Small Batch Series No. 3: English Style Barleywine | Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling

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Small Batch Series No. 3: English Style BarleywineSmall Batch Series No. 3: English Style Barleywine

Brewed by:
Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling
Texas, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
This vintage ale undergoes a 3 hour boil to create a complex layer of malt character including caramel, toffee, ripe fruit, and leather. The floral and earth-toned Kent Goldings hops add a soft background of spice giving depth to the malt flavors and providing an overall balance. It has been aged for 6 months in oak barrels to allow time for this big beer to mature and mellow. At 10% ABV, it’s made to be laid down like a fine wine. If stored properly this barleywine should keep well for upwards of 10 years. Drink one now, save more for later!

Added by DRyan on 11-10-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 71
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.02/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to womencantsail for sharing this one at GRG1313’s tasting.

Bottled 10/8/12.

Pours a murky orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to a thick cap on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is sour and tart with fruit, acidic, and woody aromas. Taste is much the same with a Brett-like flavor on the finish. There is a medium amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is funky and tasty.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.39/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

375ml brown glass bottle with blue label and waxed-over pry-off pressure cap acquired at me local bottle shop for $6.99 USD and served into an Independence Brewing pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are low; I had Small Batch Series #4 last night and it wasn't very good. It was also a gusher, so I'll be expecting this to gush as well, and will side-pour it very slowly. Bottled 10/09/12 - making this exactly one year old. Reviewed as an English Barleywine because Ranger Creek's website identifies it as such. 10% ABV confirmed. "...Aged for 6 months in oak barrels."

Served cold - straight from me fridge.

As I remove the wax, the cap is revealed - and it's pretty rusted. I'm starting to get concerned.

Removal of the cap yields a brief hiss of carbonation. No liquid surges out.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Even slow pouring yields almost entirely foam; the head is a good eight fingers wide out of a possible nine. White in colour. Decent creaminess and thickness. Has a soft complexion. No lacing at all clings to the sides of the glass; this doesn't have "legs." Head retention is good - about 7-8+ minutes - but I suspect this is more from overcarbonation than careful brewing.

Body colour is a murky hazy nontransparent translucent copper-orange of below average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Not unique or special.

Sm: Wet cardboard, stale biscuit malt, light acetic character, vague wood (with none of the evocative character of oak), light sourness/funkiness, light sour apple, and a generic maltiness - but nowhere near the malty sweetness you'd expect from an English Barleywine. No hop character, alcohol, or yeast character is detectable. Infection is suspected. I really want more from the oak. Nothing mentioned in Ranger Creek's description is emerging here (No: caramel, toffee, ripe fruit, leather, or spice). The difference between the aroma and Ranger Creek's description definitely indicates infection.

An inoffensive aroma of average strength. I'm wary.

T: Definite bacterial sourness along with some fruity notes - especially sour apple. Has a light doughy yeast character as well. Biscuit malt, brown malt, caramalts. Vague oak, but it's not evocative or rich; if you're looking for a good oak-aged barleywine, look elsewhere. No toffee, leather, or spice. Very light acetic character. English hops lend some ripe fruit notes. Has some alcohol presence, but I wouldn't call it boozy or hot. Fair complexity. No real subtlety. Not at all gestalt. Wet cardboard on the finish.

To be frank, I absolutely think it's infected. But the beer isn't a complete train wreck; the sourness isn't bad. Sure, it's an absolute mess - there's no balance or cohesion at all - but it doesn't taste as off as it very well could.

Somewhat shallow depth of flavour for the style. Average duration of flavour. Below average intensity of flavour.

Horrible for an English Barleywine, but merely subpar when viewed outside of any style. If we view it as a sour, it's merely bad - not awful.

Mf: The texture is as much as a mess as the the taste. Rough at some points, harsh at others, dry, coarse, smooth, and wet - it's hard to describe since it isn't uniform. Certainly far from pleasant or refreshing. Overcarbonated, but not biting. It's a bit buttery in the second act. Doesn't suit the flavour profile at all, except by matching its chaos.

Not soft, oily, boozy, hot, or astringent.

Dr: Having had a couple of these small batch series beers now, I can say with confidence that the cats at Ranger Creek's barrel aging program do not have their shit together. This is a grand failure of a purported English Barleywine, and it's only incidental that it's at all drinkable. Even then, it's subpar. Unacceptable at $6.99 USD a pop. I certainly wouldn't get it again, and I'll be wary of Ranger Creek's other barrel aged beers in the future. Too bad I have a couple others in me fridge. I'd strongly recommended avoiding this one, and my view of Ranger Creek is getting more and more negative. Terrible for the targeted style.


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Photo of champ103
2.97/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Just about every bottle I have had from Ranger Creek has been off in some way. If not outright infection, always something else. Lets see how this goes.

A: At first crack of the cap this is a small gusher. Not very encouraging. Foamy white head pours out. After a minute the head recedes to a small ring. Light lace is left. The color is incredibly murky and unpleasant orange/reddish.
S: Man, there is a lot going on here. I am not sure if I like it though. At first a huge acidic/sour fruit aroma. Sour apple, peach even. Light toasted malt and toffee. Peppermint and sweet hard candy. A lot going on here that I can't pick out, and does not mesh well for me.
T: Follows the nose. Just so much going on, it overwhelms the senses. A sour and acidic bite up front. Mostly apple skins. Very sweet, hard candy like flavors. Buttery malt peaks through after this warms. Nothing is really bad, just all over the place.
M/D: A medium body and carbonation. Though a bit thin for my tastes. The alcohol is noticeable, though not a big deal. Overall, I am not really enjoying the bottle.

I can't say there is anything "wrong" with this. I can't tell if there is an infection or this the way it is suppose to be. Though like everything else from Ranger Creek this is not as advertised. At worst, infection. At best, just a messy messy beer that has no structure.

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Photo of gtermi
4.35/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a little bit of a darker golden body with a decent head that slowly fades away and leaves a little bit of lacing on the glass.

S: I am getting a decent amount of sweet malt, alcohol and a little bit of tartness.

T: Wow, this doesn't seem like a Barleywine at all... It's very sour and and almost has a wild ale type flavor. I actually prefer this over your typical barleywine.

M: There is a little bit of crispness on the back of the throat and as it goes down. It does go down with ease.

O: I dont know if this is infected, but dear god I do love the sourness that this beer delivers. I grabbed a few other bottles to see if they become more sour with age.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.2/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml, Bottled 10/10/12
HF wine glass

A: Pours a deep reddish orange color. Very cloudy. Lots of carbonation. Big two fingers of fluffy white head. Leaves some sticky lacing. Alcohol feet.

S: Smells pretty pleasant. Some slight fruity aromas first. Pulling those English hops. Digging in, get some vanilla/oak character. Some yeasty notes.

T: On the tip of the tongue, you get a bite of bitterness. Fruity flavor. Middle of the mouth you get some of that oak character. Some buttery vanilla flavors. Maybe a slight infection, but it plays well with the other flavors. Dry finish. Booze hidden nicely.

M: Big medium leading to full, with the malts. Easy to drink.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.28/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Slightly hazed burnt orange. Massive pillowy off-white head on the pour. Super sticky. Chunky cap and collar for the duration. Chunks and notches of lacing. Moderate to high carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Reasonably sure the oak barrel threw a bug. Slight lactic push with a sharp acetic bite in the back. Malts are huge and sweet adding caramel, toffee, and dark cooked sugars. Some mild roasted elements coupled with graham cracker. Very slightly bready. Hops are minimal adding a very mild earthy element Some alcohol spice as well. Oak pushes through the back. Pear. Lime zest. Some fruity esters from the original yeast strain.

Taste: Lots of oak. Some small notes of vanilla with a solid push of caramel and toffee. Lots of cooked and caramelized sugar. Malt base is sweet with some roasted elements and a touch of biscuit and bread dough. The barrel definitely added a bug of some sort but it's not necessarily bad, just way out of style. A very mild lactic element in the back but it runs mostly acetic up front. Alcohol adds a touch of heat to the back and an associated spiciness. Very mild earthy hop element. Nutty. A hint of leather.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Moderate carbonation. Creamy. Smooth.

Overall: A fortunate mishap.

It's not an English was. The oak barrel and the associated bug made for a clean malty "sour." Nothing special but I would drink it again and the malt profile lending itself to an accidental bug is enjoyable.

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Photo of videofrog
2.6/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.75

Poured a 12oz waxed bottle into a Duvel tulip. Handwritten bottle date of 10-9-12. Stored at 50 degrees in my wine fridge since Christmas. Rumors of infection for Small Batches 3 & 4. Let's see if I tempted fate by sitting on this for six months.

A: Dark, cloudy orange with a towering off-white 4-finger head. Head takes a long time to settle as it finally settles into a thin rim leaving sticky lacing lines down the glass.

S: Sour and sour. Uh-oh. Brett funk and barrel come through as it warms up. Not much else.

T: Vinous sour note is up front. Earthy/spicy hops muted, but there. Oak and funk in the dry finish. Slight alcohol bitterness that warms as you sip.

M: Thick with the carb a little high for an English Barleywine.

O: Was hoping for the best, but it looks like I ended up with an infected bottle. Too bad, because I think an uninfected bottle would more than likely be a hell of a beer. Totally missed the malt complexities due to infection. I missed SB 1 and had SB 2 on draught multiple times. I still have Small Batches 4 & 5 awaiting.

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Photo of XicanoBeerRun
4.33/5  rDev +22%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Smells like a sour beer which surprises me for a barley wine. It works really well though. Great caramalized sugar taste, red wine, earthy wood flavor. Dark orange color. Thick mouthfeel that lingers. Glad I aged this for 3 years.

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Photo of cnbrown313
4.35/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a cork and cage bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours dark orange / amber in color with a small off white head that fades and leaves very nice lacing.

S - I was expecting the typical malty notes of an English barleywine, but that's not what you pick up on the nose at all. Funky, sour, barrel aged notes followed by a little bit of sweetness.

T - Wow! Strong sour / lacto taste up front followed by a sweet finish. You get some really nice barrel aged characteristics in there too from the oak as well as some barnyard funk. The ABV is almost completely hidden too. I had to go back and make sure this was really a 10% ABV beer.

M - The mouthfeel is very light and crisp for a barleywine with vine champagne-like carbonation.

O - I absolutely loved this beer, but it was nothing like what I was expecting. If you don't like sour / funky beers and you are looking for a traditional barleywine, this is not for you. I would really like to see what this beer tastes like after aging for a bit too.

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Photo of LittleDon
4.06/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Judging by earlier reviews, I lucked out on this one. Opened 15 months after bottle date and poured into a tulip shaped glass. Two and a half fingers of head eventually subsides into a persistent head with a fair amount of lace. The aroma is oak, vanilla, caramel, bourbon like in quality. Sweeter than I prefer, but in keeping with the style. Caramel, vanilla, persimmons, oak, with a fair amount of bitterness to finish. Medium heavy body and soft mouthfeel.

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Photo of roblowther
3.38/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass. I just came off #2. REALLY hoping for an upswing here...It pours very cloudy reddish brown with a very sticky, frothy tan head. This beer looks like its not going down without a fight. Smells of caramel, wood, and citrus. It has just a hint of hops and its making me thirsty. Like those pretzels. Taste is not as sweet as you'd expect. Lots of wood, leather. Not sweet at all, really. Interesting. There is a hint of citrus and flowers up front and then its all men's clothing store from there on in. Mouthfeel is chewy and nicely carbonated, more than I'd expect from the style but I like it. Definitely my favorite of the series. Interesting, but again I can't escape the feeling that they're just trying too hard.

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Photo of outdoor7or24
3.71/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Opened a bottle dated 10/10/2012 that I've been cellaring. Don't recall my notes from 2012, but I think it has improved or enhanced it.
A: pours a huge 3 finger head, off white in color, some fine carbonation bubbles, a little bubbly lacing
S: leather, musty, oak, wood, vanilla, grape must
M: medium body and kinda syrupy feel
T: big malt, hops, spice, leather, oak, some earthiness, smooth but alcohol becomes more noticeable as it warms
O: good brew,

Updated review: opened bottle on 1-1-2015, bottle date 10/10/2012, poured into dogfish Head glass.
Seems like time has helped even more.
A: pours a cloudy golden copper due to bottle conditioning, great +2 finger foam head n lacing quickly fades.
S: citrus, spice, oak, vanilla
M: medium, slight oil resin sticks on the tongue
T: orange, citrus, sweet malt, oak, boozy, earthiness, hops are a little less than what I recall.
O: good brew, didn't get a bad bottle like others have mentioned.

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Photo of Cvescalante
1.56/5  rDev -56.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

This one was definitely infected. I have high hopes for Ranger Creek. The potential for their barrel aging program seems to be incredible for them, and I hope to see them do well in the future... But as for this beer, it went straight down the drain.

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Photo of whoneeds8
4.23/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass hazy burnt orange. Great froathy white head. I haven't ever seen a head like this on a Barleywine. Minimal lacing. Scent is strong of oak wood with some orange zest and other earthy tones. The sweetness that I'd expect from a barleywine isn't really there. There's some wild yeast taste to this, like others have mentioned. But in no means does it hurt this beer. It actually is rather nice. There's some toffee and leather flavors as well like a aged barleywine would have. I'd like to get some of the sweet candy malts out of this, but the fact that it's not there also don't hurt the flavor. The mouthfeel is a little thin for the style.

It's a strange barleywine, but it's also a damn good one IMO.

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Photo of starkmarvelo
3.9/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ranger Creek Small Batch #3

A- Pour a hazy reddish brown with a huge 3-4 finger off white chunky head. Looks great.

S- interestingly enough, this smells like a sour beer. Getting a lot of sour funk, barnyard, and fruit.

T- so, not sour at all. No funk. A slight touch of red fruit up front followed by good amounts of toffee and caramel. The finish is very biscuity and has a big buttered popcorn flavor. It's not off putting, but still not expected.

M- this is a full, creamy, buttery beer with a good amount of carbonation. Sticky and coats the tongue well.

O- not a bad beer. This is my least favorite of the three Small Batches. The buttery flavor is slightly out of place. The smell doesn't match the flavor in the least. I did notice that the warmer the beer gets, the more fruit flavors come out and the buttered popcorn fades away a bit. It's a very malty Barleywine. Good for cold weather.

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Photo of DRyan
4.42/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10/8/12
Poured in RC Tulip

A: Hazy, ruddy orange with a frothy white head that pops up quickly. It recedes somewhat quickly and laces nicely.
S: Actually smells more like a sour than anything else; pungent wild barrel aromas with some maltiness and some citrus.
T: Its much more inline with a wild ale than what I expected from a Barleywine. Upfront is a little barnyard funk with some malty sweetness, followed by a hit of alcohol (but not in an unpleasant way), and finishing out with a little bitter punch on the end. Very complex. There are fruits (raisins and maybe lemons), toffee, vanilla, a little oak, and a ton of other flavors intermixed. Very complex.
M: Smooth and velvety, the carbonation is there but reserved. Very smooth.
D: For a 10% beer that runs at about $6 a 375ml, this beer drink too easily. Just in this tasting I’ve downed at least a 1/3rd of the bottle and I want it back so I can drink it again. I am really looking forward to seeing how this one will further develop over the years – I am definitely getting at least 3 more to age for multiple years.

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Small Batch Series No. 3: English Style Barleywine from Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling
3.55 out of 5 based on 71 ratings.
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