Three Judges Barleywine | New England Brewing Co.

40 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Three Judges BarleywineThree Judges Barleywine

Brewed by:
New England Brewing Co.
Connecticut, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-12-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 52
Photo of Durge
4.74/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A rare brew shared by brewmaster Rubby, this 2002 vintage barleywine has a thick, cloudy tea color, milky and swimming with substance. There is no evidence of a head or lacing but I imagine that can be largely attributed to its age. As if to make up for the missing bubblage, the aroma brings huge caramel bourbon, chocolate smoke, heavy creamy malt and tobacco. The flavor is boozy bourbon blended deliciously with chocolate milk and toffee peat. Wow. Both the smell and flavor are just lovely. It feels pretty syrupy with heavy body that is not far past mid-bodied. This is clearly not to be sessioned but just a pure treat to smell and sip. Wish there were more of these on the shelf, and I expect it does continue to improve with age as the label proclaims. Thank you Rubby!

 778 characters

Photo of Hautacam
4.57/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Quite a treat to see this '05 still on tap at Prime 16 on the 16th of Jan 2010.
Deep,cloudy , reddish brown with no head..little carbonation.
Let it warm before tasting...but the smell, even cold was a nice sherry-port.
Taste is very sweet, fruity and very much like a nice port. Alcohol was evident , but just added another nice layer of flavor. Very, very good ! As it warmed further, it just got better and better.
Overall a great drinking experience....sipped this; actually my girlfriend had most of it, and at 13+%...a good brew to share if you have to drive.
This definitely aged well ! Another winner from Woodbridge.

 627 characters

Photo of Arenbeer
4.55/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

12oz glass on tap at prime 16 here right now for tap takover 2011

A- pours a nice cloudy reddish brown with no head and no lacing.
S- strong caramel malts with a strange dark fruitiness like fig and raisins. Plenty of booze and silliness. Love the old musty wood aroma.

T- strong caramel malts with the dark fruits and spice. Nice heat in there from the 11.5 alcohol. Nice siltiness in the flavor.

M- medium bodied with no carbonation and a nice wet finish.

 467 characters

Photo of MikeyMikee
4.53/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a 2005 back in January '11 at a Tap Takeover at Prime 16 in CT.

A- Orange sunset with absolutely no head what-so-ever.

S- Sweet caramel malts with some slight citrus undertones.

T- Sweet, heavy caramel and a little spice. Some alcohol is present but not in a bad way. A little bit of orange oil at the end.

M- Very viscous, incredibly smooth.

O- Very drinkable but too sweet to drink all night long..1 or 2 - 8 oz servings was all I could handle in one night. Really awesome beer.

 490 characters

Photo of CHADMC3
4.2/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky walnut brown with a tannish head that quickly dissipates leaving no sign of its life.

Aroma is rich and sherry like, also offering caramel and sweet dark fruits traditional of the style. Given the length of time this beer has aged, the sherry was most notable.

Delicious brew, full of the sweet sherry notes noted in the aroma, potent dried fruit, and oddly in the finish, it seemed to be slightly spiced or peppery, perhaps a result of wood.

A bit full-bodied with little to no carbonation with a pleasant sweetness.

I was fortunate to have sampled this beer, a sipper for certain. Given the opportunity to have it again, I would jump. This beer is very rich with tons of traditional style character with the advantage of age at this point.

 759 characters

Photo of HopStoopid120
4.17/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Prime 16 in New Haven, CT, Jan. 6 & 7, 2010, 2005 vintage, served in a snifter.

The beer is a murky brown, with noticable sediment throughout the glass. Also one of the first things I noticed were the huge legs, and the stillness... An odd but intriguing looking brew.

When taking the first sniff, raisins (maybe even rum soaked) just jump right out off the glass. A caramel maltiness mixed with licorice and a whole lot of booze are also very prominent.

This beer is somehow insanely hot, especially for being 5 years old. Everything I got in the nose came through in the taste, with a bit more sweetness evident. A bit of cherry even, also there were some slight leathery and tobacco flavors floating around in there. As it warms some of the raisins die off the malt does more of its job, become better and better with every sip.

No carbonation to be found here. Completely flat, but that doesn't hurt this beer terribly. On the thicker side of medium, slmost a little chewy at times. The alcohol tickles and tingles your mouth the entire time you sit with the glass.

This is not the most drinkable thing I've ever come across. Quite high ABV over here, I am told by of the brewers at NEB that this particular keg was nearly 13%, and you tast and feel the 13%. A little carbonation might've helped a little, but what are you to expect from a five year old barleywine.

All in all, I am thrilled I finally had a chance to try 3 Judges (actually two nights in a row), and would be happy to drink it again.

 1,520 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4.09/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler of the '04 vintage into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hazy dark orange-brown body with only a slight ring of off-white bubbles. Pretty flat, but a nice color. Not bad for a growler of a vintage barleywine.

S: Rich, sweet aroma of figs, candied dates, and prunes,backed up by deep toasted, nutty malt. Plenty of alcohol warmth, but entirely in a smooth, warming manner. Great smelling beer.

T: Big malty richness. Nutty complexity reigns supreme, with sherry notes backing everything up. The finish is hugely complex, with notes of tobacco, wood, and spicy grains. Crazy. Fruity, nutty, boozy, sweet, and delicious.

M: Medium to full body with very, very low carbonation. Almost flat, but not too bad.

D: For 11 percent, this isn't really that hard to drink. I managed to have three glasses (probably half the growler), and while it gave me a serious buzz I was never struggling to finish it.

Notes: Huge thanks to Matt for hooking me up with a growler of this potentially last keg of 04 in the world. This is a seriously underrated beer, at least as far as my experiences with draft versions go.


 1,106 characters

Photo of cfrances33
4.02/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2004 bottle thanks to davey101, poured into a Surly snifter.

First, let me say this beer is a bear to open. Thick wax PLUS tape? NEBCO, I didn't plan on using the jaws of life to have a beer.

Pour: Crystal clear deep amber/brown, with no head at all. Some bubble arose from a vigorous pour, but then it just sits there still. Looks kinda like Xyauyu.

Smell: Woah... this smells better than expected. Big toffee up front, plus some heavy raisins, figs, and a touch of plum. I can tell this will be sticky. Booze is still evident.

Taste: Follows the nose with lots of very sticky toffee and caramel. Chewy fruits come in with more raisin and fig. A touch of oxidation, but if anything, it serves to bring out the chewy fruits. Finishes sticky with a lingering toffee and raisin.

Mouthfeel: Insanely sticky, and a huge sipper. Rather sweet, and still rather hot. This is a sipper for sure... I wish I shared this honestly, because I think 4 ounces would be perfect - not because it tastes bad, but it just tastes big with how sticky it is.

Overall: Surprisingly good. This bottle at least withstood the test of time. Thanks Dave!

 1,133 characters

Photo of Slatetank
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my BeerAdvocate review #1500! Thanks to Stakem for Sharing this growler -poured into a snifter.

A clear copper with no head or legs some head when poured, but vanished immediately. The smell is very candy-like at first with smell of nuts and slight woody accent w/ subtle fruit tinges and light caramel w/ mild alcohol until warm w/ mild spice. The feel is pretty intense with high gravity evident in the dense body and concentrated sugar w/ mild burn in the back of the throat. The sweetness level is good and is balanced by an overal dry warming finish.

The flavor is decent with a gentle flavor of caramel in the big wide barleywine flavor profile -lots of concentrated sugar w/a gentle dry slightly peppery element and slight toasted malt accent w/ a moderate amount of alcohol taste in the finish. What a tasty barleywine, I consider it a solid offering overall. I think it might even continue to mellow with age, but it is potent and still very drinkable for the high abv. I enjoyed the malt quality in the taste.

 1,024 characters

Photo of warriorsoul
3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Nick at Bauer for a couple of these...straight up - these suck to open...
Pours a burnt sienna in head whatsoever...simply looks flat and motionless without sad.
Nice olfactory experience with this one...sweet taffy, cherries, some alcohol and a hint of buttercream.
The taste is pretty darn good...the alcohol is more apparent, but I don't mind a slight burn with my barleywine...especially with the cold weather outside and flurries seen thru the window.
Lots of cherries, raisins, red grapes in the taste with some bitter hops, but the sweet wins out over the IBU's on this one.
The mouthfeel is thick yet not cloying at all...this offering is certainly not flat, but I believe the alcohol does more to affect its texture and gives it a more carbonated feel if that makes any sense.
I really enjoyed this one on cask at the New England Beer Fest and was eager to try it bottled...maybe not as impressive, but I like it enough to have it again with very little peer pressure.

 1,015 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to Francois for letting my crack this one. 2004 vintage.

No head, crystal clear reddish copper color.

Nose sweet malts, caramel, candy, toffee, light booze, fruits apple pear etc, hint if brandy soaked golden raisins, nice reddish malts.

Taste sweet reddish malts, caramel, light metallic copper malts, toffee, candied apple, pear, brandy soaked golden raisins and apricots, stone warning tingly booze, etc. finish is hot with booze, candy apple, fruits, caramel sweeteners, reddish malts all lingering.

Mouth is fuller bodied, slight syrupy, hot booze, no carb.

Overall nice, well done aged barleywine, nice malts and sweeteners, no carb hurts a little, hot booze, tasty.

 689 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
3.84/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am sampling this beer at room temperature in a snifter.
The beer pours a clear chestnut color with ruby highlights. Agressive pour amounts to frothy bubbles that fade immediately to nothing.
Aroma is pretty intense with red grapes, berries, toffee and brown sugar. I also get hot alcohol and a hint of roasted malt scent. Didnt expect that last part.
First sip reveals a thick almost syrupy body with literally no carbonation.
Flavor is big and sweet up front with raisins and red grape and some toffee. These flavors give way to a hot alcohol finish that warms my throat and belly and leaves a bit of a peppery flavor in my mouth. The heat hinders the drinkability as 2 of these in a nite would be rough. But overall I dig the brew.
This is one hell of a sipping beer and probably a palate killer as well. I enjoy the beer, but wonder about the lack of carbonation and will be glad to re review an aged sample in a few years.
If you like big brews you should try this one for sure!

 991 characters

Photo of Dewey0603
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This pours a brown red color,it looks like iced tea, with no head. It's not a good looking beer. The smell,however, is very fragrant with a huge fruit and yeast aroma. I could also make out some of the high alcohol. The taste is creamy,mallty, and alittle fruity. This flavor is milder than most barleywines. I like this because it's not as overpowering as others. The m/f is medium and well balanced. This is a tasty beer, I just wish it looked a little better.

 462 characters

Photo of AlexJ
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazed apple cider brown pour produces a thin patch of khaki froth that quickly disappears without a trace. Absolutely lifeless looking beer.

Aroma is massively malty, filled with notes of caramel, molasses, buttery toffee, toasted bread, honey, ripe fruit, and a whisky-like burn of alcohol.

Flavor is certainly malt forward, with creamy caramel, scorched sugar, praelines, coconut, golden raisins, hints of oaky vanilla, and a tough of citrussy hops in the finish. Has a very "old-world" type of character to it. Alcohol nip is smooth and boozey, warming all thge way to the gullet.

Body is medium, but feels thinner due to the lack of carbonation. Creamy and slick feel, with ultra, mega, mega fine carbonation that tickles the tongue. To bad the mouthfeel is so weak because the flavor and nose are both great.

 822 characters

Photo of Boto
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle, 2004 vintage: This beer didn’t want to be drunk. I have never had so much trouble geting a wax seal off the top of a bottle as I did this one. When I finally got it open, there was no pffft at all when the cap came off. It poured into the glass with absolutely no carbonation or head. The color was a VERY murky mahogany color. I expected it to be a bit more pungent, but the aroma was a bit subdued. I got notes of caramel, raisins and brown sugar. It is a bit syrupy on the tongue. The taste is good. A twinge of alcohol to it. The flavors have really blended well together. It is complex, but the flavors don’t really stand out. I can detect some fruitiness, chocolate, caramel and many others are in there as well. Not bad at all.

 750 characters

Photo of Crosling
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Cloudy brown/orange color. Rich, malt driven aroma, with hints of caramel and toffee, as well as a hint of mint and sherry. The flavor reveals a nice, balanced malt character, with caramel, toasted malt flavors and heavy hints of fruits and sherry. Fairly thin body. A nice beer overall.

 287 characters

Photo of dirtylou
3.66/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage, red waxx, lost abbey glass

9 years has removed any trace of carbonation that may have existed - a still ruby body, placid as an alpine lake. Smells of rich caramel, booze, sweet malts. Very sweet, lush caramel, boozy, old. Held up pretty well for a 2004 release - all thats left is the malt and the booze - this will put hair on your chest

 354 characters

Photo of kmo1030
3.66/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

red hued hazy brown with ZERO head and no visible carbonation. aroma: caramel apple, toffee, a little bit of alcohol of alcohol. vaguely nutty. a little bit of molasses. somewhat vinous and very sweet. on occasion a hint of soy sauce. the taste is dominated by a rich caramel syrupy flavor that is followed up with apples and maraschino cherries. dark fruits make up some of the background. alcohol is present here with a lot of flavor in the aftertaste. a lot of warming spicyness at the back of the roof of the mouth, this almost made me sneeze once. the mouthfeel is not as full as i expected but relatively full none the less. there is only the slightest hint of carbonation on the tongue, that could actually quite possibly be tingling from the alcohol. drinkability is about 3. make no mistake about this being a sipper, with a little less booze though, i could drink a couple of these.
this tastes quite young and could be quite good in a few years (maybe more). i would like to pick up another to lay down for a good long while, probably not gonna help the carbonation though. just pretend it's cask beer.
despite a score a little on the low side i'm enjoying this beer, but it's not done yet.

 1,203 characters

Photo of goodbyeohio
3.66/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

ugly pour. dirty brown water like the east river with no carbonation and not a hint of clarity. beer vegetable soup.

wax seal is a motherfucking bitch to get off, and what is your reward for doing so? an additional security bitch layer of super-strong tape.

aroma is heavy vanilla and sweetness. nothing too hoppy or otherwise offensive. taste is the winner here, great! wicked smooth, more like a wine or liqueur at such a young age. subtle cherry-vanilla with a slow creeping alcohol burn in the stomach and throat.

body isn't quite there yet... 2 more years i say. right now, a light dessert beer at best for those who like boozy beer. give me a god damn f'ng cigar with this one. in 2 years, gimme a cuban.

 721 characters

Photo of Fish113d
3.61/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

REceiving this bottle from my buddy Sulldaddy, I saw the bottle, saw it was from New England Brewing, saw the wax seal on top, and I began to salivate! Pouring at room temp into a tulip glass, it poured a caramel color with almost no head at all (appeared flat); not much happening in this one to look at. I can tell it is full-bodied, but that is about it. Aroma is of cherries or berries, spice with a brown nutty aroma with lots of alcohol on the nose. Taste is creamy and sweet (cherries) with no carbonation, which was a little strange to me. Very smooth witha slight warming feel in my mouth and a bit of alcohol on the finish; I expected much more from the taste and feel of this one. It is an interesting barleywine, but I expected much more...give it a try for a cool bottle, but I wish I would have let it age for a year or two. I think it would be better that way.

 875 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Once the annoying red wax is cut away, I'm ready to open this bottle and imbibe...that Herculean task has been completed and I'm anxious to pour my reward:
Murky deep crimson, little head.
Big booze dominates the nose, associations include cognac, cherries, whiskey, port wine...with all that in there, it feels a trifle flat, though, and uninspired...we'll see how it tastes.
Mad, bad, and on the attack when it hits the palate. Huge and on the loose. Just body-slams the tongue...thick, twisted, and over-arching in alcohol.
11%? That feels about right, but I've had others around the same that didn't bark so loudly, at least, not so quickly out of the starting gate.
Full in body, deep, fruity flavor, sweetness from malt matched by alcoholic heat...bright and occasionally stinging, thick and treacly in the mouth...
nice, but lacks a certain character, just misses the mark somehow...however, the label informs me that it can be aged for 20 years, give or take, and perhaps that was my mistake?
not bad, but the booze is too big, and the flavor doesn't match it well...a nice nightcap, though, for evening's end.

 1,125 characters

Photo of erosier
3.59/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: Pours a very cloudy brown color with hints of purple in it. There is almost no head, but a nice off-white colored ring around the edge and laces some down the glass as you drink it.
S: Smell is of sweet roasted and caramelized malts, vinous fruits, some licorice aromas, and a bit of booze at the end.
T: A very sweet roasted and caramelized malty base followed by a big vinous fruit flavor that really screams Barleywine. The end of the taste is a little alcoholic and is bit hot at the end, but it is a pretty good example of a barleywine for sure.
M: Very warming, a bit hot, the right amount of carbonation for this style, overall not too bad.
D: OK drinkability, it is a very big beer and you can tell how potent it is, this one was pretty good.

 753 characters

Photo of stakem
3.59/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Knifestyles for the trade on this unique growler. I cant really think of a time when opening up a 2 liter growler of 11% barleywine from 2006 is a good idea but what the hell. I had a bunch of BA's over for a bottle share on Saturday and that was about as good of a time as any to finally crack this open.

Poured from a growler into a snifter, it appears a deep clear color of brownish burnt mahogany with reddish highlights. When held to the light it displays deep clear ruby coloration and an orange tint around the edges. A vigorous pour years only a few bubbles atop the brew, hardly anything I would consider a formation of head.

The aroma of this brew is sweet and malty with a scent that is very sherry-like. The deep sweetness reveals layers of alcohol laden fruit like raisins, dates, prunes. Lots of caramelized sugars with a light toasted appeal. There is a light indication of oxidation present that leads the way towards a faint cardboard characteristic but not quite because the alcohol comes through to wipe anyway any off characteristics to the nose.

The taste of this brew includes a lightly musty grain characteristic that again brings me back to a characteristic of cardboard-like oxidation. There is a big and boozy appeal to this brew tasting like dark fruits similar to raisins or prunes with a modest backing bitterness that lingers inside the mouth with a faint herbal flavor that pales in comparison to the high octane kick of the alcohol. The aftertaste is somewhat nutty reminding me of chestnuts. More sips reveal a medicinal quality that just never quite comes together for me.

This is a full bodied brew with a very low level of carbonation. It was enjoyable and complex if you took the time to enjoy it without concentrating too much on the negative aspects. The alcohol inclusion in this brew is nearly numbing on the tongue and quite evaporative, it could have easily lasted much longer if aged and melded together to be an ever better brew if the oxidation was not present. A little bit of carbonation would have gone a long way in this offering, just the slightest bit would have been quite welcomed. Regardless, I never had the chance to get a bottle of this, so I was very excited to get to try this from one of the last remaining kegs of this brew. Unfortunately it is gone now except for those who have bottles remaining. I hope Rob and Matt seriously consider revisiting this brew because it has potential.

 2,460 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thsi comes to me through sulldaddy and clvand0. Thanks guys. It pours a murkey brown color without any head at all. The nose is big in alcohol, with a spiced raisiney and brown sugar sweetness. A little more alcohol punch for me in the nose. The flavor is also a bit strong in the alcohol. Behind it is a molasses covered raisin, with a slight peppery spice from the alcohol. This is not bad. I like it. The feel is thick and slightly syrupy, with no carbonation. The apparent alcohol keeps this from being highly drinkable. Overall, a very respectable beer.

 558 characters

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.54/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

2004 bottling, Sampled January 2006
Pours a lightly hazy, rich amber-red hued color. It has barely a wisp of a head to it, mainly just a couple of large bubbles. The aroma is incredibly rich, interestingly enough it already has some aged characteristics to it; I get notes of sherry, rich caramel malt, prunes and raisins as well. The aroma really is rich and meaty with a thick malty sweetness to it that screams that this beer better be quite satiating and satisfying.

The beer is quite sweet up front, there is no real carbonation and this keeps the beer relatively light. The finish is quite interesting; hints of roasted malt, caramel, sweet sherry, and even some hints of port. I think that the lack of carbonation ultimately hurts this beer; the extra carbonation would add sum much needed body to this beer, which would help balance the sweetness. The finish really reminds me of coffee, it is not strong, but comes on in the finish and lingers. The alcohol is actually quite well hidden though, but its effects are definitely not. In the end, this beer is just lacking a richness and a body that would make the flavors in this beer really shine. With more body this would be a stellar beer.

 1,203 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Three Judges Barleywine from New England Brewing Co.
3.67 out of 5 based on 52 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.