Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

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American Barleywine
Ranked #237
Ranked #14,210
3.9 | pDev: 13.08%
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Massachusetts, United States
Very Good
View: Beers
Reviews: 184 | Ratings: 322 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Todd:
Photo of Todd
4.7/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 22oz brown bomber bottle with a nice painted gold label. No bottled on date.

Appearance: Medium amber, fairly clear with a nice slightly off-white creamy head.

Smell: Rich aroma of molasses, raisins, caramel and fruity esters.

Taste: Incredibly luscious syrupy and smooth mouthfeel, with a full-body. Rich and malty upfront with a high level of sugary sweetness with strong notes of treacle (aka golden syrup). Malt flavours include plenty of caramel, tropical fruit, raisin, chocolate, touch of blackstrap molasses, coffee, oaky/wood and vanilla bean. A spicy, coarse and leafy hop character follows and balances the malty flavours just enough. Bitterness is mild, but present. Alcohol is extremely warming and contributes to the overall spiciness. Finish has some sweet biscuit flavours, eventually turning dry.

Notes: A stellar barleywine. Unlike others that lean towards either the malty or hoppy extremes, Holidale 2001 is pretty damn balanced. Definitely at the top of my all-time favourite barleywine ales.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of puboflyons
4.67/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

From the 650ml. bottle. 2013 batch. Sampled on December 24, 2013

If Beer Advocate would let me do a one word rating my one word would be "Wow!" But I need at least 250 characters, which should be an easy task.

The pour is a foggy dark brown with a lingering tan had that settles on top and stays there. Some lacing as it fades but it never dissipates totally.

The aroma is full of variety with notes of malted barley, cocoa, coffee, fig or plum, and a fascinating woody cellared musk. Hops are minimal but the ones that are there are earthy in nature. No booze.

The body is medium to full and also smooth in texture.

I am drinking this 2013 barleywine in 2013 and one would think that it would have that biting, fresh barleywine maltiness exploding on the palate bu that is not the case. This feels like it has already mellowed with age. Fine malty notes, cinnamon, and spice and coffee grinds. No booze. This one hits the mark.

However, I would respectfully recommend that Beer Advocate set up a new annual listing for this beer. Berkshire acknowledges that the recipe changes every year so someone who reviewed this in 2010 or 2011 is getting an entirely different character in 2013.

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Photo of alleykatking
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bottle. 2009 bottle.

A- Pours a dull looking amber color with some light orange tint on the sides of the glass when held to the light. One finger off white head shows light retention. Some specks of lace left on the sides of the glass when I drank this one down.

S- Darker bready malts in the front with a hint of fig or raisin in the front of the nose. I get a strong underlying sweet crystal malt in this beer throughout the entire aroma. Some light caramel malts show up toward the ending and once this beer warmed I picked up a little alcohol along with a sweet cherry aroma almost a little artifical smelling.

T- Like in the aroma the darker bready notes kind of played the front of the beer with a hint of raisin more than anything else. Middle of the beer showed off more caramel malts with a underlying sweetness that I always get when stuff is brewed with a lot of crystal malt. The backend once wark showcases a strong sweet cherry flavor that is not off putting at all. Alcohol only shows up for a split second before it is gone.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is good for the style I thought. Crystal malt, cherry, and light bready notes are left on the palate. Aftertaste shows off more alcohol, cherry, and crystal malt more than anything. Flavors were a bit stop and jerk although it seemed to be better put together than most other barleywines like this. No off flavors were present in this beer at all. Medium alcohol drying on the palate with each sip.

O- This beer struck a soft spot in my heart. I thought the aging on it did kill off any hops that were in here but I thought it gave way to a nice cherry forward barleywine. Alcohol is high making this a beer to split with someone else but it was wonderful for what it was.

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Photo of jstilwell
3.3/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown, copper, amber with frothy white head that grabs the glass before slowly dissolving.

S: Fruity, citrus, oak, hops, slight bananna

T: Mildly syrupy sweet with some fruity hops, strong malt overwhelms.

M: Smooth and carbonated somewhat watery considering it is unpasteurized and unfiltered

D: Could not drink more than one. The 9.5 alcohol is hidden but the beer has harsh undertones.

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Photo of sisuspeed
3.46/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured this into a small 0.3L pint glass. Red, amber-brown hue with less than a finger of white head.

The aroma holds a fairly large malt base. A good amount of sweet malts, but also a little bit of spice from the rye malt. Some faint citrus and earthy hop aroma.

Good, strong malt taste, but then BBC spices it up with a bit of peppery hop flavor. Very interesting. I can see how they market this as more of a winter holiday beer. Going back to the malts, they are pretty chewy, sweet and the rye malt is what makes the malt profile more unique than most American Barleywines. As the beer starts to warm I can pull out some candied fruits and bready malts as well.

Mouthfeel is smooth at first, but then jumps around with the peppery hop spiciness. Carbonation is about right. Not lacking, but not over done.

Drinkability is knocked down some for me, because of the peppery hops. I would struggle to finish a bomber of this by myself, but with a friend or two, this a nice seasonal barleywine. I look forward to trying some more brews from BBC.

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Photo of megamass
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Photo of MA08
3.76/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of silentjay
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a rather translucent mahogany brown with an average-sized creamy looking off-white head that retains well and laces below average.

dark breads and some caramel sweetness, a bit of fruitiness, and some metallic aromas come through, though its rather weak smelling for a barleywine.

flavor is fruitier than the aroma, and there is a considerable sweetness that comes from both the malts and some sweet-citrus hops. a hint of spice comes through on the swallow and more toffee-like sweetness reappears and lingers on the back of the tongue.

a bit syrupy medium bodied brew with understated carbonation which is good for the style.

drinks pretty well. alcohol heat is integrated well and only there if you look for it. sweet and spicy flavors mingle well to create a tasty, yet rather refreshing beer that's quite different for a barleywine, which is nice.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.2/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 vintage, chilled bottle into a glass. A generous extra from portia99. Thanks, Bill.

A: Pours a deep, murky amber body that glows burnt orange against the light. A short-lived off-white head leaves a few dribbles of lace as it recedes.

S: Dark multi-grain bread, caramel, honey, and raisins. It really needs to warm up to get the aroma going, though it's never pungent. I'm assuming this was a pretty hoppy beer when fresh, but it's not, anymore.

T: On the sweet side; I don't know if it was mis-classified or if the age just took all the hop edge off, but there is very little hoppy flavor here. The beer is instead lightly spiced, with overt tones of caramel, brown sugar, and raisins. There isn't even much bitterness present.

M: Medium-full bodied. The finish is relatively clean, though there's a very light retro-nasal effect of honey.

D: This is a pretty decent beer, but it demands slow sipping owing to the richness of sweet flavors. It would benefit from being drier, or failing that, having more balancing hop bitterness.

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Photo of portia99
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle (2009 edition) poured into a Brooklyn snifter.

A - Pours A hazy and translucent copper orange color with some particles suspended in the liquid and a thin cap of creamy foam that migrates to the sides of the glass to form a low collar.

S - Some sugary sweetness, fruity hops, some caramel, a hint of vanilla. Overall aroma is a bit subdued.

T - Taste follows the aroma closely. There is an underlying sugary sweetness beneath all of the other flavors. Surprisingly hoppy though...fruity hop flavors and the hop bitterness really sit on top of the sweet malt almost as an entirely separate layer. Some nice caramel flavors with a creamy vanilla-y smoothness at the edges. Very good array of flavors, however they don't seem to form a cohesive unit - they don't taste blended together, all somewhat separate and competing with each other. A little bit of age might bring these together a little more while sacrificing some of the nice hop presence tho.

M - Medium to full bodied...definitely not syrupy. A bit oily in appearance and feel...slick on the tongue, a bit viscous. Very fine carbonation, perhaps the slightest touch on the high side - fairly smooth but I think lowering the carb just a little bit would really make this a smooth barley wine.

D - Although 9.5% in alcohol, this is a pretty easy drinker. Alcohol isn't noticeable in the flavor or aroma. Really nice barley wine. Well balanced - not too hoppy or too sweet. I passed on this last year and regreted it...only bought one bottle this year...maybe next year I'll learn my lesson a pick up a few of these to enjoy throughout the year.

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Photo of oddfire
4.74/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This years Holidale was awsome. Upon opening the bottle and pouring into a snifter you get a perfect balance of head and beer. The flavor is complex but very good. You get nutmeg notes and a very slight citrus flavor hiding, but if you hunt you can find it. There also is a slight Balsam fir flavor which gives it an extra holiday feel. You definitely can tell this is a barley wine style by the abv content. It is not over powering though. I would recommend this beer.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Jmoore50
3.28/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Shared this with my buddy jh1982 on a nice Summer evening, this beer has been aging for two years and is still mediocre.

The appearance is dark mahogany color with no head or foam at all. It has a very thick viscosity, thick oily legs coat the side of the glass.

The smell is of sweet plumbs, brown sugar, and some alcoholic heat. Pretty mellow smells, nothing too pungent and I struggled to pull many characters out.

The taste is very mellow and not complex, which is a very large disapointment for a barleywine that has been aging for two years. It has some nice malty backbone, with light sweetness and strong alcohol. It is almost stale is flavor, nothing is complex and it is very one dimensional.

The mouthfeel is avearage, the beer overall is stale and simple. It has a slight tart flavor that was unmentioned, it is like a slight note of cranberry or something similar that just ends the tasting with an unexpected flavor. This beer will be soon forgotten, nothing here to remember. Don't get me wrong, its not offensive in any way, its just very average.

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Photo of Florida9
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of PicoPapa
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. 2011 Vintage. Pours a cloudy dark chesnutty brown with an inch of head. Lots of lacing. Aromas of malts, bread, grapes, and brown sugar. Slight bit of grassy hops. Taste is bready and malty with boozey caramel towards the end. Hints of dark fruits. Lightly carbonated with a creamy mouthfeel. Pretty good barleywine. Looking forward to trying a fresh one.

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Photo of davey101
3.62/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage. 22 oz bomber into a tulip glass. Opens nearly silent. This is the batch brewed with some rye in the malt bill. Reviewed 01-11-2013

A - Surprisingly gorgeous looking beer. Pours a crystal clear amber/red body with some slow rising carbonation. Frothy three finger light khaki head forms and simmers down a bit but really sticks around. Thick lacing and long retention. Each sip just coats the glass in thick foam. 4.5/5

S - Very one dimensional but rich. Gobs of chewy toffee, sweet candy, marshmallow and butterscotch. A touch of pineapple fruit and brown sugar on the end. Seems to be missing some of the elements of a BW, but it is very unique and inviting. No signs of sherry or wet cardboard. 4.25/5

T - Again pretty one note. Toffee, marshmallow, and brown sugar initially. Finishes with a smooth and noticeable rye spice that works with the tame alcohol. The spice and earthiness tends to escalate if you drink it too quickly. 4.0/5

M - Medium bodied with light carbonation. A bit lacking. 3.5/5

O - This has held up amazingly well, so much so that I prefer it to the 2011 and 2010 that I've had fresh. Zero oxidation, no floating protein bits like in other years, and no off flavors. This was a huge surprise for me. 4.0/5
2010 vintage. 22 oz bomber into a tulip glass. Opens with a loud pop. Reviewed 01-14-2013

A - Similar to the '09. Clear deep burnt orange body with a super creamy and dense and frothy head. This beer however demonstrates something I've noticed in several vintages of this beer. Floaties. Not sure if its chill hazed or what, but although minimal in this bottle there are bits of suspended protein which hurts the appearance. The final pour had so many floaties it looked hazy. 3.5/5

S - Toffee, marshmallow, and alcohol. A bit of brown sugar and raisins but quite one note. 3.5/5

T - Big toffee, rich malts followed by a sweet marshmallow and brown sugar finish. Feels quite large with a nice balance between the richness and sweetness. 3.75/5

M - Medium bodied and slightly syrupy. Carbonation is a bit on the low side. Booze is noticeable but kept in check. 3.75/5

O - More verification that this beer ages well. Although lacking the great rye spice in '09, it retains that simple but tasty marshmallow sweetness. 3.75/5
2011 vintage. 22 oz bomber into a pint glass. Opens with a loud pop. Reviewed 01-16-2013

A - Pours a clear dark orange/red body. Two fingers of off-white foam fizzles away like a soda into a thin cap. Excellent lacing and retention. 4.25/5

S - A hint of sweet caramel malts and brown sugar. A touch of raisins and toffee. A bit boozy. Simple, plain, and boring. Not much going on here. 3.5/5

T - Toffee, burnt brown sugar, and skunky malts. Not a very pleasant taste, simple with a long alcohol warmth on the finish. 3.0/5

M - Thin to medium bodied with low carbonation. 3.25/5

O - Perhaps one year is just an awkward phase for this beer. In its current state, its very unimpressive and boring. - 3.25/5
2012 vintage. 22 oz bomber into a tulip glass. They used local hops this year. Reviewed 01-22-2013.

A - Pours a hazy burnt orange body. Much paler and lighter than the other years. Sits in the glass like an unfiltered IPA. Two fingers of white foam dissolves quickly into a spotty cap with thick edging Just gobs of lacing and retention. 4.5/5

S - Hops initially. They start off piney and grapefruit heavy. When you stop smelling you're left with a subtle but noticeable dankness. An onion presence that points strongly towards Summit hops. Where are the malts? The glorious and decadent marshmallow sweetness of the past? Not even a notion of caramel? This is an IPA god dammit!!! 2.5/5

T - Starts off with grapefruit and pine. Then a light malt sweetness, then some dank hops. Thankfully the onions are not present. That is it. Everything is washed away by the light bitterness of the hops and you are left with nothing. I'm not even sure what I'm drinking at this point. A barleywine? Not even close. Even the Three Floyd's barleywine retain some characteristic of the style while being total hop bombs. Its not that is a hop bomb, its just somewhat hoppy and that's it. I mean its tasty and all, but not even close to style. I don't even see age helping this out as there is no real malt backbone to speak of. 2.5/5

M - Medium bodied with ample carbonation. Alcohol is well hidden. 4.0/5

O - If it weren't for the fact that I've never had a BBC beer feature this hop profile, I'd swear this was mislabeled. What the hell happened? This is not a barleywine. This isn't even an American Barleywine. Its a lightly hopped, slightly dank, average run of the mill IPA. Not even going to include this in my overall score of the beer because I'm just so puzzled. For the love of god, return to your roots in 2013! 2.75/5

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Alright, but then where's my Holichip? *rim shot* Anyway, this stuff pours a clear sunset bronze-auburn topped by a finger or so of off-white foam. The nose comprises pine resin, light dark greens, rich toffee, and a touch of fruitcake way in the background. The taste brings in more of the same, with the toffee and pine duking it out for my entertainment, creating a decently nice balance; and some mild stone fruits dance in the back, seemingly egging on the combatants. Normally, when I use those terms, it means there's a flavor clash on my tongue, but this time it's just to illustrate the balanced see-saw thing going on instead. The body is a solid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a pretty nice brew, one that brings the hop pain without overwhelming with it. Gotta love balance, eh?

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Photo of drummermattie02
2.5/5  rDev -35.9%

Photo of abuliarose
4.06/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark honey brown with some buttery head and decent bubbling. Looks pretty refreshing for a barleywine and not as thick as I'd expect with the bubbly. Smells not so much and like ripe guava (combination of the hoppy cirtus and sweet frutiness?) with hints of peppered rye. Pretty lacing (for a barleywine? I know, crazy...).

Tastes delicious. Good citrus and sweetness up front with a lingeringly bitter, intensely malty ending, meaty rye flavors throughout. Carbonation is small and tickling in otherwise smooth mouthfeel. Unexpectedly, it is just as thick as the next barleywine I've come across. Sizeable alcoholic warmth. For a barleywine, this is dangerously drinkable but also a fair sipper. The rye is pervasive but not offensive and I would expect more overall intensity for a sipper-type.

This one's a keeper, worth getting more of.

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Photo of mostpoetsdo
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Pitcher's Pub in Cumberland.

A: Awesome dark orange amber. Little hazy. Very small head, and okay lacing.

S: Fruity, cherry, peppery.

T: Homerun. Peppery hops and tasty cherry. Haven't had many Barleywines, so didn't know quite what to expect. But this was so good it's a high bar to compare with.

M: Incredibly smooth, a nice bite of carbonation. Goes down easy.

D: Can drink this all night long. Can't believe it is 9.5 percent.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz purchased at Yankee Spirits, Swansea, MA. Poured into a White Birch flute.

A- Clear amber rusty brown with a slightly off-white head. 3 fingers easily and not going anywhere. Thick, dense formation. Very nice pour. Thick, gooey lacing.

S- Plums! Dark, boozy fruit. Sweet malts for sure. Light, unoffensive, delightful. Almost like fruit punch. Dash of caramel and a hint of cognac.

T- Follows the nose. Fruity, the alcohol grabs you here. Similar to Brooklyn's Monster Ale but not nearly as harsh or astringent. A bit solventy, but not bad. Sweet berries, cognac/sherry, and a bit bready. Hop bite combines with the ABV to make it a bit harsh, but nothing that puts me off.

M- A bit boozy, good balance between bitter/hot and sweet notes. I like it.

D- Moderate. A big boy beer, had me sipping it slow, but I enjoyed it. Recommended. A unique barleywine.

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Photo of beer4colin
4.58/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ontap Union Brewhouse 12 oz pour in goblet.

A - Clear wheat with a good head, by UBH measure.

S - pod and clean. Slight banana esters with a touch of toast.

T - Nice and smooth with a lot of winter flavors: raisins, caramel. But no spice. This is not a winter warmer remember. Finish is a bit ragged and with a touch of alcohol burn, but not objectionable. A very tasty glass.

MF - very smooth and mouth filling.

D - I might make this my go-to Barleywine if I can find in the stores.

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Photo of dfecteau
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of perrymarcus
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a snifter.
2011 batch.

pours a cloudy, deep amber tone while yielding a 3/4-1" beige head; middling retention, respectable lacing evident.

nose is very nice on this fella. big candi sugar presence with some strong fruity and bready malt notes... brown sugar and caramel... not as much in the hops department as i was expecting, being an american barleywine.

more of the same translates to the flavor. big notes of candi and brown sugar, caramel... fruity characters... a touch of spice. not your typical barleywine, has a unique element to it. medium-full bodied with slightly below average carbonation.

no wow factor per se, but really nice; very tasty and enjoyable. definitely recommended - another hit from berkshire. i can only imagine if this were given the barrel treatment.

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Photo of BigCheese
4.38/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

enjoyed on Nye. 2012 version

A: A deep amber/ruby. large head with tons of lacing.

S: Strong, some 'c' hops with grapefruit and pine. caramel toffe maltiness.

T: Taste follows nose. BIg citrus, pine and grassy/spicey hops. huge malt backbone of caramel, toffee, rasins, oak.

M: Dangerously drinkable sipper, huge flavors, but minimal palate fatigue. Very rich, oily and creamy. High carbonation.

O: Not exactly what I was expecting, almost a DIPA in hop flavor. Great at the pricepoint. HIghly reccomended, bit league flavors, will purchase again.

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Holidale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 322 ratings