Old Horizontal | Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown

1,110 Reviews
Old HorizontalOld Horizontal

Brewed by:
Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Massive amounts of barley malts, combined with fresh harvest American hops make it aromatic and spicy on the nose. Floral, fruity aromas slide into honeyed malt depth with lingering sensations of candied and citrus fruit. Late warming alcohol brings all of these flavors into wonderful harmony to finish.

Malt: Imported 2 row German malts
Hops: Whole flower American hops
Food Pairings: Meat pies and English cheese

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-23-2001

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Reviews: 1,110 | Ratings: 1,893
Photo of pmcadamis
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - A cascade effect builds up a gloriously chunky 4 finger orangish hued head over a dirty, murky, redish-orangish-brown brew. Looks viscous and thick. Lots of orangish lace is left on the glass.

S - Milk chocolate, chocolate cake, scones with caramel oozing over them. Also dates, prunes, toffee, and rum. This is wonderful!

T - Just about the richest brew ever. Full of hearty whole grain bread, german chocolate cake, fruitcake, scones, and everything that is thick chewy, moist, and drizzled in honey and caramel. Towards the end of the sip, big grassy hops come out to play and keep all of that cakey sweetness in check. Actually the sweetness never gets out of hand at any time due to the thick bready grainy malt characteristics that are more akin to biscuits with honey drizzled on top rather than pure candy sweetness.

M - Just about the thickest, most viscous beer I've ever put in my mouth! Chewy, thick, slick and creamy at first, but then moving toward a dry and sandy finish. Excellent!

D - Damn the alcohol content. I would session the hell out of this stuff. This is right up there with Okocim Porter for my favorite brew so far.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep, clear amber with cherry highlights and a thin off-white head. Huge smells of lightly toasted malts - big time fruity. As it warms, smells of vanilla, maple syrup and buttery pancakes are revealed. Taste is amazingly balanced and never harsh like some barleywines, even fresh. A monstrous caramel malt flavor, candy-like fruit with a smooth, escalating bitter finish that lingers but never overpowers the palate. Like Hop Devil on steroids. Mouth is big, thick and full with plenty of prickly carbonation. The ABV is big but barely noticeable, until you're finished your glass (obviously). No heat here. Amazing. Probably one of the best, if not the best American barleywine available.

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Photo of kegerator
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I can't say enough about this brew. In my opinion it was superb from start to finish. I am a huge fan of barley wines and I have not had a better one then this.
beautiful deep amber with a decent fizzed head.
smells very sweet, apples and pears with some sugarcane or brown sugar like smell.
taste was the same. hits you up front with that sweetness a nice alcohol warmth and finishes with slight bite of hop but no where near bigfoot's bite(i like that :)).
mouthfeel, sweet and sticky, smooth
very dinkable and it will catch up to you if your not careful.

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Photo of czechsaaz
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled Dec. 17, 2002 so nearly 4 years old, served at cellar temp. Poured extremely carefully into a snifter.

Very fruity aroma. Like really ripe plums and dark cherries. On first sniff, there was a hint of hot alcohol, but that went away. I get chocolate malt and honey and a little hint of citrus. Hop aroma is very had to pick out (at this age, that's normal) but what's there is spicey. Very complex aroma between fementation esters, aged hops, and a ton of malt.

Deep red, almost brown colored. Clear with light rising carbonation. Started with a thin layer of head that fades to a ring of foam around the rim of the glass.

Big malt flavor, tons of it really. Lots of medium crystal type flavor with big doses of two-row base. Hop bitterness is still very high and lingers long in the aftertaste. There is very little hop flavor still remaining (probably an age effect.) but the little bit thats there is grapefuity citrus. Lots of deep ripe fruit esters and now I'm getting a little apple (not green apple like Acetaldehyde but a pleasant red apple sweetness.) I also get hints of chocolate and cofee. Big and complex with a lot of flavors.

Full bodied and creamy with a hint of warm alcohol. Very nice carbonation level for a beer of this age. It's still very lively.

Great sipping beer, drinkability is a little different scale for a big barleywine. Delicious with tons of complexity. I have two more and I highly recommend you buy a six pack of 2006 and sit on it. I'll try my next from this year at 5 years old and report again.

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Photo of John
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Exceptional beer all the way around. Victory Brewing absolutely kicks ass. Beautiful dark ruby color with cascading reddish tan head that lasts. Strong hop with alcohol and a hint of orange/grapefruit zest in the aroma. Not just a beer, but a malty sweet, hopped up, flavor savoring experience.

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Photo of ZAP
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

**Update April 2006....Still as outstanding as ever....even relatively fresh (Dec 05 bottle)...great stuff

**Update June 2005-Just checking to make sure I have this as all 5's and I do..this is good fresh and even better aged...THE #1 BW out there in my opinion...perfectly done

Sweet dark burgondy cherries/elderberries/buisonberries on the nose and on the buds...spectacular, classy dark bronze color with no head...very balanced and smooth...slips down easy...very little alcohol bite present...some good hops that balance in an unobtrusive fashion...spicy hop finish..can I give the aroma a 6??? Very little alcohol noticable...hopping more evident on long finish...THE best Victory beer I have tasted (which says something)...some caramal in the shadows...very very very nice...

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Photo of ScottieWags01
4.99/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Quite a heavy ruckus from Old Horizontal, a Barelywine that's affordable as it is too tasty. Red oak, velvet amber hues give the appearance of bronze metal deliciousness. Vanilla and caramel tastes compliment the sweet, musky grain, and barely husks. Hints of toffee, marzipan, and bourben envelops the taste of sweet caramel, butterskotch, barley and rye. Undertones of smooth, velvety fruit qualities such as grapes, raisins, plums, strawberrries,and peach can be noticed if given enough contemplation. The overall feel is sweet, high gravity, and velvety, with a sugary and lacy finish. Overall, it's a damn good beer worth the price and should be tried by all who come across it.

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Photo of goz
4.97/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow! Pour is a deep ruby red, thin head and very low carbonation. Aroma is monsterous - hops, malts, fruit, and alcohol are all present in bunches. Flavor is just as big as the aroma, starts sweet and malty, middle is very citric and flowery, ends with a nice oily hop pine-ish and lingering flavor. Alcohol is definately noticeable, but I think it adds to the deepness of the flavor and mouthfeel. How they pack that much into a little 12 ounce bottle amazes me.

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Photo of becktone
4.91/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Eye: Cloudy Brown in appearance. Not really any highlights b/c the brew is cloudy. The color is ultimately brown but leans heavily toward a reddish brown. Almost reminds me of a dark grapefruit color. Head is pretty weak though it could be the glass-using a different one than I usually use...this one goes through the dishwasher. Head was a off white color and was creamy before it dissipated. There does seem to be some lacing. I'll be sure to try this again out of my regular glass.

Nose: Big and potent nose on this brew. Once decanted the aroma of the brew fills the air surrounding the glass. At first didn't have to get close to the glass to be able to smell this one. Nice balance of hops, alcohol, and malt in this aroma. There is an underlying bread aroma to this brew as well they don't get much better than this.

Tongue: Wow! I was expecting something that would be very hop heavy. This is a perfectly balanced brew. It is absolutely perfect. All the flavors are expertly blended together. Some sweet malt flavors hit the tip of the tongue then bitterness and hop character right upfront countered by the heavy dark malt flavors that follow. Finishes dry with some floral hop character. Very complex flavors that are way to complicated to describe. Alcohol is hidden pretty well but still perceptible.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Heavy bodied this brew is everything that it should be. Brew warms as it goes down. For being such a strong brew this is something I could sit down and drink for a while. If you have an appreciation for beer than this is one that you'll find is strong but is not hard to quaff. I'd not like to binge drink with this but I could see myself easily going through a sixer....prolly be wasted but still...its that good. This is a brew I will always keep my eye out for. I've been looking for it for a long time-bout 3 years. If I can find it again I'll be sure to try and get a case. This is one that shouldn't be passed up.

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Photo of nortmand
4.9/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ruby red pour with some chill haze and a steady tan head.

Sensational smell. Caramel, chocolate, even a bit of pipe tobacco earthiness there. Very nice.

Slightly sweet up front, ends in a massive bludgeon of bitter, resiny hops. Tastes a bit oxidized, most likely due to the massive hits of American hops.

Huge bodied, and surprisingly smooth, this is not one to be missed.

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Photo of BryanCarey
4.87/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Old Horizontal is a scrumptious barleywine that offers an intriguing scent; a beautiful head of foam that leaves lace as it recedes; and a body that is full and malty. This barleywine tends toward the sweet side with a taste that is complex and memorable.

Several tastes combine to make Old Horizontal the great brew that it is. There are flavors like baked bread, a little bit of caramel, some grain, yeast, candy, and fruit. The taste is quite complex and I find that each time I take another sip, I discover something else about Old Horizontal that I didn’t know about the first time.

Probably the most interesting characteristic of this beer is the fact that it isn’t very bitter. Most barleywine styles are known for the over- emphasis on the hops but Old Horizontal is actually more malty and sweet. The hops are obviously present (there are even some flakes in the bottom of the bottle) but they are not as pronounced as with other barleywine.

Old Horizontal is a delicious example of this style and it’s the type of beer I could sample over and over again and continue to find new and unique ways to describe its taste. This is a sure sign of a great beer and Old Horizontal is a beer not to be missed; a product with delicious, complex flavors and a flavor profile that keeps growing on you; getting better and better with each passing sip.

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Photo of mophie
4.87/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Heaven in a glass. A deep orange hue, with just a little haziness in it. Intense aroma of spice and citrus. The taste is a perfect balance of fruit, pine, and spice. Amazing. And plenty of alcohol to keep you toasty.

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Photo of bonsreeb85
4.86/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2008 vintage consumed on 10-25-09

A - murky, muddy garnet, w/ a head that leaves the party too quickly. however given the high ABV, i guess this is forgivable.

S - rich caramel syrup, soft chewy toffee, rum soaked cherries, raisins, candy apple, dried and candied dates and plums.

T - I believe this bottle is about 1 year old and it is drinking just lovely. the flavor is very sweet just as the nose promised. very complex and candy-like with some alcohol warmth and hop bitterness on the finish, though both ar minimal and leave enough room for the other flavors to really mesh well and shine.

MF - lots of carbonation. very full and thick body syrupy and slick.

D - exceptional for a beer this size, perfect night cap on this snowy night in Denver.

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Photo of cokes
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bow down.
This is a knock-em-down, drag-em-out beast of a barleywine.
Pours a sizzling deep scarlet. Foamy light tan head fades quick, but never goes completely away.
Smell is big on malt with some cherry backdrop. Berries and carmel as well. Faint hops as well. The kitchen sink might be here too.
Taste. Get a pencil. There is burnt and carmel malts. Faint toffee. Raisin/ripe grape flavors...a good deal of tartness. Some berries (can't quite identify which varieties), bourbon-soaked cherries...maybe just straight bourbon too...hints of vanilla, oak. You name it. A musty, earthy, piney citric hopping enters and adds to the fray, rather than cleaning it up.
Sips well, feels great as it coats the mouth and pummels it into submission.
Oh yeah, alcohol is here too.
My new favorite B'wine. Move over ol' crusty. This is sooooo good.
All praise be to VENOM. And even more praise for sending two. I'll save the other one for sometime special. Cheers, bro!

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Photo of EkimGram
4.85/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: 12oz bottle with a "fresh before Dec. 13, 2015" stamp, poured into a standard pint. Colour is a very rich amber. Very thin head around the edge of the glass. No visible carbonation at all.

Smell: Hops upon hops.l Very strong earthy and floral notes. Strong, sweet.

Taste: As the smell, hoppy and bitter up front - strong but not overpowering. Aftertaste is smooth with very strong malty notes. The roastyness in the end is a very welcome surprise. You can almost find a hint of nutty chocolate as well. Nice and warming.

Mouthfeel: Mildly carbonated, full-bodied. Very rick, syrupy, and thick. Just a small amount of bite at the end.

Drinkability: An amazing beer! I must have more. Alcohol is barley noticeable, flavour and smell are extremely complex. I can't imagine this brew being any better.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.83/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours clear scarlet/burgandy color. Beautiful pillowy beige head. Great malty aroma accented by molasses. First impression of taste is alcohol. It's fairly big upfront. After you cut through the EtOH, you get a very nice blend of malt and hops. The maltiness seems like it stems from caramel malt. It's great. Then there's the the hop bite. There's actually a very nice bitterness hidden behind the Big Malt and Alcohol. And it lingers. The alcohol is there for the whole ride.

This is truly a sipping beer. A great experience.

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Photo of kunzbrew
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on November 15, 2002. I have been waiting for this one for a long time, she has been staring at me from the fridge for months now, saying drink me.

Pours a ruby red copper color with minimal haze. Minimal creamy tan head that reduces in just a few minutes. A very sexy lace is left behind.

Candy is all I smell out from the top of the glass. Strong fruity smells along with a maltiness that is to die for. My nose is going ape shit over this beer. Hop aroma is present for this strong brew.

Flavor is complex with almost a whiskey taste that is light, a sweet date flavor is also strong man I like it. Hop flavor is getting stronger as the beer warms. Malt flavor is exceptional words can't really describe it (well at least my words).

The medium body is decieving since the drinkablity is right up there with the best of them.

I am going to get a few more of these for later this winter and into the summer.


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Photo of cook76
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'll admit up front that I am a big fan of a good barleywine...and Victory's Old Horizontal is certainly that. I have only ever had it out of a bottle and usually pour into a traditional "Guiness"-style pint glass. Minimal head, fine carbonation, I'd say mostly dark amber in color with some reddish-brown undertones. The smell and the taste I feel are what really put Old Horizontal above other barleywines I've had. Strong indeed when it comes to alcohol content, but not overpowering and blends well with the flavor of the beer. Definitely a good slow-sipping beer. Mouthfeel is not super-smooth (I wonder what draft is like??) but does not distract too much either. Main competitors in my area (Pennsylvania) would be the two Weyerbacher barleywines--Blithering Idiot and it's pricier aged cousin Insanity. Old Horizontal beats out both of these on taste--seems the taste of the alcohol is too pronounced in the Weyerbacher beers (although they are still quite good).

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Photo of RoyalT
4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This was gorgeous. The body is a mystical sort of orangish-brown and very thick. The head came up nicely, went down slowly, then stopped and left little puddles all over the top of the body.

Smell – Oh, does this smell terrific. The solid malt base laced with caramel and sugar is there, but the beautiful hop smell stands out. It’s mostly pine and very sharp. The combination and play that they got between the malt and the hops is incredible.

Taste – The sugary malts come out more so in the taste. I thought the aroma favored the hops, even after warming, but the taste is definitely evenly balanced. I love LBB’s “fork in the road” analogy. What impresses me is how everything comes together.

It’s hard to describe how good the flavor is of this ale. The quality of ingredients here is beyond reproach. This is an amazing treat.

Mouthfeel – Full in the body with a little carbonation and very chewy. Not much warning of the 11.0 ABV.

Drinkability – This was so good I’ll have to log off the site. I couldn’t possibly follow this one with another bottle.

Comments – I had broached a trade with OldFrothingSlosh for some SKS and he threw a couple of these in for good measure. How cool is that? This BW, along with SN Bigfoot, sits atop the heap of my Barley Wine Ratings. What an amazing brew!

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Photo of Wasatch
4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Revisit: 4 Mar 17
22 oz. Bomber
Enjoy By: 13 Oct 2021
2016 Vintage

Been Over 11 Years Since Last!

Poured into a tulip a very nice clean/clear dark golden amberish color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice thick/creamy one-finger off-white head, which also leaves some pretty nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, hoppy, with some really nice cherries, plums, grapes, raisins, figs notes. The taste is really nice, malty, hoppy, really nice sweetness, with lots of cherries, grapes, plums, raisins, and figs. Full body, a pretty complex brew, ABV hidden very well. Overall, still one of the best ABWSA I've had to date. Highly Recommeded! Glad to see it around here.

Bottled Dec 03, 2004

Pours a very nice dark amber color with some carbonation and a small head, nice lacing afterwards. Scents of malts, sweet fruits, tarty fruits as well. Very nice taste, sweet, but with little bite at the end. The alcohol is hidden very very well. Medium body. So far this is the best barleywine I've had, because of the very well hidden alcohol content be careful, you will be looking up at the MOON in a horizontal position, LOL

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Photo of aforbes10
4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

single bottle bought at the Corkscrew in Urbana, IL. "enjoy by dec. 29, 2011." yeah, i think i can do that. appearance is of raspberry puree color with a soft cushion of a head that makes it look like its come out of a nitro tap. lemony hop odor...grassy and assertive. somewhat piney like a dewy forest. Taste is very bitter and heavy. tastes are intense resiny hops, grapefruits, but bitterness is pretty well balanced for a young barleywine like this. alcohol noticeable but not in a bad way. as tasty as old ruffian, which is as good as an american barleywine gets, imo. very full bodied. thick but not syrupy. super good!

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Photo of nomad
4.8/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1998 Vintage

Cellar-aged for years in the basement of Monk's Cafe, this casualty of war pours a thick and hazy amber, buxom with visions of crimson in the back of its mind. It sits with a thin but consistent crown of foam. Emanate more hop scents than I knew an Old Horizontal could ever muster, even when young. Malts were manifold and dynamic, bousing sweet, musty, and almost smoky like applewood. Nary a drop of alcohol, maybe some wrapped in the esters twisted by 6 years of oxidizing. I thought a beer like Old Ho did not have much in the way of hop scents and bitterness, but this beer felt like an aged Bigfoot. Raspberries and rough textures of barley everywhere.

From first signs to final gasp, this beer was a perfect example of what barleywines are built to do: survive the war and come stronger and more interesting on the other side. Waves of fruity malt with sweetness held in check by hop oils and a perfectly integrated sense of alcohol. Amber waves of malt, in fact, but a greaty roasty sense with hops nicking away at the fortress of grain flavors. Way too smooth, and ungodly carbonated. A beauty to swirl in the wine glass it was served in.

Not one to forget, this special offering of Monk's Cafe brought personality like spare change, tossing it to any old begger. I begged for more but that final glance at the ABV reminded how dangerous another would be - it is called Old Horizontal for a reason.

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Photo of nickss
4.78/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

While I've had many a barleywine on draft, on relatively new to bottled barleywines, and was interested to see how they stood up.
So here we go:

Appearance: Beautiful deep amber hue with a small foamy cap.... if a beer could be sexy looking, this one certainly is.

Smell: Strong barley notes (per usual) with a moderate alcohol smell on the back.

Taste: I will just say this. I drank my first mouthful, and post-swallow actually exclaimed "Oh wow".... which drew a few odd looks from my housemates. Strong caramel tones with huge flavor. The alcohol doesnt slap you in the face like it does with some barleywines I can think of (DFH Immort Ale for instance). Large hoppy finish that lingers on the tongue for long after the liquid has vanished down your throat.

Mouthfeel: Once again, tremendous. Huge, rich, and powerful. This libation clings to your tongue.

Drinkability: Pretty damn drinkable. The fact that the alcohol doesnt come through as much helps that fact. The only reason I didn't score it a 5 is because I simply cannot drink barleywines for an extended period of time.... it gets a bit rough. I realize that is a personal problem, but this is my review.. so tough! =P

I had alot of trouble not giving this brew all 5's. I had to really search for anything that was wrong with it, and even after much thought, I couldnt find much. An amazing beer, and one I will certainly load up on before I head back to NC in August.

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Photo of DosBeerigos
4.77/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

C. Pretty Clear
H. Red-ish Copper
N. Very Pleasant; Sweet fruit scents; apple, pears, peach, etc.

Well I tell yah what, if Victory doesn't make it the beer business they could sell this beer to Yankee Candle company for a new candle scent "Sweet Barley Wine". THIS BEER SMELLS AMAZING! It also had some sexy head to it too! As for the taste well it is pretty big and bold. The expiration date on this is over 4 years in the future. It would be a great beer to cellar for a year or so, and then re-visit it after the beer calms down just a tad. For right now it is very strong on the alcohol side but does show promise with some very nice malt notes at the end. Though it is seasonal if you can find it on the shelf I say buy two. Drink one now and then enjoy the second next year.
Score: 4.045

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Photo of DOCALYN
4.76/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An excellent baley wine. Closely resembles Old Domion Millenium. As I understand it the Victory head brewer did the original recipe for Millenium and this new recipe incorporates subtle adjustments to make it an equally impressive . Retains the strong hop balance and carbonation that I like..

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Old Horizontal from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
4.06 out of 5 based on 1,893 ratings.
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