Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate Barleywine
Moody Tongue Brewing Company

Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate BarleywineBourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate Barleywine
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Barleywine - English
Ranked #67
Ranked #4,813
4.13 | pDev: 12.83%
Moody Tongue Brewing Company
Illinois, United States
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate BarleywineBourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate Barleywine
Notes: Bourbons and English barleywines often share complementary notes of toffee and caramel flavors, so aging our first barleywine in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels seemed a natural direction for this beer. The barrels impart a touch of vanilla and oak, and with the addition of Oaxacan chocolate our finished beer sounds more like an indulgent dessert. Like a fuller-bodied Napa Cabernet, our barleywine achieves balance during its twelve months in the barrels. Once mature, this Bourbon Barrel Aged Chocolate Barleywine can be paired with butter pecan gelato or bananas foster.
Reviews: 37 | Ratings: 114 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of ovaltine
ovaltine from Indiana

4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful slightly cloudy mahogany brown color with a sudsy tan head that dissipates pretty quickly. The barrel is prominent on the nose with oak and vanilla notes, but there’s room for toffee, stone fruit, and a bit of chocolate as well.

The barrel is also a player on the taste, but the chocolate and stone fruit really come forward and complement the toffee flavors to create a decadently delicious English Barleywine, that drinks exceptionally well with little evidence of the 13% ABV.

The mouthfeel is full and a bit creamy , commensurate with the style. This is exceptionally well done, IMHO, as in world-class, especially if you like chocolate in a hefty beer. Guilty as charged, your honor.

May 12, 2021
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WickedBeer from Alabama

4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2019 Vintage.

Deep, hazy, rusty brown pour. The copper hue compliments a soft, ivory head that bubbles up and settles in a low ring around the inside of the glass.

Really good nose; stewed, dark fruits, caramel, molasses, oak, and barrel sweetness. Everything you want from the style, but missing any chocolate so far.

Similarly to the nose, getting a lot of dark fruit and caramel. Definitely big and boozy, lots of barrel influence. Oak, malt, and bourbon all ring true, finishing pretty smooth for the ABV. A tiny bit of lingering baker’s chocolate, but I’m being fairly generous with its presence.

Pretty heavy, with a low carbonation and a ton of boozy bourbon presence making itself known as it warms its way down. Light residual stickiness.

Nov 05, 2019
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mntlover from Tennessee

3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep murky brown with a small one finger tan head that falls fairly slow.

Aroma is big caramel malts, chocolate some dark fruits and free floating sugars smells sweet and strong some alcohol notes from the big amount of malts. The bourbon is really under played by all the sugary sweetness and comes off mostly as alcohol notes.

Taste is like the nose big malty lots of caramel malts mixed with chocolate notes, lots of free floating sugars vanilla and more bourbon barrel notes then were in the nose. Good amount of hops to keep it from being cloying but still sweet. Overall mostly a barley wine, with big chocolate notes and light bourbon notes.

Mouthfeel is a big medium with approaching medium mouthfeel.

Overall a little different having chocolate in a barley wine, but over all not amazing or world shattering either.

Jun 10, 2019
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REVZEB from Illinois

3.64/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I really liked the intentional cocoa flavor with the traditional barleywine elements, almost like a boozy chocolate chip and raisin cookie of some sort. Flavors fall apart quickly, giving way to lots of booze. Has sour finish at end of sips, off putting, possibly infected. Too bad, had lots of potential.

Dec 07, 2018
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.45/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

So I had seen this beer when it was $30/4 pack at our local gas station, sounded interesting, but not at that price point. Subsequent to that, the beer was reduced to $10/4 pack. So a drop from $7.50 per beer, to $2.50 per beer got the purchase ball rolling here as a backdrop that will later have a call back at the end of the review.

Pours brown with a lighter brown head 1/3". I'd say that no one aspect of the smell dominated, I'd prolly have to go with the chocolate as the most noticeable thing, and then there is more of a wet wood than a bourbon presence to it.

Taste is a relatively easy going, smooth, slightly sweet affair. It is definitely a light barely-wine (intentional) base beer to only be 9% "after" barrel aging. Mild bourbon notes and stronger chocolate notes. Not bitter, definitely not an American barleywine. Solid vanilla smooth feel to it. While not the thickest beer or barleywine, it wasn't problematic for me that is was on the more drinkable lighter side of style. Little caramel feels.

Ultimately I thought this beer was a good deal at $2.50 a bottle, but not worth $7.50 or even $5 a bottle.

Nov 01, 2018
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KingTen144 from Illinois

3.1/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I think I may have gotten an infected bottle. This is a bit of a schizophrenic beverage. The individual flavors are enjoyable, but in combination my palate is confused. The initial taste of the barleywine base is fairly sweet, with a bit of sourness reminiscent of a sour ale. Then the beer confronts you with a dark chocolate and bourbon flavor, which persists along with the sourness into the aftertaste. I have a hard time getting settled with this one. Maybe too much going on for me. It feels a bit thinner than I would expect as well.

Sep 22, 2018
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randjuke from Iowa

1.8/5  rDev -56.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Looks like some infected batches out there as others have mentioned. Strong sour aroma, taste sour lacto. Tiny hint of caramel and bourbon but not enough to save it. Drain pour.

Jun 30, 2018
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darktronica from Indiana

3.38/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

I worry that I may have a contaminated bottle, with sharp fusel notes, the tanginess of lacto or pedio, and some apple cider vinegar or grape must. I only detect a bit of chocolate upon getting to the finish, after the off notes fade out.

Jun 20, 2018
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Zeeck from Illinois

4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Look - This barleywine is a soft, medium brown in color, and is somewhat opaque. It's like a hazy brown ale. It has decent carbonation with a light cream colored head.

Smell - I expected to get a lot of chocolate on the nose, but it wasn't nearly as strong as I expected. Instead I got a lot of caramel, along with cola and pecan notes. It smelled like a rich pecan pie.

Taste - This is very smooth in flavor, if that makes sense. No sharp edges. The chocolate goes very well with the traditional barleywine flavors and is not out of place or overwhelming. The caramel is strong, along with distinct pecan notes, underscored by a consistent vanilla flavor throughout. It reminded me of Cowtails, those caramel ropes filled with vanilla.

Feel - This has decent carbonation that makes this refreshing and enjoyable. When I think of chocolate flavored beers, I usually think of thick, oily bears, but not the case with this one.

Overall - I went into this one a bit unsure. Having never had a chocolate barleywine before, I was hesitant and skeptical. But, this is why we try new things. I really liked this beer. The chocolate was not at all dominant and played very well with the other barleywine flavors. This was excellent!

Pairs Well With - Loyola advancing to the Final Four!!! Ramble on!!!

Apr 15, 2018
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a very neat beer, but perhaps better sounding than it actually tastes, somehow not as complex as it should be for what it is, and while very enjoyable, its not as unique as i hoped it would be, and id be curious to see another brewer take a stab at something like this. a lot of their culinary inspired beers are so distinct and profound, this one is more subtle, but thats probably for the best in the style. the beer is deep brown in color with reddish edges and just some patchy bubbles along the edges of the wine glass but no real head from the tap. it smells sweet at first from the malt and the whiskey, rich vanilla and chestnut, mature oak and molasses, brandy or cognac, and raisin too, less english to me, no obvious yeast character to it, and the chocolate element is really minimal in the nose as well. the flavor reveals a well integrated chocolate profile, nibs, dark chocolate, and baking chocolate, bitter against the sweeter grain, but still not a major influencer for me. i get more barrel and whiskey than chocolate, but also a cool cola note, the oak for sure, dried cherry and prune, and quite a lot of alcohol. its sweet at the end, and doesnt really have enough body for me, a little thin all the way through, but there is nice flavor built here in the base beer, barrel, and chocolate, i just want it all to be a little bit more robust. still a unique take on the style and something special to drink on!

Mar 21, 2018
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage
12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a murky brown color with a thin head that has short retention and leaves nothing behind

S- lots of woody/oaky bourbon on the nose, that gives off underlying notes of vanilla. Bold caramel/toffee notes, followed by earthy leather & tobacco and chocolate. There is also an exotic spicy wood aroma that I can't quite put my finger on, almost like cedar

T- bold caramel and toffee up front is quickly followed by rich barrel notes; bourbon, woody oak, vanilla & toasted coconut. Mid-palate gives some earthy tobacco as well as chocolate and dark fruit notes of raisin & fig. The finish gives more bourbon barrel that meshes with a sweet caramel and toffee linger

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel that finishes slick but coats the mouth

O- an outstanding English barleywine that showcases the barrel and gives plenty of caramel and dark fruit notes throughout

Nov 15, 2017
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MacMalt from New Jersey

4.34/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I received this in a NBS BIF box courtesy of @FFFjunkie. It was a "mystery beer" so I sampled it without knowing what it was. I couldn't find a date on the bottle. It was poured into a pint glass. It pours a deep brown with cola hues and a foamy, khaki-colored head and lacing with great retention. This nose features caramel, raisin, cocoa, roasted malt, and a subtle bourbon. When sipped, the first thing I taste is roasted malt and caramel but there's more dark fruit than I smelled. I'm tasting fig as well as raisin. There's also noticeable chocolate taste and the bourbon is discernible but not distracting. All of the flavors are recognizable but none are distracting. This Ale is medium-bodied but fairly creamy. The carbonation is moderate at best, and you can feel the 9% ABV. Overall, this is a wonderful expression of craft brewing. The flavors are bold and pleasing and it's really fun to drink. Sip this one after a good meal which should include red meat and potatoes.

Oct 08, 2017
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Dragginballs76 from South Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - Pours thin deep burgundy color with thin tan cap that dissipates to a thin ring around the glass.

Aroma - There is quite a bit going on in the nose. Dark bakers chocolate, plum, big bourbon aroma along with some oak.

Taste - The flavors are similar to the aroma. Lots of chocolate and dark fruit, the oak is a little more subdued in the taste and the bourbon is very smooth and well balanced.

Feel - The initial feel is a little heavier with the chocolate and bourbon being up front. It is surprisingly lighter on the finish.

Overall - I have to say the alcohol is very well hidden, you get the bourbon flavors with not much burn.

Jul 09, 2017
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Radome from Florida

4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L – Medium to dark brown color; slightly hazy. Light tan head is not active or persistent. Low level of lacing.

S – Aromas of bourbon and malt, with strong oak aging evident.

T – Flavors of an English barleywine that has been heavily oaked. Strong wood notes, lower bourbon. Oak is a bit harsh in flavor. No hops evident.

M – Medium body. Low carbonation. Moderate alcohol.

O – A strong barleywine with an aggressive oak character, perhaps too aggressive.

Jan 22, 2017
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.59/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2016 vintage; drank 2/19/16 @ the Yarchives.

Murky brown/purple appearance.

A rough pour yielded a small, noisy tan head which quickly dissipated; almost no lace.

Caramel, plum, chocolate & oak notes in the nose.

Medium thick, sticky mouthfeel.

Sweet milk chocolate, brown sugar & oak flavors up front; baking soda notes on the finish. Cloying & a bit odd, this VERY flavorful but not very enjoyable.

Dec 23, 2016
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barczar from Kentucky

4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chocolate is evident across the room as soon as the bottle is opened. Raisins, prunes and dates become evident upon further investigation. notes of vanilla add sweetness.

Flavor is a nice balance of caramel and vanilla, with a streak of chocolate running throughout. Finish is dry cocoa, with a moderate alcohol heat.

Aug 28, 2016
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bmeehan from Pennsylvania

4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a damn good beer. It hits on the things you'd expect from a barleywine—it's strong and has a fruity taste as it lingers—but that chocolate sensation you get when you smell it and on the initial taste is just wonderful. Really well done.

Aug 08, 2016
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stortore from Illinois

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Pours a dark amber, fairly clear, with no head, no lacing. Smells of bourbon, malt, figs, dates, light cherries. Very nice aroma. The taste has the malt more even with the bourbon, figs, caramel, dates, some chocolate, a little brown sugar. Smooth, a lighter body for the style, but not thin, the taste lingers.

Nice bourbon flavor- Woodford never disappoints, but could use a little more malt to support the bourbon. Great aroma, good flavor. Worth a try, but the price point was pretty high.

Jul 01, 2016
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Czarkazm from New York

4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On the initial pour, a decent off-white head developed with audible cola-like carbonation, that rapidly fizzled down to nothing. The body has a very dark brown, nearly black appearance but when the light catches the edges of the glass, you can appreciate the dark chestnut and ruby port color. Very interesting, unique aroma but seems a bit cluttered. Sweet brown sugar, oak, dried fig, tobacco, old leather, cocoa powder, caramel, char, vanilla, and a hint of booze. As this one warms, it acquires more complexity. Kind of reminds me of a baby Bourbon County Barleywine. The body is medium but coats the mouth nicely with sweetness. There's some real complexity in the flavor; more brown sugar, caramel, burnt marshmallow, mild chocolate, roasted chestnuts, charred oak, molasses, vanilla, pipe tobacco, stale earthiness, slight alcohol.

Jun 17, 2016
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maxcoinage from Illinois

4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle to snifter. Carb was lower small head dissipated quickly. Color is a deep brown with some ruby undertones

Aroma was prevalent as I was pouring, and I was enjoying. Dark Belgian candi sugar, some oak

Taste included caramel, cocoa, dark fruits, slight whiskey

Body was a tad bit thin and lower carb

Overall a very enjoyable BW. I only got a single from the store, not sure if they were having trouble moving 4packs but I'd gladly pick up some more. Curious how this would age

Jun 17, 2016
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fredmugs from Indiana

3.64/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. This was a nice effort that unfortunately lacks any synergy. The chocolate is definitely present on the nose and the palette. The body of the barleywine is a little thin and doesn't balance out the chocolate.

May 06, 2016
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Raj from Illinois

3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

No date bottle but released in Feb 2016. Served 50F out of my fridge, warmed to room temp while drinking

L: pours deep brown / mahogany with red highlights. Very wispy head that quickly dissipates.
S: chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla, also detected an odd oily note (like castor or coconut oil - maybe from the chocolate addition?)
T: chocolatey, barleywine malt and toffee and some barrel (wood, vanilla, coconut) notes. Smooth. Little more alcohol burn than I would expect from from 9% abv.
M: medium thin mouthfeel, low carbonation. for me too thin for the style which makes it feel a little boozy.
O: this is a solid BA barleywine with great barrel character. chocolate is restrained and doesn't overpower the base base. too thin to be exceptional.

Apr 29, 2016
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enrique_m from Texas

4.73/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

look: dark reddish brown, no head, and lacing.
smell: bourbon and chocolate.
taste: delivious, very balanced in the chocolate, bourbon, and barleywine taste.
feel: tickles your tongue feel with all the taste, medium bodied, easy drinking.
overall: delicious must have.

Apr 28, 2016
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TomMorris from Connecticut

4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky burgundy with ruby red highlights; barely any head even with an aggressive pour.

Absolutely delicious nose of sweet bourbon and malt up front, followed by some plum and fig fruitiness coated in cocoa powder.

Taste is very consistent with the nose: sweet bourbon and dark fruits up front that segues nicely into a dark cocoa finish - sticky chocolate that pleasantly lingers for several minutes on my tongue and teeth.

Medium to medium-thin mouthfeel. Very pleasant carbonation and sticky booziness, however, and a welcomed warming at the the backend.

Overall I was quite impressed with this beer. A very unique and successful barleywine. Were the mouthfeel a little thicker I'd probably consider this a world-class beer, but as it is it's still excellent.

Apr 21, 2016
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Greywulfken from New York

4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presents what you'd expect from the name: barleywine and chocolate malts lend stout-like impressions, but with the addition of the deep boozy fruits. Bourbon's vanilla and wood elements are interwoven nicely. Pricey bottles and 4-packs may deter some, but it was well-worth the single buy and try if nothing else.

Apr 09, 2016
Bourbon Barrel-Aged Chocolate Barleywine from Moody Tongue Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 114 ratings