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Old Horizontal | Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown

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1,108 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: 1,108 | Ratings: 1,885
Photo of Lafe
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Upon pouring this beer I get a very small head that disappears quickly, but sits over a beautiful caramel colored liquid.

The aroma is sherry-like, with a noticeable malt component, and a subtle hint of alcohol. The first taste is a blast of malt with a strong hop balance, just the way a barleywine should be! The carbonation is low, but sufficient to support the malty character of this brew.

I get a warming feeling from the alcohol content, and a nice, chewy, malty aftertaste. There are some strong fruity notes that complement well the malt and hop flavors that dominate the profile. Hop flavors seem to be on the spicy side, and slightly understated.

This barleywine seems true to style, wonderfully drinkable, and very straightforward as to what it wants to be. The only down side to this beer at all is the sticker shock, as I paid $13.50 for the six-pack.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
4.68/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle of the 2002 edition, bottled on 12/4/2002, which just so happened to be my birthday, thus me sampling on that day, but one year later. Served at what I'm hoping was cellar temperature in a Trois Pistoles goblet.

Appearance: Murky reddish copper topped with a nicely sized butter colored head that dissipates to a film and a ring in a nice lazy manner. Incredible sheets of lacing were left on the glass. I was suitably impressed.

Smell: Robust cherries, caramel, and toffee with subdued floral and piney hops. Intriguingly great smell. Not as complex as other barleywines I've had the pleasure of tasting, but no sloucher in this department either.

Taste: Bittersweet toffee, orange, and cherry flavors initially. The bittering hops blend oh-so-well with the intensely sweet malts. Peppery and piney aftertastes that go on forever.

Mouthfeel: Substantial in body. Buttery and viscous. Mild warming sensation as this sucker goes down. Very smooth, I can't believe this is 11% ABV.

Drinkability: Oh God, yes. A wonderfully balanced barleywine, more akin to the English style than the Americanized versions I've had. I think a case of this years will definitely be bought.. hopefully I can luck my way into a case bottled on 12/4/2003...

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Photo of putnam
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Props to Victory for conserving some semblance of fruit in this beer.
It smells of dense, sticky, alcoholic malt just decorated with powdered laundry detergent-like hops.
On the palate it bursts with over ripe, sweet, partially reduced apricots, peaches, pine pitch, green tobacco and gum.
The texture is slick and oily with crunchy bushels of flowers exploding through the medium-length finish.

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Photo of maybrick
4.51/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Truly remarkable. Per my bottle review this is indeed something very special. as a long time fan of Old Ho' I think this is the very best one out of the taknk to date. I was licky enough to sample Christmas in July at Victory where the '99, '00, '01, and '03 Old Ho's where available. I think by far this is the best one.

The color is gorgeous and under the lights at the Victory bar appears a creamy orange. The beer is filtered and is wickedly bright. You can see right through it, in fact it makes some of your friends at the bar a bit beter looking from that vantage point!

The taste is devine. The brewers purposefully changed up the hop balance this year. The balance between malt, hop, and yeast is darn near perfect. The big alcohol nose (which I'm a fan of) is all but gone this year. However, this makes the brew that much more drinkable! The taste is so complex with this years balance. I think if you're over in D-Town you should definitely sampel this one.
\BTW Victory has some new rules, only 2 per session of the high alcohol brews. 2 each of Old Ho, or Two each of Storm King, Two Each of Monkey or a combination of 1 biggie plus one more.

I don;t like this rule, but I certainly understand why it's been implemented.

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Photo of ithacabaron
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a luscious dark mahogany. Head rises up, and fights to say around for a while, but soon succumbs to a light film. No problem here, I've never seen a barleywine that can hold its head.

The aroma is in itself enough to intoxicate you, literally and figuratively. It is of toasted chestnuts, baked brown sugar, Poire William brandy, and very, very, faint bananas. Good lord, there has to be a whole field full of malt grain in here. The alcohol comes through a touch here, but it is very mellow, and non abrasive.

Taste is incredible, with more chestnuts, brown sugar, Poire William, and candied plums. Alcohol is again, present, but more mellow and welcoming, like in a good brandy. There is a light clove finish right before the spicy hops (not sure what kind) come by to finish things off.

Drinkability...well, after a bottle of this, I was pretty much ready for bed, so I can't give it incredibly high marks here...but damned if this isn't the best sleep aid I've ever encountered.

The most laid-back, mellow barleywine I've ever tasted. And it earns this praise while still intensely challenging the taste buds.

It blows my mind that such things can be done with nothing more than water, malt, hops, and yeast.

A stunning beer -- just absolutely stunning.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 bottle, served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color is copper, with a nice wisp of head. The smell is very malty. The taste is malty, but more restrained than other barleywines, has a nice bitterness in the taste, and the alcohol is noticable but not overwhelming. Mouthfeel is good. Drinkability-wise, could have a few more than I can of other barleywines.

Definitely amongst my favorite barleywines. Though this isn't a beer and a style I could have all the time, I'd definitely enjoy a Old Horizontal or two at a sitting. Have to check out this year's vintage.

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Photo of dmarch
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark appearance. Almost black, but upon closer inspection there are some reddish hues. Not much of a head. Big malty taste. Doesn't seem to have as high IBU's as some other popular barleywines out there and I really respect that. A big beer doesn't have to be big on hops too. This has a heavy molassass flavor and a lot of alcohol character. It's easy to see why it's called old horizontal. I think I'm ready for bed now. A wonderfull anti-stress beer. The day is done, it's time to relax.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Nov 15, 2002, Sampled Oct 27, 2003
An amber color, it is a little bit hazy. Appears to be lightly carbonated, and shows a tan head when roused in the glass. The predominant aroma is of Sherry (a bit of oxidation has happened). There are sweet hoppy notes as well. The tasted is not as oxidized as the aroma would suggest. The flavor is lightly sweet, quite a malty beer at this point, though there is a hint of the hop flavor left in the beer. It is still pretty bitter in the finish, which helps to balance the sweetness well. The body of this beer is not overly thick, which for this beer is good. I can't wait to get a chance to try a fresh version of this.

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Photo of winomark
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep copper, slightly hazy with almost no head.

Aroma: Sweet malt, spiciness, and some alcohol warmth on the nose.

Taste: Rich spiciness and alcohol throughout, with a malty richness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and coating, but not cloying. Good balance of flavors.

Drinkability: A wonderful barleywine; perfect for a cool evening by the fire. Very well done.

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Photo of alexgash
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on 11-15-02. Pours a brilliant dark ruby red with a light tan head. Smells of rich, sweet, slightly fruity malts. Definite alcohol fumes as well. Taste is sweet sweet malts up front with notes of sugary toffee and passion fruit. This is followed by a big spicy and anise-tinged hop presence. Warming, alcoholic, and bitter finish. A big, chewy, and buttery beer, but goes down wonderfully for it's size.

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Photo of Gavage
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Opened up a 2002 bottle and it poured a reddish bronze color with some spotty residue for a head. The aroma touted a mellow sweetness. The flavor was fantastic - full bodied, very smooth and a velvety sweetness with some fruity overtones excited my tongue. The bitterness didn't seem to show up until the aftertaste. The carbonation was very light, and the alcohol isn't as prevelant as I thought it would be. This is a great barleywine.

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Photo of aracauna
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a barleywine that isn't too sweet and isn't too hoppy, although it isn't quite hoppy enough. The fruitiness and surprising drinkability for a barleywine make this a pretty tasty beer though. It's a pretty good looking one as well, although it's probably on the lighter end of the barleywine spectrum.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at the Pasadena Whole Foods store. Had a "bottled on" date of 12-17-02. Poured a dark amber color with orange edging. Had a thin yet creamy light tan head and modest lace.
Old Horizontal had an earthy aroma, full of malt and caramel and some fruity, citrusy notes. Alcohol is pretty well concealed.
Taste was initially a malty caramel blend which brought out some dark fruit and finished with a slight bitterness. Alcohol didn't show through until the beer warmed to near room temp.
Feel was full and creamy.
I'm not too big on barleywines but Victory has done a really nice job with Old Horizontal. It's definitely one to be sipped and savored as the high %ABV will completely swizzle you otherwise. A good one for a cold night.

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Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium gold color. Small head. Aroma is hoppy with a touch of malts. A medium bodied barleywine. Malts are soft and thick. Hops are floral, soft and citrusy. Well balanced. Very tasty barleywine. Hides the 11% alcohol very well. It not one of those west coast in-your-face barley wines, but it definitely in the "oh yeah it's a barley wine" family. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter, with a touch of alcohol oiliness.

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Photo of beerinator
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark cherry colored, with moderatly retentive tannish head.

Aroma: Caramelly sweet with hints of cherry. Accentuated with piney notes from the hops. Slight citrus imparted from the hop characteristics as well. Spicy aroma.

Taste: Very sweet upfront, quickly turning to bitterness. Black cherry or currant noted in the flavor. Aftertaste passes quickly. Heavy mouthfeel.

Notes: Good Barleywine. Pleasant drinkability. Nice touch for the end of the night.

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Photo of taez555
4.45/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle date 11/13/02 drank 8/250/03

This beer poured a very thick white tan head with rather clear but dark amber red body.

The nose was very inviting. A big sweet malt smell, caramel, spice, some cinnamon like a red hot candy, a sharp but mellow hop smell. Pure tight centenial citrusy hop smell.

The taste was very big and malty. I wrote WOW!! in my notes after the first taste. Very very thick and full bodied. Caramel, slight medicinal taste like cough syrup, alcohol, toasted malt, some soft fruit tones. Lots of grapefruit citrus. Some very slight black pepper as well.

It ended with this very long lingering tight citrus peel hop bitterness.

This is one hell of a beer. A superb barley wine. The centenial hop taste is dominant in this beer. It actually tastes almost exactly like Storm King but without the chocolate and coffee flavors. Another great beer from Victory.

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Photo of Morris729
4.55/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy light rust color with a thin white head that collects around the sides of the glass leaving a fine lace across the top. Nose is rich and sweet with notes of caramel malts and fruity esters. Full-bodied with a thick and creamy mouth-feel. Taste begins with a touch of candied sugar quickly followed by a long wave of piney hops until finally the sweet sugar returns again leaving a lip-smacking finish. The alcohol is noticeable, but this is still very drinkable considering the 11% ABV. A fantastic beer and one of the finest barely wines I’ve had the privilege to try. Don’t drink it too cold, though! Thanks to francisweizen for the sample!

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Photo of Mustard
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle with "bottled on" date -- in this case 12/17/02 -- clearly stamped on the right, topside of the label; $11.99/6 pack from the Beverage Warehouse in Culver City.

Apearance: Pours a clear, vibrant caramel with a fine, offwhite, cascading head which is quick to subside; not much lacing.

Aroma: Malts! Molasses, toffee, chocolate -- they're all in there.

Taste: Wow. Big, sweet caramel malt upfront and throughout; predominant notes are of butterscotch, cherry and fig; floral and medicinal qualities show up in the finish; secondary characteristics include chocolate and citrus.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy -- but not syrupy.

Notes: Delicious, albeit a whit too medicinal.

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Photo of Stingray5
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottled 12/04/02 pours a brilliant amber/red with a well behaved white head. Aromas are mouthwatering and intoxicating, with caramel, sweet cherry and assorted fruits. Strong from 1 foot away from the glass. Taste is sticky sweet dried fruit with nice hop undertones, and a pleasing alcohol warmth.

A very complex brew, and highly drinkable for the abv.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 fluid ounce bottle. Has a dark label with a picture of a sleeping crescent moon. Described as “Barleywine Style Ale”. I note that the word ‘style’ is in a different font from the words ‘Barleywine’ and ‘Ale’, as if to accentuate the fact. Dated as “Bottled on Dec. 17 02”. Oh, 11% ABV, good job that this is the last of the night.

Appearance: Dark amber with fiery red copper hints. Thin head, white halo boundary style head that rings the glass. Excellent inherent carbonation. Poured into a McEwan’s Scotch Ale Goblet, it looks resplendent.

Nose: Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen molecules leave the surface of the beer in just the right mix to give a deep rich warming alcoholic nose mixed with a fused malt-caramel. It’s a bed setter.

Taste: Smooth clean warming two lane entrance that is divided equally between caramel-malts on the right, and the fast lane freeway of exothermic ethanolic liquor on the left – both lanes eventually merge into an off ramp that have equal characteristics. It has a slight dark fruity feel with mild hop bitterness just as you reach the stop sign.

Mouthfeel: A stick shift driving feel that slowly works its way through the gears and gets the wind in your hair eventually. Solid and warming.

Drinkability: People argue about what ‘Drinkability’ really means, for me the name is its own definition. And this is very drinkable!!

Overall: Awesome. If Victory were 100 years old, those with access to their Memorabilia would have that Poster that they did in 1948, the one with a picture of Santa Claus on, sat on a snow covered sled, with the words “Victory Brewing Company, Purveyors of High Class Winter Ales and Barleywines”. SUPERB!

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Photo of Wildman
4.32/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a reddish amber color and formed a foamy off white head that stuck around and coated the side of the glass with lace. A medium amount of carbonation was present. An aroma malt, caramel and raisins was present with a hint of hops. The flavor was of malt, caramel and butterscotch with touch of the alcohol present. A medium body with a slightly sweet finish offset by the alcohol present. Hopfully the newer Victory's will sell well enough here that they will ship this to our state next season.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Coppery, brownish red color with a tan head.
Aroma of sweet malts, ripe fruits, and floral hops.

Taste is smooth. Big, sweet, barley malt flavor. Notes of ripe fruit and vanilla. Sweet throughout, but not sickly sweet. Floral and possibly citrus hop flavors attempt to balance this malt monster. Alcohol shows itself at the finish, but is otherwise extremely well hidden.

Good full-bodied, creamy mouthfeel.
Very drinkable for an 11% ABV beer.

I was thouroughly impressed by this beer. I'm usually not a big fan of big, malty sweet beers, but I really enjoyed this top notch barleywine style ale.
A huge thank you to OldFrothingSlosh for dragging this one to Ohio for me.

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Photo of rastaman
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very big, chewy, malty little brew, with a crapload of sharp aromatic hops. Thick raisiny, spicy flavourful barleywine. Nup, theres no shortage of ingredients and flavour in this one. Pretty much a meal in itself. Not as delicious as i thought it it might have been however, still, i can't complain.

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Photo of longpondbeerman
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark amber with a reddish tint. I can smell the tart aroma from across the room. There's nothing subtle about this barley wine. On closer inspection, there was an immediate and rich, fruity smell complicated nicely by the hops and which balanced off the clearly evident alcohol. The taste was strong--not overpowering, however--but the finish seemed uninspiring as if to say take another sip to reinvigorate your buds. Halfway through the 12 ounces and I feel the warmth surging through my body. It's a strong one.

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Photo of MJR
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a bright reddish-amber with a stunningly clear body. It's light tan head is persistent as a small cap.

Smell: The aroma is rich and warming with lots of fruit, caramel, and alcohol. Simple and basic, but very nice...

Taste: The flavor starts out fruity and rich, then caramel and toffee show up. There's a good balance between the different flavors. A strong alcoholic base asserts itself halfway through and dominates the aftertaste. Hops finally show up on the tail end, with a lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel: This brew has just the right amount of carbonation to prevent the body from being too syrupy and thick. The alcohol dries out the finish. This brew reminds me of their Hop Devil in that the mouthfeel is very soft and round on the palate.

Drinkability: Pretty good... This is a good barley wine, but it's not outstanding in any way. Just a solid, well done brew that would be great to kick back with on a cold winter night.

A 'thank you' goes out to PBrian for including this one in our trade.

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Old Horizontal from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
4.06 out of 5 based on 1,885 ratings.
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