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

BA SCORE
91
outstanding
614 Ratings
Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
alaskanbeer.com

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.

BEER STATS
Ratings:
614
Reviews:
297
Avg:
4.12
pDev:
9.47%
 
 
Wants:
142
Gots:
154
For Trade:
10
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 614 |  Reviews: 297
Photo of caninedevotion
5/5  rDev +21.4%

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

I got the last bottle of this at one of the liquor stores in Haines and I was very happy to find it. This is of the 2010 vintage.

The beer emerges from the bottle a dark mahogany color with just a slight medium khaki-colored head. The body is just dark enough to not be able to see through it.

This Barley Wine has a very heavy, musty aroma of caramel, brown sugar, cereal grains, and figs. There is a slightly spicy aroma, maybe a little clove and cinnamon. A little alcoholic heat is present, too, but not overly much.

The taste is heavy on the decadent caramel and brown sugar flavors. Also, a sizzle of booziness is present on the sides of my mouth. Some fruit flavors emerge as the beer warms a bit, some dried cherry and fig. The finish might have a tiny bit of hop dryness, but I might be mistaking that for some acidic booze taste at the end.

A big and rich feel lands on my palate. This is a very coating, full-bodied beer. The feel is a little cloying and might go a little toward the overly sticky at the end of each sip. There is quite a boozy sizzle at the conclusion of the sip, too.

This is a very solid, tasty barley wine. I don't think it's one of the better ones that I've had, but it certainly was worth trying. Another solid Alaskan offering.

 1,271 characters

Photo of tony223366
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage

A: Deep reddish brown with a tan dense head. About one finger. Quickly turns to just a layer.

S: Mostly caramel malts and some dark fruits. Even after one year there still is a nice hop presence.

T: Really rich caramel flavors. The alcohol is surprisingly subdued. Extremely nice malt backbone. Hops aren't as present as in the nose. Nice lingering flavors.

M: Really great body and nice carbonation. Smooth and viscous. Creamy.

O: Really tasty. I didn't find it nearly as hot as some others have. Oh so rich and a great way to end the night.

 560 characters

Photo of waltersrj
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage

Pour: Murky, reddish tinted brown cola body with a slightly bubbly, slightly soapy tan head that sticks like a ring around the glass.

Nose: Rich toffee, caramel, figs, raisin, brown sugar, slight citrus hops, slight orange, and even vanilla.

Taste: Rich toffee, slight cardboard oxidation that is reminiscent of a good sherry, fig, raisin, slight citrus orange, and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Inbetween watery and viscous, perfect for the style and makes it an easy drinker with the moderate carbonation. No legs, no lacing.

Overall: A pretty great barleywine for aging and also one that's pretty easy to get during the winter. Thanks for the great brew Alaskan!

 674 characters

Photo of Hojaminbag
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage.

Alaskan Barleywine has a dark brown body with orange highlights. Considering the age on this beer, the head is surprisingly tall and healthy-looking, as is the lacing.

The aroma is complex and enjoyable. Caramel malt, some chocolate, bits of brandy like scents, and even some citrus-flavored hops, which is a surprise after 1-2 years in the bottle.

I can't imagine this one was any better fresh, as this bottle is awesome right now. The malt profile is complex and tasty, bringing loads of caramel, some sweetness, toffee, and a good brandy flavor as well. The flavor is full, deep, and satisfying. The ale yeast is quite fruity in a generic, yet positive, way. Surprisingly, there is still a little bit of hop flavor floating around in this one, bringing a just a thimble-full of bitterness and some citrus flavors. The finish has bite of warmth to it, but no alcohol flavor. The warmth is actually rather pleasant, as it isn't overpowering in a burn-my-nose hair sort of way.

Full, smooth body with a nice amount of carbonation. Just as the appearance of this one suggested, the carbonation levels are fine.

I bought this beer in Portland, OR and drove it South to San Francisco, CA. From there I flew it to Pittsburgh, PA. From Pittsburgh, it road in my trunk to Ithaca, NY, where myself and another friend finally drank it a month or two later. This beer was worth it. Given the chance, I would probably buy a few bottles of this. Also, my guess is that this has at least another year of aging left in it.

 1,529 characters

Photo of Phelps
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage, poured into a snifter.

Muddy red-brown. One finger of creamy tan head evaporates pretty quickly, leaving sticky columns of lace.

Really opens up as it warms. Burnt sugar, maple, sun-aged oranges, toasty bread, minty hops, alcohol. Sweet, sugary and delicious.

Impressively toasty. Dates, caramel, mint, overripe orange and cocoa. There’s a touch of alcohol complexity that almost makes the beer seem as if it were barrel-aged, though I know it’s not. Finishes with just a bit of dryness. Age has done nice things here.

Bubbles poke the tongue gently as the creamy body moves about. Viscous and medium-full. Some heat comes through the mouth and nose, but nowhere near what 10.4 percent ABV should impart. Color me impressed.

While it tastes great now, Alaskan’s Barleywine has a few flavors I find a lot in lesser barleywines. I don’t think I’d enjoy it fresh. At three years, however, it displays incredible smoothness. Good stuff.

 964 characters

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.

 925 characters

Photo of Offa
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very deep red, small-med tan head steadily shrinks to foamy ring.

Aroma is wine, prunes, chocolate, hint of banana bread, rich brown bread, orange marmalade, hint of old, wet leaves – overall, wonderful.

Taste has some great flavour but a little too hot and alcoholic, throwing off the balance and interfering with the character too much. It has strong port-soaked gingerbread with whisky, spicy fruit, some dryer toasty dark bread in the finish, some faint woody-leafiness esp. in the finish and aftertaste and some candied, whisky-soaked dried fruit. It has a nice full feel, frothy and creamy rather than quite being oily.

 629 characters

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. 

 1,054 characters

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not bad to look at. Amber and hazy with a pretty good head and decent lacing.

Dark fruits, malty caramel, and a notable sweetness dominate the scent.

Taste wise it's an oh so typical barleywine goodness sensation, with a bit of a twist. There's an almost jolly rancher like candy sweetness to it. Barley and pungent caramel malts make their presence known in standard barleywine fashion. Spices and an earthy brown sugar presence accent nicely. Tasty stuff.

Body is pretty full, with a sweet aftertaste.

Overall it's a very nice example of the style, and certainly something you should try if you like barleywines.

 619 characters

Photo of CruisaC
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 version, poured into my New Belgium globe

Pours a dark cola with a khaki head. Similar to other quality BWs I've had the pleasure of drinking.

sweet smelling, some malts and bread, slight raisins. Was hoping for a little more here.

Taste is very malt forward obviously. Nothing stands out to me but at it's most basic it tastes 'good'. Some sweetness on the back end with a touch of raisins.

Mouthfeel may be the best part of this brew. Smooth, velvety with ample carbonation. Hangs around on the mouth. Would provide an excellent vehicle for more complex flavor profile. -bal aging this one, anyone?

Overall solid, not standout, but quality. I have a 2008 that will be interesting to compare this to.

 712 characters

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.

 355 characters

Photo of ropatch24
4.84/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Stumbled upon a 2008 bottle in my local bottle shop.

Pours a nice coppery color with lots of floaters. This smells extremely malty, and sweet like burnt sugar.

Wow this is such a phenomenal barley wine. I am getting such a balanced brown sugary taste, nice malts with a smooth finish, some caramel notes, and a delicious lingering sweetness. When I open a barley wine, this is what I want it to taste like...what a gem!

 423 characters

Photo of nickd717
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review dated 1/27/2009. 2008 vintage, on tap at City Beer Store in SF.

Deep reddish amber color with creamy off-white head. Sweet caramel malt, brown sugar, citrus, and Nugget hop bitterness. I’m a sucker for Nugget hops. Aroma more or less matches the flavor. Some alcohol warmth going down. Nice full mouthfeel.

 316 characters

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.

 743 characters

Photo of UMNbeerhunter
3.97/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter from tap on 5/19/11 at Pracna on Main. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice deep reddish amber with little head that leaves no lacing.

Smell is lots of fruit, with sour and tart aromas. Nice sweet backbone. Very balanced but somewhat subdued.

Taste Very sweet malt with lots of berry flavor. Roasted malts on the after taste. Well balanced but I would like to have some more carmel flavor to bridge the roasted malt and fruit.

Mouthfeel is light-medium in weight, resin leaves a fruity flavor on the tongue and lips.

Overall its a solid beer but it needs some more head and lacing. Taste also falls a little short but still good. Needs a more dominating flavor from some aspect.

 702 characters

Photo of wnh
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, consumed 5/27/2011. 22 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

Pours a clear mahogany topped by a frothy, slightly creamy light tan head.

Nose is rich, packed and dense. Rich toffee up front, candied mixed fruit, a faint note of roast, cocoa powder, candied citrus zest, a bit of 'green' from the hops. Inviting and promising.

Follows through on the palate. Still rich and dense, but a fair bit mellower than expected. Considerably hoppier than the nose indicates, with a good bit of lasting bitterness. Candied notes aren't to be found. A bit raw on the whole. Tacky with a walnut note on the finish. Tastes a bit like it's been partially aged in oak.

Full bodied, soft-ish but with a bit of firmness. Somewhat sticky and lingering. Nice.

 749 characters

Photo of beergod1
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been holding on to this for a while, Vintage 2009. Poured a clear copper color with an off-white head. a touch of Alcohol on the nose... along with a strong malt presence. Mild sweetness with dark fruit. Mild Brown sugar notes. The flavor was malty, Doughy and sweet. Piny hop middle to the finish. Moderate bitterness with some warmth in the throat.

 350 characters

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

This is a bottle of 2010 vintage sampled well into 2011.
This seems to walk the line between an English and an American barley wine. The color and syrupy, rich malt nature of this beer seems English; the high hops presence seem like they are set on this side of the pond, although this beer is from the edge of the next pond. Dark brown and maroon body, good head fades to nothing. This really seems like a hybrid of two substyles. A well made beer doing its own thing. What can I say? It's a very nice beer, not the best of the best, but a worthy souvenir to bring back from the great white north.

 598 characters

Photo of ebrauser
3.71/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a clear, dark mahogany with a very thin beige head. Small amounts of carbonation visible.

Smell: thick malty sweetness, lots of molasses and a touch of honey

Flavor: Big malt sweetness with some very bitter hop notes. Small hints of lemon and grassy hop oils. Flavor isn't overly syrupy or sweet. Bitterness in the finish moves to a very nice warming consistency. Slight burning/astringency accompanies the malt notes.

MF: thick and full-bodied with some syrupy aspects but does not exactly feel overly full.

 531 characters

Photo of ehammond1
3.96/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Clear and dark reddish brown. Very thin off-white cap. Some lacing down the glass.

Sweet and somewhat syrupy aroma along with some sweet fruits. Some warm booze as well.

Bitter and sweet, dark caramel along with sweet and dark fruits, perhaps cherries. Intense flavors.

Smooth, even velvetty mouthfeel. Very nice, especially for a beer this big.

A good, relatively simple, and sweet barleywine. A pleasure.

 460 characters

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage poured into a snifter.

A Pours a deep mahogany color with a thin head but what looks like a good bit of lacing. A very good looking beer.

S very sweet smelling malty nose. There are notes of caramel, booze, and a fruity port note. If this was a hoppy beer when young it isn't now.

T Very boozy you know that it is over 10%. Aside from the almost overpowering alcohol you get notes of raisins, port, and caramel with a hint of brown sugar. Again if there were hops they have long since dissipated.

M thick and syrupy with not much carbonation.

Overall this is a pretty good barley wine. It is an enjoyable beer to spend an evening sipping on. The only downside is the strength of the alcohol in the taste. Very strong and overwhelms what seems to be a subtle complex malt profile.

 799 characters

Photo of claspada
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2007 and 2008 bottles thanks to my new best friend HimerMan.

Both pour a thick and deep burnt mahogany color that produced a light tan head with nice lacing left behind.

Aromas are also virtually identical begin with a ton of caramel, fig and toffee. Waves of rich maltiness. Can something smell thick, because this does. No hop profile what-so-ever, but with 2-3 years of age on each respectively, it makes sense.

The tastes begin just like the nose with a boat @$$ ton of dark caramelized malts and waves of brown sugar and toffee. The 08 has a nice extremely light earthy hop flavor which has held the test of time surprisingly. The 07 has none remains, just waves and waves of sweet malty goodness. No alcohol what-so-ever and the flavor profile is just decadent on both.

The mouthfeel is mellow with balanced carbonation; finishes quite full and rich and thick, but very smooth with little bitterness on the 08 version and a nice slightly sweeter finish on the 07. Dangerously delicious and extremely pleasant on the tongue.

Overall, I am thinking that Alaska makes the best barleywines on the planet because after these two and Arctic Devil, which I had a month back, why drink anything else. Two-plus and three-plus years of aging on each of these has done them beer no injustices, they are both amazing. Lovers of this style must seek out and sample this beer. I am glad I have more aged versions and a fresh 2010 to compare in the near future to compare and contrast. Both 07 and 08 are amazing and while they aren't tremendously different they are unique enough to appreciate why it is important and worth while to age some beers.

 1,648 characters

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.

 704 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in a trade from JohnGalt1 several months ago. 2008 edition.

Pours a beautiful garnet color with a one-finger head into my glass.

Sweet malt with plum, raisin and mellow amount of alcohol heat in the nose. Doesn't hit you over the head with alcohol heat.

Surprisingly mellow for the fact that it's a 3 year old vintage. Lots of plum and molasses flavor with only a whisper of alcohol. Though it saying so is discouraged, this is one smooth beer.

Only fleeting plum and molasses linger at the back of the throat. Perhaps a bit of hop grassiness but otherwise, not much else to report.

Very nice vintage! I'd love to compare it to a fresh version, perhaps in another trade.

 685 characters

Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 614 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More