Old Horizontal | Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown

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Old HorizontalOld Horizontal
1,911 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 1,911 |  Reviews: 1,117
Photo of bort11
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle courtesy of SkinnyElvis.

Poured into an Imperial pint glass. Very quick and thin head that quickly recedes to a sticky and filmy lace. Color is a murky brown, with orange tinge around the edges when held to the light.
Smell is of hop oil, bittersweet.
Taste has a smooth bitterness, not overwhelming of hops. Very full flavor that envelopes the taste buds. Slight caramel malt notes.
Mouthfeel is very warm and full. It's a joy to hold a mouthful. A definite warmth, but not a real burn.
What a wonderful beer.

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Photo of grub
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

got this bottle in a recent trade with Aprilluvsbeer. thanks april!

pours a hazy brown with a scant head that quickly fades to a ring around the glass.

aroma is nice. roasty malt and a little alcohol. caramel and a bit of lingering sweetness. hint of bittersweet chocolate. slightly vinous.

taste is great. fairly bitter kick to start, then a really nice full malt body. biscuity malt. caramel. a little bit of raisin. really well balanced.

mouthfeel is great. nice and full bodied, and a moderate carbonation level.

drinkability is good. the 11% is hidden fairly well and the bitterness isn't over-the-top. overall this is a really nice barleywine.

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Photo of adammills
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really like this barleywine! It pours a nice cloudy amber. Its smell is balanced between malt hops and alcohol. It packs a heck of a kick! The hops are a bit grassy and it blends well with the sweetness of this brew. This is an excellent barleywine, and would recommend it and buy it agian.

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Photo of bruachan
4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i don't even remember where i got this. clear amber ruby with a tan head up top. i see some bubbles, and they're enough to sustain a bit of a head

smells like deep, highly concentrated malts. some relatively innocuous hop aromas. they're from the NW but seem to be playing the balance role

it's not as chewy as some others. the real enduring quality comes from hops. they're all over the taste map and the bitterness is bigtime. the flavors are not mostly of the fruity variety: toffee and other malty flavors. i also detect some spice. this is nice

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Photo of Sephiroth
4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on 12/22/05: Bottle courtesy of JHop. Pours with slight head, no lace, color is amber with the slightest haze. Smells pretty hoppy, I'm sure with plenty of malt to go along.

Taste is definitely on the hoppy side, bitter citrus notes with a hint of grass. Caramel toffee malt is there as backup. Thick and chewy mouthfeel, good and drinkable.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter. BB date: Jan 24, 2011.

A: Warm garnet/red, very clear. A sliver of tan head, which faded quickly. I was surprised that there was almost nothing lingering nor any lacing. Still, a pretty beer...even when still, it has the look of bourbon.

S: Big sweet caramel & toffee married with generous citrus hops. Slightly medicinal smelling alcohol blend with cherry and ripening fruits. Some warm fall/winter spices and a touch of brown sugar. Yum.

T: [cough]...strong bitterness initially...perhaps this needs more age(?) I thought. It did not seem very mellow - the wonderful smells were burdened by a heavy burnt-tasting bitterness and a wallop of alcohol. As it warmed some, I picked up some toffee sweetness, dark chocolate and toasted nuts. Some of the cherry and spice crept in, too, as did raisin. It's a good beer, maybe with more time it nears greatness?

M: Medium/full body, slightly sticky mouthfeel. Bitterness lingers a while...

D: A good sipper, nice & warm. Big ABV means one is enough. A nice nightcap/dessert beer. I felt like the snoozing crescent moon on the label once I was finished with this one... Will get a couple more and age them a year or more...

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Photo of xav33
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Victory Old Horizontal
12 oz bottle
Best before 01/11, sipped 10/06
Medium pour in an English pint glass

Poured a clear copper with a small mostly diminishing light orange and brown frothy head.

Smelt of moderate malty sweetness with light sweet spicy banana bread and light alcohol and some resin.

Taste was upfront sweet malt with light caramel and bananas with a spicy cloves kick followed by a biting bitter punch to the face, that dies quickly but gracefully to meld back with the malt sweetness, in a light wet autumn leaves, dried spiced raisins, and resin feel that lingers on a long constantly evoving finish. Mouthfeel was medium to full bodied, oily, softly carbonated with moderate alcoholic warmth.

Overall, an attractive looking barley wine that punches and captivates the palate but is slightly disappointing on the nose.

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Photo of Zorro
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled due to BIGsBIF and the kindness of BeerBeing.

Pours a cloudy reddish brown colored ale with next to no head formation.

A very aromatic beer the sweet fruitiness permeates the room the moment the cap is removed. A close sniff gives me a snoot full of spiciness. Aromas of brown sugar and vanilla with a bit of woodiness. Fruit aromas are apple and plums with a bit of cactus apple to it.

Taste is neutral and quite woody at the beginning. This never becomes that sweet and is mostly woody in taste the whole way through. Not all that complex a flavor mostly a little brown sugar and some ill defined fruitiness. Fair amount of grapefruit flavor and pineapple.

Mouthfeel is good thick even.

Drinkability is where this beer really excels. A very thick and strong beer that doesn't have any rough or harsh edges. Only drawback would be the ease with which you could drink 4 glasses of this and not be able to walk away.

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Photo of czechsaaz
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled Dec. 17, 2002 so nearly 4 years old, served at cellar temp. Poured extremely carefully into a snifter.

Very fruity aroma. Like really ripe plums and dark cherries. On first sniff, there was a hint of hot alcohol, but that went away. I get chocolate malt and honey and a little hint of citrus. Hop aroma is very had to pick out (at this age, that's normal) but what's there is spicey. Very complex aroma between fementation esters, aged hops, and a ton of malt.

Deep red, almost brown colored. Clear with light rising carbonation. Started with a thin layer of head that fades to a ring of foam around the rim of the glass.

Big malt flavor, tons of it really. Lots of medium crystal type flavor with big doses of two-row base. Hop bitterness is still very high and lingers long in the aftertaste. There is very little hop flavor still remaining (probably an age effect.) but the little bit thats there is grapefuity citrus. Lots of deep ripe fruit esters and now I'm getting a little apple (not green apple like Acetaldehyde but a pleasant red apple sweetness.) I also get hints of chocolate and cofee. Big and complex with a lot of flavors.

Full bodied and creamy with a hint of warm alcohol. Very nice carbonation level for a beer of this age. It's still very lively.

Great sipping beer, drinkability is a little different scale for a big barleywine. Delicious with tons of complexity. I have two more and I highly recommend you buy a six pack of 2006 and sit on it. I'll try my next from this year at 5 years old and report again.

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Photo of mcallister
4.15/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is what a barley wine should look like. Deep mahagony/amber a nice off white head that leads to sticky lace around the glass.

Quite the nose on this as well. Hard to pull it out of the glass. First and foremost is a scrumptious floral hop aroma that is delectable. Leads into a caramel toffee malt, and a slight nuttiness is introduced into the equation with hints of fig.

Toffee malt, caramel, fig, prune, golden raisins, good RS, leads into the long floral hoppy finish. Perfectly balanced but could use a little more complexity. Not sure if this may have travel sickness.

Medium mouthfeel with a bitter hoppy mid palate and finish. A great sipping Barley Wine.

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Photo of Mdog
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled January 2005.

Appearance: Deep red with a good sized head for its strength.

Smell: Sweet fruits.

Taste: Sweet, brown sugar but not annoyingly so, a little bit of smokiness at the end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth.

Drinkability: This stuff is so tasty it's dangerous.

I've had this bottle in my fridge for a year and a half. It's aged very well, as it is very smooth and sweet, but not too sweet. Good thing I've got some more in the cellar!

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Photo of Enola
3.73/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Obtained in a trade with Skinnyelvis

The beer pours a cloudy brown into my Chimay glass. There was minimal head and only light lacing. The smell is of hops and brown sugar. The taste is quite a bit more bitter than others of the style. The bitterness is almost what you would expect from a DIPA. The mouthfeel is fair, the aftertaste does not last long. The drinkability is fair as well. This beer was bottled in Dec '05, but I think this beer could benefit from a year or so more of cellering. Overall, above average.

*Edit: As the beer warms, the aftertaste improves and the alcohol becomes more noticable.

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Photo of egajdzis
4.75/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Draft 1998 (5.5 years old – 7/25/04) Very malty and harsh alcohol. Dare I say past its peak? I enjoy 3 - 5 yr olds best. 8 5 8 3 15
Draft 2000 (3.5 years old – 5/29/04) Simply Incredible!! Amazing malty and fruity nose and palate. Lightly hopped still. This is downright incredible, I love it!!! 9 5 10 5 19
Draft 2001 (2.5 years old – 7/26/04) Red amber no lacing. Intense nose. Taste of caramel malt, cinnamon, vanilla, and cherry skins. Soft sweet and malty, with warm alcohol. I love it!!! 9 4 10 4 17
Draft 2002 (1.5 years old – 7/26/04) Lightest of the three I had tonight though also the cloudiest, still with no lace. Malty and spicy with a harsh alcohol. 8 3 8 4 16
Bottle 2002 (1 year old – 11/13/03) Poured a cloudy brownish reddish color with a small yellowish tan head. Strong but sweet dark fruits, interlocked with a nice hoppy nose. Huge malty and hoppy taste. Fruity grape aftertaste, with alcohol being barely noticeable. Very fulfilling for this freezing November night. 8 4 9 5 17
Draft 2003 (8 months old – 7/26/04) Deep copper color, and a sweet aroma. Hoppy and husky dark fruits and malts. This was too intense when young, and I stand by my theory at Old Horizontal at 3 – 5 years is amazing!

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Photo of BryanCarey
4.87/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Old Horizontal is a scrumptious barleywine that offers an intriguing scent; a beautiful head of foam that leaves lace as it recedes; and a body that is full and malty. This barleywine tends toward the sweet side with a taste that is complex and memorable.

Several tastes combine to make Old Horizontal the great brew that it is. There are flavors like baked bread, a little bit of caramel, some grain, yeast, candy, and fruit. The taste is quite complex and I find that each time I take another sip, I discover something else about Old Horizontal that I didn’t know about the first time.

Probably the most interesting characteristic of this beer is the fact that it isn’t very bitter. Most barleywine styles are known for the over- emphasis on the hops but Old Horizontal is actually more malty and sweet. The hops are obviously present (there are even some flakes in the bottom of the bottle) but they are not as pronounced as with other barleywine.

Old Horizontal is a delicious example of this style and it’s the type of beer I could sample over and over again and continue to find new and unique ways to describe its taste. This is a sure sign of a great beer and Old Horizontal is a beer not to be missed; a product with delicious, complex flavors and a flavor profile that keeps growing on you; getting better and better with each passing sip.

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Photo of murrayswine
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is courtesy of oldirtysurfer.

Poured a ruddy brown/red into my Troublette tulip, with little to no head at all. (Havent found a head inspiring barleywine yet)

THe nose is lush with hops. This is a big beer! Layers of butter, rock candy, and toast give in to a boat load o hop character, and a touch os spearmint.

The taste is smooth at first, than directly hop ripped. The alcoholic bite is fairly prevelant and is tending to muddle the mouthfeel a bit. A little metallic, too, but I think that it need to sit a spell first and breath.

It finishes beautifully with butter pecan, brandy, and hop.
A very good Barleywine, I recommend it.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled Jan. 6th, 2001...tasted August 9th, 2006.
Thank you to blitheringidiot of PA for sharing his private cellar with me.
Wow...where do I begin....
Poured a medium dark amber with a single finger tan head that melted to fine lacing lasting the entire drink.
Aroma is ...hey, perfect barleywine...raisins, sweet malt....dried sweet dark fruits.
Taste is a perfect balance of sweet, sweet malt, brown sugar, dried dark fruits like raisins, plums, and prunes.
Alcohol is absolutely non-existent in the taste...but definately there...I feel the warmth filling my insides comfortably after I swallow...and for a long time after each sip.
Something sharp and tingling with each sip...hops and carbonation extremely well hidden but not lost.
Wonderful...comforting....warming...solid offering.

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Photo of Toddv29424
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this from a good friend in NY...
Pours a reddish hazy-tinted amber color with terrific lacing that seems to last for the duration of the beer. Smell must be teased out with some swirling, but initially has a toasted malt taste with faint alcohol, and candied fruits throughout. Also a hint of sweetness, almost like caramel in the nose. The taste is amazingly cohesive for such a large beer. Dangerously smooth with a creamy body. The candied fruits make up most of the body, with toasted husks and alcohol making up the remainder. It’s clear that this beer has spent some time the fermentor, (or secondary, or tertiary…) because of the mellowness of the alcohol taste. There could be a little more of a hop presence, but that might take it to close to perfection. I imagine that it would mellow out nicely with age, but I’m too impatient for that.

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Photo of nortmand
4.9/5  rDev +21%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ruby red pour with some chill haze and a steady tan head.

Sensational smell. Caramel, chocolate, even a bit of pipe tobacco earthiness there. Very nice.

Slightly sweet up front, ends in a massive bludgeon of bitter, resiny hops. Tastes a bit oxidized, most likely due to the massive hits of American hops.

Huge bodied, and surprisingly smooth, this is not one to be missed.

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Photo of dustified1234567
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow i have had this beer in my fridge for two months now waiting to try it and finally i did. I had it by bottle but i actually had it poured into a mug. The appearance was a nice dark brown that was beautiful. The smell was was of sugar and hops. The taste was accpected to be bitter but goes down smooth. The mouthfeel is a little thick but is fine to drink. The drinkability is a bit lower beacause I think that this is a beer to be savored considering also that it is in the top 100 on BA.

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Photo of doubleipa
3.62/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As I love barleywines, I've been trying to track this one down for a while. Found it in Marcy, NY. Quite nice, one of my favorite barleywines. Not much of a head, but it did have good lacing. Aroma was of sweet malt and fruity. Taste was quite sweet and thick mouthfeel. I was a little unimpressed. Maybe my expectations were set a bit too high. Good, but not great.

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Photo of mmmbeer
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz., bottle-conditioned on 12/22/05 - served in a balloon glass. It pours a deep hazed crimson/garnet with a small tan head that reduces to a collar. There is a sweet, fruity aroma with grains, molasses, and a big dose of hops and heat. The body is thick and syrupy with light carbonation and it's slightly drying. On the palate it's green/piney/soapy/citric hops, sweet syrupy malts, and a medium bitterness that becomes stronger at the end. Pretty good, but I'd like to see what the cellar would do to it.

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Photo of akorsak
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a 12 oz. bottle of Old Ho served in a tumbler glass. The ale has warmed to near room temperature.

Appearance: The ale has a deep amber red color that comes across as slightly hazy. There is a decent ring of head around the glass that leaves a bit of lace.

Smell: The ale has a full-bodied malty sweet aroma. I was expecting a strong hop aroma but was pleasantly surprised when it did not appear.

Taste: The beer has an alcohol content that can't be hidden. Beyond that, there are deep malty flavors that tend to stray towards random alefruits and a slight hop kick, again though less than I was anticipating (again also, a good thing).

Mouthfeel: The malts add a fruity touch to the palate while the hops provide just a hint of bitterness.

Drinkability: A good representative of the style with a greater focus on the malts that some American Barley Wines lose.

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Photo of RedHaze
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on date of Feb 04 05.

Pours a hazy dark copper with a frothy two finger head that settles very slowly to a thick cap that never really fades, leaving behind a dense webbing of lace.

Smell; a little bit sweet with brown sugar, caramel and toffee. There's some dark cherries, a touch of candied apples, with a sprinkling of cocoa.

Taste; initially fruity, with cherries and apples, and then is followed by the caramel, brown sugar and cocoa. There's definitely some hop bitterness, and a little bit of alcohol flavor present. With this being about a year and a half old the hops are a bit more toned down, and the alcohol is not quite as strong in the flavor profile as the fresh ones I've had before. I think this makes for a much smoother and blended flavor. Mouthfeel is nice and thick, with a good drinkability that would be higher if the abv were not so high.

I don't usually re-review beers, but I previously had a much younger version of this, and I felt with the age of this beer, and it's effects it had on it's flavor and appearance, it was warranted.

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Photo of sopor
4.17/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 12/22/05 Drank 7/1/06

A hazy (mostly due to chill, from being in a too-cold fridge) copper-orange to deep amber-ruby ale with a small sandy-goldenrod collred head leaving a thin film.

Seet and tangy-drak-fruity malt is strong on the nose with a strong backbone of hop bitterness, somewhat resinous.

Flavor starts out sugary sweet, with touches of dark fruit, raisins and plums, and white grapes and pear-juice. A hint of tartness follows the malt. Hops are spicy, and a little resinous, but blend very well with and dance over the whole malt profile.

Body is moderate, not as thick and oilly as I would like. CO2 is decently low, but a thicker body would have been more in balance with such a sweet malt profile and would enhance this beer a bit, IMO.

Tasty, but high enough ABV and lacking enough in body to not be supremely drinkable.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.54/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a very intriguing beer! The pour is nothing special, with a dark copper brown color and a medium mocha colored head that quickly dissipates.

The smell is another story. It starts off very sweet and rich, just an explosion of malt with note of burnt citrus and as it sits it develops a very distinct menthol aroma while the sweetness mellows considerably.There is an aroma of alcohol throughout.

The taste is remarkable. Citrus and hop notes quickly move into a growing bitterness that keeps expanding. This bitterness has an undertone of alcohol and malt, but it comes off rather like the flavor of blackstrap molasses. The slight sweetness falls away and you are left with an intensely tannic, minerally taste in your mouth that is tremendously appetizing to my palate. The finish almost tastes like Fernet Branca with some hops tossed in. Absolutely unique and wonderful.

The tannic finish creates a bracing dryness, despite the abv of 11%. It also has a graininess that coats your mouth, but not at all unpleasantly.

This is a somewhat challenging brew, so I don't know if I'd say this has a high drinkability quotient. I do love bitter flavors, so I'd be tempted, but I think I'd just have one in a snifter after dinner (or two if I was feeling especially bold.

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Old Horizontal from Victory Brewing Company - Downingtown
Beer rating: 4.05 out of 5 with 1,911 ratings
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