John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale | Mad River Brewing Company

John Barleycorn Barleywine AleJohn Barleycorn Barleywine Ale
518 Ratings
John Barleycorn Barleywine AleJohn Barleycorn Barleywine Ale

Brewed by:
Mad River Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.40%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Same recipe each year. ABV varies slightly 9.5-11.0%

Added by DOCALYN on 09-23-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 518 |  Reviews: 364
Photo of Anaxagoris
3.18/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Photo of Axnjxn
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of frlrv1020
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of Bradschafer
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Nice fruity aroma when opened. Mine said 2013 on the label. Overall pretty good and solid barleywine for the price.

117 characters

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

L - Nice very dark brown. Some light passing through the sides. Enjoyed my beer on the warm side so it developed a nice two finger thick head that died down nice and slow.

S - The second I cracked this bottle open a fruity aroma was released. Peaches and apricots come to mind. Smells like a very STRONG beer. At 11.40%, yeah, no kidding.

T - Very nice fruity, alcohol-y, malty flavors here. Caramelized sugar pulls in strong, and the malty aftertastes are awesome. The alcohol is very well balanced in proportion to the other flavors here considering how strong it is.

F - Nice and smooth. Quite a bit sticky. Feels great.

O - I respect my liver enough to don't drink barleywines all that often, so I'm probably not the best judge of this style here. Looks like the consensus is that this beer is "okay", but I thought it was actually pretty good! It definitely exceeded my expectations. Considering it's an 11.40% barleywine, it is offered at a very reasonable price point (paid ~$2.75 for a single 12 oz @ Whole Foods).

I would buy this again.

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Photo of beermeplz
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Beer21
3.97/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of danieelol
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Absolutely extremely solid. Cannot believe the exceedingly low ratings here.

Pours basically black with a whitish slightly tan head, thinking more of an old ale than barleywine

Smell is altogether slick smooth malty yeast...reminds me of the smoothness of Hangar 24 Hammerhead just with a little less bourbon...just so perfectly reserved and you only get the good parts

Taste is similar, just a good big black barleywine. Not too much and surprisingly tame for the alcohol content. Just nice and subtle all the way through.

Real solid beer.

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Photo of mxchap
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Overall: A solid barleywine, especially considering the price. If pressed, I would describe it as a more sweet and less bitter version of bigfoot. [3.75]
Look: If oil was dark brown, this would be that. No head, and minimal bubbles from a straight down the middle pour. [2.5]
Smell: Soy sauce, booze, plums, tobacco, leather. [3.75]
Taste: Follows the smell. Similar to bigfoot in a lot of ways, except less bitterness and a sweeter malt presence. [4.0]
Feel: Pretty well balanced. There is a viscous thickness associated with the malty sweetness, but it doesn't linger too much on the finish. Very drinkable for 11%. Adequately carbonated [4.25]

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Photo of Paponetti44
3.53/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of mobrado
3.08/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Photo of Spaceman_Jer
3.16/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Photo of Bung
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of KensWorld
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Photo of Frenchie1916
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Harvest06
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of wethorseblanket
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Furlinator
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.45/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a murky dark brown color with lots of chunky sediment. The head is around a finger high (maybe a bit less), and off-white in shade. While it's quite creamy looking, it doesn't have very good retention. There are splotches of lacing left behind, redeeming its aesthetic appeal slightly. (3)

Smell: The hoppiness has been subdued well, which makes it almost seem like an English-style barleywine. Though if I concentrate, I do pick up touches of tobacco. This also has very powerful candied notes in particular, along side a mild hint of leathery booze. Overall, this has a sweet nose, but one that's also well rounded considering. (3.5)

Taste: At first, some of the faded hops come through with some pine and tobacco. After that...well, it turns a malt bomb. Featuring notes of raisins, caramel, brown sugar, and rum, there's no doubt this is a massive beer. After warming up appropriately, it even becomes a bit salty. My only problem with this is its lack of depth - because a little bit of alcohol comes through, I'd expect that to help reveal some additional complex notes. Alas, it doesn't. I'm still enjoying it, don't get me wrong, but it could have been even better. (3.5)

Mouthfeel: While it's a big beer, it manages to restrain not only some of the sweetness (surprisingly), but some of the booze as well. The key word is some - there's still a mild prickle on the tongue and a heavier warming of the esophagus. It's still a massive, full-bodied beer, which means one couldn't chug this...and thank cripes for that. Even with the lowish carbonation, it's still a steady sipping beer. (3.25)

Overall: The brewery actually aged this in the bottle a year themselves! Seriously, what a brilliant yet seemingly simple idea. Having said that, this one lacks the complexity to become a great barleywine even after a year of age. But I still enjoy it enough to want to buy a bottle or two I can age even further. (3.5)

3.45/5: Fairly rudimentary for a barleywine, but at least it's well balanced

 2,053 characters

Photo of Thirstygoat
4/5  rDev +7%

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #72 (Jan 2013):

John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale, 2011 Cellar Reserve

Its always a good time when you can hunker down on a cold day with a Barleywine, JB has been around longer than most and may have not gained absolute national recognition though it certainly has reached cult status amongst the more weathered beer geeks. Very bold and pretty much an “in your face brew”, bordering massive at 11% abv so clearly this is a sipper which is just what this winter will be calling for.

STYLE: American Barleywine
ABV: 11.0%
AVAILABILITY: Winter seasonal

LOOK: Garnet amber hue, beige lacing

SMELL: Very estery, fresh grass, citrus rind, caramel, brown bread, tangerine zest, pungent hop, cherry compote

TASTE: Very smooth, creamy, slightly chewy, husky, dried grass, leafy, tobacco, toasted orange peels, rose water, faint cherries, spicy, hop bitterness, biscuity, nutty yeast, drying semi-bitter finish

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume III, Issue II:

A winter seasonal brewed to honor the harvest (maybe in Cali, but not Mass.) and holidays, in limited 10-barrel batches with certified organic barley malt.

Out of the 12-ounce brown, twist-off stubby, this brew pours a thick, dark copper with rich ruby hues and an impressive two-finger, off-white, creamy head and sticky lacing. Up front, the nose is subtly teased with herbal and raisin notes and ripe, fruity esters. Firm, full bodied and creamy on the palate. Semi-sharp bitterness followed by softer leaf and resin hop flavors. A smooth maltiness coats the tongue with some sweet caramel, brown sugar and soft toasty/bready notes. Overripe stone fruits, esters and a grape-like back. Then, it's all gone. Warming and peppery alcohol pricks the palate, with a very strong, solvent-like presence. A bit biscuity toward the end with an astringent hop finish and alcohol on the breath.

It's decent, and certainly a strong beer, but both the malt and hop profiles seem to be lacking some depth and definition, resulting in flavors that are quick lived and fall flat. As with many of the reviewers, we agree that this one is too boozy.

 2,127 characters

Photo of heysuz
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Alpha309
4.5/5  rDev +20.3%

Photo of happilyhopped
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured the 2013 Vintage on November 25th, 2014 into a large snifter glass. Beer case says beer was aged a year in bottled already, but i cannot verify that. Here is my review of the beer however:

Look - Pours cloudy and is a volcanic soil kind of mud brown. Think hawaiian soil (a little red, a little orange, but mostly muddy brown). There is about a quarter inch of head after a decently aggressive pour. The heads is milk white in color and dissipates quickly leaving almost no lacing. When held to the light, the light permeates the peripheries and you see colors of orange and red/amber. The center is still a dark murky brown that light does not penetrate.

Smell - I get the caramel malt right away and it smells like it will taste sweet and delicious. Definitely get a little rustic bread smell and a bit of the the alcohol heat flares the nostrils. Also pick up the smell of sweet apple. It smells creamy/milky.

Taste - Right away i get a lot of that caramel sweetness that you find in an english style barleywine. Somewhat of a honey wheat bread with butter kind of flavor. Really good. Then, after the initial sweetness fades, comes the hop bitterness. It isn't as strong as a beer like Bigfoot, but it definitely bites through the sweetness to remind you this is an american barleywine.

Mouthfeel - Nice and syrupy on the front like most barelywines. Coats the tongues and allows you to taste everything the beer has to offer. But there is also a nice carbonation that comes through and bites into the tongue...almost similar to that tingle sensation you get from rye whiskey. Medium carbonation...not too intense, almost like a mild champaign.

Overall - I think this beer is better than its rating. It reminds me of a cellared Bigfoot Barleywine from SN. The malt has had some time to cut through all the hop bitterness, but that bitter hop flavor can still be found if you let the brew linger on your tongue for a split second. I am going to cellar some of these to see how the hop and malt profiles play out.

 2,027 characters

Photo of yeaprolly
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

John Barleycorn Barleywine Ale from Mad River Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.74 out of 5 with 518 ratings
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