Billy The Mountain
Upright Brewing Company

Billy The MountainBilly The Mountain
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Old Ale
Ranked #133
Ranked #40,899
3.64 | pDev: 16.76%
Upright Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
Billy The MountainBilly The Mountain
Notes: Inspired by the great Prize Old Ale once brewed by Gales in England, this beer is deeply malty and full of ripe fruit, leather, wine and oak flavors. The Billy is partially barrel aged with brettanomyces yeast, lending a distinct twang and developing unique aromas over time. Bottled still and best served at about 55F to be finished at room temperature. Cellar for up to five years.

"Billy the Mountain - A traditional English-style Old Ale, having undergone over five months of oak barrel aging and another several months in the bottle."

Malts: organic pale, ashburne mild, caramel
Unmalted: black barley
Also: molasses
Yeasts: London ESB and brettanomyces clausennii

First Release - January 2010
Second Release - January 2011
Third Release - December 2011
Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 108 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Kurmaraja
Kurmaraja from California

4.04/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

IMHO, this improves with years in the bottle. Several years on and the harshness and edges of it melds together in a musty leaves and fall forest underbrush sort of way.

Mar 27, 2018
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biboergosum from Canada (AB)

3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml, surprisingly unwaxed capped bottle (@8% ABV), shared once again by a good beery friend. So, there's a mountain named Billy? Or is 'billy' used in a verb context with which I am unfamiliar?

This beer pours a dark, murky, orange-tinted brown colour, with two fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and well bubbly beige head, which leaves some approaching land-ho profile lace around the glass as it lazily recedes.

It smells of sour red fruit (cherries and plums, mostly), gooey caramel malt, further nougaty toffee, gritty brown sugar, an edgy yeastiness, tanned leather, and a subtle burbling booziness. The taste is grainy and doughy caramel malt, biscuity toffee squares, bittersweet cocoa powder, gently acerbic and woody red wine, a further lemon/apple tart fruitiness, thin demerara syrup, musty leather, and a very tame earthy, weedy, and dead floral verdant hoppiness.

The carbonation is quite laid-back in its bored-seeming frothiness, the body a so-so medium weight, and more or less smooth, just a wee bit of indistinct yeasty esters maybe not bringing their polite A-game, as such. It finishes off-dry, the rich underlying malt still contending with a sour fruity character that intends on pulling on that loose thread of the sweater.

Overall, this is certainly a flavourful and well-made brew, yet, even with the big-boy barrel effects, it lacks that oxidized, 'under the basement stairs in the house you grew up in' vibe, y'know? I'm sort of nitpicking, but sort of not - at any rate, check this one out if you want to see what an Old Ale blended with some Flanders Red Ale would be like.

Mar 11, 2017
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FFreak from Vermont

3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2016 vintage poured into a wine glass. Dark coca-cola brown, with a thin, coarse head. Aroma is reminiscent of a flanders sour with hints of cherries and brown sugar. Taste is somewhat complex, sour and astringent with cherries and Coca-Cola. Mouth is thin and dry. Overall, an interesting beer, but not very easy drinking.

Mar 04, 2017
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beergoot from Colorado

3.59/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark mahogany body color; thick, rocky, beige head. Figs and dates make the bulk of the aroma; roasted grain notes; slight bourbon character; fruity; raspberries. Wild yeast, sour-like flavor; twinge of chocolate; some sulfur-like notes; fair hop bitterness. Medium body; vinous.

Great looks and aroma don't necessarily make for a great beer. There's nothing exceptionally wrong with the beer, yet it the flavor lacks the depth and balanced complexity to make this beer really stand out. The overall flavor comes across more like a sour wine with a relatively weak body. The saving grace, taste-wise, is there is some dark, roasted grain flavors. Not a must-have, but worth a shot (even if only for the sly Frank Zappa name reference)...

Aug 19, 2015
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Sanderson from Washington

4.49/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is what an old ale would probably taste like it brewed to actual style and thrown in a barrel. Natural barrel bugs, sweet but dry, but a little thin on the feel.

Jun 14, 2015
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Alieniloquium from Florida

3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2010 bottle, batch 1.

Appearance - Cloudy murky pond water looking brown body. Big off-white head. Thick chunky collar.

Smell - Huge molasses aroma. A little acidic. Kinda bretty. Mostly molasses.

Taste - Bretty and lightly tart. Lots of molasses, but no real sweetness. Kinda nutty. Caramel and a brighter, just lightly tart finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy body. High carbonation.

Overall - This is a lot better than I remember it. I just remember an acetic mess last time I had a bottle. This has a much more controlled brett flavor with an enormous amount of molasses.

Dec 16, 2014
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Mebuzzard from Colorado

3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

For my 2,500th rating/review I'm going with my favorite style: old ale--a bottle I picked up from the brewery in 2012.

2011 bottle. Spent 1 1/2 years in cellar temp, 1 year in cold fridge

Pours a deep chestnut brown and mahogany. Clean and bright. Off tan head is dense, thick and gooey. 1 finger depth. Looks like a nitro pour, but it ain't. Sticky, creamy lacing

Aroma is sharp orchard fruit. Red apple skin and pulp. Nothing too complex, going to let it warm up a bit. Perhaps a bit of oxidation as hints of cherry come through. Booze is present, but falls short of being obtrusive. Fruit is main attraction here, with hints of acidity and tannin. Seems a bit closer to a Belgian dubbel, without the sweetness. This beer is becoming...odd as the tartness turns more to sourness

At first sip the red apple transfers to a dark grape or berry. Carbonation is noticeable, which is good as it distracts from the booze and the tartness of some of those fruits. Shows borderline infection, but not enough to declare it so.

Feel is good, but for the style would like to see less carbonation

Aug 05, 2014
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Phelps from Arizona

3.34/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip.

Murky cola-brown, with almost no head. Not a lot of carbonation here. A glassful of mud.

This doesn't smell much like an old ale -- more like an oud bruin. Nice cola sweetness, brown sugar, toffee, a bit of sour cherry.

Caramel, toffee and alcohol in the front, plus touches of vanilla and dark chocolate. The swallow brings a flash of sour cherries and a hint of balsamic. Some sips are great, a nice blend of sweet and sour. Others are too sour. Tartness grabs onto the back sides of the tongue between sips.

As thought, there's almost no carbonation. Body is medium light; alcohol is just a bit of heat on the tongue.

Not good as an old ale, but good as a beer.

Jul 28, 2014
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yuichituba from Japan

1.79/5  rDev -50.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Bought this early July at the brewery. Brewey-only release.

Smells like a good old ale.
Tastes like an infected old ale with a veggie after taste.
Finishes overly dry like bad wine, extremely carbonated and boozy.

I regret buying two of these...I highly recommend not to buy it.

Jul 23, 2014
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

such a strange beer here, almost like a stingo, with the tannic acidity of the wine, and a funk to it beyond what we are used to in barleywine and old ale as we know them. murky dark brown amber colored beer, thick and sludgy, but still rather carbonated by the looks of it, with a nice tall chai tea latte colored head. the nose is really barrel influenced. tons of red grape character, and if i was told this was made with must or juice, i wouldn't argue it. light acidity from the vino, lots of fruit. the grain marries in well, but this is different from almost anything I've ever had, its not sweet at all, instead super dry. carbonation is enormous too, which you almost never see in this style, but its already nothing like anything in the old ale style I've seen. burnt cherry and dark caramel and toffee flavors from the grain and wine barrel, mellow oaken middle, with a zippy and tannic finish. this must be first use barrels, or have spent eons in the barrels, its just so wine forward. its rare these days that i find a beer that challenges me like this, its always cool to find something so unfamiliar and well put together. i don't like it half as much as the saisons upright does, but i have to tip my hat and commend this beer, there is really nothing like it. i see this as post thanksgiving dinner beer, maybe i will revisit it in that context. pricey but worth checking out if you have a curious palate.

Jul 06, 2014
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Beaver13 from Colorado

3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle. Pours murky brown with a medium creamy light tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is cocoa malts, dark fruits, and a little roasty alcohol.

The flavor is sweet chocolate and toffee malts, figs, cola, oak and some roasty bitter alcohol in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, reminds me a lot of Great Divide's Hibernation, but more pricey and not quite as good. It's a little too sweet and cola like. Was surprised to see this had some brett, didn't pick that up at all.

Feb 28, 2014
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cpetrone84 from Pennsylvania

1.85/5  rDev -49.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Pour is murky and muddy dark brown with virtually no head. Nose is heavy dark malt, molasses, caramel, brown sugar, dark berries all mixed together and not really working well as a group. Taste is brutal, overly sweet and messy. Malts sugars with burnt grain and burnt caramel, overly sweet berries with just way too much sugar. Body is full adding to the unpleasantly with virtually no carbonation.

Feb 23, 2014
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wisrarebeer from Wisconsin

2.36/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

I was expecting interesting tastes from this brew but Upright missed the mark. I've read countless articles of tart/sour English porters but an old ale? And this sour? The beer was incredibly unbalanced and, unfortunately, non-drinkable. Hints of something lurking behind the sourness was evident, my suggestion, leave the sourness to the Belgians.

Nov 12, 2013
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Ale-ienation from California

3.19/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A: Pours an opaque dark brown with amber highlights, with a tan head that dissipates quickly. No lacing.

S: Lots of dark fruit esters abound; figs, prunes, stewed red apples. Rich malts blend with a potent acidic tartness; rather vinous.

T: Very tart and acidic throughout, with notes of sour cherries and prunes. Very sharp finish where a strong presence of brett comes to the fore.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation.

O: An interesting beer, but could benefit from some balance to round out the very sharp tartness.

May 07, 2013
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lighthabit from Oregon

2.16/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

a sampler from my bro, i suspect something went wrong. thin pour, weak head dies down to nil, just a bit around the edges. leaves a decent bit of lacing. nose is cherry/bit of leather/vinegar. appears a bit hazy, a deep reddish brown. a dry mouth feel makes me think of wine more than beer, and again i pick up a tartness that say "vinegar and old cardboard" far more than anything pleasant. maybe it's supposed to be like this, but i'm not finishing it.

update 5/5/13 seems this isn't my style, as friends of my brother are saying what i got was representative of the brew, and they like it, so . . . ymmv.

Apr 05, 2013
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spdyfire83 from Ireland

3.3/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

281st Review
75cl bottle poured into a tulip glass
Vintage: January 2011

From notes. Enjoyed a while back at a tasting hosted by Doodler (whom probably supplied this as well). Cheers, amigo!

A: Hazy medium brown; almost a tint of burgundy. Single (tan) fingernail head on gentle pour.

S: Smells of dark cherry, tannins, slight funk, and touch of leather. Very interesting. Can’t decide if the nose is enjoyable or the opposite, but that’s how it goes with experiments like this.

T: Nearly prune juice-esque with mix of mashed dark cherry and currants. Oak. Nice tart funkiness here with a touch of sweet brown sugar the fades to the finish. Dies quickly and leaves a weird after taste as well. This beer changed quite a bit as it warmed. ABV is well hidden though.

M: Medium/full bodied with medium carbonation.

O: An interesting beer to say the least. I enjoyed the slight funk, but I think the fruits could stand to be a bit more balanced. Maybe it’ll get more rounded (and better) with age, but I’m not sure that we’ll cross paths again. Either way, fun to try.

Nov 08, 2012
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sweemzander from Illinois

2.8/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

750mL bottle poured into a tulip. Thanks to Jason for the bottle!

(A)- Pours a very murky/cloudy cola brown color. Produced some good tan froth. Some lace.

(S)- Alot going on with this. A dense woody dryness with equally dense malty profile: cocoa, raisin, and dark fruits. Mildly yeasty.

(T)- Similar to the smell in the malt profile. Very very dense in a raisin, cocoa, clay, and a bit heavier yeast presence than in the smell. Alot of dry wood too somehow.

(M)- A good carbonation level. Very dense overall. Its really too heavy in a coarse/grainy core; abrasive really.

(D)- I appreciated the effort, but not exactly Upright's best. A little disjointed and coarse. Also, a bit different than your average old ale.

May 24, 2012
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barleywinefiend from Washington

1.9/5  rDev -47.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

A: Poured a lighter brownish color with no carbonation leaving two bubbles, no lacing and for get the head. This beer is flatter than a board!

S: Funky notes, hints of old wood, molasses and toffee but rather mute

T: I am completely disappointed in this beer. Flat mouthfeel, no carbonation leaves funk, sugar and old musty caramel notes with two year old chocolates. Tannins, cardboard coming. Old wood, molasses is subdued and dirt rounds it out.

M: No carbonation, nothing to feel out, thin with booze

O: Extremely disappointed. I snagged this bottle from Apex's cooler just three days ago.

Apr 16, 2012
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shleepy from California

4.34/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into a tulip glass at The Trappist in Oakland.

A: Chocolate brown color. Small-ish head with big, off-white bubbles.

S: Lovely brett and barrel flavors... Similar to one or two Russian River beers.

T: Creamy chocolate, followed instantly by oakiness / sourness. There's some citrus in there, as well as some light toastiness. Pretty clean finish.

M: Fairly flat. But it does have a nice, creamy mouthfeel.

O: Unique, drinkable, and generally pleasant. Would buy again.

Mar 30, 2012
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vkv822 from Oregon

4.37/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle into tulip snifter.
2011 release.

Pours near black with deep red hues and a frothy tan head.

The aroma is quite complex. It starts with a cherry and vinous tartness, followed by some caramel and molasses sweetness. Slight leathery notes.

Again, more vinous and lightly earthy, Bretty tartness, followed by dark fruits, a light leathery character. Notes of oak come through as well in the transition from tart and Brett to dark fruit.

A medium body, with fairly low carbonation.

A very unique and enjoyable beer. A seasonal I will definitely look forward to each year now.

Feb 26, 2012
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emerge077 from Illinois

3.42/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served in a tapered sampling glass, review from written notes.

Pours a murky reddish copper, some light gets through, giving it a reddish highlight in the bottom of the glass. Thin ring of wispy skim around the edges.

Winey nose, some tangy cherry, and woody notes of dry sawdust.

Tart cherry, tangy and vinous, with ample bitter tannins in the dry finish. Some funky leathery qualities, along with the tartness suggests more of an Oud Bruin impression. Not too drinkable though as the bitter/tart/tangy/funk elements never seem to blend cohesively. Interesting experiment to try, sample it with an open mind.

Thanks to Eric for sharing this!

Dec 20, 2011
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loren01 from Washington

3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours into a snifter a murky red/plum color, not much head and no lacing
S: Smell is dark fruit, sour funk and earthiness.
T: Fruity sweetness up front followed by red wine, merlot like dryness. Slight sour flavor in there as well.
M: Medium bodied finishes dry, could use a bit more carbonation.
O: Old ale meets a sour unlike any beer I've ever had before....pretty good I'd buy this again.

Sep 16, 2011
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HopHead84 from California

3.7/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


My curry farts herald the coming of dawn as I pour batch one Billy the Mountain into my snifter. This bottle has been sitting in my fridge for what seems like forever, sent to me in a time beyond time. I'm happy to finally free it from its imprisonment. The bottle opens with a sinister hiss.

A: The body is red kissed dark brown with a finger of beige froth. Retention is good.

S: I'm greeted by a strong bready malt foundation, upon which is built a small village of dark fruits. Plum melds with grape and prune. The nose is lightly tart, with a little leather and must.

T: The flavor opens with earth and prune, segueing into a restrained brown sugar essence. Malt is bready. Grape, currant, and prune are evident, accompanying a dry earthy leathery bitterness. The beer possesses a light acetic acidity, with oak and tannins in the finish.

M: Medium in body with upper moderate carbonation.

Overall: An interesting beer, to be sure. Definitely worth a try. I guess this is the first beer made by Upright, so I have in my glass a piece of Portland history.

Sep 05, 2011
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Gueuzedude from Arizona

3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer has a murky light brown / amber color, that shows a very hazed, pale brown color when held up to the in light. The beer is not quite still, as a careful pour manages to produce a few bubbles, but very low in carbonation. Just to see if I could, I vigorously poured a small amount into another glass and was able to scare up a half finger thick, nicely brown tinged, dark tan colored, large bubbled head. The aroma smells most predominantly of spicy oak that is backed by a touch of red-wine like fruitiness. There is a soft, buttery oak like character as well as perhaps a hint of toasted grain if you really dig for it. After tasting the beer, the Brettanomyces character becomes quite a bit more apparent in the nose as well; it is a fairly soft Brett character, but well representative of Brett C. with a oak-spice accentuating, slightly earthy phenolic character and spiciness as well as a touch of medicinal plastic.

Lightly tart tasting up front, and this has an earthy funkiness that seems quite characteristic of Brettanomyces Clausenii (or something similar); a slight, almost, but not quite medicinal character, touches of plastic and maybe even a slight smokiness that leans more towards burnt plastic. The beer has some texture to it, there is actually just enough carbonation to this beer keep it from seeming flat, and there is some viscousnous to the body that contributes to a medium'ish heft. Up front there is a touch of sweetness, it is not a whole lot, but is enough to suggest a berry like red wine character as well as just a general fruitiness. Despite not mentioning it yet, there is quite a bit of oak that comes through in the flavor; notes of spicy, plank like wood, perhaps a hint of buttery oak character, and a spiciness that provides some heat a bit like Bourbon. The malt character is quite a bit more subtle than I ever would have expected; there is perhaps a suggestion of toasted malt character here and perhaps a bit of brown bread like character, but I feel like I should be able to taste a lot more malt character than ends up in this beer.

This beer could definitely use a bit more carbonation; a bit more liveliness would really help the flavors and aromas pop too. The aroma, especially, and the flavor are a little too dominated by the oak character. The oak character is significantly spicy enough that it seems to drown out the complexity of the base beer; the malt especially seems to be quite a bit more reduced than one would expect from a beer of this color and gravity. In the end the oak and the Brett, and a little bit of the Wine, contribute more to the profile of this beer than the base beer does. This is certainly not a bad beer, but I could see this recipe and oak aging process being dialed in a lot more tightly; I wouldn't be surprised if a great beer is hiding here somewhere and I would love for Upright to keep trying to improve this beer so that they can get there.

Aug 08, 2011
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zoolzoo from Connecticut

3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Not sure of the batch on this bottle, though this bottle has been hanging around in my "cellar" for a while. At this point, the brett is really taking ahold of this beer.

The aroma is full of over ripe dark fruit, wine barrel, and funk. Impression is semi-sour

As for taste...the core of this beer is semi sweet, dark cherry, wine barrel, and oak. All of this is turned funky due to a musty brett presence. Its tough to find any malt base fitting to an "old ale" in this bottle. Really, this beer almost seems thrown together randomly, but in the end I think it works.

Mouthfeel is fine for what it is. Thinner side of medium, high amount of carbonation.

Overall, a good beer that doesn't fit its own description.

Jul 11, 2011
Billy The Mountain from Upright Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 108 ratings