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 Metalmonk
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition, bottled 12/22/05.

This was the first barleywine I ever had, thanks to a good friend sending one for Christmas a few years ago. Was glad to pick up a 2005 bottle at Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg, VA. (they also had a few bottles of the 2004.)

Pours a color somewhere between apple cider and red grapefruit juice. A nice toasty ruby-orange I guess. Head disappears quickly, true to style and alcohol content. Some stray floaters give it an ominous look.

Aroma is candy-apple, citrus, wood, chocolate-covered cherries, alcohol and fruity pancake syrup. A dusty flatness covers the aromas and seems to be holding them back.

Somehow the flavors aren't as vibrant and assertive as I remember from my first (and previously only) one. But there's a nice mellowness in its place, with the sharpness of the hops and the sweetness of the malt coexisting beautifully. Lots of flavors mingle and move around, all of them recalling the aromas noted above, plus a nice hit of vanilla, and some oak, cinnamon...even a little smoke.

A good bit of carbonation, especially for the style, but not too much, and it meshes nicely with a lightly syrupy heft.

We're in the middle of a serious cold snap right now, and with only a mild chill on it, the Old Horizontal is providing all the sipping satisfaction I could hope for. But oddly, I think I prefer it younger.

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

A: Dark ruby red with a half finger head that quickly resides to the smallest amount of lacing.

S: Rich brandy, sweet toffee and date smells.

T: Very rich. Brandy character with a good deal of sweetness. Good level of hops, but it can't quite overcome the sweetness - although they give the swallow a nice little bite. Alcohol is evident - especially in the swallow as well. Given a year or so, the alcohol ought to mellow and make this a very smooth drinking barleywine. Caramel/toffee flavors abound.

M: Rich, heavy. As a barleywine, it is even a bit on the thick side - slightly syrupy. However, it is also satisfying, and I won't knock off for the heaviness here - that will come with the drinkability score.

D: Just a slight bit too rough fresh. Alcohol needs some mellowing, and it is a bit on the syrupy side. Aging this one could do wonders, as the flavors are excellent in this. They just need to meld better. Mind you, these are pretty minor issues - none are show-stoppers. I'll stick a couple of these in the cellar and hopefully revisit the review later.

This is not your average session beer. Have a son or daughter who you don't want drinking yet? Give them some of this, and watch them never touch alcohol again. Definitely one intense beer. Despite a few shortcomings, I can still recommend this fresh. Just can't wait to age it some.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Enjoy by Dec 29 2011. Pours a reddish amber color with some golden hues. Aroma is a lot of citrusy hops with a little caramel and some alcohol. Taste is full of hops, more like a double ipa than a barleywine with all of the hops and thats fine with me. There is also some alcohol, a little toffee and some burnt sugar towards the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied and is a little over carbonated at first but mellows out a bit and the finish is a bit dry. Drinkability is brought down a bit because of the noticeable alcohol. Decent beer now. Right now this beer is more like a double ipa. With some age I am sure this will be a stellar barleywine when the hops mellow out.

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

Appearance: Dark caramel, small head that disappears quickly. Lacing is scattered.

Smell: Sweet with honey, caramel, malts and alcohol.

Taste: Caramel, hops, vanilla. Suprisingly the alcohol is very well in check. This is not nearly as sweet and potent as many other barleywines I have had. Much more pleasurable and drinkable. Very mild flavors but thats not saying its a weak beer. The flavors that are there are great and meld perfectly.

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Photo of pmcadamis
5/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - A cascade effect builds up a gloriously chunky 4 finger orangish hued head over a dirty, murky, redish-orangish-brown brew. Looks viscous and thick. Lots of orangish lace is left on the glass.

S - Milk chocolate, chocolate cake, scones with caramel oozing over them. Also dates, prunes, toffee, and rum. This is wonderful!

T - Just about the richest brew ever. Full of hearty whole grain bread, german chocolate cake, fruitcake, scones, and everything that is thick chewy, moist, and drizzled in honey and caramel. Towards the end of the sip, big grassy hops come out to play and keep all of that cakey sweetness in check. Actually the sweetness never gets out of hand at any time due to the thick bready grainy malt characteristics that are more akin to biscuits with honey drizzled on top rather than pure candy sweetness.

M - Just about the thickest, most viscous beer I've ever put in my mouth! Chewy, thick, slick and creamy at first, but then moving toward a dry and sandy finish. Excellent!

D - Damn the alcohol content. I would session the hell out of this stuff. This is right up there with Okocim Porter for my favorite brew so far.

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

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into an oversized wine glass

A: Pours a gorgeous ruby red/cranberry color, with a moderately thin head that dissipates quickly, except around the ages.

S: A very interesting scent, the beer almost smells refreshing, like a breakfast cocktail. It's definitely sweet and makes me want to take a gigantic gulp, but knowing what lies ahead, I don't plan on doing that.

T: Woah. I was unprepared for the first sip and the almost overwhelming alcohol presence, sort of like a Jack & Coke that's got flat/watered-down, or a zinfandel that someone stuck in the fridge. It has a very large boozy raspberry or cherry flavoring to it that I'm not sure about, perhaps as it warms...and yes, that is the case. The beer gets better as it warms (as would be expected). Lots of complex flavors to this one, though very little, if any, finish.

M: The thinnest barleywine I've had, it's gone from your mouth as quickly as you sip it. I actually prefer my barleys to be a big "bigger" in terms of mouthfeel, but this one actually helps the drinkability.

D: Once you're past that initial burst of booziness, this beer becomes fairly easy to drink. Still not a chugging beer, heh, but not very hard to drink given the very high ABV. I'd do more than one of these in a sitting.


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Photo of Brian700
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a reddish brown with a decent head on it that laces nicely.

The aroma was very odd. I've never smelled a fully fermented beer that smelled like fresh wort before. It was nice, I love that particular aroma but I thought it was interesting and I am still confused as to how that could be.

The flavor oddly enough, reminded me of fresh wort as well, not that it tasted unfermented by any means but the malt character was so in my face that it reminded me of it. (I had just got done brewing over ten gallons of beer mind you) The alcohol warming was just enough to give some heat to the flavor.

The mouthfeel was full bodied with medium/moderate carbonation. Very palatable.

The drinkability was pretty good on this one. It is a strong beer but if you are a seasoned drinker I could see having a couple of these before my better judgement set in.

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Photo of riversider76
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a style I drink that often. Pours brown with an orange hue. One finger head,with some retention,and good lacing. Smell is of dark fruits,and malt. Body is medium to thick, smooth,with light carbionation. taste is of sweet dark fruits,and malts. With a hint of hops. Alchol in the finish warms nicely. Excellent.

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Photo of copasetic
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a hazy reddish brown with just a half finger of head that quickly disappeared into light lacing. The aroma is indistinct hops with a rich malt sweetness. The first taste is full of hops with a sweet, but not too sweet, finish. This is thinner than many barleywines I've tried, which is a welcome variation. Very little alcohol hotness is present.

Overall, a very nice barleywine! Most beers in this style do not stand up to more than a glass, but I could enjoy 3 or 4 of these with increasingly incoherent delight.

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Photo of StoutofHeart
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An exceptional barleywine indeed. Dark amber in color with a nice off-white head. A big malty brew, but plenty of hops. There is a pleasant sweetness/fruitiness to it start off, but finishes with a nice hop bitterness. I drank this brew at room temperature and the taste was nothing short of amazing. Definitely my favorite among barleywines.

To those who are barleywine fans and haven't tried it: go out and buy a 6er because once you have one, you'll want another one....and another...etc.

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

A - Slightly hazy brown color. Eighth inch head. Strong lace.

S - Lots of rich malts, fruits, spices and hints of sweet hops.

T - Light malty taste at first, leads into some fruity sweetness and finally a little alcohol.

M - Fairly smooth on the tongue. Very light carbonation.

D - Taste is very nice and the alcohol is well hid. A good Barleywine.

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

Bottled winter of '06. Dark ruby in color, thin tan head. Rich malty and medicinal aroma, dark fruits, figs, plums, dates, black licorice. Noticeable stinging alcohol. Hints of yeasty and breadiness. Definitely some hops there though had to discern with everything else that was going to. The medicinal notes stood out compared to other BW's.

The taste was very sweet at first like candy sugar, and that medicinal feel sticks around. More and more fruity notes creep in as it warms, red and white grapes, citrus, mangos, mellons, raisins. Some floral hops linger but it's hard to balance this big of a malt. The mouthfeel was much more smooth than the aroma may have led on, the belly warming alcohol doesn't become offensive. It's rich but not especially sticky and syrupy.

Verdict: a damn good barleywine. Maybe I served it too cold, but the medicinal feel at the begining of it was a little much, but as it warmed it got a lot better and fruitier. Slightly harsh all in all, I could see how a year or two could make it better, so I think I will do that with the last two from my 6er.

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Photo of vitamaltz
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is certainly my favorite beer, so for this review I endured some pretty hellish suburban Philadelphia traffic to get to the brewery. As far as barleywines go, this isn't the most complex one on the shelf, but I think it might be the most delicious. It hits my mouth in three distinct stages:

1) A pleasant hoppiness that teases but never quite cuts through the big mouthfeel (feels more like Mobil 1 than Havoline).
2) Swirl it around and the malts come through strong. It's pretty much just honey and caramel to me, but what's wrong with that?
3) I wait as long as I can before swallowing, and end up with a really nice alcoholic warmth on the tounge. Like most barleywines, this will have a few aftershocks of malt if you just wait a while for the next sip.

I have a few in the cellar now, and always one in the fridge.

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


I've had this beer several times before, almost all of them courtesy of Muenchenerkindl -- he's one active trader and a great guy.

This particular bottle seems older than the others. The bottled on date had faded beyond legibility, but the bottle was the older one (?) featured on this site as opposed to the newer (?) bottle. At least, I am assuming this one is older since the hops are less powerful and it is showing some other signs of age (lots of haze in the bottle, slight oxidation, ect.)

But this is a great beer. Really, the easiest drinking barleywine I've ever had. Victory for my tastebuds indeed! It combines the American super-size-me mentality with a more restrained European idea of balance and drinkability.

I love it. Good citrusy hops, prunes and chocolate from the malts with enough sweetness to balance out the massive hop presence.

Just a great drink overall. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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

From the stash & from 12/05. I prefer this beer aged a bit and it has aged wonderfully. Rich carmel color. Lovely malty nose. Easy to drink even with the ABV. Rich flavor of carmel & malts. This is one of my favorite barleywines and beers in general. Another gem from Victory.


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Photo of RobertDwight
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very lovely, perfect amber color. Has a nice thick white head that fades but still laces a bit. Personally, I think it looks exactly like what a barleywine should look like. The smell isn't quite doing it for me, I was expecting more aromas to be present, but I do detect a bit of hops and some alcohol. This beer has some great flavors, a lot of fruitiness, caramel, some sherry, bitter hops and alcohol. This beer has a good mouthfeel and I could go for another one of these on a cold winter night like tonight. Its beers like this that make winter not so depressing! Definitely going to go grab another 6-pack and throw it down in the cellar!

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Photo of foureyedgeek
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass, if only because I shared this with a friend. Bottled 12/9/05, so this is over a year old. It spent that year in a fridge before it came to my cellar.

Pours a slightly hazy brown-red with amber highlights, a strong, tightly foamed 2-finger head. Head is well-retained, builds on the swirl and leaves
moderate lacing.

Smell is very sweet, malty, like dark fruits and hinting of alcohol, a slight booziness

Tastes of molasses, raisins and other dark fruits, accompanied by a slight hop bitterness, mellowed over the year and a definite alcohol warming.

Mouthfeel is creamy, with a nice low carbonation and a thick, viscous mouthfeel, well bodied.

Drinkability is deadly good, at this high an ABV this one will catch up to you, I'm almost glad I split this one.

I look forward to trying this one fresh to see how hop forward it is and would also have no problem setting a few back to have them develop.

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

Bottle says, "Bottled Dec 09 05" So I guess this is the 2005 vintage.

Pours a really hazy amber/brown color with a decent head.

Beer smells REALLY malty. Almost like a bowl of warm cereal... grape nuts. There is also a hint of stewed fruits.

Flavor is very boozy... a lot of alcohol noted. Beer tastes like candied fruits, nuts, and with a bitter warming alcohol hop quality on the finish.

Mouthfeel is quite good. Very well rounded, full flavored, and thick in the mouth. Just like a barleywine should be.

Drinkability is very good for a high ABV beer. This is a well done barleywine. Very comparable to some of the other excellent examples of this style. I'll have to go grab a couple more of these for cellaring.

Yet another fine brew for Victory.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours out a good 1/4 inch head and falls into a slight head with a good lacing. The color is a dark amber and looks nice. Smell is slightly sweet with earthy hops that work well together. Taste is smooth and mellowed earthy hops with fruityness that blends into a malty backround. The mouthfeel is good, but a little harsh. Overall I will have more of this fine brew!

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Photo of BeerRun13
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy cranberry orange color. Thin off white head falls to a ring. Leaves some thick bubbly lace.
Wonderfull raisin/date aroma. Sweet malt and some alcohol.
Sweet raisiny, fruity, malty flavor. Some Alcohol. Wonderfull bittering quality and hop flavor. Not complex at all, just a straight forward good flavor.
Full bodied. Low to moderate carbonation. Syrrupy. Bittering finish that lingers on the tounge.
Good beer overall. Glad I recieved a few of these in recent trades to really enjoy.

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

Bottle is from December 2005. Poured into a chalice. Rich copper & red in color - this beer has some viscosity to it, not thin at all. Head quickly dissipates leaving some minor lacing. Caramel and fruit on the nose and the alcohol is evident as well. Taste is sweet with a nice almost chocolately dark fruit finish. The mouthfeel is very creamy and rich. There is also a warm feel as well. This is a very drinkable barleywine, dangerously so, in fact. Highly recommended.

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Photo of rsyberg01
4.12/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

S - 12 oz bottled on dec. 22, 05. Thanks to CRJMellor for this tasty sampling.

A - Pours a hazy pale ruby with copper highlights. Quite viscous this be. Head is an offwhite and not as sticky as I thought it would be but still decent.

S - Nice balance of roasted malt, caramel, slight fruity notes in there as well, definitlely dark sultry fruits. Hop is well spoken for as well, even with about a year on this bottle, the hop character is still in your face, which is awesome.

T - Sugary sweet caramel, delicious roasted grain goes well with the sweetness. The bitter in the finish just puts the icing on the cake and balances this into an olympic balnce beam gold medal winner.

M - Viscous, syrupy, creamy, smooth, awesome.

D - Being 11%, this is extremely drinkable. Be careful though, too many and the name of the beer wont just be a cute spin on words, you will go horizontal in a matter of seconds.

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

appearance: The pour gives a one-finger, tan colored head that takes awhile to fall back and has decent retention. The beer is a clear, rich bourbon color.

smell: A blend of candied hops, woody booze, and moderately sweet caramel/toffee malts. A little bourbony, though obviously not from any type of barrel aging. A touch of hop tea and evergreen. Some caramelized sugars.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is a light medium, and the body full without being overbearing.

taste: Grainy malt sweetness with some caramel and lightly toasted notes. Pretty clean and straightforward. Light to moderate nondescript hop flavor, a touch of ethanol fume, and a creeping bitterness that comes out in the finish. Could use some more malt character.

drinkability: easy enough, and a good b-wine

bottled Jan 11, 2005

12-18-06: Drinking a bottle with a date of Nov. 18, 2003 printed on the label. I think I received this in my first ever trade have been holding onto it for well over a year. Pours a flat looking ruby brown with a disappearing head. Smells great...possibly approaching the 4.5 range. Aromas of boozy malt candy, bourbony wood, and aged hops abound. More complexity, though subtle, is found here than in my fresher sample. Smooth, soft mouthfeel. Well rounded malts on the tounge, just a touch of ethanol, and an aged hop flavor. This one has definately aged better than I expected after my experience with the above review. (nothing extraordinary, though)

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Photo of mjc410
3.15/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottled 12/14/04 - before I was even 21

The pour into my big ol' crystal snifter (after warming and breathing for a half hour) raises a one finger head in spite of the alcohol content. It's big bubbled, a solid tan, and falls quickly to a ring and surface bubbles. Lacing still happens to a small extent. The beer's body is a murky, barely translucent amber with significant red highlights. The nose is sweet, peppery, perhaps even having some peppermint. There's also a distinct caramel note. The bouquet is finished by a bit of acid, and lots of alcohol. I don't notice any distinct hop scents. The taste is remarkably mild, after the aroma. It has a bit of sweetness to it, and definite, but not extreme, alcohol flavors. A real disappointment here. It's not bad at all - there's just so little to it. The only commendable aspect is the masked ABV. The mouth is pretty thick, with (virtually) nonexistent carbonation. Overall, an easy drinker, but without much to lure me back.

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

A very nice selection in the beer club. Thx Ron

A-Nice brown cloudy appearance. 1/2 inch head . Settled to a ring and skim in about 2 minutes nice left.

S-This thing smell great. Sweet carmel malts, raisins, maybe prune juice. There is also a hop prsence but it is obscured by the other scents

T-Malt overload, carmel, bread, buscuit, raisins, prines, other dried fruits and brown sugar. A nice green hop bitterness pushes through in the middle that mixes well on the finish with these big malts. Alcohol esters also linger long on the finish. Really complex.

M-Nice chewy/creamy medium body. There is a good bit of fizz though that detract from the otherwise nice texture.

D-The high alcohol holds this back from being a real drinker.

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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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