Drake's Barrel Aged Barley Wine | Drake's Brewing Co.

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Drake's Barrel Aged Barley WineDrake's Barrel Aged Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Drake's Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.70%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by lou91 on 12-11-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 30
Photo of kaseydad
3.69/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Was generously given this by a friend from his cellar. 6 oz. pour into a snifter and am immediately met with a dark, dirty brown ale with no head to speak of. Boozy brandy with some candy and cherries in the mix. Tastes a little bitter and has a slight sour finish. Still has some bite after all these years. Slight alcohol burn a few moments after the swallow and a minor cough medicine taste lingers in the mouth. At 14.7% the 6 oz. was enough for me and anything larger would have been a struggle to take down.

Overall I was very happy to try this limited brew and though I tried it over four years later, the product was still very good. Drinking it a year or two earlier would have probably enhanced the experience even more.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

taste- cherries, chocolate, oak, molasses, prunes

color- dark brown/chestnut, pretty brandy-like color and texture toward the end of the glass

clarity- opaque but it pours clear with little to no sediment at the end of the pour

smell- barnyard, leather, chocolate, cherries, cinnamon

body- syrupy, smooth, a very slight bitter finish

appearance- dark, flat, no lace

overall impression- deep sweetness, after dinner drink, alcohol has fallen off but still quite enjoyable four years after the release date

notes- placed in a brandy oak barrel since december 2003. 6oz format. name of beer is drake's barley wine brandy barrel which does not match the name of the beer on the b.a. website. this review is for a 2005 vintage

glassware: tulip

serving temp.- 52.9 degrees

song- "late for the sky"

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A great many thanks to Lou91 for this bottle. He is a wonderful and generous trader. This was an extra. As many extras as I gave him, I might owe him another for this cool beer.

Presentation: Impressive. Small Champagne shaped bottle. 6oz at most. Blue label with Drake's badass ship on the front. Name seems to be: Drake's Barrel Aged Series, Barley Wine Brandy Barrel. A limited release completes with silver/gold foil. 14.7 percent. 26 Plato. Placed in a brandy barrel in 2003.

Appearance: Clouded deep amber brown. Burnt reddish hues. Tepid. Bubbleless. Winelike. No head. Nearly no bubbles. Not particularly pretty, though not off for a beer of this mass nor style.

Aroma: Boozy? Yes... Take some brandy and dump it upon blackberries, cantaloupe, tangerines, strawberries, oak chips, dark chocolate chips, and sweet cakes and you have an idea. The booze is more pronounced and more oaky then brandy I am used to. This is more bourbony.

Taste: Bigger than the nose with each fruit, chocolate, and sweet malt component. Very boozy but not offensive. But...unlike bourbon, each individual character trait of the beer shines through.

Mouthfeel: Very sweet. Extremely sweet. 6oz is a good size. As it warms it becomes problematic and disturbing in strength and sweetness. My stomach begins to reject this as poison.

Drinkability: Very low. Cloying really. I couldn't drink more than 6 oz and really only want 2 at a time, as if this were an actual spirit. Still, a very cool beer indeed.

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Photo of paulzy
3.81/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Served into a snifter glass poured from a 6 ounce bottle at Hot Shotz (many thanks Hans).

Appearance: A dark maroon, not shiny like a wine, real dark. Almost no head or lacing.

Smell: Very mild smell. I expect some more character from a barrel aged barleywine.

Taste: Mellow. Very drinkable for a 14.5 abv beer. Not as sweet as I was expecting, which is a good thing. The barrel flavor is the most pronounced flavor, and I found it to be quite subtle. If you didn't tell me what I was drinking, I'd be hard pressed to tell you it was barrel aged at all.

Mouthfeel: A loose, but slightly sticky feeling. Not as sticky as most barleywines, but very satisfactory.

Drinkability. A++. Way more drinkable than most barleywines, which is unfortunate given that it only came in a six ounce container.

Overall, I'd only recommend this to beer geeks. Interesting only for how subdued it was compared to other barleywines.

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Photo of rayjay
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Toronado barley wine fest. Dang, this is one thick beer. Barely manages to come up with a few bubbles for a measly head, but the look of the body is downright punishing. Deep dark gold/brown/copper. Sticky and viscous. Hot alcohol with a big whiskey notes that cuts through the middle. If there ever was a beer to put hair on your chest, this, my friends, is the definition. Smoky, phenolic, bitter, sweet, all rolled into one big monster. Amazing complexity, and all the flavors work in harmony...there's just so many of them and seemingly so little water. This one's a very slow sipper, even for big beer fans. Thick, hot, and sticky, making for one monster ale that comes off more like a port. A concentrated fruitcake. Highly recommended! Cheers!

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Photo of Sephiroth
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Props to mitchfor3 for this bottle. Pours a murky dark brown, slight carbonation. Lots of booze in the nose, sherry, figs, and dates as well.

Tastes pretty sweet, the brandy barrel aging is quite apparent. It's tough to dig beneath the brandy, but there is definitely a barleywine struggling to escape. Complex malt, even some hops can found in this beer. Incredibly long finish. There is the slightest hint of chocolate. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, drinkability is decent. I will save my other bottle for a while, this could use some time.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This was the Brandy Barrel Aged Series 3, thanks to unclejedi for the trade. Beautiful light brown with a slight off white head floating thinly on top. Smells dark and malty, alcohol comes through nicely. The taste is not near as sweet as I expected, dark and caramely. The brandy comes through strong as it warms and the mouthfeel is thick and rich. Pretty expensive at $6.99 per bottle, guess the trade made it easier to take the hit to the wallet. Split this with a buddy so only got 3oz of it but it is a nice sipper.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.09/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a flat, muddy dark brown color with no head at all, which isn't surprising.

S: While this is most certainly oxidized, the beer is not any worse off for it. A wonderful chocolate aroma that goes nicely with the brandy, oak, and vanilla notes. A nice sweet caramel and toffee aroma is present as well.

T: The flavor is not quite as good as the nose, but still good. A fair amount of chocolate and vanilla with a more noticeable brandy presence, which is surprising given the age of this beer. The base barleywine still comes through with the caramel sweetness.

M: The body is smooth and full bodied, and has a nice texture to it despite the lack of carbonation.

D: The beer was maybe a touch heavy on the brandy, but still absolutely delicious. It's too bad I probably won't get another chance to try this one.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.15/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Small bottle with foil cover from Freakin Frog, Las Vegas.

Poured hazy dark brown color with mimimal off-white head that was mostly diminished with minimal lacing. Complex dark fruity, alcohol and vanilla aroma. Medium to heavy bittersweet flavor with a medium to heavy sweet dark fruit finish of moderate to long duration. Medium body with a sticky texture.

Good rich brew.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a wispy, amber tan colored head that sits atop a hazy dark reddish amber colored beer. The aroma is rich and malty with definite hops, which is all apparent as I pour this beer. Rich notes of slight oxidation combine with the rich maltiness. Fruity notes of raisins and a hint of cherries round out the malt notes. There is also a touch of some funky cheese like note here in the nose, as well as a hint of woody notes. Towards the end a hit of smooth alcohol becomes noticeable.

The beer is lightly carbonated, and a bit tart as well as lightly sweet. Quite rich and malty, definitely seems to hit the umami flavor part of the tongue quite well. This has just about the perfect level of woody barrel character; light, yet noticeable, without being distracting. The woody notes are lightly tannic, a hint of spicy wood flavors in the finish. The tannins and spicy woody notes really linger on in the finish, but still not in an overwhelming way. This beer strikes a really nice balance between all of its flavors. I can't really say that any of them dominate the flavor profile, which is certainly a good thing. The whole of this beer is quite rich and satisfying though.

The malt character is quite nice, yet not cloying, with notes of toasted malt, ample notes of toffee, and caramelized notes that just add to the richness of this brew. This beer drinks much smoother than the 14+% alcohol; the size of this ~7oz bottle is actually too small, I definitely would have like 12 oz of this brew, which I was not expecting from a brew of this strength.

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky brown with a hint of cream carbonation that fades away very quickly, some chunkiness as well. Aroma is very nice, some lighter brandy like aromas of berries and fruit as well as some richer sweet aromas in the background of caramel and prunes. Taste shows a some tart berry and cherry flavor up front, a sweet rich pruniness behind this, and finishing with a nice oaky dryness. Some alcohol is evident in the finish but is well balanced and is present in the right amount. Medium to heavy in body, the little carbonation that is here is accentuated by the somewhat spicy and dry oaky finish. Very interesting beer, I thought the barrel aging effected the beer quite nicely, adding a small amount of tartness and a nice woody dryness. I found myself taking very small sips from the glass trying to make the 6oz bottle last a little longer.

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Photo of lou91
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a 6oz silkscreen bottle with writing on the side telling me how this 14.7% brew has been aging since December 2003 in oak brandy barrel s and that this was to never happen again. Wow what an amazing nose! I feel like a dog smelling a barley wine picking up tons of scents - alcohol, raisins, citrus, berries, and sweet chocolate. Poured dark brown with a creamy head like a nitro beer. Aging has cut the hop bitterness and allowed a well-balanced but mostly malty and sweet BW to emerge in a bigger than expected way. The body is so light and creamy – not what you would expect given the massive alcohol and malt assault. I would d give this beer at least another year to try again. While some may complain about the price, it is worth a try for fans of big bold beers that push the limits. $1 per oz. @Ledger’s.

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Photo of BeerTruth
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to lou91 for this once in a lifetime beer: Roll Out the Barrel BIF '07-'08.

6 oz. bottle poured into a snifter allowed to warm up before sampling.

Pours a dark and murky brown with no head and minimal bubbles. Some clear legging on the sides of the glass but other than that, nothing. Very full nose consists of musty oak, cherries, fig, thick molasses, brandy, caramel, raisins, and some booze. Smell reminds me a lot of HotD Doggie Claws. Caramel vanilla coffee flavors emerge at first with a ton of dark fruits that follow. Some white grape sweetness with an interesting earthy hop taste towards the end. The brandy flavor is definitely there, but very enjoyable. Aftertaste is woody and dry with hints of apple cider. Slick feel that coats the mouth with a nice warming effect that is noticable throughout the body. Wow, scary how easy this goes down at room temperature. I haven't had too many "old" beers, but this one says it was brewed in 2003. Funny thing is, I just received a five year old imperial stout that's in the fridge waiting for me (thanks warriorsoul). It'll be a good weekend with good beer and good friends :)

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Photo of mcallister
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is more reminiscent of a muddied thick water than a beer. Viscous brick brown, syrupy, hints of ruby, and nearly opaque. The kind of beer I love:)

Nose is thick with toffee malt. Little alcohol is noticeable also. Fig, and roasted pears are also present, brandy is detectable but very well integrated. A floral hop with a pine backing also.

Wow. Brandy grapes shine through on the taste. Nicely hopped finish as well which adds too this beer unlike many other American Barley wines that seem too add too much hop that doesn't integrate as well. Alcohol is big and leaves a nice burn in the throat and chest so you don't forget to drink another sip. Dried and fresh figs of many varieties dominate the taste, pine nut, mollasses, brown sugar and maple round things out. Mouth is big yet the high alcohol seems too thin out the finish. If this were slightly sweeter it would have been a 5 for taste and drinkability for me. However the bone dry finish, which is still enticing scores slightly less. As well the alcohol could have integrated slightly better.

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Photo of watermelonman
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured to a heavy looking dark brown with just a thin layer of head. It's not leaving any lace behind.

Dark fruits join with brandy in the smell for a nice effect. The taste is also very good, with heavy malts leading the way for medium amounts of brandy in the finish. The mouthfeel is full while drinkability is good for the big alcohol content.

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Originally reviewed on May 29, 2006. 6 Oz. Bottle. Intoxicating rich aroma flows forth with integrity and suave currents of candied apples, plums, pears, stewed figs drizzled with pomegranate syrup, lucious rose blossom, shavings of Valhrona and heavy viscous port sugars, dripping with caramlized brown sugars, praline, scotch whiskey, charred oak tannins and fragrant floral orange rinds. Seductive, silky, milky, sweet and wafting. Can an aroma get much better? The pour is a maelstrom of the deepest murky browns, as in the pitch of a mulling apple cider. On the surface, curls of finely hewn white oak sea foams wrap around each other and lace the glass. Flavor is intense, no other way to put it. At first the mouth-filling rich creaminess of puddings, pies, creme brulees topped with heated raspberry sauces and aching wheat. This is a four movement beer, which is unprecedented in my experience. Second, I latch on to a sweeping tartness of wild fruits, passionfruit seeds, papaya husk, cranberry skins and the flesh of a thousand tawny grapefruits. It singes the mouth with biting acidity, awakening one for the following pleasures. Thirdly, an almost too harsh alcohol, keeping the beer from achieving perfection in the category. But the alcohol plays well, with impressive stoic character, ferrying rafts of scrupmtous and fulfilling tannins, woody notes and balancing dryness. Here, the more delecate of the fruits prance in fields of ergot and honeysuckle. Life is fragrant and sweet as the dripping morning dew filled with the longing pine musk and fresh moroccan figs, black as night, with curried aged lemons and coriander on the plate, concealing the overtly grainy presentation. A shot of mid-level cognac is poured and fresh green peppercorns are dredged into a tenderloin. Finally, a rushing crescendo of harmonizing flavors and facets. Here and there dance the jitterbugging hop cones, light and tender with alpha acids gentle and caressing, marrying the saccharin nature of grain to aromatic. The parchness balances, the fruity floral resin alights into the evenings breeze with exquisite symphony. Finally, adding a sheer exultation of glory is the dates, figs, plums, currants and candied everything in one fell swoop, holding on until the others won’t let go. In the end, a triumphant smack of grapefruit flesh and date husk, with a wistful eye of raisin tears. Pass sweetly and gracefully o’er mine tongue, thoust true ambrosia.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

6 oz bottle from batch 1. This is the 3rd beer in a month to make my top 10 (of 1100). The other 2 being the new Angels Share and Black Albert. It was served only a couple degrees below room temp.

Poured a deep dark brown, pretty hazy (partially due to age). No head/retention/lace. Color was nice but it could use a little CO2.

Smell was of oak, scotch, aged american barleywine, and alcohol. The inense malt sweetness was noticeable through the alcohol and the oak. A touch of alcohol noticeable on the nose.

The taste was probably the best I've had. I had it warm and the alcohol was slightly noticeable but the sweet aged malt and oak were so wonderfully matched that the abv just added a needed bitterness. It wasn't until I got half way through my glass that I noticed the abv written on the bottle. No hops left in this one but there was a spiciness from the oak, almost like it was a fresh barrel.

Dangerously drinkable. Heavy and smooth.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of a travelling colleague. Pours a hazy reddish-brown color with a very thin beige head and minimal lacing. Aroma of malt, nuts and vanilla. The barrel-aging imbues a nice brandy smell too. Rich-bodied and smooth-textured with a complex array of flavors from sweet malt and plum to sharp alcohol. Vanilla and spices add a nice dimension as well. The finish is dry and sweet with lots of caramel and malt, with a mild alcohol burn in the throat. Robust sipping beer that is easily one of the best Barley Wines I have tried in awhile.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

03/17/09- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 6oz sized nip bottle, bottled in either late '04 or early '05. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Brown burnt caramel colored pour. On a very hard pour, produces a decent 1/4 inch head with a lasting light rim and some pretty hearty lace patches and streaks for a almost 15% beer.

Smell- Starts out extremely pungent (fills the room with it's scent) and quickly fades into a bury-your-nose-in-your-glass-to-get-aroma nose.
Lots of vanilla, a good amount of roasted sweet caramel, mild woody notes and some grapefruit hops. Only drawback is the fading of scent.

Taste- Vanilla is prominent. Oak barrel flavor combines with a deep caramel flavor. Not really catching a lot of bourbon taste, but enough to round it out with the flavors that accompany it. Light butterscotch notes, minor hops and a very light sour flavor after the swallow.

Mouthfeel- Mildly thick and lightly viscous. Flavor lasts a bit in the aftertaste, but not as long as optimal. Weird, but interesting sour aftertaste. Sugary and coating. Carbonation is low, but active. Certainly doesn't feel like almost 15%

Drinkability- Had all the makings of a damn good beer. Just some nip picking here and there. Quality aged brew worth praise. Not worth the $15 for a bottle I saw it at a month ago though. About half that is right.

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Photo of hopdog
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nip sized bbottles acquired in multiple trades.

Poured a dark and cloudy brown color with a small sized off white head. Mmmm, where to start on this aroma. Got something different with every whiff. Aromas of caramel, vanilla, some wood, brandy, brown sugar, dark fruits, whisky, nuts, and smoke. I could smell this one all day. Tastes of stronger brandy, dark cherries, nuts and brown sugar. Alcohol content well hidden.

Notes from and tasted on 3/31/06

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Photo of weeare138
4.56/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to hopdog for this Brandy Barrel version…
Appears a dark, hazy brown with a small off white head that fades out into a small collar.
Smell is of huge peanut blasted chocolate, yeasty, brown sugar, and caramel.
Taste is of the same yummy aromas that mixes beautifully. This is a great barleywine.
Mouthfeel has nice aftertastes of nutty, cocoa, black grapes with near perfect balance.

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Photo of Brewfan
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Recieved as an added bonus in a trade with Lou91. Thanks for the unexpected opporunity to try this beer.

Silkscreened 6 ounce bottle. 14.7 abv. Barley Wine aged in Brandy Barrel. '03 vintage. Limited release.

Poured into a 10 oz snifter.

Dark brown color, but held up to the light barleywine glistens with a definite garnet hue. No head, almost no lace. Just a fine equator of white around the circumference of the glass.

Alcoholic nose (not unlike Ted Kennedy) that is very deep and rich. Marinated cherries and dates. Vanilla and port-soaked raisins. Huge malty aromas abound with oak and brandy thrown in.
Now for the taste. Fruity and just a bit sour. Almost citrusy. I'm having trouble narrowing down all of the tastes flowing around my tastebuds. Can definitely taste the brandy, oak, beautiful maltiness, liquid fruitcake. Yeah, that kinda sums it up. Kirsh, wild honey, I keep tasting so many things. Very complex. Drinks like a aged port. Not much in the hops department, but after 4 years and being on Brandy, I wasn't expecting much, if any, hoppiness.
This beer coats the tongue, roof of mouth and throat. Very full body.
Extremly drinkable, dangerously so at 14.7.
Easily the fruitiest barleywine I've ever had. Nice taste of alcohol on the tongue long after swallowing.
I think we need more brandy aged barleywines in the world.

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Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.62/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Obtained in a trade with the stellar trader known as fartingdog. I saved this one for a special occasion with my successful PhD defence that happened today.

Very dark in appeareance with almost no head. Big nose full of sweetness and the barrel aging. Very malty and sweet in taste. Drinkable despite the ABV but I will take my time with this beer.


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Photo of ppoitras
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

6oz bottle acquired in trade with Jetsbeer. Thanks for the opportunity. Gold foiled cap.

Poured in a Rapscallion glass, poured with a minimal filmy head over the cloudy medium brown brew. What little head there was is quickly gone, with a few bubbles left around the rim of the glass. Aroma is peaty malts with alcohol warmth. Taste is an incredible balance of fruit and sweetness in the battle of the malts. Mouthfeel is very nice, and even as high as the abv is, I'd find myself wanting to enjoy this one again.

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Photo of Crosling
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brandy barrel aged version. 6 ounce bottle. Lovely color, with a nice foam. An amazing amount of complexity here, with so many well extracted fruit flavors from the barrel. A large, enjoyable body with bountiful aromas as well. A tremendous brew. Thanks Drakes.

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Drake's Barrel Aged Barley Wine from Drake's Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 30 ratings.
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