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 Sammy
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark with nice bubbly head. Great for a young barleywine, with fruit, citrus and lots of barley in the aroma, and lots of barley, some toast, and citrus in the taste. Above-average mouthfeel.Rich, caramel secondary support. Good satisfying aftertaste.

Had lateral 2.5 years later, and 2009 was superior to 2008, and that was my upgrade.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.96/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: no head on a murky brown and maroon body. No lacing really.

S: red grapes, red apple, caramel malt, toasted malts

T: breads, oak, caramel, booze are not as strong as I expected but definitely noticeable. Some plum and raisin for dark fruits. Additional notes of milk chocolate, toffee and vanilla.

M: medium body, clean and light to moderate carbonation.

Overall: I like the drinkability, it's flavorful and definitely becomes more drinkable as it is enjoyed. Not too much in the way of hops, with only mild complexity.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours a murky reddish iced tea color with a 2 inch beige head that fades to a small cap. Nice distinct rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smells of dark fruits, bready malt, and citrus zest. Taste is of sweet bready malt, brown sugar/caramel, and fresh citrus zest/pine. Mild hop bitterness on the palate after each sip quickly dissipates. A lower level of carbonation makes for a smooth and sticky mouthfeel. A bit of alcohol warmth in the back of the throat with each sip. Overall, this is a good barleywine that I can only imagine will get better with age. I have another one of these aging in my cellar and I am curious to see how this beer develops in a few years.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this in a trade last November or December. Can't remember exactly who it was that sent me this beer, when I find out I'll edit this review.

This beer isn't exactly aged at this point as its only 6 months old but it does taste somewhat aged.

The beer pours a nice red/brown color. Plenty clear and has a nice fluffy white head that lasts a while. Not much lacing.

The smell is malty and seemingly bitter but there isn't much hop aroma. That aspect of it reminded me of bigfoot a little bit but not quite as sweet.

The flavor iss along the same lines. Quite malty and bitter but not hoppy. Very much along the American Barleywine guidelines. This beer at 6 months old tastes like it is 2 years old. There is a slight note of potential oxidation and the malt seems to have matured a bit. Overall it is a typical but nice american barleywine.

The body is heavy and sugary. It has the right amount of CO2 and a healthy amount of bitterness if your into that. It is very much to style which I like. Its nice to see a brewery do something the way it was meant to be done rather than trying to make the most extreme example out there.

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Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 version; tasted at Brouwer's Barleywine Fest 2009

Appearance: Arrives with a clear medium amber color and a foamy head that retains and laces nicely

Smell: Good barleywine aromatics of caramel and citrus

Taste: Grapefruity from the get-go, with caramel and tobacco underneath; after the swallow, the flavors come together in an extraordinarily balanced fashion

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: This beer won first place in the tasting and it is easy to see why; great citrus flavor and nicely balanced by the sweet malt

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep coper color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light citrus hops with some sweet malt. Taste is also dominated by sweet malt with some light dry fruit and a dry bitter and citrusy finish courtesy of some West Coast hops. Body was about average for the style with some good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well made and even though I prefer my barleywine with some limited hops I thought this example was very well balanced and it is definitively one that I would like to try again.

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Photo of zeff80
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Edition

A - Poured a clear, burgundy color with golden highlights. It had a sudsy, foamy head of off-white, bubbles. Good retention and some sticky lace.

S - It smelled of floral notes, a touch of pine and rich maltiness.

T - Delicious roasted maltiness with toffee and caramel. There was subtle piney bitterness that added balance to a sweet brew. It was not excessively sweet like some barleywines can be.

M - Thick and a little chewy with a big body. It finishes dry with an alcohol warmth.

O - This is a very good barleywine. A treat to have on tap.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage generously shared by bmanning. Served in a Cantillon tulip.

Pours a reddish-amber with a thin white head that sticks around for a bit before fading into a thin collar. A few spots of lacing on the edge of the glass. The nose exhibits a great deal of fruity complexity along with some caramel, light booze, and brown sugar. The taste is quite captivating, with layers of brown sugar and fruits intermingling. Good light cherry presence and a bit of a date character as well. Mouthfeel is really, really rich and creamy with a good slightly-boozy finish. Really drinkable. This has aged gracefully.

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Photo of nickfl
3.89/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours with a small head of off white foam on top of a hazy, amber brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves little lace.

S - A complex combination of dark sugar, faded pine hops, and caramel malt.

T - Sweet caramel and molasses up front. Some pine and clove in the middle with a finish of mustardy hops and brown sugar.

M - Medium thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Not bad, it clearly has some age on it and smells quite nice. The flavor isn't quite as well developed with a sweetness that isn't quite balanced by what reminds of the hops.

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Photo of oberon
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 bottle.Poured into an impy pint glass a cherry infused bronse with a large flufy off white head,it really took its time settling.Fruit cake malt aromas,dark fruit with slight nuttiness,quite toasty.Malt driven cakey flavors,some dark fruit and sweetish dough flavors hide the alcohol in check pretty well.Its chewey but the alcohol is not a monster,a real nice sipper tonight.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 release acquired from fogdog courtesy of Secret Bunny ’09 so a big Thank You goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a short beige head that fades quickly and leaves a thin on the glass.

S: The aroma contains brown sugar, dark fruit, caramelized malts and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar and dark fruit. Then a hearty malt character comes in along with a mild alcohol sting considering the 10.40% ABV. The hops presence is subdued but complementary and provides a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth, a little crisp and a bit viscous, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a very nice strong sipper beer worth drinking for a while.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: bottle share at Beermongers, Portland, OR
'07 vintage, had in Dec. '11, courtesy of writerLJberg. Thanks!

Poured a somewhat cloudy reddish brown with a wispy off-white head. Aroma of dark dried fruits, caramel, and promises of alcohol., we're talking some extreme raisin character in this beer, probably more pronounced than any other beer I've had, possibly even Raison d'Extra. Aftershocks of sweet caramel, booze, light dashes of brown sugar, hints of wood and leafy hops. Intensely flavorful, but pretty well-mellowed by aging for 4+ years. Very enjoyable selection.

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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 ChainGangGuy
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark reddish-brown body with a thin, wispy, off-white head.

Smell: Fruity, dark caramel aroma with notes of sap-covered wood and spice.

Taste: Blend of dark fruits (plums, raisins) and dark caramel with a moderate amount of sweetness. Touch of wood and yeasty spiciness. Restrained hop bitterness. There's some brash booziness in the finish, but nothing a little time in the cellar can't cure.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation. Warming alcohol presence.

Drinkability: A fine barleywine at the moment that should age quite nicely and only improve with time away in the cellar.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage. Black cherry with burnt orange accents. Garnet and topaz works as well, since the beer has a gemstone-like glow with sunshine behind the glass. The impressive looking crown resembles brown sugar mousse. Given the double-digit ABV, it's incredibly persistent and is doing a fantastic job laying down lace.

The nose is primarily caramel malty, with a good bit of fruity hoppiness. There must have been quite a few little green cones added initially for this big ale to still smell like this after two years in the bottle. Maybe the brewery knows what it's talking about when they say that it ages well 'for several years'.

Alaskan Barley Wine has, indeed, aged well. Some beer of this style has lost a significant amount at this point in its lifespan. This one has held on admirably, both from a flavor and a mouthfeel standpoint. Generous amounts of both malt and hops have to be the reason why. In fact, this 2007 should be able to go another year (at least) with no trouble at all.

Caramel-malted American barleywines are my favorites and seem to age much better than their pale-malted counterparts. The flavor profile is suprisingly complex and includes steely caramel-toffee, dark chocolate, a brandy-like fruitiness, bitter tea leaves and orange peel. The alcohol adds a tremendous amount of power, while staying well short of boozy.

This is the biggest ABC beer in terms of ABV. It's also, by a long shot, the biggest in terms of mouthfeel. It's easily medium-full, is molten glassy smooth and has a lingering sappy stickiness. That's what a mega-ton of malt sugars and perfect carbonation will get you.

Even though Alaskan Barley Wine Ale isn't as good as Midnight Sun Arctic Devil, nothing not named Old Ruffian is either. This is a fantastic big beer that ages with the best of them. If you have the opportunity, buy multiple bottles. That's what I plan to do.

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Photo of billab914
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my CBS snifter. It poured a darker brown color with a thin, sticky head to it. Decent amount of lacing on the glass for the small amount of head though. Nice looking color for the style as well.

The aroma shows some very nice and rich malty flavors to it. Dark fruits with some notes of cherry come out along with some rich caramel and toffee flavors. I get a touch of chocolate to it as well. I get some residual resiny hop bitterness, but most of the hop flavors have faded. Really nice aroma to it overall for the style.

The taste follows with more of the dark cherry fruits to it throughout. The finish is where more of the caramel and slight chocolate come out. Enough hop bitterness is there to help give it some balance but the hop flavors have pretty much faded at this point. It really comes together well and I think it aged wonderfully.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being a little below average. Overall, it was a really good beer. It had a lot of rich and bold flavors to it but managed to stay pretty well balanced for the style. I really liked the way it aged as well. Great beer to sip on this evening.

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Photo of russpowell
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My last review for at least a month, moving..

2008 batch pours chestnut with a finger of tan fluffy head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit & a bit of booze & raisins, fades a bit as this warms

T: Rich toffee, dryness, & leafy hops up front. Some cakeyness & caramel as this warms, plus figs & a bit of booze warmth. Finishes dry, with a mix of toffee, a hint of smokey booze, almost gsve this a 5.0

MF: Pretty rich, low, but noticeable carbonation. superb balance

Drinks really easy for the style & abv, does skews a bit towards the English style IMO. Great barley wine, won't satisfy most hopheads I'm guessing...

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The pour was very nice, rich with a good dark caramel color and lots of silky and foamy white lace around the top. Nice touches of wispy side glass lace and just the slightest bit of side glass lace around the edges.

The aroma was very malty, which surprised me a bit in the beginning, but I really kind of learned to enjoy it. Some light fruit notes sitting there in the back with a decent amount of grain as well. Hints of hops dancing around, more pine resin like then anything else. The flavor was a bit odd, but I have to admit still more then decent. Nice notes of piney hops, dark resin, fruit with a leaning toward figs and some nice bready malts. As it warmed some hints of spices coming through now as well, almost peppery at the finish. Decent medium Mouthfeel and really nice carbonation were a good side distraction, and a smooth sipper for the percentage is always a welcome sight.

Overall have to say this one was not bad at all, really a tight little barley wine here. Almost an old ale, but not quite, I could see myself having this one again in the near future.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to johnmichaelsen for sharing this 2007 version, poured cellar temp into a sampler glass.

A - A dark copper w/ creamy head w/ nice clarity

S - the aroma has fruity esters, stone fruit w/ spiced hop notes and mild caramel malt/pine hop scents

M- A smooth malt feel w/ balance of hop bitterness and mild alcohol w/ subtle carbonation. plenty of residual sugar on the palate from the malt in the finish

T - A tasty blend of fruity and subtly sweet malt w/ mild yet slightly piney hops accenting, probably mellowed a bit since '07. The flavor is slightly candy-like w/ mild alcohol in the finish. The hops are there and stay on the palate w/ mild bitterness after the swallow. The fruitiness of the malt has a cherry-like note w/ mild woody accent

D - A fantastic barleywine w/ a little age and has an almost sherry-like tinge w/ 2 yrs on it much like an English barleywine. This is pretty easy to drink for the strength- a pleasure to taste.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From 09/01/15 notes. Thanks to Beerlawyer85 for sharing. 2013 vintage.

Pours a dark mahogany brown color with light brown head and low carbonation evident. Tons of caramel malts, toffee, sugar, toasted malts, some dark fruits, and some coconut. Medium body and low carbonation, super smooth and creamy. Great body.

Overall very good. Tons of caramel, would love to see it in a bourbon barley down the line.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Deep amber with burgundy notes. Small white head.

Smell - Grapefruit hop. Toffee with a touch of oxidation. Weird for such a young barleywine.

Taste - Less intense on the hops. Much more intense caramel with accompanying sweetness. Light raisin fruitiness. Hardly bitter in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy body. Medium carbonation. Sweet, but the hops balance it.

Overall - Very nice if unspectacular. Nice flavors that would probably get better with age.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.83/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage enjoyed 09/02/09

Pours a dark amber bordering on brown with ruby highlights and a big fluffy beige head that leaves lots of lace on the way down. Smells of citrus hops, caramel, toffee, alcohol, some dark fruit hidden in the back as well. Tastes of caramel up front, some dark fruits in there quickly before the hop bite hits which segues to a bit of alcohol burn and bitter hoppy aftertaste. Mouth is sticky and sweet, carbonation is moderate, the body is pretty thick. Its a good malty barleywine although still a little hot. If the alcohol tones done a bit this one would be great. Maybe in a year or two I might have the opportunity to revisit.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


Nice Barleywine. Good tones of sweet malts that aren't overdoing it. Does seem a little fresh and could use some age to mellow out the slight hot tone (and I do say slight). But I feel like that is applicable to so many barleywines since they are always released so soon after brewing. Easy to drink. I like it.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2009 bottle, poured into a large snifter glass. Thanks VERY kindly to colts9016 for the bottle!!!

A gorgeous dark cherry red that is clear and shows visible carbonation from the bottom. Small forming head that doesn't stick around much but keeps a small collar. The body color is just gorgeous looking.

Bouquet is a muted soft berry fruit, perhaps even figs, and malt. Hints of grape juice and dusty brown spices cinnamon for sure.

Taste is extremely wine bodied like with hints of carbonation, even some possible hop bitter. Wet a bit but like a medium bodied light pinot noir in texture. A great real malty finish, this feels like a solid aged barleywine even after only maybe two years. Slightly tea like in herb flavor aftertaste with soft tannins.

Great drinking, and I can sort of get an idea of how well this beer style gets with age now. Boy I am craving some stinky cheese or any good cheese to go with this right now.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Alaskan Barleywine, 10.7% ABV. Alaskan Brewing, Juneau, Alaska.

Dense, opaque, dark plum/ magenta hue, off-white cappucino-like head, leaving lace.

Aroma: Beautiful. Perfect. Lush, rich malt, overtones of dark fruit, cherries, blackberries, ripe plum. Cognac and port wine. Dark and dense, sweet and strong. Right on.

Taste: more of that and then some. Bursting at the seams and spilling over with malty goodness, oozing rich fruit and a tidy hop buzz. Plenty of alcohol phenols brimming over. There's some balance, but plenty of bombast, which is just want I look for in a barley-wine. Starts out big and burly, plump with deep dark fruit, then mellows out, but never without a fierce alcoholic kick. Boom, boom, boom, it comes a knocking'.

This one I call yum. One of the better put-together barleywines I've had in a while. Color me impressed.

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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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