Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale
Mendocino Brewing Company

Imperial Barley Wine Style AleImperial Barley Wine Style Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
American Barleywine
Ranked #358
Ranked #37,431
3.69 | pDev: 13.01%
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States
Imperial Barley Wine Style AleImperial Barley Wine Style Ale
View: Beers
Reviews: 95 | Ratings: 217 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by travolta:
Photo of travolta
3.1/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Beautiful clear redwood in color. Mild head retention and some decent lacing. The color is quite nice.

Nose: Sweet biscuit, syrupy liquor, cat pee, dark candied fruits.

Taste: Syrupy sweet throughout, little bit of malt and hops coming through,

 263 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of stakem
3.53/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle pulled from the cellar that is at least 5 years old at the time of this review. Poured into a tulip appears clear mahogany color with yellowish tan khaki cap 3 fingers strong that fades leaving a full wall of lace.

It smells of burnt sugars - caramel and toffee primarily with a slight mineral edge in the back. This tastes toasty and sweet with grain like caramel, toffee and solvent booze with some minerals like the aroma suggests. A little bit of wet dog character to the finish (i know, thats a weird descriptor but I had to write it since thats exactly what it reminds me of.)

This is medium in body with modest carbonation. An interesting brew that isnt really showing its age. Not sure if I aged this long enough to hit the sweet spot in its potential, regardless not bad.

 794 characters

Photo of Skabiski
2.81/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Photo of buckyp
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.62/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly murky dark orange with a 1 inch foamy orange-tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel/toffee, brown sugar, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is the same with a bit of a mineral/metallic flavor on the finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine but it smells better than it tastes in my opinion.

 479 characters

Photo of colforbin73
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

there is a component missing from the review categories and it is obvious, PRICE. price should not be heavily weighted but it matters. this Imperial barley wine is a mere 6.99 a 4/pack -- and even at a dollar or two more, it is a great value.

pours a very dark amber with a little tan head, but this is a good frothy brew. it can sit for a while half gone and when you slosh it around it comes to life and foams up a little...

the smell is sweet and a little spicey, a little leather a little rum... the drink is sweet and rich. it says "old style ale" on the label and it really is. you can imagine the wort was very thick and sweet. for 11% it is not overly boosey, but it's there for sure. as far as the style goes -- imperial barley wine seems wrong to me, maybe it should just be "old style strong ale" -- i don't get a lot of floral character -- this is ALE, rich well-developed malts. i usually think of barley wine as being high ABV with a good hoppy/floral/fresh element... the malts dominate this thick brew.

i could see this ale in the little barrel around the st bernard's neck. quality old strong ale...

 1,121 characters

Photo of whatthehull
3.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted June 23rd 2011 (from notes)

Poured into a la Chouffe tulip

A - blood red, one finger tan head and some lacing

S - alcohol, lots of yeast, wine barrels, dark dried fruits, sweet malts and some fruit and floral hops. Brown sugar and molasses

T - lots of alcohol, very sweet, nice hops, oak, wine soaked wine barrels, brown sugar, huge malt, toasted grain, cherries, dried dark fruits and a pungent yeast

M - chewy, full body, low acidity and a very long finish

D - this is a must for huge beer lovers, barleywine lovers or people who love big alcohol content

Final thought - huge 11% ABV, price of $8 and another must try beer. Also you can age this beer for a little bit

 690 characters

Photo of mychalg9
4.5/5  rDev +22%

Photo of daave1
3.32/5  rDev -10%

Photo of peacebone116
4.33/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: I poured this barley wine from the bottle into a tulip glass and it initially formed a caramel colored 0.5-cm to 1-cm thick head. This head dissipates quickly leaving a fair amount of Brussels lace along the leg of the glass. The body is a consistent deep reddish brown.

N: Sweet over-ripe stone fruit and fig with a light butter scent mixed with a passing touch of pepper as sweetness fades (presumably from the alcohol).

T/M: The taste is sweet like fruit (same as it smells) but does not feel syrupy; this beer drinks lighter than the 11% abv suggests it should. The pepper scent is not present in the taste, but instead is replaced by a slight burn from the alcohol.
As the beer warms, the fruity sweetness is accompanied by a alcohol warming that becomes slightly more dominant. Overall, the beer maintains its creamy mouthfeel.

An excellent interpretation of a barley wine style ale! Well done and well received!

 924 characters

Photo of Arithmeticus
3.24/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured at room temp in a flared glass

A: deep dark red; the carb action is great at first, but the head dissipates quickly
S: the expected barleywine smell, a bit on the honey/malty side
T: a subpar barleywine, mainly because a decent flavor turns metallic at the end; the boozy character is hard to mask; I'll sink one of these into the time capsule, though, and see if age improves it

Overall not the best for this specimen, but drink enough of it (say, two) and you might not care.

 486 characters

Photo of BigRizz62
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.06/5  rDev +10%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A dark clear amber, almost brown, body with a one finger off-white head; light spotty lacing.

S: Sweet toasted caramel malts dominate the nose with notes of earthy hops, a hint of vanilla, brown sugar, dark fruits, and light booze.

T: Again, sweet robust malts are the dominate flavor. Caramel and toffee are balanced with bitter hops, dark fruit, anise, molasses, and some sherry notes; warming finish.

M: Medium-full body; light carbonation; thick and chewy texture.

O: I don't know why this is labeled as an American Barleywine because it definitely taste like an English Barleywine. Nice flavors and nose, but high ABV make it a 1 at a time beer. Definitely would like to age this to see how the flavors would improve.

 729 characters

Photo of Amp
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of mrfrancis
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of rembrant
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appears Deep Copper. A little haziness and a nice tan 1 finger head that goes well with the liquid. Pretty beer.

Aroma....definitely complex and potent,has fresh breads and biscuits,a variety of dark fruits,a bit of a brandy aroma and a touch of spiciness.

Flavors. May need to warm. For now,the aromas do give clues. Leads with caramel,goes into dark fruits,port wine,sweet bread,a bit tannic in the finnish and,as tends to be with Barleywine,some moments of boozy.

Warmer, that tannic tartness is gone and the booze,still there blends into a sweet toffee/fruitcake with the Port and some dark coffee...minimal hops. most Barleywine, a bit "over the top " and wanting to be a bit warm. I found it pretty smooth and tasty once it hit it's spot.

Mouthfeel is full and just fine. It's Brandywine and I consider them a "change of pace" beer,and a sipper. I would get this again but one in an evening is enough

 927 characters

Photo of YouSkeete
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very hazy dark amber/red with a short yellow-tan head. Big malt character through the nose with lots of creamy citrus, toffee, plums, dates, molasses and alcohol with soft tones of lemongrass. Fermented dark fruits, caramel malts and molasses on the initial sip followed by notes of hop bitterness and toffee. Smooth, mildly dry toffee/wood aftertaste. Creamy, boozy mouthfeel. Full bodied with moderate carbonation.

 424 characters

Photo of dowen44
4/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of mbusster88
2.66/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter glass.

A: Beautiful ruby red color to this beer. Off white head has small bubbles and sticks around rather long. Alcohol clings to the glass. Some carbonation continues to come off the bottom of the glass.

S: Get some booze right away on the nose. Also get the black licorice like smell, mixed in with the booze. Very earthy smells as well. Some fruity characters at first, but as it warms not so much.

T/M: Right away with the taste is some booze. Not a ton but its there. Turns to dark fruit notes and some earthy characters. Started this one out a little colder than normal. Not a difficult drink, but not the most friendly either. The dark fig flavors are really apparent as it warms.

D: Personally my first barley wine, I did enjoy it, but I feel like there are many better out there for me to discover. Overall I would say its an okay beer, not something I would seek out again though.

 932 characters

Photo of Thickfreakness
3.95/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this fresh off the tap at the Saratoga Springs,NY brewery tap room (10 mins from home)... and then took home a Growler.

A- Pours a sunshine reddish-orange into my tulip glass. Nice head that fades rather quickly and leaves not much in the way of lacing. Nice carbonation!

S- Caramel, honey, dried figs and a hint of fresh hops. Smells sweet like an English BW. Buttered popcorn and brown sugar. I've had this in the bottle before, but sooo much better fresh off the tap!

T- Spicy, sweet, and bright hoppiness! Lots of caramel, toffee, honey with a wonderful blended hop brightness. Not as deep as some barleywines, but certainly better than most! A bit boozey fresh, but not in a bad way!

M- From the smell and taste, I thought this was gonna Honey coat the tongue a bit more than it did. Really nice carbonation tho... gotta love it right from the source!!!

O- I can't wait to get back to the brewery and have this again! I also have a 4-pack that I'm gonna put away a few bottles of and see how it develops!

 1,022 characters

Photo of heysuz
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of JRod1969
4/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of waltersrj
3.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Bottle

Nose: Sherry like oxidation and sweetness, cherry, oak, vanilla, dates and figs and slight hops. This smells like an English barleywine.

Taste: Slightly metallic and oxidized, figs, raisin, cherry, oak, vanilla and resinous hops at the finish. Tastes a bit like an American barleywine at the end.

Mouthfeel: slightly oily but without being heavy. Sticky.

Overall: Nothing amazing but not bad either. The abv is decently hidden. A good barleywine but not sure why it's labeled "imperial."

 503 characters

Photo of PrivateEquity
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%

Photo of UltimateLivewire
3.25/5  rDev -11.9%

Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 217 ratings