Three Judges Barleywine | New England Brewing Co.

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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:
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Ratings: 52 |  Reviews: 40
Photo of grub
2.07/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Viggo brought this one over. thanks eric!

12oz bottle topped with red wax. not just any red wax, a coating so thick and plastic-like that it took me about 10 minutes to chip my way into it. then i found a piece of string-reinforced tape going up over the cap. what a pain. 2004 vintage, sampled april 3/2010.

pours crystal clear deep dark orange, nearly red until held to the light. no sign of head or carbonation. no lace.

aroma is ok. hot alcohol, including some nail-polish remover higher alcohols. caramel and toffee. lightly toasted whole wheat bread. paint. bit of dark fruit.

taste is not good. boozy and hot, burning on the way down. smoke. sweet caramel and toffee. bit of dark fruit. toasted whole wheat bread. a minute after my first sip and it's still burning its way down to my stomach. less of the higher alcohols than i got in the aroma, but they're still there.

mouthfeel is ok. big body and no carbonation.

drinkability is not good. super boozy, tasting more like a shot of cheap vodka than an 11% beer - especially not one with nearly 6 years of aging on it. sticky sweetness. no carbonation. a mess now and i can't imagine it would have been any better fresh.

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Photo of Viggo
2.19/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

12 oz bottle, 2004 vintage. Got this in a LIF a long time ago and don't recall who I got it from. But thanks!

Pours a clear dark reddish orange, neat colour, absolutely no head and no lacing, looks dead flat. Not much else to say about it.

Smell is neat, very sweet and malty, a ton of fruit character, alcohol, raisin and figs, caramel, some brown sugar, some wood, lightly nutty, some whiskey notes, pretty neat.

Taste is not so good, very harsh and boozy, this kind of tastes like nutty vodka, some brown sugar and caramel sweetness, raisins, honey dates, figs, more alcohol, not much flavour besides alcohol.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, syrupy, with almost no carbonation. Wow, this tastes like nutty vodka, all booze and burns like a shot of liquor going down.

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Photo of ppoitras
2.47/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

12oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA. 2004 bottling.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed as much of a head as apple juice ever does, and resembles its color as well, albeit a bit darker. No head, no lacing, no fun. Aroma is syrupy malts, alcohol, with tinges of vanilla and dark fruitiness. Taste is more like a sweet yet bitter wine than a beer. Mouthfeel and drinkability are just not what I want in a beer, even a barleywine. Sorry this one took up space in my fridge this long.

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Photo of EPseja
2.61/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 1 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Served from a wax-sealed, vintage 2004 12oz bottle in a Duvel tulip at just below cellar temperature.

A - Pours initially a vibrant orange color, then switches over to more of a hazy prune-juice hue. There is not one bubble of head visible at all, and neither the etching at the bottom of the Duvel tulip nor a vigorous swirl can make one rise. Needless to say, there is no lacing whatsoever.

S - Big, slightly musty malts with dry, dark fruits like figs and raisins. A monstrous, salty soy note in the nose grows with rising temperature. There are also pleasing maple syrup and pipe tobacco essences that save the day.

T - Sweet, toasty malts up front with a very slight smoked peat note. The middle rounds it out nicely as the hops begin to show. The back of the tongue is where the alcohol comes through with a very warming, yet not "hot" character. The finish is easy, only mildly dry and not very hopped. Slight notes of must are in the aftertaste, but I suppose that's part of what you get with a 2004 vintage.

M - Watery in with only the faintest hint of carbonation (which luckily isn't too bad in my eyes, and it's only saving grace in mouthfeel). Swallow is quick and without any bravado.

D - Barleywines are supposed to take a few years of aging, but I'm not sure if what I'm tasting is a Barleywine that hasn't aged well, or was mishandled in storage along the way. It's tasty, that's true, but it has no other appeal at all other than it's taste. For the style, let's just say that it's a good thing it's retired. Go find another Barleywine.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of IntriqKen
3.13/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pretty golden dark amber in the glass but with no head to speak of at all.

Aroma is pretty typical barleywine caramel sweet malts with only a hint of citrus could definitely use more of those.

Taste is very sweet caramel and brown sugar with some toastiness to the malts. Some of the sugars seem to fight with the hops creating a bit of an unpleasant clash. Citrus hop finish is where it should be but isn't quite fresh enough.

Not terrible...but not one of the greats.

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Photo of Lnedrive14
3.18/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Having read the reviews before drinking this one, I was totally scared. I saw the $5.99 price tag still on top of the wax, thought about the 2 years I'd been sitting on it, and got a little saddened that it was not so well-liked. It pours a thin, brown/amber with absolutely no head. just a few bubbles - looked like thinner apple cider. Smell overwhelmed the room - like i spilled brandy. taste was much better than i expected (but then again, i wasn't expecting much). very strong alcohol sense, fruits, cane sugar, and very smokey.

Pour this in a snifter and share it with a friend. i wouldn't have minded 6 ounces to sip like it was a glass of brandy (with a good cigar of course).

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Photo of rajendra82
3.2/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This 12 oz. bottle of 2004 vintage beer received from Counselor as part of the Blue and Gray BIF was covered with an attractive but challenging red wax neck and top coating. After cutting that away, and popping the underlying cap, I poured it out in an 16 oz. wine glass. The body looked cloudy copper-amber and lacked any carbonation whatsoever. Needless to say there was no head to speak of. The smell was very hot with red cherries, figs, and black pepper aromas riding alcohol fumes. The hops were also a bit evident with their earthy spicy bouquet.

The taste was sweet and spicy, with every bit of the 11% alcohol present at the start of each sip. The flavor was not overly complex despite the massive grain bill. The dark skinned dry fruits were supplemented by a dose of pepper, but once the alcohol heat came though, everything else faded.

The beer felt thick and sticky on the palette, and the aftertaste was quite peppery with a hit of hop bitterness. The after-aftertaste was like swallowing burning embers.

Quite young at the time of consumption, I believe the statement on the label about this beer improving with age for up to 20 years. I’d love to keep some more in the cellar if they ever get local distribution here.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.23/5  rDev -12%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Straight up pour gets a one finger head that instantly fades to nothing - NO carbonation, medium bodied. Ugly cloudy amber color. Raisin nose. Starts sweet and raisiny, finish is sweet alcoholic. Different from any barleywine I have had; once you get past the cap - who was the sadist that put wax and nylon tape on this - it ain't gonna explode?! $5.99 for a 12oz bottle (2004) from Julio's Liquors Westborough, Ma.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2004 release poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a coppery brown color, with no head and no lace.

S: The aroma contains brown sugar, molasses, caramelized malts, some fruit and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste starts with sweet flavors of brown sugar dark fruit, molasses and bourbon. Then a hearty malt character comes in along with a slight alcohol sting. There is very little hops presence left after 8 years as you would expect. There is still a bit of balance and some smokiness is in the background. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium body, carbonation is completely gone despite a thread-taped and wax-sealed cap, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this beer is obviously way past its which is quite regrettable. I’m betting this was a pretty good beer either fresh or at about 2-3 years old.

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Photo of hopdog
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz, red waxed bottle, acquired in trade with jjpm74 (thanks!). 2004 Vintage. Damn that wax was a pain in the ass to get off. If it wasn't for that piece of tape under the wax, I may have never gotten it off! And how do you think I get rewarded by finally popping the cap? You guessed it, I get sprayed with gushing that spewed out of this bottle.

****Gusher Alert****

Poured a deeper amberish/orangish color with a huge sized off white head. Cloudy. Aromas of caramel, toffee, cherries and some other dark fruits, and sherry. Tastes of caramel, toffee, the same lighter dark fruitiness, alcohol, and sherry. Heavier alcohol burn. Man was this one hot.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

OK it took me 15 minutes to get the bottle open. As if the heavy plastic coating on the cap was not enough. I had to cut through reinforced tape also. A slightly hazey brown beer with ruby highlights. Has small beige head that evaporates quickly. A strong alcohol character to the aroma hides some maple and dried nuts notes. Some dried fruit (raisins), a hint of maple again, an odd wood note here and there in the flavor. Just a hint of tabaccoo on the finish before the alcohol starts to burn every thing.
Date on the bottle "2004"
Date of tasting 2/2/06

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Photo of MrSeth
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is a style which I am very fond of.. so I must admit to having high expectations of this ale.. come what may.

App: If I saw an old ale or barley wine in this condition I would normally question if it had oxidized. But on tasting it I'm not sure that that is the problem. Suffice to say that it ain't pretty. Super-hazy red-brown liquid with watery edges.. but looks aren't everything.

Sm: chalky.. like fruit candies rolled in powdered sugar or flour. A fruity dryness hangs over the glass.. not a bad smell, but.. well, maybe in 20 years it will aquire some more character.(?)

Ta: Right for the style! The recipe for this one is right on! It tastes very much like a great english barleywine. And getting to it in this condition, very wet (despite the dry smell) is just wonderful. By the taste alone I could drink this one everyday (in my smoking jacket spinning the globe on the desk in front of me!).

Mf: Unusual. Thick, sticky-icky. Something to be sipped very slowly. Very faint traces of carbonation can be felt, but it amounts to nothing and the brew could really be refreshing with some more. Did I say sticky yet?

Da: Hey, I like it. Don't let the scores be misleading. I just think it could be improved either with age or a slight change in brewing methods.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I was in the store a couple of weeks ago and noticed this barleywine. Being taped then dipped in wax and from 2004, how could I say no???

Dead on, this is a fine example of a great english barleywine - color smell and taste.

Dead off - almost no carbonation to speak of. A faint whisp as the bottle was opened, but otherwise flat as can be.

If this beer was carbonated, we're talking 4's and 4.5's accross the board. As is, I am putting the second one into the cellar misfit box. May try later, but not any time soon.

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Photo of clvand0
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Special thanks to sulldaddy for sending this one my way. This one pours a cloudy brown with no head and it doesn't appear to have much carbonation (if any). The aroma has a raisin and bread character with a lot of alcohol pushing through. The flavor is much the same as the aroma - lots of alcohol with a raisin flavor. The body is right where it should be, but the drinkability suffers for the overly apparent alcohol. Still, pretty tasty.

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Photo of davey101
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

2004 vintage. Huge thanks to tehzachatak for muling this bottle from the elusive Downtown Davis Square store which seemed to magically unearth this beer r. I have some other bottles with cracked wax and various fill lines, but this had the highest and the wax was all in tact. Speaking of wax, it is insanely brittle and a huge pain to remove. After I sliced my hands and managed to scrape all of it off of the cap I was left with a brown New England Brewing bottle cap and a piece of white/clear tape. So, 12 oz bottle into a 668 tulip.

A - Pours a clear red/purple body. A few bubbles form and a very slight khaki edge forms before popping away. Now I'm left with a still liquor like liquid. Holding it up to the light produces a lovely burnt amber body. A swirl does create a thin alcohol lacing. Looks pretty damn inviting despite not looking like a beer.

S - Raisins, and a whole lot of them!! Just gobs of raisins, caramel, and toffee. A touch of citric hops and fruit cake. Finishes with a bit of spice and a tingling alcohol. Sweet and ever so slightly savory.

T - Raisins, caramel, toffee and a bit of oxidation. Muted and tame. Finishes clean and light with no body to carry flavors through. Alcohol warmth on the end.

M - Spoiler alert: Its dead. Zero life and a body that's barely clinging onto "medium". Drinks like a port or sherry, but lacks much of an aftertaste to help things out.

O - A long time want of mine fully met. It's held up well for an 8 year old barleywine. Its certainly not a great beer though. The aroma is burnt raisins muddled in an expired fruit cake and the taste is surprisingly lackluster and light on the finish. This beer has some parallels with Raison D'extra, only its missing the alcohol bite and massive taste that makes that beer so great. Is this worth trading for? Not unless you're either a die hard NEBCO-fan or you enjoy beers that are way over the hill. I wonder how close this was fresh to the new Premeditated Murder barleywine.

edit: I've since opened another bottle that was much better. I would probably rate it closer to a 4.0

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Three Judges Barleywine from New England Brewing Co.
3.67 out of 5 based on 52 ratings.
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