Old Horizontal | Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown

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Old HorizontalOld Horizontal
1,915 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 1,915 |  Reviews: 1,118
Photo of thecarster1
1.86/5  rDev -54.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

a- bottle poured into a tulip, full finger of tan head fades pretty quickly, dee pchesnut color.

s- dark fruit, slight hop hit, brown sugar, raisins, strong nose here.

t- strong, raisins, dark fruit, too much, medicinal, not my style, this is a strong one.

m- thick, syrupy.

d- not good, sorry to say that i'm not a fan of barleywines in general, but didn't like this one, i'll stick to the hops.

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Photo of phishbone23
2/5  rDev -50.6%

Photo of BeerThursdays
2/5  rDev -50.6%

Photo of artoolemomo
2.5/5  rDev -38.3%

Photo of jophish17
2.5/5  rDev -38.3%

Photo of jordanmiller
2.5/5  rDev -38.3%

Photo of CharlesK
2.54/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Photo of kojevergas
2.57/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

1 pint 6 fl oz 2013 vintage brown glass bottle with generally appealing label art and branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local Texas bottle shop a few months back and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live as a barleywine because the label clearly identifies it as such. 11% ABV confirmed per the label. "Bottle conditioned." Expectations are high given the brewery.

Served chilled and allowed to come to room temperature over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of off-white colour. Nice supple creaminess and thickness for the style. Complexion is pretty smooth. Consistency could be more even. Very even, consistent lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head slowly recedes. Head retention is pretty good for the high ABV - about 4 minutes.

Body colour is a transparent translucent amber red of average vibrance. No floating yeast particles are visible; it's quite clean. Seems well-carbonated.

Overall, it's a pretty basic appearance for a barleywine; there's nothing unique or special about it. I don't notice any flaws.

Sm: Hoppier than anticipated, with a fair amount of herbal hop character, touches of evergreen, and even a hint of pine. Biscuit malt, bready malts, amber malts, toffee, brown sugar, and faint dark fruit. I do find some traces of medicinal notes. Ginger. Heavy candi character; it's definitely a sweet beer. Rum, sugarcane, caramel, raisin.

No yeast character is detectable. The alcohol is well disguised.

It's a fruity aroma of above average strength, and the unbecoming candi sweetness is worrisome. This isn't shaping up to be the kind of barleywine that really appeals to my tastes - I'm not finding toasty oak, toasted malts, marshmallow, refined malts, etc. It just seems a bit raw.

Mf: Hm. It's light, thin, and weak on the palate, lacking body and weight. It's too soft and giving. Undercarbonated, but still somehow somewhat biting. Lightly sticky.

Not creamy, oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, or harsh.

Presence on the palate is subpar for the style. This texture doesn't support the flavour profile well at all.

T: Bread crust, indistinct hints of vague unevocative dark fruit, bland amber malts, bland biscuit malts, bland caramalt. Shallow caramel. Hints of faint rum/sugarcane. Light raisin. Unrefined sugars/brown sugar. Light generic floral hop character. Toffee (but nowhere near enough). Heavy candi sweetness dominates.

I'm not finding the elements of a great barleywine here. No toasted malt, toasty oak, refined rich malty presence, heavy full caramel, marshmallow, etc. Maybe this just doesn't appeal to my personal tastes.

In any case, depth of flavour is shockingly low; this is extremely shallow for a barleywine. Below average duration and intensity of flavour.

No yeast character comes through. The alcohol does come through a bit, but it's still well disguised for 11%.

Unfortunately, it does have a faint medicinal/herbal quality to it.

As simple a barleywine as I've had in the past year perhaps. I'm taken aback by the extent to which this beer lacks intricacy, complexity, nuance, and subtlety. It's just so damned shallow and empty. Where's the flavour? Sure, it's got a loose cohesion and an okay balance, but it never comes together in the tight gestalt way a great beer in this style needs to. I didn't expect this poor a showing from Victory - especially given how well-known this beer is in the barleywine style. Did I get a bad bottle? Am I just drinking it too raw/young?

Not liking this one, much to my shock.

Dr: It drinks easy enough for the ABV, but boy is this a disappointment. I cracked this open expecting to really like it, but Victory - one of the best "shelf beer" breweries out there - really missed the mark with this brew. Well below average. I certainly wouldn't get it again, and I'd caution friends from trying it unless there's some serious age on it or something. Even with 5-6 months on it, this bottle is drinking very raw. It seems like most of the characteristics I criticize in my reviews of other barleywines were all collected and then combined to form this brew. It's almost the opposite of what I look for in a good barleywine.

If you crave a heavy malty core, rich caramel, vibrant toffee, and a firm heavy feel in your barleywines - ideally with a well-integrated bourbon and/or oak character - this is absolutely not the barleywine for you.

Worth trying because of its relative importance to the development and shaping of the American barleywine style, but it's far from world-class. Maybe this was the creme de la creme 12-13 years ago, but it does not hold up. There are a myriad of superior barleywines available at or around this price point.

Low C-

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Photo of freed
2.59/5  rDev -36%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Overheard some folk talking about this the other day, but didn't actually catch their descriptions. Maybe I did, but figured they'd moved on to some other beer.

It pours a fairly bright amber that reddens more when held to the light. It has a very transient head, no lacing. Though much lighter than a barleywine, the lack of head was on.

I honestly can't smell anything over the orange peel. Other's have mentioned spices, which must be there because you can taste them.

The taste has a number of nice flavors, but the grand marnier dominance of the orange dwarfs the mild mixture of spicey flavors and alcoholic warmness. The strenght of the alcohol explains the name though.

I'm reminded of JW Lee's Harvest Ale, but without the tenure and subtleties.

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Photo of jsp2
2.61/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Deep cherry caramel color with a thick head of foam. Slight sweet and fruity aroma mixed with hops. Intensely sweet taste with a hint of fruit and then an extreme bitter dryness. The bitterness is almost grating. The fruit is there but not in a good way, more like a cherry cough syrup way. Alcohol and bitterness are completely overwhelming.

I have a strong feeling this brew needs to be aged a year. The alcohol is very hot and dominant. Drinking the rest of this one is going to be a tough row to hoe.

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Photo of Buebie
2.62/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured from a 120z brown bottle into a tulip. 2 fingers of fomay off white head quickly receed to a thin layer of retention and thin spotty lace.
This is very transparent with a redish copper color and lots of un attractive floaties.

Aroma is sweet with a floral citrussy hop profile, a good amount of malt and bready yeasty aromas. The aroma is pretty laid back for a barley wine though, so far I'm not impressed. No alcahol at the knose, which is a good attribute.

This is pretty creamy with a carbonation zing to the tounge, slick hop oil like feel.
Its super sweet up front, and them wam! Tates like cotton candy...wtf?
Theres some cherry like flavors and more sweetness. At the swallow it becomes a bit more bitter, to an almost un appealing bitter rotten cheese flavor, mixing with hot alcahol solvent flavors. Some hops stick it out, but are overtaken with alcahol solvent.

I was able to get through half the glass, but now its a drainpour.
This is not good. I'm glad I only bought a single bottle. Do not recommend.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
2.66/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - A hazy burgundy with about two and half fingers of creamy tan head. Carbonation is visible through the haze. After the head vanishes, an ordeal that takes about four minutes, a monsterous ring of lacing is left behind. A damn nice look for this beast of a brew.

S - A very sharp pine dominants over caramel and chocolate malts. As it warms it is easy to notice some alcohol on the nose.

T - Alcohol! It is very hard to make much out underneath it. There is a sharp pine flavor which amplifies the alcohol, but adds little in the way of worthwhile flavor. A caramel sweetness is there too but only for an instant. The aftertaste is simply alcohol burn and a potent bitterness.

M - Froths up in my mouth a bit, but apart from that thin. A little bit of a sting from the alcohol (feels more like acidity though), along with thecarbonation this makes it very harsh. Slightly refreshing, if you can get past the bitterness that is.

D - Well, it isn't that easy to drink because of the more potent bitterness, not to mention the oppressive alcohol, which makes sessioning a bad idea. Food pairing is about the same as it would be with hop juice and low quality brandy (which might not be that scanty, I'm going to try it with pork roast), which is about where I place this on the flavo-meter. Not something I'll look for again.

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Photo of asabreed
2.71/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Runs about $37-$40 a case around the PA area, and though I'm drinking it now, I'm pretty glad I didn't throw that much down on a case.

This guy's from the December 2004 run, so it may be a little green and unripened, but here it goes nonetheless.

Appearance: Pretty nice, a copper, lager-like color. Thin and barely-laced ring around the top after a vigorous pour. Few bubbles gurgling up to the top of the glass.

Smell: Alcohol up front, for sure. Wouldn't have expected this from Victory. It's fruity also, but the alcohol is overpowering. Trying to discern the different fruits in the nose, but it's no use; it's too unbalanced.

Taste: Expected more. Much more. It's too unbalanced overall. There are hints of fruit, but it can't be discerned, just like the taste. It's whacky. The sweetness hits at first, and then the extreme bitterness comes, but like I said, the balance just is not there.

Mouthfeel: Pretty below decent, if you will. The alcohol presence is there and gets into the nose and tastebuds and body pretty quickly, and that kills any semblance of complexity and yearning for more.

Drinkability: Well, I have to say, it's pretty bad when the highest rating is on appearance. However, this is the first highly rated beer that I disagreed with, and I DO have a few more, so maybe it IS too green after all. Regardless, this is 11%, so you don't want to mess around. However, don't be too quick to purchase a large amount before you try it; I'm glad I didn't.

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Photo of jjanega08
2.75/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A=Pours a beautiful deep aamber color with a nice interesting looking off white head. The heads color is a sort of light brown but not quite mocha color. It rises to about 3 fingers and has large cocoa cola like bubbles but some decent lacing as it dies down a bit to a respectable 2 fingers and stays around there despite come large bubbles waiting to be popped. Great retention on this one too. A little chill haze in this one so I'll let it warm up a bit.

S= Great aromas coming from it that can be smelled from a distance. What I would describe as fruity for a barleywine. Loads of hops and malt as expected but a sort of fruity element to is as well. Has an almost bubblegum or spearmint smell to it... interesting. The hops are somewhat tame for a fresh barleywine.

T= The hops are much more upfront in the taste biting the tip of your tongue only to let go as a chocolaty richer malt flows over your tongue. The finish is a great piney hop flavor with a little alcohol. As I exhale through my nose after tasting I notice the spearmint odor that I had initally smelt. A little hot on the tongue. No bubblegum is detected as noted in the nose.

M= Hot and dry. Feels like i just rinsed my mouth with listerine. I don't get it.

D= This beer is somewhat of a disappointment. I think it will do much better with a little time on it. It was too hot and there were some odd flavors in it that were reminicent of a belgian yeast. I'm not sure what yeast was used but I would not recommend belgian yeast for an American barleywine.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
2.75/5  rDev -32.1%

Photo of EPseja
2.78/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bought this one highly recommended from one of the awesome beer guys at Oaktree Buy Rite in South Plainfield, NJ.

Served from a 12oz bottle in a Duvel tulip at cellar temperature. Best by date: Dec 29, 2011.

A - Rust colored with amber gold highlights. No real head to speak of until *after* the bottle is empty. Then, with a soft crackle and fizz, a 1/2" sand colored head appears out of nowhere, with a frothy consistency. Unfortunately it doesn't last more than a minute before mellowing out to a thin mat. Lacing is not evident, but then again, it's a barleywine.

S - Sweet, syrupy hoppiness blended with a nice caramel malt base. Some rubbing alcohol notes (unfortunately) that supress whatever other gentle scents might otherwise be detected.

T - Malty, but subtle up front, with only a light sweetness. Big hop bitterness reaches all the way to the front and carries through the swallow. Alcohol is not hiding out anywhere and actually makes me cough. Hmm... Finish is medium dry, and the aftertaste is green and plantlike. Big alcohol wells up from the belly.

M - Medium thickness; overly carbonated, frothing up to a mouth filling foam. A bit too big. Swallow is voluminous and harshly tingly in the throat.

D - The first thought I had was, "Perhaps I should have been drinking this one in about 2010." In the end, I'd liken this to how Johnny Walker Red compares to other Scotches. It's hot, young and aggressive -- lacking balance. However, unlike the JW, given enough time though, this one could probably mellow out and become a much more enjoyable beer. Perhaps I'll revisit it at a much later date.

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Photo of walkinginplace
2.79/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

This was my first experience with barleywine but Old Horizontal came highly recommended by the staff at Bestway. I had absolutely no idea what to expect prior to opening this one.

A: Dark brown/amber. Almost a crimson color. The head is fairly substantial.

S: Interesting aroma. Hops and grapefruit immediately jump out to me. Maybe some malt.

T: The alcohol really stands out. Caramel sweetness is there for a moment before the INTENSELY hoppy aftertaste kicks in. Honestly, I don't find it very pleasant.

F: Medium bodied. More carbonated than I expected.

O: Not sure that I like this one. I wanted to try something new and definitely accomplished that but this is not really what I look for in a beer.

EDIT: I have since been told that I should have had this at a warmer temperature (I drank it at refridgerator temperature) so maybe I'll try it again sometime.

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Photo of jlapennas
2.8/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Aroma: Rich caramel notes, raisins, dried fruits, clean alcohol and some harsh solvent notes like rubber cement or airplane glue

Appearance: Nice foam, deep red/brown, some haze as well as a fair amount of chunky particulate in suspension.

Flavor: Caramel malts with notes of burnt brown sugar, molasses, and burnt dried fruit. Some background citrus hops flavor jumps out once in a while as do some chocolate notes. Again, some unpleasant solvent and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Slick and full-bodied. A bit husky or maybe light roasted astringency.

Overall: Not my favorite Barleywine. The alcohol is pretty bold and the solvent really overwhelms me in both the flavor and aroma. Comes across a little harsh. It has a lot of nice flavors, but this is one I wish were dialed back a bit in terms of alcohol.

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Photo of Elemental
2.83/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was a little turned off at first by the smell cause it smells a lot like an ipa that I made (that I don't really like). It has an odd smell of coriander and orange that is a little pungent. The taste is sweet, with a thin body for an barley wine. Its not very balanced. That taste is too light in the body and too heavy on some of the flavors. I had a hard time finishing the beer.

Personally I have only tried a few beers from victory but this is not up to par with the rest of them. Its too heavy in certain flavors and aromas and very inbalanced. There are plenty of other barley wines on the market that are more worth while.

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Photo of adamette
2.83/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle that I bought as a single from Save-On Beverage & Tobacco in Mentor, Ohio for $2.13 into my Cooperstown Beverage Trail pint glass. "Enjoy by Nov 12 2014" stamped on the left under the "H" in the word "Horizontal."

A 3 to 4 inch head over a translucent but dark maroon body that glows a dark brown/orange in front of direct light. Kind of typical look for a Barleywine in my experience but compared to many other beers it looks good. 3.5

S Dark fruit malt with a moderately faint background of some bitter hops. I don't really like the smell of Barleywines but this is at least typical. 3.0

T Dark fruits and burn of alcohol in the front, bitter lingering taste nearer the aftertaste but also on the back of my tongue. I have to admit that I really do not like the taste of Barleywines as I find them too big, bitter, sweet (too much really) so this one delivers on all of those "in style" determinants but it is not very much to my liking. 3.0

M Big, syrupy, sticky, bitter, burn of alcohol. The feel of this beer is nothing if not big. Again here, appropriate (and typical) of the style but I do not think much more than that. 3.0

D Not good for me at all. It will be a struggle to finish this pint as it is just too hot, too big, too bitter. It reminds me of Sierra Nevada Big Foot for those reasons. Big Foot was another one that was a real chore to drink. 2.0

Notes: At least a fair Barleywine for every category except for drinkability for me but unfortunately it does not move beyond average for most of the categories. Some of my sentimental favorites come from Victory such as Prima Pils and Golden Monkey but this is not one of my favorites.

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Photo of tomParis
2.95/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, Reddish-copper in color, with a small head. This beer is very balanced for a fresh barley wine, but the hop profile is a real turn off for me; very clean, a little bit citrusy, and, well, boring. The hops stand out more than the malt, but they don't bring anything to the table, they are just in the way. They seem out of place in this beer with its big malty backbone. The mouthfeel was good, but it doesn't make this a drinkable beer. Hopefully this will be better with some age, I have a feeling it will.

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Photo of TheFlern
2.96/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Most recent vintage, not sure if 2010 or 2011.

Appearance: Light copper with white head that dissipates to nothing. No lacing.

Smell: Smells good, aromas of light fruits like pear and apple. Slight hop aroma in the background.

Taste: Sweet, alcohol, light fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel: Lots of carbonation, too much for the style imo.

Overall: Not as good as I was hoping for. Probably won't try this one again.

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Photo of MisterClean
2.97/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

From PDX.

A - Poured mahogany, had 2 fingers of head, which dissipated moderately fast. No retention and very little carbonation. No lacing either.

S - Roasted caramel, some grapefruit, light alcohol, and bittering hops.

T - There is no flavor from the malts. There is alcohol and bittering hops present. What the hell happened? The smell was good, but there was no complexity in the malts and the bittering hops took over.

M - Moderate bodied, well-balanced, with a subtle astringency, uncarbonated, and light alcohol.

D - Couldn't finish it. There was no complexity in the malts, it was undercarbonated, and the taste of alcohol was a bit much. While there were no technical faults, this beer was lifeless.

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Photo of ayb
3/5  rDev -25.9%

Photo of cynical1027
3/5  rDev -25.9%

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Old Horizontal from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
Beer rating: 4.05 out of 5 with 1,915 ratings