AleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style Barleywine | AleSmith Brewing Company

very good
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AleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style BarleywineAleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style Barleywine

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, 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 paytoplay on 06-14-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 73 | Ratings: 109
Photo of johnnnniee
3.6/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Mike's Barleywine tasting, thanks for the opportunity!
Big fruit and sherry notes with a bit of caramel still left. Great to try but maybe a bit over the hill.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.32/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750mL bottle into my Spirit Sipper's snifter. 5 years on, and this is a bit past its prime.

Muddy opaque auburn body and a sandy brown head receding to a lasting collar and slick.

Old socks, stale beet greens, tobacco, and prunes in the nose - not the most inviting aromas, but not outside the style per-se.

Quite tart, palate is full of loam and aspirin - an odd medicinal leathery, floral mess of flavors. Oxidation comes to the front, but there are still hefty malt notes.

Syrupy, medium-bodied, low carbonation.

Not yet off, but I wish I had opened this two years ago...more like an old ale than a barley wine now...

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.05/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Bottle #406/433. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Deep murky brown. Small khaki head. Wispy with a thin collar.

Smell - Nice barrel. Awesome oak and bourbon. Vanilla is really strong, too. Brown sugar behind the barrel. There's definitely an off aroma, though.

Taste - Definitely tangy. The barrel still comes through, though. Grapefruit citrus tang. The brown sugar shines through, too. Not a terrible infection, it has to be said, but I'd rather it weren't there as the flavors that do come through are great.

Mouthfeel - Spoiled by sourness, but not horribly so. Over carbonated.

Overall - Better than I expected when someone said we were having an infected barleywine. Still, nothing like what it could have been.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.26/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hazy amber color with a small khaki head. An interesting array of aromas on this. Certainly sour with a strong citric acidity and a bit of vinegar. Candied orange peel, caramel, and some toffee. A little bit of grapefruit on the finish. The flavor is somewhat sweet with toffee and brown sugar. Still a little bit of booze along with some dark fruits. Definitely tart, but not overwhelmingly so.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.94/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at the bottle share hosted by Adam Fine Wine & Liquor held at Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach, CA.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy beige head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, and dark fruits with a distinct cherry smell. Taste is slightly tart with malt, brown sugar, caramel, fruits, and a citrus zest flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty but the slight tartness was unexpected.

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Photo of beagle75
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a tasting glass.

A: Hazy, dark amber color with no foam head. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Very malty with a lot of toffee and crystal character. Wood is suggested, while sourness stands out more than expected.

T: Begins very off-dry, with spirituous grain and tartness that is slightly acetic. Malt is refined into the middle where estery and boozy dark fruit is detectable. Flavors dry out somewhat by the finish which tastes of earthy fermented green plants and citrus pith.

M: Medium viscosity, acidic yet smooth on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: The rumors were true for this bottle--Decadence 2008 turned out to be a sour barleywine. As a sour it is a success, although barleywine qualities were a bit compromised due to sharing time with the defining tartness. It is a special, beautifully-flawed beer--a trait that is as interesting and almost as desirable as is a perfect beer.

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Photo of bashiba
3.87/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a murky light brown with some reddish highlights, a thin layer of tan head, light lacing.

The smell was a bit sweet with a bit of toffee, alcohol, and a deep bread quality.

The flavor was lightly tart with a bit of a wild brett like character to it, big english caramel malt flavors of heavy bread, toffee and a a bit of cedar come through, at this point there are no hops left to speak of. The tartness is a nice counterbalance to the big malty and alcohol sweetness.

The mouthfeel is creamy and a bit warm.

Very easy to drink, and enjoyable, but a bit of a departure from classic English Barleywine.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy, red-brown with a dense tan head.

Aroma is big and boozy. Rich dark fruit, oak, brandy.

Taste is initially bready malt. Then the intense dark fruit takes over. Sweet then tart. Plenty of aromatic woody cedar dryness in the finish and lingering alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, very smooth.

Overall, a very interesting and flavorful brew. Very woody and fruity.

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Photo of orangesol
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Deuane for busting this one out after our MD/DE trip.

A - Pours ruby tinged brown with a small one finger tall white head leaving spotty lace down the glass.

S - Smells of sweet caramel malts, candied sugar, faint hop bitterness, and some light tartness. Not too bad but I have had better.

T - Starts off with lots of caramel sweetness slowly giving way to a mix of toffee, candied sugar, dulled hop bitterness, and the light funk from the nose. The finish is a mix of sweetness and light booze heat, lingering on the pallet for a short period of time.

M - Medium body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Sweet feel with only a tiny bit of booze creeping in toward the end of the glass.

O - This one was OK. The flavors were all there but it was a little muddled. I wouldn't mind trying the BA version in the future but I wont be actively seeking it out.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.47/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured a very nice and thick looking ruby tinted brown with a small say about a finger and a half of white lace and foam on the top. Quick recession led to a decent but not impressive side glass presentation and virtually no carbonation was immediately visible. Smell was very sweet with candy like sugar and a rich malty smell, some light hops in the foreground, but they have been mostly mellowed out. A thick syrup like feel, with not a lot of carbonation was what was waiting for me. There was a nice sweet flavor to this, and a touch of alcohol was most definitely present. A good piney hop finish was there drawing out the flavors of fresh grass and a light bread like malt

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Photo of domtronzero
3.48/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Not reviewing per style, because this one is so indescribable.

750mL bottle into Bruery tulip.

A - Slightly hazy mahagony reddish brown colored. Fluffy tannish head lingers for quite awhile. Little lacing.

S - Sweet bready, caramel malts. Huge apple/pear esters. Weird funk aroma. Not necessarily infected, just weird funky tartness.

F/M - Sweet malts, bready, a little crusty. Fruity esters, pears, apricots, and a little bit of that weird, funky flavor. Moderate earthy hoppiness with a pleasantly firm bitterness. Light tart finish. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Lingering sweet malts and pear esters.

O - Weird. Delicious, out of style, and again weird. I like the flavors and all but its unlike anything I've ever had before.

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Photo of jethrodium
3.28/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle shared by colonelforbin. Thanks Mike. Pours a clear, dark amber with a small light tan head that sticks around for a while and leaves a small amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma is quite fruity with plum and some raisin. There is also brown sugar, caramel, and a little bit of cherry. A bit of alcohol as well. The taste is quite sweet with brown sugar and caramel. The raisin is there as well as a bit of cherry. The finish has a slight tartness to it. Low carbonation. Medium to heavy bodied. A little bit syrupy. I found it to be a little too sweet overall.

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Photo of JoeySchlitz
2.77/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a medium brown with a sudsy off-white head that disappears with a few minutes. Smells of sour cherries and alcohol-soaked fruit. There’s a faint, JW Lees Harvest ale medley of honey, malt and fruit cake but this is more towards the sour side and not very balanced. The taste is mostly sour with a stale hop finish and has an underlying metallic twinge. Bitter, thin cough syrup seems like an appropriate analogy. Overall I’d say that there was something off with this when I first had it a year or so ago, and it’s continued to slide downhill since then.

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Photo of Bung
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750. Paring down the cellar, time for this one to go. Very murky orangey brown pour. Nice layer of light tan head. Retains pretty well.

Aroma, caramel, toffee, brown sugar. Very faint citrus. Very light booze.

Taste quite tart up front, sour apple. No signs of infection anywhere, so I assume this was either intentional or this is fading already. A bit of burnt brown sugar, cookie dough. Mellows to a bit more to some toffee, caramel. Finishes with a little more citrus, and a definete smoke or pumpernickel. Very different.

Solid body, just enough carbonation. Alcohol really not present for 11%. Woah, check that as it warms, it warms.

Expectations were a little higher than the result, but still not a bad brew, as I have yet to have a bad one from Alesmith.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.3/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of TampaBrew over on ratebeer. Thankfully I waited to actually put pen to pad and tick this puppy. I had it three times within the first year of release and just didn't feel like taking notes each time. This time around the elixir proves to those sharing in its goodness that there's no infection here. The cap popped off with the bottle at only cellar temperature of about 55F, with a mild puff and the liquid then ran into each glass with only a modest head. Yep, no big volcano at opening, no big foamer into each glass and no sharp acidic aromatics associated with a problem. All is well. The aroma is smooth sweet molasses rolling quickly into caramel covered apricot, prunes and slivers of grapefruit and spicy almost oak like notes. The taste is smooth and near slick with prune infused molasses, caramel covered red apples and then mild tart grapefruit. It finishes fairly dry with muted spicy yeast and muted spicy hops taking this to closure. Wow!

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a dark brown with some reddish hues, nice tan cap and bubbles

S: Caramelized sugar, some dark fruits, candy

T: Taste has was sweet, booze tinge, I did notice a bit of funk on this, brown sugar, caramel, Earthiness

M: It had thinned out a bit overtime, some funk, sweetness

D: Good English Bwine, very sweet and complex and a good representation of the style

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a murky burnt amberish orange with yellow highlights that had a thin head and left very little lacing sticking to the glass. The aroma was a tad boozy followed by nice caramel, toffee, and dark fruit notes like raisins and plums. On the palate the dark fruit notes were more potent that had boozy caramel accents and was a little more sweet than anticipated and the booze was as mellow for having almost 2 years on it. The brew was medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, slight fruity, mild, booze, and stickiy finish. It drank pretty good but to me was still quite hot; definitely a sipper even after a few years.

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Photo of glid02
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Joe - much obliged!

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a one-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with very faint hints of booze-soaked medium fruits. As the beer warms hints of toffee also waft out.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Smooth caramel malt flavors that are somewhat grainy but certainly lean toward the sweet side of things. Mild toffee flavors work their way into things shortly thereafter before being pushed out by moderately boozy medium fruit flavors midway through the sip. The fruit flavors are made up of pears, dark cherries, and raisins. The fruit flavors fade out and allow the caramel malt and toffee flavors to carry through to a mildly sweet ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I had no problems finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this is a solid beer for the style but wasn't as smooth as I'd hoped. It will likely improve as it ages further but I wouldn't expect it to get much better. Still, a solid beer from a great brewery and it's worth a shot to see for yourself.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a clear deep copper color ale with a quite large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light caramel malt with subtle toffee and a feeling of light tart notes. Taste is also a good mix between loads of caramel malt with balanced sweetness and no alcohol was discernable. Light tart notes are also noticeable thought not to the point were it is no longer interesting to drink this beer. Well brewed though lacking some complexity.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.23/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Kevin for sharing this one!

A-pours a dark mahogany brown with a hazed appearance and a brigh tan head.

S-huge nose of brown sugar and burnt caramel blend together with sweet coton candy. it seems a little off and it doesn't work well together. the booze is quite present in the back and has hints of wood.

T-the taste has a big sweetness, burnt sweet malts of brown sugar and caramel are overtaken by coton candy and candied fruit. it has notes of wood and booze in the back.

M-medium to full body with a nice amount of carbonation and syrupy creamy feel.

D-this is a little off, the burnt sweetness and candied cotton candy flavors seem to contrast slightly. not something i truly enjoy but not horrible.

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Photo of mothman
3.85/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into snifter.

Pours a light beige head. Color is a caramel brown with a light ruby hue to it.

Aroma: Malty, sweet, caramel, fruit notes, spice, and toffee. I also get some tart cherries here. This one may be infected.

Taste: Very malty with a touch of tart cherries sticking out again. I kind of like the flavor even if it wasn't meant to be there. Earthy hops with some raisins and other dark fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy with some tartness. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation.

Overall, for being partially soured, this beer wasn't too bad. I didn't expect the sour cherry flavor from this beer but it could have been much worse.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.18/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Caramel covered orange peel with a splash of cherry juice and a huge head of golden beige whipped creaminess. Foam texture is fine and there's enough lace (barely), but head height and persistence suggest that carbonation might be an issue.

The aroma is equal parts caramel malt and fruit. Trouble is, it's unripe fruit tangy-tart rather than ripe fruit sweet. That's an odd way to go for an English-style barleywine, assuming it was intentional, but it could work out okay on the palate. Here's hoping.

While it isn't a complete mess, Decadence 2008 is mostly a mess and is, by far, my least favorite of the four ABC anniversary brews that I've reviewed to date. For comparison's sake, the others received 4.5 for flavor. It's unlikely that the brewer intended to release a hybrid barleywine-sour ale, but then anything is possible.

There isn't much malt in the house, which is a cardinal sin in beer of this style. Who wants an IPA that is bereft of hops? No one, that's who. Flavors include watery caramel, earthy leather, and a wide assortment of tart fruit juices (cherry mostly). The sweetness isn't overpowering and the alcohol is buried pretty well, if you're looking for positives.

The mouthfeel is no more sizable than light-medium and contains appropriately laid back carbonation. Then again, let's face it, English barleywines that have spent two years in the bottle (and aren't complete sugar bombs) tend to be on the thin side. Average is reasonable here.

AleSmith Decadence 2008 English-Style Barleywine is a disappointment. Given the high bar that these guys leap over on a regular basis, it might even be classified as a major disappointment. That said, there's something here to enjoy for fans of big beers and sours. If this bottle is infected, then it's one of the best (unintentionally) infected offerings that I've had.

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Photo of brentk56
2.59/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours a caramel color with garnet highlights and a rocky head that retains better than expected for the ABV; some splashy lace

Smell: Initially, the malty caramel and dark fruit tones shine through but on subsequent sniffs there is an alarming tartness as if this were a Flanders Red

Taste: As with the aroma, things start out OK, with the rich caramel and earthy hop elements but increasingly the tart cherry flavors take over and dominate after the swallow

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; puckering feel from the tartness

Drinkability: Alesmith looks like it is getting a pass from other reviewers for a variety of reasons but as I read the label of this beer I note that it is described as a traditional English Barleywine which this most certainly isn't - there is no mention of the sour elements in the detailed description of this beer so I can only assume that something unexpected happened

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Photo of GregSVT
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle with gold foil into a snifter

A: Pours a cloudy reddish brown with a small brown head that slowly fades leaving no real lacing.

S: The nose is fantastic with smells of toffee, plumbs, prunes, and other dark fruits. It's almost got a wine-like quality to the nose.

T: The taste is toffee with dark fruits from the nose and a yeast flavor that gives it a wine quality. A bit of hop bitterness on the finish. There's a fair amount of boozy flavor in here as well.

M: The feel is creamy and oily but the booze makes this element a bit lackluster.

D: The ABV and boozy quality of this beer makes this hard to finish the 750 let alone drink more.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.45/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Intrigued to find a lone 750 of this at Wine Country, I think I missed this one back in '08, the first time around, so I had to pick it up, I love an aged barleywine, and this did not disappoint.

A: Pours a beatiful ruby with a firm off-white head and lacing which belies it's age.

S: Sweet caramel notes of aged malt. Some sour cherries and cranberry - hint of acid. Quite vinous on the nose.

T: Great upfront malty notes of hardwood and caramel with a hint of dark chocolate. The mild acidity adds another layer of complexity. Sour dark fruit/very grape like (Sangiovese?) has a real rustic almost vinegary feel, think Gale's Prize Old Ale. Pomegranate and Bing cherry dominate the finish, at times almost a Flanders Red feel, but it's definitely in the English tradition. Not to be redundant, it tastes like a younger Prize Old Ale, more alcohol and carbonation, but the flavours are quite similar.

M: Very light carbonation, with that intriguing acidity I just can't put my finger on. The acidity attacks immediatley, but the smooth and light carbonation gives a great finish. Elegant and classy is how I would sum it up.

D: This beer is drinking beautifully now, really tastes 5-7 years old as compared to two. I'll be sad when the bottle is empty. I love this style.

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AleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style Barleywine from AleSmith Brewing Company
3.85 out of 5 based on 109 ratings.
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