Talon - True Style Barley Wine Ale | Mendocino Brewing Company

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Talon - True Style Barley Wine AleTalon - True Style Barley Wine Ale
252 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 252 |  Reviews: 216
Photo of sulldaddy
3.51/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I was given this brew by my fiancees, mother for new years. Didnt get to it that nite, so here we go!
I am drinking cellar temp in a snifter.
The beer pours a very clear mahogany color and exudes ruby highlights when held to the light. A 2 cm creamy tightly packed beige head foams up very easily, and fades fairly quickly to a thin surface layer.
Aroma is appealing and complex with ripe plums, raisins, toffee, and some sharp piney hops making their presence known.
First sip reveals a thick slightly syrupy body with a silky texture in my mouth. The carbonation is mild to non-existent and allows for the flavors to be more robust.
Flavor is sweet up front with brown sugar and toffee mixing nicely and then allowing for some dark ripe fruit to come into play. The beer finishes with a bit of an peppery bitter alcohol hit that hurts the drinkability a little. Not too much warming on the throat but the palate definitely gives an alcohol hit.
The beer is good, I wish the alcohol was a little better masked. I would drink again if offered the brew, but not sure if I would buy it again. Maybe I will to cellar a bottle and see if it mellows the alcohol any.

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Photo of markman
3.55/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Talon True Style Barley Wine Ale:

Deep copper pour under a nice little head looked great in my Piraat Tulip glass. Rich malt-caramel aroma is very inviting on this unseasonably warm January evening. Taste? Malt, dried dark fruit, finishes with a nice hop bite…not bad, but nothing I'd go back to considering the other great barleywines out there. Worth a try though. Seems to me like it couldn't make up it's mind what it wanted to be: A somewhat hoppy American version, or a more traditional English style...and there was some taste that got annoying about 1/2 way through the bottle...heavy on the diacetyl perhaps.


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Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A solid example of the hoppier variety of the style. All the stocky malt body you'd expect, laden with brown sugar and toffee. Hopping was well balanced, more than ample but not enough to go over the top. Finishes quite smooth, and the abv is well integrated into the flavor profile.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.1/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from a 22oz bomber on 12-28-04. Appears similar to black cherry juice with decent clarity and a few inches of tan head. A good bit of lace is left in the glass and the head stays intact well for the style. Malty sweetness with a bit of citric hops are at the forefront of the nose. A bit of fruit is present as is a touch of alcohol. Tastes starts of a bit fruity sweet with a caramel malt and an underlying hoppiness that adds nicely to the flavor. Nicely balanced out so that the sweetness doesn’t become cloying. Alcohol is minimal and it finishes with a bit of malty sweetness and a hop bite. Sticky and thick with a warming feel. Very easy drinking, it goes down smooth. Very nice example of the style that is pretty damn drinkable.

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Photo of stodbrew
3.97/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a somewhat hazy deep red color. Very little head that pretty much dissappeared completely.

Nose is slightly hoppy, but mostly malt with some alcohol evident and a very slight smokiness.

Flavor starts with some sweet malt up front, but the hops kick in shortly thereafter. But the malt is the frontrunner here. There are some very fruity flavors like plum and raisin. Being over 10% ABV, the alcohol is there, but very well hidden.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.7/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 22oz bottle.

Pours a clear reddish-copper with a thin ivory head. Lots of lace though. Smells fruity....apple and pear, some grape character. Tart with a hint of bitterness.

Taste is rich caramel. Malty as all get out. Some nice biting hoppiness in the background there but this is more of a British-style barleywine and it's all about the malt. Molasses and coffee notes shine through in the finish. Sticky aftertaste but pretty smooth considering. At $2.29, it's certainly worth a flyer. Good stuff and I guess it will age nicely too.

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Photo of counselor
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is a good beer as you can tell from my scores. the appearance is a deep ruby color with a thin head that dissipates quickly. there arearomas of swet rum, mincemeat and cognac. Full malt profile and thick hop backbone. This is more of an english style barleywine. kind of like bigfoot's little brother or a nicely aged old crusty. the alcohol levels are nicely hidden away with good balance of malt and hops, just a hint of etoh at the end. I'll pick up a coupl eof these and cellar one or two for the future, if you like barleywine, i reccomend this one.

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Photo of mntlover
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark reddish brown with a one finger tan head that falls to ring of foam. Aroma is big on caramel malt, sweet buttery, with hops more in the background pine and some citrus. Taste is full caramel malt nice sweet little buttery with some fruit in the taste with some hops in finish and alcohol mixed with bitterness. Not a bad tasting beer not really true to the American style, not enough hops, but still not bad. Mouthfeel is big chewy almost full. Drinkability is good not a bad beer, price wise fairly cheap even. Probably will have more of these while they last not the greatest but still a decent beer.

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Photo of bigbeerdrinka
3.52/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured a deep mahogany color with nice ruby highlights and a fluffy tan head. Aromas are extremely hoppy giving off a piney, resiny, and lightly floral nose. There is also hints of caramel, bits of alcohol, and a grape like fruity ester. For flavor this brew starts off completely hoppy with notes of pine cones, vinous fresh hops that were just picked off the vine, and an almost cloying characteristic for the initial mouthfeel. Following there is a rush of malts giving off a bits of caramel and some dark fruits but the body of this brew seems to thin out a bit and almost have a watered down quality at certain points. The finish to this brew has some more robust hoppiness to it, with warm notes of alcohol, and some hints of sweetness but something is just missing in the end. The mouthfeel to this brew was to me on and off at points. As for drinkability this brew started off great but just went downhill from there. Overall what started off to look and smell like a really excellent hoppy brew, finished quite lacking in complexity and left me wanting to drink something else. A decent offering, but definetly not my favorite.

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Photo of clvand0
3.91/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one pours an amber color with a very small head that doesn't stick around long and doesn't leave lacing on the glass. The aroma is very sweet with some caramel and alcohol thrown in there. Has a fairly thick mouthfeel. The flavor is caramel sweetness as well as alcohol and some bitterness on the finish. Pretty good brew. I'll have it again.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.38/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a deep red color with hints of brown in there with a ring of head over the beer. The nose is full of sweetness. Hints of raisins drizzled in caramel with some hops thrown in for good measure. Nice. The flavor is dark fruit upfront, followed by alcohol, finishing with a coffee bitterness. Its not what I expect from a barleywine, but I really like it. The feel is very thick. Very good. Drinkability is okay on this one as well. Its a nice and big beer, but I find it easy drinking. I'm impressed. I would try this one if I found it again.

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Photo of Southernbrew
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours into my goblet with a nice dark brown color with some nice crimson hues. There's a small head that stays around for about 30 seconds.

Potent bitter hop character in the aroma with some sweet fruits and alcohol. Call me nuts, but it smells faintly like Bigfoot.

Full bodied and pretty smooth, just how I like my barleywines. Potent bitterness up front combines with a hefty alcohol flavor, but in a good way. A fairly noticable sweetness shows up in the middle then finishes up with a hearty bitterness and a final alcohol flash.

Pretty good barleywine, a bit more bitterness would help, but otherwise good for a cold, December night. The price is nice too. I think this bomber cost me $3.

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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 aracauna
3.46/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The alcohol is pretty big in the aroma. There’s barleywine butter in the flavor and aroma along with the standard old fruit. It’s pretty sweet. It’s got a bitter finish. I’m not sure why I don’t like this one. It has all the components for a good, solid barleywine, but they don’t seem to mesh well. Not bad, but a little off-putting at times.

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Photo of winomark
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice medium amber with a soft, billowy light tan head. A very nice hop-driven nose. Very spicy. Alcohol sweetness hidden deep in the back. Quite inviting. The palate is more malty than hoppy, unlike the nose. Rich, slightly sweet, with a hint of hop bitterness in the back. Very nice. Mouthfeel is coating and somewhat thick up front, but drying and slightly bitter on the finish. A very good barleywine, even if on the hoppy side. Good balance, with a West Coast hop profile. Hope to try this one again.

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Photo of edchicma
3.68/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A decent barleywine....reddish amber in appearance with a decent head. Smell is a little heavy on the alcohol...but has enough malt aroma to invite you to drink, Taste is likewise a little over the top on the alcohol, but the sweet malt rescues it. Mouthfeel is a bit dry...medium and a bit syrupy. Easy enough on the drinkability scale for 10.5 abv. Overall a decent brew.

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Photo of sponberg
3.75/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep red-amber with a cream colored head that dies down to nothingness within 3 minutes.Estery, alcoholic nose - apples, pears, maybe bananas, vague hop spiciness, alcholic fumes and a dusty smell like when you first fire up the forced hot air heat in the fall.

Initial underlying grapefruit rind bitterness joins with an apple and pear, caramel and toffee bittersweet maltiness. The alcohol is there, not overpowering but definitely making its whiskeyish presence known more as it warms. Malt hop balance carries through to the end. Hints of smokiness in the background. VERY warming. Appropriately chewy mouthfeel. There are other brews of this strength I could drink more of, as the alcohol isn't as up front as it is in this one. Still a nice effort and one of the better brews I've had out of Mendocino.

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Photo of Crosling
3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Deep Red.

Sticky, fruity, caramel laden malts with notes of pine resin, cellar mustiness, plums and other dark fruits.

Not necessarily English in style but this is definately malt accented. A nice blend of caramel, butter and toffee notes along with notes of earth, bark, grapefruit and red apple skins. Quite tasty.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.37/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big ole tall boy 22 oz browner with a body & neck label motif. The neck label boasts "True style barley wine ale is grand in flavor and body. It has a rich amber color and a full robust body. Talon has been aged for months and this gives it that intense and delightful traditional warming barley wine flavor. Talon is ideal to bring cheer to the sharing spirit of the season." Glugged into me Duvel pint after only two months escape time from the brewery in Saratoga NY from Bob Craven, himself. Talon shows a hazy orangey coppery pour under a khaki healthy spotty 1/2 " cap that quickly disapates to a slick coating. Decent head lace slides down the glass.

Ripe mixed fruit blasts like apples, bananas, and pears that scream malty base. Candy aroma overwhelms me nose like a bowl of mixed hard candy i.e. Jolly Ranchers and caramel corns. The aroma goes on 'n on 'n on. Unimaginable, the awl-kee-hawl esters, like Vanilla extract creep out as warming hits

First swigs: Sizzled dark fruit blend flavor well warming with awl-kee-hawl pears and ripe red apples. Whew! Perhaps a bit rough, despite the aging from the brewery and from me, but just big in style and flavor. Tart lemony oil and peppery twinges pop out as warming takes over.

This is a drinkable beer with a caveat "Whoa Silver" meaning that you can ride this horse if you can tame the wild nature. A bit unbridled but tame-able if you dare. American vs. English? This walks the line IMO.

Last swigs; Extremely excited to try this Barley Wine, especially since I traded a bottle of Weyerbacher Quad directly in person to Bob Craven, the manager of Saratoga's MENDOCINO brewery. Malts nose reminiscent of Stone IPA. Funny how this ironically reminds me of the Quad that I traded for it. Stone maltiness lemons meets thick hops sizzle.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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Photo of BrewMaster
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22 oz. bomber into a cognac sniffer. Pours with very little head and is a rich red color that looks like cherry juice. Aroma is full of cherry, almond, and woody (oak?) flavors. It sits in the glass with little carbonation and mostly looks like an odd colored red wine.

The flavor screams of soft fruity malt and a sour barley flavor. It has the light body of a juice. The flavor lacks some complexity. It is overpowering in it's tartness and sweetness, but it's not bad. Some molasses flavors come through that make it a bit too sweet. Overall it is a good barley wine, but not a daily drinker.

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Photo of Gusler
4.12/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer evacuates the 22 ounce brown bottle a transpicuous burnished copper color with a planetary sized head the is frothy in texture and the color a toothsome light tan color, the resultant lace a thick blanket to cover the glass. Nose is rich in malt, hints of caramel, molasses maybe, plum like, earthy and hearty to the senses this beer. Start is sweet and rich in malt, the top moderate to full in its feel to the palate. Finish is respectably acidic, the hops hail and hearty in their spiciness, and the beer quite dry with a bit of alcohol bitterness, a for sure belly warmer this one and one not made for the palate challenged drinkers.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.15/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep caramel with gold and orange highlights. No real head to speak of but heavy alcohol tannins visible on the glass.
Aroma of heavy malt, dark citrus fruits, raisins, some leather and cigar wrapper, figs, dates and grain alcohol.
Flavor is domianted by the heavy malts but is remarkably balanced by a mild yet powerful hop oil and resin. No real bitterness is present but the hops obviously cut the heavy malt. Very nice.
Mouthfeel is sickly sweet for a nanosecond then cut to a pleasantly balanced well-done barleywine.
Drinkability is very nice. I shared with a non-BA and his only comment was "wow, its powerful and very tasty." Another convert.

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Photo of watermelonman
3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured to a great deep and dark color with hints of purple and red. There was little head and no lace worth mentioning.

The smell is potent, and tips one off right away to this being a barleywine of respectable strength. The flavor is nice, with the alcohol content apparent but not overwhelming. The mouthfeel is a little bit sharp for my tastes.

This is definitely a good one for sipping.

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Photo of RedDiamond
4.5/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Talon has a malty and complex aroma that projects a mix of dark fruits, fig, and alcohol. The color is a dark mahogany and has the appearance of fine cognac with a few threads of lace. It is capable of producing a sizable head at first, but like most barleywines it is ultimately a heavy, sullen brew and is only modestly carbonated.

Talon is aged for a full year before bottling and very little yeast residue is present in the lees. It has a taste whose balance tips to the malt with a rich tapestry of warm fruity notes. Raisin or black current are among the fruit notes indicated while the broader taste suggests a plum brandy. Alcohol is present in the palate but is not overbearing or intrusive. The ABV potency of this brew makes itself most known in the warmth that stirs the belly.

I enjoyed this hearty barleywine a great deal for its obstinate willingness to praise the malt body. At last, a clear-eyed heathen unwilling to bow to the hop gods! The finish suggests a judicious restraint on bittering while still providing enough hops to gently ply the brakes on what could otherwise be a runaway malty sweetness. The potential drift towards syrupy mass is offset by enough carbonation to keep things relatively light on the tongue. Thus, even though she’s sweet and heavy, she doesn’t brood. (Reminds me of the barmaid at the Seven Swans….. aw, nevermind).

This brew should be enjoyed for what it is, not for what it should be. It is full bodied, complex, and smooth. It is endowed with a profuse and luxurious smell and a relaxed mouthfeel that sits like a heavy blanket on a winter’s morn. This is a premium barleywine – a slow sipping work of considerable craftsmanship.

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Photo of lou91
3.65/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was really surprised to see a new barley wine on the market and even more surprised to see that it was from Mendocino. The beer poured with a nice head and a potent hop nose. The color was dark amber and looked great. The taste was that of a nice rich hoppy barley wine – may be a bit too sweet for some. The taste is long and lingering with definite alcohol warmth. As it warms, the flavors come together much better. There is no vintage dating but some time may help round out the syrupy sweetness. A good attempt and I hope they start brewing bigger beers. Berkeley Bowl

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Talon - True Style Barley Wine Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.73 out of 5 with 252 ratings