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Big Fish Barleywine | Flying Fish Brewing Company

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Big Fish BarleywineBig Fish Barleywine
21 Ratings
Big Fish BarleywineBig Fish Barleywine

Brewed by:
Flying Fish Brewing Company
New Jersey, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bighuge on 12-18-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 21 |  Reviews: 20
Reviews by jackndan:
Photo of jackndan
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Flying Fish Big Fish Barleywine: Poured out of a twelve ounce bottle, with two notable characteristics: 1. it had a red wax sealed cork: 2. it had a hand written label.

Pours a tan, murky color, with obvious sediment in the bottle, that I had stirred up more than I thought I had, given that it was sitting in the cellar for at least a year. Not much head, but one would not have expected that given that this beer is at least 10% alcohol.

The aroma is primarily dried fruits and raisins, with just a bit of smokey hints that I can't quite place (rye toast?)

The taste is rich and wonderful, with that same hint of smoke notable, with complex malt and dried fruit, vinous tastes. Dry finish, with just a bit of residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel is nice, just a bit of spicy bubbles.


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More User Reviews:
Photo of Varkias41
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

Photo of silver0rlead
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, reddish-dark brown with a tan colored head that dissapates quickly. The smell is striking, with a big fruity malt profile and a citrus hops background. The flavor is very mellow and belies the alcohol content of this potent brew. The taste begins with a lightly sweet caramelly malt profile that becomes fruity and tart like fresh strawberries. The finish is slightly bitter and dry with a floral hops taste that really leaves a nice flavor on your tongue. A very nice beer, with high alcohol and a lot of complexity thats not hard to drink at all, a winner from Flying Fish.

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Photo of akorsak
4.02/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a wine glass of Big Fish served cold.

Appearance: The beer has a orange color that resembles a DIPA (NOTE: Foreshadowing other components of the beer here). There is a bit of head but it does not make an impression.

Smell: The ale has a big bold hop aroma that grabs you and doesn't let go. I was looking for a malty smoothness and these hops are a pleasant surprise.

Taste: Floral, citrusy hops rule this beer. They dominate from the get-go and provide an incredible bitterness. Behind those hops there is a nice smooth maltiness that prevents this barleywine from sprialling out of control.

Mouthfeel: The hops are a very pleasant change of place. They work quite well in this beer.

Drinkability: The ale is a little too strong to sit and pound. Despite that, one bottle on a chilly night would be quite nice. Well done by Flying Fish.

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Photo of weeare138
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to egajdzis for the sample.
This is an aged keg from Feb, '03.
Appears a transparent amber with a small, off white head and tiny specks of lacing left behind.
Smell is a bit reminiscent of the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice having some hints of vanilla, oak, caramel but she is definitley a smooth barleywine.
Taste is of the same wonderful aromas mixed into a smooth batch that delights the tongue.
Mouthfeel is smooth with a touch of bitter hops and a slight bit of rounded alcohol that has been subdued from the aging.

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Photo of Phatz
4.32/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Capone's In Norristown PA.

Of 6 Flying Fish beers the Imperial Espresso Porter is in a league of it's own. The Big Fish Barleywine was my second choice. Tasty.

Appearance: Served a hazy copper orange color that with a small fast fading ivory head and very few specks of lace.

Smell: Big aroma of dark fruits tart cherries wood, vanilla plum and apple. An earthy hop and a pineapple attribute make an appearance along with a firm alcohol element. Nice.

Taste: It starts off with Fruits. Tart fruits. Dark and malty. Overripe apples; Macintosh maybe. Then a bitterness and spiciness follow coating the cheeks with acidity that runs down the throat with a bit of heat. The alcohol is hidden initially in the flavor by the heavy malts and fruits until the swallow when the aftertaste reveals a bit of a burn.

Mouthfeel: It is an almost full body beer with an assertive bitterness, a tart element and some alcohol presence.

Drinkability: This is not one I am going to describe as approachable but it is a very tasty sipping beer.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap into a snifter

This one's a doozy. Lots of stuff going on, in terms of flavors, aromas, everything. Coloring is fairly light copper orange, with a good amount of frothy foam on top. Fairly opaque, with good lacing. Nose is strong spicy fruit. Fairly strong, overall, but not overwhelming. Taste is likewise excellent; lots of spicy hops, with some grape and pine. Sweet malt hints as well; fairly well balanced, especially for a barley wine. Just a touch of alcohol taste, but fairly mild given the ABV. Feel is fairly full-bodied, a little syrupy. Excellent long after-taste. Overall, an really excellent beer, my favorite of the Flying Fish (and I am a fan) that I've tried so far. One I could drink a fair bit, despite the potency and strong flavor.

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Photo of stirgy
3.35/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This was a light pale golden color with small and rich head of foam. Pretty light looking for such a strong beer. The aroma is syrupy sweet and candy like. The flavor is very strong with resinous overtones. Pine-like and a bit harsh. This probably needs some more time for the flavors to mellow. Some higher alcohol becomes apparent in the aftertaste. Despite that, This was a very flavorful strong ale that I was glad I got to try.

Tried again in November 2004:

Clear and orangey-amber in color. Creamy yet thin head floats atop the beer. The aroma is slightly syrupy and has a floral bitter spiciness. There’s also a “gin” like presence that’s noticeable. I had this beer earlier in the year and the taste here is definitely more mellow and refined than the earlier version. It surely benefited from some aging. Deep piney notes with a mellow malt bitterness. The bitterness comes on slowly, and starts to overwhelm the palate about halfway through the pint. The finish is surprisingly clean and smooth. This version is much better. I enjoyed it.

AP-4.5 SM-3.5 TA-4 MF-4 DR-4

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Photo of sinistrsam
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured a hazy darker-than-expected gold/brown and left excllent lacing on the glass. The nose was molasses, cherry and sweet and dark malts.
The taste was big on molasses and malt, sour hints come from the cherry and alcohol was a bit mroe noticable than desired.
The feel was smooth at first, but quickly faded into bitter and biting.
Overall a decent barleywine but a little too sour-sweet for my tastes.

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Photo of Foxman
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It pours a hazy light tea amber, orangey and bright at the margins. Maybe a finger of light tan head pillows for some time. Scoops of lacing shell the inside of the glass.

The aroma is heavy with caramel malt sweetness and fruity with berry. Raisin and plum, as well, duel with both hoppy pine and a subdued but solid current of alcohol.

Upon sipping, and I do mean sipping, there's a sweetly restrained malt push, with caramel, currants, sloe, and dark cherry. Evening the scales is a spicy floral pine hop character. The alcohol is airy and muscular, and precedes a creamy biscuit malt encore. The finish is a nice turn to a dry apple-like crispness, lingering long and suitably. It's big, very well balanced, and gracefully blended.

Full bodied, the malt is never cloying but is thick, creamy, and coating. The hops leave a saucy nip on the tongue.

As big as it is, it's never brash, but rather full and modestly bold. And the balance is truly notable, leading to a smooth, warm blend. Yes, the ABV is grand in scale, but it's an integral part of the master plan, which is why this is so drinkable, in spite of it. It is a presence, but it's especially tasty and a sipping joy. I am genuinely proud to say this is brewed in my backyard.

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Photo of DrJay
4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy, muddy toffee brown with a thick, dense, light brown head. Solid lacing with great retention. Thick toffee aroma with lots of citrusy grapefruit and fresh hop character. Chewy toffee with some caramel dominate the flavour. Hops fight to break through, but there's a solid bitterness that plows through at the end. Pine and grapefruit rise in the finish, accompanied by a mild alcohol warmth and flavour. Full bodied with lowish carbonation. Quite viscous and a little creamy, somewhat palate coating. Pretty easy drinking for a big abv beer. The flavours were a bit muddy at times and the hops struggled to find a place, though it became much cleaner as it warmed. Quite nice. I'd definitely have it again.

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Photo of clvand0
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one pours an amber color with a very low head that falls fast and doesn't leave any lacing on the glass. The aroma has a lot of dark fruit and dark malts with some alcohol. The flavor has a lot of residual sweetness with a nice strong hop character. I'm not a huge fan of the type of hop, but it's very nice. The body is moderate and the drinkability is very good.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After hearing that a local brewery was offering a new Barleywine, I couldn’t help but jump in my boat and take the bait. I got out my rod & reel to start cranking in a Big Fish. This is no fish tale- I’ll tell ya the truth…

Straight from their Cherry Hill, NJ brewery stream, Big Fish BWSA was poured out from a growler literally eight hours after a Sat. tour. She was still flopping in the canoe! Can you spell F-R-E-S-H? Clear orange caramel steeped in a 12 oz. Pilsner with zero bubbles, after one minute. Small tan head clings loosely to the sides of the glass, with dotted lace. This looks like a keeper. Grab the net! This was already aged one year thanks to the generous brewin’ folks at Flying Fish (Sixtels are also available at some stores. This is a drinker at 10% ABV so Caveat emptor! Make sure you have high-test line!)

Aroma requires a deep nose inhalation of this offering, yielding appley-sweet, roasted caramel & yeast scents. Fruity awl-kee-hawl esters creep up my nostrils, endearing plum, raisin, cherry and caramel-apple facets to my olfactory palate. Yum. This catch sits on the tongue with solid concrete foundations of sizzling carbonation, but with a deceivingly strong boost of hoochie-ness, (someone hit spell-check for me) with an aftertaste of cinnamon & cloves.

Last swigs: Pleasurable body, solid carbonation throughout while decreasing temperature alterations lend to a scarily high drinkabilty factor. After catching this prize, head back to land. This is a BIG Fish, indeed! Tantamount to SN Bigfoot, IMHO. $12 for a Growler??? Beer bargain alert!!! If you live within a drive, cast your line to Cherry Hill. Are you up for the workout to reel ‘er in? I let her go back after two 12 oz’ers, and plenty more in the growler for later. Hopefully I am in a no-wake zone, because after this, I don't want to wake for a while. As momma said, "Plenty of fish in the sea." Have a couple and you’ll be swimming with the Big Fishes.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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Photo of Jarod
4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer came to me a cloudy amber/red/brown color that was slightly carbonated. The head that was produced was beige/tan colored, semi dense and fizzy in nature, semi lasting and quickly fell to a small skim on the surface and a ring on the edges. There was some lace present, but mostly in spotty areas. The aromas that came from the glass were of fruits, and lots of them, apricots, pineapples, some bananas and melons, caramel, sweet malts, and lots of floral hops throughout. The tastes were just as big as the aromas, lots of fruits, sweet and dark malts, floral hops, some alcohol, and hints of a deep rich wine. The aftertaste was of wine notes and as it warmed alcohol soaked fruit lingered. The body was on the medium full side. A creamy thick bold beer that had good flavors, and with every sip and temperature change seemed to get better and better. Not overly complex, but was sneaky, after you thought the flavors were one dimensional some new flavors seemed to arise. I enjoyed this beer and all that it offered.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Kind of a murky looking ruby/scarlet red/russet appearance. A tight and creamy light brown head recedes to a thin coating in a minute. A thin rimming is left as well that leaves sporadic rings of lace. Great aroma. Quite sweet. Passion fruits. Ripe melon and pineapple. Some caramel maltiness. Bugglegum esters. Banana. Man, I love this nose. The taste is excellent. Sweet fruity esters of pineapple and melon. Some slight winey accents. American high alpha acid hop derived bitterness. A little bit of alcohol hangs around leaving the slightest bit of a stinging sensation. The mouthfeel is extremely creamy and enjoyable. Body seems to hover around medium full. Damn, this is a good brew. And I hear it's even smoother out of a tap.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wax covered top and hand written label. Very awesome. Pours a very dark tea brown color with a light head that falls to nothing over top. Lots of chunk fell into my glass, but I didn't want to loose a drop of this one. The nose is big and malty. Lots of bready notes and light raisin. Smells nice. Flavor is right there, but with a nice earthy hop in there too. Bready, raisiny, molasses and a moderate earthy hop. I really like it. No alcohol in there. Feel is thick and a light bit syrupy with no real carbonation. Highly drinkable beer. By far the best beer from this company that I have had. All the parts work well together.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.82/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After having this on-tap during the winter of '03, I must say this beer has aged very well. Comes with a nice head which quickly goes down, but it has a nice amber color. I had it cask-conditioned so this is understandable. The smell quickly draws you in and the taste matches it perfectly. A lot of hops (different varieties from what I can tell) and a lot of malt. The taste is much more mellow in the hops department but it makes it more drinkable. Still balanced, but as I said mellower. I loved this. The mouthfeel was exceptionally smooth. Not too much carbonation, which is appropriate for cask-conditioned. Given the alcohol content of this beer, very much incredibly drinkable. Obviously, I'm grading on a sliding scale. The ranking for the taste is harder to pin down, but I can't envision much improvement so it's getting a 5.

Alas, Flying Fish has little of this left and they are most likely not making this again. This is a darn shame. I thank my good Lord for the opportunity to have this. I consider myself lucky for having tried it.

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Photo of ElGuapo
3.77/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice dark brown pour topped in a thick coating of tannish foam. The aroma is spicy and hoppy with a nice touch of alcohol. It smells like it would need a bit of aging, but it only tells half the story.

This beer was a bit mellowed out, and even though it did seem a bit young, I think there was a substantial aging period. Nice hop presence to it as well as a good malt base. The alcohol was there, but did not make for a huge flavor, just a nice warming effect. The drinkability was excellent, and it just got nicer gulp after gulp. I was told that this will possibly be the last year for this one.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.53/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazed amber body with a bubbly, off-white head.

Smell: Strong, redolent pine aroma backed by a meager amount of sugary caramel.

Taste: A very, very thin caramel sweetness before the highly assertive hops kick in, with a sharp floral, pine flavor. The finish is exceptionally bitter and long-lasting.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: It lacks the lushness and complexity I look for in a barleywine, but, if you're a fan of highly hopped barleywines then I would recommend this.

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Photo of nomad
4.67/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage - drank in 2004

Appears a murky red-amber color, with not much of a head and little lace. Slowly settled to a more shining hue.

Smelled of grapefruit, melon, passion fruit, and cherries turning over into roasty notes. Rosy overall, it has bushy leaf scents that never cease to expand. In sum, a very full load of sweet malts and very large hop scents combining for alluring results. Even after a year the hops are big and seemingly fresh.

Taste has many sides, starting off fruity with shades of cherry, melon, underripe plums, and a crystal malt sweetness. Then, from the hops, come flavors of grapefruits, but more so lime, and a bushy, leafy sense of lime. An amazing, fresh, and complex flavor. Like the nose, again, this beer is rosy overall, opening to an amazing flavor reminiscent of pomegranate. Ends with a nice version of a dry high-alpha hop finish, but surprisingly not too drying. Thicker mouthfeel.

Very drinkable, along the lines of Bigfoot or a West Coast barleywines. More than one BA warned me that its a poor barleywine - somehow, my experience was quite different! Hauntingly good.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big 750ml bottle shared with BA earthman, courtesy of BA foolcircle. Thank you, sir!

Appearance, fully opaque, magenta hued, big, blooming, dotted tapioca head.

Aroma: big'n'fruity, rich, brandy-like, dark fruits aplenty, cherries and grapes, mellow, though. I like it!

Brisk and beautiful taste, lovely fruited flavor, well-rounded feel, a bit oaky, with a great, mature character. This isn't ripped, raw and in-yer-face, no, it's solid, sure, not too hot or boozy, very cool and lovely.
Big alcohol, but hardly felt...just enjoyed.
Full body, long finish, relaxing and almost indulgent.
A quality barleywine, and I was mighty glad to drink it!

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Big Fish Barleywine from Flying Fish Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.17 out of 5 with 21 ratings
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