Holidale | Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.

very good
317 Ratings

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: 317
Photo of ClavisAurea
2.67/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

2015 vintage served in a snifter

Appearance: dark brown with a tan head. highly carbonated.

Nose: dark fruits, sweet alcohol, cherry juice, kinda boozy

Taste: alcoholic cherry juice. The carbonation is prickly and sharp. The cherry notes are over the top in this one and not balanced.

Overall: this one needs work. Age is only going to thin it out. I feel like it is more like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale or a Quad. It is somewhat like an English Barleywine but absolutely not an American Barleywine. Where were the hops? This could have been a bad bottle.

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Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It is labeled with a 2013 label, but it pours a dark brown with a nice head. Nice scent with notes of many things. : chocolate, nuts, caramel? Taste is pleasant, with the alcohol evident. Wow! I grab this whenever I can get it.

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Photo of HamdenHector
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: opaque; deep cola brown in color; <1 finger medium tan head that receded to a thin collar; very little lacing;

S: nutty with bittersweet chocolate for a moment, then dark fruit and caramel;

T: dark fruit up front; mixes with bittersweet chocolate in the middle; back to dark fruit with caramel for the finish; mild bitterness at the end;

M: medium to full bodied; moderate carbonation; dry finish;

O: to me, this drinks more like an English barleywine;

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Photo of predikit
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown, settles in the glass a dark chocolate brown. Left a quickly disappearing off-white head.

Smell has notes of molasses, dark fruit, fig.

Taste struck me as a little odd, it goes through maybe 4 distinct phases of flavor. Starting off you are struck with a piercing alcohol laden dark fruit affect, I want to say licorice but that's not exactly right, the middle does a sort of back and forth leaning between it's fruity and roasted malt characters. The end very slowly slides into coffee malt and maybe some milk chocolate notes, and you are left with a roasted bitter and alcohol burn for the aftertaste.

For it's ABV the alcohol feel is not off-putting at all. Medium-full bodied, very smooth.

A quite enjoyable barley wine, but I can think of many other similar styled brews I would go to first.

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Photo of dental
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 batch poured into a snifter.

nice creamy off-white head. deep opaque mahogany body. scents of cocoa and cinnamon. hints of coffee and roasty malts in the taste along with the aforementioned cocoa and cinnamon.

this is almost like a guinness draft with a more carbonated mouthfeel and complex flavor profile. if i didn't know this was a barleywine, i would think i was drinking a high volume milk stout.

a very solid beer that i would have to guess got better with age based on some of the other reviews for the 2013 batch.

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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 sinstaineddemon
2.92/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

2013 vintage

A - dark brown, yet transparent liquid with a thin white head with a bit of staying power. A light source reveals plenty of busy carbonation keeps that head afloat.

S - A whiff is mostly filled with malty goodness and cocoa powder. At the end there is a slight tweak of spice, the bottle blurb mentions cinnamon and that makes sense. Not sure if I could discern which spice without that hint.

T - this is a sharp beer. It's not quite there yet. The hops have not faded and not let the barleywine greatness through. The cocoa powder adds the bitter. The cinnamon-ness is more pronounced in the flavor and is a nice finish.

M&D - as mentioned, sharp and a bit harsh. It needs a year on it. Makes me glad I got two bottles for Christmas. I will hang on to the second one for a year or so and edit this review accordingly.

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Photo of MenardMa
2.26/5  rDev -41.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This really should be broken out into Holidale 2011, 2012, 2013, etc...because last year's and this years have been very different.

I'll start by saying that the 2012 Holidale, if I recall correctly, was a very nice barleywine.

The 2013 one, on the other hand...I could barely choke down. It smelled like weak, watery coffee, it looked like a fairly light brown ale, and it just tasted strange. Like bitter coffee combined with a watery, mediocre beer.

I really like quite a bit of BBC's offerings but this year's Holidale is unimpressive to say the least. Seems like they were going for something very different in a coffee/chocolate barleywine but it just doesn't work here.

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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 scotorum
4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The 2015 version. Poured from the 22 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams IPA glass.

a: Clear very dark ruby with an inch thick tan head which receded to thick surface foam and spotty lacing.

s: Caramel malt and dark ripe fruit.

t: Follows the nose, just enough bite for a nice balance. Sweetish finish.

m: Medium plus, very good body and carbonation tingle.

o: A fine barleywine, a perfect holiday brew but good all winter and then some. This is my third year having a bottle of this one and last year it was my choice for my birthday dinner.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.16/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appearance is reddish clear with thin white head. Nose is heavy with cherries, syrup, grenadine, and caramel. Taste is sweet up front with one notes malt sweetness, not enough hops to cut out the fruit. Taste is sweet and oxidized. Out heel is heavy with low carbonation. Overall, not that great. Not really to style.

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Photo of DrinkNewport
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A mild scent, average carbonation, absolute-match-for-caramel-color...and that's it.

Barley wines make a statement. They're either boozy or have an incredible amount of flavor to cover their high ABV. This beer gives you the hint of booziness or strong flavor...but it's just not that strong.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
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 rudzud
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared these with JLindros in a massive end of the world party veritcal: 2005-2012

A - The pours are all basically crystal clear light copper hue. All have a thin white head with nice lacing. 2005 has a simply MASSIVE head that never really left. 2005 looks simply outstanding.

S - Fresh has lots of hops with light fruit notes, through the years it changes. '10 smells like dirt and '08 doesnt remotely smell drinkable. '05 though smells almost like Applejack.

T - Starts with fresh bright hops in the 2012 version with nice fruits and caramel malts. '10 has more sweetness without the dirt aroma on the taste. '09 is like the start of an apple brandy, '08 is like cardboard drain pour (weird transition?), '06 is not quite cardboard but close, and '05 is simply unreal with massive amounts of tart apples, malts, and brandy crazy goodness.

M - Very, very nice carbonation throughout the years. Never heavy or syrupy.

O - Overall this was a fun vertical. They really are different beers with each year. '12 is a very nice hoppy barleywine but '05 is simply unreal. The tart apples and brandy qualities make this incredible. Wish I had another bottle of '05.

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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 davey101
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
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 MasterSki
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I think I got this from Reagan1984. 2011 vintage, served in a pint glass.

A - Lightly tan off-white foam settles to a thick collar, a few wisps, and negligible lacing. Mostly transparent amber body.

S - Smells like your typical American barleywine, with a mix of brown sugar and caramel malts and some residual zesty and piney hops. Alcohol is reasonably well-hidden.

T - Taste is similar, with caramel, biscuit, toasted bread, and a bit of brown sugar. There's light residual hop bitterness, but not much flavor after a year of cellaring. No alcohol presence at this stage either.

M - Smooth texture, lighter in body than your typical barleywine; more of a medium. Pleasant carbonation, and light stickiness in the finish.

D - It's a somewhat square American barleywine, which is more than I was expecting as I initially thought this was a spiced Christmas beer of some sort. Nothing wrong here, but not much to distinguish itself from a crowded field.

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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 FosterJM
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1668th Review on BA
Bottle to Christmas Goblet

2012 Vintage
Thanks to MikeReaser for this one

App- This was a very golden orange looking beer. Almost a golden brown color to match on the bottom of the glass. Poured out a bit light in the center and not like most barleywines I have seen. The head was a nice 2 finger white color with some good puffy foam. Not too much cling or lace.

Smell- This was more of a stale DIPA to me. A bit of citrus with some older hops in it. A bit sweet and a bit caramel pine to balance. Maybe a touch of spice on a large pull of the nose. A little bit of whispy booze as it warmed a touch more.

Taste- Its a nice barleywine. A bit off of what I would say the style is. But I have had a few like this where its a big malty citrusy flavor with a small amount of bitter and hops to balance it out. This was fairly sweet and presented with a few other flavors in there. A bit spicy and maybe a touch of vanilla to boot.

Mouth- A larger medium body. A bit of a medium bubbly carbonation like a DIPA to balance it all out. The bubbles created a nice feel to this beer. Was a sipper but hits the spot. Residual malts and deep resiny citrus.

Drink- I opened this on Christmas at 3AM. It was a nice beer to unwind with after a long Christmas Eve day and putting presents out for the kids. A welcome gift from my RS member. Nice flavors and semi balanced. Maybe letting this sit for a year isnt a bad idea either. Maybe i can get another bottle.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at Top Hops during the Westvleteren even today, since this looked like it would be quite smooth and bold for the cold weather. Sure enough, this fit that perfectly and those who had a bit of my beer were amazed at how easily this went down. Even though the aroma wasn't that strong, the whiskey came through nicely and this reminded me of some of the Innis and Gunn beers that I had recently enjoyed.

The pour to this was nice - a rich mahogany with not a lot of head, carbonation, or lacing to be seen. Not a lot of spice here but a good amount of dark fruits, brown sugar, and booze to top it all off. No charcoal or peat here, this certainly felt a lot more toward the Whisky end and less towards a Scotch or Scotch Ale. Quite cloying since it had a bit of a bread/biscuit feel to this but this never felt too full and only the warming effect of the alcohol lingered after each sip.

This was deceptively strong but the alcohol never detracted from the beer and the apricot and cherry shone through nicely without having the sweetness of a Belgian beer. Although it was a bit too dry, it fit the bill nicely on this late fall day and has to be one of the most accessible examples of this style that I've ever had.

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Photo of MatthewWilde
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sample: bottle 2011

A: Pours an off-white strong head that quickly becomes decent lacing, reddish brown in color, minimal internal carbonation, hazy throughout with light sediment

S: Dried dark fruits, hints of vanilla and pepper, slightly herbal, even some cocoa, moderately fragrant, complex

T: Much akin to the nose, perfectly balanced and complex, each element has its own presence and not one element overpowers the others, nice fruit with a hop backbone, just wish it was more flavorful overall

M: Quite smooth and very drinkable, easy on the palate, only slightly drying, mild fruity aftertaste, alcohol not even detectable

O: A great barley wine overall, nice flavor and very palatable, definitely could be more powerful, but still impressive, interested in trying some fresh

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Photo of Masscraft
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice fresh bottle of 2012 Holdale.
Popping the cap my nose is hit was a nice dose of citrusy hops. Surprising. Poured into a goblet a couple-finger head leaves a smattering of rorschach blots around the glass (the second pour really cakes it on, tight elegant lace rings) The nose is exotic fruit jam, sweet by not cloying. I think this version is more like an imperial english-style ipa than a barleywine so get this while its fresh. The finish is dryly hoppy without any significant bitterness. Really invites the next sip. The alcohol is well hidden. If this is still in the 9.5 - 10% range it doesn't taste like it. Sweetness is quickly cut through with a grainy, rustic bread quality that balances the brew nicely. The blurb on the bottle describes its bitterness as prominent without being aggressive which is about right. BBC has really been ringing my bell lately. This is definitely up there with my favorites. Good stuff.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.92/5  rDev +1%
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 BostonHops
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

(originally reviewed: 01-03-2012)

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.36/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 Vintage
Pours a deep reddish copper color with a good sized bubbly beige head that shows great retention. Smells of caramel and brown sugar with a hint of ethanol and a touch of oxidation. Taste is a bit on the malty side up front. Lots of sugary sweetness that gets beaten back by and earthy and a muddled buttery harshness. Long lingering sugary and butterscotch sweetness. Medium body and level of carbonation and a sweet bubbly mouthfeel. I really enjoy the coffeehouse porter from Berkshire, but most of their other beers strike me as too heavy on the diacytyl. Decent beer, but not great.

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Holidale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
3.88 out of 5 based on 317 ratings.
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