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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: 311
Photo of largadeer
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks, Barry.

Clear and bright, a light shade of reddish-amber for the style. The head falls quickly to a film, but leaves plenty of sticky lacing behind.

Yeast and malt contribute equally to the aroma; fruitiness is present in the form of raisins and fresh red grapes, grain contributes a light brown sugar character.

Sweet but smooth, decidedly malty and English-style for a barleywine. There's no hop bite, this is all brown sugar and fruitcake, raisin and date. Despite the sweetness, the body isn't terribly heavy; more a medium-full. The finish is sweet and fruity, reminiscent of fruit jelly. It's an enjoyable beer, though I feel it could use more of a balancing dryness. A bit more body and dryness in the finish would improve this greatly.

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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 silentjay
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
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 SirSketch
3.8/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Seems like an appropriate beer for my first review in December...

A - Pleasant light orange color, brilliantly clear despite tiny particulates floating around. Thin, eggshell colored head sticks to the edges.

S - Freshly cracked malted barley, corn husk, lightly toasted bread, and just a hint of some darker malt character coming through as a very lightly roasted coffee bean aroma. Also, a metallic aroma that often comes from CO2.

T - A more abundant and flavorful malt presence than the aroma suggested. Interplay of toasty, caramel and butterscotch malt flavors and grapefruit, banana and other sugary fruitiness with enough bitterness to balance.

M/D - Chewy and velvety mouth similar to a milk stout. Highly drinkable and would not have guessed this to be 8.5%. Probably the most approachable barleywine I've had.

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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 DIM
3.15/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2009 edition

a: This was a hazy copper color with reddish golden highlights. It pour4ed with a medium sized, moderately fizzy head.

s: Citrus aromas that bring potpourri ot tea to mind. Mild spicy prpper aromas and some brown sugar or molasses. Doesn't smell like a typical b-wine, but this is a nice change of pace.

t: I like what is here, but I can't help but think something is missing. It starts well, with tea-like spicy citrus flavors. The spicy notes become stronger towards the middle, probably the rye coming through. But then, oddly enough, it just kind of stops right there. I mean the flavor all but disappears. There really isn't a finish to this one. I can't believe that 1 year could have made much of a difference, but I guess its possible.

m: Light bodied for the style with gentle carbonation.

d: This tastes like an unfinished symphony. It was rising to a flavor crescendo and then...blue-balled by a b-wine.

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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 Jmoore50
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
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 DefenCorps
3.45/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

If the reviewer below me got snow a couple of days back - well, I'm glad I'm not in MA! I got a bottle of the 2008 vintage a long time back from Cedromar. Thanks, Tyler!

Clear mahogany red with a thick off-white head that recedes to a thin disk leaving patchy lace, this is an attractive barleywine. The nose is solid. With a blend of a strong pine and minty hop character, there's also plenty of malt sweetness here, with caramel, toffee and a little oxidation that adds a macerated date and apple cider. Spicy alcohol is apparent, enhancing the cider character of this beer. I'm really digging the nose despite not being the biggest barleywine fan.
The palate is quite a disappointment. Opening quite sweet with a rather prominent hop character, I get a ton of really good flavors up front, with caramel, toffee and mint all making for a tasty beverage before a finish that is sorely lacking in character. The blend up front featuring the caramel and pine is pleasant, but the beer quickly devolves to a mildly bitter finish with no real malt flavors that one expects from a barleywine. And while there is a certain heft to the palate, this still comes across as slightly watery, even when at 60+F. Is there rye in this beer? The spiciness I taste is definitely not from the alcohol, I can swear there's some in here,and some reviews refer to it as well. Also, with time, I'm noticing a butterscotch character which isn't wholly pleasant either, especially in conjunction with the hop profile. Medium in body with moderate carbonation, the palate is decent but for the finish. Solid stuff for a fan of barleywines, but since I'm not in that camp, I'm harder to please.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.51/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

It snowed Friday during my morning run which let me know it's not too late for a Winter barleywine.

Deep mahogany color with a large beige head. Great retention leaves lacey streaks from beginning to end. High marks for great lace.

Rich caramel aroma with a minty hop and booze mix. Dark plum and candied fruit esters.

Rich caramel taste with a dark chocolate cake-like bready malt. Alcohol and mint hops create a menthol vodka affect which adds bitter heat in back. Fall fruit esters.

I like my barleywine relatively hot and this is just about ready. It's a 2009 BTW.

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Photo of jlindros
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of our central New England Beer Advocate Meetup #2.

A: Light fizzy head, clear bubbly bright reddish brown color.

N: Semi sweet malted barley, some fruit and brown sugar, little hop presence, little rye, some spicy hops, little boozy.

T: Boozy, lots of malts, fruit, sweet, chewy malts and chewy bitter hop taste. Some fruity hops, rye adds some spicy character and fruit. Brown sugar and molasses.

M: Thick and syrupy, decent carbonation.

F: Drier, especially with help from the lingering rye, some spicy fruit, lingering bitterness and some lingering syrup and brown sugar.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this in the bottle previously which led me to try this on tap when we were at Willimantic Brewpub. I suspect it may have been a not-so-fresh keg, but here is my review....take it with a grain of salt as I loved this in the bottle

served chilled in a standard pint

A - A midly hazed med brown w/ small ecru ring - no head or lace to speak of

S - The smell leans heavily on sweet maltiness w/ a praline-like aroma w/ mild toffee-like buttered molasses note

M- Rich and moderately full bodied with sweet texture and slightly spiced finish w/ subtle carbonation and mild roasted feel

T - Biscuit and nut taste lead off w/ a slightly creamy caramel bordering on toffee taste-wise q/ a hint of pine in the background and mild cinnamon toast element w/ maltiness that is sweet but not quite butterscotch. There is a sweet piney hop accent w/ a lot of residual sweetness in the finish

D - A big brew alas it doesn't seem to fit the style the way I remembered it being in bottled form - leans toward the malts w/out becoming cloying so it is drinkable for what it is - The Holidale could use a dose more hops IMO.

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Photo of portia99
3.88/5  rDev 0%
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 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 ShogoKawada
3.71/5  rDev -4.4%
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 far333
3.61/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazed and burnished orange color with a thick inch high head of fine foam that lingers long and slowly settles down to a low cap and rises up on the sides of the glass. Sheets of lace rise up as I drink.

Low aroma of ripe fruit and honey. Subtle flavor of marshmallow and grainy malt, straw huskiness, some fusel alcohol notes. Slight cherry tang, mild bitterness, subtle citrus hops, plus caramel and toffee. Surprisingly not rich and not complex. Even and full mouthfeel, moderate carbonation. Becomes tastier as it warms, but could have more depth of flavor.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber > chimay goblet

A deep red-copper color, really very nice color with a lively body and large 2" head, tons of froth, very well retained, leaves a huge amount of clumpage kicking around.

layers of hoppy madness!! fruits galore with some garden veggie like greens and radishes. Candy apples malt with some brown sugar. strawberry rhubarb pie!!! black pepper in the heat with a slight tingle. zesty and herbal, fruity and malty...wow.

The balance of flavor's is sublime here; dry, earthy and herbal flavor's helf down to a mdeium to full feel, very copmlex in the malt and hop department. rye and wheat bring a wonderful dryness, grainy earth effect from the fuggles and mild but wild flavor's from the northern brewer hops. Semi-bitter effect, well within the balance spectrum though. not sure of the abv% here but it's very well hidden and pretty mellow. This is not a thick, and heavy malty feel, it's full but with a lively, young effect.

A strange american barleywine with a more earthy hop balance and not so much big-bitterness, which i know people love but i'm down with more gentle hoppy barleywine's and stouts for that matter.

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Photo of cbutova
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle reviewed a few nights ago, from notes. Pours an opaque coppery amber with a one finger head that has low retention. The head is nice and creamy looking and leaves medium lacing on my glass. Pillows cover the top after the head is gone. Smell needs more strength right off the bat. Notes of fruits, malts and a tiny bit of hops. The fruits smell pretty sweet but the malts smell nice. Hard for me to pick up much here. The taste is pretty much like a standard ale. Huge malt backbone, almost rye tasting. The hops add some fruity and bitter flavor and even some spice. The strength of the hops is not too high, which I like in a Barleywine. The fruity flavors are tasteful and add a nice aspect to this one. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice creamy texture. Moderate carbonation works well here and a huge coat of fruity malts is on the tongue. No warming, very smooth. Alcohol comes into the taste later on in the beer and starts to take away from it. The price is OK but more expensive than other BBC offerings which I like more. Would like a better aroma and less alcohol take over.

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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 Jwale73
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage served in my Old Guardian glass. Poured a translucent amber/copper with a one inch, tight, bone white head that settles into a broken skim with thick trails of lacing in its wake. Nose reveals dark fruit (your typical plum & prunes), as well as a sugary, berry jam quality. Taste consistent with nose; however, much more balanced and blended with just a kiss of hops bittering at the finish. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and sparklingly effervescent with a dry finish. In the last month, I've had this on-draft, from the cask (incredible) and from the bottle. A really excellent seasonal with a deceivingly well-hidden abv (espcially on-cask). Probably one of my favorites from BBC.

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Photo of sisuspeed
3.46/5  rDev -10.8%
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 abuliarose
4.06/5  rDev +4.6%
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 UA8
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark reddish amber with a thin tan head.

S- Candied fruits, peach and citrus, sweet malts.

T- Leads with citrus and fruits notes, midpalate is semi sweet malts. Finishes with a spicy sweet vanilla taste and orange rind. I feel like the flavors might come together a bit more if this had a bit more time in bottle right now its a bit sweet and disjointed but not bad.

M- Medium bodied a bit lighter than I like for a barleywine. The carbonation is a bit high for the style but is at least soft which saves things a bit. However the high carbonation makes the body seem even more light which isn't so good.

D- It's a solid beer. I would almost rather they just call it a strong ale because it lacks some of the essential characteristics of most barleywines I enjoy (syrupy and viscous, bold flavors, light carbonation). It has some notes on the palate that are very similar to their winter warmer and I wonder if that is intentional or not. I'll buy another and see if this gets any better with age.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 version - pours a one-finger white head that fades to a ring and leaves only traces of lace. Nose has hints of spice. Nice, nearly clear amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Starts sweet, spicy and some alcohol, finish is spice, alcohol and some hops. Their 2002 version was better, maybe it is to late to drink this even though the ABV is 9.5%. $2.99 for a 22oz bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT.

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Photo of Duhast500
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a stemmed glass.

The color is a somewhat cloudy reddish/maroon with three fingers of off white head with a bit of lacing left on the glass.

The smell is a very sweet with some spicy hints of clove and some rye.

The taste is mild with some nice rye flavor and a nice floral hoppiness. Some nice dark fruit flavor and is bit of a creaminess that is slight but present.

The feel is light with a bit of age on it. The burn has calmed and is now a bit warming and ticklish. Has a medium body but is easy to handle.

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Holidale from Berkshire Brewing Company Inc.
3.88 out of 5 based on 311 ratings.
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