Old Boardhead Barleywine Ale | Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub

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very good
287 Reviews
Old Boardhead Barleywine AleOld Boardhead Barleywine Ale

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
Oregon, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Murph on 05-14-2002

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Reviews: 287 | Ratings: 378
Photo of Sammy
4.1/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 edition. A very well done barleywine, nicely hopped and malted. Cloudy peach to amber with pretty head. A great complement to the food and very quaffable. Noted caramel, citrus juice, fruit, slight licorice, candy, bittersweet great combination.
A year later had the 2005 edition and it wasn't as enjoyable, bitter.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Argonaut Liquor in Denver, CO.

2011 Reserve.

Pours the color of iced tea with a 1 inch light beige head that fades to an oily film. Random thick smears of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smells of sweet malt, tea leaves, and citrus zest. The overall smell is somewhat muted. Taste is all about the hops. Citrus zest is the dominant flavor with some herbal qualities and malt on the finish. Pretty assertive hop bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a very dry and acidic mouthfeel from the hops. Overall, a pretty good barleywine that is dominated by hop tastes. I am glad I got to pick one of these up as I have never seen it in CA.

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Photo of brentk56
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reserve '07 Version (tasted 11/7/09)

Appearance: Pours a hazy copper color with a frothy white head that hangs around for the duration and leaves some good lacing all around the glass

Smell: Rich caramel aroma with some piney hop resins; the fusel alcohol detected in the younger version is nowhere to be found

Taste: Caramel, up front, but well-balanced by the piney hop bitterness; just a hint of burnt brown sugar developing by mid-palate; after the swallow, the piney bitterness builds in intensity but the sweeter malts are just a little more defined in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body but not syrupy; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Not a lot of complexity here, but a decent, straightforward hoppy barleywine that has matured nicely

Reserve '05 Version -

Appearance: Pours a hazy copper color with a frothy white head that hangs around for the duration and leaves some good lacing all around the glass (4.5)

Smell: A lot of piney hops on the nose; underneath, there is clearly some malt and fusel alcohol but the aroma is surprisingly hoppy (3.5)

Taste: Starts out with a nice toffee caramel flavor but the hops start to sneak through very quickly and dominate the middle and finish (4.0)

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick body but not syrupy; moderate carbonation (4.0)

Drinkability: This is a tasty barleywine but a bit unbalanced in favor of the hops for my tastebuds; I'd like to see a bit more sweetness in the finish (4.0)

Thanks, Oxymoron, for the opportunity.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Reserve bomber.

This beer pours a hazy orange-amber hue, with one finger of creamy off-white head, which leaves an elevated band of lace around the glass. It smells strongly of caramel nougat malt, and citrus cream. The taste is quite in line with the aroma - sweet creamy caramel malt, orchard fruit - cherry and plum, more evident as it warms, and a very mildly astringent alcohol warming. The carbonation is pretty much AWOL, the body big, in a new-money sort of way, smooth, but still tormented by the belligerent citrus hops, which carry through the off-dry, even finish.

A very representative example of what I like in a new world barleywine. Weighty, but well divided between the dousing malt, and supportive, sanity-providing fruity, bitter hops. Still moderately crazy in its own right, and plenty drinkable by the same measure.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.92/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of CBA: Poured a deep orangey color ale with a medium foamy head with average retention but great lacing. Aroma of sweet malt is balance with some citrusy hops. Taste is a mix between some sweet malt that are somewhat lacking in dry fruits characteristics and some citrusy west coast hops. I usually prefer barley wine to be more of the English style and less dominated by hops and more dry figs characteristics would have been preferable. Body was quite full with some great carbonation and no alcohol was discernable.

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Photo of emerge077
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Eric for sharing this one, review from written notes.
Served in a goblet. 2007 edition.

Reddish brown copper color, thin layer of frothy tan/brown foam. Very floral still, plenty of sweet caramel and typical aged barleywine notes of oxidized malt and sherry. Sweet upfront with big caramel malt flavors, becoming dry in the aftertaste. Big and burly, low carbonation. If anything, time has muted the alcohol bite. Not sure i'd recommend aging for 4+ years, based on this sample.

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Photo of zeff80
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, copper color with a small, tan head of foam. It left minimal lacing.

S - Aroma is typical of American Barleywines - rich malty sweetness with some mild hop/floral aromas.

T - It tasted of some spicy hops with a rich malt backbone. Good caramel and toffee flavors.

M - It was soft and smooth with a fairly dry finish. A medium bodied barleywine.

D - This is pretty good. A great value at $4.39 for a 22oz beer.

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Photo of oberon
4.05/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

04 reserve bottle:Poured a rich bronze with a big 2 finger fluffy head that leaves sheets of lace as it settles into a nice frothy top.Whoo the Pacific NW presence hop profile is defiently in the aroma extremely piney and cedery its presence intermingles nicely with a juicy fruit and brown suger malt characterisitics.Very balanced barleywine quite sweet caramely upfront with a hint of brown suger but a real big piney,resiny hoppiness finishing alcoholic and warming.A real Pacific NW style barleywine here hopped to the tilt 91 IBU's,very tasty but one bomber is plenty for me as it sneaks up on ya.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.58/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 Vintage: Brown in color with reddish-orange highlights topped by a thick, foamy, light tan head that drops but holds a good 1/16" covering and leaves some limited lace. A medium body combines with a light carbonation to give a lightly syrupy mouthfeel.. A bold fruity flavor combines summer fruits (melons, berries) and a light amount of dark fruits, with a super malty sweetness of caramel malts and honey alongside sappy, resiny hop flavors backed by a stiff bitterness. Extremely well balanced, with alternating emphasis being given to the sweet fruitiness or the dark, sticky, pine-like hoppiness. Good complexity. Finishes nicely with a combination of the main flavors and a light licorice note, but without ever becoming cloying. The listed alcohol of 10.6% is superbly masked, giving just a not-quite-sherry character. A rich, complex, smooth and remarkably drinkable barleywine - distinct from any other with its unique hop character.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 vintage. Glowing coppery orange with a generous infusion of coral pink. Old Boardhead looks like the beer equivalent of the world's best sunset. Multiple fine particulates swirl, slow and stop, undisturbed by any visible carbonation. The whipped creamy cap, larger and more persistent than expected for a 9%'er, is pale orangish ecru in color and leaves small sheets of sudsy lace when it eventually descends.

I'm impressed by two things with regard to the nose. First, it's wonderfully, tartly citric fruity. Second, there's virtually no detectable alcohol; almost unheard of for such a big barleywine. Three years of rest probably has a lot to do it. Too bad then that it isn't more powerful and more complex. Here's hoping that it possesses both of those characteristics on the palate.

Although it's good beer, this barleywine doesn't taste much like a barleywine to me. Sweet and sour fruit (oranges, apricots and peaches) dominates the flavor profile. There's almost none of the usual cherry and berry fruitiness that most beer of this style delivers. The fruitiness is surprisingly tart and puckery, as if generous shavings of lemon and grapefruit zest were added as well. It's a different combination of flavors that is taking some getting used to.

The malt backbone could be more sturdy, but I'm guessing that some breakdown has occured since '03. Mental note: I've got to stop aging my barleywines. A fair amount of hop flavor remains (Willamette, Styrian Goldings, Centennial), although very little of their bitterness chose to stick around. As the nose suggested, alcohol is very nearly absent on the palate. That's not to say that I'm not feeling all 9%. Time to take sips rather than gulps.

The body/mouthfeel is showing the most wear and tear of all of Old Boardy's characteristics. It's approximately medium in heft for an IPA, but then this isn't an IPA. It firms up a tad with warming (although I started the bomber out at barely cool) and has developed a pleasant, mildly sticky finish. An extremely low level of carbonation helps to some extent, but there's just not enough viscosity for the style.

I wish that I had cracked Old Boardhead's crown several years ago because I have a feeling that it's a much better beer when fresh. To its credit though, it's still mighty drinkable as long as your tolerance for tart fruit and citrus zest is on the high side. If you're cellaring the '03, my advice is to drink it last year.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.8/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy, dark amber body with a thin, shockingly short-lived, white head.

Smell: Aroma of aged caramel and vintage toffee candy nearly eclipsed by strong, sweet-smelling fruit notes.

Taste: Sweet, sugary malts displayed as caramel and light toffee with some sherry-like oxidation. Highly fruity, with tastes of peaches, apricots, and fresh Florida oranges. Only a soft, subdued bitterness remains at this point. Old Boardhead remains very fruity right to the very end of the warming, drying finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-low carbonation.

Drinkability: I've found fresh bottles to be coming up a bit short on the malts and having an abrasive hop profile. So, I was rather pleased to have a 2002 bottle cross my glass. While never bad, it just doesn't shine for me and, regardless of fresh or aged, it seems to be just a step or two behind the rest of the barleywine pack.

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Photo of mothman
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage

Poured into pint glass.

Pours 1 finger of beige head. Decent retention but not a lot of lace. Color is a hazed ruby copper bronze-unique.

Aroma: Wow, it is pretty decent. A lot going on here. Big malt profile with mellowed out hops. Big dried fruit taste with some sweet sugar and caramel mixed in. The hops are dulled down floral smelling.

Taste: Very malty with a lot of dried fruit profiled here. A little booze shows. A lot of caramel and bready malts are present. Not a bad b-wine.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy with a little heat from the 9% abv. Medium to full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends with a fairly clean malty aftertaste. Not bad.

Overall, Full Sail did something decent here. A decent aged b-wine of a few years. For the price of this bomber, I'd easily buy more of it.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.35/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 release, acquired via trade from Wasatch, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a cloudy light brown color with a large foamy off-white head that fades very slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malt, brown sugar, floral hops and a touch of alcohol.

T: The taste has a strong and complex burst of flavors that hit you right up front. There’s a lot of sweetness with flavors of brown sugar, caramel and a touch of apricot & dark fruit. There’s a strong and bitter hops presence with the flavor signature that I’ve come to know from the Full Sail beers that I’ve traded for. There’s a hearty malt character that provides a good balance. There’s also a big alcohol sting to keep you aware that you’re drinking a beer that doesn’t mess around. The after-taste is a bitter-sweet combination of all of the previously mentioned flavors.

M: Smooth and extremely crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down as easily as any beer that is as intense as this one is, not very filling, excellent representation of style, even thought there are several beers with a higher ABV, this is a good beer to relax with when you want a good swift kick in the pants due to the intensity of flavor along with the 9.00% ABV. I wasn’t sure what quite sue what to expect from this beer despite the compliments paid to it by Wasatch, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Always nice to try a Barleywine, one of my favorite styles, and this one I had never heard of before so I was very intrested to give it a shot. Bottle indicates it was a 1996.

Poured a very hazy dark, burnt ruby amber. Very intresting hue as the reddish tint was very noticeable even though the haze made it almost opaque. A one inch head formed on the top upon pour, that faded almost immediatly. What was left was a thin film of decent quality lace that circle around the glass. Smell was very sweet, caramel sugars hitting almost immediatly. The deeper smell after some warming indicated a nice bready, earthy malt back with a hint of alcohol, which at 9%abv and being a barleywine should be expected. The taste for me was just too light. I expect barleywines to make me sit down and to be a definite sipper, but this just did not have the fullness I would have expected. The finish on it was very dry, and did last a good bit though. The taste itself was very hoppy, with piney flavors the most noticeable, a slight malt back was trying to form with flavors of grain and bread, but was just too thin to really be noticed. There was a huge amount of carbonation, again for a barleywine, on this one. Lots of fizz and contributed to the feeling of lightness. Overall this gave me more of an impression of a well balanced double IPA. May improve and bring out some flavors as it sits, but a little younf still for me.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to gottajiboo2 for sharing this at Phatz recent barleywine tasting. Decanted cool into a snifter. The bottle sampled was from 2006.

A - A medium amber w/ a thin tan head w/ a moderate amount of lace.

S - A mix of cherry and herbal notes w/ woody hops in the background.

M - Bitter feel w/ slightly astringent qualities w/ a semi-light texture for the abv.

T - A crisp flavor w/ a citrusy hop taste that is dominant. Nutty and stone fruit w/ an english malt taste. Dry w/ a subtle nutty flavor and grainy quality.

D - A fine ale w/ bit of NW hop character and overall light in feel w/ nice malt texture and flavor. A well crafted barleywine, just doesn't stand out from the rest IMO

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Photo of russpowell
4.31/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

06 Release purchased at coaltrain

Pours an effervescent orangey/caramel 3+ fingers into my free Sam Adams beer glass with 3+ fingers of puffed up sand colored head. Super sticky lacing ( big clumps all over the glass) & superior head retention.

S: Piney with rich cakeyness as this warms up

T: Cakey with pine, woody dryness & grapefruit up front. I get orange slices, black currant, caramel, boozey warmth & a boatload of earthy, piney, grapefruitty hops as this warms. Finishes dry, warming, with earthy hop smack , some more cakeyness & boozey warmth with kick of smokeyness & butterscotch

MF: Medium bodied, warming towards the end, fairly lively in carbonation but nothing special for abv or style. Skews hoppy, duh...

Hoppyness really hides the abv, could get through a couple of bombers before I take a nap

A year or 2 of aging & I think Bob's your uncle! (You have a winner)

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Photo of Jason
4.27/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz brown bomber with a brewed on date on the side of the label, this is a beer to cellar or drink now … I could not wait.

Appearance: Deep reddish amber, hazed from the sediment but the lace is stunning. Almost looks like frothed milk on top.

Smell: Huge woody and veggie hop with a mind pungency of citrus and sweet pin sap. A sugary malty rummy sweetness hits the nose with a side of earthy yeast.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smoothness is sublime, creamy slick mouth feel lift the heavy malt body down the throat. A whole lot of hops tear through the palate with a pungent bitterness, veggie flavour and citric rind overtones. Maltiness is there with some sweetness but seem to get pummeled by the hops a bit, they don’t hurt the malt that much just more or less make it cry into a soft submission. Good amount of alcohol warmth. Touch of yeast, ripe fruit (pears) and a layered caramel buttery flavour are throughout.

Drinkability & Notes: A godly brew, beers like this make me weep. First of all I can’t get it on a regular basis and may never have this beer again. Secondly I am so sad about the first I can’t remember. This Barleywine rocks! Oh yeah, it went great with some bbq chicken pasta topped with fresh feta.

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Photo of jwc215
4.04/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wasatch for this one!

'06 vintage - 22 oz. bottle:

Pours caramel-colored amberish with a thin head that becomes a lasting patch.

The smell is of citrus and pine with a caramel backing.

The taste follows the nose, though the aroma is a bit richer, IMO. Nice hop presence - definately American rather than English-style. Warming, peppery alcohol in the finish.

Not quite as full/syrupy as I expect for the style. But, it is smooth and very drinkable for the abv/style.

A nicely hopped barelywine - Thanks again John!

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Photo of AlexFields
3.15/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a really pure copper color, very little haze or anything, very thick looking.

Smells like odd tropical fruits--passionfruit, I think. Also some hops and candy like malt.

Tastes like passionfruit as well. Also herbal hops, sticky malts. Not all that sweet, it's a hop forward beer but the hop profile is very unique.

Overall it's a unique beer and I'm tempted to rate it higher just for being an original, but honestly I thought it was merely decent and not great. Reminds me of passionfruit flavored starburst candy.


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Photo of johnnnniee
3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 Bottling sampled 11/30/08

Pours a clear dark amber color with a fluffy off white 2 finger head that displays some staying power. Smells of citrus hops, some pine and grapefruit. Sweet caramel malt and brown sugar hidden deep under the hops. Taste is a bit maltier than the nose would have you believe. I'm hit with the caramel before the hops come in with the grapefruit and the lingering hop bitterness. A bit of alcohol in the finish as well. Mouthfeel is prickly/creamy. Body in medium to thick. Carbonation is moderate. Decent Barley wine, but I'm afraid it would have been better fresher. The second bottle that I have will be put in the cellar for consumption in a year or two.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.32/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thoroughly hazed dark amber hue...creamy, off-white toned head.

Sweetness ,andfruit, red wine meets whidkey and brandy...the perfect barleywine aroma, as far as I'm concerned. Bright, and hoppy, too.

Fresh, zesty, fruity, deep, dark ,and delicious. Wonderful stuff. Tasty, tasty...vibrant fruit. high hops keep on ringing in...yum, and, I repeat, yum.

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Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12/6/05- Purchased at a specialty store in Missoula, MT.

Presentation- 22oz bomber bottle. 2004 Edition bottled on 12/1/04. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Chestnut-amber colored pour. Large foamy head which disipates fairly fast. Small amounts of patchy lacing.

Smell- Alcohol soaked dark fruits, brown sugar and caramel malt. Some light hop scents as well.

Taste- Have heard this was supposed to be a hop bomb. Not really super hoppy like a Bigfoot though. Some hops, but not a huge amount. Mostly nice roasted and sweet caramel malt. Light alcohol taste that sneaks up on you.

Mouthfeel- Lightly creamy, semi heavy mouthfeel.

Drinkability- A very good barleywine which is a bit overshadowed by the malt rather than the hops which seems prevelant these days. Good beer I would buy again...and probably age for at least a year to see what happens.

****Vintage 2006

Pretty much the same except not as much caramel goodness. Also seemed a tad stale. Maybe it's just not "ripe" yet. Would drop my score down if this is the first sample I had to go off. Probably to a mid 3's.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.96/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A fairly tame barley wine, imo. This is a good looking beer. Deep, rich copper pour, some floaties and a really nice head. Good swirl and the head revisits, nice lacing.

A nice aroma balance, some tart and sweet caramel, slight pine and nut. Taste is also greatly balanced, the alcohol is very well hidden in the nose and taste, a bit in the end it comes out. Slight green pear in the end as well, after a good deal of hops, and caramel..lightly. Really nice balance and good drinking.

A light barley wine, but a nice beer. Should have had this in the winter time.

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Photo of WesWes
4.2/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a burnt orange color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich and warm, malty scent that boasts of pale, crystal, and roasted malts along with a mild hop aroma. It has a raisin scent; very nice. The taste is great. It has an intensely malty flavor that goes down smooth and slow and finishes warm, dry, and bitter. It has a toastey feel. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a fine barleywine. It has good flavor and aroma. It's not in the upper tier of brews, but it drinks well nonetheless.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.12/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from 3/2011 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark red amber. Dense one finger light tan head and lacing. Nice barley wine aroma of sweet malt and dark fruit. Taste is sweet malt, caramel, hint of orange. Nice medium body, creamy. This appears to be heavier bodied and better flavored than the one I sampled a year earlier. I will return to this again and cellar a few.

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Old Boardhead Barleywine Ale from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
3.85 out of 5 based on 378 ratings.
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