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: 1,890
Photo of mickeymac
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a hard one to track down on the left coast, but it finally appeared. The bottle has a cool looking label with a snoozing moon and a 12/17/02 "bottled on" date. It pours amber with an off-white head that dissipates quickly. The smell is a nice blend of malty sweetness with enough hops to make things interesting. The taste is an interesting blend of fruity sweetness and a nice hop bite. It reminded me a bit of a less hoppy Bigfoot. The mouthfeel is nice and creamy and the drinkability is more or less par for the course for barleywine.

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Photo of WaltTrombone
3.78/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I must admit, I liked this Barleywine-style ale better than the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot that I tried a few days ago. Still not sure that barleywines are my cup of tea, bit I'll try a few more anyway.

This poured with a red body, with white head that went away fast, leaving thin lace. The aroma was mild and indistinct, malt and caramel. Taste was first a blast of malt and caramel, then alternated with a strong hops presence, back and forth they dueled on my happy tongue.

It had a smooth, oily mouthfeel, and finished with a medium hoppiness with an alcohol bite. The 11% ABV is well-hidden, not a beer for pounding down...

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

Good, but not spectacular. It poured a nice mahogany, with that overwhelming "liquior" smell. Half exspecting to striaghten up in my seat with the first sip, I didn't. The ABV was more psycological than actual. It tasted, IMHO, more like a brandy than a beer. More fruity, little hops. A sipper, I enjoyed it as the Celts put the nail in the coffin of the Pacers. It easily lasted the whole 4th quarter.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ruby-copper color, with a tan head that leaves good lacing. The aroma is bready, with caramel malts, fruity hops, and a slight bit of grain. It has a super fruity start, which then turns bready, then finally, a sweet finish that is lessened by a slight hop bitterness. It is a full-bodied brew that is alcoholic and warming. It is an excellent beer; a definite winter warmer. There are a lot of complex aromas and flavors throughout this brew.

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Photo of mzwolinski
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy cherrywood color with no head whatsoever. Aroma is sweet and fruity, with a heavy malt base, some citric hop flavor and a noticeable, though subtle, alcohol note. Smells a bit like a caramel apple! Taste is lovely and smooth, starting with a fruity pale ale like maltiness, developing a stronger, slightly toasty malt presence mid-palate, and ending with a very hoppy, but gentle, finish. Light apple-like fruitiness throughout, and some alcohol flavor and warming. Viscous in body, but not to the detriment of its drinkability. Good stuff!

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Photo of stingo
4.75/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This brew was bottled on Nov 13, 2002 and I am drinking it April 2, 2003 (as I write this).

I typically drink the Old Horizontal on my visits to Victory when the brew is in season. The present botlle under review features a rich brownish gold color, with a with a dryish nose. It also appears to be (for lack of a better word) a dense/heavy liquid suited for the colder months in which it is brewed.

On first opening/tasting the Old Horizontal had a very dry astringent taste, with the malt, and hops flavors distinctly separate. Allowing the brew to warm a little produced a much smoother combination of these tastes (and losing the astringency), along with a finish that is long and inviting, like spending the night before the fire, drinking this brew and listening to the wind howl outside. I should also note the message on the label from Victory's brewmasters encouraging the sipping of this barleywine ale, and I wholeheartedly agree with that idea. A thick slightly sticky mouthfeel gives way to an agreeable, balanced finish on the swallow, where the malt and hops seem to linger just above the tongue. As you can gather from my review, one or two of these is generally enough to satisfy, especially over the long periods over which it should be drunk.

At the end of the day, a wonderful brew from Victory - though I should note that (to my taste) Old Horizontal's character changes significantly with changes in the temperature. A slow-sipping ale, it is meant for those times when you just want to mellow out and slow down from the rat race. Highly Recommended.

Retasted Feb 22nd, 2005 - The new brewhouse at Victory seems to be paying off - this is a wonderful edition of the Old Horizontal - smoother, mellower, and richer than the previous editions I've had - Very Highly Recommended.

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Photo of IrishRedRock
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The best barleywine I have ever had, hands down. As this was my first beer that I happened to order at the particular bar I was at, the bartender commented, "startin' with the strong stuff are ya?" I may look young, but I know what's good. Bring it on.

It came to me in a large goblet, a reddish liquid with a light creamy head, with a very sweet alcoholic aroma. I knew it would be good before I even tasted it. Malty flavors run both extremes. It begins with a delicious fruity sweetness, followed by a toasty caramel malt flavor, and finishes with a great hop kick. Oh man is this good. I can't wait to have it again. I haven't sampled it yet from the bottle, but you can bet I'll be back to have it on tap. So drinkable despite the 11%, and the alcohol flavors are only mild. This is a killer. Obviously highly recommended.

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

This barleywine pours nicely with a deep amber brown hazey color, head was thin and lace like on the glass. Nice rich floral hop tones when first taking the glass to my nose then the caramel malts sneak in, sweet and candylicious. Taste is complex like most barleywines with malty richness, caramel thickness and sweetness and a slight smokey tone at the finish. Full notes of barley malt sweetness of caramel flavors thoughout. Perfect balance of twingy, hearty, mildly earthed hops, bittering to the perfect height of satisfaction leading through to the smokey-like finish. This is a great beer to knock yourself out with. Drink slightly chilled, but not too cold and sip to your little hearts content til you can't sip no more. Which doesn't take much.
By the third or fourth sip I was ready for bed. So count on drinking it for an hour or so before bedtime and you'll have dancing barley and hops in your head.

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

This beer pours a conducive glowing amber with a screen of hazy brown of over it, while the body appears with a cream toned very thin head that is starting to leave a trickled collar of lace apon my glass. The first thing that attacks my senses when I crack the bottle is the complex fragrance of the floral hop tones. Victory forms a nicely hopped malt treat for relaxation, and this one is doing just that. I was having some trouble falling asleep, so I decided to crack my bottle of Old Horizontal hopefully it will put me down in a few. Back to this amazing offering from Downington, the malt richness soothes the body and mind just by taking a few whiffs of this well done handcrafted beauty. Thick and chewy rolling herds of malt graze upon my tongue, sending a backlash of gentle hop bitterness forming a smokey haze on the plains of my palate. Full notes of barley malt sweetness cyclone around clashing with bitter sweet tones of caramel, fig, and deep brandy tones making this one completely enjoyable soothing beer that is helping me fade away into this sweet night. The mouthfeel is medium to heavy with a full syrup like appeal to it, wonderful enduring beer that shall live on forever. I could drink one of these every night in front of a burning fire right before bed time to put me into an ecstasy of slumbering peacefulness. A bit challenging to my palate to enjoy in number, but it's not mant to be consumed in quantity. I love the name, the beer, and the brewery!!!

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

Deep mahogany brew with a small tan head that disappears quickly. Hugely sweet malty nose, caramel and molasses. The hops don't have so much presence in the nose, but they are definitely noticeable in the background. A little alcohol presence gives a slight nostril burn. As for the taste, it's big on the malt too. Huge caramel sweetness throughout. Hops become more noticeable as you drink more, in a leafy, earthy character. Still not as noticeable as they are in other barleywines though, unfortunately. Bitterness floats around nonchalantly. Alcohol warms thoroughly. A pretty good barleywine, but i wish it was more complex and hoppy. It could benefit from cellaring for the complexity, I'm sure. Might take away some of the harshness as well. Make sure you drink it at room temperature so all of the flavors will come out. Still very enjoyable as is. Thanks again to francisweizen for another taste of Victory!

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

Had to try this in bottle form to see if it was as good as it was on tap. This beer poured into the glass rusty red/orange in color, was fairly cloudy as well. The head was little not like from the tap, the color was a beige/light brown color, and there was a slight lace left behind as well. The smells that filled my glass were of cherries, roasted malt, dark fruits, some slight sour tones and a hint of ash as it warmed. The taste was filled through out with tones of alcohol. It was thick in the mouth but very pleasant. Flavors of alcohol, roasted malts, floral hops, citrus fruits and big dark fruits and spices as well. It had a slight bite to it but it was not overbearing. This is a big beer that has many great qualities from sharp to smooth. A good beer that gets better as the temperature rises. Another score for Victory.

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Photo of Winter
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is the first time I've ever opened a bottle and had the top crack right off. The lip stayed embedded in the cap and luckily no glass particles fell into the bottle.

Bottled on 12-4-02. Front illustration features a horizonal crescent moon wearing a winter stocking cap while sleeping over a log cabin. Brewed seasonally as a winter warmer, Old Horizontal acts as a perfect nightcap on a cold night.

Poured a deep amber with ruby hues and no head. Alluring aroma consisted of sweet candy-like sugar, fruit, alcohol, caramel, malt and brandy. Mouthfeel is smooth and a touch syrupy. Old Horizontal is definitely a sipping beer. The initial sweetness is overthrown by the strong 11% alcohol contained within. At times a touch medicinal. Finish has a nice toasted barley flavor to it.

I want to like this barley-wine, but I definitely feel this one needs more time to age, for the alcohol flavors to mellow and for some more complexity to develop. I'll cellar my remaining bottles and try again later in the year.

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Photo of budgood1
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

bottled on nov. 13, 2002. sampled at room temperature.

old horizontal pours out a pretty, cloudy dark amber colour...lots of sediment floating about. an off white, foamy head appears...dying down to thin, fine lace. a hard to pin down berry-ish and malt aroma...a hint of mustiness...aromatic hops are hard to pick out. multi-dimensional malt flavors...berry fruits, choco, toffee and caramel all peek out but don't outright present themselves. oh yeah...alcohol too...lots of bourbon and brandy notes. hop bitterness is subdued, but does not take a back seat in the profile. the malty body takes a nice sweet and sugary sled ride right down my throat and crashes at the bottom of my stomach in a boozy wreck. can't wait to climb back up the hill and do it again! smooth, creamy and scary in it's drinkability. finishes sticky sweet and quite warming. a damn fine brew!

another huge thanks to frank4sail for breaking into his super secret cellar stash to provide me with this stellar sample!

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Photo of TXHops
4.44/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 13-Nov-02.

Victory's exquisite barleywine pours a sedimented amber color, with a wispy, almost white head of small, patchy bubbles which lace like glue. It’s kinda fun to watch to the bubbles race up the sides of the glass, creating a current that pushes the sediment down in the center of the glass, contradicting the findings of a study I read about a few years ago carried out by researches looking at Guinness bubbles, which appear to travel downwards at the outside of the glass an upward at the inside…

A huge, dried apricot aroma screams out of the glass into my nose, begging to be sniffed over and over again. The same flavor dominates the palate once I’m willing to shift away from olfactory perception alone. Dried apricots, followed by a strong flavor of cantaloupe set the stage for a late burst of resiny hops. The thickly viscous, ample body reflects a low carbonation level, increasing the sensation of over-ripe fruit and causing the syrupy flavor to linger perpetually in the mouth. The viscosity of the mouthfeel also allows this beer to be broken into unique, independent flavor stages as well. First the apricot flavor introduces itself, being borne mostly by the aroma. Then the carbonation and hops kick in simultaneously, creating a stabbing, sticky bitterness that quickly yields to the long, complex finish, which showcases that melon-like sweetness. It’s the resiny bitterness and morning melon sweetness that trade the limelight in a repeating pattern until I give in and have another sip. After all’s said and done, a faint, luscious pineapple sweetness emerges to encourage me off to the scene depicted so enticingly on the label.

This is a tremendous barleywine. It’s not as overpowering hoppy and harsh as SN Bigfoot or Rogue Old Crusty and not as cloyingly sweet as some of the English renditions of the style (Lees for example). This beer strikes a happy balance between sweet, malty complexity and bitter, resiny hoppiness. Tremendous beer and my favorite Victory brew tasted to date…

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Photo of bierman2000
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An excellent hoppy yet malty Barley Wine, Old Horizontal is a dangerous well made smooth beer. The hops are noticed at first but then the malt comes through at mid-bottle. 11% alcohol noticeable throughout and quite potent and makes a great last beer for the night.

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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 ADR
4.49/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

About time that this showed up at Thomas Liquors. November 15, 2002 bottling...

Dark and semi-clear copper color with an ochre yellow head that's just a creamy skim. Pretty good complicated lacing, though. That complex slightly acidic prune aroma that tells you this is going to be interesting wafts up. Nice and thick malt presence, heavy on orange and a thick plum sauce, with a resounding black pepper/clove hopping that's not quite as ragged as Bigfoot. A little peppermint shows up at the finish and combines with the orangey sense to give a big aftertaste. Yep, there's alcohol here, as well. A relatively smooth brew for a higher ABV Barleywine.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Head is sort of burnt tan in color, body is a strong, dark reddish hue. Aroma is just what I smell for in a barleywine, and then some! Whiskeyish, brandyish, cognacy, sweet, spicy, and stuffed with alcohol! Suggestions of dark fruits, plums, raisins, cloves, anise. Very fierce stuff, leading the pack of high-alcohol beers. Is there any other barleywine stronger than this? If so, I'll have a sip, but Old Horizontal just about proves my limit! If ever there was an amptly named beer, this is it. Excuse me, my brain is crashing...
Loads and loads of flavor here, but the booze is overpowering! Dazzling use of hops and malt, thick and rich, with a fully loaded finish. A taste sensation, but a bit too burnt.

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

Iced tea colored brew with minimal head. A very scant "cling-ring" is all that remains on the beer's surface after just a minute or so.

Hoppy aroma lets me know I'm in for a treat. Smoky malts, caramel and sweet fruit are present. Somewhat of a cookie dough aroma too.

Sweet & deep flavors, alcohol warmth. Nice hop bite that's not too overpowering. Candy sweetness too.

Smooth and slick mouthfeel with perfect carbonation.

Dangerously quaffable at 11% abv.

I wish I had more of this to cellar until next year, as I think it will age nicely. A big thanks goes out to aaronh for this beer trade.

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

Deep clear dark amber-copper, small head with tight little bubbles, sweet smokey caremel fruity aroma. Sweet and malty, flavors of cotton candy and fruit , not much bitterness in the finish, very smooth and full bodied with a full and creamy mouthfeel, a warming sipping ale, very good for the style, not over hopped.

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Photo of scottum
4.36/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out dark amber with a nice head for a barleywine. Tastes full off life. A bit hoppy for the style. This is certainly a beer that I could go through a case of. Very drinkable for such high alcohol content. This is a great beer, but there are better barleywines out there. A good brew to turn one onto barleywine with.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

For a beer to have over 10% abv it sure hides it well. It's a nice dark amber color that has orange hues when held to the light. The frothy tan head reminded me of what you'd find on a cappaccino. Above the beer hovers a strong sweet malty aroma that has a hint of alcohol in it. Each sip is velvety smooth and starts with a thick malty sweetness like molasses. Slighty fruity flavors take over and are followed by a strong hoppy bitter finish. A sticky sweetness remains behind and a mild bitter flavor is left on the tonge.

I look forward to this and S.N. Bigfoot barleywine every year and I'm never disappointed. Now I've got to pop open a bottle of each from last year and compare it with the current brew.

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Photo of purplehops
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Horizontal pours a deep orange-brown with a thin off-white head that leaves little to no lace on the glass. The aroma is apricots, caramel malt, and citrus hops. The taste starts off malty and caramelly (is that a word?) before nose diving into a bitter hoppiness with hints of alcohol and orange. The finish is alcohol mellowed by malt with a huge hop bite. The aftertaste is alcohol and bitter hops with notes of citrus and spice. The mouthfeel is lightly syrupy and warm.
Overall and interesting barlywine style ale. The fact that it is bottle-conditioned means that it will get a chance to mature in my cellar for a year or two for the next taste update. A year of aging should mellow that IPA like hop bite.

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Photo of beernut7
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This ale pours a hazy flaxen-brown color with a light lace rimming the glass. The aroma is a grapefruit and malt. The first flavor is intensely malty quickly followed by a huge spicy floral hop presence that overwhelms the palate. The spice gives way grudgingly to a powerful bitterness that helps round off the sharp malt edges of the brew. The floral character makes this torrent of complex flavor a very drinkable barleywine.

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

The first thing I noticed was how well the alcohol is hidden. A white head forms on top of a burnt orange/golden brown body. Sharp hops are prevelant and mellow slightly by malts and barley. Taste was good but not as mellow as I had hoped. Call me crazy but to me it had almost an aftertaste similiar to many IPA's. Old Ho' is a very aromatic beer and I noted mainly floral and citrus like scents. I was a little disappointed in this beer truthfully. I had worked it up to such an extent that I was sure this would be the greatest liquid to ever touch my lips. Alas, it was just pretty good instead of the liquid gem I was hoping. I will age a six-pack and put down a new review, hopefully it will mellow out.

This was only my second run in with a barleywine. The other was a case of Bigfoot that had been aged for a year I got from a friend. Therefore I dont really have much to compare this too.

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Old Horizontal from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
4.06 out of 5 based on 1,890 ratings.
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