Talon - True Style Barley Wine Ale | Mendocino Brewing Company

215 Reviews
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Talon - True Style Barley Wine AleTalon - True Style Barley Wine Ale

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rkhaze on 03-11-2004

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Reviews: 215 | Ratings: 248
Photo of jtierney89
1.65/5  rDev -55.8%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Murky deep amber/brown color. Potent alcoholic nose already. Can't tell how old the bottle is, got it at a chain liquor store though so I'm sure its been sitting around for a little while at least.

Fodder, caramel and rum covered raisins on the nose. Figs and other dark fruit.

Strangely only a medium sized body.Feels thin in the mouth. Sweet Malted grains upfront followed by astringent dark fruit and caramel flavors. Sharp alcohol throughout with a hot alcoholic finish.

This beer lacks stability and complexity but the flavors go together at least somewhat well. Not a good beer, but at 3.99 it competes with even worse malt liquors for a cheap buzz. Okay for the price, but overall bad.

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Photo of williamherbert
2.17/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Super cloudy mahogany brown and red color. Thin half finger of head. Looks deep and thick; milky.

The barleywine aroma is topped with a grainy malt. The grains are almost palpable. Totally overshadows everything and smells musty rather than rich. Medicinal.

The alcohol is huge in this sweet dark cherry and sour wine grape. Heavy barley; almost as if it was dry-barleyed? Very sour like an old wine that's gone spoil'd.

Feel is a thick grainy film. Feels rough. Thick and syrupy with grit, which might have been ok if the flavor weren't so brutal. This is a powerful, harsh brew. I think it overdoes it. Not a fan.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
2.46/5  rDev -34%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5


Smell reminded me of gasoline with a little barley wine essence.
Taste heavy brown sugar sweetness followed by a boozy burn. Lacks depth. What is there lacks balance.

Medicinal taste helps knock down the drinkability.

Cellar time might help this one

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Photo of charlesw
2.55/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Pours a beautiful deep, dark, burgundy/brown/amber with a very thick medium head of very tight bubbles that has fair lasting power with a nice lasting lace. Smells like it's overly sweet with caramel malts and no hops. Tastes like it's overly sweet with caramel malts and no bittering hops. Hugely alcoholic in the mouth with a thickly sweet raisin alcohol taste to it. Overpowering. Decidedly not balanced. Great, thick mouthfeel. But I couldn't drink a second of these. Not even 2oz at a time.

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Photo of Enola
2.58/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer is a little lighter in color than is to be expected of the style. There is a fair amount of head. The smell is a little like wine. The taste is little more harsh than I would like. There is a hot alcohol presence and the many flavors just do not mesh. The mouthfeel is sour and not what I would expect from the style, even a higher abv beer such as this. The drinkability is not too good. I will struggle to finish the bomber, as this may become a drain pour. This is more like the BMC of barleywines. I have yet to have an offering from this brewer that I would return to.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.73/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass. Murky, orange-brown beer emerges and is topped by a rather pedestrian light ecru colored head. Minimal lacing. Head becomes a smooth and silky film on the top of the beer, with swirl that bring back memories of my younger days eating Fudge Swirl ice cream while riding my bike with my little bro in the NC summer.

Aroma is full of caramel and chocolate. Not much hop presence, although it seems there is a bit more than the English counterpart. However, I prefer more of a hop presence with the American BW. Caramel and toffee and basically smells like a Doppelbock. Not much alcohol in the aroma, atleast not enough to lean my perception toward 10.5%abv.

Taste is fruity, pineappley, and filled with caramel and chocolate. Again, no hops here. Just sweetness and maltiness.

Mouthfeel was sticky sweet and nearly cloying. Hard to muster a 22oz of this one.

Overall, I was disappointed with this offering. As far as American BW, this is completely subpar. There is no hop flavor or aroma. Blind tastes would lend me toward a strong Doppelbock or maybe even a Scotch ale. Not to style and not too enjoyable. Borderline pricing makes this somewhat seductive but I will not have this one again.

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Photo of psuKinger
2.75/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

22-ounce bottle, aged (I can't find a printed date, but I know it's been in my fridge for probably almost a year, and I have reason to believe it may have sat on the shelf at 6-and-Save for a while as well based on the discounted price) and poured into a standard pint glass. The fine print up by the nose of the bottle indicates that it may have already been aged before bottling, as well, so who knows how old this brew is.

A: Pours a darker shade than I would have expected. A dark shade of Ruby-Red. It's giving off a little bit of a *fizz* on the pour, so it's not completely flat, but virtually no head forms at all.

S: Big, sweet, earthy, and boozy. Almost like a sweet cordial/bourbon mix.

T: Taste follows the nose. This is a big beer. Lots of sweetness, with maybe a touch of cherry? Big and boozy, with some *woody* flavors to it as well. I don't know/think that this was "barrel aged", but maybe it was? I pick up on some caramel, as well, probably from the malt bill.

There's a lot of cherry here. And I'm a big fan of cherry beer (my rDev's for Kasteel Rouge and Bell's Cherry Stout speak for themselves). But there's something about this particular cherry flavor here that isn't working for me. It's almost medicinal, like cough medicine. It's not HORRIBLE, but for a reason that's difficult to explain, I'm not digging it the way I do so many other beers that have a touch of cherry to them.

There's virtually no hops to be found in this glass. I don't know if that's because none were there to begin with or if they've dissipated over the ? months/years of aging, but it is what it is. I don't think *hops* would work here the way they do for Flying Mouflon, anyway.

M: Mouthfeel is below average here. For such a big beer, with the kind of sweetness that it has, it's rather thin and watery on the tongue, and doesn't finish with as much of a coating on the tongue as I'd like.

D/O: I didn't find this beer to be terribly drinkable. Over time this became like drinking a boozy-cherry-toffee bar. It's not in balance at all, and is just too sweet for me. The cherry flavor also tastes *artificial* to me. With no help from anyone else, I didn't finish this 22 ounce bottle myself. Life's too short, and I eat/drink too many calories as it is.

Overall, just not a very enjoyable experience.

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Photo of klewis
2.77/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a ruby color with a one-finger bubly head. No lacing.

S: Smell of red fruit and hamster shavings. Weird, I know.

T: A very bland taste with little flavor, just a bit of bitterness in the finish.

M: A bit light in body for a barleywine or any beer that boasts a 10.5% ABV. Too fizzy.

D: I wasn't expecting much for a barleywine that sells for $2.99 per bomber, so I can't say that I was too disapointed. Not awful, just boring.

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Photo of TastyTaste
2.82/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to warriorsoul for the traded bottle.

Appearance: Dark red-burnt orange body, medium head. The head is creamy and tan, leaves full lace.

Smell: Strong ethanol, dark fruit, brown sugar, very, very sweet smelling.

Taste: Strong and syrupy, the alcohol really takes over and runs the show. Sweet up front, the hops and alcohol are blistering on the backside. Not my favorite of the style, but ok.

Drinkability: I bet you could age this for about 20 years, with all of the alcohl that is here, and it probably would get better with age. Not bad, but not very good vs. the ABW style.

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Photo of wcudwight
2.84/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Pours a cloudy mahogany color with an off-white head that fades rather quickly to a light rim around the glass.
Smells of brown sugar and baked apples. Smell's pretty good.
Taste like a brown sugared white grape juice. Interesting flavors but they really don't mix all that well. The alcohol is punishing at the finish.
The mouthfeel feels like I think a barleywine should feel. Full bodied and filling. Some alcohol burn and warmth.
Drinkability. It's a good beer to catch a buzz on and that's about it. I probably won't finish the bomber and doubt I'll buy another.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.91/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter. 2009 vintage.

4.0 A: Pours a ruddy brown color. Two fingers of creamy beige head. Retention is pretty good given the ABV and a small ring of lacing is left.

3.0 S: Toffee and caramel. Light plum fruitiness and brown sugar. Simple, but pleasant, and average.

2.5 T: Moderate toffee and caramel. Perhaps a touch of dark fruits. Even simpler than the nose.

2.5 M: Medium to heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Lacking the creaminess that I want from a beer like this.

3.0 D: This beer is completely unoffensive and unassuming. It's boring without being bad. I didn't really expect it to be any good either given the brewer. I figured I could get a spot back in my cellar by drinking this and in that regard, this is a success.

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Photo of DogFood11
2.92/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bomber forms a small head that slides with the alcohol and fades rather quickly, sliding retention as well. Dark brown body looks thick and rich.

First drink was "Damn this is one syrupy brew". Heavy, sweet malts are so sugared up that it sticks on your gums after every pull. Used tea bag with honey and squished plumbs. Bitterness is barely noticeable about 3/4 through and fairly zippy but shortlived and once again it slid away in a wash of syrup. Alcohol is a factor in the mid to late portion. Edit: 101206. This is truley a sipper if there ever was one. As it warms it gets even heavier. Aging has made this worse.

Notes: Starts good, middle is nice, finish is disturbingly overbearing and the ending will ring into the moring hours....decent in my book, but as far as barleywines go this is not one I'll pursue....

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Photo of rabsten
2.93/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a dark copper-caramel with small but persistent head. No lacing to speak of.

Smells like a bottle of whiskey. Strong alcohol presence.

Tastes sweet. Very sweet. Candy-like sweet. Sweetest barelywine ale I've had. Alcohol esters hang out on the palate for a long time after each sip.No real hop flavors. And oh yes, it's sweet.

The sweetness theme continues with a syrupy mouthfeel. Very heavy feeling beer.

Drinkablity was lower than average to fair. Too heavy, sweet, and cloying for me to really enjoy.

I don't know. I'm a big fan of the style but Talon didn't do it for me. I piucked this bottle up in June, cellared it away, and waited for the first serious frost warning of fall to drinkit and still...I just really didn't care for it. In a rare - if not unique - event, I actually didn't finish the bottle.

I won't say I won't give it another try - perhaps I'll split a bottle this Christmas with my barleywine loving friend - but I won't actively seek it out for myself, either.

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Photo of auntfloyd
2.98/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served from a 22 oz bomber into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter.

Pours a nice, hazy, dark mahogany which shows a bright red against a light, with one finger of pale head.

The nose is sweet: sweet caramel, sweet fruits, sweet vanilla, and sweet malts.

The taste is quite bold up front, very malty, fruity, and sweet, though with a rather potent alcohol flavor that is a bit much to start with, and continues on to dominate the aftertaste. A bit of a let down after the scent. There's pretty much no hops or bitterness, but I'm a fan of maltier barleywines, so that doesn't bother me much.

The mouthfeel is thick, as a barleywine this strong is expected to be. Like most strong ales of this style, its not one you would have more than one of over an extended period of time anyway. So average drinkability for its style, nothing special here.

Overall, I'm not too impressed. There are better barleywines out there than this one.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.01/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz from a trade with Wasatch close to a year ago... shared with Steven.. Mine in my New Belgium goblet.

2" light tan head.. short lasting and a deep amber brew with red highlites.

Thick American hops and too much caramel and toffee malts... too much "Ale" fruitiness... big alcohol... metallic.

Bland through the entire glass.. Flavor falls off way too soon. Body is waay too thick.. sweet.. needs more bitterness and hop flavors... a lite coffee late palate tries to keep things in line... but fails.

I've been sitting on this one for a while.. it may be old, but experience tells me this was not a good Barleywine even when fresh. I would never buy this one again.. I don't think age screwed it up that bad.

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Photo of taez555
3.08/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

This beer poured a dark but clear amber/brown body with a small off-white head that died quickly.

Nose was a mix of rich malt, citrus peel, garbage and alcohol.

HUGE BODY. Big caramel, dark caramel, rich malt flavor. The caramel just barely borders on a burnt sort of taste with a touch of metal. There’s a grainy aspirin like bitterness. Some serious lemon juice, lime juice taste mixed with peppers and black pepper yet all very subdued.

Eh…. Its drinkable I guess. Basically a very dull, aspirin hop flavored barleywine. It’s decent and drinkable but very middle of the road, no wonder they discontinued it.

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Photo of mzwolinski
3.11/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Clear amber in color with ample carbonation and a medium-sized off-white head. Aroma dominated by brown sugar, light fruity notes and alcohol. Altogether too sweet and sugary in flavor -- a bit of fruit mid-palate, but just too much sugary sweetness and a bit of a harsh alcohol bite on the backend. Not my favorite by a longshot.

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Photo of samie85
3.12/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours and opaque, deep reddish brown color with a one finger head.

S- It smells very rich, reminds me of Samichlaus a little. Deep raisins, rich caramel and maybe a bit of brown sugar.

T- Caramel sweetness upfront and finishes with a wine-like dryness with a hint of chocolate malt.

M- I was expecting it to be a little more viscous in this department. It's thick but pretty well carbonated.

D-This is probably not one that I'd revisit, except maybe with some age on it. The finish is a little too dry for my taste and this really hurts the drinkability for me. I'm having a hard time finishing this one.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
3.15/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

from a bomber, into a tulip.

barleywine season. today's projected to get up to 59 degrees.. better drink what's left of these winter warmers.

looks promising. red, red, red with a bubbly dusting of foam on the surface. very clear and brilliant in its appearance.

aroma is fruity.. so much so that it worries me that the flavor will cripple me into a sweets coma. fresh hops for sure, and vanilla. the scent i interpret as vanilla is something that i've never detected in a barleywine.. at least not to this degree. insanity has it in the taste, but not so much in the nose.

the taste is sour and bitter.. overwhelming. i am further astounded by how smooth the finish is. complex or confused? i dont know. not too sweet, but too something. too alcoholy? this is one beer that people are jumping on with maximum harshness.. it's all there except for the taste and drinkability.. time might be the answer.

EDIT: this is the mad dog of barleywines. $2 for a bottle of supercharged alcohol that will get you retardedly drunk. after reviewing, i fell asleep on the couch for 6 hours.

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Photo of enfield249
3.15/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Dark ruby color, light tan head that sticks around for a while.

S - Carmel, alcohol, brown sugar.

T - First thing is a sweetness, like brown sugar. Then some strong alcohol, that sticks around the whole time.

M - Full, with some alcohol burning and strong astringency.

D - A good version of a barley wine. Not my favorite, but a good one.

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Photo of jlervine
3.17/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured an amber brown with a tan head that hated me and disappeared pretty quick. I'm a likeable guy, why must you hate me, Mendocino Talon?!?

Alcohol, sweet malt, and a hint of hops comprise the aroma. Nothing amazing, nothing substantial.

Whoa, very sweet, spice rub bitterness, burnt malt tones dominate the flavor on the first sip. Insipidly sweet. Hard to get over sweet. Not honey or syrup sweet, just OMGmyteeth sweet. It's a bit much. A great BA once told me that a barleywine is a three-way dance of alcohol, malt, and bitterness. In this barleywine, the malt slung it's partners out the frickin' doors and has taken center stage. But it's not the good kind of malt, and he's not dancing very well. He's more or less doing the Electric Bugaloo to the Blue Danube waltz. Naked. Well, wearing a skimpy thong at least. A thong of alcohol and bitterness that is riding up his buttcheeks and chafing the insides of his leg. But he's not applying powder or anything, he's content with his red, raw, chafed thighs.


The mouthfeel isn't spectacular, and the carbonation barely has enough gumption to cut through the cloying body. Very coating, and not politely so.

Not a good interpretation of the style, in my not so humble opinion. I've had better, I've made better, and I'll buy better. Sure, it's cheap @ $2.29 per bomber, but there's no reason to unless you are a masochist.

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Photo of MisterE
3.17/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bomber - $4.29 at Wards Supermarket

A: not quite transparent, reddish brown with small head that disappears quickly

S: faint bouquet of fruit, followed by hops, yeast, and alcohol!

T: sharp and powerful (like the name implies) - a mild bitterness and evidence of the high ABV

M: edgy but smooth and full, with a little more carbonation than I prefer

D: one is more than enough, even one sip at a time

I've enjoyed this beer a couple of times before today (last winter and over the summer), but don't remember the sharpness of this one. Could be this is a more recent vintage that has not yet had time to mellow.

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Photo of doubleipa
3.18/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This has been in the cellar for about a year and a half. Frothy, light-brown head that mostly diminished. Dark amber color. Light bread light yeast, light dough aroma. Also raisin, date, tawny port aroma. Heavy sweet initial flavor. Very malty and completely flat carbonation. Still a very distinctive alcohol taste. Not great, but not awfull. I don't think I would buy any more of these.

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Photo of Vierenner
3.18/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a beautiful red color with very little head. Kind of tastes like Redhook Eisbock ... just a bit more flavorful.

Taste is quite syrupy ... caramel candy with a hint of molasses. I think I might be growing tired of sweeter beers as this just isn't doing much for me (a year ago would have been a different story!). There is a very faint bitter finish ... but the sweetness hangs around to the bitter end (pun intended).

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Photo of rkhaze
3.2/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

First time I've seen a barleywine by Mendocino Brewing. It's being marketed as a limited edition True Style Barleywine Ale.
In keeping with their avian tradition of naming beers, it's called Talon and has a large golden birds foot on the red label sporting four viscious looking talons. That all being said...
Pours a clear bright reddish/amber. Almost looks like it has a bit of marascino cherry juice in it. Small tan head that disappears immediatly. Noticeable carbonation (for a barleywine anyway) Smells of sweet malt, caramel, red licorice and a dry hopped presence.
Taste is a bit strange. Starts out sweet and malty and has a medicinal red fruit middle, kinda like that artficially flavored boysenberry pancake syrup at IHOP, and finishes all out of whack with a dry hop and raw alcohol bitterness that lingers on rather unpleasantly.
Medium bodied for the style. Creamy, slightly syrupy mouthfeel and tingly carbonation. To much stuff out of whack to make this highly drinkable.
Me thinks this one needs to age for a while. Seems a little young and harsh.

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Talon - True Style Barley Wine Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
3.73 out of 5 based on 248 ratings.
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