Big Chuck Barleywine
Portside Distillery & Brewery

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Barleywine - American
3.4 | pDev: 14.12%
Portside Distillery & Brewery
Ohio, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Reviews: 7 | Ratings: 18 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Jubilant:
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3.12/5  rDev -8.2%

Nov 24, 2014
More User Reviews:
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AJmon13 from Ohio

1.59/5  rDev -53.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Unfortunately this is one of the worst beers, let alone Barley Wines I've ever had the discomfort of trying. To be fair, I'm not a seasoned drinker, and have only been "into" Craft Beers for about two years now. Still, I typically like Barley Wines, but I find Big Chuck to be blatantly unacceptable.

While the packaging is a wonderful nod to a Cleveland local, the taste is abysmal. Honestly tasting far closer to a cheap wine than a traditional barley wine. Perhaps this would sit better with wine experts than beer fans, but considering what my expectations were I'm pretty disappointed.

In regards to the relatively new Portside Brewery / Distillery, I had previously tried some of their Hopped Rum, and rather loved it. But this being my first tasting of one of their beers, it might be my last. I really need to stress that this does not (to me) taste like any barley wine I've ever encountered, the best of which I've personally tried being Stone's Old Guardian. It just tastes like cheap Merlot in a can, certainly not worth the $11.99 I paid for a four-pack of cans.

It's also worth considering that I do have a bit of a bias towards canned beers, but I don't think even a bottle or draft treatment would salvage this barley wine. Likewise, I'm typically a fan of the IPA variety, but almost always enjoy the barley wines I've tried. Big Chuck though, is just sour and borderline putrid. I forced myself to finish the first can, and am unsure if the other three will be downed by myself.

May 09, 2014
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biegaman from Canada

3.6/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Big Chuck - named after Cleveland native, entertainer and horror host Chuck Schodowski - has an appearance more suited to radio than television (and I left all the really thick sludge in the bottle). Mind you, this murky fig skin-coloured complexion is pretty typical of Barleywines, so I'm not being critical. If anything, the warm tone and visible carbonation are features to be impressed by.

Smelling a good barleywine leaves the nose dripping with caramel and sappy tree resins. It has notes of dried fruits clog up the nostrils like mini bowling balls. Big Chuck does this - more or less. Kind of. It doesn't have what it takes to put me over the moon but it's enough to get me off the ground. The scent of bruised, rotting citrus is strangely very appealing.

The flavour isn't as forward as it could be, and this is definitely a disappointment considering it has so much to offer: really overripe peaches and equally under-ripe apricots, toffee fudge and ginger-cinnamon loaf, as well as dried figs and dates drizzled in dark honey. It goes to show that even weaker examples of the style can still be described in rich and opulent terms.

Which, as far as I'm concerned, is why the key component to a barleywine isn't flavour but texture - it should be as warming and soft as a goose down comforter and as soothing as jacuzzi jets. Intense flavours shouldn't feel intense. In this respect, Big Chuck again ranks good but not great. The 11.7% is no hiccup, but the finish that shouldn't actually finish does, quite quickly in fact.

When at their best barleywines are, without doubt, one of the most delicious and impressive styles of beer. Hence reviewers tend to apply a "you must be this tall to ride" policy which Big Chuck doesn't quite live up to. Still, while it doesn't belong in the upper tier it's nonetheless a big and skillfully balanced offering that provides the typical flavours in an especially easy to drink package.

Apr 03, 2015
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ONUMello from Ohio

3.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz can poured into a pint glass
A: Opaque brown with a 2+ finger head that lingers
S: Sweet roasted malt, some fig and sweet cherries
T: Matches the nose. Sweet malt, fig, cherries and alcohol. Bitter finish
M: Sweet, full-bodied, boozy
O: I love drinking local beers but this one is a bit too sweet and too much alcohol even for a barleywine

Jun 14, 2014
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superspak from Michigan

3.69/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce can into snifter, no can dating. Pours nearly opaque dark brown color with a 2 finger dense and rocky khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, raisin, plum, apple, pine, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, light coffee, floral, grass, and floral/toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of citrus/pine hops, dark/bready malt, and fruity yeast notes; with solid strength. Taste of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, raisin, plum, apple, pine, caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light coffee, floral, grass, and floral/toasted earthiness. Moderate pine/grassy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, raisin, plum, apple, pine, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, light coffee, and floral/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Nice complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/pine hops, dark/bready malt, and fruity yeast flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and full bodied; with a creamy, moderately sticky, and slightly slick mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is decently well hidden with a moderate warmth lingering after the finish for a while; but minimal booziness overall. Overall this is a very good american barleywine style. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of citrus/pine hops, dark/bready malt, and fruity yeast flavors; and smooth to sip on for the ABV even with the warming finish. A nicely enjoyable offering.

Jun 14, 2015
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JohnnyHopps from Indiana

3.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - The beer was a little darker than I am used to seeing in a barleywine. The mocha colored head foamed up like a rootbeet float. I will have to play the waiting game before I can drink this one.

Smell - In the aroma, I detect dry malts as well as some dark fruits. The alcohol is detectable in the aroma. Overall, the nose of this one is a little weak.

Taste - On the initial taste, I detect dark fruits and burnt sugar. The level of carbonation quickly brushes these sensations away. Bread notes and perhaps a hint of tobacco is detectable. Toward the back, the dark fruits seems to sour slightly. As an American barleywine, Big Chuck really lacks a hop presence. It seems to closer to an English barleywine with modest sweetness.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation is a little over the top, but it lends itself well to the nuances in the beer.

Overall - I have been digging in the yard all day and wanted a high ABV beer because my knees are killing me. The 11% ABV hits that target. This is not a great barleywine, but I would drink it again.

Jun 26, 2014
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LehighAce06 from Pennsylvania

3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Mar 29, 2015
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EricHeff from Ohio

3.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It is a good barleywine, but not the best. As a Clevelander, I love the label and the name. I picked it up just for that. It is strong at 11.7% but the alcohol is covered pretty well. I've never had anything else from Portside, but I am excited to try the rest of the their stuff.

Apr 25, 2014
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muraco3 from Ohio

3.75/5  rDev +10.3%

May 03, 2014
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msquared36 from Ohio

3.25/5  rDev -4.4%

Nov 24, 2014
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clydesdalepayne from Ohio

3.2/5  rDev -5.9%

Oct 30, 2014
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BamfBacon from Ohio

3.5/5  rDev +2.9%

Oct 18, 2014
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1424IpA from California

3/5  rDev -11.8%

Jul 13, 2014
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Lanstrum from Ohio

3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mar 07, 2015
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Eziel from Ohio

3.69/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Apr 06, 2017
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Dave11899 from Minnesota

3.25/5  rDev -4.4%

Jul 07, 2014
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dtm426 from Michigan

3.5/5  rDev +2.9%

Nov 03, 2014
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3.04/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Like anyone else from Cleveland, I was attracted to the label. It's Big Chuck! Overall not bad. This is a heavy beer with a strong alcoholic taste. Not too smooth, a bit bitter with some faint fruity undertones, but it grows on you. Worth a try.

Feb 11, 2015
Big Chuck Barleywine from Portside Distillery & Brewery
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 18 ratings