Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
1,043 Reviews
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 15.04%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bold, yet smooth! Fermented with dates and figs, this bone-crushing barleywine has a unique flavor.

85 IBU
ABV varies from 13-16%.

Added by UnionMade on 10-10-2002

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,043 | Ratings: 2,568
Photo of Benish
3.76/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: poured a deep ruby color with no head or lacings.

Aroma: very heavy with notes of dried dates, cherries, and black licorice. There's also this meaty aroma that I can only describe as odd.

Taste: mainly cherries, dark fruits, and whiskey. Strong alcohol at the finish. The flavors are a bit harsh.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, not so syrupy as I expected.

Overall: it really needs more time to age, at least another year. The flavors seem so raw and the alcohol is potent. Very different than the other barleywines.

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Photo of BKbrew
4.46/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2/22/17 big fan of this barley wine. This beer is one for the ages. The longer it sits the better it taste. Bought 6, 1 for now and the rest for the next 5 years. That's how well this beer ages.

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Photo of Grizzarky
4.31/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled: 1/18/17
Poured a rich mahogony, with a small off white head that quickly settled into a lingering a ring that left no lacing.
Aroma is caramel, figs, and raisins.
Tastes follows the nose with a prominent and lingering dark cherry, and of coarse alcohol. Overall I'm very impressed with how smooth this is fresh at 15%.

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Photo of justme
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013. A pure delight. Great dark fruit flavor. Found it more English style than American style barelywine. Low hop bitterness was welcomed by me. Will try the current version after it aged a bit,

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Photo of brewaddict
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Reviewed on 1/17/17
This review is of a fresh bottle. Had a 2014 with about two years on it and remember it being fantastic.

L - Pours a dark honey color with a fizzy cream colored head
S - Mostly notes of caramel and dark fruit
T - I get toffee and fig sweetness up front. A weird loss of flavor in the middle. Finally some bitterness and a tinge of ethanol flavor and burn on the swallow. There is a honey aftertaste.
F - The mouth feel is syrupy, but not thick. Kind of smooth
O - Must be very young. I think this just needs some age.

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Photo of mmmbeer89
2.99/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This beer is actually carbonated like a beer should be unlike some other ''beers'' of the same style that are basically just wine. It's still not my kind of flavor but it wasn't too bad and I can't complain about a 15% ABV.

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Photo of stephens101
3.71/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Crimson with ruby hues and a fleeting tan froth. Has an aroma of plum, malt, brown sugar and faint cherry. A bit of pine too perhaps. Tastes of more dark fruits, brown sugar, and black licorice with pine in the finish. Dry and syrupy for the most part and medium in body and boozy.

Taking great care with this one, and enjoying every sip.

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Photo of delta490
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The body is a mostly clear ruby/amber, that deep reddish-brown. There is a smear of slightly creamy light tan head. It's not much, but it persists and leaves small sticky spots of lacing. As it warms, it begins to offer the dark fruits used (fig and date) sweet and a little earthy, with some nice mild roasted malts. There's a little booze to it, too. The taste is similar, but the alcohol is much more upfront until it warms a bit. The body is smooth and full, silky on the palate without the alcohol burn expected from such a large ABV.

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Photo of Just-the-sip
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L-red and cloudy. It's unfiltered and it shows.

S-Apples on the head, with a faint hint of cherry to me. Also smells a lot like a weak apple cider.

T-lots of fruit, apples again, boozy but not unbearable. Little bitter on the backend but nothing another sip can't fix.

F-Love how syripy it is. Silky smooth too. Full and a hit of carbonation.

Overall- This actually is my first barely wine and I really liked it. Probs shouldn't have drank a 12oz by myself but hey, we'll all make mistakes....or was it?

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Photo of BloodSoakedAleMug
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Copper orange color with a rapidly disappearing, one finger beige head.

Aroma: Plum wine, caramel, cherries, cream, dates, custard, red licorice and figs. Alcohol is prominent on the nose.

Flavor: Drinking this fresh for the record, don't have the patience to cellar it. Bottled on 01/18/17, Enjoyed on 02/09/17...

Malty throughout with deep flavors of caramel, cream and red fruit. I'm getting figs, raisins, plums and brown sugar. Alcohol is prominent, but as someone who drinks cask strength whiskey neat, it's no problem for me. Hints of italian maraschino cherries and tamarind as it warms.

Feel: ABV is in your face. Full bodied. Creamy. Fruity and very malty.

Overall: Quite delicious. A nice beer to sip on and contemplate. Today we had a snow storm that brought us a foot of snow and I enjoyed two of these, one before I started up the snow blower and another after I was done. A good winter warmer, will be running out again later tonight to pick up another four pack to cellar. Worth every penny. Bravo DFH. First time I've ever had this seasonal treat - but now I will be looking forward to it every year.

Beer Advocate and DFH's website says this is a Fall seasonal, but for some reason the code on my bottle says my beer was born during the winter on the 18th of January.

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Deep, clear amber pour, low head but nice sticky lacing once the glass is tilted.
Smell is dates/ raisins, some fig, and malts. Alcohol is hidden in the distance.
Taste brings that booze forward. Booze and hops. The figs and dates are there for a fleeting moment and then bam!! The alcohol knocks it right out. A sipper. "Bone-crushing" is accurate as the description here puts it.
It's not my favorite of the style by any means, but if the goal of DFH was to make what might translate INTO "old school" in terms of a grain alcoholesque presence, then they've succeeded in their effort. Not as sweet as I'd like, somewhat dry in finish, a bit bitter from the hops, and again the dark fruit figgy notes are buried in booze, but that's what this is. If the booze wasn't such a player I'd pick up even more of what I think is a hint of vanilla and raisin.
Feels medium and well-carbonated, reasonable mouthfeel for what it is.
Crisp first, then sticky as it warms a bit.
This is no 120 min. (which is stellar IMO), but it's DFH doing what they do.
I'll certainly age the second bottle I bought.

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Photo of geodonnokepyo
3.73/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Smells of brown sugar, dates, and burnt caramel
I can taste some earthy and citrus hop presence and some date flavor but it is covered up well by a heavy blanket of booze.
The feel has a sligjt chalkiness to it in the aftertaste. Very boozy
This was a fresh bottle. I would think at a minimum I would age it 2 years. I am hopeful though, and will revisit.

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Photo of Philsadvns
3.89/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Raisins raisins and more raisins. Smells like raisins, tastes kinda raisiny, but somehow that's good, even though I absolutely despise raisins. Good carbonation, color is neat, like a deep reddish brown going on. Little head on this one which isn't really an issue for me. I honestly can barely detect any alcohol which is truly amazing at 15%. Good work dogfish!

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Photo of q33jeff
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Bottle to goblet. Fresh 2017 batch.

LOOK: light brown color, holding up to light shows a red-orange hue. Small off white head.
AROMA: grape, raisin, toffee. This is still fairly cold and is still giving off some nice smells.
TASTE: caramel, toffee, fig and other fruits come later. Alcohol burn late which is expected in a young 15% barleywine.
FEEL: full bodied. A little chewy. Ok carbonation for a barleywine.

Tasty, but still a little rough around the edges. My 3 other bottles will be buried in the woods as recommended in the bottle awaiting future enjoyment when I'm sure it will be smoothes out.


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Photo of ClavisAurea
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2017 Vintage (12/2016 bottling) served chilled in a snifter

Appearance: deep copper wth a substantial off white head. No sediment in the glass. Tons of alcohol legs.

Nose: hot alcohol and booz, dark fruit soaked in grain alcohol, prunes, raisins, figs, etc.

Taste: this one is hot. Lots of the dark fruit but not a lot of complexity in there.

Overall: this one needs to age. I'll revisit the remaining three bottles next year.

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4.71/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Saw these in 12 oz four packs for the first time and the description on the label sounded interesting. I asked the beer manager his opinion on it and he simply responded " that beer is something special "
Being I love figs and dates plus high abv brews I jumped on the offering.
Semi heavy pour into a DFH tulip resulted in a very mild head, however a gorgeous rich amber color .
Sniffed into the glass a few times prior to drinking and the smell was rich and decadent of dark fruits and more flavors.
The taste was amazing as the look and smell reminded me of a few strong dark Belgians or a slightly bitter version of Samichlaus Helles/Classic (dopplebock).
Picture the sweetness of Samichlaus with a slight bitterness from the hops
As it warmed it grew more in flavor and makes for a wonderful sipper . I drink strong brews mostly, so maybe I'm immune to the high abv, but I didn't taste any. booziness for as 15 abv brew .
Mouthfeel is a rich syrupy taste from the dates and figs , which are sticky fruits.

Overall I absolutely LOVED this offering and hope to grab a case of these while they are available.
Even the side label is hilarious, suggesting that you bag a bottle and bury it in the ground/woods only to return a year later to dig it up and enjoy at that spot . Lol

Highly recommended !!!

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Photo of VashonGuy
3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2014 bottle into a snifter. Not too much to look at: just a small head, that dissipates, and a bit of lacing. Pretty strong aroma of dark fruits and alcohol, almost like a hard liquor. The taste is quite sweet, dates and some orange. Curacao anyone? Unlike some folks, I don't get any hoppiness at all. The body is pretty light, for such a strong beer. Overall, I really like it, but it's not as complex as some of my favorites. I agree with those who think this is similar to quads, but it's not quite a quad either.

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Photo of captaincoffee
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2012B that I've been keeping for a few years. Pours a muddy brownish orange with a small head that leaves a few bits of lace. Nose is syrupy fruits...dates and dark fruits...and malt syrup. Sweet and straightforward with some booze. Flavor exactly along those same lines. Not nearly as complex as I expected. Overall, and okay boozy sweet barleywine but nothing worth waiting for.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Comes out glowing orange, 1/2" off white head. Hoppy aroma, boozy, warming.

Thick viscosity to it, a little bit of woodiness from the malt, hoppiest DFH I've ever had (including the not so good 120 minute). A little bit of apple and pear citrus notes. Lots of warming alcohol in the mouthfeel, and why not at 15% its actually relatively speaking not oppressive.

Relatively straight forward for DFH, a brewery I hate on a lot, but this is a solid offering from them.

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Photo of JiminKY
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Quite a beer. Can't remember ever tasting such a booze-forward beer. Maybe it's the figs—I don't know. What I do know is DFH likes to push boundaries and experiment. This is definitely an example of that. Not necessarily what I look for in a Barleywine, but tasty and interesting as it's own style.

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Photo of MJSFS
4.17/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated "2012B" L: dark cloudy caramel color with a thin tan head and spotty lacing A: prune juice with a slight medicinal scent and booze background. T: caramel, dark fruits, alcohol, and a slight medicinal/band-aid note M: heavy and slightly syrupy O: nice representation of the style. this is my first Olde School, I would love to try a fresh one for comparison. *Sam Calagione himself signed this bottle for me*

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

No label information. Olde School is brewed in the style of an American Barleywine with figs & dates. Available in 12 oz. bottled 4 packs and on seasonal draft.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a frothy foam head of a creamy tan color over a deep copper caramel body with light haziness and ample, relaxed carbonation. Retention is below average and lacing is light and patchy. 3.5

(Smell) Rich bread malts, fermented fruit syrups, grain alcohol. Potency is moderate. 3.5

(Taste) Flavors of rich, viscous fruit syrups, biscuity bread malts and caramelized sugars. Lots of residual sweetness, creeping alcohol bite on the finish. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, moderately viscous, lightly chewy, medium dry. Body is medium+ for the style, shy of heavy overall. Balance is syrupy sweet and boozy over bitter. Alcohol presence is moderate, and there are no off characters. 3.75

(Overall) One of the better balanced examples of an American Barleywine, with a very nice fruit syrup contributing to the richness of the malt body. It's got quite a big alcohol pinch, but the beer is highly drinkable and the alcohol presence is mild enough to warrant this ale dangerously quaffable. Ages very well. 3.75

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery's
Olde School Barleywine

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Photo of Rimbimhoot
3.87/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 Vintage, should have drank earlier

Taste is caramel, raisin, toffee, dates, red apple, brown sugar, molasses, light hop bitterness

Overall I would like to try this fresh

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Photo of PaleCale
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a October 2013 bottle. Pours a hazy brownish orange, reminding me of apple cider fresh from the orchard. Smell is boozy and sweet, with the dates coming through. Taste balances the sweetness with some bitterness, so that it isn't quite cloying, and the aging seems to have smoothed out some of the harsher notes. Overall, a solid barleywine that hides its 15% ABV well.

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Photo of stortore
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into a snifter, thnik it's close to 18 months old.

Pours a hazy orange color, only a quick flash of foam for a head, small amount of lacing. Smell starts with lots of figs and dates, malt, grapes, some plum, a light wine aroma. Taste is a little more malt forward, followed by figs, dates, brown sugar, some plum, raisins, a little strawberry. Good body, although lighter than typical for the style. Incredibly smooth for the high ABV.

If you love figs and dates (and I do), this one is a big winner for you. Well worth a purchase, but it is a little pricey.

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 2,568 ratings.
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