Old Horizontal | Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown

1,897 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: 1,897 |  Reviews: 1,111
Photo of Finkel
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out, it looked a lot like apple cider topped with some frothy, substantial head. Simple, but nice looking.

I was definitely a bit confused to find that this one had no real aromatic presence. A small amount of hops and a grainy smell came through backed by a bit of a sweet background. I could tell that this beer was complex based off of the range in smells that came through, but I couldn't appreciate it as much as I would have liked...at least through my nose.

The flavors and tastes hit me like a brick and came as a total shock since the smell of it was so weak. A distinct sweet taste fluttered around before I even got a chance to think about it. Furthermore, hops were very apparent and were well hidden in the aromas that came through. Although I couldn't identify many specific flavors, this beer was very complex and very well made. The alcohol was also masked very well and hit me quite nicely.

The mouth feel was very nice as well. Each gulp turned to a velvety, warming sensation that made me want to dive into a world of tipsiness.

My first and certainly not last barleywine!

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

Pours a clear amber with a sticky tan head. A terrificly complex blend of aromas that span the entire hop spectrum, from citrus fruits to pine needs, with sweet malts in the background. Delicious flavor: comes out its cage with a blast of sweetness. Initially brown sugary before mellowing into toasted malts; the hops enter the game around the time of the swallow, and pleasantly linger and then mix with the sweetness and leave a magical impression. Heavy body with just the right amount of carbonation. A truly great beer.

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Photo of Richardberg
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a wine glass. Not too much foam but it lasted quite awhile. Smells bright and hoppy, some subdued floral notes. Taste is nice - clean and balanced between caramel and citrus, with a bright finish. Extremely drinkable for an 11% beer

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Photo of treehugger02010
3.66/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I purchased a growler of this at the Victory Brewpub in Downingtown, PA and poured it into a pint glass.
Appearance: The body is a deep amber color that is transparent only at the bottom. The head is tan and has great retention that leaves a ton of lacing.
Smell: The aroma is an upfront, in-your-face hop explosion of pine and grapefruit.
Taste: The dominate flavors are caramel and toffy that is downplayed by the warming booze. It is a bit brash, but enjoyable.
Mouthfeel: THe mouthfeel is very thick and smooth, but a bit stiff around the edges.
Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer.
Don't drink and review.

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Photo of jsp2
2.61/5  rDev -35.7%
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 coldmeat23
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Imperial Pint Glass
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Dark golden brown liquid with ruby highlights. Small creamy tan colored head of foam. Okay retention and okay lacing.

Big malty nose. Smells like buttered caramel. A little bit of brown sugar and vanilla. Slight hint of candied apricots. Very slight hint of earthy hops.

Nice caramel malts are out front. Hints of buttered bread with peach preserves. Toffee. Slight kiss of hops. Not prominent, though. Slight earthy spiciness.

Fairly light bodied for a barleywine style, I think. But, maybee that's just me. It is smooth and creamy, though, and that's a plus.

This one is very drinkable, IMO. Grab a case and come on by. Let's see how many we can drink.

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

This one's a couple of years old. Bottle is dated best by Dec 29, 2011.

A: Dark reddish brown. Pours with a nice one inch head but it disappears fairly quickly. Some nice lacing.

S: Citrusy, some medicinal/herbal aromas from the aged hops. Caramel malt

T/M: Nice sweet caramel malt. Some hoppy bitterness. Less citrus taste than the smell, but some grapefruit flavors are there. Mouthfeel is nice a full-bodied.

D: Surprisingly drinkable given the abv and intensity.

Overall, this one has aged relatively nicely. Not an exceptional barleywine but above average and quite tasty.

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Photo of Domingo
3.6/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This one's a pretty deep red tinted brown with a khaki head that's bigger than I expected. Carbonation on this brew holds up really well for an 11% item.
Smells like brandy, stonefruit, and hops.
The initial flavors up-front are sweet and juicy, but the finish is all grapefruit hops. The caramel-like maltiness and nice...but it forms an almost nondescript sweetness that really doesn't stand out. The hops come on hard in the middle and finish and stand out a little much for me. It just feels like booze and hops with very little in between and not much blending.
One bottle is more than enough for me, and I like the style.
I think I'd rather have had a little less hops and a malt-base with more flavor than just sugary sweetness.
Not bad, but where Victory tends to be spot on for my preferences, this one misses a little.

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

What may be my first gusher :( Aggressive but not overly so overflowed my Duvel tulip. A purplish amber beer (but lighter and clearer than some other Barleywines I've had). Good carbonation all around, a steady stream of bubbles rising from the center of the glass (is this that laser etching in the Duvel tulip? I've not seen it until now!) Billowy head leaves some nice lacing. Smells like peaches and cream, and other sweet fruit like strawberries (and all I have in my head now is that Berries and Cream commercial with the dancing midget man, it won't get out of my head!) from all accounts this is going to be a big sweet barleywine. All of my other senses are set up, gogo taste!

It almost seems like a rye taste from this. A very hoppy barleywine. This is a tale of two beers: at first, it reminds me of that berry flavored cereal I used to eat (berry flavored Kix?) Berry sweetness like in the mouth, just a little more tempored. Then the hoppiness kicks in. I'm not normally a fan of really hoppy beers, and this is probably the hoppiest barleywine I've had so far (albeit in a Small Sample Size), but that doesn't deter me at all. It doesn't really seem balancing, as the hops clear the sweetness off the palate and then some. But it's quite enjoyable. Mouthfeel is nice and coating, big and creamy, and the aftertaste is some residual sweetness mixed with some nice hops. Drinkability isn't at all hindered by the high ABV, moreso by the bitterness. But it's still drinkable. I'm not sure if this style or the others I have tasted are the norm, but I really can't argue with either method. Big malt bomb sweetness with big hops, works for me!

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Photo of morimech
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear reddish copper with virtually zero head. What bubbles do appear quickly disappear into a ring on the edge. Although barleywines are not the most impressive looking of brews, this one was average. The aroma is a bit weak in this beer. It is slightly astringent with just a faint fruit aroma. The hops that I expect in an American Barleywine is lacking in the aroma and flavor. However, I like the taste of this one. Slightly fruity with the hop bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is well masked and just slightly warming lending no flavor to the beer. The body is not that full but has a nice soft, creamy texture. Despite the high ABV, I upped the drinkability score. I think this is the perfect introductory to barleywines. It it was mine, I might have explored this style more. This beer can easily make one horizontal.

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

Beautiful cloudy rose with a two-finger creamy head that drops down to maintain a slight cover. Inviting nose of sweet and floral doesn't hint at its 11% alcohol content. It has a rich malty mouthfeel with a sour finish to go with the bitter. A little too sour but it might be part of its alcohol masking quality or a brandywine in general. A mild warming feel might be the only real clue as to its potency.

The carbonation knocks down the drinkability a bit but doesn't hurt it as a sipping beer. That's probably a good thing in the long run as you could end up horizontal pretty quickly with a few of these brews catching up to you.

UPDATE: If you allow it to warm up, the alcohol does leak through into the taste a bit more. That's probably true with anything, of course. Just spend time your drinking and not typing up reviews and forum posts!

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Photo of Keith238
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Cream colored head dissipates quickly as does the thin lacing. The color however is a medium caramel, reminiscent of bourbon.

S- Slightly astringent yet very malty aroma.

T- Again, very malty and smooth with less astringency than the smell. Strong caramel flavor from malt.

M/D- Not too effervescent, nor too heavy on the malt but it is sweet.

At 11% abv, I wouldn't recommend drinking more than 2 or 3 in a sitting but the drinkability is there if the tolerance isn't.

One of many great beers from Victory, be sure to grab a 6'er.

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Photo of rowew
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz longneck, dark label with a sleeping moon. Enjoy by Dec 5 2013, this just showed up at the stores so I assume it is this years vintage.

Appearance: Deep red, slight haze - thin head that fades quickly.

Smell: Dark fruit, a bit of vanilla. Some alcohol in there too.

Taste: The alcohol in this is surprisingly well hidden, with just a hint of it in the back of the throat. Depth of flavors is good, with some of the same dark fruit, a bit of molasses, some oaky vanilla. The hops are very subtle here.

Overall impression: Great barleywine - less hopped than a lot of American examples, so the other flavors really shine through.

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Photo of gordavidson
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I am almost certain this bottle is almost two years old. The stamp on the side says "enjoy by Dec 29, 2011."

A- A beautiful, deep red with a nice cloudy aspect and a great crystal ball effect. The head is slightly off white and has a pretty good retention. But, when held closer to the light, a few pretty large jelly-like floaters are in there... it could have been my fault on the pour, but these seem to be pretty rare.

S- Some candy, including cotton candy, vegetables, brown sugar, vanilla, and a little bit of cinnamon. It definitely has a bit of an aged quality to it.

T- A definite cotton candy aspect is here as well as a surprising amount of bitterness for the age. A very sweet malty beer with hints of vanilla, brown sugar, and some spices coming through.

M- A little numbing from the alcohol and the hops that remain. But, what else would you expect from a Barleywine? The carbonation is spot on.

D- The alcohol is a bit heavy in this one, but it is a great nightcap. A good beer and this could have aged for much longer.

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Photo of SteveO1231
4.19/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 Release 12 oz. brown bottle.

Pours a bright copper with ruby-red highlights. Tremendously thick off-white head forms on top and maintains throughout my sample.

Awesome aroma! Fruity aroma of dried apricots,prunes, and dates, caramel and some kind of white sugar candy that I can't quit pinpoint, smarties or baseball card chewing gum comes to mind. Little bit of grassy/herbal hop aromas beneath. The smell of this beer is bringing back memories of my glory beer drinking days in San Diego for some reason.

Full-bodied brew with a slightly slick texture more on the watery side.

Caramel malt and candy sweetness upfront, the alcohol numbs the palate a bit. Goes down nicely with a boozy warming effect. Much more bitter than the aroma lets on. The finish is dry with a touch of pine sap. Spicy, herbal and earthy, I'm guessing chinooks.

This is an interesting barley wine. I was expecting it to be sweeter and maltier based on the aroma but this is actually pretty hoppy. Combined with the abv this beer needs to be sipped, as I will be horizontal myself following this review.


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

700th review for Old Horizontal!

12oz. brown bottle says best by Dec. 5, 2013 so I'm well ahead of that.

Pours thick and smooth down into the center of a pint glass. A small half inch of head is created on top of a redish amber brown beer. The head is gone in a flash and leaves no lacing behind.

Aroma is sweet and fruity like red cheries. Hops are there but not the dominant force I was expecting. It must be that they're all hiding in the taste.

Flavor is really nice, starting with a sweet, slightly syrupy moment as it first hits the palate but followed by a big bitter punch of hops and finishing somewhat dry as the alcohol leaves the tongue. A rollercoaster of a beer but overall it's well-balanced.

Mouthfeel is very good for the style. It has malts and hops in spades but enough of each to feel balanced. Carbonation isn't too strong either which helps when the alcohol is so high.

Drinkability is good but I feel the warming effects after a few small sips so I don't think another will be in the immediate future. I will come back to this one someday, though.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.22/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This copper bodied barleywine opens with minimal head and little lace. There are notes of cloves and raisin esters with some subtle hint at caramel. Though this beer retains a brown sugary type of sweetness, it is not cloying or overwhelming. Of course, there is little of the hop bite in this. The body is a well-balanced one with a bready malt aftertaste that provides the palate with a lingering bitterness. A sipping beer to be certain - another fine product from Downington, PA.

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Photo of TrevorGW
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Solid copper with a nice bright white head.

Aroma is dried fruit all the way. Strong and aromatic, without smelling too boozy.

Tastes of sweet bread, pine resins and prunes. The strong sweetness and bitterness team-up, following through to the end. The richness penetrates every inch of your mouth.

Syrupy and rich, but the alcohol is well-hidden.

A solid barleywine that I would definitely try again.

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Photo of humanawho
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - a nice clear dark amber with an average head of cream

S - light on the nose with some light caramel aromas and some earthy dirty aromas

A - some tangerine flavors, brown sugar flavors and some walnut in the back

M - great balanced medium body and carbonation

D - good drinkablity, not over the top in any way

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Photo of smedley
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Pours a red amber with a tan head. Very nice lacing.

S - Toasted malts, cherries, caramel

T - Sweet and smooth start. Caramel, chocolate, coffee, fruity. Finshes very bitter. Alcohol is noticable.

M - Feels almost syrupy with medium carbonation and a warming feeling from the alcohol after a few sips. Nice winter warmer.

D - Very strong, bitter, and high alcohol content. Not a bad brew, but I don't think I could have too many of these in one sitting.

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

From the bottle.."In cheerful moods we gratefully sup,robust Barleywine from the cup! Brewed of pure Barley, rich and sweet, one of nature's truest treats!" I thought I would wrap up Christmas Day with this one, 1,000 miles from family, I need a treat!
Pours a deep amber color, with an acitve head,sound like soda bubbling loundly! Settles quickly, looks like Hop Wallop's grandpappy to me. This bier is too big, too heavy to leave much lacing, looks good here's to "merrily sip"!
Aromas of dark figs, liquor soaked prunes, black trumpet mushrooms, maple-like malts, hops, prunes, congac, burbons. Not quite as hoppy as I had hoped, but complex nonetheless.
Taste is spicier, hoppier than the aroma. Rather than a overly sweet Barleywine(this is a 2008) hoppy bitterness,spiced rum,prunes, spicy on the palate, almost a spiced Blenheim ginger ale -like burn left on the tongue. Taste for me is quite fantastic! Not overly sweet in the least, spicy,hops, phenolic burn.
Mouthfeel is suprisingly light for the ABV, cuts to the point, and leaves the tounge tingling. I would ask for a touch more hoppy complexity than spicy bite, but really good nonetheless. If this is brewed as a spicy winter treat(think Glughwine) then it is a perfect product of the brewers vision. Highly drinkable if you enjoy a spicy brew

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Photo of 7ways
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Autumn red translucence with a nice coffee foam head.

S- Airy citrus and darker fruit, sweet malt. Like air in an old cabin or rain in a young forest. Rustic.

T- Sweet crackers and cereal, orange honey, oak aged liquor, and caramel leading to a pleasant alcoholic aftertaste. The bottle was a year old, so it's mellowed by now; I wouldn't have guessed 11% were it not for the buzz. Well balanced.

M- Creamy and chewy, hell of a mouthfeel. A little syrupy, which was appreciated.

D- Easy to get carried away.

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Photo of HeyItsChili
3.25/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a clear, warm red amber in my glass with a thin off-white head that slowly fades.

S - Aroma of citrus, fruit, sugar, malt, alcohol.

T - Slightly bitter, pungent hops, sweet brown sugary malts. Lingering bitterness.

M - Medium/thin bodied with some crispness.

D - I can't really get around the bitterness here. It's seems to me more bitter than other barleywines I've tasted.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.38/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed on 7/8/08. Bottle, alc 11%. Pours a dark amber with a small tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma of bitter flowery hops and sweet malt. After my first sip, my initial impression was yuck! Sharp bitterness that didn't quite hide the super sweet malt. But as the beer warmed and my palate adjusted, it got a lot better. The rich malt gets tastier and less cloying, the bitterness recedes. A heavy beer but not syrupy. Alcohol finish. The ~7 or 8 months of aging didn't seem to improve this beer: either it's best after 2+ years or just fresh.
7/4/7/3/15 (3.6/5)

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Photo of yesyouam
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Horizontal is an impenetrably hazy sienna barleywine with a zinnwaldite head that has some pretty good lasting power. Big chunks of stuff were revealed only at the end of the glass. It carries a soft aroma of caramel apples, sweet malt, and possibly figs. It is smooth and slick; full bodied with prickly carbonation. There is a good balance of bitter and sweet going on here. The flavor is very focused, so it's hard to pick anything out. Fruit blends with caramel and a wooden bitterness, that fades a little quicker than expected, to reveal the peppery alcohol. There's an ester in here that conjures up "mixed fruit in heavy syrup". The sweetness, bitterness and gravity are well under control and they don't fight for attention. It's a very drinkable barleywine. My glass emptied quickly!
(rated Jun 14, 2007)

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Old Horizontal from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
4.06 out of 5 based on 1,897 ratings.
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