Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
1,028 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: 1,028 | Ratings: 2,528
Photo of Borkman18
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best barley wines I have tasted in a while. Me and my friend always ask for it when we go to a store together. Plus, my buddy loves the high ABV barley wines so this one does the trick at 15%. Very tasty, not too malty as some barley wines tend to be.

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Photo of eddzpc
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love good craft beers and disdain bud/miller etc. I'm not a sophisticated reviewer in that most reviews of various beers I read describe flavors I can't find for the life of me , no matter how hard I try and how much I use my imagination.This is my experience: I prefer to drink these at room temperature and find it Absolutely delicious.I am able to discern the figs and dates. It is a nice dark amber color and poured into a Sam Adams glass, Big head when poured straight down the middle of the glass subsides fairly quickly-but leaves- thin head that lasts until i
I have drained the glass imparts a very pleasant bouquet. I will select Olde School over any beer I have ever tasted. I bought 4 4-packs last fall and have aged them for 10 months, with the intention of bringing them out infrequently to see the changes with age. They are so awesome tasting that after bringing out a couple, I have quickly brought out the rest and now have only 2 left. When they come out this fall, I will buy up all I can find so I can follow through on my original plan to bring out some at various intervals to enjoy the benefits of aging.

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Photo of ABV
5/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

beautiful golden orange, smell of dried fruit, citrus, spices....sweet, not overly, amazingly drinkable for 15%abv; tiny pricks of carbonation, thick luscious mouthfeel, zingy peppery finish. complex and delicious. certainly one of a kind, a highly original take on the barleywine. first class!

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Photo of hdelavega
4.92/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 Poured from a 12oz bottle to a snifter glass.

A nice ruby red with a slight tinge of gold. The pour rendered about a quarter inch of white head. Beautiful lacing!

A big nose of caramelized sugars, sweet malt, fruit, raisons, booze, honey. This beer smells awesome!

The taste is great, sweet and malty with a slight bit of hop bitterness in the finish. I get honey, grape, strawberry, raspberry, a bit of chocolate, and some rum soaked raisons (I read a review where last week someone used that descriptor so I soaked some raisons in rum and wow, try it yourself).

The feel is silky and warm, oh so good... The carbonation on this 07 brew is sitting really nice, it is medium, but the way it blends with the silky smooth feel makes this elixir exciting and subtle at the same time.

I traded an 09 120min IPA for this guy and I am glad I did. I tried a fresh Olde School a couple years ago and was not a big fan (however it was before I developed the taste for barleywines). This guy however was delicious!

Just an extra note: Last week I had a 2007 Fort and this 07 olde school gave me some serious de javu. Just a ton of faded pureed raspberries off.

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Photo of tzieser
4.92/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

bottled on 11/21/08 (which is precisely two years after i opened my BA account!)....I have been looking forward to this bottle for a few years now.

a: poured from 12oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Nice white head that sticks very well. crystal clear and dark amber in color. i'm impressed.

s: very fruity nose. notes of dates, figs and dried fruits. alcohol is certainly there and i'm also noticing a slight lactic acid smell. absolutely fantastic and not what i was expecting.

t: very sweet malty flavor. very strong taste. notes of dried fruits and possibly brown sugar. not too syrupy. i can state that this is one of the best barleywines i've had to date.

m&d: smooth mouthfeel; excellent drinkability;

wish i had more bottles of this stuff. people weren't joking when they said it ages spectacularly. well done.

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Photo of assmandugle
4.88/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Almost no head when poured into a snifter but I'm sure would be larger with age. Wine in the name of this means what it is but it has an amazing beer like start with a nice almost wine like fruity fig taste. Amazing beer could get plastered on this stuff except I'd rather enjoy the flavor.... great for pre-game.

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Photo of benmiliron
4.87/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Oh.. hell.. yes!

A gift from the generous Mr. Sam Calagione. Thank you sir!

Pours a hazy orange brown, most unexpected from a barleywine of this magnitude. Tastes beautiful. Doesn't taste as strong as most barleywines (yeah, that's a little weird, get over it.) Woody, spice tones and good hop character. I wish this was available locally, it'd accompany me to many an outing that I didn't want to go to. Alcohol is hidden well but warms the tummy. This brew is just exquisite!

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Photo of scottum
4.87/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

So stoked to see this on tap so I just had to have it. Tastes ever so smooth. Very fruity. The 15% is so well hidden. This is one of my all time favorite brews. It needs a bit of age, but it is damn good young aswell. If you see this on tap, snap up the chance to have yourself a glass. Otherwise, buy two of the the corked bottles and bury one as per directions on the bottle.

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Photo of cozmohollis
4.87/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Orange/Amber color. Not much of a head and a very fine lace.

Smell - High alcohol scent with a bit of raison in the background.

Taste - Changes in taste throughout. First taste: raison or dried fruit. Then: you get the higher alcohol content taste. Lastly: you it tastes a bit like caramel.

Mouthfeel: Beginning is heavy and syrupy. After you breath out, you get a tingling sensation from the high alcohol content. After that, your mouth dries out fast.

Overall: Really like this beer. It's the first Barleywine I've ever tried. I thought that I wouldn't like it and that it wouldn't be an enjoyable beer for me, given the high alcohol content. That's not the case. I like the complexity of the beer and would definitely recommend that everyone tries it.

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Photo of aquatonex
4.83/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have had quite a few barleywines but this one is one of the best ones I have had!

Pours dark mahogany with a little bit of swirly head, not much lacing, not overly carbonated. Smells like a liqueur with malts. Taste is also more like a carbonated liqueur than a beer, but considering the 15% there is no burn, it is all very balanced, sweet, and heady. As my girlfriend described, who hates other barleywines, this is what barleywines should taste like. It's everything you ever wanted in one, with exception of the roughness (which is nice change).

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Photo of MrBoh
4.83/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

October 2011 bottle (bought). About 1 year from purchase to taste. I only aged it because it told me to. And believe me, it was worth it. Everyone LOVED it. Nice pungent aroma as soon as it was poured. Like a red wine. Not what I was expecting, even though it is a barleyWINE. As I tasted it and let it sit, the more complex the taste and aromas became. It took on more of a red wine character. With the complexity of this one, I really should have reviewed it on the spot. But, unfortunately, it'll be at least a year before I can get another 1 year old Olde School. But, nonetheless, it is one more reason to but and age another 4 pack... or 4 cases for that matter.

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Photo of Paymygasbill77
4.82/5  rDev +23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a bottle purchased in 2010 aged, opened and poured into a wine glass.

Appearance: Like a good, dark barleywine. Brownish-red, cloudy with very little head and mild lacing.

Smell: AMAZING! Dark fruit and Caramel. I didn't have to stick my nose in the glass, I could smell it from the moment I cracked the cap. I had to stick my nose in anyways for the full effect.

Taste: Malty, Dry, dark fruit and BONE DRY. After tasting this the past two years I was still expecting a cloying, hoppy mess. This has transformed into a totally different beer. If you buy this, don't bother drinking it for at least a year.

Mouthfeel: chewy and wonderful. Like a barleywine should be.

Overall: FANTASTIC! Like I said, Don't drink unless you set it asside for a year or more.

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Photo of EStreet20
4.82/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

No lie this beer called my name tonight. I worked a twelve hour day and came home in need of beer but had a completely beer free evening (Designated driving duties, hey we all have to do our time for our friends). Came home late and had a celebration ale then wanted a big beer to finish off the night. After contemplating an Old Ho' or a Stone RIS I said hell, it's time to finally try this one, the biggest beer in my fridge at the time. I've always loved DFH and lately have been on an American barleywine kick. Let's see how this goes.

12 ounce bottle poured into a 22 ounce snifter.

A - A moderately hard pour yielded a light amber colored beer with a decent sized white head. Lighter than I expected but still nice looking.

S - Sugar and alcohol up front with some piny notes. Can tell a nice malt sweetness must be awaiting me in the taste. Does have a bit of a wine smell and some nice fruity notes that I can;t make out.

T - Wow a very interesting fruity taste with some pure sweet malt flavor. The hops throw a nice bit of balance in there and the warming really enhances the flavor. Alcohol is barely detectable. Delicious.

M - So very nice and smooth. Perfect, moderate carbonation. Really flows well and rolls around the tongue.

D - Perfect. Obviously not drinkable at all in the session sense but completely perfect in the wow this is awesome stuff sense. So much complexity that I keep wanting sip after sip.

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Photo of chefdaddy18042
4.82/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i'm sorry, this is my favorite beer. if you are a true barleywine afficianado or have an appreciation for them, this is the pinnacle of barleywines.

amazing oak essence matched with luscious overtones of rich earth. this beer truly proves itself worthy in the dogfish catalogue.

now i understand i am being biased in this review, but it still is an amazing brew that was concocted here.

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Photo of Maestro
4.82/5  rDev +23%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

appearance: This one is the lightest in color of any barleywine I have sampled. The beer pours an orange color with a thin, frothy head and a bit of lacing is present.

smell: The malts seem to be more present than anything else in this beer. I appreciate the crisp, refreshing scent of citrus.

taste: very citrus and filled with a malt presence that doesn't seem to be heavy. The beer has a great complexity that has all the characteristics of a great barleywine without the heaviness of most. Some hops come through in this one, too.

mouthfeel: very clean and crisp...even refreshing.

drinkability: scary...be very, very careful. It goes down too smoothly.

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Photo of cnbrown313
4.81/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I just got done saying that this was my favorite non barrel aged barleywine, so I needed to sit down and write a review. 2012 bottle consumed after about a year in the cellar.

A - Pours a rich mahogany color with a solid one finger off-white head. There's more carbonation than I expected for a year old 15% abv barleywine.

S - Mmmm... smells of dark fruit. Lots of dates, figs, raisins, wood, booze, and brown sugar. And there's a slight boozy smell too.

T - There is a little heat up front from the abv, but over all this is extremely smooth and easy to drink. TONS of dark fruit. If you like dates and figs there is a ton of that going on.

M - The mouth feel is slightly thick and chewy, but perfect for the style in my opinion.

O - It's definitely a sipper, but one that I enjoyed very much. Surprisingly easy to drink, even at 15% ABV. A year in the cellar was perfect for this beer too, in my opinion.

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Photo of Frosty80
4.79/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Color: pours a light, golden brown. sits dark copper

Smell: wonderful! reminds me of the 120. malt dominated nose of alcohol, hops and sweet, dark fruit.

Taste: warm alcohol, sweet malt with plums and raisins and a good hop presence to tie it all together. finishes semi-dry and with just a light bitterness

Mouthfeel: medium, slightly chewy body with medium carbonation

Notes: delicious. just what i was hoping for. light for a barleywine but makes it up in flavors

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Photo of Saro
4.78/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into my Maudite snifter.

A- Dark ruby red, still transparent. gorgeous color.

S- spicy and the alcohol punches you in the face.

T- for being a barley wine at 15%, the amount of spices mask it very well.

M- very smooth over the tongue with the subtle boozey burn. cant wait to see what happens over the years. I can see DFH blowing up to the point where they lose the respect of the "smaller" micros, but for now, Olde School is a serious barleywine.

D- i picked up a 4pk. drank 2 within 4hrs. sip it slow eat nothing with it so you can get the complexity of it. dont think you should have more than 2 bottles at a time.

overall, this beer is great. one of the best barleywines ive had. good work to the people at DFH

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Photo of hubbitron
4.77/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm a big fan of barleywines and in my opinion the style needed a swift snakeskin boot to the crotch. I haven't lately been too excited about Dogfish but this brew has brought it all back.

Poured deep amber into a snifter. For me it retained a nice head though there wasn't too much carbonation to the mouthfeel.

The initial sip was surprising and the alcohol was present initially, but as I let it sink in, a huge depth of toasty candy and earthy flavors appeared. It became more drinkable with every sip until I no longer cared about the stresses of everyday life.

It's going to get better with age. If you demand big flavor and strength in your beer, this is for you.

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Photo of berpwillie
4.77/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours a clear copper -amber color with almost no head, and very little carbonation, almost none. for this beer being 15% i couldn't taste this alcohol at all. incredibly delicious beer that was very easy to enjoy, it went down almost too easy. definitely one of the best beers i've ever had. i have friends of mine who didn't seem to feel the same was as me, but i thought this beer was tony the tiger greatttt!

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

2011 bottle date, poured into a dogfish head ale snifter. pours a murky, ruddy mahogany with visible carbonation that produces almost no head. color darkens ruby towards the bottom. nose; brash, boozy candied fig & dates, toffee, raisin & light hop bitters (centennial & cascade?). taste; easy caramel malt followed by the nose - big figs, dates, sugar, molasses & simple mellowed earthy hops. an almost oaken bourbon barrel sweetness rings on the aftertaste along with raisin and some very slightly medicinal cherry. bitters are definitely second fiddle to the giant, alcoholic dark fruit here. medium carbonation and heavy mouthfeel. a touch syrupy, but still lively. at 15% abv, there is some unavoidable ethanol character here, and i would assume 4 years in a bottle has rounded that as well as could be expected. so, it is definitely warming, but the roving fruit and sugar profiles are worth it. this seems like an incredibly well-balanced barleywine. a big, complex sipper from dogfish head that is among the best in this style; sign me up!

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Photo of marchoftheclouds
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%

I could drink this all day. We'll maybe until I fell down! Smooth, smooth, smooth. Hard to believe at 15% ABV. Wonderful, unique flavor. Not perfect or my favorite style, but very, very close.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.72/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours with a two-finger, bubbly cream head that fades quickly and leaves some lace. Pale, cloudy amber color, ton of yeast left in bottle. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is sweet malt and alcohol. Flavor is raisins and alcohol, finishes smooth and sweet NOT a session beer . . . savor this beer. This is one of the best barley wines brewed in the States. $16.49 for a 4-pak of 12oz bottles from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA

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Photo of baos
4.72/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From Notes:

Served in a pint glass.

A: Nice copper body with half a finger ecru head that dwindles to a nice film. Pretty good lacing.

S: Apple jolly rancher wine aroma. Big boozy wine on second wiff.

T: Dark fruit preserves and an almost strong champagne flavor. This is certainly wine. But the barley seems almost vacant. It reminds me more of a Belgian Strong ale minus the wheatiness. Must be the candy sugar-sweet pizazz.

M: Nice big medium feel. Almost a Champagne feel as well but a wee bit thicker.

D: I'm kind of confused about how a true Barely wine should taste, smell, and feel. However, I love this beer. If you hap upon this review and can enlighten me on Barely wines please inform. Thanks, Bao

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Photo of kurtissellen
4.72/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an oversized wine glass yielding a small light brown head that quickly fades. Dark rich amber color that was clear and had lots of carbonation present. Scents of sweet figs and lots of alcohol!!. Taste bud overload with the first sip, detected sweet grapes, raisons, light molasses all the while carbonation tickles the tongue. Thick syrupy texture that leaves a lasting taste in the mouth. Simply delicious and with a high ABV I could drink myself into a coma with this one.

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 2,528 ratings.
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