Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) | Alaskan Brewing Co.

297 Reviews
Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)

Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.70%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Alaskan Barley Wine is a full bodied ale, deep mahogany in color and brewed with an array of complementing malts to achieve its high original gravity. Multiple hop additions in the boil and dry hopping during fermentation provide contrast to the big malt character resulting in the smooth balance that distinguishes this specialty brew. Like many fine wines, Alaskan Barley Wine may be aged in the bottle and gains deeper malt complexity and smoothness over time.

Added by John_M on 03-18-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 297 | Ratings: 613
Photo of Arbitrator
2.73/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. 2009 vintage.

A: Pours a dark, translucent maroon with garnet highlights against the light. The head is a very thin, short-lived cap of mid-sized beige bubbles that vanish quickly.

S: Caramel, grapefruit, raisins, brown sugar, black currants. Substantial booze, but it's not burning, just somewhat solventy.

T: Earthy, mentholic bittering hops with an herbal flavor to them. Gets progressively sweeter with a dark fruit character (raisins, black currants) and caramel/brown sugar/toast. A hoppy orange peel flavor starts to dominate in the finish, but it's accentuated by a solventy booze burn that I don't enjoy.

M: Medium-full viscosity, with a full-bodied flavor. Very low carbonation. A bit hot still, somewhat solventy.

D: It's a pretty good deal at $6. I'm not sure I'd pick it up again; fresh it's not doing a lot for me, and I don't have the resources to cellar one.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
2.76/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22oz bomber, 2008 vintage, from bottletrek or liquidsolutions (i forget) by way of stevemcqueenjr. tasted in late april/early may 2009. poured into tulip.

very dark brownish amber, nearly opaque, but with ruby tones under the light. 1-finger, light tan head, fades to wisps and creamy ring. very sparse lacing.

aroma: apple juice concentrate and caramel maltiness. hint of dates. sharp yet moderated citrus and pine notes from hops. solvent or fusel character in back.

taste: similar flavors, but marred again by the fusel and phenol character, very medicinal and solvent-like. moderate bitterness. seems quite a bit off...

medium body, smoth at first, but again marred by phenols, alcohol and fusels. mild to moderate carbonation helps bring up some of the nicer flavors, but it's never enough to overcome.

what the heck? dunno how time would even help this one...

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Photo of mverity
3.04/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.75

2010 bottle. Pours a rich deep mahogany brown with a cherry hue. Amazing head retention, great lacing, huge thick collar. Aroma is molasses, toffee, leather and earthy wood. Taste is bitter molasses, stale tobacco, vanilla and wet paper. Nice rich body and low carbonation. I believe this beer must have been left on the shelf in a high light area since 2010. It looked great, but the paper and tobacco really ruined the flavor.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.08/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 Vintage

A= Pours a rich amber color with a half finger tannish cap on top with some decent retention and spotty lacing on the glass.

S= Nice mix of hops and sweet malt. A little quieter than I like in a barleywine. It almost has a woody character despite not having wood in it I think. Smells like something familiar but I can't put my finger on it.

T= The taste is again a little quiet for my liking in a barleywine. The light flavor and lack of alcohol flavor makes this a dangerous drinker for sure. There is sort of a solid malt hop mix throughout the drink without too much of a staged drink. The sweet malts definitally take the hops over and seems to be a bit overly sweet for an American BW but too hoppy to be a true English BW.

M= Lightly carbonated with a solid weight.

O= I was a little dissapointed with this beer. Not that it's bad but it just wasn't what I thought it would be with all the talk about it. Alaskan has yet to really impress me outside of their smoked porter. This seems to me like an average barleywine with dangerous drinkablility. It just doesn't have the depth or complexity that I expect when I hear barleywine. A solid drink and worth trying but I won't be putting too many side for later.

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Photo of Tolann
3.09/5  rDev -25%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Brown-slightly copper in the pour. Off white head that thins. Maybe just a little cloudy. Leaves a good lace.

S - Sweet and malty. Piney hops in the background. Kind of mellow to start. I think it will come out more as it warms.

T - Maybe more malt than I was anticipating. Big pine hops follows. Some dark fruityness.

M - Some carbonation and a medium mouth feel. Alcohol isn't overly noticable. After all this is a barley wine with 10.4ABV.

D - I don't know that I'd search this out again. Easy enough to drink, but not totally enjoyable. I was hoping for a lil better.

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Photo of Wadsey
3.12/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Alaskan Barley Wine Ale 2009

Served in New Belgium globe glass

A: Pours clear, deep amber with a white, one-inch head that crashes quickly and leaves a light skim atop beer. Scant spotty lacing and light effervescence. 

S: Smells like your average American Barleywine that is a couple years old: caramel, lightly burnt brown sugar, leather, and golden raisins. Additional aromas include earth, slight oxidation, alcohol, and cola. I'm surprised to find subtle notes of vanilla and spearmint, which is prompting me to hike my rating by half point. 

T: Malty sweetness, caramel, caramelized brown sugar, golden raisins, oxidation, and alcohol. Actually, the alcohol is relatively strong. Bitterness steps in and gains strength on palate and drives finish, which is green and leafy. 

M: Medium-heavy body and medium-light carbonation. Kind of rubs palate the wrong way in that it is a little rough or gritty and warming. 

O: A very average American Barleywine at two years, Alaskan Barley Wine Ale will not be on my must-have list in the future. 

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Photo of maximum12
3.2/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to jtrockschalk & ThirstyHopHead for sending a bottle of this my way independently. My first encounter with Alaskan & I've been looking forward to it!

Brew is a nice deep rougue color, nice. Smell is a knockout flooding out of the bomber, fruity with overwhelming booze. I was surprised this weighed in only at 10.4% ABV - smells like a couple notches higher, at least!

Taste is a bit of a letdown. This tastes like an unfinished brew, something that might be really good in another year or two. Now, it's dominated by the alcohol, along with some rough bite & almost a roughage taste underneath (don't ask). Kind of like chewing on bark that's been soaked in raspberries or cherries for a few minutes. Not really digging it.

Mouthfeel is dark & flat, little head or evident carbonation. Split the bomber with my wife, & one 11 oz. serving will be plenty, thank you.

Decent beer. I'll let the other one rest in the basement until 2010-2011 & give it another whirl.

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Photo of Trappissed
3.28/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 Vintage on-tap at Toronado:

Kind of hard to describe the flavors in this one. Very malty, with large amounts of sweet candied prune juice and other dark fruits. Somewhat boozy, but not bad for being 10.4%. Still, I would have to say it is on the cloying side. As far as American Barley Wines, this would be in the lower tier for myself.

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Photo of mactrail
3.33/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not much of a head but quite spritzy on the tongue to start. Dark ruby brown color in the Duvel tulip. Caramel in the nose with some spicy hops.

Big flavor and richness. Full and heavy mouthfeel. Lots of sweet malt. Fruity with a range of plums and burnt raisin toast. Plenty of roasted malt with a dark caramel taste. Hoppy notes assert with a moderately bitter aftertaste. Warming and hot after some sipping.

Overall, the flavor is a little flat and dull, but it's quite a mouthful. Label says it's the 2011 vintage in the 22 oz bottle.

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Photo of Traquairlover
3.38/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Colts9016 for this bottle.

22-oz bottle poured into snifters. 2008 Vintage. I must admit, I have the feeling I would enjoy this beer more after a couple years in the cellar but I haven't had it before so I think I should get a basis of comparison for when I do age some bottles.

A = Clear, dark red with fair light tan, orangish head that dissipates quickly into a think foam covering entire surface.

S = Bitter-sweet citrus smells of three fruit marmalade, some almost medicinal alcohol presence, orange swirl hot buns, tree bark, not as well balanced as I would like. Lots of hops presence but less distinctive malt profile than I was looking for.

T = The taste is much more balanced and creamy than I expected from the smell, but there continues to be a medicinal, rubbing alcohol quality that I do not much care for,also some tree bark and pine needles.

M = Luscious, creamy mouthfeel with very good mouthcoating.

D = I actually had trouble finishing this. It's not bad, I just thought it would have been better in a much smaller serving. I look forward to trying it again, but maybe after it has been in the cellar for 2 or 3 years to take the edge off of it.

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Photo of Trilogy31
3.38/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle that pours a deep mahagony with a finger of foam that leaves viscous lacing. The nose and taste mirror each other with booze soaked prune, bourbon vanilla notes as well as toffee and slight sherried rancio notes. The taste is very hot and comes across as being pretty astringent. I did not find this to be an all too easy drinking barley wine.

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Photo of SaucyA
3.38/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


A - BIG Sniftered the whole bottle at once. Pours an extremely dark brown with ruby edges. The head is a half finger of thick, tan foam. Good lacing. Nothing amazing in the looks department.

S - Big, floral hops with citric notes on the back end. Also a notable caramel smell comes in and out. Slight booze, which grows more as you consume it. The snifter is amplifying the fusels... Again, nothing standout but nothing particularly off.

T - Relatively sweet up front and even on the back. Very little hop bitterness makes this less exciting than the smell gives off. Big and boozy, it's definitely more malt driven, as obvious from the color. This is a little too cloying and fusel.

M - Thinner than I like in a barleywine, carbonation is a bit low. Wish it stuck around a little longer.

D - The alcohol and sweetness detract from the drinkability. I'll finish this, but quite slowly.

Notes: Either barleywines aren't my thing right now, or I'm on a rash of not-so-good ones.

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Photo of kleffman
3.41/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this at South Bay Drugs, pretty excited to try it due to it's accolades at the Toronado Barleywine Fest, which hosts some incredible beers.

Pours clear dark reddish brown with a head that settled down pretty quickly. Aroma started off with a slight hop but I immediately got some green apple scent. Upon tasting I couldn't get past the green apple, even with the malt and hop flavors trying to shine through. A bit of hot alcohol and strange medicinal qualities. I don't know, am I the only one that doesn't dig this beer? I think it's just too young and needs some time, and then it may be incredible. Not excited about it right now, and in fact I couldn't finish mine.

I'll give it a shot again some time with some age on it.

edit: Had it on tap with some more age, better for sure. Still needs some time. Much less green apple flavor however.

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Photo of Nerudamann
3.43/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass.

Look – ruby tinged dark brown in color, with about half a finger’s worth of beige-colored foam that dissipates somewhat quickly.

Smell – fruity aroma, almost like grapejuice. A bit earthy in its presence.

Taste – fairly fruity in the initial taste as well. In the middle it becomes a little more mature in its taste. Bitterness from the hops arrives near the finish and lingers a bit in the aftertaste, which somehow seems to almost take your breath away.

Mouthfeel – surprisingly light and a little more toward the watery side than I would have expected from a barleywine. But even so, pretty well-balanced.

Overall – Not a bad-tasting brew at all! To be frank, it’s not the best barleywine I’ve ever had, but it’s still a pleasure to sample and think about.

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Photo of jgap
3.44/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a stone old guardian barleywine glass. It's a nice amber with very little head that leaves a small lace. Smell is brown sugar, caramel, slight pine, and amarillo hops. Taste is more like and engish barleywine than American. Strong malt base of sugary caramel. Very light hops for an 'American' barleywine but this leaves a void in the taste progression that the alcohol fills nicely. It's not too harsh though, no burn at all. I will admit that american barleywines like old guardian have destroyed my palate for well crafted, smooth beers like this.

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Photo of JDV
3.46/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours rich maroon with a slight hazed look and a thin beige head. Smell is very fresh with dark malty sweetness comin in along with balancing hops in the form of grassy and vegetal notes, almost. Taste is moderately sweet but not syrupy at all, and balanced by the grassy hop flavor and a touch of alcohol. Something in this beer seemed a bit odd to me, and once I got "vegetal" in my mind, I couldn't shake that and enjoy it as much.

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Photo of cofeeguru
3.47/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Having had several barley wines, I was excited to try this on tap. The aroma is sweet with a definite boozy note, a little stronger than the typical barley wine. The taste was very much the same, sweet, boozy, and a little lighter than others I've had. The alcohol was noticeable, as was the hoppy bitterness at the end. A tasty mid-range barley wine, but definitely not my favorite of the style. I'll have it again, though, as an inexpensive version of one of my favorite beer styles.

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Photo of broken22
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours out a reddish brown color with little to no head revealing there is little carbonation in this beer. The smell is like fruit sugars. I cannot smell any hops and it doesn't smell very malty either. I tend to smell alcohol notes in most barleywines I have had but I cannot smell any hear. The taste is very similar to the smell. I can taste the fruit like flavor. If I had to guess I would say it would be similar to a plum. I also taste a little bit of hops as well. The mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied and has little carbonation.

Overall this beer is fairly fine. I think this beer lives up to its American Barleywine style in all of its characteristics. If you're a fan of these styles of beers then you will enjoy this beer.

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Photo of Oxymoron
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Got to keep warm in Alaska! Pours a crystal clear amber color with some coppery hues through out. A soft white head with a bit of fizz but ok. Decent retention and limited lacing. Both did not last through the tasting.

The nose is malty sweet with a more sugary backing. Some minor caramel but really has a sugary candy aroma. There are noticeable phenolic with some fruity notes. Apricots, pears and sugar plums. Some lighter Belgian notes, but could be off from the phenolics.

The taste is similar. Very sweet upfront and leaves a sugary finish. A sugary caramel almost like a caramel candy thing. Would like more depth, the malt is not very complex. Just like the nose, the phenols really come out. More of a tropical fruit mix, some grape, pineapples, pears and apricots are well present. Even fruity for Belgian standards. Other than that, the yeast is very clean. Some minor hop notes in the finish but hidden by the fruit.

The body is a bit light for a barleywine. Odd with the sugary over & undertones. Would like more complexity on this. It should age well, I hope, but fresh this is a bit disappointing. Would like less sugar/phenols and more of a malt presence.

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Photo of kdahnke123
3.54/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2013 Bottling poured into a snifter at cellar temperature
A - Pours a deep amber color with a single finger of quickly dissipating beige head.
S - Very hoppy on the nose with a small amount of malt in the background. The hops have a slight sour note to them.
T - Bitter up front with a malty middle and a crisp dry finish.
M - Moderately mouth coating with a medium amount of carbonation.
O - A very hop heavy barley wine. More of a double IPA than a barley wine. If you like over the top Northwest style IPAs then this is for you. If you like English style barley wines avoid this one.

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Photo of corby112
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

09 vintage generously shared by shadowane. Thanks again Rich!

Pours a dark ruby/plum color with mahogany edges and one finger off white head that quickly settles into a thin ring.   Spotty lacing left behind.

Musty, earthy aroma with leathery malt, spicy rye, toffee, caramel and dark fruit.   Also picking up some subtle piney hops.

Medium bodied and still surprisingly hoppy with resinous, bitter and dry piny hops.  This is countered by a prominent earthy malt character. Leathery and slightly boozy with caramel, toffee and faint dark fruit notes.  Malt becomes more prominent as it warns.  Waves of sweet booze come and go and even though the abv is relatively well masked,  I get a strong ethanol rush in the finish.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage poured into a tulip glass. Pours a deep mahogany along a medium tan head that dissapates quickly. Aroma of sediments/yeast, alochol, and raisins. A somewhat alcoholic punch in the flavor but not too much, slight bitterness. Picked up some cherries, bread/dough, dark fruit in the taste. Medium-bodied. Bitter finish. Overall, a quite decent barley wine, but not as mind blowing as I'd hoped it to be (such as the ratings indicate). I'd be open to trying out a fresher version in the near future.

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Photo of misinformed
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 2/5/11, 2010 vintage, tulip glass.

A- Dark cherry mahogany color, but opaque without any light behind it. 1/2" tan head that faded quickly to a ring.

S- Faint. Fruity, sugary sweet malt, hints of alcohol.

T- Sweet fruity apple/citrus notes upfront. Tons of malt flavors. Roasted grain, sweet caramel, sweet burnt toffee, and some hints of coffee. Some bitter hops in the finish.

M- Medium bodied. Smooth, not syrupy. Very light carbonation and no heat.

D- Overall a little to sugary sweet for my liking, but not cloying or unbalanced by any means. Weak nose, but it has a smooth flavor profile that is nicely balanced.

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Photo of ccrida
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2007 vintage, 22oz bottle into a nonic, Alaskan Barley Wine is a clear, dark ruby with a tight, medium sized tan head that leaves moderately heavy lace. Served at cellar temp, but pretty fresh off the shelf.

Smell is very strong and rich, sweet and fruity, cherries and brown sugar, with a punch of pure rubbing alcohol, which strengthens as it warms.

Taste is fruity, sugar, caramel malt and alcohol, a touch nutty, strong but fairly well balanced. A solvent like, medicinal tang begins to wear a bit on the palate midway through the bottle, though by the end it's nothing but enjoyment.

Mouthfeel is on the thick and syrupy side.

Drinkability is a bit below average right now. A nice barelywine, but something about it was just a bit to thick and heavy-handed to really pick up much steam - this bomber was a good 2.5-3 hr affair! Still, there's enough potential that I'm gonna have to cellar a few and see how long I can hold out.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. bomber, 2008 Vintage,

A: Pours brown with a medium off-white head. Average head retention. Some lacing.

S: Notes of fig and dark fruit, sweet smelling. Burst of piney hops.

T: Definitely on sweet side of ABA's, the knockdown jolt of hops is not really there. Big malt notes, molasses, prune, fermented cane sugar. Hops are evident, and give a passing balance to the malt. Ethyl alcohol present, maybe a little too much so, but this is a barleywine.

M: Quite good, full-bodied and rich. Ethanol is evident, smooth, solventy feel.

D: An interesting barleywine from Alaskan. Needs a bit of age on it right now. Not entirely what I was expecting. 22 oz. is a lot to drink of this style, I'd probably buy it again if I could get 12. Worth a shot if you see it.

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 613 ratings.
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