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

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series)
616 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: 616 |  Reviews: 298
Photo of sinistermadman
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with crimson highlights and a slight head. Nice complex nose with alcohol, chocolate and fruit evident. Taste is also complex with deep malt flavors of fig, chocolate, leather, smoke and other dark ripened fruits. Rich but not cloying. Medium full with a smooth, luxurious mouthfeel. Slightly resinous. Alcohol is present, but does not detract from the drinkability. Well done sirs. Well done.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz from Liquid Solutions.. pricey for sure but don't remember. shared with Steven.. mine in a New Belgium snifter.

Beautiful.. light yellow head.. some spotty lacing.. dark brown brew when you hold it to a light.. very nice.

Thick malty aroma.. dark caramel with floral hops and a touch of grapefruit.. toffee and raisins.. dates? Fruity yeasty notes..

Amazingly smooth.. silky malt off the top.. thick caramel.. with more than enough chocolate.. pine and grapefuit hoppy flavors are drawn out from the sweetness.. this BW is a lesson in PNW big beers... dark fruit.. prunes and figs.. balanced beyond compare.. almost certainly the best BW I've ever had. finish is long and layered.. hops.. intermingle with the caramel notes... Steven says it has a :30 finish... I agree. Thickness hides the booze very easily.. spotty carbonation makes for a silky palate.

This is the first time I've had the "Big Nugget".. It won't be the last. Damn it.. why and the hell did we not get this brew in Idaho.. there is a definite market for big barleywines.. and this would almost certainly be the best.. I would buy a case if it weren't for FedEx and LS so much over the price fo the bottles.

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

Beautiful reddish, golden color when held up to a light. Enticing aroma. Very balanced flavor. Sweet up front, but nicely backed, and the 10.4% abv doesn't smack you in the face. Drinkability? Had no problem finishing the 22oz bottle. Had to pace myself, actually. I'd been sitting on this bottle for a few weeks (blessed as we are in Anchorage with great brews), but figured I better sample it so as to know whether to stock up before it is gone. Fully understand why it won a gold at Toronado. Great beer! Please excuse my deficiency in technical description, I'm learning. Cheers!

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
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 ArrogantB
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle 2007 edition. I popped the crown and took a whiff of strong green, leafy hops which gave way to fruit and a little alcohol fumes. The color was deep ruby red in my snifter with an initial dirty-white head that quickly faded away. It still smells kinda hot but it doesn't taste hot. It has a hoppy bitterness that is somehow perfectly balanced with a malty sweetness. The sweet fruitiness that coats my tongue is quite awesome and I am glad I shelled out the $9 for this bomber.

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Photo of fartingdog
3.76/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Deep red, clear. Ruby highlts in the light. Thin head receeds to a light ring.

S- Malt, piney hops, vanilla.

T- Big malt followed by lots of hop spiciness, hints of vanilla.

M- Pleasant, full bodied. Coats the mouth, but not cloying. Bitterness, boozy alcohol warming in the finish.

D- Good, but still seems young w/ the hoppiness holding too much of the attention. I'm betting age will be excellent to this beer, and then it will really shine. Does get more balanced as it warms.

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Photo of beerking1
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark for style, deep mahogany with a dense of-white head. Very clear, with ruby notes. Aroma is wonderful Northwest hops upfront, very fresh (dry hopped?), followed closely by dark malts, producing some chocolate and hints of coffee aromas. Flavor follows through after aroma, with more NW hops, and a great dark chocolate character. Aftertaste is more dark chocolate, backed by more NW hops. Body is pleasantly full. Great American-style Barleywine! One of the best!

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Photo of charlesw
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown amber - almost opaque in my glass but held up to the sun I get beautiful red rays shining through. Smallish dark head that is quickly gone. Smells like b'wine, darn it! Malty and bitter hoppy, you know? But then, well, in the mouth... It's not bad - not at all. But I think it's an I2PA with too much color. I don't know. Life is complicated. It's beer. It's decent. It's not what I'm looking for. Almost English B'wine with the syrupy sweetness. But much more bitter than one of those. But not as bitter as a 'merican b'wine. So... Too sweet, not quite the body, not quite the bitterness. Of the "ideal" 'merican b'wine. In my opinion.

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Photo of unclederby
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 edition, $8.49 retail. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Piraat tulip. Pour yields a beautiful mahogany colored ale with a sizeable tan colored head, which soon fades. Lacing becomes minimal. Eye candy in a glass.

Caramel malts and a slight underpinning of piney hops reveal themselves from the first few whiffs. Vigorous swirling brings out hints of cocoa, vanilla and some raisin-like character and perhaps a bit of peppery like spicyness. Also, just nudges the nose a bit with it's alcoholic strength.

In the flavour, the roasted malt character pushes itself to the forefront with a big cocoa presence, while the caramel and vanilla qualities hit you mid-palate and the balancing hops arrive near the finish to nicely round out the experience. The hoppy finish lingers and beckons thee for another sip while becoming more and more pronounced after every drink, accompanied by a mildy acoholhic warmth.

Small complaint here: i wish the mouthfeel was a tad bit bigger but it is creamy, somewhat oily and sufficiently carbonated.

In my book, the drinkability rates high because i've managed to polish off just over half of this 10.4% abv barleywine in just under an hour, and enjoy it in the process. That being said, it's obviously not a session beer.

Overall, this is a very good but not great barleywine, one that i'll occasionly shell out the $$$ to enjoy again.

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Photo of ccrida
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
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 msubulldog25
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage, just released in bottles and available in Oregon as of January 2008. 22 ounces, poured to a pint glass (an earlier review called this the 'Alaskan style'). This beer was the Gold Medal winner at the 2007 Toronado Festival.

A: Probably the deepest, darkest chocolate/mahogany brown I've seen from this style. Held to light, warm ruby shades tint the edges. Plenty of tiny carbonation streams upward to a creamy/dense froth of dijon mustard yellow, topping out at right about one-finger. Creamy sheets of lace cobweb down the glass.

S: Plenty of malty toffee-like sweetness, evergreen sap, juicy orange pulp. Remember candy buttons, these little solid sugar blobs on strips of paper? They're in there, too.

T: Brown sugar and goopy caramel upfront. Generous hops enter mid-mouth and pour on the spicy and citric bittering: there's plenty of mouth-watering burst of citrus hops and a more severe finish of toasted grain and bitterness, even a slight tartness. Candied fruits are sublime in the finish and the lingering flavor is of sugary sweetness; this one does a complete 360. Hop/malt balance is very well executed.

M: Luscious creaminess. The first sip or two coat the tongue in a velvety blanket of chewy malts and resinous hops. There's a little draw inward in the cheeks as those hops do their thing, and a big sticky sweetness on the lips. Body and mouthfeel are medium-full - it's all big without being cloying.

D: The label correctly states " or age it for several years"; the first sip of two had some youthful alcoholic heat, but from that point on it was mellow smoothness through and through. A terrific sipper now and one I'll be holding back a few of in the cellar; it's simply a 'must try' barley wine.

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Photo of jakon
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage, 22oz bottle

Pours a dark garnet with a sizable light tan colored head comprised of tiny bubbles. Splotches of lacing are left behind as the foam recedes at an average pace.

The aroma is tough to pick up on at first. My first thought is banana bread, and other than that, the alcohol is probably the next strongest presence.

I don't find the hops until I take that first sip. Nice, this is a pleasant surprise. There is much more flavor here than I anticipated based on the smell, and the perceived raw heat has cooled off quite a bit. This is one of the more balanced barleywines I've tried. This one won't have you thinking DIPA, and it won't spoil your sweet tooth too much.

Overall, this is quite enjoyable but not quite on par with some of my other favorites. I plan to grab a few more and forget about them for a handful of years. This should be much better with a bit of age behind it.

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

Right off the bat this hits me as a wonderfully balanced (for the style) American barleywine. The malt is big and the hops are a little bigger, but nothings going to stop me from sipping.

It's a clear, light red, with a sparse lacing. The aroma is of rich, candy malt with a dash of fruity hops. The flavor is all malt immediately with sweet cherries and licorice. The hops pour right it, with a cutting (but not too harsh) pine and citrus rind edge that coats your mouth and really lingers. There's also a hint of alcohol, but all things considered, it's not bad.

Overall, a great barleywine, I'd love to try this head to head with Bigfoot.

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Photo of Svejk
4.9/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5


Alaskan Amber was the beer that introduced me to craft beer back in the early 90's. Over the years, I have moved on and very rarely will drink the beer that helped me make the jump. I did try their smoked porter several years ago, but for the most part I didn't drink very much Alaskan beer in recent years.

The other day, I stopped in at Uber in Seattle, and they had this on tap so I decided to give it a try. It pours a dark brown with a good head with reasonable retention considering this is a very big beer. As far as the smell and taste go, it is a sweet beer, and shows it, but it isn't cloying.

This is a really impressive beer. I've recently seen that it is available in bottles, so I'll be enjoying this one at home.

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Photo of warmstorage
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bomber, $8.99 at Brown Jug Warehouse, Anchorage, AK.

Appearance: deeo red to medium brown, very clear, pours with big head of medium brown with moderate to significant lacing in large bowl red wine glass.

Aroma: sugar heat sweetness must and a hint of chocolate brownies.

Taste: malt and brown sugar and alcohol warmth and sweetness and a distinct toasty cereal graininess that holds up the warm to hot alcohol and distinct but not overwhelming hop body. Hints of various spices, and a sweet depth of sugar with roast and mild but dark and pure cacao.

Mouth: definite hop alcohol in the finish warms the mouth and tingles, more with heat than with carbonation.

Overall: a delicious, delightful, outstanding barleywine, and one that I'll definitely drink again (hopefully in a week at GABBF.) It's almost perfectly balanced, and has the warmth, hoppiness and assertiveness of American barleywine styles, with the deep sweet old mustiness of English styles.

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

2007 vintage. (obviously) Proud to be the first to review this fantastic concoction out of a bottle! $8.99 bomber.

Pours a deep dark brown with the rubiest of ruby tint, clear. The head is nice but dissipates relatively fast. The nose is of dark fruit and subtle sweet malt with a great balance of hop. The taste reflects the nose. Sweet and malty up front with lots of sugar and dark fruit taste. Hops come through the middle clear yet subtle and not very bitter. Hops rise through the finish and start to bitter a bit. On the finish the hop bitterness covers the inside of the mouth and sweet sugars reside on the lips. This is a very balanced barleywine that deserves alot of respect. The mouthfeel is nice and quite thick and chewy. Syrupy almost, defenitely a desert beer. Drinkability is quite high IMO, as the balance is something to be marveled at. This along with the smoked porter are unquestionably (IMO) alaskan brewings best offerings. So glad I can finally put a case in the cellar!!! I wish i could travel forward in time about 4-5 years and taste one! Get it! get it now!

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Alaskan Barley Wine (Pilot Series) from Alaskan Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 616 ratings