Bourbon Barleywine | Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

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22 Reviews
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Bourbon BarleywineBourbon Barleywine

Brewed by:
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.30%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeastLU on 03-15-2014

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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 138
Photo of garymuchow
4.03/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to larryi86 for this 2016 version.
Sweet bourbon aroma with some alcohol and corn. A little intermingling of candy sweet malt and caramel, but mostly bourbon upfront.
A nice tan heads leaves before too long leaving a small bubbly haze on top. The dark amber shines nicely in the light with a brown red gold glow.
Bourbon is still dominant but there is more blending in the taste with the barleywine character showing greater presence esp. up front. An immediate warm shot to the gut and a ping in the prefrontal cortex ("ping"), but that's to be expected with a beer this size. A very long finish of alcohol warmth with enough hoppy bitterness to notice it - it's kinda' nice and then the bourbon. The wood character shows but it tends to be background and not much for any vanilla (and just as I write this the vanilla shows - must have needed a little opening up), more character presence than flavor.
Moderate but not much bigger heft, but nicely smooth and carbonate just enough.
This is a quality drink. While the bourbon is bigger than I prefer, it's still in the range of balanced as enough of the barleywine character shows through.
I may edit this some through the day, as I anticipate a many hour process to get through this one.

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Photo of argock
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml corked and caged brown bottle into a clear glass tulip. 2016 vintage.

A: Hazy chestnut brown with amber edge with minimal head and no lacing.

S: The aroma has grown on me with warming with more pineapple, coconut, and vanilla coming through with fig and date malt components.

T: Flavor is oak barrel heavy and very pleasant with the funky pineapple, vanilla, and coconut joining to leave a very fruity initial impression that is tempered mildly with medium caramel and fig and date. There is a slight boozy flavor component, but in the grand scheme, the alcohol is well-hidden.

M: Silky with even carbonation, medium body. Dangerously drinkable.

O: Enjoyable but a little muted in all areas but very drinkable for the huge ABV.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 release

Appearance - Pours ruby brown with reddish highlights. The head is khaki in color and peaks at a finger's width before fading in fair succession. The result is a mostly barren surface with a thin ring of suds around the edge. Not much lacing but none expected for a BA beer.

Smell - Aromatic, with lots of deep toffee and lesser caramel upfront. Hints of fig, oak, molasses and a bit of booze make up the rest of the aroma.

Taste - Flips the script on the nose. More Molasses and dark fruit fig upfront, with lesser notes of toffee and a hint of toffee. Oaky undertone. A bit of vanilla and tobacco come into play. The finish delves into more wood, dark fruit and a hint of booziness that lingers well into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Full in body with low to moderate carbonation, A bit sticky in texture with a slightly boozy, bone dry finish.

Overall - A wonderful BA barleywine that's ready to drink now, or just as likely to age with amazing results. Reminds me a bit of some of my favorite old ales, specifically North Coast Old Stock, so I'd pause before trading for it again, but I'd be all over this if it were to become widely available.

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Photo of tigg924
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Pours hazy, orange-brown in color with 1/2 inch head. Taste is big bourbon, vanilla, English toffee, barrel, and light alcohol. No beer this big has any right to be this smooth. One of the smoothest big beers I have ever had. Sweet and tasty. Big winner from Hardywood. I will look for this and try to pick this up again.

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Photo of hman43
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look: It pours a cloud dark amber color with a tan head.

Smell: There are various malty aromas that include bread and toffee. In addition there are aromas of dried fruits and molasses.

Taste: The flavors are sweet with bread, toffee, molasses, bourbon, dried fruits, and alcohol.

Feel: It is moderately bitter with a full body. There is also a bit of alcohol warmth.

Overall: It is a very rich malty beer that is complex with the malts and complimented by the bourbon and dried fruit.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml corked & caged bottle poured into a snifter.

Murky / hazy mahogany-amber with a short head that dissipates quickly.

Toffee, molasses, caramel, prune, tobacco, and slight bourbon.

Toffee, molasses, and caramel cubes. Tobacco, leather, and earth. Mellow bourbon presence with hints of charred oak. Touches of prune and vanilla.

Medium-plus bodied, silky, smooth, chewy, and warming with a medium-light bitterness.

Excellent! A mellowed bourbon presence on a strong Barleywine foundaion that hides the 13.3% abv extremely well.

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Photo of 2beerdogs
4.16/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 version
Pours a slightly hazy toffee brown in color. Slight kahki head that slowly dissipates. Smell is pure heaven. Bourbon comes through beautifully, but does not overwhelm. Slight oak and a hint of charred sugar. Taste is even better. Bourbon is ever present but gives space for caramel, molasses, dried fruit (baked raisin and maybe some elegant prunes-oxymoronic, I know). Really no heat to this one, 13.3% is so camouflaged. Truly an elegant barleywine. Finish is graceful, slightly slick, and finally a little warm. Wow, to live in Richmond...

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Photo of oldn00b
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I feel like this release must have varied considerably by bottle given the pretty vast array of comments on certain aspects (too much bourbon vs. no bourbon, barrel to the benefit vs. barrel to the detriment etc.).

It isn't the most gorgeous bourbon barrel barley wine I've had - color is more a dark rust.

Head definitely formed and stuck around briefly. Whiter head than expected.

Nose is sweet and mostly bourbon up front, hint of oak.

Flavor is more bourbon and caramel than anything, definitely on the sweet side and a nice warmth from the alcohol. I don't feel like it's boozy, especially for over 13%+

All in all it might not be the best bang for the buck I've had this year in this category (Bell's gets that honor) and I've never had Sucuba or other "top of the line" BBWs. That said, I think this is a fantastic entry from Hardywood and I'd definitely buy it again.

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2015 version. Brought from home to the Greenbrier. Poured into a stemmed tulip glass.

Lots of bourbon influence on this one and not for the better. 3.5

A - Pours a slightly hazy reddish brown with a three finger beige head. Average lacing. 3.75
S - Vanilla, malty, sweetness, caramel, honey, tinch of spiciness. 4
T - Heavy on the vanilla and caramel, spirits/bourbon, a little hot and solventy in the start but mellows quickly. 3.5
MF - Medium heavy body, semi-dry finish, very creamy/velvet. 3.75

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Photo of cjgiant
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2015 release, 13.3%):
Pours fairly brown with maybe a hint of rubi coloring at the side. Head grows decently but fades to a gossamer layer fairly quickly.

Nose is dark cherry behind light bourbon and stronger, somewhat sweet vanilla and coconut-like scents. Really enjoying the nose, even though it's fairly simple.

Taste is similar to nose, but there's a light bite of alcohol I there as well. The bourbon also comes through, generating a date-like flavor. The bitterness of an American Barleywine does come through late in the taste. Carbonation is light but on point, in my opinion. The alcohol heat grows as the beer warms, given the impression of bourbon-soaked fruit (again dark cherry).

A pleasant surprise, and I'm glad there might still bottles available around me.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.26/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottle shared by Mark tonight, thanks man!

This one pours a slightly flat-looking golden brown, with no head or lacing.

Smells fairly generic, a bit of caramel, bourbon, and booze.

This one falls a little flat for me, honestly, both literally and figuratively. It has a very low level of carbonation, so it literally falls flat. Flavor-wise, it's just seems a little basic, some caramel, sweet booziness, and a lot of bourbon. Doesn't seem all that complex, or well constructed. I wish it had a bit more depth of flavor.

This has very little carbonation, with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

This one just feels slightly disappointing to me.

This was just slightly disappointing, honestly. I've had much much better from Hardywood.

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Photo of AndrewMichael
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Corked 750 mL bottle poured into a stemmed glass as recommended. Another outstanding barrel series beer from Hardywood. Maybe it's the barrels they use, but it's never too overpowering and the right balance.

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Photo of DIM
3.84/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy, golden edged, ruddy red color; this poured a relatively long lived creamy head.

Smells of rich caramel, vanilla, and over cooked raisins. The booze is prominent and well incorporated for the most part. The bourbon aromas are rich and inviting, there was a fair amount of raw heat that was a bit distracting.

Up front this has a wonderful booze-blunted caramel, vanilla sweetness that I love. It's incredibly rich and decadent tasting. Towards the end a nice raisin note emerges. The finish tastes of burned raisin with a lingering too hot oakiness.

This is 13.3% and not shy about it. For the most part it works well, but 750ml is a lot to get through. I've had a lot of great barrel aged beer of late, so these scores are lower than they might have been at a different time in my life. This is a quality BA offering and well worth trying. Big bottle and a price to match means one and done for me though.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.1/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brief write-up. The aroma is WAY too mild for the style, plain and simple. The flavor works better, bringing intense dark fruit and caramel sweetness. I'm really missing the bourbon presence, though - it tastes more generically hot instead of nuanced with toasted oak and bourbon. A solid dessert beer, it's just lacking as a barrel-aged barleywine.

3.1/5: Sucaba this is not

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Photo of clayrock81
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a brownish copper dense color with two finger foamy head and an aroma that has some dark fruits with woodiness and bourbon smells in the aroma. Body is medium bodied, actually smooth, really hot on the finish but not in a bad way (thank you high ABV). There is a dark fruit taste (black cherry, figs or dates are my guess) along with peppery spices and some vanilla sweetness thanks to the boubon barrells. Also some caramel and toffee sweetness and has a little bit of that port wine feel. Little bit of hop bit in the heated finish. Just a little too boozy for me but other than that this is a pretty great beer to sip and relax with.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter not unlike the one shaped on the bottle.

Murky and somewhat muddy body color, with a swamp like brown and hints of deep red on the edges. Head is supper creamy, makes a simple one finger and almost nitro like appearance, but then settles down to a nice simple but good sized collar. A little bit of spotted lacing on a tip within the legs.

The brew has taken the barrel well. Real interesting whiskey tones that manage to actually get up ahead of the malts without a lot of heat. Spiced fruit and real soft vanilla caramel, a near sticky toffee really manages to stick out. Good woody oaky notes and almost pine wood and tree sap quality. Muted sweetness as well, very impressive.

Palate comes wonderfully. Great buttery toffee in the mid palate, with just a hair though of distracting carbonation. Mineral finish with the tight carbonation but a good thick caramel really coats and still comes through. Hints of cherry and fruit warmth in the middle, coming with a peppery notes as well. Good almost oily controlled aftertaste and even a little juicy hint of American hop like presence it seems. A mild hint of soy like salinity but actually blends in well with the rest of the brew.

A real unique tasting barleywine, did well with this one very memorable and also unique in the realm. One to look out for in the future.

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Photo of uvachief
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft. Poured a slightly opaque dark brown. Light does poss through it. Less than a finger of head that dissipated rather quickly. Smells of bourbon and barley with notes of vanilla and dried fruit. Thin in the mouth like many barleywine beers. However, smoother than expected. After taste of bourbon, barley, sugar, vanilla and dried dark fruit. Pleasantly surprised. Like it better than Firestone Walker Sucaba.

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Photo of Pencible
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This poured a nearly clear copper with moderate off white head.
S: It smelled like rich oak and toasted coconut and wild honey, with some toffee and oranges and metallic hops.
T: It tasted like orange and metallic hops, with some toasted coconut and oak and wild honey. It had a clean bittersweet aftertaste with some alcohol warming.
M: It was thick with mild carbonation. Very nice slick body.
D: This was a nice brew, but one of the less exciting bourbon barleywines. The scent and taste were good but simple. The body was nice, but the finish was hot, so it must be sipped. Not sure if this could age well or if it would simply fade over time. Enjoyable, but Bourbon Cru was much better.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

for as many barrel aged barley wines that have come out, i like this one for being different. all the bourbon is on the front end, instead of in the finish, allowing a longer flavor experience, and one punctuated at the end by hops instead of sweet vanilla, oak, and booze. the other thing about it, is that its got a pretty light body, comparatively speaking. its not light by any standard, but it drinks a lot less syrupy than others do, tastes good both cold and warm, and also hides its alcohol (which is enormous) really gracefully, drinking high still, but nowhere near 13% abv. some critique it for being too hoppy, too american, and others for not having enough barrel character. i have no problem with either of those factors, but could take a little more carbonation, and maybe just a tad less bitterness as it closes out, but i think its a real nice beer, not overly bourboned like some of the other hardwood stuff i have been able to get my hands on. i think it has the capacity to please both the american and the english barleywine aficionado, and will likely age extremely well.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.79/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

On draft at Churchkey in D.C.

The beer is light brown with a small, tan cap. The aroma offers booze, vanilla, toffee, oak, bourbon. Mild sweetness with vanilla and toffee leading the way. Medium bodied with warming heat in the finish. A touch of char and caramels in there as well. Overall, this was solid. Worth a try.

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Photo of Beejay
3.16/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

Got myself a nice beer to celebrate my birthday, may be a day late, but still...

A: Deep brown and hazy with a small amount of light brown head.

S: Bourbon and oak with hints of vanilla, there is a pretty big hit of hops in there as well as a little bit of a burnt smell in the finish.

T: Notes of vanilla and oak, the hops are earthy and slightly piney. There is a bit of a burnt flavor coming through, might be the barrel aging, but I've had a lot of barrel aged beers as well as whiskies, and it seems a little out of place. The hoppiness seems a little strong for the style.

M: Thick in feel, carbonation is fairly high, the finish is a little syrupy with a lingering bite from the hops.

O: Overall the beer is good, but it seems to me like the mark was a little missed on the style. The bottle says it is decadent and a dessert all by itself. The beer comes off as way to sharp and hoppy for the style, and for that description. Still enjoyable, but not the smooth sipper I hoped for.

EDIT: As the beer warms a bit the sharp edges dull a little and the beer evens out a little, I also start to taste the barrel aging a little more. Th hops are still fairly aggressive, but by far a more enjoyable experience. If you get yourself a bottle, do yourself a favor and let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes (maybe more) before you dive in.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.36/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Hardywood Bourbon barleywine 2014 release

Big thanks to olavzipser for this one. Enjoyed from a GBS flute.

a - brew pours a dense murky rusted mahogany with a thin almost creamy off beige head that didn't last but held pockets of head where the brew met the glass and a thin skin of bubbly oil slicks on the surface. Color was darker in the core. 4

s - a big was of raw bourbon. Crisp brisk toffee that tingles my nose with a menthol like freshness from the heat. 3.5

t/m - as the nose suggests, the booze is at the center of the flavor profile and dominates. Very malty toffee caramel in the middle with a hoppy bitter dry finish. Fairly oaky and a bit burnt. Fairly overwhelming. 3.25. 3.25

o - overall taking on this bomber solo may have been overstepping even what I am capable of. This beer is big, this beer is bold...but this beer, it isn't what I look for in a barrel aged barleywine. The flavors clash and the heat is just too much. This one is more of the bolt cutter ilk than say the abacus ilk...I prefer the abacus style of BA BW. 3.25

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Bourbon Barleywine from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 138 ratings.
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