Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
1,061 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: 1,061 | Ratings: 2,610
Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found it a cross between a traditional barleywine and an American Pale. It is an attempt to improve on the roughness of American barleywines, and I think by Joev they did it. The smell of barleywine, although surprisingly pale colour. Some hops and barleywine not over the top. Tasty if you care somewhat for the style. I do I do.
Had again 4 years later and found it rather ordinary barleywine, withd ecent mouthfeel and drinakbility.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Half finger head with minimal lacing on a crimson with light golden hues body. Aroma is very minty, sweet and boozy. Flavor is sweet with syrupy, bourbon, dark fruit and Chardonnay notes. Medium body and moderate carbonation. Too boozy and sweet for me but I was expecting this. A nice one to try but not your everyday beer obviously.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled in 2010.

Pours an opaque dark amber color with a small 1/2 inch head that fades to an oily film on the top of the beer. Small bubble lacing on the drink down. Smells of candied fruit, apples, and alcohol. Taste is of tart apples, citrus zest, maybe some raisin/prune flavors. Very alcohol heavy on the finish. Burns the throat after each sip. Weird cooked vegetable taste too. Beer is kind of thick and sticky in the mouth. Drinkability is not at all that good. The off tastes I got along with the alcohol burn probably shut the door on this one for good. Probably would be better with some age on it.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this is a massive barleywine. 2011 vintage here, and I am thinking I should have given it another year or even two to cool out a bit more. this beast is hot! pours a dense amber color with a lot of yeast floating around like fish food, and a prominent off white head over an inch tall but not lasting a real long time. the nose is very alcoholic, predictably so, but there is also some interesting things going on here besides the malt. I pick up a lot of Mediterranean fruit notes, like figs, dates, and drying apples. it is sweet in taste, but not cloyingly so like many colossal barleywines. the dried fruits come through nicely, adding complexity to a huge grain bill and a lot of brown sugar sweetness. the alcohol cuts through everything, and when this beer warms up, it feels like liquor. the yeast adds a lot, and is obviously fairly sturdy, with some white toast sort of elements. decent carbonation really for what this is, and a predictably large body. this is a slow sipper, and even a twelve ounce bottle was a little more than I wanted, so maybe share this with a friend or a lover. I probably should have waited until fall to open this one, but curiosity got the best of me on a warm early summer afternoon. an excellent example of the style, in many ways more enjoyable than say a bolt cutter, with all the fruit happening in this. good effort.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.76/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My roomate and I split one of these while watching the last of the dirty harry movies. What better way to enjoy the movie than by having a beer thats got almost as many percentage abv as the man with no name has confirmed kills in a short 90 minutes.

Perhaps I should have tried this before I tried the 120 minute IPA as this seems to be milder version of that beer in terms of smell and taste. The beer poured into our pint glasses with a nice 1/2 inch head that actually stuck around for a little while (a bit different than previous reviews). The beer was a bit light in color for a barleywine and was a copper color that was quite clear.

The smell was strong of the grapefruit hops mixing with alcohol. Again, very similar to 120 minute IPA. The sweetness of the malt in the background was a little stronger than I expected. It was a nice compromise. The flavor was real strong on malt and hops but little to no alcohol could be detected until it was swallowed. It burned going down.

Overall its a very drinkable barleywine, but with an intensity like this it might be advisable to warm your palate with another beer first to fully enjoy this.

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Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really need to revisit this one again one day, I had this a long time ago when I was first getting into beers. I doubt that I fully understood what I had in my glass at the time. I remember the beer being a brownish color with a yellowish white head that had a light sticky lacing. The sme of the beer was monstrous, lots of malts and hops mixed with booze and some sweet dark fruits. The taste of the beer was also way over the top for me at the time. It was malty and sweet upfront, as it settled into my tounge it left a tingling sensation with a bitter aftertaste. The mouthfeel had a really thick feeling body to it. Overall the beer was much bigger than I expected. It's been a while like I said and I really need to have this one again I think.

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Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear reddish amber in color and poured with a thin head that slowly faded away into lacy patterns of bubbles. A light amount of carbonation is visible.
S: There are fairly strong aromas of apples, cherries. grapes in the nose with notes of malty sweetness and hints of alcohol.
T: The taste is moderately sweet and shares a lot of similarities with the smell with flavors of apples and grapes. Some hints of alcohol are also noticeable.
M: It feels full-bodied, smooth and rather viscous on the palate with a light amount of carbonation. There are lots of warming sensations from the alcohol and some stickiness in the finish.
D: The beer tastes like it is very strong, but nowhere near 15% because a good portion of the alcohol is well masked, so it's a good sipper.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Impressively smooth considering the alcohol content and the hop additions. It picks up on all the plumb-ey, prune-ey, dates, and figs that I expect in a BW. The hop flavors are pronounced, but not overly agressive like most. This makes for an impresively easy drinking beer. I get some molassas and honey flavors into the body and through the finish that I like. Although the flavors are better balanced, this is by no means a lighter BW. It still packs a punch in the flavor, alcohol, and body categories. it's just better balances and aged.

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Photo of brentk56
4.28/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear dark golden body with a fluffy white head that leaves a pastiche of lacing marks around the glass

Smell: Lots of rum-soaked fruit flavors - apricots, figs, oranges - all of which are subsumed by the alcohol smells

Taste: Remarkably smooth fruit and toffee start; orange tartness kicks in mid-palate along with a jarring amount of fusel alcohol flavors; a touch buttery on the finish

Mouthfeel: Fairly heavy body, somewhat syrupy; low carbonation

Drinkability: Taste when only three months old, this brew shows some very interesting character and unusual flavor; I'll look forward to seeing what this is like with some age on it

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Photo of kojevergas
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Truncated review since I had to do this on my phone at a crowded bar. 2011 vintage served on-draught at the Blue Palms Brewhouse earlier this month. Expectations were above average. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a two finger beige colour of nice cream, thickness, and retention.

Sm: Dates, fruit, caramel. A mild strength aroma.

T/Dr: Hides ABV well. Fruit-forward, with dates and vague dark fruit character. Quite malty and well layered. Very drinkable for the high ABV. I like it.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Good carbonation. Good presence on the palate. Suits the flavour profile well.


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Photo of emerge077
2.88/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Sampled on tap in a mini-nonic pint, not something i'd seek out again.
Burnished orange color, bright golden clarity. Some white froth on the surface forming a thin layer of foam that leaves little lace, not that it's expected with the super high ABV.

Aromas of caramel, toffee sweetness, light fig, and some perceptible alcohol sharpness.

Thick and syrupy, lower carbonation. Palate-numbing booze that deadens the flavors a bit, though there are some muted dried fruit notes. Not picking up on much hop flavor, there's a tiny bit of earthy bitterness, but it's hard to discern up against the heavy alcohol astringency. This is just not that drinkable, the booze is a bit rough. Maybe the heat mellows over time, but based on this draft, it's not really worth the time & money to find out.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a light brown color ale with a medium head with medium retention. Carbonation is above average for a barley wine and body is a bit thin for the style. Aroma consisted of dates and figs with strong malt. Taste is quite enjoyable with some sweetness (but not too much) balance well against the malt and hops. Finish is slightly dry with some subtle water, which did disappoint me. Alcohol is not really discernable. Overall, I guess this is a good barley wine but I had some better one.

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Photo of zeff80
4.07/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a cloudy, reddish orange color with a small, thin, white head. It left soapy residue on the glass.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel, roasted malt, and dried fruits.

T - It tasted of raisin, sweet malts, candy sugar, and subtle bitter hops.

M - It was very smooth and soft with a chewy mouthfeel. A full-bodied beer.

D - This is a great tasting barley wine that is simply too strong to drink in large quantities.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.57/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a snifter. Bottle consumed with about a year of age on it. The poured is a moderate golden color with little head or lacing, though there are some legs on the side of the glass. The nose is quite sweet with some booze, but also brings a nice fruit presence. The taste is overly boozy and a bit too sweet at this point. Feel falls victim likewise. Drinks well enough now, though this definitely needs three years plus, I'd think.

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

12 ounce bottle into signature tulip glass, bottled in 2010A. Pours hazy reddish copper color with a 1 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, pear, apple, caramel, brown sugar, toast, toffee, brown bread, light herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good complexity and balance of big fruitiness and dark/bready malt sweetness; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, pear, apple, caramel, brown sugar, toast, toffee, brown bread, herbal, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Slight earthy/peppery bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, cherry, fig, date, pear, apple, caramel, brown sugar, toast, toffee, brown bread, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and balance of fruitiness and dark/bready malt sweetness; with zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a smooth, fairly crisp, and lightly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barleywine style! All around great complexity and balance of fruitiness and dark/bready malt sweetness; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of nickfl
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - 2.5 fingers of light tan head on a dark copper body. Clarity is pretty good but there is some particulate matter floating in the beer. The head settles slowly and leaves thick, sticky lace.

S - Lots of velvety hops up front. Raisins, caramel, pepper, and a hint of chocolate. Deep fruity notes as well: plums and dates as well as brighter, tropical fruits like pineapple and strawberries.

T - Surprisingly fruity and tart. Initial impression is of juicy strawberries and black cherries. The sweet fruitiness continues in the middle as spicy yeast and hop notes chime in. Towards the finish the alcohol asserts itself in a way that compliments the spicy peppers and licorice notes of the yeast and hops.

M - Thick, syrupy body with moderate carbonation and a very sweet finish.

D - For a 15% ABV beer this is spectacularly drinkable. It uses its alcoholic strength to compliment the hops and yeast spice in a way that is pleasantly reminiscent of the Sam Adams Imperial Pils. The juicy fruit presence was very surprising and quite nice. I must say that this is a very welcome 180 reversal from their dismal Immort Ale.

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Photo of oberon
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a murky orange/brown color with a nice sticky head,aroma is malty and buttery with light alcohol notes.Taste is malty and lightly sweet with some burnt fruit flavors ending with a nice buttery taste that lingers in the mouth.Dogfish Head is becoming my favorite east coast brewery (have yet to visit Victory) they pull no punches and make some really good,interesting brews.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

15.5% ABV - touted as "The world's strongest naturally carbonated beer", partially made possible through fermention in the secondary, and priming with the yeast from the World Wide Stout (which contains Champagne yeast). A cloudy, peach colored body is topped by a thick and creamy off-white head. The aroma is quite fruity with notes of raisins and figs, but some higher alcohols are clearly present as well. The body is medium/full with a very fine carbonation that leaves it quite creamy in the mouth. The flavor is rich and sweet with loads of caramel, molasses and maple syrup as well as some fruitiness and a tingling in the mouth & warming in the throat from the alcohol. The sugary flavors linger in the long lasting finish. Very nicely done with interesting fruit characteristics and a nice sweetness, but the alcohol is a bit too "hot" to give it any real drinkability. Still, very unique and worth trying.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 1/13/2010 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a bright reddish brown color, with a short off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of citrus, dark fruit, caramelized malts, a little alcohol and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste is very sweet with flavors of dark fruit, brown sugar and citrus up front. Then a mild alcohol bite comes in, but it's very tame for a beer that is this high in ABV. The hops presence is a bit subdued and the malt character is very hearty and there's a decent balance for a stronger beer. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, very strong kick, good representation of style, this is a very nice high-powered beer to sip on (or possibly drink a little bit quicker) for as long as you can handle it, but it will catch up to you quickly.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

Strong and surprisingly smooth. Poured orange-brown with some white head that disappeared pretty quickly. Smells of sweet malts and sugar. Caramel malts in the taste, with a perusing sweetness and alcohol bite. Some dried fruits in there. Smooth and flavorful, medium-thick mouthfeel. Not highly drinkable, but still worth a swig every once in a while.

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Photo of mactrail
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Lovely copper color in the St. Bernardus globe. Intense aromas of warm butterscotch and dark fruit compote, along with the sharp tang of booze. You can see how thick the body is from the syrupy swirls in the glass, but on the tongue it's just the right consistency.

The alcohol is actually a good feature, cutting through the sweetness like a light sabre. The malty sweetness is like a good cream sherry, and the modest bitterness gives an interesting edge. This is rather tangy and all in all it's a surprisingly good balance of hot, sweet, and bitter. Lingering aftertaste of burnt raisin bread with some hoppy bitterness.

This is very sippable and one of the better offerings from the weirder and weirder Dogfish Head. From the 12 oz bottle bought at Grapevine Liquors in Denver, which is a nice package size for having a snifter or two.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.93/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a clearish, dark amber body with a medium-sized, short-lived, ivory-colored head.

Smell: Dusty dry malts with some candy syrup hints and notes of dried apricots and figs. Waft of booze.

Taste: More of a sugary candy taste than maltiness. Stray pinch of cinnamon. The special conditioning does bring a juicy fruitiness. All that harsh alcohol looming over the flavor. Hot, sugary finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Slightly sticky mouthfeel.

Drinkability: No thanks. Perhaps this one does temper a bit after being BURIED ALIVE, but as it stands now I just didn't care for it.

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Photo of billab914
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured an orange brown color with a thin, spotty lacing scattered across the top of the beer.

The aroma has a lot of sweeter, caramel like malty flavor to it right off the bat. I get a little citrus hops to it as well, but it's definitely an afterthought behind the sweet maltiness. I get a good dose of alcohol to it, but it's not that boozy or harsh. Pretty appealing aroma overall.

The taste shows a little herbal, bitter, hoppiness to it at first. Midway some big sweetness starts to come out bringing caramel and toffee flavors along with it. Very nice malty, sweet, slightly fruity flavor to it. Some citrus hops comes back into play in the finish as well. The alcohol is also really evident in it, but like the nose doesn't feel that boozy or harsh. It does leave a bit of warming sensation in the finish though. Pretty nice flavors overall.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being moderate. Overall I thought it was a pretty solid beer, a little hot in the alcohol department but also pretty flavorful and tasty. The caramely, malty flavors were very nice in it and gave it some great flavors without becoming too sweet. Very nice beer to sip on this evening.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes 3/12/11. Huge thanks to DeadTerry for bringing this bottle over.

2003 Vintage!

A: Poured a hazy orange/amber color. No head or lacing whatsoever.

S: Very rich and sweet. Some toffee, caramel, a little bread, and some butterscotch. A surprisingly small hint of alcohol as well.

T: Very sweet, the harshness completely died out. Brown sugar, some raisins, a little buttery flavor as well.

M: Medium bodied with little carbonation, but very smooth.

O: Really amazing to see what ~8 years can do to a beer. Extremely drinkable even at 15%, no real alcohol presence on the flavor profile. Now..if I can only keep the few bottles I have from 2010 for that long...

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Photo of russpowell
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from JasonA, cheers Jason!

Pours orange with a slight tan head. Not much head retention or lacing

S: Orchard fruit by the basket, brown sugar, leafy hops & honey

T: Pear brandy, brown sugar, breadyness & plums up front. Dryness & plums as this warms, along candi sugar & leafy hops. Finishes with a little boozeyness, super fruitty & with a bit of leafy hops

MF: Syrupy, warming, stick with near zero carbonation

Drinks easy, but the complexity & ABV will get to you. Damn fine barley wine!

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 2,610 ratings.
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