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Old Godfather | Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

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Old GodfatherOld Godfather

Brewed by:
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Re-emerging from the shadows, Old Godfather is the first of the Infamous. Old Godfather pours a light amber with a beige lacing. Aromas of fresh pine and citrus dominate, giving way to deep flavors of nutty maltiness and burnt caramel. A spicy hop bite of citrus peel rounds out the rich mouthfeel. Bittersweet English malts and cut-throat West Coast hops make Godfather a barley wine that is not to be taken lightly. This re-release of Old Godfather is the first vintage of its kind. As a brazenly robust brew, Old Godfather will benefit from years of cellaring, developing new refinements in character over time.

Added by frank4sail on 02-18-2003

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Reviews: 151 | Ratings: 221
Photo of Durge
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a clear but fairly dark mahogany colored brew with a decent light tan colored head that mellows to a frosting and leaves a respectable trail of lacing. The aroma is full of deep roasted malt, vanilla and root beer with a goodly dose of sherry and even a lick of chocolate. Sweet but a little boozy and just real nice. The taste test results in more of a whiskey edge, immediately warming with alcohol but buried in more deep caramel malt with a neat herbal hop coming through. Approaches an evergreen idea at times. This stuff is pretty much full bodied with very gentle carbonation. I would call this fairly cloying with a pretty thick, wine-like feel. So it's not out of whack as a barleywine, very flavorful, not a session beer, but great with a slice of Swiss cheese and an appreciative palate. A pleasant surprise.

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Photo of jondeelee
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smells of syrupy malts and caramels, heavy sugars with a hint of flowery hops.

On the tongue, there's an immediate explosion of floweriness, which expands quickly into a lovely grapefruit-bitterness, strongly reminiscent of a low- to medium-grade IPA. Then the malts hit, bringing in huge maple-syrupy flavors, along with dark fruits and chocolates. Some reviewers have said there's a deep tobacco flavor underneath; I'm not getting that, but I do get a hint of grains toasted to the point of blackness/burnt. Then, somehow, the hops kick back in, leaving the tongue slightly tingling after the beer has left the mouth.

Categorically, this is a barleywine, pure and simple. But it does have *notes* that are strongly reminiscent of IPAs, and I think those notes set this brew apart from the field, and make it worthy of discussion. Purists might not like the bitterness in here, but I find it charming.

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Photo of bohemiandonut
4.36/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was the first Barley Wine I ever tried (about a year ago) and it knocked my freakin' socks off. Have been looking for it ever since and FINALLY I find a 4-pack of it in some random bottle shop in Carlsbad.

At 10%, this doesn't pour like anything immaculate, but Holy Christ does it smell just utterly amazing. Toffee malts and candied spruce make up the mainstay, but it's hard to convey exactly why this makes my nostrils drool with happiness. It's like Bigfoot without cloying sweetness, a hoppy beast that screams of everything a Barley Wine should be.

Alas I'm not disappointed in this consummation of my quest. Speakeasy remains an underrated brewery in my opinion, and OG is perhaps their greatest offering. You WILL drink this beer slowly, simply pausing to take enormous whiffs of it between each sip. The ethanol is absolutely flattened by the sweets and malts and hops that make this beer into the bad ass gangster that it is. From the tinge of citrus/pine in front to a frothy aftertaste of chewy caramel, this is a highly recommended beer that will leave any fan of Barley Wines totally agape.

Good luck finding it.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.69/5  rDev -2.9%

This barley wine is decent. It's pours out as a muddy brown color with a white head on it. The aroma of this beer is kind of boozy with a lot of malts. It's got a little bit of a hop aroma too. The taste has a lot of barley in it, with some hops in the after taste. The mouthfeel is kind of smooth with a dry aftertaste. Nothing really shines through in this brew that makes me impressed with it. It's an average barley wine to me.

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Photo of Lucklys
3.03/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

To start this barley wine off, it poured a deep hazy chestnut brown with golden amber highlights. It quickly built a tight single-finger thick fawn colored head of large bubbles that fell within 30 seconds to a thin island and collar around the glass with no lace to speak of. Initially there were some minuscule streams of tiny bubbles peppering the liquid, but in no time at all, it ended up appearing fairly flat with no visible carbonation.

The nose was predominantly a bourbon-like alcohol that "burns the nostrils." I would be hard-pressed to say that Speakeasy even remotely tried to cover up the glaringly obvious 10.2%ABV in Old Godfather, and I might go so far as to say that all of the grains and malts in it only further exacerbate the ethanol scent. It held barley and oats up front with pale and crystal malts - pale coming through more aggressively than the crystal, but both are definitely present. There were rich dominant caramel malts drenched in super sweet brown sugar molasses and cooked with real maple syrup. No Aunt Jemima here. There was also an odd warm, burnt toffee with chocolate notes that didn't quite seem to fit in, as well as an even odder hint of overripe cherries lingering and fermenting way underneath. I found it hard to tell if there were any hops at all, though through a little research, others claim to have found both pine and citrus quite easily - which I can totally get on board with when I think about it, but otherwise I just can't seem to get past the glaring caramel and alcohol.

Dipping into it, my tongue was washed over with the bourbony alcohol right off the bat. I was actually a little surprised to find it thinner in the mouthfeel with a lighter-medium body, which I expected to be a little thicker due to the high ABV. Even the carbonation was lacking - though it still managed to bite my tongue with a combination of alcohol, something bright and citrusy that I couldn't pick out in the nose, and some bold bitter hops that also hid from the aroma. After the initial bitter overload, the in-your-face pale and crystal malts came out swathed in a rich caramel sauce accented with brown sugar and molasses, which made it very candy-sweet and just shy of syrupy. The flavors didn't last much longer after I swallowed, and it finished very dry with tongue-numbing effects.

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Photo of confer
2.98/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This bottle was about 3 years old, so I am sure it mellowed quite a bit.
It pours a leathery caramel brown, and it is very murky. No head and a small amount of lacing.
Very sweet smell. It smells like a jar of dark molasses.
The flavor is smooth and sweet with a roasty alcohol finish that hangs around a long time. There is a really creamy feel and very small amount of carbonation.
I find this style a little hard to drink and this bottle is no different. It's definitely a slow sipper in my book.
I had to edit my review after having my second bottle. It went down.

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Photo of DmanGTR
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a friend for this for my birthday in 09. Been cellared ever since and cracking it open to split with my buddy tonight.

Poured a deep amber, almost like a Maker's Mark type of hue and clarity, with a short lived off-white head. Swirls leave a film over the glass... mmm this is gonna be rich! Lots of caramel and toffee, hint of butterscotch, and a heavy dose of bitterness in the nose. The bouquet is intense and reminiscent of a fairly aged American style barleywine. The fruity and pine hop aromas are diminished, leaving a caramel backbone and bitterness of uncooked sap. Not the most complex or mind bending array of flavors, but a nice, solidly made beer. It is what it is. Drinks very well, alcohol is nearly unnoticeable until it appears as a trickling warmth down your throat. Smooth and moderately carbonated with a heavy, sweet body.

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Photo of DaveHS
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006, batch 001.

A-Pours dark amber with no head. A thin ring of eggshell white lacing.

S-Smells amazing. Dark sweet fruits, toffee, fig jam, werther's originals.

T/M-Age has really transformed this beer, but I think it has gone a little bit too long. Tastes just slightly oxidized. Soft and lush, with wonderful nuanced flavors of caramel and candied fruit. A surprisingly prominent hop flavor for being nearly 5 years old.

D-Drinking great, but on the verge of peaking. Would probably be perfect at 3 years. In fact, it's really good fresh.

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Photo of DovaliHops
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009, Pours a cloudy amber color with a nice off-white head that diminishes EXTREMELY fast. Smells of sweet malts, candy sugars, booze, and lots of dark fruits. I also get some bananas, peaches, and cherries. The taste is initially very boozy. As it warms up, the booze mellows and blends nicely wit the figs, plums, and cherries. If this were fresh, I can't even imagine how boozy it would taste. I like boozy when it comes to my ales, so this is very nice tasting. Tons of sweetness and candy sugars as well. There's also faint notes of hops at the end. The mouthfeel is great for a barleywine...a little chewy, but not to chewy. Not really syrupy at all (which is kinda expected for high ABV barleywines. The drinkability is fairly decent for its alcohol content. I would not recommend this beer to anyone who does not like some good booziness.

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Photo of dwilson01
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz into my arrogant bastard pint glass, a rich dark amber coloration, glows a red-orange in the light, light tan yellow sandy coloring on the head which is composed of small bubbles, makes for a creamy looking goodness that clings to the glass with lacing so thick it's a coating.

I pick up definite fruity notes in the smell; banana, cherry, raisins, which is accompanied by the familiar much loved barleywine alcohol estery smell. Gives the nostrils a nice little tingle of anticipation. Also some woody organic freshness in the smell, like new growth.

The flavor is great, it appeals to all the characteristics of a barleywine. There is a vanilla sweet flavor combined with some oak wood. The fruit is there, mostly get the cherry/raisin part of it in the taste but I also detect a bit of apricot too. The malt is prominent, and the aftertaste warms the throat with the estery alcohol flavor.

The mouthfeel is exactly what I''m looking for in a brew with a lot of alcohol and a ton of ingredients, you notice the thickness of body and fullness of flavor and it combines in this one for an awesome mouthfeel. Drinkability follows from this as being pretty damn good although it definitely is a sipper at over 10%, not to reiterate how densely packed the body is in this brew.

Overall it's great, I recommend this to any fan of the barleywine style, or really just anyone who likes full bodied and complexly flavored beers. This one reminds me greatly of the prohibition ale except it's 2x the abv, 2x the malt, 2x the flavor, and 2x as good? Hell no, as applied to beer the term "good" is equivalent to (malt+flavor)x(abv), and (2+2)x2=8x as good!

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Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep amber color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a warm burnt toffee aroma. It's rich with caramel sweetness, yet bitter as hell with lots of hop aroma. The taste is good as well. It has a smooth, burnt toffee flavor. It's dry and really burnt tasting. It has excellent hop character that's bitter up front and resinates in the finish. There is considerable warmth that really enhances the overall enjoyment. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very good barleywine. It's solid in all departments; a good drinker.

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a somewhat cloudy burnt orange color with a small head of tan bubbles on top that faded back into the beer in about 20 seconds. After a minute, the beer was still with only a small ring of foam at the edge of the glass.

Aroma: I initially got some dark cherry notes along with some spicy alcohol and a "seasoned" hop profile. I don't know how old this beer is, but it is really close to it's prime right now.

Taste: The flavor is really complex with plenty of malt, alcohol, hops, and just about everything else you can think of. The beer itself is medium to full bodied with a noticeable carbonation. The overall balance is toward the malt, but there is hops in there everywhere. You can taste the hops and it is sneaking up in the finish so that you don't get a completely sweet beer on the back of the throat, but the malt is in charge of the finish. The beer has some age on it and the alcohol is melding well with the other characteristics so that there is some serious fruitiness here.

Opinion: Overall this beer is really good. I am fortunate that this beer is really in its prime, but there is no date on the bottle. I am guessing that it is two years old or better. About the only thing that I would like would there to be a date on it so you could keep track of vintage. Either way, this is a nice beer and I wouldn't mind drinking ir regularly.

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Photo of 1759Girl
4.09/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance> Dark ruby. Hazy. Low liveliness. Creamy head.

Smell> Sweet, alcoholic, malt

Taste> sweet, tangy, toasty. Bittersweet. Delish. Burnt toast and a cough medicine hang.

Mouf>light carbonation. Medium thickness. nice.

Drinkability> very good.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.44/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

not sure of vintage, as no date on bottle. but says "kiss the ring 002" on back of bottle.

A - cloudy deep amber color. thin head, but leaves considerable lacing

S - sweet fruit, apricot, carmel. can smell from several feet away.

T - sweet malty goodness. no hops detected.

M - a little thick, but still goes down easy. moderate carbonation

D - suprisingly not much alcohol detected, so very drinkable for the style.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich copper and ruby color. Aroma is powerful amounts of sugar and alcohol.

Taste, is more of the same. This is a very sweet and bitter (bittersweet!) beer. Nowhere near as hoppy as I would have expected from Speakeasy.

Mouthfeel, the bitter and sweet overpower so as to not catch any nuances. Drinkability not so much, but hey, .5 point for a great label design, which thereby promotes its drinkability.

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Photo of HopHooligan
3.46/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Cherry red with a nice thick foam, medium lacing on the glass.

S- It sure smells like 10%. Equal parts citrus, sweet and alcohol.

T- Hot, nutty, and malty. A peppery chocolate mint aftertaste. Sits on the tongue.

M- Nice thicker taste, dry. Lower carbonation.

D-Good barley wine, nice complex flavor. Just a little to much of an alcohol burn.

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Photo of scottfrie
2.98/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into goblet.

A: Dark honey-brown iced tea color with a quarter inch of tan head that left a sheet of lacing on the way down.
S: Hints of sweet malt, grain, alcohol, citrusy hops and some type of sweet fruit. Not particularly smelly.
T: Malt, caramel, hops, alcohol and licorice, especially in the aftertaste. Slight cough syrup flavor.
M: Alcohol warms the back of the throat and is a little sharp at times. The warmth coats your mouth and lingers for a while. The alcohol overpowers the flavor just a tad, but otherwise the carbonation and mouth-feel is fine.
D: A decent beer but the aftertaste is a little off putting. The alcohol seems to dominant the flavor as well. Ageing would probably even out the alcohol and make the flavor more balanced. I may not buy this beer again, but it was worth the try.

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Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at the Rattle 'N' Hum. Classic barleywine,unexceptional, with a little bourbon, a tad of chocolate, a tad sour. Dark colour with white head.Mouthfeel a tad above average. Malt complexity draws you in a bit, but taste does not quite live up to it.
Maybe better on cask.

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Photo of cleverbeername
3.53/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tap, 48*, pilsner glass

A nice lace, dark amber brown color body, seems a little lighter for style

S white flour, malt, hint of coffee

T rich and malty. fairyly straightforward

M coating but not too robust. Full bodied and dry

D nice because its not as high in protein and not as chewy. I could drink more than one, or a large format.

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Photo of markaberrant
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - hazy, redish-amber, thick, light tan head, creamy, lace is already sticking to the sides

S - big typical barleywine smell, not much left for hop aroma, but clean, with thick carmel malt, nutty, lucious, really good

T - more of that straight ahead, nutty carmel, dense maltiness, not much hop flavour, bitterness is med, though the alcohol accentuates it in the finish, lingering, nutty, bready aftertaste, though the alcohol is somewhat in the way

M - medium body is just about right, smooth, somewhat creamy, alcohol burn seems a little much (this is an aged bottle)

D - a very solid barleywine, just a little too much alcohol flavour and burn for my liking

The alcohol presence really detracts from what is otherwise an outstanding brew. Over the course of an hour, I was only able to drink about half of it.

Thanks to Canucklehead for the bottle!

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Photo of imaguitargod
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark amber in color that pours to a very tiny head (gave it a rough pour) that quickly dissipates to a ring around the glass. I had aged this beer a year before sampling and the hops had definitely died down but where still noticeable! Big alcohol flavor up front with some fantastic maltyness. Tons of caramel malt flavors! Definitely enjoyable and after a long day of labor this went right to my head!

~Jonathan Passow

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Photo of bheilman
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark/opaque brown color. Not the best looking beer. Has a decent scent but nothing that really catches your attention. I think caramel with the wiff. Lots of malted caramel little hops which is somewhat refreshing compared to most of the hop heavy barleywines I've drank recently, but the truth is I prefer the hop heavy drinks. Does have some oak or somewhat woody flavor in the taste too. Aftertaste does bring some hop bitterness and it is sort of alcohol tasting and leaves a warm feeling. Solid beer on a cold winter day. Not all that drinkable though because of the intensity.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a snifter. Expecting a hoppy BW here considering Speakeasy's heavy hop hand.

A: Pours a murky, amber brown. Head built nicely, but faded rather quick as expected. A ring of soapy looking bubbles settled around the glass.

S: Smelled the malt presence as soon as I cracked the bottle. Very hot alcohol smell. Hidden behind that are the malts, which smell very sweet. Great floral hops and a lingering caramel aroma.

T: Taste is quite bitter, malt presence is not the strong point of this barleywine. Hot, floral and almost has a spearmint taste. Has some oak flavors as well, smokey and hoppy haven't necessarily worked for me. A little too much going on here, could use some aging.

M: Mouthfeel, however is quite nice. Nice and thick, a bit syrupy. Has a definite barleywine feel.

D: Having some trouble with this one. A bit too hot. Definitely a sipper and I couldn't imagine having more than one, or even half of one at this point.

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Photo of degerbah
3.08/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light brown with almost no head at all. What head there is stick to the glass like glue. The beer smells extremely malty, almost to the point where it smells like unfermented wort. The sweet malty smell carries over to the beer which is so malty it is almost tongue curdling. This beer is the definition of too sweet. I feel that the beer was not properly fermented. Although there is a little bit of hops in the aftertaste this is a malt bomb to the point that it isn't as good as it could be if it was more balanced.

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Photo of tang3nt
4.23/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage Poured into a pint glass a dark amber brown color with a small light brown head. Lacing is good. The nose is really sweet. Chocolate and caramel malt aromas. The flavors are very complex. To be honest I couldn't even put my finger on everything I was tasting! Mostly chocolate and caramel malt flavors, dark fruits - mostly cherry, with a nice hop bitterness on the finish. At 10.2% the alcohol is very well hidden at this point. The body was fairly medium for a barleywine, with good carbonation. As complex as it is, it is done well. Very balanced and drinkable, this one makes for a damn good barleywine. If you have the chance, cellar this for some time! 3 1/2 years did mine justice. This made my day!

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Old Godfather from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
3.8 out of 5 based on 221 ratings.
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