Widdershins | Left Hand Brewing Company

very good
110 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Left Hand Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jarod on 09-22-2003

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Reviews: 110 | Ratings: 232
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Body is a pure rich amber tone that holds when held to light. A foamy cream grows on top equalling two full fingers of frothy, yeast colored head. Dots of lace are left behind. Nose is very soft with some malts wrapped up in a bit of subtle smokiness, that is really about all I get. The smoke was right on as that is the first thing you notice as you take the initial sip. the smoke is not big and overpowering but soft and well presented. Some bready sweetness gets mingled in mid palate. Towards the end and as you drink you get a bit of a hop bitterness on the back of the tongue. Complexity is lacking but it does come in layers. I will say this is a unique barleywine. Mouthfeel is a bit thick tingly and woodsy. Drinkability is very good its just not what I look for in a barleywine.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up for 10 bucks at Vintage Estate poured into my sniffer goblet.

A - Decent amount of carbonation on this on just a 1/2 inch that sticks around a bit. Color is a hazy yellow brown tint.
S - Surprisingly hoppy for a oak aged beer. Semi wood and vanilla with a bit of caramel and toffee sweetness. Slight alcohol esters.
T+M - Very chewy thick beer that starts out oaky, leads to sweet caramel and toffee malts and finishes with a bit of hoppy bite. Stingy acidic alcohol esters remind you of the high octane and in a way I didn't really expect it to be so bitter.

Overall I guess it would have been better to be a tad sweeter I regret not having Insanity which is readily available for slightly cheaper. Still if you like bitter stingy Barleywines this beer is for you!

Edit: I had to go back and mark it all 4's since apparently my bottle was 2013 vintage and it was still very hoppy and bitter. Any brewery that can do that is worth praise!

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.85/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, almost opaque, golden amber color, speckled with reddish and orange highlights and a quarter of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very nice aromas of toasted malt, imparting notes of freshly baked French baguettes and biscuits, as well as tons of toffee and brown sugar. I also get aromas of stone fruit, such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, as well as a touch of black pepper and saffron, and finally, a touch of floral, grassy, hops.

Taste: Delicious ! Tons of bready, toasted malt up front, followed by tons of toffee and brown sugar. I also get flavors of stone fruit, such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, as well as a touch of black pepper and saffron, and finally, a touch of floral, grassy, hops, at the finish. Quite the delicious American-style barleywine.

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy and very smooth, as there’s very little in the way of carbonation; just a hint really. Even with an ABV of 10.7%, there is surprisingly little alcohol on the palate. It’s extremely well masked.

Overall: This is another amazingly delicious American-style barleywine, and another amazingly delicious beer from Left Hand which is quickly becoming not only one of my favorite breweries from Colorado, but one of my favorite American breweries, period! Highly recommended!

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Photo of pat61
4.13/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours hazy amber with a 1” off-white foam cap that provides good lace.
S: Fruit and malt aromas with orange, citrus.
T: The fruit is bigger on the palate than with some barleywines and it is more than moderately sweet. Malt driven with moderate to a less less on the hops.
F: Medium body and medium to medium high carbonation. A little alcohol warming.
O: A good barley wine but somewhat subdued with a little more sweetness and a little less body and bitterness than I would prefer.

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Photo of StoneTSR
4.65/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

APPEARANCE: Slightly lighter than some Barleywines, more of an dark orange/copper color than the deep mahogany usually seen for the style. A quarter-inch head gently sits on top of the hazy beer for about 45 seconds before slowly beginning to fade into a couple of smell mounds of foam left on top.

SMELL: I could smell this all day. It has an intense molasses smell with figs, dates and cherries dancing around the edges. Some clove and cinnamon smells sneak their way in as well as a very faint hop aroma and a touch of peat. Highly complex, spectacular aroma.

TASTE: The peat comes through much more on the palate than on the nose and is just magnificent up against an earthy hop flavor and some citrus. The molasses is still present, but subdued compared to the nose. The spiciness, caramel, oak and dark fruit from the nose all comes through as well, adding even more layers to this complex beer.

MOUTHFEEL: Not as huge as I expected, but still medium to big. The carbonation provides a surprisingly large sparkle considering this a 10% beer. It goes down silky and smooth and a nice bitter, dry bite on the end keeps the palate thirsting for the sweeter start of that next sip every time. Very nice.

OVERALL: Of course it wouldn’t be such a treat if Left Hand made this beer every year, but I would certainly grab my few bottles every year if they did. As a Barleywine fanatic this has pretty much everything I’m looking for; complex, rich, malty flavors balanced by large doses of hops…plus that peat. Even though this beer is about a year and a half old the hop character still shines through. As it fades, as that incredible malt bill blossoms and the balance changes this will still be a fantastic beer for years to come. I’ve been lucky enough to drink vintages as old as ten years and it stands up beautifully. Can’t wait for this batch to develop into its own beauty.

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Photo of Azbeergasm
3.42/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2013 vintage

A- Deep orange hazy from aging 13-5 on srm

S- Resiny slight oxidation medium candied smell with hints of oak

T- The candied malts are balance off with mild bitterness and notes of citrus and leaves an aftertaste of smooth oak and booze.

M- Medium body low carbonation resiny more astringent as it warms.

O - Overall it's a solid barleywine enjoyed the mild oak presence. Balanced well but lighter on the mouthfeel and candied sugars, it's a bit more hoppy than what I'm used to but. Very easy to drink.

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Photo of Mthom
4.35/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice and chewy, though a bit cloudy in the presentation. I'm always a little scared of these big beers, but this is surprisingly drinkable. The oak definitely shows thru… when will this oak craze go away, and do we care? Will definitely buy again...

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Photo of ksimons
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%

A warm caramel color with just a thin layer of lace. Smells of caramel and some oak
Similar to the smell with a caramel and toffee backbone, grapefruit, and has an oaky finish. Flavor really improves as the beer warms.
Moderate to full body, light to moderate carbonation.
Very enjoyable, but a little hot.

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Photo of Roxie_B
2.75/5  rDev -27.1%

Appearance: Cloudy amber with a low cream colored head.
Smell: Breezy slight floral hops.
Taste: Sweet, spicy and dry. Bit of fruit and nut to it. As it warms up I am getting an unfortunate combination from floral/citrus hop and alcohol that has morphed into an unshakable taste of nail polish remover.
Mouthfeel: Zesty and prickly with a bit of a burn.
Overall: Could be sweetly drinkable. If it wasn't for that nail polish remover thing.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.06/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle. Vintage 2013. Best By 11/15/18. Note: The bottle says 10.7% ABV not 10%. Pours a murky dark brownish amber color with a small amount of head. Some lacing. Boozey aroma with floral hop notes, earth, oak, caramel and a hint of smoke. The taste brings out a lot more of the smoke. Earthy with lots of caramel and dark fruits.Vanilla and a touch of charcoal. Nice oakiness throughout with a finish of more of the smoke. Almost tastes like a boozed up Rauchbier or Smoked Beer in someways. Lightly carbonated. Pretty boozey but not overly hot. This is a very interesting Barleywine. Like I said it seems more like a Smoked Beer to me with some oak flavor but whatever they want to call it I dig it. Definitely one of the more unique Barleywines I have had in recent memory. Overall, I will buy one of these to age for sure.

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Photo of barczar
3.59/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a fairly clear caramel copper with minimal head. Sweet caramel malt and fruity specialty malt combine with toasted oak and booze in the aroma. Flavor is a bit fusel, then perfumey and bitter, with a little citrus at the base. The aftertaste is herbal and bitter. Could use some time to kill the alcohol, but there's not much else redeeming that's there.

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Photo of Zachtheporter
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2014 Vintage.

Pours a pale pinkish sunset amber. Very fizzy sounding for a Barelywine upon being poured. Candied sugar smells along with Oak dominate the nose. There's a slight fruitiness present as well. The oak blends in very well with the malts and hops chosen and dose well to add to the flavor for the most part. The finish is where the oak itself seems the most present but in a subtler sense. Overall a lighter feeling barleywine in the mouthfeel compared to some recent ones I've consumed. Very drinkable, however this isn't necessarily go out of my way to buy again. Could be interesting to see how it cellars over couple of years but overall a rather forgettable Barleywine. Now if this were sold in 12oz 4packs or 6pks maybe id go out and buy more, but at 9.99$ for a bomber, there are other things id prefer to spend my money on. If it were sold cheaper like Wake up Dead that might also be a game changer, but whatever.

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Photo of Gristle
3.43/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

3/3/14 Bottled

Note: To be fair, this is my first time tasting an Oak Aged Barleywine.

Look - Dark caramel brown on the pour, very little pure white head.

Smell - I'm picking up caramel with fruity undertones; apple maybe, very light bread aroma

Taste - Bready up front followed by big fruit flavors: apple, fig; followed by a bitterness not overwhelming with some alcohol that comes through in the finish as well

Mouth feel - full bodied, slick but smooth but a little heavy, well carbonated, warming alcohol

I would definitely drink this again, I a huge fan of IPA's so I'm accustomed to the bitterness but to me it's a mix of fruity flavors and bitterness that is oddly combined. I'll be trying other barleywines to compare for sure.

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Photo of hardy008
2.12/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Clear light amber with a small off white head which fades quickly, and leaves no lacing. The aroma has caramel, candied orange peel, oranges, and oak.

Tastes is both bitter and sweet, and not very complex. Has oranges, orange zest, caramel, oak, sugar, and alcohol. Sounds better than it tastes or smells, because these ingredients don't come together the way they should. Seems very disjointed and unappealing to me.

Medium bodied with low carbonation, and an alcohol and orange zest aftertaste. Not a beer that I would recommend, or try again.

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Photo of alpinebryant
3.14/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

2009 Bottle Opened 2/2/2014

A: Cellared for at least three years , pours a heavy thick white head and a medium amber orange body.

S: Aroma of candied sugar, American Oak and two row malt.

T: This is a lot more subdued than I had thought it might be. At this point, I assume it has gone downhill slightly from its original self, but aging has definitely made it less flavorful and more subdued. Currently I think it tastes like a light cardboard flavor with hints of aged hops, and pale malt. I would say in its current state , this is much more English barleywine than American barleywine. Pale malt, subdued hops, esters that are barely there.

M: Mild body , carbonation is still present after 5 years in a bottle.

O: There really is not a whole lot to this one that I can pick up. This is more pale ale meets English barleywine than American barleywine at this juncture in time. I will need to possibly revisit a younger version of this to see how they stack up to each other.

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Photo of smcolw
3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Beautifully clear with a light amber color. Decent bar-pour head. Leaves some initial ring lace. Less as you get to the bottom.

Sweet smell of raisins with a strong alcohol warmth. I noted some butterscotch and band aids.

Smooth start, harsh finish. This isn't as well blended as most barley. The medicinal smell leeches into the flavor. Less alcohol warmth than most. The finish is astringent without any complex hop. The aftertaste is warming.

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Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Tasty Beverage on 8/22/12. Served in a snifter.

A - dark caramel brown with a little, soft, white head

S - very fruity; pear and apple, faint bread

T - bready up front followed by big fruit flavors: pear, apple, fig; some alcohol comes through in the finish

M - full bodied, smooth, well carbonated, warming alcohol

This is a decent beer though a bit fruity. I prefer a more malty Barleywine or perhaps a bit more hoppy. This wasn't bad by any means but the fruits dominated that flavor. I wouldn't turn this down though.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.85/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at TJ's, Paoli, PA (I think?)

Hazy, ruddy-brown pour, with a small whitish head; not much in the way of lacing or retention. Aroma of caramel, sweet malts, phenols, woody, with a bit of indistinct fruit. Similar taste, bready and malt-driven, sugary sweet with a vague medley of cherry juice, dried apricot, light citrus, notes of phenol and bitter hops, with a little heat from the alcohol, but not at all overbearing. Medium bodied, fairly smooth and a bit sticky. Not bad overall.

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Photo of quirkzoo
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Trinity while waiting for Younger. I actually didn't know this was an American Barleywine when i ordered it so it was kind of fun to try to place the style of beer.

Pours a really nice deep amber with a whisp of off white head. Smell is heavily caramel malts just barely accented by some hops. Pretty straightforward smell nothing too complex but still nice. The taste is a bit more complex than the nose. I get some nice dark fruity esters that complement the caramel maltiness, figs, peaches. Strong bitterness but the malt is still the center of the show. The mouthfeel was good but nothing special. Overall it is a solid, malt-centric American barleywine. Not very hoppy compared to Stone or even Old Ruffian but very good. If I see a bottle of this I will definitely pick it up to try with a bit of age on it.

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Photo of cosmo4u
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tap takeover at holy smoke

Pours a hazy rubied medium amber with a thick, sudsy tan head. The head looks like it might have grain husk and hop leafs knocking around in it--really chewy-looking stuff. Nice earthy and piney nose; you get big blasts of malt and hops at the same time. Body’s on the high side of medium, with soft carb. Clean, easy-drinking mid-palate with grain nusk, nuts, toast, and then some light resin and pineyness. This is pretty damn tasty. Curious what some age might do for it.

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Photo of jayhawk73
3.41/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at rustico:

Pours a very clear amber color with a thin white head. Minimal lacing and clear in appearance. The nose is somewhat disappointing, very weak, with oak, caramel, and malt in the forefront. The taste is slightly better, with oak, vanilla, citrus, hops, fruit, caramel malt in the mix. Feel is medium, with ok carbonation... Very dry finish as well. Overall, a decent brew for the style, but there are better examples.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a brown color with some amber highlights to it. the head was decent looking and white in color. The lacing was sticky along the glass. The smell of the beer was sweet with malts and caramel aromas. The taste was also sweet with some bitter hops in the mix along with a light herbal flavor in there. The mouthfeel was thick and pretty heavy actually. Overall this is a decent Barley Wine to me, I'm not the biggest fan of the style but I feel there are better ones out there.

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Photo of The1WineGuy
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Left Hand Widdershins 2009 / Drinked ;-) 12-30-2011

Cellared for over a year then another 6 months in my fridge. No visible abv% on label.

Oaky-malt nose with twisting fruit ester sweetness.

First sip is a classic barleywine with a subtle tannic oak finish. The flavors switch from mid to back palate with each sip. Sweet fruit up front to Oak finish. The Widdershins doesn't come off as overly hopped and bitter. The malts and oak flavors fold over each other to hide the high abv%. It's stated that this is aged in Brandy casks, there is not much of a brandy flavor, maybe a touch, but more of an impression of clean white oak.

Nice flavorful medium-full mouthfeel of good carbs aids in disguising the alcohol content.

Happy to have found this beer and have tried it. Overall worthy of the purchase and redux.

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Photo of endincolorado
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy, red-amber with a fine sediment. Lots of sticky lace and two fingers worth of beige head that settles slowly.

Up front, there's a sort of phenolic aroma, blended with a faint citrus that reminds me a little of modeling glue. Some wood and smoke come out alongside a caramel malt as the beer warms.

The flavor is full of nice, bready malt tempered by a delicious oakiness. Faint notes of brandy are notable on the finish.

This one is medium bodied with adequate carbonation. It leaves a slightly astringent, feeling as well as an alcohol-warmth behind after each sip.

Definitely not your typical american barleywine, Left Hand's Widdershins is a welcome departure and this particular bottle seems to have a nice sweetness, maybe due to its two years of aging.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Widdershins is a barleywine-style ale, but with 50% of the malt aged in oak casks, and this aging process brings about wonderful and unexpected changes to the brew. The initial taste is much like a well-crafted barleywine: hoppy, with strong apricot and fruit nectar notes, but from there the palate descends almost immediately into deep caramels and chocolates, with a decided oaky, perhaps peat finish, all more reminiscent of either a chocolate stout or a port wine. Some reviewers have criticized the beverage for the latter elements of this palate, claiming it out of balance, but I thought the result genius.

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Widdershins from Left Hand Brewing Company
3.77 out of 5 based on 232 ratings.
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