Old Blowhole Barleywine
Kona Brewing Co.

Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
American Barleywine
Ranked #273
Ranked #24,650
3.83 | pDev: 10.18%
Kona Brewing Co.
Hawaii, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 12 | Ratings: 31 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Sabtos
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Deep copper with a tan film.

Smell is sweet caramel and grape, with hints of lemon and Sweet Tarts.

Taste is thick caramel, toasted graham, and resinous campfire--all sorts of hops abound!

Slick but fiery, while a little sticky.

 231 characters

Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

American craft beer week tap, 2008 reserve @ 9.5% ABV, made with Warrior, Millennium, Northern Brewer, and Centennial hops. Dry hopped, twice, with four other varietals, for whom I just tired of making notes. But yay, nonetheless. A snifter with dessert at the Kona brewpub.

This beer appears a murky, dark reddish amber hue, with one finger of Guinness-esque foamy and frothy pale beige head, which leaves some jagged continental drift lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells of pungent red grapefruit pith, a somewhat astringent metallic booziness, and some surprisingly tame caramel toffee bread pudding maltiness. The taste is head-bobbingly strong upon first glug, too much so to identify much initially. However, after settling down a bit, some very apparent bitter citrus, warm caramel toffee, mild treacle, leafy, earthy hops, and simmering, easygoing alcohol make themselves known.

The carbonation after such a cellar respite is naturally quite sedate, but not dead, either, the body hefty and zingy, rendering a masochistic smoothness. It finishes in a conflicted manner, with the ethereal hops, airily sweet caramel, and sexy booze all butting heads, allowing little in the way of cogent focus.

A hearty, crazy-ass Yankee barleywine, my head snapped to attention, my palate begging for mercy, the big flavours barely demurred. The hops are not really all that burned off for an aught-eight, and while a tad unexpected, that's a-ok with me. The balance is there, you just have to engage a few filters, much like putting on shades to enjoy the sun, or in this case, the insane individual components, which invite at least a few prolonged moments of sober (hah) contemplation.

 1,704 characters

Photo of mastodonj
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on-tap at the Kona Brewing brewpub at Koko Marina
on Oahu in a tulip-style glass.

A - Dark brownish with a creamy head and a smallish lacing

S - Not much nose (I was on the patio and it was kind of windy)
but a bit of chocolate smokiness

T - smooth moderate bitterness followed by barley,chocolate
very drinkable

M - Exceptional which contributed to its very good drinkability

Overall, it's a little tame for a barleywine, especially at 12.5 ABV.
Recommended if you're in the pub but would not go out of my
way to go there to get it.
Based on older descriptions, it's a good bet that they've changed
the recipe over the years, fairly drastically.

 659 characters

Photo of birddogg66
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass, while sitting at the bar of the Kona Brewpub. Called "Old Blowhole" since it is usually brewed for the upcoming whale season.

A- Poured a dark brown, with a bit of a garnet color when held to the light. A thick pluming off white head came over the top of the glass. Great lacing here.

S- Sweet malt with some raisin smells too. A slight floral bitterness, with a continuing fruity nose emerge as the beer warms, getting hints of strawberry.

T- Some fruity tastes start on the tongue followed by a nice bitterness in the finish. The malt really comes out with a good balance of hops. The hops start to dominate a bit more as you get deeper into the glass.

M- A very rich start with a full body, and a very dry and biting finish.

D- This is a good barleywine. There was a bigger bitterness than expected from this beer. If you are a hophead and really like the big West Coast bitterness, this barleywine is a real treat. I felt that it could have been better balanced with some more malt flavors. The alcohol doesn't really come out in the flavor of the beer, but you definitely feel it. Enjoy.

 1,126 characters

Photo of July2Nov
3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark burgundy with a half inch head. Lace holds tight.

S: Slight malts...ever so light.

T&M: Strong alcohol taste comes through straight away. However the mouthfeel is very smooth and mild. Aftertaste is a bit grainy and slightly hot. Very Malty.

D: This is what i call a "one and done". Good for an after meal drink.

 323 characters

Photo of devilben02
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Being one of the off-menu specials on draft at Kona's Koko Marina Pub on Oahu, I was interested to see what Kona can do beyond their core of pale ales and lagers. Our waitress didn't mention the given name of this beer, so finding out that its name is "Old Blowhole" makes me that much happier that I tried it.

Filling an unbranded tulip glass nearly to the brim, this one has a deep mahogany brown color but had room for only a thin creamy white head. With such a "generous" pour, I wasn't able to get much from the aroma beyond a berry-like malt sweetness up front with some earthy hops beneath. The flavor is more satisfying, with a smooth combination of earthy, herbal hops and a rich caramel malt sweetness. The beer seems fairly lightly carbonated, which helps to let the flavors out a bit, but it also makes the alcohol content of this one more noticeable. Overal, the Old Blowhole is a nice, mild barleywine that is smooth and enjoyable, making it a good, more flavorful option within Kona's lineup.

 1,008 characters

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Kailua-Kona brewpub on Thursday night (July 22nd). Following review based on notes taken at that time.

2009 vintage served in a high-walled tulip.

Appearance: Heavy carbonation feeds a two finger-high pile of dense, off-white foam. That huge head maintained its initial shape for the entire session - very impressive! Body was murky and brown-amber in color (clouded by CO2 streams). Fluffy lacing followed the beer all the way down. Gorgeous!

Smell: Herbal hops and lemon zest were the only aromas capable of piercing the thick head. After clearing some of the head aside, I caught whiffs of pine, caramel, and faint alcohol. Not much else unfortunately.

Taste: Strong, woody hops, caramel, pine, and... juniper? It was something similar to juniper anyway. Very reminiscent of some of the ultra bitter barleywines out there: Old Ruffian, Old Guardian, etc. Not as complex as I'd like, but still nicely put together.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, generously carbonated, a tad syrupy, bitter, and warm. An intense barleywine, but I mean that in a good way. Great mouth-coating. Very flavorful.

Drinkability: Lacks definitive character, but enjoyable nonetheless. The strong, long-lasting bitterness makes this an ideal fit for hop heads.

 1,251 characters

Photo of tctruffin
4.62/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a special version of this brew at the brewery in Kona, HI. It was a 2006 vintage stored in a whiskey barrel. The beverage arrived in a snifter with 2-3 fingers of tan head. We were outside at night, but I bet that the black color I saw is just as black in the daylight.

As the brew warmed, I detected a complex aroma of caramel, cream, sugar, coffee. On sipping, I was reminded even more of something creamy, and I racked my brain until it hit me: I was drinking tiramisu! It's like they liquified the wonderful Italian espresso and mascarpone confection and bottled it.

The high alcohol is not evident at all in the taste or aroma, which makes this dangerously easy to drink.

All in all, this was an exceptional brew. Well done.

 737 characters

Photo of vurt
3.42/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2002 version, sampled at the 2005 Barleywine Festival at Toronado--

Gorgeous. Deep amber with burnt orange highlights. Significant viscosity. No head, but leaves small vestigial haloes of residue on the glass.

Complex, not overpowering. Rather hard to get a good noseful despite the excellent serving temperature. Fruits and grains blend like muesli, with hops suggested as a citric presence. Blood orange, brazil nuts, vollkorn. *wonderful* If a smell can be "moreish", then this is it.

taste and mouthfeel:
For me, it didn't live up to the promise of the aroma. First sweet, like pastry icing, then bready and substantial. More subtle than complex, which was a disappointment after the magnificent smell. Mouthfeel was unfortunately lighter than expected. Soft and round, it could've used a little more texture. (Vollkorn is not a bread you can smush down, for instance.) Alcohol comes across as "warmth" instead of "burning", which is a little amazing, considering the strength.

I had no problem with the sample, and could've enjoyed a full 12 oz., except for the disappointing gap between smell and taste. Like food which smells better than it tastes, this one is almost better to sample than consume.

 1,254 characters

Photo of TurdFurgison
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at the Koko Marina brewpub on Oahu. The color was dark copper, kind of tranlucent, and very thin head. The smell was pretty good for a barleywine (a style I've liked less than others). Kind of hoppy in the grapefruit-style aroma with a sweet malty overtone. Same with flavor, balanced with both malts and hops while being very rich with both. Very powerful with alcohol, I could tell there was something hitting me hard.

 431 characters

Photo of atigerlife
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had at the Hawaii Kai brewpub.

Beer is served in a medium-sized brandy snifter shaped glass. Nice dark amber color with hints of red. Medium sized ligh brown head that had very good lasting power.

Aroma was light with some citrus and alcohol coming through.

Taste is of grapefruit, which was totally unexpected. Also some malts and the alcohol coming through.

Mouthfeel had a medium+ body and smooth.

Overall, this is a very nice sipping beer. Very enjoyable. I was suprised that the alcohol, while evident, did not overpower.

 542 characters

Photo of BeerManDan
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aloha from Kona Brewing Co. Great Pizza and even better beer. This barleywine beer was just fantastic. The color was a reddish golden yellow with loads of foam and lace. The smell of hops and spices filled my nose along with a fair amount of hops. The taste was of spices, hops and was sort of creamy in the mouth. I only wish they bottled this ale.

 349 characters

Old Blowhole Barleywine from Kona Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 31 ratings