Hell On Wood (Barleywine Style Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels) | DuClaw Brewing Company

very good
43 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Hell On Wood (Barleywine Style Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels)Hell On Wood (Barleywine Style Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels)

Brewed by:
DuClaw Brewing Company
Maryland, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.60%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
We aged a limited quantity of our award winning (Brewer’s Association of Maryland Governor’s Cup gold medal winner in 2006, 2007 and 2008) Barleywine, Devil’s Milk, in Kentucky White Oak Bourbon barrels to create a uniquely tempting new brew. Hell On Wood is medium/full-bodied and amber in color with a thin, persistent, off-white head. Its mesmerizing citrus flavors and aromas, accented by notes of charred oak, vanilla, and caramelized sugar, give way to a palate dominating hop finish balanced by smoky, bourbon character and a warming alcohol presence (10.6% alcohol by volume). There’s no escape; prepare to fall to the seductive power of Hell On Wood!

Added by oriolesfan4 on 03-01-2014

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 43 | Ratings: 282
Photo of woodychandler
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

As I continue to winnow through the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody, I am finding beers that I do not even remember purchasing! In fact, I have so many DuClaw beers hanging around that I am embarking on a horizontal tasting for the next few days. This should be interesting.

From the bottle: "Nothing can stop this unholy nectar, aged in bourbon barrels to add notes of vanilla, caramelized sugar & charred oak to its sensual fruit esters, big malt backbone & demonic hop presence. Surrender to the inescapable seduction of ... Hell On Wood!"; "Respect_the_Fluid".

Yeah, I'm getting into the big boys as this horizontal begins to wind down. The bottling date is 01/15/15, making it almost two years old. I helped it to celebrate its near-birthday with a Pop! of the cap, followed by a gentle pour. The Fluid had a milkiness that was unabating, so I finally just stopped trying to produce any clarity. Once I had a sufficient amount in the awaiting glass, I gave it a good swirl to raise a finger of foamy, light-tan head with moderate retention. Man, did the nose smell boozy & very evocative of bourbon. Color was a cloudy Deep Amber/Light Copper to Copper (SRM = > 13, < 17). Mouthfeel was medium, which was kind of surprising since I figured that it would be more solid. The taste was full of the toasted coconut flavor that I always associate with bourbon. I honestly prefer rye to bourbon, but I still appreciate the taste. I liked the way that this had mellowed in the nearly two years since it was bottled. There was some heat, but nothing like I felt on the earlier recent vintage Devil's Milk (this beer's base). Warming, the aforementioned caramelized sugar & vanilla began to become perceptible, but the bourbon flavor was really the star here. Finish was surprisingly semi-dry, much less hot than the earlier Devil's Milk, reinforcing the idea that this beer is an excellent candidate for aging. I really must keep my eyes out for more releases of this beer! I also recommend buying at least two - one to drink fresh & one to age. It might make for an interesting experiment.

 2,091 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle served in a Belgian snifter.
Pours with a murky copper-brown body topped by a thin, mostly short-lived head. Minimal lacing.

Powerful bourbon and bourbon barrel aspects to the aroma and only a little less pronounced and dominant in the flavor. Still, there's a strong barleywine base that is clearly evident in the flavor. There are vanilla, wood, dark soft and dried fruits, hops and, of course, bourbon, notes in the flavor. Good complexity.

Overall: Boozy, with a clear presence of the 10+% ABV. A strong ale for bourbon lovers.

 548 characters

Photo of seedyone
4.29/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Ratle n Hm, NYC. Looks fine, shallow head w/little lacing. Aroma is of honey & brown sugar. There is a big sweet element to the taste but a slight eppery burn that keeps aware that there is a 10.6 ABV within. Not my favorite in the genre but pretty damn good overall.

 278 characters

Photo of tigg924
4.02/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours hazy, orange-brown in color with 1/4 inch head. Taste is citrus hops, orange,toffee, sandalwood, light vanilla, and alcohol. Slick, heavy bodied. Hops add a dryness to the beer. Slight bitterness letting you know this is an American barleywine. Tasty, not overly complex, but glad I got a six. Will look for this again.

 328 characters

Photo of scottfrie
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into snifter, bottled 2/14/14. Thanks StormKing47.

A: Pours a deep caramel amber with a thin wispy tan head that left delicate streaks of lace down the glass.
S: The nose is a complex blend of caramel, leather, anise, aged leafy hop resin, woody bourbon and oxidized notes of sherry and cardboard (in a good way).
T: Follows the nose with the flavors of the scents above, but I also get a touch of honey and brown sugar in the finish. Caramel hits up front followed by a maybe a touch butterscotch, then the bourbon hits along with hints of cocoa powder, dark chocolate and leather. I get flavors of anise and toast along with the honey and brown sugar in the finish which mix with the bourbon and linger after the swallow. Bourbon is flavorful and woody and still potent, but age has taken any heat out of it.
M: Surprisingly pleasant carbonation made up of find, tight, bubbles that froth up on my palate over the thick and viscous body. Smooth and chewy mouthfeel overall. The double digit alcohol is present it’s not warm.
O: A well-integrated and delicious sipper. Flavors are rich yet smooth. Thanks again for the bottle Josh.

 1,151 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Mike at the Barleywine tasting.
Golden copper color, off white head. Big caramel great oaked vanilla notes. Medium body light carbonation. pretty damn tasty beer right here.

 191 characters

Photo of 57md
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brownish copper with well over a finger of head. The nose has soft but significant bourbon notes. The bourbon is very forward in the flavor profile - perhaps too forward. This offering's body is too thin to carry the heft of the bourbon essence and it ends up overwhelming the flavor of the base beer.

The alcohol is really noticeable on the finish.

 361 characters

Photo of stevoj
4.36/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Bel Air location. Don’t know where to start, so much going on. Caramel, toffee, wood, bourbon, warmth. Nice creamy thick head and lacing. Makes my lips tingle.

 171 characters

Photo of stakem
3.18/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

2 year old 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. The brew appears a clear copper color with tan cap a finger strong that fades to nothing quickly leaving stringy lace.

Aroma is solvent with alcohol and wood shavings. A little medicinal across the back. As it warms up, it has a bit of fruity character and the wood takes on almost a spicy cedar aspect.

Taste is herbal and boozy with a solvent feel, neutral woodiness and mild caramel accent. The overall feel here is a bit medicinal.

This is medium bodied and modestly carbonated. An ok brew that ive been avoiding drinking for 2 years because I expected it to be bad and it ended up not being bad at all. Mediocre but not bad.

 678 characters

Photo of Czarkazm
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle on 1/15/2015. The appearance is a beautifully clear dark amber body with a thick light tan head that eventually recedes to a patchy ring of off white bubbles, and leaves huge alcohol legs along the glass. The aroma has definitely rounded out with a year in the bottle. Lots of caramel candy, toffee, molasses, oak, dark fruits, vanilla, and some spice I can't put my finger on. The mouth feel is full, very sweet. In the flavor I get heavy caramel and toffee sweetness, brown sugar, stale tobacco, leather, barrel character (oak, bourbon, char, and vanilla), with some dark fruits. Enjoyed this one much more than the base beer.

 641 characters

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.82/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle, 2013 edition, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, deep, dark, amber color, speckled with orange and red highlights, and an eighth of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into an extremely thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Delicious! Lots of bready toasted malt and candied sugar as well as aromas of bourbon, oak, a touch of clove and vanilla. There’s quite a bit of dried stone fruit as well, such as raisins, prunes and apricots.

Taste: Delicious! Tons of toasted malt and candied sugar and boozy alcohol up front, not clashing, but complementing each other, followed by quite a bit of dried stone fruit as well, such as raisins, prunes and dates, hints of oak clove, caramel, toffee and vanilla. Finally, more bourbon comes through at the finish. Absolutely delicious!

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy, and extremely smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 10.6%, there is a very pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate.

Overall: This is an excellent barley wine!! I really like the pronounced malty presence, mixed with dried stone fruit, toffee and boozy alcohol. I’m definitely getting some more of this!!

 1,245 characters

Photo of thedoubler55
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a nice darker amber in color, with a good amount of transparency, a nice off white head at the top, and some good lacing around the glass.

S: Sweet on the nose, bourbon is present, with nice hints of malt and caramel throughout, hints of oak as well.

T: Just like the nose, bourbon and oak is present giving it a more smokey flavor, but the sweetness is well balanced with everything else.

M: Medium bodied, mid amount of carbonation, sticky.

O: Overall a great beer, Duclaw is definitely stepping up their game in the recent releases. This was a good barley win and well balanced, great flavors.

 614 characters

Photo of Omnium
3.74/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Eh, its a barelywine. I'm still not a fan.
Woody tones were nice, but still its too chewy and over the top. I'm biased against this style so take this with a grain of salt.

 172 characters

Photo of JayQue
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Great Barleywine. Poured a hazy reddish amber color into a pint glass. Medium size cream color head with average retention. One or two bands of thin lacing.

Aroma is oak and bitterness. Pretty good. Flavor is fantastic!!! Everything you would want in a Barleywine. It is bitter, hoppy, a strong oak presence, some caramel malt with some minor aspects of vanilla, toffee and bourbon.

Mouthfeel is a little harsh, rich, a bit boozy but not much, with a lot of sweetness to balance things out.

A great strong beer for one of our rare snow days in Tidewater VA. Looking at beach shows on the Travel network and feeling very mellow from the beer.

 650 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.76/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle into a teku.

Appearance: Pours a murky copper color. The head is two fingers high, and pale yellow in shade. With a creamy texture and good retention, it caps the beer off very nicely. There's also plenty of lacing left on the glass. Even with the murkiness, this one looks damn good. (4)

Smell: Initially, I pick up the base barleywine strongly - notes of caramel, candy, and mild hops come through very well. It takes a while for the bourbon presence to come out, but it does appear with some nice vanilla qualities. Having said that, it remains subtle throughout. DuClaw played it safe with the barrel in my opinion (then again, I did have Sucaba a couple days ago...), but it coalesces with the base barleywine quite well. (3.5)

Taste: This has more barrel presence than the nose suggested. It starts off with some caramel malts, along with a hoppy touch. The aforementioned (citrusy/piny) hop touch lasts throughout the flavor profile. Past the mid-taste, though, it gains a massive vanilla flavor. Oak barrel qualities gradually sneak up on the aftertaste. Its citrus/vanilla combination works pretty well - it's like drinking an orange cream soda that's about 200% more badass. Booziness is perfectly hidden. (3.75)

Mouthfeel: Wow, this beer is very soft on the palate, with the decent carbonation aiding its utter creaminess. By no means is it the biggest feel on the planet, but it still feels oh so nice. Very little alcohol pricks the tongue, too. A very nice sipping beer. (4.25)

Overall: Devil's Milk is probably the best of the countless (and usually mediocre) six packs DuClaw makes. Whomever decided to stuff that beer into bourbon barrels AND also put it into six packs deserves a raise. Seriously, is there another barrel-aged barleywine available in six packs out there? While this beer won't be giving Sucaba any fits, it's a fantastic value in the world of barrel-aged beers. Definitely worth buying, and worth aging. (3.75)

3.76/5: Dear Duclaw...less Serum and more of this!

 2,015 characters

Photo of sharkfin_24
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed this interesting, flavorful beer yesterday. It starts out smooth and refreshing, but definitely has a "fruity" after note that seems to fill your nostrils as well. An easy drink for having a higher ABV, and definitely something to be enjoyed in the colder weather.

 277 characters

Photo of rjp217
2.86/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Unfortunately this bottle was pretty oxidized after a year of aging. There was some caramel and bourbon notes but overall it was pretty flat with no heat.

 154 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Bottled Jan 15th 2015.

Creamy light tan head, with a very off white appearance, about two fingers and slowly falling to a bubbled collar. Body color is a simple amber orange, slightly cloudy but for the most part quite clear, with a real nice orange and lemon tone.

Real nice aroma. Good tropical hop fruit notes, hints of thick oak and a bit of maple syrup and controlled sugars. Hints to a bit of vanilla and fruitcake like aromas, slight hint of salty brine strangely which is real interesting. Some milk chocolate comes out with some time as well. Real developed aroma going on here, and not even boozy, this is very impressive.

Palate leaves some discerning flavors much behind. A bit of a wet and chalky mouthfeel, really doesn't bring much of a hint that this is barrel aged. Slight mild caramel note in the mid palate with a washing grainy finish. Slight fruity hop angle comes in the aftertaste even with an oily feel of hop and soap. Slight buttery oaky notes round out with a bit of cheap booze flavor, but none of the burn.

This has got some really good qualities but it's just not tied together well. There's a great beer here just screaming to get out but it's just not happening. Lots of potential on this.

 1,292 characters

Photo of Axnjxn
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a quad glass. almost exactly 1 year old.

Pours a dark amber red with a slight head. Smell of vanilla and dark fruits with a load of caramel as well. taste is quite smooth actually...ooh! didnt have this fresh as i knew it would be a booze bomb, but the year of age has done this well. quite sweet with a lot of toffee up front. i then get some sweet bourbon notes but its not overpowering. surprised how tasty this is honestly. carbonation is correct with just a mild bit...right for the style in my eyes. body is medium.

overall a very solid BBA barleywine.

 579 characters

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Served on tap in a chalice glass

Appearance – The beer is served a golden amber color with a billowy white head of one finger height. The head has a decent level of retention, fading over time to leave a decent level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – Just like its non-barrel aged brother (Devil’s milk) the aroma of the beer is heavy of sweeter aromas of caramel and toffee. Mixed with these smells are some aromas a lightly floral and earthy nature, but these are rather light overall. Some oaky and woody flavors as well as a moderately strong dark fruit aroma of cherry and fig are there mixing with a bit of a boozy smell nicely, creating a rather warming smell overall.

Taste – The taste begins, just as the Devil’s Milk does, with a very sweet and malty taste with plenty of caramel and toffee sweetness matched with a good showing of a bready nature. As the flavor advances some of the fruit flavors that were detected in the nose come to the tongue with some cherry hitting the tongue. Here is where it diverges slightly from the Devil’s Milk, with some flavors of oak and wood coming to the tongue. Again however sweeter tastes later come, with a good lot of candied sugar and a bit of some lighter fruit flavors of orange and pear. A bit of hop flavors also come to the tongue; consisting mainly of a floral and citrus nature. Some more boozy and oaky flavors joint the flavor profile in the end and with a light earthy flavor coming to the tongue, leaving one with a rather sweet and lightly hopped flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel- The beer was average in thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is average to lightly below average. The lower carbonation is very appropriate for the sweet flavors of the brew, but a slightly thicker body may have accentuated the wood/oak flavors of the brew better.

Overall – Very Similar to Devil’s Milk in nature; just with some hints of wood and oak and maybe a hint more of booze. If choosing between this and Devil’s milk and this and if they are at the same price, then choose this, but if you have to spend much more, save your money and just go with the Devil’s as they are not all that much different.

 2,221 characters

Photo of Durge
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rusty mahogany colored barleywine with just a tidy white ring along the top edge of the pour and modest touches of lacing that ultimately slip away. The aroma brings clean bourbon celery wheat malt. Nice and not overdone at all. The flavor is more intense with no doubt bourbon featured right up front but still giving a balanced result with sweet maple malt and grassy edges. Sweet bourbon is the main theme though and it works nicely with a slight warming to the belly. The body is just short of full with a near syrupy feel, a bit cloying but the carbonation is active enough (very fine but lively enough) to help dissipate that effect. Overall this is more of a sipper but as bourbon brews go it's a very nice effort.

 723 characters

Photo of chefhatt
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this into s glass, it has a dark oak color body with a small thin lace. The aroma has slight bourbon aroma to it. The taste has a sweet bourbon flavor up front. It also has a little hop to it. The bourbon is gives a bite to it.
The mouthfeel is smooth and the body is a little thick
overall it is a good beer that imo needs a little aging. A

 351 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Very carbonated stuff bubbles encasing the side of my pint glass with a solid 1/4 inch of opaque colored head that sticks around forever. Color is quite a hazy amber brown color deep shade. Pretty.
S - Plenty of oak, bourbon, and English toffee like smells. Smell is quite good not a single whiff of ethanol. Love me a sweet beer.
T - Quite hoppy and slightly bitter oak, bourbon goodness, and a mildly sweet finish. Doesn't have too much bourbon which is nice. The bitterness does round out a tad when warmed. Good.
M - The carbonation boosts this beer to a medium drink ability really rounding the high octane ABV.

Overall great beer really fills the void of not finding many bourbon barrel aged Barleywines after loosing Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks (had a place I could buy bombers for 9 bucks) May grab a couple more four packs before its gone.

 869 characters

Photo of Bone53
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit

Appearance: Clear burnt orange color with a one finger light beige head. An outstanding looking brew

Smell: Sweet malt (caramel, brown sugar), with a woody, vanilla Bourbon character. The warmer it gets, the more my nose picks up the alcohol.

Taste: caramel malt, burnt sugar, slight molasses, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and also some nice hop characteristics. It's sweet upfront then mellows into a nice aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, but quite light for the style. Slight bitterness

Overall: This is my first DuClaw offering, and I'm really enjoying it. I would recommend this as a starter BA barleywine. Although not quite as prominent in flavor as some higher rated beers in the style, this gets the job done at a reasonable price ($15 six pack). I will return to this again as a budget barleywine

 875 characters

Photo of themind
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well what can I say, it's good. It's not Sucaba but it's good. If you are a barley wine fan...and a BB fan this beer is a good substitute for the harder to acquire big boyz in the field. Has that classic barley wine taste with a touch of BB to compliment. Overall I would buy this beer again and even have confidence sharing with a fellow beer snobs.

Bottom Line: Decent BB beer.

 380 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Hell On Wood (Barleywine Style Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels) from DuClaw Brewing Company
3.99 out of 5 based on 282 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.