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Holidale | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

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very good
181 Reviews

Brewed by:
Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
Massachusetts, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bierman9 on 03-07-2001

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Reviews: 181 | Ratings: 313
Photo of YouSkeete
4.97/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Dark reddish mahogany, on the cloudy side. Huge amount of bubbles and carbonation. One finger white head

S: Some hints of light fruit, while honey and caramel malts take the nose. Aroma is more bitter than sweet. Slight notes of roasted coffee beans and toffee.

T: A full wood-aged flavor covers hard notes of toffee and sugared fruits. Pumpkin pie spices make it sweet, almost like candy. The wood and fruit flavors balance to give this beer a very earthy tone. Rolls into a bittersweet tang; burn of alcohol and sweetness in the malts linger in the aftertaste.

M: Sticky, syrupy. Medium to full carbonation, full body, massive flavor.

D: All i said in my notes were "Super awesome. Excellent beer." I'll leave it at that.

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Photo of oddfire
4.74/5  rDev +22.2%
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 Todd
4.7/5  rDev +21.1%
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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Photo of puboflyons
4.67/5  rDev +20.4%
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 iceball585
4.67/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark reddish brown color, semi-clear, one finger thick cream color head, some bubbles rising throughout

S- Raisens, caramel, molasses, herbal, dark fruity auroma, hint of alcohol

T- Caramel malts, dark fruits, bready, creamy, grains, light herbal hops finish

M- Medium body, low/medium carbonation, smooth, flavorful, well balanced

D- Definitely worth buying again

My buddy brought me a bottle back from Vermont and I really wish he would have brought more. Great flavors and not too overpowering as some barley wines can be. This is instantly one of my favorite barley wines.

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Photo of Damian
4.64/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Drank on-tap at Bukowski's Tavern, Boston, MA

Poured a hazy, copper-mahogany with a one-finger, foamy, chestnut head that faded to a substantial film of lace. Some drippy patches of lacing streaked down the sides of the glass.

Smell was incredibly sweet and rich. Very malty and bready with notes of vanilla and a general oakiness. At times, some cookie dough was detectable.

Taste was similar but punchier and more balanced. Sweet caramel malts, raisins, spices, sweet cream and a hint of alcohol were noticeable up front. As the beer moved along the palate, the flavor profile changed considerably. Quite hoppy on the back end and the swallow. The hops were leafy, citrusy and a touch sweet and thus melded well with the flavors on the front end. The beer finished very clean with only a touch of hoppy bitterness. Pleasant alcohol warming in the throat.

Mouthfeel was rich, syrupy and creamy.

Drinkability was outstanding. This beer was full of so many intense aromas and flavors, yet it managed to maintain a terrific balance.

Overall, an outstanding barley wine.

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Photo of tomParis
4.6/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours cloudy dark gold with a red tint. Nice golden head.

Smell is almost all fruit; apple, pear, molasses, even a little banana. Taste is malty and fruity. Apple, banana, and brown sugar dominate, with a very mild amount of hop bitterness (for an american bw) in the finish. Definately has some characteristics of a Tripel.

Mouthfeel is awesome. Very malty and full bodied, but not cloying or syrupy. One of the smoothest barleywines I've ever had. Drinkability for the style is as good as I've had.

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Photo of beer4colin
4.58/5  rDev +18%
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 steinlifter
4.53/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This poured a mid amber, nice frothy head that left billowy puffs all the way down, smell, was fruity, abit of hop and malt whiff,
taste was , sweet, malty, pears, complex fruit flavor, bit of hops in there, some spiciness
mouthfeel was smooth and creamy
drinkability: This was a very special treat! You just don't find this level of craftmanship everyday! nice stuff, highly recommended!

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Photo of fitzy84
4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this in their 22 oz. Poured out and had a very dark amber appearance. The head lasted a long time after the pour and thinned out awesome murk. Very thick, baking-like smells; something like cinnamon, raisin, caramel, sugar, etc. The taste goes with the smell: very sweet which is really surprising for a barley wine. Pretty sneaky, definitely makes someone drink a lot of it while hiding a probably high alcohol content. A great, thick body with a low-medium carbonation allows this to be wonderfully sipped throughout the whole night. This is definitely one of the sweetest, most casual drinking barley wine I have had and probably one of the best from BBC.

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Photo of slangtruth
4.5/5  rDev +16%

2014 edition from a bomber. Pours a deep chocolate brown that light barely penetrates (to think this was a clear red brew just a couple of years ago). Low carbonation and thick, creamy mouthfeel, with the cocoa nibs first introduced last year prominent. Almost no hop flavor, all roasted dark malts. Unstated ABV and absolutely no alcohol taste or aroma, but it comes up on one towards the end of the bottle. First sip was a little sweet for someone like me who doesn't appreciate that, but my palate settled into to it quickly. Obviously not an all day drinker but well positioned as a dessert beer. I suspect this may develop in interesting ways over the next few weeks as the yeast settles out more, and possibly fall off fairly quickly afterwards. Snazzy new label.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the most anticipated Barleywines every year is Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot...mainly because it is distinctively Pacific NW 'hoppy'.
Berkshire Brewing has them beat hands down with their 'Holidale'.
This is the 2007 vintage I am sampling just before Christmas, 2007.

Pours a dark mahogany amber with a half finger of off white that lasts quite a while in the glass.

Aroma is very, very fresh pine and pine oil hops.

Taste is sweet amber malts with sweet bitter citrus hops (an oxymoron?. Not anymore than a sweet lemon or sweet grapefruit would be). Pine comes through in the flavor as well as the citrus hops and everything stays bright, clean, balanced and fresh.
I don't notice the alcohol until deep into the glass and by then it is no doubt too late.

Mouthfeel is not syrupy at all but not watery either. I find both the mouthfeel and slightly sweet citrus aftertaste very pleasing.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 release, poured from a 22oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep brownish red color, with a short but dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very fruity (apricot & tangerine), with a little bit of hops, caramel and honey mixed in and a hint of the type of spices that you normal get in a Winter Warmer.

T: The fruitiness bursts out initially in the taste. Then a combination of hops, caramelized malt and spice hits you. A slight alcohol burn follows everything up. After-taste is fruity and hoppy.

M: Very smooth and very crisp, medium body, light-to-medium body, clean finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down very easily, although there’s a slight alcohol burn, the ABV is hidden pretty well, not very filling either. I drank the bomber I had pretty quickly. This beer is a very good representation of the American Barley Wine style. I had a feeling this one might lean toward the English BW style, which I tend not to like as much, but it’s a good ABW with some extra sweetness.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 release. whoah nelly!

cloudy rubyish crimson with decadent orange highlights. ring of foam pronounces the strength on this brew. the ring stays solid when i tilt the action sideways.

smells like a caramel-enrobed grape fruit roll-up. malty as all hell with a delicate sweet yeast and fruit explosion. the scotch ale yeast used this year has brought a softness to the beer, which effectively tames the underlying chaos happening in the flavor. almond paste and white pepper rounds out the aromatic extravaganza here.

brisk and slightly dry, while finishing smooth and sweet, this beer is nothing but a pleasure to drink. this year, holidale strays as far from a barleywine as it ever has. initial hop hints of earthiness translate quickly into a roasty buttery nut brittle. the almond comes out again, as does a sweet molasses flavor- contrasted nicely by the fizziness here. finishes almost belgian with a fruity yeast and alcohol buzz.

wow, this years holidale is a real treat.. and i thought it kinda sucked last yr with the champagne yeast. kudos to bbc, this one is certainly one to both be consumed now and aged with the best of 'em

and thanks to steve-o for the bottle. cheers!

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Photo of Gatch
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


A: Deep, golden-orange with some haze and a soapy, bright white head with a ton of lace and great retention.

S: Fantastic hop presence. Some sweet malt and fruit. Hops are fresh, juicy, piney, fruity, resiny. A bit of spice.

T: Seriously awesome hop flavor. Tons of fruit and fresh, woody resin. Sweet, sugary malt to balance it out and keep this an Am BW as opposed to a Double IPA. Booze is nonexistent. Some holiday spices in the finish as it warms.

M: Super smooth and fresh. Not cloying at all. Incredible bursts of flavor from the hops. Malt balances it well. Refreshing, properly bitter, and dry.

O: Surpassed my expectations. A very impressive beer by itself or based on style. Hop heads will love this well-crafted brew.

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Photo of Walken
4.4/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Berkshire: Holidale, Barleywine (2008) (Tasted 12/10/08)
22 oz. Bottle: Poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Hazed dark amber with a giant tightly knit head of off-white bubbles that leaves spiderweb lacing as it fades down slowly. This beer...isn't fucking around.
Odor: Orange peel, juicy fruit hop aromas, spicy rye goodness and a healthy helping of caramel.
Consistency: Silky & creamy full body, carbonation on the low end. Rye & hop spice prickle at the tongue a little bit.
Taste: Malt is nicely layered. Sweet, soft caramel, rye spice, bread and chocolate malt in the background. Fruity alcohol adds another layer of sweetness. Most of the balance is provided by the roasted malt, with a little help from herbal hop bitterness. Hop flavor is of spice and grapefruit, complimenting the rye perfectly. Finish is malty with a final flicker of fruitiness from the yeast and lingering spice/roast flavors.

Wow, this is one of the most inspiring barleywines I've had in a while. It's balanced and chock full o' complexity. Things are indeed looking up.

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Photo of BigCheese
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
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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Photo of KeefD
4.37/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks go out to Knifestyles for this extra! Pours a hazy burnt orange color with a small white head that fell quickly, but left a few splotches of lacing. Aroma is sugary sweet, liight caramel, and surprisingly low hop aroma for an American Barleywine. Great flavor on this one. Nice candy-sweet flavors, a touch of spicy breadiness, some caramel, and very well-balanced hopping. There's almost a citrusy, orange/lemon-lime type thing going and is reminiscent of sweet tart candies. This is an American Barleywine that I can get into because it's not ridiculously, over-the-top hopped, which I think really can get in the way of what a barleywine is supposed to be with other brews in the same category. Great, slick mouthfeel, coats the tongue, and the high ABV can barely be felt. I'm really digging the balance on this beer and I have to say it's probably the best barleywine I've had in a very long time. Excellent stuff, and I'm sure it's recieved lower ratings because some people think that if doesn't offend your palate with hops then it must not be good. My first Berkshire brew, and I say well done!

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Photo of GilGarp
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage.

Bomber served cool into an imperial pint glass.

Holidale is a hazy copper red with thin head but good lacing.

Aroma is sweet, malty, caramel with a little apple or plum. The hops are very subtle but then again, it's nearly two years old.

Flavor is very nice. It's not the bitter hopbomb that many barleywine tend to be. A great balance of malts to hops, nice spice notes, orchard fruits, caramel, and bread.

Mouthfeel is medium-plus in body and low in carbonation. Again great balance and the alcohol is very well-hidden for being nearly 10%.

Overall a very good version of the style, maybe my favorite.

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Photo of bigone4
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 Holidale Poured from a 22oz bomber I picked up from Town and Country in West Springfield. No bottles in CT so I had to make the trip up North. This beer seems to be very pleasing to the eye and pallet. It has a dark hazy reddish auburn hue with a big off-white head. The head dissipates slowly and creates a solid lace down the whole glass. This brew smells of caramel and sweet fruity malt. Nice fruit tones of plum and perhaps some apricot. The smell is very floral and fruity with some hints of spice in the nose. Taste is sweet up front then followed by some caramel malt and a hint of fruitiness. This is an extremely smooth and enjoyable beer. Mild tone of yeast mixed with the plum and other fruit tones. Solid brew that is really easy to drink. Nice complexity to the flavor as the beer warmed. Quite a unique offering with many new flavors that jump around in my mouth. I am curious to see how this one will taste with a few months of aging in the fridge. I have been enjoying it now and so have a few of my friends. This one certainly gets the cheeks rosy. I recommend finding this one to try if there are any still around. As it does tend to fly off the shelves in Western MA.

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Photo of mostpoetsdo
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
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 meathookjones
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a dense orange with a foamy small white head. Sticky streaks of lace coat the glass as its consumed. Aroma has a good amount of sweet fruity notes with a pretty big backing of citric and floral hops. I was a bit surprised at the hoppiness overall. Sweet complex malty flavor. Notes of light caramel, some dark fruits and a light sugars. Some light hoppy citric notes but not much bitterness. Light maple syrup and alcohol as it warmed. Fruity finish with a bit of grapefruit hops showing through. Body was pretty thick and fairly creamy. Pretty easy drinking stuff given the strength. Some flavors reminded me of a few of the wheat wines I have had lately. Good stuff.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to ppoitras for this one!
I am sampling a 22 oz bottle, at just below room temp in a pint glass/tall tumbler.
The beer pours a clear amber color with a 2cm creamy beige tightly packed head foaming up very nicely.
Aroma is earthy and floral hops with a mix of brown sugar and maple syrup as well. I also get just a hint of alcohol.
First sip reveals a slightly thick body with a syrupy texture that I enjoy. Not a chuggin brew for sure! Flavor is malty sweet with caramel and chocolate mixing with some brown sugar. Where did those hops go? The finish lets a hint of bitey alcohol in. Overall the beer is very smooth and I enjoy it quite a lot!

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Photo of Brad007
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a reddish-brown color with a thin one-finger head into my pint glass.

Aroma is strong with raisins, caramel, floral hops and alcohol warmth all in the nose.

Taste is full of alcohol warmth upfront with a decent hop bite, caramel and raisin flavors. A bit chewy in the middle and it fades into a hoppy, alcoholic finish.

Mouthfeel is dominated mainly by the bitter finish from the floral hops and alcohol warmth. Carbonation seems right.

Very easy to drink, considering the style. Definitely easier to drink young than another regional example of the style that I can think of. Alcohol warmth coats the throat going down.

It's drinkable and has the usual characteristics for the style. With some aging, the alcohol warmth may calm down, making it even more desirable. Regardless, I do not regret purchasing this and it stands out as an excellent example of its' style.

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Photo of littlebibs
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received this as a gift right after Thanksgiving and the Big Meal,
this exceptional Barleywine helped the burden of trying to make
room for everything, its a really tastey concoction, I'm not really
a big Barleywine fan but I'll give any beer/ale style a go. This
is highly recommended, Dave/Robyn- next door, Merry Christmas, hope
you enjoy this special Berkshire "local" brew, as I have been
buying these special bottles and like them more with each one.
I'm tasting some fruity cherry, apricot which makes this so
appealing. Its warming and the alcohol is high but sipping on this-
who cares? Nice holiday style to ring in the season. Not all
beer has to be drunk by the case, this is nice "special" times

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Holidale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
3.88 out of 5 based on 313 ratings.
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