Pilgrim's Dole | New Holland Brewing Company

very good
385 Reviews
Pilgrim's DolePilgrim's Dole

Brewed by:
New Holland Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Wheatwine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
A barleywine-style ale made with 50% wheat malt (a wheatwine) aged in bourbon barrels.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-19-2003

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Reviews: 385 | Ratings: 898
Photo of siege06nd
3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Can't remember who I need to thank for this one, though I think it's bertram...

A. Pours a deep, clear, dark copper color. A half finger of beautiful, consistent, light tan head pops up. Head retention is solid at a quarter finger with decent lacing.

S. Expressive caramel and treacle notes. Stone fruits of cherry and roasted fig. Toffee and subtle notes of chocolate around the edges. Barrel presence is there, but it takes on more of a brandy or sherry note...not a bourbon blast at all. This smells warm and inviting, like a freshly baked caramel tart.

T. Huge malt up front, with chocolate, caramel, and loads of toffee. A subtle nuttiness in the flavor profile also. Fairly substantial brandy/sherry flavors with a soft, buttery backbone. A big, thick malt base...like biting into a husk of pumpernickel. Finish is rather tannic and boozy, with a big dry blast of alcohol on the back end, which I assume is the bourbon barrel.

M. Low carbonation and absolutely packed with the aforementioned flavors, but it falters on the finish, which is too dry, too tannic, too boozy. Doesn't completely ruin the experience, but it certainly detracts from what came before.

O. This is an impressive barrel-aged wheat wine. The malt bill here is complex and hearty, a fantastic showcase of different malt flavors. In fact, everything is really top notch until the finish...this bottle has at least a year on it and the finish is still way too boozy and hot. It fails to stick the landing, but that doesn't diminish the fact that this is a strong wheat wine regardless. Pilgrim's Dole is, however, the rare instance where barrel aging diminished as opposed to improved the beer.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.14/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25


Very clean yet exceptionally striking in its ruby complexion it poured with a stiff khaki head that had nice retention.

The nose is somewhat tempered but after some exploration the aromas begin to become much stronger. The wheat malt graininess is very evident along with chocolate, toffee, vanilla, caramel, oak, sweet bourbon, tea leaf and raisin.

The flavor is full of butterscotch, toffee, Werthers candies, brownie, light chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and the woodsy oakiness of the barrel.

The feel is full, somewhat thick with a bit of alcohol heat.

I actually went into this a bit skeptical but it served very well as an after dinner dessert and an over all great beer.

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Photo of pants678
4.29/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy brown, reddish body with a fluffy beige head.

Smells of caramel malts, alcohol. A real compliment.

Vanilla, caramel, bourbon and barrel from the outset. Alcohol's just a hair much. Still, a delectable, big malt-centric brew that's like a mix of honey, wood and maple.

Rich beer that's smooth with lower levels of carbonation.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2013. Light in body, caramel in color with little to no head. Huge vanilla smell in the front, caramel sweetness, toffee, bourbon and burnt sugar. Basically tasted like a BBA English Barleywine, except maybe a little less sweet. Slightly under carbonated, took a little away from the taste. Really well done wheatwine that I was happy to drink, but would have loved to have had this aged. I think 2 years would do wonders for this beer.

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Photo of richj1970
4.24/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz bottle into taster glass.

A: Medium to dark brown at first, but has not some red tones when held to the light. A smallish one finger head and minimal lacing.

S: Bourbon, caramel, vanilla, biscuits, banana, and a bit of spice.

T: This one has a nice sweetness up front. Big caramel and toffee notes combined with a ready quality. A little bourbon bite at the end.

M: Thick and a bit of a syrup quality, but not coingly sweet. A little light on the carbonation but not unexpected for a barrel aged brew with 12% ABV.

O: Probably my first wheat wine, but I enjoyed it completely. Reminds me a bit of Backwoods Bastard or North Coast Old Stock.

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Photo of barczar
4.07/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage.

Pours a brilliant deep brown that shines as ruby when held to the light. The frothy khaki head lingers.

Bourbon, vanilla, raisins, prunes, and figs erupt from the glass. There's a hint of dark cherry, along with molasses. Awesome! A metallic note surfaces late, putting a damper on aroma.

Flavor reveals a sweet, deeply caramelized malt backbone, with raisins, dates, and bourbon notes throughout. The finish is oaky and slightly dry. Very boozy, but the esters counter nicely. Hints of chocolate and nuts emerge in the aftertaste. A vinous note and hop bitterness surface late.

Body is a touch full, with fairly low carbonation. Alcohol warmth is substantial.

I've had this in the past, but it's been a while. Very complex beer. Of course, it's pretty hot, but great esters and bourbon character. May need to age a bottle.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.48/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in color with just a faint trace of white foam barely covering any of the top of the beer. Faint aroma of pale wheat is present. Brussels lacing. The body is somewhat thick,but is much less formidible than the Founders Sweet Repute I had just finished. The taste is dark wheat and fades very quickly. This is an easy going Wheatwine if there is such a thing.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Murky deep brown glass drops the short flash of a head without much pretense. I may see a trace of the alcoholic vapor drifting off of it.

Smell: Heady alcohol on a firmly toasted grain base. Comes across as a bit like a Belgian Quad with a candy sugar beet fuel source.

Taste: Hot. Jet fuel alcohol blazes quickly, there is a lot of grain left over after the yeast topped out, so there is a residual sweetness, with a dark fruit jam flash before everything burns away.

Mouthfeel: Numbing, black crisp dry, viscous.

Overall: I may have jumped the gun with this one. It seems an excellent candidate for aging I'll get a large water back and nurse this through the night and enjoy, but I'm worried about having it near an open flame.

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Photo of frenchblood21
4.21/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into Hoppin Frog tulip. Today's date is 1/29/2014.

Appearance- Deep amber/very burnt orange when held up to a light. Brown while sitting on my desk. Half a finger of cream colored head that reduces by half and then just stays.

Smell- Fig, bourbon and vanilla in that order. Then I get prunes and sweet caramel in the back. I hope the taste is exactly like the smell.

Taste- Way more bourbon than in the nose. More spice too. I detect clove and orange zest. The bourbon is pleasant and not over-powering.

Mouthfeel- More carbonation than expected. Much hoppier too. Great coating all throughout mouth and throat.

Overall- Great beer! To be honest, I will be going back to the spot I got it and look for more. This is not quite a barrel-aged barleywine and not quite a barrel-aged wee-heavy, but it is amazing.

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Photo of krustster
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

At first glance it appears dark brown, but once held up to the light it turns out to be a very deep and completely clear red, almost like a garnet. Medium size sticky head that fades to a thin creamy layer which sticks around for a long time, lots of greasy lacing around the glass. Very pretty and somewhat mysterious looking.

Smell is thick with booze, caramel, some bourbon, rich glazed pastry/pie, and an almost banana-like scent. Super sweet nose, really kind of intimidating, maybe a bit too heavy on the sweetness/booze.

The taste is actually more complex and balanced than the super-sweet scent lets on. The booze is quite a bit lower in the actual taste, and the bourbon barrel comes out a lot better. There's more of the caramel, syrup, dessert quality, but it's balanced out with huge, bready malt flavor and lingering bitterness on the finish. The sweetness is still very powerful. In fact when I reviewed Sweet Repute I compared it to this beer, and upon tasting Pilgrim's Dole again I believe it's a bit sweeter than that one. It's RIGHT on the edge of being too sweet, cloying.... but the bitterness and bread taste keep it in check just enough. Very, very precariously balanced.

Palate is super thick, syrupy, coating, all that. I'd expect nothing less from a beer of this nature. As with the taste, it's inching towards the line that separates "big" from "gross" but manages to stop just short. Last time I had this I remembered a lot more alcohol heat which was mildly sickening combined with the sweetness, but tonight it's very low, especially for a 12 percenter. As with other similar beers it seems that letting it warm up calms it significantly. I would imagine it was too cold before. In fact right now, as I drain the glass, I'm finding that the last few sips are actually the best so far. I would recommend serving this at close to room temp as the flavors open up and the palate becomes much more welcoming.

Overall, at $10 a four pack (I feel like this was a pricing mistake by the store I got it from but who knows) this is a steal. It's no Backwoods Bastard, and technically it's not even the same style, but the taste and characteristics are quite similar. If this is more readily available to you, or if you just haven't given it a shot yet, please go for it. It's a huge, sweet, complicated beast for what may as well be a bargain basement price.

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Photo of Pizzawingsbeer
4.8/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An incredible Bourbon Barrel aged barlerwine. The flavor of bananas and some yeast bread are over powering but the cloying "collapsing mouthfeel "when you are swallowing a huge beer. It is definitely the best barley wine I have ever had. I am going to assume I didn't get the bourbon aged. My keg is yeast and barley and mush and stuff! It is awfully good though.


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Photo of SerialTicker
3.99/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Hop Cat... $3 for a tulip during Happy Hour? What a steal. I didn't order this one myself, but had a few sips of it... a few very memorable sips.

Appearance: A ruby sort of color with a surprising little head on it with some patchy lacing. Looks good, but not the beer's greatest attribute.

Smell: Phew! Bourbon and vanilla. Caramel. Wow, that is potent. Dark fruits, perhaps, but the bourbon, vanilla, and caramel are most prominent, for sure.

Taste/feel: Backwoods Bastard, in a sense... but this is a bit more harsh with the alcohol/not quite as smooth. Pretty significant bourbon character with a pretty hot finish. Vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits throughout the sip. This is actually a pretty excellent beer, though it definitely could have used a bit more time in the barrel, yet a bit less of a bourbon character. Needs some mellowing. Not as well crafted as Backwoods in my opinion, but still pretty awesome. Obviously, being different styles, this beer does have a VERY slight tartness to it.. by slight, I mean slight. It's not like the other Wheatwines I've had before for the most part, but then again, those weren't poured into a bourbon barrel.

I don't generally jump up and down about New Holland, but they impressed me quite a lot with this one.

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Photo of stortore
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 12 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Pours a nice looking garnet color, with a small head, some cling. Smell brings malt, caramel, brown sugar, bourbon, cherries. Kind of get some strawberry after it's warmed. Taste is a little malt forward, with a good amount of cherries. Also bourbon, more than expected for the age, caramel, vanilla, oak, brown sugar. A little boozy. Solid body, pretty smooth, nice level of carbonation.

Really good beer, and this bottle has held up pretty well for at least two years. Good depth of flavor, really effectively barrel aged. One you should try, if you can.

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Photo of Beerlover
4.55/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

acquired this on my hunt for bourbon county, was recommended by the friendly knowledgable staff at haskells, thanks Tim! I haven't really been a big fan of new Holland before, there beers being too sweet or nothing special, lets see if this can break those low expectations
A: clear amber brown in color with a half inch thick off white head, looks mediumly carbonated .
S: smells sweet but not overly sweet, getting some brown sugar/raisiny with a malty backbone doesn't smell too much like a wheat beer
T: this is awesome!!! definitely going back for a four pack! I wonder how old this is cuz I bet im drinking it at its peak, wow this stuff has some complexity... all the aromas come out in the taste in perfect balance, sweet but not overly by any means and I think this is helped by the booziness, noticeable but far from what I would guess 12% taste more like 8 to 9, and no burn at all. wow again
O.A.: I might have to try the offereings I've had from these guys again just based on this, at least the dragons milk....

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Photo of JamesMN
3.89/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

No intelligible date on the bottle but I don't worry about that with this style of beer. Likely this years release.

Appearance: A deep chestnut brown with hints of mahogany and superb clarity. Thin cap of light tan suds.

Aroma: Toasted caramel, raisins, figs, and other dried fruits. There isn't really much alcohol in the nose but there is an underlying liqueur presence.

Taste: Like drinking liquid caramel mixed with all the flavor of trail mix and bourbon. Pilgrim's Dole starts with a burst of thick caramel malt that slowly lends drunken raisin, vanilla, and oak to the flavor. The finish is leaves a light alcohol burn that rekindles the other flavors in the aftertaste and adds some surprising hop bitterness. At 12% ABV its among the strongest beers I've had and it shows in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: More than full it body, it's one of the thickest beers I've ever had. Like drinking a milkshake, which is to say it has low carbonation and below average drinkability. But such things come with the territory. Though I couldn't detect the wheat in the flavor it may be what is allowing for such a smooth mouthfeel.

Final Thoughts: Wow what a big beer. I'm no stranger to barleywines and big ABVs but Pilgrim's Dole really takes the cake for being like, well… drinking a cake. Definitely a sipper, which is good because it allows the flavors to develop as it warms. Nice use of bourbon barrels. This one is only for the serious beer geek. You have been warned. Would I drink it again? Yes, I imagine it ages quite nicely as well.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.81/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Ow f yeah! Syrup thick with a solid 1/2 inch of head. Beer itself is clear deep ruby red brown and the head has a nice mocha tint.
S - Vanilla and toffee sweetness. Has some vegital notes but mostly smooth bourbon in moist wood.
T - Bourbon is there not very strong smooth then I get a harsh woody vegital tone that taste like burnt ash. The finish is again sweet. Revisit is about the same very bitter herbal taste which kind of kills the bourbon tone. Maybe wheat? ABV is well hidden which is nice.
M - Smooth and thick with a well hidden ABV.

Overall I am not sure what to think maybe they should have just bourbon barreled the whole beer? The finish product seems good but it could be better...

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Photo of QuentinCall
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

It's like the first time you ate scuppernongs or sauteed veal brains. And you sat staring at them, even while understanding their relation to more familiar foodstuffs, trying to quantify or appropriately grasp their dynamic, utterly post-modern approach to your concepts of consumption. While it is a jarring, enlightening experience, at some point though, you are obliged to simply be grateful for the paradigm shift and carry on addressing your new discovery.

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Photo of metter98
3.96/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On-tap at Bunkers Sports Bar & Grill, Vandalia, OH

A: The beer is clear light reddish amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high light beige head that died down, leaving lacing on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Bits of sweetness are present in the nose along with notes of oaky vanilla aromas.
T: The taste is a little sweet and has flavors of toffee with notes of vanilla towards the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite interesting for a wheatwine and isn't overly difficult to drink because the alcohol isn't that noticeable in the taste. It also has nice vanilla and toffee flavors without tasting exactly like bourbon or alcohol.

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Photo of gatornation
4.04/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage

A- pours a clear dark copper color with a kahki 1 finger head that sticks around for a bit but resedes to just a fresh collar
S- mellow bourbon with wheat and fruit some malt and toffee and vanilla
T- smooth bourbon with oak and dark fruit a sweet malt and toffee middle traces of wheat and spice
M- very smooth and fresh ABV very well hidden bourbon is present but does not overpower this WW
O- very good but was more on the verge of a Barleywine than a WW IMO either way it was smooth tasty and the BB was awesome

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Photo of fitrock2112
3.62/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured Pilgrim's Dole into a Samuel Adams glass.

A - Pours a cloudy amber with a small film of white head.

S - Sweet dark fruits, heavy malt and wheat, light whiskey aroma. Not bad aroma on this brew.

T - Sweet candied fruit initially, heavy malt and wheat. Some toffee, carmel. It has some light hops and spicy alcohol mid palate. More alcohol than I would like.

M - Heavy beer here, heavy mouthfeel, little carbonation.

O - New to the style, but would try again. Is it great? No, but worth a shot. Give it try if you like the style. Cheers

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Photo of cyclonece09
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a cloudy light red with a nice off white head. Smells of Bourbon, wheat, and candy, very sweet smell. Tastes of sweet syrupy smoked bourbon barrel with slight wheat aftertaste. Beer is very sticky, full body good carbonation for style. Overall, a very good beer.

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Photo of hardy008
3.74/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a copper color with an almost one finger beige head, which fades quickly, leaving no lacing. The aroma is very sweet and has raisins, figs, dates, and toffee.

The flavor is also sweet and has toffee, figs, dates, raisins, and alcohol. Even though the alcohol is noticeable, it is not overpowering. I am glad I let his sit for 8 months, or this most likely would have been too boozy.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. There is an aftertaste of toffee, dark fruit, and alcohol. A nice effort from New Holland.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.74/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle provided by Shaun #1, shared with me and Doug in snifters yesterday 6/3/2013.

Aroma: Bourbony, so very bourbony with a big vanilla presence plus a nice, tantalizing sweetness. Smells very good.

Colour: Pours a nice mahogany colour, small bit of white head. Not much lacing.

Flavour: Lots of bourbon, not as much heat of course. The barrel characteristic is very strong with its vanilla contribution. And the sweetness from the wheatwine is outstanding in how it complements the bourbon.

Mouthfeel: Thinner side of medium body, OK carbonation. Aftertaste has got a lot of barrel in it. Tasty. You can feel a little bit of heat but its not terrible.

Overall: Tasty barrel-aged wheatwine, well put together and the bourbon barrel definitely shines here- as I would expect from New Holland.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.24/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25


Pours reddish brown with a white sudsy head.

Smells of caramel and tart apples.

Flavor is vanilla, apples, cinnamon, caramel and bourbon. Bit of hop bitterness.

Full body with light carbonation and boozy warmth.

Really tasty and powerful ale. Good sipper and great flavor.

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Photo of emyers
4.04/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a thin off-white head. Not much lacing.

Smell: Caramel, bready notes, bourbon. Bourbon is fairly subtle. Smells quite sweet. Smell is fairly simple, but quite good.

Taste: Similar to the smell, with tons of caramel and some bourbon up front, bready notes, and not a whole lot else. The bittering hops do a great job of holding the sweetness in check. I expected it to be cloying based on the aroma, but it isn't. Once again, simple, but quite good.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick, especially with the caramely theme.

Overall: It's defintely not a complex beer, but the flavors are quite nice. I'd definitely revisit this beer.

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Pilgrim's Dole from New Holland Brewing Company
3.95 out of 5 based on 898 ratings.
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