Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale | Mendocino Brewing Company

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Imperial Barley Wine Style AleImperial Barley Wine Style Ale

Brewed by:
Mendocino Brewing Company
United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ThreeWiseMen on 05-29-2010

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Reviews: 94 | Ratings: 210
Photo of whatthehull
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
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

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Photo of Thickfreakness
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
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!

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.2/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

L - clear cherrywood color with a off-white head that thinned to a ring leaving a few spots of lacing.

S - toffee with a hint of alcohol, it reminds me of a hot buttered rum cocktail.

T - sweet caramel and toffee with very light bittering and a bit of heat.

F - medium bodied, sticky sweet and warming.

O - a good barley wine but as already mentioned it's more like an English BW than an American BW.
The Mendocino website lists the "category" as Imperial Barley Wine

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.2/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this single up for 2.39. May go back for more if it's awesome.

A - A nice amber in color nice and dark with an inch of head that turns to a light sticky lace.

S - Smells of slight caramel, toffee, a bit of sweet malts and a touch of alcohol

T - My does this drink smooth. ABV takes a backseat as Sweet caramel and toffee along side an almost cherry tone take the palate over hops. Dark fruits as well are used to cover up any alcohol burn my gawd!

M - Medium to a bit heavy. Couldn't imagine drinking more than a couple of sitting.

Overall I regret buying an entire case of the RIS since this barleywine is more ABV and more taste with less hop presence. Man I hate PA for not having the single but love this beer. A very drinkable BW.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.12/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep reddish copper color with a slightly dirty beige head that dissipates slowly to a ring on top. The smell is quite sweet, it reminds me more of an old ale than an American barley wine. Caramel, toffee, prunes, dates, cherries, slight bit of resin and a hint of alcohol in there. There's an almost non existent hop aroma, maybe its an English barleywine? Taste is sweet and fruity. Caramel covered cherries mixed in some toffee, but add a bit of a hop bite. Lingering sweetness in the finish with a little bit of alcohol heat. Sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel, light level of carbonation and a relatively thick body. As an old ale or English barleywine I really enjoyed this, as an American barleywine it misses the mark. Nice sipper, great flavors and aroma, I might have to check out some more brews from Mendocino.

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Photo of claytong
4.15/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

first off i agree very much this is definitely an english barleywine.
drank it decently fresh. i dont recommend drinking more than one fresh even though its not half bad that way. it seems like a great beer to age.
very malty, not any bitterness as is typical with american barleys. nice barley notes. caramel, raisin and molasses are in there but certainly not strong.
a terrific buy for barleys.

a note: just revisited a bottle i put back in the cellar. its about a year old and was tasting fantastic. sit on this one a bit.

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Photo of oberon
4.08/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First off by saying this is an American style Barleywine you would be wrong,many are reviewing it as such,this is a big malt driven English Barleywine,it pretty much says so on the label!Poured a brilliant auburn color with a creamy off white head that never really leaves completely,its extremely vinious with juicy dark fruitiness,very cakey,a light shot of resiny hop lingers in the nose.Chewey with a big shot of dark fruit and cake on the palate,the hop come into play as it warms giving a resiny undertone.To me this is a great beer,its English in nature,warming and rich,a winter by the fireplace beer,it is really great!

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Photo of raszputini
3.37/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber with a very creamy off-white head that dissipates moderately quickly. Smells of berries (cherries?) and has a woodiness - alcohol is lightly present as well. The taste is malty with a complex blend of fruit, malts, and hop bitterness that all kind of hits you together - the hops linger on through the finish. This brew is hoppier than most barley wines I've sampled, probably in an attempt to bury the elevated ABV. I'm not a huge fan of barley wine, but I enjoyed this one.

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Photo of weazal
3.79/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

SMELL: Rich, decadent aroma dominated by berries. Incredibly strong black cherry smell with a sugary kick. There's a fresh, damp wood / forest component that ties into the buttery hops.

TASTE: The expected barleywine thickness hits you upfront, heavy on your palate it lingers a delectably long time before slowly being swallowed away. Bright fruitiness plays a fun contrast against the full mouthfeel. Flavors are mostly balanced. Carbonation is mild, lightly bighting your tongue, and there's a lingering grapefruit sourness left on the palate that's not the best.

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

12 oz bottle at 48 degrees into a Stone IRS tulip.

A: It pours an over-steeped tea-looking clear dark red color with two fingers of cream-colored head that does not hold nor lace very well.

S: A wide array of fruits; citrus, figs, and sweet apples, as well caramel and molasses.

T: Sweet apples, citrus rind, figs, candi sugar, and booze. This is definitely one of the fruitier barleywines.

M: The body is medium-thick and palate-sticking with a little alcohol heat.

D: This is goes down easily until it warms too much. When it reaches about 60 degrees, it becomes a little too hot.

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Photo of superdedooperboy
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12-ounce brown glass bottle poured into a snifter glass. Served at approximately 45 degrees F.

Lovely in its initial appearance, pouring deep ruby-copper with sparkling clarity and a smallish quickly-fading off-white head. Sadly, there's no remnant of lacing on the sides of the glass as the bubbles disappear.

A delightful bouquet enters the nose, with loads of dried fig and golden raisin, some caramel and turbinado sugar and lovely rich, sweet malt.

Certainly not very heavy, with a rather lively carbonation for the style lending an uplifting, slightly prickly quality. Up front, sweet malt and some faint toasty melanoidin shows through; things move into a warm and bitter middle, with spicy, herbal, slightly lemony hop notes peeking through before caramel slides in around the edges. Dried fruit, mostly fig and date, enters in at the rear, serving as the lead into a surprisingly sweet finish; some grapefruit-like bitterness does show its face near the end, along with a hint of that warming alcohol, to round it out a bit and move the finish more to the bittersweet point of the spectrum.

Rather drinkable, with the moderate carbonation and semi-sweet finish helping things out immensely. Aside from the bit of light warmth, the alcohol really doesn't show itself much until long afterward. With a fairly restrained hop bitterness and character, this really straddles the line between American- and British-style barleywine, but the meeting point between the two is most certainly a pleasant one.

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Photo of turboge
3.74/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't know when this was bottled.

A: Light amber, small head that dissipated quickly

S: Sweet Floral with some faint dark fruit

T: Light, Medium carbonation with some bitterness, Alcohol greatly masked, some dark cherries too

M: Light not syrupy, smooth

D: Very easy to drink because it is light for a barleywine. I am sure after 4 the buzz would creep.

Only dissappointment was this beer is not warming to the body. For 11%ABV I thought otherwise. Hmm...

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Photo of stephens101
3.39/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown with some reddish hues and a wispish tan head that leaves behind a few small dots. Complex to the nose with caramel malts, dried raisins, honey, a bit of woody hops and a sliver of vinegar. Heavy on the malts to the tongue with a near cloying cherry sweetness. Some notes of pine, burnt sugar and cinnamon are also noticed. Goes down creamy and a little thin at the end, but with an overall heavy body. Alcohol heat is furtive. Good showing but a little sweet and nondescript.

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Photo of goblue3509
3.28/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a slightly hazy browinsh orangish color typical of the style with a skim slightly khaki colored head which gives way to a little lacing. The aroma is of caramel malt, some dark fruits, a hint of alcohol and a slight hop characteristic. The taste is of some dark fruit sweetness and a hint of alcohol there is also a slight hop bite, but the taste is thinner and not as complex as others. The mouthfeel is moderately carbonated but slightly thin. Overall it has a pleasing flavor and the alcohol is well hidden making it an easy drink, however, for the style it leaves you wanting more.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.35/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. 11% ABV, no date.

A - This barleywine pours a fantastic clear bronzy amber with a dense light tan head. Low retention isn't surprising but there is a nice ring of foam and finger of lace creeping up.

S - Bready malt upfront with a smooth caramel melted sweetness. Warm alcohol falls behind with a good backing as opposed to solventy burning. Subtle earthy hops barely level the playing field,. It's a good-smelling but one-dimensional brew.

T - A disappointing departure from the aroma, a bold mineral flavor washes all the goodness this beer offered right away. Subtle earthy hop compliments the amber malts but it's lacking the nice caramel sweetness on the nose. The lack of complexity is just bland in the flavor.

M - Dryness and sharp carbonation seems to thin out this otherwise medium-bodied barleywine. Very light bitterness comes through the finish.

D - The mineral flavor and dryness in the body really knocks this brew down. I was excited to drink this while smelling it, but the rest ended up being really lacking. It's very bland with no sweetness or hoppiness really stepping up like what should be present in a barleywine. Interestingly there is a surprising lack of alcohol through the entire brew.

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Photo of Billolick
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ouncer, came in a four pack for $9.99. I can find no freshness/bottling date info.

Pours near clear, glowing medium almond amber. Typical light mocha head, goes to a finy bubble film and moderate collar.

Bright fruit, booze, honey, malt in the nose.

Notes of raisins, lime, whisky, some smoke and roasty malts.

Medium body and mouthfeel, lackes the depth of flavors and intensity of the top examples of the style.

Moderate alcohol burn late.

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.8/5  rDev +32.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a thick dark, dark, reddish brown with no foam. The first impression when smelled was of roasted brown sugar, with chocolate over tones. The aroma was so pleasant and i couldn't pick-up the alcohol, even at 11%, it just smelt so inviting. The taste of roated malts, brown sugar or molasses, whatever it was and caramel, not choclate. This is so, so smooth and tasty, without that strong bitter or high alcohol feel on the palate. This, for me, is one great tasting American Barleywine. I, myself, have not tasted such a well blended and balanced ale in a long, long time. I'm out to buy a case or two!

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Photo of benclimbs
3.49/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours reddish dark with a slight head and zero lacing...probably as a result of the high alcohol.

smell is probably the nicest part of the beer - dark, dried fruit, leathery earthy tones, and some rich malt character.

taste is alright, decent enough for a barleywine (not a huge fan of the style usually) - fairly smooth, rich in the beginning, with a lot of nice nutty, caramelly malt flavour, then finishes a little sourish, woody.

drinkable for an 11% old ale barleywine, but very undrinkable compared to a lot of other 11% beers i've had...decent, but probably wouldn't get it again.

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Photo of bagpiper2005
2.96/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour: Dark red/amber color with a finger and a half of tan head that dissipated fairly quickly and left no lacing on the glass.

Smell: Pretty light. Fruity and sweet. Tones of molasses and alcohol. Hops barely detectable.

Taste: Caramel and brown sugar front end. Hints of apple in the middle, and finishes with no hop bitterness. Slight alcohol burn in the back.

Mouthfeel: Light and watery. Too much carbonation for the style.

Drinkability: It's palatable. That's about all I can say though.

Final Notes: Another one of those beers that should be reclassified. In my opinion, this beer is simply delicious, but it doesn't fit the American Barleywine category, hence the low rating. Actually, to me this beer tastes more like a Dubbel. I do like this beer though.

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Photo of russpowell
3.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

THINK STRAWBERRY POP TARTS or Srawberry Newtons??? Not sure...

Picked this up at mid-town today. Lately this brewery has disappointed, but I am willing to roll the dice on this 4-pack!

Pours chestnut/mahogany with a pinky of tan head into my Boulevard Goblet... Some lacing & near zero head retention

S: Plums, raisins, black currants, Strawberry jam??? & raspberry, great if weird scents going on here...

T: Raspberry, plums, figs, & strawberry jam verging om pop tart filling, very weird, plus leafy hops up front. Plums, woody & leafy hops, slight persimmon notes, plus more strawberry & dryness once warm. Finishes dry, plummy, jammy & strawberry sweet; this would work better a some sort of experimental English BW. 1.0 deduction for going way off style

MF: Light body for the style, very low carbonation

This drinks fine, but has strayed far off style I'm at a loss as whether to call it a disaster or a weird but nice one-off. Not sure I would ever guess American BW here though.... Had/has potential

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Photo of jsprain1
3.38/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Dark copper, perhaps brown, with a thin head that disappears rather quickly.
S- Very sweet aroma with resiny hops, figs, prunes, and a definite alcohol presence to it.
T- Initially resiny and very sweet. finishes with a strong alcohol warmth.
M- Creamy and full initially, the alcohol definitely dominates the finish.
D- this was a good attempt, but the flavors just didn't mesh well. this is a beer that I can definitely see aging well though. Needs a bit more mellow.

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Photo of rembrant
3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
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

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Photo of ngeunit1
3.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a nice deep cloudy red-brown color with a nice amount of foamy head (about an inch to an inch and a half) with decent retention and some good lacing.

S - Aroma is overall fairly sweet, of dark fruits. There is also some nice hop scents mixed in. Also a hint of toffee malts.

T - Starts off very sweet, and mostly of the dark fruits taste. This is joined by the malt flavor and a bit of hops. The high alcohol content makes itself apparent in the flavor towards the end.

M - Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Feels a bit syrupy in on the tongue and even a bit think as it warms.

D - The fairly present alcohol flavor in the beer make a bit intimidating, and cuts down on pure drinkability. However, I think the fruit flavors that overall dominate the taste and the toffee malt flavors work well together.

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Photo of flannelman808
3.14/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a nice looking rose violet brown and is fairly clear. Light tan head tops the glass which has large bubbles. Poor retention... it does not stick around very long.

S: Medicinal like. Over ripened fig, hints of anise. Kind of smells like a fig newton bar.

T: in a word... Underdeveloped. There are actually some nice flavors that shine through. And I am pleasantly surprised that it's not cloying on the palate (the nose indicated otherwise). Fig newton qualities come through as well. There is a balance between overall sweet and dry qualities. At the end of the day however this is just unfulfilling, seems watered down though at 11 % abv that is an odd thought to be having.

M: ehh ok

D: medium

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Photo of avalon07
3.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an amber color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was an inch of foamy, long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of hops, caramel, and a bit of malt.

T: Tasted of caramel and hops (though not as much of the latter), and some malt. Slightly uneven, but OK nonetheless.

M: A decent amount of carbonation with a slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This beer is a bit on the uneven side, yet still basically drinkable.

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Imperial Barley Wine Style Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company
3.62 out of 5 based on 210 ratings.
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