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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,897 |  Reviews: 1,111
Photo of John_M
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had occasion to try this beer again the other night; first time in a number of years.

The "old ho" style is a bit different then your typical barleywine, with a bit less sweetness then normal, and a discernable hoppy presence. The beer was served in a brandy snifter, which I think is the perfect way to serve it. Nice foamy head and a beautiful amber brown color, the beer is very impressive looking. Although the alcohol is up there, it's not very noticeable in the smell, and is very well integrated throughout on the palate. While I can't see myself drinking more then one of these, this beer was surprisingly drinkable, given it's abv. Nice caramel and maple sugar flavors, the hop profile gives the beer a bit of refreshing bitterness. Not the best barleywine I've ever had, but this is a pretty impressive effort from Victory.

 837 characters

Photo of tomParis
2.95/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

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

 514 characters

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

Pours a reddish copper little to no head. Pleanty of lacing, head does have staying power.

Im not very good at walking through BW smells. That ... and I have a cold. Sweet, some hops. Is that grapefruit?

Not super sweet. Definately hoppy. Moreso than most BWs. Nice finish. No real bite.

I like the mouthfeel because it is not as syrupy as most BWs. A nice treat to have one a bit drier.

Solid. Not sure moves into special category, however I would enjoy having it again. Well balanced, like mentioned earlier more hoppy than used to for a BW which I would prefer.

 576 characters

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

Bottle dated 12/2005 received from Todd1. The color is a tawny red with almost no head, only a couple bubbles running around the rim of the glass. It smells like alcoholic candy and makes me think “uh, oh this is gonna be good”. The mouth-feel is slightly effervescent. I am not sure what I am tasting but it is really good. I am going to savor this one and sip it slow. I really hope Colorado gets this beer since we get all the other Victory beers. This would definitely be worth laying down a case for several years. A truly outstanding barleywine.

 553 characters

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

The beer poured a deep amber hue with a small off-white head that turned into a small lace.

The aroma of the beer was immensely malty, caramelly, fruity, and alcoholic.

The flavor of the beer was full of rich caramel malt with burnt toffee notes in the finish. The hops were assertive, but not overpowering. They had a nice herbal and citrus flavor to them. While this barleywine is young, it is certainly one of the more drinkable young barleywines I've had. In comparison, I woulnd't touch Bigfoot before 1-2 years. There were some dried fruit flavors present, but nothing too intense. The finish was nicely alcoholic and warming. Notes of vanilla accented things well.

The mouthfeel was pretty thick and syrupy. The carbonation was dialed in just right.

This is a very well balanced barleywine. Definitely a good winter sipper. While I mentioned it's tasty young, I'm sure this one will age well. I'll crack my next bottle in a year. See ya then...

 964 characters

Photo of jorjoria
3.98/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank from a wine glass at room temp.

Appearance: Poured a reddish amber color slightly syrup like in appearance. Small amount of head but appropriate for the style.

Smell: Wow... This beer appears to be much more highly hopped then last years or maybe I just drank last years after more aging. Also there is a strong alcohol note to the beer. There is also a nice caramel like background which I assume will become more predominate as the beer ages.

Taste: Very hop forward even at room temperature are quickly overtaken by a strong alcohol notes and then to sweet molasses / caramel sweetness. Surprisingly it not overly sweet which is something I barley wines can quickly tend toward. An excellent example of an American barley wine.

Overall a great beer for a cold night in upstate NY.

 801 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer has a clear reddish brown body with a thin head of big tan bubbles that fades to a thin film. There is a strong carbonation of tiny bubbles that glide to the surface.

S- This beer has a slightly sweet caramel note with a hint of toasted malt in the background.

T- This big caramel malt sweetness is followed by a spicy heat in the finish. The finish has notes of green bitterness but not really hops. There are some hints of lighter sugar in the caramel but to well blended to taste any real malt characteristics.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a alcohol heat at the finish that balances the sweetness.

D- This beer has nice big flavors of malt sweetness and alcohol spice but not much depth to those flavors. That is just fine by me because this is a very delicious beer and I think it would age great.

 867 characters

Photo of Jwaks
3.83/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving 12oz bottle; enjoy by Dec 29 2011

Small bubbles of carbonation lazily creep upwards through a slightly hazy, ruddy amber body toward a finger thick cap of froth. An admirable foam collar and meager lacing develop as the head slowly recedes.

A stubborn nose reveals caramel malt, candied dark stone fruits, a bit of light citrus hops and hints of spicy alcohol.

Sweet thick caramel flavor is accentuated by candied fruit with a bit of hop bitters all wrapped up in a syrupy body. Loads of fusel alcohol hits hard on the mid palate and finish demonstrating this beers unadultered strength. Finishes with smooth sweet fruit outdone only by hard spicy alcohol.

For a barleywine it's smooth till the mid palate when the mouthfeel takes a hard turn toward lots of spicy alcohol providing lots of warms on the moderately long bitter and malty fiinish. Take it easy with this one and appreciate it. With all these delicous flavors this is one to savor and respect for it's brute strength.

Once again, another great brew by Victory.


 1,058 characters

Photo of cook76
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'll admit up front that I am a big fan of a good barleywine...and Victory's Old Horizontal is certainly that. I have only ever had it out of a bottle and usually pour into a traditional "Guiness"-style pint glass. Minimal head, fine carbonation, I'd say mostly dark amber in color with some reddish-brown undertones. The smell and the taste I feel are what really put Old Horizontal above other barleywines I've had. Strong indeed when it comes to alcohol content, but not overpowering and blends well with the flavor of the beer. Definitely a good slow-sipping beer. Mouthfeel is not super-smooth (I wonder what draft is like??) but does not distract too much either. Main competitors in my area (Pennsylvania) would be the two Weyerbacher barleywines--Blithering Idiot and it's pricier aged cousin Insanity. Old Horizontal beats out both of these on taste--seems the taste of the alcohol is too pronounced in the Weyerbacher beers (although they are still quite good).

 971 characters

Photo of enfield249
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Rusty brown, headed twoards ruby.

S - I actually got a lot of scent of this, due to the alcohol maybe. Malty and alcohol.

T - Huh, lots of alcohol burning. Then some more. Not awful, but it was the 1st, 2nd and 3rd things I tasted. Not to bitter that I remember.

M - Smooth.

D - My first foray into the world of barleywines. A good beer, maybe I'm not a fan of the style.

 387 characters

Photo of EPseja
2.78/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1,630 characters

Photo of prototypic
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Best by 12/29/2011

Appearance: Rich caramel color (ruby red when held to light). One and a half finger head that laced down the mug.

Smell: Big time malt with caramel and toffee aromas. Also picking up some dark fruit (plums perhaps). Very sweet smell.

Taste: Sweet caramel taste. I love the malt taste to this. Dark fruit flavors are present (grapes and plums). A bit of hops, but it tastes more malty to me. Very, very good.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: This brew is very thick and has syrupy characteristics. Definitely a sipping beer. I think two would be the absolute tops I could handle in one sitting. But, it goes down very easy for an 11% beer. Overall, great barleywine. One of the better I've tried. Highly recommended.

 737 characters

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

This is the 2007 vintage, "Best Before Dec 29, 2011"

A nice 12 oz. pour into a tulip glass, deep ruby color with a thin tan head that leaves a minimal lace as it dissipates.

The aroma is of alcohol and bitter hops. I'm not getting much malt if any, in the nose. There may be some back there hiding behind the alcohol, and I'm guessing that it will be more noticeable on a date much closer to the best-by date.

The taste is again an assault of hop bitterness and alcohol. The latter lingers for a long time and warms you all the way down. There is a bit of spice to this up front to go along with the bitter hop flavor. Malt is again very hidden at this point mostly due to the alcohol. You know it has to be there and I look forward to trying this again long down the road.

Nice smooth mouthfeel with very little carbonation as expected. It's a nice sipper at this point with great promise of things to come. If I'm still here I'll review the same vintage a couple years from now. For now it did not disappoint at all and put a warm smile on my face on a cool Sunday afternoon.

 1,089 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.95/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before Dec. 29, 2011.

Pours deep caramel-colored with a thin, swirling, lasting patch.

The smell is of caramel candy, dark fruits and peppery alcohol.

The taste is malty - caramel candy and a sweet graininess. Fruity, earthy hop bitterness balances it to a degree. Hoppy for a barleywine, but still maintains a malty character. Sharp alcohol heats it up without masking the flavor.

Full-bodied with a rich texture. Smooth despite the sharp, boozy alcohol.

Pretty drinkable for style/abv, but the sleeping moon on the label is appropriate. One or two, sipped slowly, is enough to induce sleepiness.

 617 characters

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

2007 bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

A: deep ruby body with a fine and creamy head. easily agitated back, subsides to a soft dusting. light splotchy lace stuck to the glass. depending on how the light shines through, this beer looks like black tea or a precious jewel.

S: first huge wave is fruit and carmelized malt. pears, raisins, even bananas. sugar, wet grain, rum, butterscotch. on a deep inhale theres a tinge of alcohol but surprisingly absent from a casual sniff.

T/M: chewy up front and at first, but the mouthfeel mellows as the glass empties and turns softer and slicker. big malt profile hits the front of the tongue, like wet pastries, rum cake, etc...fruit pulls through and mid palate a light candy quality. sugar dies out on the finish and a dry, but barely hoppy finish progresses. can be a bit astringent at times. both maple syrup and a woody quality abound, along with candy and fruit. dense. alcohol barely perceptible in taste but warming in the belly.

D: for so much alcohol its scary easy to put down, however the weight and residual sugar make this a solo night cap for me. not uncommon at all for barley wine.

Overall: this is a tasty treat but at this point, way too young. this beer is chaotic, struggling for cohesion and direction. with a few years on her, she'll be drinking damn fine and with serious purpose. at this point? one ackward youth with no conviction of her own.

 1,422 characters

Photo of hammer09
3.06/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This brew poured a deep, dark amber-red with good head development. Beer was clear and carbonation activity appeared muted. Would have received a score of 5.0, but color was a little too dark for this style. Smell is malty and sweet with a faint hop aroma. This beer tastes very sweet and alcoholic, as is to be expected, however I also noted a slight tartness that detracted from the overall flavor. Mouthfeel is sticky, syrupy, and somewhat flat. I expected a bit more carbonation, even for a barleywine. Drinkability is fine, but limited by sweetness and high alcohol content. No more than one or two in a sitting.

 617 characters

Photo of BeerTruth
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have just begun to find a fascination in barleywines. I've only had a few but this is probably one of my favorites so far. It pours a dark amber/red color with a very aggressive head that has a khaki color to it. Smell has that of malt and subtle hops with a fruity background. Taste is very balanced between the malt and hops which makes it a very drinkable barleywine at 11%. Some caramel and chocolate notes with a hint of mild hops. I definitely enjoyed this barleywine and look forward to trying more of this variety. Keep it up Victory!

 544 characters

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

To me, this is the perfect beverage for a cold winter day. As many of you (in the mid-west and east) are probably noticing, winter has arrived a little late this year.

In any case, I always drink my shat out of the bottle, so I can't comment on the appearance. Don't want to dirty my plastic McDonald's cups.

I mainly get two things here: malty sweetness, and rummy... rumness. I don't get a lot of hop flavor, and maybe there are hints of some other flavors, but it's mainly those two, imo. And then, just when you've swallowed that shat down, you get the alcohol warmth... aaahhhh.

As others have said it's not as strong as you'd think from the abv. Eminently drinkable, just don't drive anywhere afterwards. One of my favorites.

 740 characters

Photo of Kendo
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Bottled on 12-22-05" is stamped on the bottle. Consumed on 2-15-07 the day after a big northeast snowstorm.

A: An aggressive pour into an oversized wine glass resulted in a murky, orangey-red body when backlit -- real neat looking, it reminded me of a Tequila Sunrise, especially around the edges. It appeared closer to orangey dark amber when sitting on the table, however, and was opaque even when backlit. A small tan head forms but quickly settles to some spotty soapy white film. No lacing at all.

S: Sweet sugary malt, toasty malt and alcohol are the dominant scents.

T: Sweet malt at first, also toasted cereal and then alcohol-laden fruit: rum-soaked cherries come to mind. The alcohol isn't overpowering, but it is more noticeable at the back of the sip, especially as it warms. A moderately sharp metallic bite detracts a bit, but it finishes with a hoppy, almost oaky dryness that lingers nicely.

M: Medium to full-bodied. Very low carbonation (almost none, really) results in a fairly smooth feel that becomes even smoother as it warms. There's a slightly gritty feel to it at times, however.

D: Good. At 11% ABV, you'd have to be careful, of course, but frankly, given the high ABV, I expected the alcohol to be more harsh. So this is pretty drinkable for a beer of this strength.

Notes: This was solid. It's decently balanced between the 3 flavors you'd expect in a barleywine -- malty sweetness, alcohol and hop bitterness. In this bottle, aged about 14 months, the malt and alcohol dominate, but the dry finish rounds it off nicely. I'm curious how those hops would measure up if younger. I would expect them to be stronger and thus provide even better all-around balance, but then you may see the alcohol even more dominant. . . . In any event, I'd definitely recommend it as I sampled it -- i.e., aged about a year. . . .

 1,858 characters

Photo of smurphy77
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great barleywine variation. Sticky, full-bodied mouthfeel, yet with very little aftertaste. Surprisingly smooth for the alcohol content. Could drink a few without even thinking about it...

Only problem was that it came off the tap really cold, but didn't open up until it got a bit closer to room temp.

 305 characters

Photo of mynie
4.6/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled 12-6-05, drank 02-09-07. Stored for over a year at room temp.

Pours with a nice head. The color is a big, incredibly hazy blood red.

Smells of intense, syrupy, aged malt along with a big pile of hops. Oak, woodiness like a well-furnished apartment. A very west coast, aged taste (strange coming from Victory, but still great).

Tastes of oak chips and pine tar. English malts, very thick rich and syrupy, and American hops, piney and sticky. It's a great combination, and they're both blasetd to the extreme.

All too often, barleywines are either too hoppy to comprehend or too sweet from old malt to really enjoy. This one balances them both out to near perfection. Well worth aging.

 703 characters

Photo of DogFood11
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle. Poured into a Stone barleywine glass it forms a solid tan head that leaves the usual barleywine spotty lace. Amber body.

I did a side by side with the new SN Bigfoot and the latest release of the Old Horizontal. They couldn't be more of a night and day type comparison as they are complete opposites. The Victory barleywine is based on malt and depth. One of the better balreywines I've had. Caramel and candied towards the start and then it fades into a alcohol splash towards the finish. The hop presence, while subtle, is only subtle because of the malt backbone. Plenty of IBU's in this puppy.

Notes: A winner. One of the better brews I've had in the style.

 688 characters

Photo of Risser09
3.7/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage - 12 oz. bottle poured into a large snifter - Served at about 45 Degrees

Appearance: Harsh pour results in an abundant head over 2 inches high despite the large surface area. Deep ruby red that is dark enough to make the beer translucent. Light brown head doesn't feel like going anywhere. Tiny bubbles and large bubbles reside within the miniscus.

Smell: Cold and metallic. Sweet maltiness is in there somewhere. Not too full of aroma here. Oxidation?

Taste: Sticky sweet and malty bombardment right off the bat. Butterscotch sweetness initially. Dry and oaky flavors clock in right in the middle of the tasting. The finish is earthy and drying. Alcohol must be the culprit for all this drying flavor. But it is masked well and warms the belly a little.

Mouthfeel: Nice attacking carbonation and a slick mouthfeel. Drying alcohol makes you go back for more. The burning dryness at the roof of my mouth and in the nasal area is a first for me with beer tasting.

Drinkability: Great. I see no reason why anyone couldn't drink a few of these in one sitting. I would have more but I'd like to see how this develops over the years. Maybe a vertical will be in order at some point. A very pleasing barleywine.

 1,233 characters

Photo of EStreet20
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

December '06 Old Ho, let's check it out.

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter glass.

A - Pours out a dark, brown colored brew with a thin off-white head. When held to the light, a bit of a reddish color comes through.

S - A lot of alcohol, with some sweet smells underneath. Some fruity aromas along with a candy like chocolatey smell.

T - A sweet flavor all around. A bit of a sugary flavor with some fruitiness in there, followed up by a caramel like finish. The hops are present, however they really seem to just balance this one out and never lead to a bitter flavor. This taste is somewhat different and intriguing. The alcohol is well hidden.

M - A nice full body. Coats the mouth like a barleywine should.

D - This is an excellent sipper overall. Very interesting flavors. Let's age this one up a bit and see how it coms together.

 856 characters

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

New in the San Diego area. Let's give it a whirl.
12oz bottle.
Enjoy by Dec 29 2011.
Served at room temp.
Poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance is good. Dark colored liquid with no murkiness. Carbonation bubbles rising to the top where the head is. Speaking of such, the head is decent on the initial pour but fades away quickly. Inviting appearance.

Smell is above-average. Large smell of caramel malts and alcohol. Can't detect any hops but a decent smell none-the-less.

Taste is above-average. The caramel malt flavor is what jumps out in this beer. Alcohol has a strong presence in the after-taste. Small hop presence, like the smell. Mouth waters after every sip.

Mouthfeel is good. Lively in the carbonation department but not over-done.

Drinkability is good. Relatively easy to drink but definitely a sipper.

Overall: A tasty barleywine that, after some much needed aging, could be a great barleywine. I'll be laying down at least a six pack.

 973 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.