Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
1,051 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: 1,051 | Ratings: 2,589
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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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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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 2,589 ratings.
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