Old Horizontal | Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown

1,901 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

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Ratings: 1,901 |  Reviews: 1,113
Photo of kwjd
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle aged from 2006. Pours an amber-brown colour with off-white head. Good head retention and lacing. Lots of caramel smell with some citrus and raisin. Flavour has some bitterness, but lots of sweetness. For some reason I've never tried this fresh and I'd like to try that to compare.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: rich, medium amber-brown hue with plenty of haze. Head poured two fingers of light tan foam with a slight orange cast to it. Pretty good lookin'.

Smell: rich and heady. Sweet caramel malt aroma with light floral and fruity notes as well as a distinct citrus quality. I like that fact that the smell wafted to me the instant I opened the bottle ... there's plenty of aroma here to go around.

Taste: malt character is similar to the aroma, though with a little less citrus and a little more basic malt flavor. This beer is strong and you know it -- the alcohol is definitely present in the flavor. Hops aren't strong on the palate except for the bitterness present, of which there is plenty. Frankly, not my favorite barleywine, but not too bad.

Mouthfeel: plenty of body and carbonation. Syrupiness is right up there and creaminess abounds. Just the way I like it.

Drinkability: high ABV should denude this quality, but doesn't really. I like a smooth, strong beer like this, so drinkability will have to rank up with flavor for me.

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Photo of superdedooperboy
4.02/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

12-ounce brown bottle poured into a snifter glass. "Enjoy by: Nov. 23 2014" is printed on the label. Served at cellar temperature, 54 degrees F.

Pours a mostly clear copper-amber color with just a tinge of haze. A small beige foam cap makes a brief appearance before dissipating and leaving this brew utterly headless. A swirl of the glass shows off some legs, demonstrating a nice bit of viscosity.

Smells beautifully of booze-soaked figs without much else, which is nothing negative. A wonderfully enticing aroma, reminiscent of a nice Scotch.

Rich and full-bodied, slick and a little oily, with a very mild level of carbonation in the mouthfeel. Sweet honeyed malt notes show themselves up front, melding toward the middle with notes of dried fig and crystallized ginger, with citrusy grapefruit and orange hop notes mingling; toward the rear the alcohol really begins to show itself, combining with the moderate bitterness from the hops to create a parching, dry finish with a lingering hint of fruit, citrus pith and alcohol.

This is not a beer destined for drinkability, and the name implies as much: this is certainly a nightcap brew, and after finishing off a bottle I'm certainly ready to get myself horizontal. Very nice overall, with an accessible complexity; certainly on the American side in overall character, but not overpowering in any one way as many stateside interpretations tend to be. One of the better Barleywines I've had in quite some time.

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3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 2009 batch.
12oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a deep caramel body, head retreats quickly to a thin ring around glass.

S: The aroma is a sweet blend of malt that has notes of caramel, oak and honey. The aroma shows just how big of a beer this really is. A sweet aroma for a barleywine.

T/M: A slight hop balance, but mostly a malty barley. A bit crisp on the mouthfeel, but the boozy finish shows a hint of thick mouthfeel. A full bodied ale that is strong in caramel character.

D: A relativity drinkable barley, one that has good malt/hop balance, as well a great taste that has you coming back for more.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to HopHead101 for sending me this beer.

Bottled 12/3/04 and drank 7/14/10.

The beer pours a brown color with a white head. The aroma is toffee, oranges and leather. The flavor is toffee, chocolate, dirt and caramel. There is no alcohol presence. The beer is very mellow and shows no signs of oxidation. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation.

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Photo of scottyb88
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was done after the beer started to warm up...

A- pours a dark brown with red hues when held up to the light; light tan 2 finger creamy head

S-a lot of dark brown sugar, green apple skin covered in dark rum; a little bit of dark fruit

T-very full grainy and earthy malt flavors; caramel and toffee, but not overly sweet; a little bit of dark fruits

M-nice full mouthfeel that was smooth and creamy with nice carbonation; lingering aftertaste was actually very pleasant with no harshness

D-I shared this growler with a friend, but two good size glasses of it are intense; the alcohol flavors are present and it's a very big beer

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Photo of Tone
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, dark amber color. 1/3 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of strong alcohol, strong hops, sweet malt, and slight dark citrus (raisin). Fits the style of an American Barleywine. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp with an average carbonation level. There is also a strong bitterness and slight dryness. Tastes of alcohol, hops, sweet malt, slight dark citrus, hint of earthy malt, and a hint of wood. Overall, a decent barleywine with good appearance and body.

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Photo of adamette
2.83/5  rDev -30.3%
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 mjgarrett2
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A-Dark and a bit opaque but not to dark for a barleywine. Good two finger-head and decent lacing.

S-Very enticing with herbal notes and spices that are remnant of the winter and Christmas holiday cooking.

T-Delicate on spices complimenting the malts that make up the body of the flavor. Considerable hit of hops at the end which is refreshing compared to other overly-sweet beers of this variety.

M-Nothing great, a bit foamy and doesn't fully encompass the pallet; tends to stagnate in one area of the taste buds.

D-Enjoyable, particularly on it's own due to it's nature as a large beer with complex flavours. Great in cold months.

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Photo of ReDave
3.03/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sorry but meh...

Pours a hazy orangish amber, red tint? nice head.
Not so lacy, head dissipates.

Aroma.. not much there...

Kinda boozy tasting... some hops, but ?
maybe a different kind? Some fruit prunes?

not a good after taste..

Hops gone....

Maybe an old bottle, [NO DATE!]
but Barely-wines usually age OK...

Hate to compare to Big Foot, but...
this was pretty expensive, shipped across the state, and well a 6 pack of Big foot, 9 bucks..

I'll not have this again, unless....

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

Bottle: cellared 1.5 yrs.

Decants a reddish brown lightly gazed, small sticky cap leaves quickly.

Aromas of musty citrus and toffee. After more than a year in cold cellaring the hops are not a sharp as a fresh sample but still have a solid citrus-peel presence but the vinous complexity of the malts and esters comes up...wonderful complexity that defies description as it changes every sip as the ale warms.

One of the best micro barley wines....hoppy, complex,.heady without the alcoholic burn to the tongue.

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Photo of Drew966
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Old Horizontal pours a light brown with a thick off white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The aroma is a bit fruity and I can definitely smell some hops. Hops jump right out at me in the flavor, although they aren't completely overwhelming. There is a lot of malt too and some fruity flavors. Alcohol is there, but it doesn't overpower. Very nice.

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Photo of emmasdad
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from the bottle a deep mahogany color, with a good three fingers of ecru head. Aromas of plums, black cherries and alcohol. Good balance, on the palate, between sweet caramel malt and somewhat citrusy hops, with some warming alcohol thrown in. This is, in my opinion, a very good to great barleywine, one I look forward to every year.

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Photo of Imsothirsty
3.61/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours red and bubbly with a huge tan head that settles fairly quickly. Leaves nice lacing. By red, I mean red.

Smell is malty sugary, a little alcohol comes through.

Taste : Pretty much all malts first, caramel, bourbon and vanilla, some brown sugar, just a little yeast flavor, followed by a bitter finish. Bitter finish reminds me of unripe fruit and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, quite carbonated and leaves a solid slick in my mouth.

Not really very drinkable for me, I think its the combo of high alcohol and pretty much no hops coming through. This bottle was 6 months old, will try again in another 6 months.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.42/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle, best by 6/11/14, into a Duvel tulip.

A: An initially vigorous pour results in a surprising explosion that fills the tulip entirely while leaving an ounce of barleywine in the bottle. The huge head has all sizes of bubbles and demonstrates impressive retention and lacing. Below this striking head is a clear, brilliant red body. What can I say? Im a sucker for good head, and this beer doesn't disappoint.

S: Straightforward, sweet, and boozy. The hops presence is noticeable, but dull and earthy, verging into wet dog territory. Not that great.

T: More purely malty than the aroma, with rich caramel, some light fruitiness, and a dry biscuity undertone. Very boozy on the finish. NOt bad, but still unimpressive.

M: Sticky medium body with tons of soft carbonation. I was afraid the hard pour would make the beer flat after it settled, but that isn't the case at all. Nice.

Notes: While this isn't exactly bad, it isn't something I'll seek out in the future. I did throw a couple extra ones from the six-pack into the cellar, so we'll see how this does in a couple years. Here's hoping.


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

pours a hazy amber color with good white fluffy head that recedes quickly, good lacing and soft carbonation. hints of carmel, molasses, and roasted flavors. medium body. moderatly sweet with a bit of a creamy gritty texture. bitter finish that sticks around. alcohol well hidden. the sweetness and bitterness go togetrher very well.

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Photo of chumba526
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appears reddish brown virtually no head.

Smells sweet: like caramel and honey. There is a slight nutty smell as well.

Taste: a subdued sweetness that tasted of caramel also a nice nutty taste there is a slight metallic taste that is not that pleasant but is not that noticeable. There is also a kind of grassy taste as well. the sweetness is qsubdued making it quite drinkable.

The low carbonation is very nice and helps the flavors blend with each other. Overall a nice barley wine.

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Photo of Chelsea1905
3.61/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very nice ruby dark brown colour. Nice meringue type head that has a slight copper hue to it.

Smells a little metalic to me, a little boozy and some dark fruit in there, smells a bit like brown bread

Very boozy to begin with, then malty and bread like. A little sugary, molases like


Not really

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Photo of nebula1999
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2002 Vintage (consumed late winter 2010):
I've had this one in the cellar for a while, which also survived a recent move. Lots of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This was a concern for me, but I carefully poured the 2002 vintage into a stemmed glass. It is an opaque reddish-brown. Thin head at the perimeter with some bubbling in the center.

Aroma of sweet malt and and alcoholic grain fills the nose. The taste is moderately sweet, sticky malt with a hop sharpness in the end. Lot's of noticeable alcohol in the throat. Chewy, bready, beef broth consistancy. I had expected this barleywine to have leaned out in the 8 years it has sat on the shelf, but it is still rather dense. However, I kind of prefer that. A beer of substance! I thought this one might have turned by now, but I was pleasantly surprised at its character.

2002 Vintage (consumed 2-27-2013)
Dusted off this one from the cellar where it has sat since its first release, and poured at cellar temp (55F) with no refrigeration into oversized snifter. Ruby reddish brown color. One finger off white head that fades sooner than later. Careful not to let that nasty sediment into the glass. Lots of it on the bottom of the bottle.

Smell is full of dark fruits like prunes, figs and raisins. Some faint bourbon in there too.

Taste is full in the mouth with all the richness expected from a barleywine. Yet, slightly thinner in the body as compared to a Thomas Hardy’s Ale of similar age, but does not detract. Raisins, prunes, figs, other dark and sugary fruits in there too. Alcoholic and sweet. Even cloying after mid glass. A real sipper. It has the quality of a dark red wine…but not the wine, the cork! I you’ve ever smelled the cork of a freshly opened and aged red wine, that is what I am referring to.

This beer has gone through a residence move several years ago, and it didn’t seem to put it off any. Overall a very good aged barleywine (just over 10yrs3mo), but not on par with Thomas Hardy’s, which is my benchmark.

2004 Vintage (consumed early spring 2010):
Dec 14, 2004 bottled on date. Pulled it out of the cellar anticipating a similar flavor experience as the 2002 vintage. Sediment present in the bottle, just as with the 2002. But a careful pour into a stemmed glass prevents the muck from sliding into the glass and mixing with the brew. Opaque reddish-brown with a fine lasting head at the perimeter and in the center.

Sticky maltiness in the nose, and booze. Grainy/bready. Semi-sweet over the tongue, and alcoholic. Snappy hop finish, but not overbearing. Thick mouthfeel. Almost chewy, coating the tongue and mouth. Very similar to the 2002 vintage, but maybe a little bit better. Flavors and aromas seem a little brighter and more pronounced. Very good barleywine.

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Photo of IronLover
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep copper color with a light haze. Stiff, longlasting, yellowish foamy head with thick, sticky lacings on the glass. Floral, malty sweet aroma. Pleasant, lively carbonation and a full bodied, malty feel. Big malty character that leads nicely into a definitive smooth alcohol taste. Not only did this brew taste great, but made me picture sitting with friends having a few drinks during the winter holidays.

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Photo of Sam21
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into snifter

Appearance - Deep ruby red with mellow carbonation and a creamy head. Dissipates quickly. Very inviting.

Smell - Balanced mixture of fruity esters and caramel malts with a nice hop finish.

Taste - Matches the nose with a nice balance between fruity esters, caramel malts, and delicate hops. Alcohol is noticeable in the background. The bold caramel/fruity flavors are balanced nicely by the hops. Good stuff!

Mouth Feel - Full bodied. Thick and chewy. Nicely carbonated and very smooth going down. Dry finish.

Drinkability - Surprisingly easy to drink for an 11% barleywine. I will definitely be drinking this again. Good balanced flavors, relatively hidden alcohol, and a nice finish.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich burnished copper topped by a thin but even layer of foam that dies down to a ring.

The aroma is really, really nice--like caramel and canned pears and a freshly opened tin of brown sugar and a fresh slice of navel orange thrown in for good measure.

The taste is cherries and marzipan with a very floral bitter undercurrent running throughout and lingering in the finish. There's caramel and dark dried fruit and green apples and vanilla extract all doing an admirable job of trying to hide the alcohol. Very harmonious and complex, but it could only improve with age.

Medium bodied--it seems lighter than it probably is--goes down easy.

Overall a pretty tasty barleywine and an easy drinker for it's ABV.

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Photo of THORN
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 Fl. Oz. bottle poured into Duvel tulip. Served 50-55 F.
A: Reddish brown with a lot of suspended sediment. Retains very thin head.
S: Hops, malts, and grapefruit. Everything in abundance.
T: Fruity hops, toasted malts, and light alcohol.
M: A little lighter on tongue than expected. Slightly warming.
D: Big beer. Flavor profile is thin, but enjoyable. Alcohol is very smooth and well balanced.

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

This is the first barley-wine i have ever had.

A: A deep, dark caramel color with tuns of lacing. When poured, the beer gives you a very large head.

S: Tuns of pine, if you like the smell of pine you could sniff this all day.

T: Tastes like pine on the front of the palate, yet changes to some sort of dark fruits on the back..The 11% alcohol is hidden incredibly well. If it wasn't for the warming of the throat you wouldn't even think it was there.

M: A medium mouthfeel. You can feel that this beer was well made.

D: I enjoy this drinkability. I am "sipping" the beer due to the large alcohol content, however the hidden alcohol, and the light body makes you think as if you could drink this all day.

This is an outstanding beer and when i'm in the store looking for a good sipping, couple of beer night, i will go directly to this in a second.

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Photo of mwagner1018
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Awesome deep cherry wood, red hue, creamy dense head about 3 fingers. Slight to moderate lacing.

S- Apple, brandy, deep oak, pine, citrus, raisin, dark cherry...nice and complex, really presents exceptionally well on the nose.

T- Very balanced, alcohol warmth provides a nice delivery for the caramel malt, dark roasted oak, raisin, dates, prunes, tastes like aged dark fruits in a whiskey barrel. Complex, interesting, balanced. Some pine, citrus, bitter orange peal, really nice notes in this beer.

M- Slightly slick with the alcohol, medium high body, creamy malt texture, slight balanced bitterness to clean as it finishes. Carbonation delivers and opens flavors.

D- Very nice sipping barelywine. Interesting flavors, amazing aroma, great beer. Big and bold with a high alcohol for sure, but doesn't come off as overpowering, sits nicely. I will certainly have this one again.

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Old Horizontal from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
4.06 out of 5 based on 1,901 ratings.
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