Hill Farmstead Brewery

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Barleywine - English
Ranked #1
Ranked #54
4.63 | pDev: 6.05%
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Vermont, United States
Notes: Aaron A. Hill (1786-1869) was our great-great-great grandfather who operated the original tavern in North Greensboro- an industrious, inventive and indomitable figure in the community. The Hill Farmstead Brewery logo is based upin the tavern's original sign. In his honor, we crafted this barleywine at the outest of our venture. It has rested, unhurriedly and undisturbed, for over 2 years in bourbon barrels from some of our favorite distilleries, absorbing the essence of its surroundings and history. Bottle conditioned for 5 months.
Reviews: 85 | Ratings: 666 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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Bhubbard34 from Pennsylvania

4.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2016, Bottled July 2018, Drank March 2021

Look - Dark, reddish brown. Minimal to no head

Smell - Sweet, with notes of Toffee, brown sugar, & raisins

Taste - Toffee, Rasin, Tobacco, a hint of chocolate and a finish of bourbon barrel. Sweet and smooth with minimal alcohol burn. Medium carbonation

Feel - Creamy and thick

Overall - Really impressed, and this was a real treat. I have not had a lot of barleywines, but certainly everything in the future will be compared to this.

Mar 19, 2021
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brentk56 from North Carolina

4.24/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Vintage: 2016

Appearance: Pours mahogany with a one finger beige head; dots and a few streaks

Smell: Dark fruit (plum, cherry, and raisin) with toffee and Bourbon tones

Taste: Toffee foward with the plum, raisin and, in particular, cherry emerging; there is an unusual herbal tone that is also in the mix; hints of Bourbon barrel, through the middle), with the sweeter fruit tones driving home the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; a touch of warmth in the gullet

Overall: I get the reputation of Hill Farmstead and I have had some very good beers from them; I just don't think this is a top notch English barleywine; I like the dark fruit element (and that is creative) but this needs some hop tones to balance the sweetness - not American over the top hops; just some English hops and toffee to be more authentic to the style

Nov 26, 2020
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SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

It's finally about to happen... Years I've dreamed about this bottle. Years it has eluded me. Now, on my birthday evening, I'm staring face-to-face with Aaron - preparing to crack him open.

I'm ready

2015 Vintage - Bottled May, 2017 - poured into a shifter at 45°F.

Pours out with a glug, glug, glug, sitting a ruddy, rusty red-brown hue - cloudy, but does let some light in. A partial loose tan head bubbles, before quickly dissipating to a thin tan collar. 4.5

Nose: As soon as the cap came off, the aroma filled the room. English barleywine to a T. Sweet malt, raisins, toffee, brown sugar, caramel, Werther's Originals, leather, varnish, maple, cherry wood, pecan, maraschino cherries, candied dates, black grape, prune, and a kiss of molasses, all wrapped up into splintery white oak, with a beautiful bourbon presence, lending vanilla, and more caramel. A whisper of roast, some musty old rackhouse, and age. Time. Maturity. 4.5

Palate: Aaron greets the palate with a big sweet hug of toffee, caramel, date, dried fig, dried cherry, raisin, vanilla, plum, pecan, and maple. Rich, decadent, and bold, yet not cloying, as a second wave with oak, bourbon, and tons of dark fruit washes in and cuts into the sweetness. The dark fruit is very prominent, lending a subtle fruity tart kiss, which is crucial to providing balance. A round, malty nuttiness follows, with pecan, walnut, and that almost fatty element to them. The woody oak presence grows, and with it, some malted milk, vanilla creme, and just a dusting of cocoa, before the bourbon finally emerges, flowing into the finish - dry now, with splintery white oak and just a shadow of barrel char.

Mouthfeel/Body: This is near-perfection. Aaron is rich, luscious, smooth, thick, and a bit viscous, yet avoids ever being syrupy, cloying, or overbearing. The oak and dark fruit brightness cut in just enough to thin it out, and the 9% ABV ensures it isn't pure glue, but worlds away from thin. Restrained, but respectable effervescence for the age, size, and style, and finishes with an incredible oaky dryness.

Overall: Aaron is the number one rated English barleywine on BeerAdvocate, and for good reason - however, this goes beyond superficial ratings. Hill Farmstead instills magic in all of their hoppy and farmhouse ales, and Aaron is no exception. It's a beer with an identity, from a brewery with an identity. I'm not sure you could brew a better English barleywine if you tried. Yes, Aaron is hard to get, but if you can get him fairly, you'll be rewarded.

Oct 22, 2020
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Sheppard from Virginia

4.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark raisin brown. Raisins and salted nuts on the nose. It's incredibly smooth. There's alcohol there, but not in a hot way. Lots of dried fruit and nuts. Getting raisins and prunes, as well as some almonds. The high alcohol content of a barleywine prevents me from drinking more of them, but I also not all barleywines are Aaron.

May 19, 2020
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.55/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

a near perfect example of an english barleywine, this one aged two years in bourbon barrels and also bottle conditioned. its the saisons and wild beers that get all the attention from these guys, but this is as good as anything else in the game in this style, and seems gentler, more subtle, and more mature and drinkable than other over the top, barrel heavy offerings with lots of residual sugar, firestone walker comes to mind there, this is just a wonderful cold weather sipper, and honestly the essence of the style as far as i am concerned, big thanks to my buddy for sharing this one (among many others), in an epic session over the weekend, i have been wanting to try this forever. this has a deep matte mahogany color to it, a tall tan head creamy and thick, and no visible sediment at all, looks well cleaned up and mature. the aroma is rich barley malt, some sweet long boiled and toffee character to it, chestnut, maple, and toasted bread. its immediately not that sweet, full of earthiness, and enormously layered. the bourbon has some vanilla and honey notes going on, but doesnt interfere with the base beer, it enhances, sweet oak in the mix as well, raisin, and fig. the flavor is amazing, really about the barley malt, very enlgish to me, no hops at all, maybe some maris otter in here with some darker crystal, definitely a concentrated richness to it without decadent sweetness weighing it down, and the booziness is minimal for the style, although this is a bit lower anyway, i like it not being a focal point in the taste. the bourbon and oak are smooth and not too forward, and there is a wonderful depth and body to this, better and better as it warms too. the perfect balance of all the elements here, some yeast character through most of it, and a curiously clean finish for the style. near perfection here, no frills barleywine as it should be. a wonderful drinking experience!

Dec 19, 2019
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maximum12 from Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to bigda83 for this 500ML bottle that I’ve been lusting after for many gnat lifetimes. Bottled July 11th, 2018.

The bottle says share…I’m not doing that. The pour is a dark red mixed with dark brown, with the overall impression being dark. The nose is unexpectedly light: bits of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, & half a rack of bourbon, which is the only thing that comes on strong.

Maybe if I tell people my new kid is named Aaron, they’ll send me more of this. Because it’s pretty good. First off, it’s like being beaten about the tongue & gums with a wooden stave that’s brushed past a nice bourbon. Big, big wood with minor bourbon. The other main players are rich brown sugar, toffee, along with smoke-tinged maple & just a touch of booze. Exceedingly smooth & sweet. 500ML is the correct serving size for this baseball player.

So glad I finally had the opportunity to try this. It didn’t lead up to the legendary hype, but it’s an excellent beer that deserves to be in the top echelon of barleywines.

Sep 25, 2019
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Dragginballs76 from South Carolina

4.93/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Pours muddy brown with a nice fluffy tan head that quickly settles to a rocky ring. No lacing.

Aroma - Tons of brown sugar, bourbon soaked raisins, toffee, oak, caramel, vanilla wow so much barrel.

Taste - Rich caramel and toffee, great bourbon and oak, brown sugar, raisins, tobacco absolutely no alcohol other than the bourbon flavors super smooth flavors.

Feel - Silky smooth and soft, just the slightest warming slick dry finish.

Overall - Just amazing from start to finish, the nose is harsh bourbon and oak with dark fruit but the flavors are very smooth.

Sep 06, 2019
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.8/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Batch 1
Bottled April 2014
Poured into a snifter

A- pours a deep brown color, nearly opaque, with a one-finger foamy off-white head that has short retention before settling into a ring around the glass

S- The two years in a bourbon barrel is immediately noticed, as there is a huge oaky bourbon note on the nose, as well as barrel juice, caramel and woody vanilla. Beyond the barrel, notes of the base beer start to poke through; raisins, figs & maraschino cherries, as well as brown sugar, molasses & pipe tobacco. Undertones of port wine and fruitcake

T- initial taste is a wave of caramel and toffee, mixed with a bold, yet not overpowering, barrel note; plenty of bourbon with a peppery oak note mixes with a charge of dark fruit notes of rum soaked raisin & fig, followed by black strap molasses, cola and caramelized brown sugar. Mid-palate adds an earthy tobacco note, and starts to bring out sweet notes of sherry and port wine. The finish adds one more kick of barrel, with undertones of vanilla and coconut, lingers of caramel and dark fruits

M- thick body with moderate carbonation leads to a thick and creamy mouthfeel that continues into a velvety, silky, slightly warming finish

O- this one just gets better as I drink it, the standard bearer for the style, just outstanding

Aug 29, 2019
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Rristow from Ohio

4.75/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Tasted from bottle. Pours a dark ruby brown. Caramel and molasses on aroma. Sticky thick mouthfeel. Flavors of caramel, brown sugar, dates, raisins, butterscotch. Incredible English barleywine.

Jun 30, 2019
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SawDog505 from New Hampshire

4.52/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So wow, honestly one the finest BA Barleywines I have every had.... Poured into a 13 oz Game Of Thrones Glass aged for 2 years in bourbon barrels bottled in the last two months. Pours a gorgeous chestnut with a 2 plus finger off white head that leaves a few thin wisps of lace. 4.75

Smell starts with Oaked woody bourbon, chestnut, vanilla, toffee, caramel, dates, hard cider, and a little more booze that tickles and warms the nose. 4.5

Taste follows bold vanilla bourbon, caramel, toffee, dark fruit, nutty, biscuity grain, and again the warming booze shows up and warms me belly! 4.5

Mouthfeel is rather large, creamy with gentle carbonation, slightly dry in the finish, and I assume this is around 11.5 or 12% ABV, but the bottle doesn’t list, dipper for sure but because of its complexity pretty easy sipping. 4.5

Overall one of if not the greatest BA Barleywine I have had the pleasure of drinking, wowza and cheers! 4.5

May 20, 2019
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BillRoth from Maryland

5/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at HFB after bottle run. Absolutely extraordinarily perfect high octane version of a English Barleywine. Had a beautiful if brief light tan head; excellent residual lacing. Rich tawny orange- ruby accented color. Like a beautiful piece teak. Both simple and then complex to light.
Nose was rich with toffee/caramel; wood; vanilla; soft herbal flower and bitterness. Taste magnified all these and slowly revealed tannins; slight hints of licorice; apple; and allspice as it warmed. Sweetness but never candy or cloying. Traces of whiskey helped round out flavors but well in background.
Feel was luxuriantly soft and smooth; very mildly dense like young port but never thick or distracting.
Oh and $4 for 4oz glass????
Absurdly good beer and very accessible cost.
Barreled EBW is one of my favorite styles ... and Aaron is without question the best I’ve ever had.

May 19, 2019
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VelvetExtract from Massachusetts

4.7/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. I have been waiting for this bitch for ages. I tried both the 2016 & 2018 batches. This was one of my biggest wants because I figured Hill Farmstead does everything else great, I bet they would nail a Barleywine as well. Oh, and it is barrel aged for like an eon. Aaron pours a dark brown. Not necessarily clear bodied behind the tint of the beer. A thin, defeated ring of diminutive bubbles rest steadily around the outer conversion of beer and glass; the only thing minute about this beer. The aroma rises out of the glass like a slothful perfume. Thick, damp whiffs of bourbon, raisins, toffee, and dessert wine. Detailed, rich, royal. The flavor marches in line with the nose. Heavy, sweet, and decadent. I think the older batch has a bit more complexity but lacks the barrel character of it's newer kin. I get some flavors of boozy dates and maple syrup from both, though. Of course the feel stands abreast with the other elements of the beer. Portly, heavy, and warming. Toothsome but intense. Definitely lived up to the hype I personally gave this beer. The best Barleywine I have ever had.

Mar 25, 2019
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Sabtos from Ohio

4.32/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Opaque chestnut brown with a moderate fuzzy tan blanket that slowly settles to the thinnest ring and a smooth slick surface. A tilt leaves an impressive span of clear legs on the glass.

The aroma has swirls of vanilla and caramel, even as the glass sits further away. Coming in close, charred oak and aged date pair with toffee and a distinctly maple-esque bourbon warmth.

Taste is just as sweet and decadent as the nose sounds. Belly warming caramel frosting is lifted by Jack and Coke--it sounds odd and maybe off-putting, but it's light on the palate, helping its drinkability. Heavier notes of dark fruit and vanilla marshmallow fluff are again countered by sweet, light and even floral fig, which all begins to transform into fresh coconut on the exhale, especially as it warms.

Tingly and even crisp, the medium body is really easy to drink for a big burly barleywine. It's even inexplicably fleeting, disappearing into a slightly numbing, lightly sticky, semi-dry finish, leaving you desperately craving another swig. Obviously, I like this a lot, but at the same time, feel like I can't quite grasp it. There's something unsatisfying that leaves you wanting, and maybe that's the beauty of it.

Jan 16, 2019
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flipper2gv from Canada (QC)

4.75/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a deep murky brown color with a beige colored head. Head is somewhat creamy, has very decent volume considering the aging done on this beer but dissipates quite quickly to a ring.

S: This beer really needs to not be ice cold for the nose to open. Still, it's pretty faint. There are notes of leather, peacans, vanilla, pepper, oak, caramel and light smoke. Quite a bit of raisins, dates and figs and maybe even dried apricot? Very nice and coherent but pretty low on intensity.

T: What it lacks in smell intensity, it fucking gives back in taste. Jesus this beer is insane. It's insanely tasty with a ton of raisins, figs, dates and yes dried apricots. You have a ton of caramel, toffee, vanilla, smoke, very smooth oak, light pepper, super strong vanilla, leather and peacans. It's insanely complex and incredibly coherent. If I could give this beer a 6 I would. Taste wise, it has NO faults (enough for me to give a 5 on its own) and is absolutely spectacular in the mouth with its intensity of flavors while still being very drinkable.
EDIT: Saw someone somewhere say this beer had creme brulee notes and I agree 100%. There is a definite lactose like creaminess in the flavors that are very much there.

M: This is quite heavy but not too much surprisingly. Very smooth, creamy and not sticky at all. Absolutely perfect for the genre.

O: Man I can't say enough about this beer. I haven't been this impressed by a beer in at least 7 years (it was Cantillon Saint-Lamvinus). It's very intense in flavors, it's extremely complex and still very coherent (high complexity beers sometimes have flavors that don't complement each others this well). It's easily my favorite beer of all time as it is one of my favorite genres and by far the best executed beer of the genre I have the pleasure to taste.

It was a very expensive beer at something like 35 USD, but it was well worth it to me. If I can find it again, I WILL buy at least 4 bottles. This beer commands your time and full attention. IMO, this is white whale worthy status.

Dec 11, 2018
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darktronica from Indiana

4.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours thick to a teku, nearly-opaque dark brown with ruby highlights. Half a finger of head, with a persistent thick dusting that lingers around the rim and is revitalized by swirling. Redolent on the nose, vanilla and brown sugar with bourbon spice on top. Plum, tobacco, and raisin join the fray on the palate. Delicate, richly textured and complex, with a lot of barrel character lurking. Tremendous on every dimension.

Nov 26, 2018
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dogdrule from Massachusetts

4.59/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

4 oz. onsite, "2015 Aaron"

Nice deep maple-syrup color in the glass, small ring of foam clings where the liquid meets the edge of the glass.

Nose isn't huge but I'm getting primarily caramel/burnt sugar, dark stone fruits, something resembling maple syrup, but couldn't find the bourbon.

Each sip starts with toffee, rock candy, sweet syrup, ending on something I wanna say is almost like black tea, with a little smidge of alcohol to cut through the sweetness. Again to my surprise not much in the way of bourbon, but I honestly think it was better for that.

Little carb, sticky and coats the tongue but nothing big or overwhelming, and sweetness is always pleasant and never cloying.

Overall can't think of a single better barleywine I've had. Held in especially high contrast against a very bitter/medicinal/cough syrupy barleywine I'd picked up from a bottle shop the day before. Finishing this pour only renewed my efforts to try to land a bottle, definitely don't pass this one up if one comes your way.

Oct 26, 2018
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Zach_Attack from Massachusetts

4.62/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12/2016 - Freshly acquired and immediately enjoyed; so much raisin, plum, tobacco, some apple brandy (not as much bourbon) on the nose; big, boozy plum and tobacco on the palate; semisweet, fairly dry finish.

Sep 26, 2018
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Hyptochrons from Massachusetts

4.8/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

on nose is oak, vanilla, caramel, leather, bourbon, and very subdued booze. palate is massive sugary dark fruits. plum, cherry, fig, spice, raisin, brown sugar roasted almonds, marshmallow, caramel, vanilla, bourbon. the complexity is rich in this one, and im probably not able to pick out all the fruity and spiced notes because this is a style i dont drink often. regardless it is clear that the base beer integrates beautifully with bourbon character, and the overall result is immensely complex and smooth - an unbelievably delicious offering.

Sep 08, 2018
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Beersnake1 from California

4.34/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from fridge temp into a snifter. Pours a dark murky brown with quickly dissipating tan head. Nose is very bourbon forward, with notes of nuts, grapes, toffee, brown sugar. Taste is amazing. Feels like a 15 year old English barley wine laced with bourbon. Has those amazing bourbon notes, along with caramel, brown sugar, maple, cherries, and figs. Has a syrupy feel to it. It tastes great, but I must say it is not my favorite BA barley wine. That's not to say this isn't amazing - just didn't live up to the hype. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous. Overall, a great BA barley wine and worth seeking out if this is your style.

Sep 02, 2018
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nfedas from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Certainly not a bad beer but I find Barleywines too sweet for my liking and this one was no different. I also didn’t notice a massive difference between this and other barleywines from local brewers

May 10, 2018
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pmarlowe from Virginia

4.58/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Batch 2 (2016).

A: Pours a deep amber with some brown highlights. A ring of off white head dissipates quickly. No lacing.

S: Plum, cherry, and raisin in the forefront with light toffee, chocolate, and sherry. A whisp of oak and bourbon are fairly well integrated, and a bit of alcohol peaks through.

T: Follows the nose with fruit-forward flavor (plum, raisin, cherry), very light toffee and barrel presence (a little too light). A medium sweetness lingers on the finish, maybe a bit sweeter than ideal but not terribly out of place for the style.

M: Full bodied, thick, with medium-light carbonation. Very mild alcohol heat, it’s surprising how easy this drinks given the ABV.

O: A delicious treat. The barrel and caramel flavors take a back seat to the fruit, which is fine but I wish they were a little more prominent.

Apr 04, 2018
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stevoj from Idaho

3.97/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

taster at last night's share.Pours out a ruddy amber capped with a beige head. Sweet malty aroma, raisins,, woody notes, booze. Taste is a nicely blended sweetness, bourbon more prominent, nice feel.

Apr 02, 2018
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Futbolmanby from Michigan

4.66/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: ruby brown with a 1 inch thick khaki head.
Smell: big brown sugar and dark dried fruits fallowed by a strong barrel presence.
Taste: malt, brown sugar, dried dark fruit, subtle barrel finish
Feel: medium body, light carbination with a very subtle bourbob burn at the end
Overall this is absolutly insane.... i dont like barleywine but this was amazing

Mar 21, 2018
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polloenfuego from Canada (NB)

4.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This one pours a nice looking brown/ruby with a thin head that breaks into a cap and collar. The cap doesn't last long, and the collar leaves some minor lacing in its wake.

The smell is divine. Sweetness leads the way, with brown sugar and dark fruits. Then you get a touch of barrel notes, and it finishes off with mild hops.

Taste is like the nose, being led by the sweetness. in spite of a strong sweetness, there is a nice balance with the barrel notes, which is quite subtle, and then the hops finish. This is a real enjoyable sipper.

Feel is full with lower carbonation. There is a sticky coating finish to this one, and the sweetness lasts. While I can only assume a high ABV this is a well hidden aspect.

Wow, what a great beer. I mean this is top ten for me. Such a beautiful sipper, I was very sad when it was all gone. The flavors are so nice, and they meld so nicely. If you are a fan of English Barleywines run, don't walk, to try to get a bottle.

Mar 06, 2018
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Phineasco from Massachusetts

4.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Mahogany brown with big fluffy white head. Has medium carbonation.
Smell: Sweet maple, raisins, brown sugar, bourbon heat, caramel, and toffee.
Taste: Very sweet, maple, raisins, brown sugar, oats, bourbon heat, caramel and toffee.
Mouthfeel: Medium full and sticky.
Overall: A great barleywine, my favorite one so far. Just a little too sweet.

Feb 14, 2018
Aaron from Hill Farmstead Brewery
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 666 ratings