Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
1,063 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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Reviews: 1,063 | Ratings: 2,612
Photo of woodychandler
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

As the eradication of the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody continues, the next brewery's horizontal to be conducted is that of DFH with this beer being my last for the time being. On to the next from here!

From the bottle: "A Barleywine style ale brewed with figs & dates"; "This beer ages with the best of 'em"; "What you have here is a bottle-conditioned Barleywine style ale. DIRECTIONS: Open bottle, pour contents into two snifters. Enjoy. OR: Walk-hand-in-neck into the middle of the woods. Use a shovel to dig a 2 x 2 hole three feet deep. Seal the bottle in a plastic bag. Place in hole & pack with dirt. Memorize location & leave. Return exactly one year later. Dig up bottle, open & enjoy."

I am coming to embrace the idea of Pop!ping the cap & proceeding with a gentle pour, rather than an aggro one. Less chance of a mess + it gives me the opportunity to conduct an in-glass swirl. In this case, I raised just over a finger of foamy, light-tan head with moderate retention that left decent lacing in its wake. Color was Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity. Nose had a LOT of fusel heat atop layers of caramel; leather; dried, dark fruits and pine resin. Phew! In sum, it was like the rush of inadvertently inhaling olde school model glue as a young man in the mid-1970s. Mouthfeel was big, full & viscous, befitting a behemoth like this. The heat was overwhelming on the tongue, but upon swallowing, the caramel malt and minty pine flavors really came to life. Inhaling to catch my breath, it was like a dichotomous cool heat rushing through. Finish was hot, dry, minty and yuge! Yuge, I tell you!

Mine was a fresh 2017 bottle, but I will revisit it again, either with a vintage from this same year or with something from my cellar.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look - Auburn color with really no head very very slight skimming and slightly hazy.
Smell - boozy with dark red fruit like dark red cheeries and figs
Taste - strong booze taste with dark bitter fruit
feel - heavy fizzy bold
Overall - to much carbonation. I think this beer would be a lot better with out so much carbonation. I'd lessen the booze as well.

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Photo of weareallfalafel
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter (in two installments, of course). Pours a hazy auburn color with a half inch of off white head that falls quickly. Smell is booze, tons of booze. A little bit of dark fruit (the dates and figs) and maybe some hops, but mostly alcohol. Taste is a lot easier to decipher. The figs and dates come out a lot more, some vanilla, lots of toffee, a hop bite, and then a good bit of alcohol in the finish. Feel is a bit slick, but not too much and feels pretty full in body, with a little alcohol burn in the swallow. Overall, it's big and a bit intimidating, but if you let it warm a bit and sip it slowly, its easy to love as well. I'd recommend it, but definitely not as an everyday drink. Maybe age would do it well, too, but I tend to not like old barley wines as much, due to that soy sauce/brothy quality. If you like big, boozy barley wines, I'd pick one up!

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Photo of neenerzig
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

poured out of a 12 oz bottle into one of my tulip glasses, this beer pours a fairly cloud/hazy copper color with lots of streams of little bubbles continuously and fairly rapidly rising to the beer's surface. Has a creamy looking tan head that's over an inch thick when first served. Head settles to a solid 1/2 of an inch thick with good retention and quite excellent lacing. Aromas of toasted, dank caramel malts, booze, dates, figs, a bit of brown sugar, and perhaps a hint of honey. The flavors are pretty much the same, with some toasted, dank caramel malts, booze, some additional sweetness from the aforementioned dates and figs, some brown sugar, and some earthy hop bitterness to add a bit of balance. Has a fairly crisp, slightly chew, slightly syrupy, fairly thick, full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Very easy to drink for a 15% AVB beer, as the booziness is well masked. I really started to feel that 15% AVB after a few swigs though. Has a fairly clean, slightly dry finish. The sweet and bitter flavor notes like to linger on the palate for the after taste after each sip. An interesting take on this style of beer.


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Photo of SaisonRichBiere
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage poured into a snifter. Pours dark honey golden-brown with minimal head, but here is some bubble retention around the glass. Smell is smooth date, fig, honey, brown sugar aromas. Taste is all date sugars with a hint of fruitiness, and smooth caramel. Texture is soft and not overly heavy making this more of a drinker than a sipper. Great barleywine with 5+ years of age to smooth it out. A dessert beer for sure.

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Undated bottle into pint glass. Pours a hazy deep honey-amber with a light tan head. Initial impression is booze - bourbon or cognac or something, but whatever it is, it pretty much overwhelms everything else. There is a fleeting sweetish caramel taste, followed by astringent bitterness. Mouthfeel is sticky and thick; carbonation is on the light side but kinda irrelevant at this ABV. Definitely a weekend sipper. Finish is dry and slightly bittersweet. Bitterness comes a little more to the front as it warms.
This would be a good candidate for cellaring. Wish I'd bought a second bottle, 'cause I'm betting it would improve with age.

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Photo of Benjolovesbeer
3.43/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Rating is based on fresh, I am aging 3 so perhaps those will taste better:

L: amber scotch look with minimal head

A: vodka

F: heavy, boozy, slow sipper yet smooth so with age I have a feeling this will be amazingly good

T: scotch, vodka, booze, and more booze, slightly sweet

O: I was expecting more fig and date flavor but hey for 15% this is pretty flavorful and I have a good feeling this will greatly improve with age.

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

12 oz. bottle. Bottled on 01/18/17. Poured into a tulip glass.

Look: Golden amber orange. Very little head. Clear.

Smell: Lots of alcohol heat. Honey. Warm malt.

Taste: Very boozy. Bitter. I can't taste much of the figs or dates.

Feel: Medium body, low carbonation, syrupy.

Overall: Tons of bite on this one. I think it needs a year or two to mellow out. Not their best high-ABV brew.

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Photo of jzlyo
4.48/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is dark fruit, caramel malts and fruit/expected alcohol. The flavor is caramel malts, fruit/dark fruit, very mild nuttiness and an alcoholic/medium sweet finish.

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Photo of Shade1951
2.96/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wow. Not sure about this one. DF Head just about never misfires, in my experience. I am tasting this as I write, and at the moment, I am disappointed.

The appearance is reasonably barleywine-ish. Cloudy, dark brown/amber. The smell is quite boozy. Sure it's 15% ABV. Even so, I really get that alcohol on the nose, and not in exactly a pleasant way. I guess the other smell would be that of dark dried fruit - figs maybe. A very small hint of sweetness.

The flavor somewhat follows the smell, except for the sweetness. It's a dry brandy/cognac flavor. It's not bad... but it's not what I prefer in a barleywine. Given the high ABV, this beer is obviously a sipper. But the dry, bordering on unpleasant flavor insures that one doesn't drink much at a time.

Now that it has warmed a bit, the flavor may have improved... a bit. Or maybe my palate has adjusted. I still would not describe the flavor as good, though.

I purchased a 4-pack, and I'm glad that's all I bought.

For me, it's an extremely rare misstep from Dogfish Head. If you really like dry brandies, cognacs, you may find this beer to your liking. It just doesn't work for me.

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Photo of gopens44
2.76/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.25

Smells nice and sweet but sorta drops off after that. Nearly off puttingly hot muddled anything else in this quizzically thin as hell beer. If hard pressed for descriptions on the rest of the flavors, I'd go Windex, diesel and whatever that smell is in KMart, in that order. So the mouthfeel stays thin like a diet cookie until the very finish when the oil slick (perhaps from the diesel taste) rolls in. I'm having this on tap, so maybe the secret is to age bottles. Dunno, but if that's the case, stop kegging it.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sparkling apricot-red with a soft, frothy off-white head.

Smell is sticky, dank booze, with cherry, raspberry and apple skin.

Taste is toffee, apple, booze, butter, Werthers, and herbal medicine.


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Photo of yuenglingfan101
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bright to medium color kinda reddish orangish color. Very strong but goes down very smooth for a beer of 15% abv. Kinda bourbony taste and it just a perfect for Dogfishhead

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Photo of tekstr1der
3.71/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Amber-mohagany pour with ring of tan. Aroma is mysterious with a syrupy malt seeming to be balanced by a strange bitterness. Wow that innocuous smell is deceiving, the flavor is full-blast with alcohol ruining it all. There are hints of various good tidings such as the sweetness of fig and date, as well as brown sugar. Unfortunately the booziness quality - almost whiskey-like, dominates and ruins for me. I've had plenty of 11-13% brews where the alcohol is well-hidden and barely noticeable. At just a few percent higher this stuff unravels, and likely requires extensive aging.

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Photo of Thy_Philosopher_King
2.44/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This just isn't my beer. Maybe it's hint of wine, or the fig and date brew, but it just isn't feeling like the type of brew that accomadates the palate of this guy. It's striking and pretty, but the kick is that of a tequila shit. Which I'm not too fond of drinking when I'm having my mind set in in drinking beer. It has a cool bottle, and a beautiful look, but the feel (besides the drunk) isn't all too spectacular.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a filtered dark orange color with ample alcohol legs.

Aroma is of booze, sweet malt, citrus, and perhaps dark fruits. Alcohol dominates the aroma.

Taste is on the thicker side with the alcohol biting near the middle-end of the sip. Chest warming and definitely some astringency. A good amount of sweet malt, toffee, caramel, and a kiss of fig. Some spicy hop character is notes just before the alcohol sets in.

Overall, this is just alright. The booze detracts and doesn't add anything. I see this pairing well with a glass of water due to the thickness. It gets a 82/100.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A stunning ale from Dogfish from the 12 oz bottle in a snifter via a friend
from work who has discovered the joy of full bodied ales----
Welcome to the dark side Kevin---we have cookies and Thank You
very much for this treasure!

This BEAST pours a luminous red tinged amber with a nice head of off
white foam that settles to a thick ring, thin layer, and features some nice
sudsy lacing. Nose of dates, figs, strong booze, brown sugars, golden raisins,
and assertive herbal and floral hops. Flavors follow the nose with rich brown
sugars awash in figs and dates with a nice strong grape and white raisin note
on mid palate with strong pine and herbal hops blanched in strong booze
reminiscent of rum. Excellent mouth feel; medium full body; extremely
warming and boozy, medium low carbonation that keeps this one lively
to cut through the sweetness, and a sweet hopped finish.

Overall one of the best little barely wines I have ever had and a testament to
great brewing with a high ABV that is balanced in it's presentation.


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Photo of zonker17
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Copper colored draft pour with insignificant head, no lacing. Slight booze on the nose, dried figs, some toffee, almost like sherry. Boozy like a mixed drink, sweet but not overly, balanced bitter finish. Heavy body and low carbonation.

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Photo of DraconusDesanctus666
3.86/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle (bottled on 01/18/17),into a Funky Buddha snifter.

Thin frothy off white / light khaki colored head with low retention.The body is an orange / amber color with very low clarity,and only distorted light showing through the glass.There seems to be alot of sludge and sediment,with low carbonation.

On the nose I get alot of dark fruits,mostly figs and dates.There is also a fair amount of alcohol notes,mostly a whiskey aroma.Getting some dark roasted malts,caramel,and toffee.The alcohol in the nose is strong,but not overly intimidating.

On the palate I get whisky,apples,dark fruits,barley,roasted malt,caramel,and toffee.The whiskey is pretty dominant all the way through the sip,but it is still a pretty decent tasting beer.I will definitely have to age a bottle of this and revisit it in a couple years.It is a little strong,but would probably taste good with aging.

The body is medium thin,with a good amount of oxidation on the tongue,and a dry finish.

This is a pretty good beer.A little harsh,but I would like to see what this beer tastes like after a few years of aging.Can't say whether or not I would recommend until I try it cellared.So get back to me in 2-5 years on that.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.53/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottled on 01/18/17

Pours clear red amber with a dense creamy off-white foam head. Smells like fruity bubblegum-esque figs, dates, apples, pear, some grape, plum, banana, dark roasted malt, chocolate, molasses, dark caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted bready malt, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Tastes like figs, dates, apples, pear, some grape, plum, banana, dark roasty malt, chocolate, molasses, dark caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted bready malt, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Feels medium bodied, creamy and smooth with moderate carbonation. Overall a real nice barleywine with figs and dates.

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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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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 2,612 ratings.
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