. It was a while ago.

Aroma: This smelled like paint thinner and booze.

Taste: Harsh and boozy.

Mouthfeel: Also harsh and boozy.

Overall: I just don’t get this style. Glad I’m able to review it finally. RIP this brewery.

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Photo of Ohiovania
4.72/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Aged 1 year. One of the best English barleywine since ever had. Rich dark sweet breads and amazing sweet ripe stone fruits. Mouthfeel is perfect for style. Just amazing.

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Photo of scotorum
4.33/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25


Bottled Nov. 2015. Could let this age, but never had it before. This may be the only bottle I can ever get since the brewers are leaving the business.

Poured from the 22 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams English nonick

a: Translucent copper/ruby with a two inch thick tan head which receded slowly to even surface foam and dense lacing.

s: Caramel malt and dark ripe fruit

t: Follows the nose but with the emphasis more on the ripe dark fruit and a moderate attention-getting bitterness which does not linger long on the sweet finish. later the malt becomes more prominent.

m: Full, great body and good carbonation tingle.

o: An exceptional winter warmer. Finest regards received. Amazingly easy drinking for such a full-bodied high ABV brew. A shame this couple has decided to move on to other enterprises.

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scotorum from Massachusetts, Jan 11, 2016
Photo of JAck199
4.41/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pleasant nose. Hint os sweetness as you would expect in a Barley wine beer. The beer has a hint of sweetness, run, malt and is a pleasant finish. No harshness just nice drinking beer. Just wish I could get more. Produced 11/2015.

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JAck199 from New Jersey, Jan 09, 2016
Photo of chefbigjon
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very tasty brew, I think a little more like an imperial porter or tastes like a blend of different dark beers. Love the carbonation and mouthfeel. Tons of roast chocolate and dark fruits. Pretty quad like as well.

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chefbigjon from Arizona, Oct 14, 2015
Photo of Budinetz
4.68/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a chalice. Bottled in October 2014 (one year cellared).

Pours a deep ruby color with a white foamy head that dissipates moderately.

Smells of rich caramel, sweet malt, aged figs, dried cranberry.

Tastes of rich malt, dates, rich caramel, toasted raisins.

Mouthfeel is slick on the tongue with a rich body and a slight prickle from the carbonation.

Overall an awesome barley wine. Definitely one to get your hands on!


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Budinetz from Pennsylvania, Oct 04, 2015
Photo of rudzud
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 1, 2010 release. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Poured a nice dark, dark semi clear brown with a thin off white head that faded slowly to leave light lacing and a light blanket.

S - Aromas of sweeter malts, raisins, plums, caramel, toffee, vanilla. Quite pleasant. No real alcohol on the nose.

T - Taste is similar to the nose, can't believe how well the alcohol is hidden here. Not hot at all. Loads of caramel, vanilla, raisins, plums, sweet candy malts. The hops have mostly faded here, just a hint of bitterness on the finish. Super mellow and harmonious. Delicious.

M - Mouthfeel is super mellow, not boozy at all. Drinks more like 7% or so. Lightly carbonated.

O - Overall this was a super smooth barleywine. The age really really helped destroy the heat that was so prominent when it was fresh. Just lovely.

Serving Type: bottle

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rudzud from Massachusetts, Jun 04, 2015
Photo of barczar
4.08/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Big chocolate and toffee aroma, with a hint of fruitiness.

On the sweet side, with underlying fruit notes of muted cherry and raisins. Toasted malt provides a healthy backbone. Very boozy, this should age well. The caramel sweetness overwhelms when it's young, and hopefully oxidation will bring out more complexity.

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barczar from Kentucky, May 27, 2015
Photo of MandoMaster
3.68/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I got this on tap from my local gas station/craft beer shop (gotta love South Florida!). Didn't have much of a head left after pouring from a growler but the carbonation stayed with it fairly well throughout the tasting. I have to say, my first impression of it was not great: flat (due to growleritis), flavor complexity lacking (I read all the reviews and was not impressed), and the finish was all but unpleasant.


I had only one glass the first time I took it home. I left it in the fridge for a couple weeks and something miraculous happened. More body, complex flavors of vanilla, fruit, and a clean finish with a little alcohol to remind you you're drinking a barleywine.

If you come across this, let it sit for a little while. Or open a bomber, have a glass, contemplate eternity for a few weeks after you've stoppered the bottle, and return to find something quite flavorful.

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Photo of Tele
4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: 4.5 Pours a clear, reddish brown. The one-inch, light tan head lasts about a minute with good lacing.

S: 4.25 Smells rather sweet. Vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, and raspberries make up the aroma first. Nice malty backbown with very light hops and a touch of smoke on the finish.

T: 4.25 Like the nose, nice malty sweetness up front with lots of vanilla, honey, cinnamon, toffee, and more berries. There’s also some esters present reminiscent of a dubbel or quad. The beer finishes with a minerally element and light bitterness.

M: 4.5 Really nice, rich mouthfeel and nearly perfect carbonation level. The bitterness leaves a bit too much dryness on the finish.

O: 4.25 Excellent example of an English barleywine. Lots of malty sweetness and all the complex flavors that come along with it. This beer reminds me a lot of Sucaba without the bourbon flavors.

Serving type: Bottle

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Tele from California, Mar 21, 2015
Photo of Alohaneen
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: barleywine has a quite too murky look. Hoping it settles as it warms-up. The color is a deep hue of brown with reddish highlights. The head retention is low as to be expected for this style with a tan color.

Aroma- deep luscious chocolate aromas with sweet fruit esters. Very big almost cherry smell. Hop aroma is low to moderate-cannot tell hop aroma trying to get better at this. Malts are definitely the most prevalent aroma. There is a bit of a sherry-like quality as well.

Flavor-unlike any English Barleywine I have had. Not saying this is bad just quite different. First sip-has a very sweet syrupy like molasses with a more plum or dark cherries like fruitiness. There are some nice roasty notes faintly in one of the many layers, which there are quite a few. Another layer can taste a bread-like body. It all Fades into a nice subtle dryness. The chocolate finally appears at the back. Leaving a big taste and malt heavy tongue. Little to no hop flavor is present. The alcohol flavors are quite hidden and no heat is experienced.

Mouthfeel-full-bodied with a very silky luscious texture. A very low warming sensation is experienced, it tends to linger on the back end but is still very mild. Carbonation is moderate. This is not an aged bottle. Pretty fresh.

Overall- not exactly the style I am use to. But not saying it is bad. Just unique by using different malts or different amount of certain malts. I believe this beer could be aged due to the higher amount of carbonation and to settle down some attributes to the beer.

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Alohaneen from Georgia, Mar 03, 2015
Photo of Brutaltruth
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed from the bomber in a Duinen snifter, this most excellent barley wine pours a hazy brown with a light off white head that dies down to a thin ring and light lacing. Nose of plums, raisins, light chocolate,a light brandy aroma, strong alcohol, and brown sugar. Flavors are up front sweet and mildly coating with dark raisins and brown sugars to the fore, chocolate flavors mildly come in the back with a strong alcohol burn to the aftertaste. Great carbonation, great dark fruit flavors blending in merrily with brown sugar. An excellent example of an English barley wine with decent carbonation that gives it a slick yet effervescent finish. Very nice.


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Photo of fitzy84
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bought at Table & Vine in West Springfield. Thick black-brown appearance with some hints of red in the light. Thick head when poured, but it dissipated eventually leaving some nice lacing on the sides. Aromas are very sweet with distinct flavors of malts, dried fruit like raisins, nuts, toffee, and alcohol. The drink definitely had a sugary-fruit taste mixed with toffee leading to a bittersweet drink with a sharp bite of alcohol in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a good carbonation and helps to give the drink a crisp, creamy feel. Overall, a fantastic drink.

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fitzy84 from Massachusetts, Feb 01, 2015
Photo of zookerman182
4.31/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is a dark brown with a slight red tinge.
Aroma is cherries, toasted malt, coffee and mocha.
Flavor is dark fruits covered in caramel, brown sugar, roastyness.
Mouthfeel is full and creamy and the flavor lingers for a while.
This might be my new favorite barleywine.

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Photo of Andrew041180
4.39/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I'm pretty new to the style, but this one wowed me. Very complex flavor of dark chocolates and fruits and wanders in to the Belgian Strong Dark category of flavor. The aroma and texture complimented the flavor quite well. I was very impressed with this one.

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Andrew041180 from Massachusetts, Dec 31, 2014
Photo of brianjay
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Not much of a looker, as the body is a murky dark brown, topped off by a modest head. It has a thick creamy mouthfeel. The flavor is intense: Notes of caramel and brown sugar. A subtle burnt orange taste finishes.
Let this one sit awhile to warm and open up for a strong but we'll balanced barley wine.

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brianjay from Massachusetts, Dec 29, 2014
Photo of Stagga_Lee
5/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Pours a viscous, deep brown that is quite close to opaque. A respectable amount of head for a 12% beer.

Smell: A barrage of tootsie roll type chocolate, slightly roasted malts, and creme brulee. Invites the drinker with hardly any hint of alcohol.

Taste: A crisp, relieving taste that is deceivingly light. Notes of chocolate still prevail, as well as toasted caramel and amaretto. Brief hints of coffee sneak into the aftertaste.

Feel: A delightful, fizzy body reminiscent of cream soda or root beer. Thick and sugary without burgeoning upon syrupy.

Overall: My favorite offering from Pretty Things. Trumps Baby Tree Quad, Field Mouse Farewell, and Barbapapa. An all-star offering for sure.

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Stagga_Lee from Massachusetts, Dec 23, 2014
Photo of dar482
4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The aroma has licorice, spice, and sweet plums, wrapped around a sweet caramel barleywine aroma..

The flavor follows with a good amount of alcohol, but again with that licorice and bitter spice. Sweetness throughout with a touch of toasted malt and chocolate on the back end.

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dar482 from New York, Dec 21, 2014
Photo of blindtiger24
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

pours a syrupy brown with active bubbles and thin sticky head. brown sugar and molasses, subtle cherry, plum, dried fruit on the nose. not as strong in malt aroma or taste as i expected. dominant flavor is brown sugar. some nutty flavors. maybe a bit of a cherry cola flavor. boozy but deceptively easy drinking for a high alcohol beer. definitely leaves sugary residue on your lips. kinda let me down in the flavor category.

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blindtiger24 from Colorado, Dec 21, 2014
Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.96/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Purely transparent dark brown, medium head that comes off slightly light meaning that it dissolves just after one sip that an original rise of about a finger's length. Oh by the way it's off-white.

Smell: Has a sweet scent, almost like a toffee scent.

Taste: Sweet light coffee feel, not bitter really more bean type of taste with a twist of toffee that feels a bit sweet. Cafe con leche anyone?

Mouth: Medium bodied brew, it is sticky but not overwhelming like I would prefer it to be. I have been spoiled with other English barleywines and this one just comes up a notch or two above average.

Overall: Worth trying at least once but not something I would go hunting for. There's a lot better out there but you would need to really hunt. If this one comes along before hand grab it. It won't disappoint but I am not going to over-hype something to just let you down.

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BlurryVisi0n from New York, Jun 05, 2014
Photo of RachelZ
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer is drank from a bottle and has a pour of hazy brown and beige. The style is Barley Wine. The aroma has a roasted malt caramel and toffee smell. The taste is sweet with a bitter aftertaste. Alcohol and caramel also come into play in the aftertaste.

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RachelZ from Michigan, Apr 28, 2014
Photo of Alieniloquium
2.99/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled November 2011.

Appearance - Deep brown body. A little reddish. Sizable khaki head. Retains a few swirls of lace and a thin collar.

Smell - Sweet caramel malt. Slightly phenolic. Fruity esters. Has a Belgian sweetness to it.

Taste - Very sweet. Bananas. Dark fruits. A little bit medicinal in the back. Slightly bitter, but not enough to overcome any sugars.

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Well carbonated.

Overall - This is too sweet for anything besides a small serving size. Even then, I'm not sure about it. The medicinal flavor doesn't really overwhelm, but it isn't pleasant.

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Photo of IronLover
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep amber in color with dark, blood orange hue and a dense haze. Poured with a thick, dense, tawny foam that slowly reduced to a wispy cap. Full bodied with a thick oily feel up front and light, tight, smooth carbonation through the middle to the end. Sweet toffee, toasted and caramel malt aromas with earthy hop notes and unmistakable booziness. Huge toasted and caramel malty flavor up front followed by subdued hop spiciness through the middle. Hop presence fades toward the end as the sticky maltiness takes over once again. Finished dryly with a candy toffee and strong boozy aftertaste. 

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IronLover from Pennsylvania, Mar 27, 2014
Photo of spicoli00
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Malt forward makes this an excellent English barleywine.

Pours a deep amber. Thin head that lingers. Smells like toffee, a bit nutty. Taste is similar, candy, toffee. Rich, smooth mouthfeel. I could drink this with pancakes in the morning or a spicy pork chop for dinner.

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spicoli00 from Indiana, Feb 21, 2014
Our Finest Regards from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 560 ratings