Portsmouth Barleywine | Portsmouth Brewery

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Portsmouth BarleywinePortsmouth Barleywine
Very Good
58 Ratings
Portsmouth BarleywinePortsmouth Barleywine

Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery
New Hampshire, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep amber, full bodied, intensely bold beer that is made to show off the true qualities of the malts used. Flavors of figs and dates and malt sweetness predominate with enough earthiness from the hops to balance this beer.

Added by Bierman9 on 09-04-2007

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 58 |  Reviews: 32
Photo of daythree16
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of brandoman63
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of Photekut
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of papat444
3.3/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

***2008 Vintage***

Thanks to mrretardedmonkey for this one. Used a bit to bake a sugar pie and split the rest with my wife.

Poured from a bottle (1 pint, 6oz.).

Appearance: Deep reddish-brown body with a tan head that reaches 2 fingers and holds steady.

Smell: Alcohol, malt, toffee and berries.

Taste: Sweet, toffee, dark fruits and ends in a berry fruitiness. Has a lactic finish to it that is not the best.

Mouthfeel: All right as it's smooth and a bit chewy but the body seems to have fallen apart a bit.

Overall: This beer didn't age gracefully but there are glimmers of a good beer do drink it fresh.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.08/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of these days Portsmouth is going to make a beer that blows me away. Today was not that day.

A - Reddish brown color with a little bit of an off-white head that didn't leave anything on the sides.

S - Dark fruit, caramelized sugar, crystal malts, little bit of citrus. Something smells a little off on this one, might be the unexpected roast presence.

T - Taste is pretty much in line with the nose, and kind of dead. Caramel, dark fruit, blah blah. It's really just a boring, and not exceptional, beer.

M - Fuller side of medium bodied, soft carbonation, a little gritty.

O - As Ethan said, "Fool me 19x, shame on you..." I keep waiting for that awesome Portsmoth beer, and keep getting disappointed. Here's to next time.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.43/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Mike (AgentZero) - not sure why we're drinking barleywines on a hot summer day, but thanks I guess? Served in a Russian River tulip.

A - A finger of quick-dissolving light tan foam settles to a thin ring and some wisps, leaving tiny spots of lace. Partially transparent ruby-brown body.

S - Treacle, alcohol, light roasted grains, chocolate, and brown sugar. This is on the darker side of things for barleywines, with more roast and less overt sugary sweetness. The alcohol isn't very well-hidden, but otherwise it's a solid and interesting take on the style.

T - Taste is somewhat dull, but largely contains caramel, brown sugar, and light milk chocolate. Some obvious alcohol in the finish.

M - Medium-full body, creamy texture, lower carbonation, and some warming alcohol. Quite style-appropriate and pleasant actually.

D - It's a fairly average take on the style with a few redeeming qualities. Much better than the Uinta offering we had next to it, but not something I'd actively seek out either. I finished my glass, but chose to abstain from a refill.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 bottled from tap. Received from CooperEllis. John says he thinks this is an "oaked" variety that wasn't available for too long... I don't have the chutzpah to enter this in as a "new" beer... but I will certainly review it as a damn fine Barleywine.

Clear deep amber... long lasting off white head... plenty of caramel and something that I perceive as vanilla... good bitterness up front... nice hints of toffee and even some cocoa.. some pronounced dark dried fruits make me think of sweet cherries... minor citrus hoppiness shows mid-late palate and lingers to meld well with a bit of brown sugar essence... body is about perfect for the style... carbonation seems a tad lacking, but no real complaints.... this honestly reminds me of Full Sail's Old Boardhead with a solid year in the bottle.

If somebody at Portsmouth is reading this and can comment to the "oaked" character, please message me... I would love to hear from one of the professionals.

Thanks again John... I thoroughly enjoyed this one... That said, I am keeping it on my wants... I want another or 3.

All 4's... but probably deserves more.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.34/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage on-tap the other night.

Pours into a snifter, a brownish color with reddish hues up to the light, smallish head with not much lacing, after swirling in the glass you can make out some legs though.

Smell has a nice deep malt aroma with a good amount of dark fruit, picking up a bit of sweetness and molasses.

Taste blends just the right amount of sweetness, dark fruit and a bit of roasted malt, at this age pretty much all the hop presence has fades but fortunately this is not an overly sweet or cloying barleywine, the heat is barely evident and I get no warming sensation which is quite surprising.

A good barleywine, wish I had the chance to get a couple bottles of it but at least I enjoyed it on tap for a ghoulishly good time.

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Photo of portia99
3.93/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased direct from the brewery. Poured into a Portsmouth goblet. Sorry Chris...couldn't stare at this in my fridge any longer and had to crack it open...

A - Pours a dark brown color with attractive amber highlights around the edges and a thin half finger of cream colored foam that falls quickly to a thick layer and collar - both of which never disappear thru the glass. Some sparse, loose lacing decorates the glass too as the beer level sinks to the bottom.

S - Rich caramel aroma with some light molasses. Some light citrusy hops that fade out and a bit of bready, maybe a touch yeasty aromas too. Aroma is on the low side in intensity...really need to get your nose down in the glass to appreciate it.

T - Molasses and dark caramel are very much out in front of the flavors. A bit of fruitiness (I'm thinking cherry, but not sure) with a slightly tart touch come next. Nice touches of brown sugar, a quick hit of alcohol flavor and warmth, the smallest hint of vanilla kicks in too...and as it warms I think I'm tasting a bit of coffee too. Hop bitterness is really nice in this one. The bitterness is at a medium level that really blends nicely with the sweet, sugary malts at the base. It provides a good offset to balance things out but doesn't interfere with the malt flavors at all. You can catch all of the malt complexities without them getting lost in the hops.

M - Medium bodied...not as thick or heavy as I expected (and maybe desire in a barleywine). There is enough thickness so the beer sits on the tongue and coats the mouth nicely with all of the various sweet, caramelly, sugary flavors found in this one. Carbonation is on the light side, which fits perfectly here. Slightly foamy at first, but resulting in a smooth, creamy feel. A bit of alcohol warmth to round things out.

D - Really liking this barleywine. Lots of complexity in the malt flavors...nice balanced and complementary hop presence. After nearly completing the bomber of this, I'm feeling it a bit (not complaining tho), but the alcohol really gave just the right amount of presence...I really knew it was there, but it wasn't hot or distracting...really just enhanced the flavor and feel. Overall, very nice barleywine...gotta get a growler of this next time it shows up at the pub on tap.

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Photo of rayjay
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

straffordmilitia hooked up this as an extra.

If this is an American Barleywine, I'm Miles Davis. This is a sticky, sweet, British style concoction. Very malty with lots of carmel malt. Viscosity does remain very in-check for the amount of unfermented sugar in this guy (think hummingbird nectar). Extremely similar in style to Old Nick. Aroma is straight up carmel, Christmas fruit cake with extra dates and apricots, mild alcohol and phenols but no real booze, and hops hanging on for dear life and shouting to try to be heard. No Chico yeast here...British esters are all over this one. So much so that I really wish it was made with floor malts for the full effect. Chewy. One thing is (thankfully) missing that really should be here: heat; a testament to the commitment of the brewers to hold beer in a tank extra long and crowd precious capacity. Just for the sake of this beer. I'll drink to that. The fallout is an epic battle over bitter vs sweet, the point when the hops finally start to show too. It peaks, the bitterness eventually fades, and sweetness lingers; the whole aftertaste experience lasts over a minute and really is where the beer shows it's elegance. The boldest statement is the aroma, powerful like a cigar.

Thanks and cheers!

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Photo of Kegatron
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

64 oz growler into several glasses. Thanks go to ClockWorkorange for bringing this to a recent tasting.

Pours a deep hazy amber, with a thin covering of off-white foamy head. Retains with some fizzy wisps across the top, leaving a good bit of spotty lacing behind that coats the sides of the glass. The aroma is deep with fruit and bread, and caramel sweetness. This was aged for approximately one year, so the American hop profile has been reduced to some lighter herbal accents. There's a stiff waft of heat as well but it doesn't seem too overpowering considering that this has a nearly 12% ABV.

The taste is thick with roasted malts but is off-set nicely by some much sweeter accents of toffee and molasses. Some fruity notes and herbal hops work themselves in as well, giving this some earthy background character. Warmth and roast linger well in the finish, with a good bit of leftover stickiness hanging around as well. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a chewy and viscous nature to that falls right in line with the heftier flavors that are involved in this. The heavier ABV is present to a degree but this is one of those ones that is more workable with one's palate in smaller quantities.

Even with some age on it and the hops having faded a good bit, this was still some tasty stuff. Lots of depth and richness here, with a pretty good drinkibility on it for such a large Barleywine.

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Photo of Slatetank
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to clockworkorange for sharing this growler
poured chilled into a 1/2 pint. The growler had been aged for approx 1 yr - so take it with a grain of salt

A - Ruddy brown, chestnut hued with good clarity and very thin head

S - Fruity, caramel, toasted malt and mild floral esters w/ subtle alcohol notes

M - A dry slightly spiced and strong feel, substantial body w/ sweet middle and mild bitterness. The sweetness is pretty prominent 1/2 way in w/ hints of tangy fruitiness from the yeast and caramel textured malt w/ mild residual sweetness

T - Taste is nutty, dry and slightly fruit tinged w/ toasted and caramel malt notes very dominant and mildly alcohol tasting w/ more stone fruit and toffee-like essence that lasts into the finish. The flavor has plenty of caramel sweetness and subtle berry effects from the yeast throughout

D - I appreciated sampling this barleywine, which is pretty tasty in small doses, at 11%+ you can't say it is highly drinkable, yet for the style I consider this a barleywine I wouldn't mind having again. It does suffer from a bit too much malt , but for those who enjoy malt bombs I recommend this

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage: Poured a nice golden amber color with good carbonation and a dirty white head.Nose is toffee, booze, caramel and chocolate. Taste is a whirlwind of flavor with chocolate being up front then caramel, toffee,booze. Mouthfeel is nice, balanced but still hot after 3 years. Good bwine indeed!!!

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Photo of JustinJTisdale
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this at the brewery and it poured with virtually no head. Whatever carbonation that was visible disappeared after a minute or so leaving no lacing at all.

The smell was good faintly fruity with the slightest hint of what could have been an oak smell.

The taste had a little too much alcohol in it for me but the orange fruity finish was enough to keep me drinking it.

Not sure if I would get it again but it wasnt terrible by any means.

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Photo of ffejherb
3.59/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to FooFaa for sharing a growler of this on 12/11/09.

A - The barleywine emerged from the jug as a deep ruby-colored liquid with a thin, off-white sheet on top that settled into a patchy retention and left virtually no lacing at all.

S - Sweet and boozy aroma with dark fruit notes, candi sugar and a hint of tobacco. An underlying citrus/orange character is also apparent, albeit more subtle than the other components.

T - Sweet, sugary and floral with a prevalent alcohol warmth. Dark fruit isn't as apparent in the flavor as the aroma, however. Orange oils and a citrus peel character is also present but subtle. Finishes with a moderate floral and perfumy hop bitterness.

M - Medium bodied with a slight bristly texture and moderate alcohol warmth on the palate. Slightly dry, bittersweet finish, although not overly hoppy at all.

D - I found this to be a little too sweet overall, but otherwise this was quite enjoyable. The alcohol remained fairly restrained despite the big ABV%.

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Photo of Deuane
4.02/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to FooFaa for sharing his GAtM booty---->from the "Maine" man Joepais!

A-Deep reddish-brown with some ruby highlights along the edges. A small off-white head disappears to a whisper of a veil and leaves spotty lace.

S-Sweet caramel and toffee with brown sugar all smothering a bowl of fresh cut oranges.

T-Brown sugar covered oranges with a lovely underlying toffee/burnt caramel roastiness. Some astringency from dark fruit in the drying finish.

M-Medium-heavy bodied and VERY smooth! Nice lingering flavours with a candy like effect.

D-I like the heavy handed orange flavour pairing with the toasted caramel. Like a Christmas cookie in a glass!

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Photo of EnronCFO
3.73/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. pour into a tulip glass at the brewery

A: Very dark brown, slight tinges of red at the edges. In the dim lights at the brewery, looked almost black. Only a slight head. Beer really coats the glass.

S: Very sweet, hard to believe it's a 100+ IBU beer, almost no hops in the smell. Brown sugar and alcohol.

T: Similar to the smell, very sweet, no hop bitterness. Booze is very present up front, but the finish is syrupy sweet.

M: When it first hits your mouth, it's almost abrasive as you have to adjust to alcohol and sweetness. Even as it warmed, every sip required a second to hold it in your mouth to let the flavors overcome the alcohol. Leaves a pleasing coating on your tongue.

D: Could not drink more than one of these and be able to drive, so definitely takes a hit there. Really needs to warm up to be able to drink with any ease.

I had this the day after I tried Treblehook at Redhook. Treblehook is like a beginner's Barleywine next to this big boy. Looking forward to drinking some more, will be sure to let it warm up before drinking next time.

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Photo of rpstevens
3.15/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up the 08 Barleywine at the store recently. Poured into a dogfish head signature glass.

The beer pours a dark ruby with barely any head at all. There is a slight oily lacing left on the sides of the glass.

The smell is all malty, sugary alcohol. There is a slight citrus hop scent in the background, but not much.

The taste is very sweet, there's almost no hop presence. A lot of sugared candy sweetness and malt with a very present alcohol flavor.

The beer is a bit too sweet for me at this point, I prefer it fresh with all the hops still present. The alcohol is still very present but the citrus character and dry finish are gone.

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Photo of TK5150
4.5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2008.

A- Pours a reddish ruby brown with a small off white head.

S- Very sweet smelling, lots of caramel/toffee, raisins, brown sugar, and molasses.

T- Tastes very sweet with everything from the nose present in the taste. Along with the malt, raisins, brown sugar, and molasses really stand out. Lingering traces of chocolate.

M- Low carbonation enhances the full bodied mouthfeel.

D- So tasty I could drink too much, but not at the $10 price tag.

Overall one of my top 5 barleywines. A very unique version of a style of beer that has too many duplicates IMO. Cant wait till next winter's release.

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Photo of gford217
4.37/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber courtesy of MrRetardedMonkey poured into a snifter.

Pours a deep reddish brown that shows a clear copper when held up to the light. There is a small short-lived off-white head that stays on as a swirl of bubbles and a collar.

The aroma is very sweet, like caramel apples, and definitely more fruity than most barleywine aromas. There is plenty of dark sugar sweetness as well, with only a hint of hops.

There is more of a citrus presence in the taste, especially up front. The taste also has more of the toffee sweetness I was expecting in the nose on top of the caramel malt base with lots of apples and raisins in the there as well. The alcohol is not hiding much in the finish and leaves a noticeable burn going down.

The mouthfeel is on the fuller side of medium-bodied and has some soft carbonation that helps the sweetness stick on the palate between sips.

This is a very good barleywine and, despite the alcohol presence, is still very drinkable. The fruitiness makes it a bit original and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Photo of DIM
4.44/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a very hazy ruby/mahogany color. It poured with a medium sized but short lived off-white head.

s: Lots of rich toffee, and fresh citric hops. In smaller amounts I also noticed some raisins, molasses, and a hint of chocolate.

t: This started off with some sweet, slightly smoky toffee. Some citric, mildly piny hops came next. The finish was very sweet, but in a wonderful way. Brown sugar, molasses, and just a trace of chocolate. The warmth from this one was surprisingly gentle.

m: Thick and juicy with gentle carbonation.

d: Thanks to joepais for the chance to try a stellar barleywine. I had high expectations for this one and it was as good as I'd hoped.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a PB snifter.

Deep brown with a shade of garnet beneath a layer of creamy, light brown head. Delicate lacing with decent retention. Aged, vinous fruity esters: lemon, orange, plum, grape, red cherry. Pine-filled hops with a near intense nose of alcohol. Toasted malts that are soon overtaken by a pine and floral hop character. Assertive, young fruit flavors: plum, grape, and red apple that are overtaken by a sharp, acidic alcohol presence. The aftertaste includes whiskey, rough pine, and slightly unbalanced, aged fruity esters. Full bodied; somewhat smooth prior to a gaseously slick mouthfeel caused by the waves of young alcohol. Flavorful, but too young and aggressive to order another glass.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.26/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy brown with murky red highlights when held to light. Smallish off white head dissipates quickly. Smells of dark dried fruit, caramel, toffee slight alcohol. Taste is sweet, a bit hot, syrupy dried fruit and caramel. Aftertaste of alcohol and a slight hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is syrupy Body is thick, carbonation is ample. Great sipper Still my favorite brewpub!

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Photo of joepais
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stopped downtown for a pint today and had Donna pour me a Barleywine. It arrived in a standard pint glass with a nice light skim of white lace. The body of this ale was a hazy brown with reddish highlights.

Aromas of sweet grain and caramel filled my nose from this one. The flavors follow the nose in some ways sweet, and almost like eating toffee. There is a slight warmth to this one but not to much considering the 11.5%. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy it feels great just sipping away at this puppy.

Great sipability on this, I try to limit myself to just one a sitting, but it is hard to do. Another fine brew from the guys here at the brewery.

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Portsmouth Barleywine from Portsmouth Brewery
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 58 ratings