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

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)
618 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 618 |  Reviews: 298
Photo of abc3
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow, this beer is Amazing!

Thin brown head dissolves into dark caramel color, which carries into both the beer's smell and taste. The alcohol adds complexity without overdoing it. Certainly a sipping beer, buying an entire 5 gallon keg of this will get 2010 off to a great start!

Those guys at Alaskan know what they are doing!

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Oh man, this is a deep, rich, mahogony color with light ruby highlights. Very nice. It has a one-finger head of light brown/dark tan colored foam. The retention is good, but the lacing is abundant and fairly sticky.

The nose is filled with big notes of rich caramel malts. There are lots of dark fruit notes, which are dominated by cherries. A good presence of yeast and some nice brown sugar notes. Light hints of treacle. Hops presence is light, in the nose.

This is a nicely rich brew that follows the nose very well. It has big caramel malt notes and some nice brown sugar hints. Maraschino cherries, black cherries, dates and a touch of figs are all detected in this one. A light hint of anise. There is a good, lightly bready, yeastiness. It finishes with a nice kiss of hops.

This one has a medium body and a light-to-medium level of carbonation. Personally, I think that it would benefit positively from a touch more bubbles. It is definitely smooth enough to be enjoyable, but would be even better with a touch more creaminess.
Overall, I find it to be a tad light, as far as barleywines go.

This is a 10.40%abv beer that drinks like it's a 6.0%abv beer. It doesn't seem anywhere near as big as it is. As a result, I find this one to be very drinkable. Also, while it certainly does have a good amount of sweetness to it, it is also very nicely balanced and not cloying, at all.

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Photo of portia99
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle (2008 version) received as an extra in a trade with knifestyles. Thanks! Poured into a Portsmouth goblet.

A - Pours a dark, dirty, yeasty brown with reddish highlights. A half finger of medium bubbled cream colored foam. Head disappears quickly and only leaves behind a good sized collar and swirling wisps of bubbles on the surface. Spotty lacing down the sides of the glass.

S - Fruity, malty sweet with a good hit of alcohol. Caramelly, syrupy smelling...maybe a bit of anise in here too.

T - Rich, rich beer. Big, sweet caramel flavor, infused with a strong hit of alcohol. As it warms, some vanilla works it's way into the taste. Much like the aroma, there is a flavor there that is slightly cooling...not sure it's anise, but something close if it isn't. Sweet, but not at all cloying or sugary. Smell was syrupy, but this is not the case in the flavor. Much more balanced than I expected after the first smell. Just a touch of hoppiness (more as it warms) in the flavor. Bitterness isn't particularly noticeable, except for the fact that this barley wine is so well balanced. Really nice.

M - Thick and full bodied. Thick, but definitely not syrupy. Creamy in feel and somewhat viscous. Sits on the tongue for a while. Carbonation is low to any rate, seems to fit the beer really well. Excellent.

D - Alcohol in this one is pretty high at 10.4%...not at all hot, but definitely noticeable and is taking it's toll on me. Excellent balance for a barleywine - not overly hoppy or sweet. Quite enjoyable as a final beer for the evening before heading to bed...wish I had this thought in mind before having one so early. Very, very good barleywine...up there with the best of them.

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Photo of John_M
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The 2007 version. Many thanks to (Frank) AKBelgianbeast for gifting me with this beauty. This is definitely the sort of beer to share with friends.

The beer pours a reddish amber color with very good head retention and lacing. The nose in this beer is impressive, and shows a rich aroma of brown sugar, chocolate, green hops, caramel and vanilla. The beer smells rich and sweet, and tastes the same way. On the palate, this beer is just wonderful, and has a lightness on the palate that is wonderful and astonishing. Yet the beer has an impressive intensity of flavor, and is very, very full and long on the palate. The carbonation is fairly light in this beer, which adds to the smoothness and length. Alcohol is pretty well disguised, though you can tell it's up there. Finish is just about endless.

As one person mentioned at the tasting we had this at... there really is nothing whatsoever to detract from this beer. Very well done. Impressive.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
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 TheFlern
3.84/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany with very sparse caramel colored head that dissipated quickly.

Smell: Very much an aged malt presence. Hint of alcohol.

Taste: Nice and sweet. I've got to mention that I detect a fruitiness in this beer, maybe pears? Its a very good tasting beer overall.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thin feeling beer for a barley wine. Carbonation is just right. Very smooth finish with just a tad bite of alcohol. The malt lingers for quiet a while.

Drinkability: Definitely a winter beer here. Lots of ABV to keep you warm haha! Enjoyable but there are better barley wines on the market.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage.

Pours a dark brown color with a cream colored head. The beer pours very clear. A very sweet smelling beer with some piney hops in the aroma as well. Flavor is a mix of dark fruit with some hops and quite a bit of alcohol warming. A big beer that is definitely a sipper. Very drinkable for a beer of its strength, but not something you could have more than one of.

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Photo of nrbw23
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Deep reddish brown color with a light tan colored head. Head forms a layer of foam and leaves nice lacing.

S- Malt, piney hops, and vanilla.

T- Big malt followed by lots of hop spiciness, hints of vanilla. A bit of an alcohol bit in there.

M- Full bodied and low carbonation.

D- Very excellent brew here.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice half inch crema type of white head, leaves slow. Dark brown with a reddish tinge. TONS of cling lace.

S - Deepest vat of malt. Some booze to the nose, maybe a little spice.

T - Wonderful deep malt, held in check nicely by bittering, booze tinges the sides of the mouth and lets you know it is there, but it works together.

M - Creamy, medium body, lower but not low carb, just right. Good balance.

D - Big beer, but for the style, my kind of barelywine!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
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 Trappissed
3.28/5  rDev -21%
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 johnnnniee
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
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 gford217
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber, 2008 vintage, courtesy of wetpaperbag poured into a tulip.

Pours a deep, clear copper with a smallish creamy tan head that fades to a soapy cap along the top and leaves impressive lacing.

Sweet caramel malts and toffee dominate the aroma with a noticeable citrus hop presence. The alcohol is definitely in the nose as well.

The taste has the same big sweet caramel malt backbone with some sugar-coated fruits as well. The hops are most evident in the finish, where it's more floral than citrus with some pine resin coming through with the aforementioned alcohol presence which burns going down.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and extremely creamy with a minimal soft carbonation which all leads to a sticky sweet coating on the palate.

This is a well above-average barleywine that exhibits all the characteristics of a good BW without knocking me off my feet with any of them. The alcohol is a little more evident than I would like which, along with the sweetness, limits the drinkability a tad.

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Photo of SaucyA
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
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 barleywinefiend
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage

Poured a reddish brown with with a small white ehad and good carbonation. Nose is alcohol, chocolate and fruit evident. Taste is also complex with deep malt flavors of fig, chocolate, leather, smoke and other dark ripened fruits. Pretty good barleywine all around.

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Photo of shivtim
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Had the 2008 vintage in summer 2009. Tried this for free right from the bottle at the brewery. I was impressed!

Clear but deep dark red. Rusty blood orange. Thin tan ring of a head. Looks great. Nose is sweet sugary lemon/lime, heavy sweet malts. Taste is a fantastic sugarcane malt and hop balance. Slightly spicy, malts linger. Gentle, fitting alcohol comes in at the end. Complex.

Mouthfeel is very full without being chewy. Good drinkability except for the ABV. This and the smoked porter are my favorites from Alaskan.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
2.76/5  rDev -33.5%
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 jjayjaye
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark ruby hued amber color with a full finger foamy light tan head that fades slowly to surface leaving spotty patterns of Belgian lacing behind. The smell is classic; substantial malty, sweet butterscotch caramel and hoppy high notes. The mouth feel is adequately carbonated, full bodied, creamy and tangy. Full flavored, the nose and tastes are similar and complimentary. A purebred sipper and really fine example of style. The 10.4% ABV is integrated as well as the best in style. Highly recommended.

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Photo of mikeale
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I did a side by side with the 07 and 08.

Served in two snifters.

A. 07: pours a dark ruby color tan head that fades in to a thin skim with nice lacing.

A. 08: pours the same color but smaller tighter bubbles form the head and nice lasing.

S. 07: dark fruits, caramel malt, more hops than I expected.

S. 08: caramel, raisins, faint grapefruit.

T. 07: citrus, honny soaked buickets, some alcohol,

T. 08: caramel malt, grapefruit, some pine, faint rosted malt twoards the end.

M. 07: sweet, citrus, well balanced carbonation, creamy, qutie a bit thinner than I had expected.

M. 08: I can tell that this is fressher. much of the same flavors but a little less balanced. Still thinner than I'd like.

Both of the Alaskan Barley Wines that I sampled had very long enjoyable finishes.

D. 07: Well balanced for 10.4%.

D. 08: A little rough around the edges.
I'm feeling ths alochol warming me as I type this review.

I prefered the 07 by far! I would age this for at least 2 years.

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Photo of MaggieReed
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a nice red-brown with a very foamy head
S- Complex and hard to piece together to be honest, some fruit esters and something very earthy- smelled very good- this description does not do it justice
T- Delicious, fruity, crisp alcohol bite
M- Love this- perfect carbonation- feels wonderfully thin and refreshing but not watered down
D- very drinkable, even for the style which many find to be a bit harsh. I would recommend this to even a non-beer drinker.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at the west coast brewfest...had two samples of this, and they were big so I decided to review it. Poured a brown chocolate color with a nice 1/4 inch light brown head. Laces slowly and mostly clear...nice legs. Smells of sweet malt, ethanol and caramel. Strong alcohol and fruit malt flavor. Cherries, sweet barley malt, ethanol and a hoppy bitterness that doesn;t overwhelm the palate. Full bodied, but not heavy or syrupy. Drinks well, fruit flavors come forward as it warms, which I like.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, no bs 4!. 2008 release

catching up on "the wire"

appearance: perfect. poured into a hopleaf tulip, bright garnet body, glows with ambition, perfect off-white cap with thick retention.

smell: bright floral hops, tropical fruit, caramel malt, sticky pine, pungent citrus. wonderful aroma

taste: bright pungent hop-wine, tropical fruit, berry, grapefruit peel, sticky pine resin, sweet caramel malt, molasses. This barleywine is awesome - i'd drink it fresh

mouthfeel: sticky pine hops, stays under "full body" status which plays in its favor. nice bitter kick with a moderate alcohol sensation

drinkability: par for the style

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Photo of rhinos00
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a wine glass.

A- Pours a beautiful blood red with a semi-clear character. Gentle pour reveals a fingers width of off-white head.

S- I could just smell this beer over and over. Big whiffs reveal a potent aroma filled with plenty of dark fruit, candied malt, sugar and a little bit of hops.

T- Upfront raisins and sugared malts are pretty prevalent. Midway through, a more sugar sweet flavor kicks in accompanied by slight hop finish.

M- Medium bodied. Wish it was a little more viscous.

D- Alcohol not present at all. Great taste and enough complexity to keep you interested.

Overall, a solid barleywine. I was happy that the hops were pretty faded. Not the most complex of barleywines but not much to complain about. This beer improved tremendously as it warmed up. The only knock I have was that I wished the mouthfeel was a little thicker.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 edition, bought from Wilbur's in Ft. Collins a while ago, not sure on price.

A: Somewhat cloudy deep red/mahogany brown, excellent color, no head, a few bubbles of a cream colored head, pretty fair lacing considering the lack of a head. Excellent looking beer.

S: Roasty, lots of caramel malt, a bit of molasses, this is a huge beer, I can tell right away from the aroma. A slight hint of booze, can't really pull any hops out of the nose. Smells like a real malt bomb. Had a faint bourbon note to it when I first opened it.

T: Follows the nose nicely, with a bit more on the roasty end of it, almost coffee like with a roasted bitterness, lots of roasted barley, big caramel feel. Slight bourbon aspect as well. Really a tasty beer. Alcohol is definitely there too. Interesting. A pretty heavy pine hop flavor, but it is way in the back. Some molasses as well. Nice beer.

M: Pretty warm from the booze, but also really dry, interesting in the mouth, a little thicker than I had expected. Big beer. Pretty nice carbonation as well.

D: Although the alcohol isn't as well hidden as other barleywines this one hits all the notes right on. I'm quite impressed with this beer. I'd recommend it. Most definitely.

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle, poured in a big wine glass at 55 F/ 13 C.

Deep, striking red-brown color, clear but with particles of sediment in suspension to catch the light and scintillate nicely. Small frothy dark beige head. Shapely, finely textured lace.

Mellow, deep aroma of earthy malt. Caramel, honey, earth, mild herbacious tobacco, some citrusy hops, and hints of butter and bubblegum.

The taste is a good deal more intense than the aroma, but quite smooth. Dark fruity caramel malt and citrusy hops - orange and grapefruit - up front, then deeper malty notes like tobacco and singed honey come in, then finally a bit of a spicy burn in the throat and some Campariesque citrus rind bitterness lingering gently in the jawbone. Cohesive, the hops and malt are happily married. Good balance, the sweetness is persistent but never at all overbearing. Nice long finish, spicy earthy malt.

Cushy, moderately viscous texture, just the right number of nice tiny bubbles. A real pleasure to drink, this disappears from the glass way too fast.

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 618 ratings