Decadence 2011 Maple-Smoked Barleywine - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
AleSmith Brewing Company

Decadence 2011 Maple-Smoked Barleywine - Bourbon Barrel-AgedDecadence 2011 Maple-Smoked Barleywine - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
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American Barleywine
4.11 | pDev: 8.03%
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Decadence 2011 Maple-Smoked Barleywine - Bourbon Barrel-AgedDecadence 2011 Maple-Smoked Barleywine - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Notes: Barrel Aged Decadence 2011 is our Maple Smoked Barleywine (brewed to celebrate our 16th anniversary) matured in premium bourbon barrels.
Reviews: 13 | Ratings: 91 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of kojevergas
3.56/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml brown glass (black glass?) bottle with black foil-ed over unbranded pry-off pressure cap acquired at Alesmith a year ago or so and served into an EKU 28 stem-snifter in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are fairly high given its current 90 rating, though I wasn't very fond of the base beer. 11% ABV confirmed per the label. The label features gold font and is classy and intricate. Style per the label: "Smoked Barleywine-Style Ale Brewed with Maple Syrup and Aged in Bourbon Barrels." 2011 vintage (obviously).

Served cold - straight from me fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of khaki colour. Nice creaminess and thickness. Nice smooth even consistency. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes, and little remains for very long. Head retention is average - about two minutes.

Body colour is a translucent orange-amber of average vibrance. Nontransparent. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.

Overall, it's an appealing appearance for the style. I'm looking forward to trying it, but it's not unique or special. What I'd expect from a barleywine.

Sm: The maple is more subtle than I remember from the base beer - or maybe it's just covered up by the bourbon notes, which consists of ample vanilla and oak , but sadly no toasty character. Any smoke character is very restrained/faded. In my experience, smoke recedes with age. Plenty of typical barleywine malts - brown malts primarily. There's also some cream and some hints of fruit - faint cherry and currants mostly. Clearly, a suitable bourbon was chosen given the richness of the oak and seeming extent to which the barrel notes complement (if not develop) the base beer.

No yeast character, hop character, or overt booziness is detectable.

As it warms, the maple syrup emerges a bit more, lending some sweetness up front. The aroma does seem a biteen too sweet, but it's tolerable. It's a pleasant aroma of mild to moderate strength.

T: Ah. So much more well balanced and built than the base beer. The smoke has faded, to be sure, but there is a faint subtle hint of beechwood. The foundation is pretty standard for a barleywine: brown malts mainly, with some biscuit malt, caramel, and cream. The barrel notes are lovely and really complement the base beer nicely; I pick up lovely oak and some wonderful vanilla - neither of which feels artificial. Still, I would like some toasty character. The maple is much more reticent than would be ideal, unfortunately. I'd like it with a bit more wood.

It also boasts some faint burnt sugar, very light hints of leather, and a kiss of dark fruit (which develops as it warms).

Overall, it's a very cohesive build, but not quite a gestalt one. There's abundant complexity here as well as a fair amount of subtlety. The smoke and maple would provide nuance if they were more present, but having tried the base beer I'm glad they've faded. Fairly intricate. Above average depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour.

No yeast character comes through. It has a pleasant alcohol warmth which fits with the premise of the beer yet admittedly restricts drinkability.

Mf: Has a nice creaminess - especially up front. Smooth and wet. Nice thickness and body. Heavy on the palate, to style. Nice presence on the palate. As well as it complements the flavour profile, the texture doesn't come off custom-tailored to the taste. It's a biteen overcarbonated, unfortunately.

Not oily, astringent, gushed, rough, or hot - though it does have some pleasant alcohol warmth.

Dr: It's a sipper, to be sure, and is best consumed in the winter months. I'm surprised at its quality given the base beer used, but Alesmith has again shown their mastery over barrel aging and heavy American styles. It hides its ABV pretty well, but there's room for improvement. I'll enjoy killing this bottle alone and I almost wish I had another bottle. I'd recommend this to friends, and can verify aging has done it well. One of most improved-with-age beers I've had. I'd definitely buy it again just to see how it develops.

A lovely barleywine with well-integrated barrel notes that will please even the discerning drinker.

Low B

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Photo of corby112
4.12/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark chesnut brown color with mahogany/plum edges and a one finger off-white head that quickly settles into a thin, lasting ring.  Spotty lace left behind.

Slightly smokey aroma with a prominent barrel presence yet it doesn't interfere with smoke, barleywine and sweet maple notes.  Dry oak/toothpick with burnt sugar and subtle bourbon along with leathery malts, smoke, toffee, caramel and dark fruit.  A bit of vanilla and coconut from the barrel along with charcoal, liquid smoke, fig, raisin, plum and date.

On the fuller end of medium body with a strong barrel presence that's nicely integrated into the barleywine notes.  Damp oak, strong vanilla bean and toasted coconuts with decent bourbon flavor that's not overpoweringly hot or boozy.  Spicy bourbon, vanilla and coconut followed by leathery malt, boozy sweetness, maple syrup, subtle smoke, date, fig, raisin and plum. Nice integration but still has prominent barrel and barleywine flavor.  Smoke is a bit tame and there is some heat but the high ABV is well masked making this beer decently drinkable.  A complex and flavorful barrel aged beer that doesn't hammer you over the head with bourbon.  I enjoyed this beer and am looking forward to my other bottles.

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Photo of timc100
4.64/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Beautiful looking bottle enjoyed on a crisp fall saturday.

Not the greatest looking beer. Murky, muddy dirty orange/ruby with a fizzing head that dissipates within seconds - pretty dense amount of sediment, but the alcohol legs around the glass are great. Well balanced aroma, very enticing. Sweet natural maple, boozy caramel, bourbon soaked oak and vanilla, some lighter barrel sweetness of coconut. Burnt brown sugar, toffee, cocoa powder - very light smoky sweetness, hints of cigar smoke when it warms as well as notes of dank attic must. Very light lactic oak sourness It tastes fantastic - sticky toffee, caramel, and maple sap. Big boozy bourbon caramel - vanilla, cocoa, maple.

Truly fantastic beer. I imagine that especially the smoke, but also maple have mellowed out a lot, which was probably was a good thing - they add their own subtleties and enhance the other flavors. Definitely some heat and booziness - works real well, drinking perfect. Truly outstanding barleywine.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.04/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Rusty orange and slightly opaque body. Short and thin head.

Strong aromas that are redolent of bourbon... Oak, vanilla, caramel. Maple syrup, brown sugar.

This beer does a great job of extracting the bourbon flavors. Oak and vanilla wit maple syrup.

The mouthfeel is thin and doesn't support the boozy bourbon aspect. Low carbonation

A really nice bw, especially if you enjoy bourbon. I wish it was a littler heavier but otherwise good aroma and taste.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750ml foiled and capped bottle into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter. Shared with schen9303. This sounds like it could be one of the best or one of the worst beers I've ever come across.

Pours a .5 finger dark cream colored head with moderate retention. Beer is a cloudy, muddy mahogany. Lacing is spotty with good stick. Huge legs. Pretty solid given the style.

Nose is butterscotch, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and huge barrel characteristics. Woody and boozy. Hugely aromatic. So far so good!

Opens syrupy sweet. Notes of caramel, toffee, molasses and brown sugar. More molasses with a touch of coarseness in the middle. Boozy throughout. A bit of oxidation is apparent at the finish. Aftertaste of syrup and oak. Solid.

Full bodied with low carbonation. Thick and oily in the mouth and goes down boozy and moderately hot. Messy finish with a sticky, filmy, lingering aftertaste. Appropriate but not the greatest.

I really didn't see this as being a middle of the road offering given all the unique descriptors in the beer. Yet, this beer is really neither here nor there. Its mildly complex and the flavors work well together but its not particularly good. The feel is nice but is touch too thick at times. A sipper for sure but one that I'm a touch disappointed by given lack of an outstanding aspect for me to grasp.

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Photo of jaasen64
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, thanks Tom for sending this! Served in a Treehouse tulip.

A- Pours a slightly hazy caramel brown color with slight translucency along the sides of the glass, not much head and a fairly still top with some light bubbles, slight carbonation.

S- Aromas of caramel, maple, bourbon, vanilla, balanced malts, subtle smoke, and booze. Decent aroma strength, nice aroma, just a bit too boozey.

T- Rich caramel malts, very sweet caramel and integrated maple, bourbon, vanilla, slight coconut, finishes with more bourbon, very subtle smoke, and a very rich sweetness. Not bad tasting, fairly complex, just a bit too hot and a little bit overly sweet with the bourbon, caramel, and maple.

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation but consistent while drinking, a bit boozey but not to hard to drink.

O- This was a pretty interesting barleywine that had a lot going on but yet put it all together in a nice flavorful barleywine. I think this would taste a little bit better aged as the bourbon, maple, and caramel comes out a bit overly sweet while still maintaining a boozey presence.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle (2013)

AleSmith Brewing Company
San Diego, CA

Not an attractive beer. A murky dark ruby and browns. Effectively zero visible carbonation. There are a few small bubbles forming on the outside of the liquid nearest the glass, but they're gone before you put the bottle down from the pour. Leaves the glass clean. It's a good thing I don't taste with my eyes.

The aroma is wonderful/incredible/fantastic...I couldn't decide what adjective to use. It's, by far and away, the beer's best aspect. Incredible aroma of melted caramel candies pushed against whole grain waffles doused in sweet, earthy, authentic maple syrup. This smells like what I order for breakfast in Heaven. I love it.

The flavor is similar, though it doesn't quite reach the lofty heights of the aroma. Very nice combination of maple syrup, melted caramel, earth and vanilla-forward barrel character, and a touch of grain and bread. The flavors come together very nicely, but they don't reach the pinnacle of the aroma. Perhaps a bit more carbonation would have aided in this. Some alcohol harshness.

Full in body with very little carbonation, though not detracting.

Fantastic. I wasn't the hugest fan of the base beer, but this turned out much better than I anticipated.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.95/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep reddish copper. Small khaki head. Uneven collar. Nothing exciting looking.

Smell - Lots of maple and caramel. Barrel notes are nice without being too strong. Vanilla and oak. Bourbon is nice, but secondary.

Taste - Really mapley. Love that flavor. Caramel. Vanilla and bourbon comes up secondary. Drops off in the finish. Dry and a little astringent.

Mouthfeel - Nice and thick up front, but drops off in the back. Astringent dry finish.

Overall - Very tasty with a disappointing finish.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy brown with a finger of frothy khaki-tan head. Fades normal.

S - Sweet caramel and dark caramel malts, maple, oak, smoke, vanilla, caramelized malts, brown sugar, citrus hops, some booze.

T - Sweet caramel and dark caramel malts, maple, oak, smoke, vanilla, dark fruit, caramelized malts, brown sugar, citrus hops, touch of hop bitterness, and some booze.

M - Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth with a smokey, sweet, and warming finish.

D - Great barleywine. The maple and smoke are at just the right level.

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Photo of DrJay
3.64/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Coppery amber with a faint haze. Sticky beige cap of fine bubbles that had good head retention and left spotty lace on the glass after each sip. The aroma was nicely balanced between smoke, sugar, syrup, malt, bread, and faint citrus. Moderate bitterness with caramel and slight candy sweetness, mild smoke, light citrus and alcohol, with a hint of maple in the finish. Medium to full bodied with creamy carbonation and warmth. This was a solid offering. I don't tend to enjoy maple or smoke in beers, but this worked out well for my palate.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at AleSmith Brewing Company in San Diego, CA.

Pours a murky orange-brown with a foamy tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, toasted coconut, and wood. Taste is much the same with a vanilla bourbon flavor and an alcohol kick on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp but sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer but it's quite strong and boozy right now.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4.33/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the brewery.

A: Pours a deep, somewhat cloudy, muddy brown with some auburn notes and a cap of off white head which recedes quickly to a ring. Very good retention but no lacing to speak of.

S: Caramel in superb balance with bourbon and toasted oak, rich coconut cake, and a little maple syrup.

T: Bourbon, oak, red fruit (strawberry), a light touch of maple syrup and dry cocoa, and coconut. Finishes dry--a bit drier than I'd prefer for the style. Rich caramel and a hint of smoke towards the end. Mild to moderate booze on the finish, accompanied by fruity esters and tannins.

M: Full bodied, sticky, with medium carbonation .

O: Quite delicious, a slow sipper. Relative to the non-BA version, the smoke has receded quite a bit and overall this tastes considerably better. Some age would hopefully smooth out the alcohol taste.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Tap and cask at the brewery. This review is from draft, which was much better than the cask variation. Dark reddish brown with a finger of beige foam. Big maple, vanilla, and bourbon notes in the nose. Intensely aromatic. Alcohol is present but inoffensive. Toffee blends with date and fig. There’s a touch of beechwood smoke with a dash of nuttiness. I like everything about the aroma. The flavor presents a huge brown sugary maple sweetness with toffee and vanilla. Very good but it's boozy at this point and it does detract somewhat from the flavor. Light beechwood smoke is evident, though it's faded quite a bit, and there’s an upper low level of earthy bitterness. Upper medium to lower full body with lower medium carbonation. This was really good on draft and definitely exceeded my expectations. If the bottle mirrors the tap then in 3-6 months this should be even better if the booze mellows out.

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Decadence 2011 Maple-Smoked Barleywine - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 91 ratings