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

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Old Boardhead Barleywine AleOld Boardhead Barleywine Ale
Very Good
382 Ratings
Old Boardhead Barleywine AleOld Boardhead Barleywine Ale

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

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 382 |  Reviews: 289
Photo of RedDiamond
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Old Boardhead is an elegant staple of Northwest barleywines. It is relaxed honey-gold and initially pours with ample carbonation. The CO2 soon fades to a casual afterthought revealing a luxurious fruity nose that invites leisurely contemplation.

What follows is a composite review based on a comparison of both the '04 and the '02 bottlings. While the recipe for both vintages is presumed to be the same, the aging of the '02 reveals a more tempered bittering with the forward-leaning presence of alcohol noticeably diminished. The most recent bottling initially presents with a harshly bitter and prominent alcohol taste though these properties relax considerably as the ale warms to room temperature, breathes, and gains a more convivial posture. The body of both vintages is broad, somber, and complex with an abundant cache of dried fruits and brown sugar characterizing the flavor and smell. There is a warmth and slowness to Old Boardhead that perfectly offsets the morose gloom of winter. It's like drinking pure gold.

Old Boardhead is not bottle conditioned but improves appreciably with aging. It's also worth noting that at $3.99 for a 22 oz. bomber, this robust barleywine makes for an exceptional value. Be sure to drink it at near room temperature.

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Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber. Reserve '03.

Ruddy brown-orange with a thin, creamy head of tiny bubbles. Aroma of gentle, juicy hops.

Holy crap, this is good. Smooth and easy drinking, with beautiful, juicy hops and a substantial malt profile. The flavor is unique among barleywines I've had, with a white grape-like sweetness that unifies the various layers of flavor throughout the complex brew.

I really, really like this.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.17/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours kight copper with golden and orange highlights. Puffy white head on the pour fades rather quickly.
Aroma of dark citrus fruits, light caramel and resin, citrus and pine hops. Very big and pleasant aroma.
Flavor of juicy succulent citrus (orange, raisin), some biscuit malt and deep thick hop resins.
Mouthfeel is sweet to start, almost like orange juice, moves to a brief, biscuit bread hit and finishes with varying levels of hop intensity. Well made, flows seemlessly through the progressions of the style. Nicely done.
Drinkability is very high. Really tasty, juicy with right amount of bittering to offset the heavy sweet malts present.

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Photo of MrNuggets
3.45/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This was bottled on 12/01/04, and its freshness shows. The small head soon turned into a faint white ring around the edge. Light brown colour that is trying very hard to be orange.
I love the smell of a barleywine, this one is warm, sweet with a touch of PacNW hops I've be expect in a brew from this wonderful region.
Starts out smooth, full fruity flavors that I am unable to pinpoint exactly.
As soon as the beer leaves my mouth things change. What seemed like a smooth blend of ripe fruits quickly turns to a bitter mess with little of the hop flavors to make it work. Alcohol seems to stand alone before mellow after taste sets in to redeem itself from harshness I just had to endure.
Given some time this brew just may turn out to be amazing. And at $3.49 for a bomber I couldn't help but get a couple extra to hold on to.

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Photo of danadeny
3.62/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear deep orange body. No head and no carbonation. Smells of orange peel, toasted bread, and light peanut butter. Alcohol is doninant flavor along with a tart finish. In the middle is a decent amount of roasted malt. Drinkability and mouthfeel are average.

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Photo of Mitchster
2.46/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours out to a cloudy caramel with orange-brown accents, forming a soapy and creamy dark beige to yellow head with good retention and minimal lacing. Carbonation is moderate. Aroma is kinda odd, like a soured barleywine, with a fruity, funky ferment (ungodly amounts of pineapple, and some kiwi)...malts don't really display dark fruit. Mouthfeel is stinging and acidic with a firm carbonation and medium-dense body. Taste is very funky...it's like rotten, soured raisins in pineapple juice, kinda like a friendship cake starter. There is some dark fruit here, but soured like a spontaneous ferment or an infection. The finish is sour, very metallic, raisiny, and ruddy with an oxidized mouthfeel and a touch of green hop oil at the end. Alcohol is perceptable in taste and sensation and becomes louder as it warms.

What I have is an awful barleywine, and I would guess it's infected as Full Sail usually does a good job on their brews, especially the reserves like this one. Unfortunately, this one has to go down the sink. Today, I'll rate it as I taste it, and I probably won't bother re-rating it in the future.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.77/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle from the cellar. Bottled on date was 12-02-99. Has a red-orange hue with a two finger head. Still has a slight piney hop bud resin smell with bready, spicy alcohols to boot. Full bodied with a super smooth creamy mouthfeel. Fruity taste of plums, blackberries, apricots, and cinnamon. Finishes with a sticky sweet alcohol and tart hop taste.

A total kickass brew.

We did a vertical tasting with a bottle from 2002 . The ' 02 was good but this was the overwhelming favorite.

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Photo of Crosling
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark Orange.

Sticky, sappy and hoppy aroma with notes of deep caramel, dark fruits and pacific northwest hops.

Phenomenal, melded flavor. Seriously, this tastes incredible. The hops and malt coninside so unbelievably well. Sticky, malty bliss with notes of apples, plums and caramel along with hops that provide notes of pine and marijuana.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a 22oz bomber from 03. It appeared to have a deep reddish amber body when poured with a surprisingly tall off white head. Fairly good clarity to the body and the head fell rather quickly leaving no lace as it disappeared. The aroma of caramel malt sweetness rose out of the glass with notes of fruits in the background. Decent amount of hops in the nose as well and a touch on alcohol as it warms. The flavor stare with a caramel fruity sweetness with notes of a syrupy molasses type flavor. The after taste is a bit bitter with a small alcohol bite as it goes down. The body here is full and thick with a nice mouth coating quality to it. This went down fairly easy and even as it warmed the alcohol never became the most prominent feature of the beer. Too bad I can’t get these around here because this is one good barley wine.

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Photo of Rastacouere
4.22/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2003 bottle. Copper to orange body with a diminishing, but foamy and well-laced off-white head. Complex aroma with peaty nuances and a deeply integrated fruity profile (oranges, peaches). Caramel sweetness abund while light alcohol is noticeable, but as powerful as this is, it still appears very balanced. In mouth, there’s more of this caramel goodness going on, although there’s more hops than I expected, not old horizontal hoppy, but it’s west coast all right. Chewy palate with peaches nuances, pears, citrus and a very mild tartness approaching apples which doesn’t quite manage to give a decent fight to the overwhelming and coating sweetness. It’s not cloying, but feels very rich, peaty, earthy. Decadent full body with rather high carbonation to style and plain rich. This is perhaps not as big as I expected it to be, but taken on parallel with quite a few other peers, it definitely strikes as a great example of how to balance raw power. Still, I think forgetting it a few years would help to blend the different elements together even better. Huge thanks to skyhand for this top malty example.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice looking scarlet red appearance. Thin, but dense coating of bone white head. This recedes to a rather thick collaring with good staying and lacing power. Alcohol soaked melons and passion fruit on the nose. Sweet drippings of caramel. And perfumey hops. The taste is quite sweet. And perfumey and minty. It's not bad, but this characteristic holds it back from being a great barleywine in my mind. Passion fruits, strawberries and mango find time to make appearances. Alcohol lays low in the background. This is o.k., but I liked the 2002 version a LOT better.

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Photo of pbrian
4.7/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quite simply, this barleywine rocks. At first, I thought it was like a beefed up English style barleywine ala Old Ho (fresh, of course. aged Old Ho is boring). Nice malty sweetness up front, more of a earthy hoppiness going on. But as it warms, its PNW roots couldn't help but shine. A rum-soaked raisiny alcohol warmth started to develop, it became more piney and resinous in its hoppy nature. In fact, its bitterness becomes quite agressive. Creamy and chewy mouthfeel. It really has a little of everything, but in a harmonious way. It doesn't hide its 9% alcohol too well, nor its 91 IBUs, but I like booze and hops, so who cares? It's almost gone, and I'm bummed.

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Photo of BierReise
4.59/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber Reserve '03 Poured a nice clear amber color with a small head that is melting away quickly. Nice array of hops in the aroma along with a strong sweet doughy malt aroma with notes of vanilla and toffy. An aroma to die for. One that allows equal appreciation of malt and hops. Incredibly smooth body that is full and with a low carbonation. Slightly syrupy and sweet. Flavor is sweet and malty with lots of caramel and toffy. Alcohol is well hidden. This is the best Barley Wine I've had in years.

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Photo of aracauna
3.38/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a bit cheesey. Almost a little ass. it's perhaps a something a little wrong with it, but it's not so far off the norm that I'm really worried about it. The flavor is pretty good though. It's malty and a bit alcoholic. This was the '02 version and I'll be trying the '01 version pretty soon.

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Photo of filabrazilia
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper with a beige head that settles quickly. Good lacing.

Aroma - Heavy malt almost maple aroma mixed with an alcohol presence.

Taste - Extremely malty with a slight hop finish. This reminds me of an English style barleywine.

Mouthfeel - Good body with a dry sweet finish.

Drinkability - Very smooth and mellow. A nice sipping beer.

This was a decent barleywine but not one of the best. I think the hops may have mellowed so much that the beer lost some of its balance. I'd like to try a more recent vintage.

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Photo of MJR
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a wonderfully clear reddish-amber bookended by pale copper edges. It's light tan head begins well enough, then shrinks down to a thin and incomplete covering that leaves scattered lacing.

Smell: The aroma is two-sided in that at any one time you can focus on either the huge, fruity malt, or the green, citrusy hops. The balance between them is quite impressive really. Hiding underneath is a whiff of warming alcohol.

Taste: Begins on the malty side, with a huge amount of fruitiness. A touch of sweet caramel/toffee too. Midway, the hops show up with a fair amount of bitterness and flavor to balance things out. The hops are very citric in taste, with a hint of a flowery character. A tiny hint of tropical fruit darts in and out. On the finish, the attention drifts back to the malt, with a strong charred fruit note. There's a fleeting bitterness, but it plays second fiddle. Ends fruity and bitter, with a hefty alcoholic undercurrent which brings a bit of warmth.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation is quite low, which combines with a medium thick body, to give a slighty syrupy mouthfeel. Finishes dry and long with a tummy warming effect.

Drinkability: Judging by the short lifespan of this bomber, I'd say the drinkability of this brew is pretty good! Of course, I couldn't drink more than one of these in an evening, nor would I want to. This is a well balanced barley wine that would make a great fireside companion come winter.

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Photo of beerguy101
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown color, medium head. Nose is caramel, malts, apples and dates. Big Bold Barleywine. This puppy reaches up and grab you by the ^#%$!!!!;. Malty and hoppy. The malt sweetness is balanced by it big hoppyness, then the alcohol bite grabs you. The fact that all three are balanced and rotate around on your taste buds is amazing. Complex flavors and very warming. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean, smooth and a little dry. Aftertaste is malty and slightly bitter, with a lingering sweetness. Bottle aging will improve this already excellent beer.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color is of a creamy carameled gem or agate, about an inch high head of yellowy puffed creamy foam, faded somewhat slowly to a thinly spotted haze on top, leaves thin whispy stringed lace.

Smell is all dulled up and sort of muted at first of pinewood, caramel malts and some sort of fruit I can't quite distinquish, its a bit citrusy, I think plum and dark orange, subdued and quiet, notes of toffee, molasses and spice with a warmingly strong whisky-like alcohol presense as well. The alcohol nearly jumps out of the glass as it gets warmer. Quite a nose full at that point.

Taste is a warming sweet caramel candy and slight toffee with a darker orange-like presense of citrus. Subtle layers of butterscotch warmth, mild and easy hop bitterness thats lightly piney. A biscuit breadyness that thickens some and then mellows to some kind of cookie dough and buttery thinness and a definate alcohol warmth that fills every sense of your head after half a glass or so.

Surprisingly nice creamy feel, quite full and heavy, not stout heavy, mostly alcohol heavy with a thinning airy sweet finish of caramel lingering. A super sipper of a barleywine and well recieved by myself. Quite subtle and enjoyable when in the right mood. A must try if ya can get it.

Thanks to weefisheads for the 22oz'er.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.02/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 oz. Bottle

Appearance: The beer poured a slightly hazey, deep orange color. A very thin, coarse head arose and disappeared very quickly. Surprisingly, there was some beading going on. I have never seen a barley wine do that before. However, it wasn't enough to sustain any kind of head on this brew. Therefore, there was no lacing at all.

Smell: There were classic barley wine smells of caramal malt sweetness and dark fruit, though the fruit came through stronger than usual. There was also a light alcohol aroma present that built as the beer warmed up.

Mouthfeel: Relatively thin-bodied and kind of dry.

Taste: I hate to say it, but there just wasn't much to the taste. It was kind of tangy (for lack of better words) upfront with some alcohol in the middle, and hops bitterness well into the aftertaste. The hops had an odd quality to it. Overall, this was rather one-dimensional and dry.

This was kind of a disappointing for me bacuase I have always liked Full Sail beers. There wasn't much to the flavor, and what was there wasn't wonderful. None of that huge maltiness and hops kick that I have some to expect from brews such as this. Probably on the bottom of the list for me as far as barley wines go.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.85/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Originally sampled on 17 September 2002. Old Boardhead is clear copper colored w/ a light tan head. It has lots of malty taste up front w/ hoppy flavors at the end. It envelopes your tongue w/ its thick, rich malty flavors & stickness. This is a lovely barleywine

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Photo of marc77
4.13/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Clear light bronze hue. Initially thick almond white head recedes into a spotty layer than manages wisps of lace. Muted citrus and pine upfront in aroma, accompanied by toffee and molasses dipped currants. Subdued, spicy, festive hints of frankinscence and bubblegum esters. Ethanol heat surfaces with a swirl. Medium lovibond caramel malt sweetness initially in flavor yields to a transiently drying combination of biscuit and moderate, clean hop bitterness. Becomes thicker and lightly sugared mid palate, with mellow notes of pralines and butterscotch well complemented by a rounded, integrated grapefruit hop flavor. Malt character becomes doughy late, and couples with a lately emerging suggestion of scraped vanilla pod, lending an impression of freshly backed white sugar cookie. Full bodied, with a smooth, richly dextrinous, viscous mouthfeel, partially due to the low relative apparent attenuation. Finishes lightly buttery and with a creeping surge of hop bitterness and alcohol warmth. Old Boardhead is flavorful, unassertive, soft on the palate, and superbly drinkable. Dangerously smooth and subtle. Reminescent of a Young's Old Nick / Bigfoot 2001 hybrid. Big thanks to Jaybeerman for the bomber. Bottled 5/22/02.

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Photo of Elemental
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not bad at all. A nice copper amber color. Very little head or at least little head retention. Very fragarent with the smell of hops and spices. This beer has a good first taste with a blast of spices which quickly dies into a bitter taste. This taste slowly melts away into quite an aggressive aftertaste thats a little harsh at first but goes away as the palate warms up. Overall a pretty good beer with quite a punch.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reserve 02 bought online, ground shipping (unrefrigerated), several weeks in my fridge, reviewed 45F-75F.

Ok... first the clinical detail crap... There's a medium-sized, dense, creamy, cream-colored head. Lacing is thin but sticky. The beer is a deep red-amber and clear. It doesn't take long for the aroma to fill the room. It's sweet, creamy, strong, deep, malt toffee. Some fruity grapes appear in the sweet toffee front. The middle is creamy, sweet, port-like. Some alcohol is apparent, but warming, not intrusive. The finish is hoppy-dry with a little bitter chocolate. Somewhat astringent.

Now the gushy emotional crap... Wow! This is very, very, very good. It's definitely not too sweet (I'm hypersensitive to sweet), but not as hugely hoppy as some of the west coast BWs. Very well balanced. This is a delicious beer that's a pleasure from the beginning to the end.

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Photo of ADR
4.49/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

For 2002...

Creamy, creamy head of decent duration, somewhat murky garnet appearance. Spicy and hoppy aroma, some sense of ginger snap to the malty part of the nose...nice. Wow, another combat scenario between hops and malt, and its close to an all out offensive. Ginger and cinnamon augment a raw cocoa impression but are immediately countered by a sting of oily resiny hop...low carbonation lets this counterpunching complexity have full reign. Finishes with just a touch of a coating diacetyl and with a hiccup of alcohol and aftertaste. Big, big flavor profile here...a cheek twister.

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Photo of beerluvr
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a minimal dirty white head on top of tawny, hazy orangey-red liquid. Nose is heavy on malt and dark fruit. Taste is a mellowed mix of oxidation, sugary malts and fruit with a nice late emerging hoppy bitterness with an undercurrent of warming alcohols. finishes long and superbly bitter, age has done this beer much justice...a great Barleywine.

Thanks to jaybeerman for the chance to taste this one.

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Old Boardhead Barleywine Ale from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
Beer rating: 3.86 out of 5 with 382 ratings