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Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine
Very Good
2,669 Ratings
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 15.00%

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,669 |  Reviews: 1,081
Photo of StoneTSR
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: Pours a hazy, deep, orange-copper. A big, finger and a half or so head tops the beer. The head retention is not the best, but it isn't terrible either. Lacing is minimal, but a steady stream of bubbles from the bottom of the glass keep the beer looking lively all the way through.

SMELL: The Olde School has a very strong aroma dominated by malt. Hints of bread and some dark fruit linger in the background as well. The booze is strong, it smells dangerous.

TASTE: The alcohol in this one is intense and the first several sips are a bit tough due to the burn. As it warms and mellows though, some of the other flavors come through. Some sugary sweetness is present up front and the finish is big, dark and fruity just as the nose suggested.

MOUTHFEEL: This is one of the fizziest beers I have ever had and is easily the fizziest Barleywine I have tried. The bubbles tickled my tongue so much that it almost made me giggle as it went down. That said, the burn from the booze was stronger than I would have liked.

OVERALL: I am not 100% sure how I feel about this beer. On one hand, it really is a very complex work of art. On the other, maybe it is a bit too much for me.

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Photo of jayhawk73
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at the Falls Church Dogfish Head Alehouse:

Pours an amber color with a one finger cocoa head. Not much carbonation or lacing on this beer- expected with the high ABV. Fairly clear in appearance- somewhat easy to see through. The nose is raisin, fig, caramel, hops, and alcohol. A little bit weak on the nose for me- I'd like a little more oomph to the smell. Taste is much better than the nose- the same profile really opens up here. Very balanced and enjoyable. Alcohol is present, but not overpowering at 15%. Feel is medium with a nice alcohol burn to it. Very smooth finish as well. A little syrup/port vibe to the feel too. Overall, this is another nice beer from a great brewery- I've been waiting since spring for this to come out. Cheers.

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Photo of Cylinsier
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz.

Pours a deep golden amber with a ruddy tint. Reasonable off-white head dissipates quickly but retains indefinitely as a lacing.

Smells of piney hop resin and buttery caramel malts. A hint of apple sweetness and booze.

Tastes of buttery apple malts with caramel and molasses sweetness. A floral hoppiness follows very subtly with some pine elements. Might be just a bit of citrus in there as well. Aftertaste of alcohol.

Thicker but surprisingly not very syrupy or viscous. Very subdued carbonation over the roof of the mouth. Warms going down.

A boozey but highly tasty brew. Has all the best parts of English style barleywines but adds a very subdued hop balance to keep it from being cloying. An American BW for English BW fans. A real sipper though, due to the strength. I got a four pack of these and will thoroughly enjoy all four...but on four different occasions.

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Photo of pburland23
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a snifter.

After a long day of packing up our house, I wanted to sit and enjoy a beer so I opted for one of the Olde Schools I picked up this week.

Beer pours a pretty clear coppery amber color with a thin layering of off-white head. Smell is sweet with pit fruit notes (dates and prunes), some butterscotch, burnt sugars and a subtle hops presence. There's a hint of booziness as well.

Taste begins with some unexpected hops bitterness before transitioning to fruity flavors (raisins, toffee) and then finishing with a healthy doze of boozy burn.

The mouthfeel is on the heavy side of medium. The 15% alcohol is pretty front and center which is not surprising considering this was a fairly young bottle. I plan to lay a few bottles down to see how this develops over time.

Overall, a fairly intense barleywine with a complexity of flavors that work well together. Definitely a sipper and a cold fall night, a really good one at that.

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Photo of cozmohollis
4.87/5  rDev +22.4%
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 nhindian
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head Signature glass.

A - Pours a crystal clear, ruby red with bursts of sunset orange. It's sort of that color of dusk where you have the last few minutes before the sun goes down, where it's bright and vibrant yet streaked with the pending darkness. Tons of carbonation can be seen streaming from the bottom of the glass and it culminates in about a finger and a half worth of tan head with surprising retention given the ABV. It leaves some decent lacing as well, with thick, soapy bubbles clinging to the glass.

S - Even before the glass gets to my nose, I can tell this is one hoppy barleywine. Fresh tropical fruits, pineapple and mango and citrus for sure. Getting a bit of pine resin, but it also comes off as somewhat soapy as well. I think I'm getting grapes or figs too, but it may be the malts. A bit of caramel malts, but actually for the most part, there isn't a whole ton of malts present in the nose. Slight alcohol in the finish.

T - Phew, this is one big barleywine. Definitely getting the malts here, and they are quite sweet. Caramel and toffee are strong at first, but then give way to an almost Belgian sugary-sweet grape, fig, raisin notes. Again, the hops are bold and in your face, resiny and citrusy. The biggest difference I think is the soap and alcohol notes, which are greatly exacerbated here. I seriously think I can light my breath on fire after drinking it.

M - Mouthfeel is medium- to heavy-bodied with good carbonation. It actually feels really solid in the mouth and full-bodied, but the lasting impression is sweet, yet bitter from the hops, and lots of residual alcohol.

D/O - Drinkability is moderate. This is from the newest batch so I would expect it to be a little hot, but this is for sure a sipper in its current state. The flavors are big, but the alcohol definitely combats that to turn it down a notch. I bought two of these for a good price, and may pick up another few and stash them away and forget about them. I can see this turning into something good a few years down the road.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a flared pokal at Bliss.

The second surprise bottle cracked during the lastest Bliss tasting. Right on, Scott! It pours a mostly clear sunrise amber topped by a finger or so of dusty cream foam. The nose comprises buttery toffee, alcohol, figs, raisins, other dark fruits (it smells just as vague as that sounds), white bread, light menthol, and honey. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a touch of minty pine running down the back, possibly the result of the booze mixing with everything else on my tongue. The alcohol burn is a bit too present for my liking here. The body is a hefty-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a decently syrupy feel. Overall, a pretty okay beast of a b-wine, but the booze is too present, and the bold flavors never truly meld all that well together. Close, though...

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Photo of SawDog505
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a beast, wow. One of those extreme beers, that really takes the words out of your mouth. Poured into 16 oz snifter. Pours a dark orange with a 1 inch tanish red, sticky head. Smell is hard candy, prunes, bready as hell, some aged grass clippings, and some f-in booze. Taste all that with a blast of grapefruit / lemon. Plenty of body, good amount of life for the high ABV, on the dryer side. It leaves you wondering if you are impressed or dumbfounded. Probably both, planning on drinking this batch in 18 half years when my son turns 21. A unique & perplexing beer, wouldn't recommend to many. Just hard core beer advocates.

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Photo of shawnsmith1
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2011

A: Pours crystal clear copper into DFH signature glass. Virtually no head--the slightest white crema that disappears instantly.

S: Up front alcohol assault. Nose develops quickly--still a strong alcohol presence, but more refined--thinking brandy. Dried fruits: golden raisin, fig; some toffee and butterscotch. Nutty. Maybe a ghostly suggestion of cocoa. Something else I can't identify.

T: Follows nose. Delicious fig, raisin, toffee.

M: Medium bodied and dry. Soft, meak carbonation, even when fed by the nucleation point. Finishes nutty, with toffee and burnt caramel yielding to simple syrup sweetness.

O: Every year, I look forward to this offering from DFH--every year with the intention of laying a bit down for some aging. Well, maybe this year . . .

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Photo of kawilliams81
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a 16 oz. snifter.

A- Clear caramel color, with 1 finger off-white head with lacing that resides immediately.

S- Super sweet malts, dark fruits, and cleaning solution.

T- Similar to nose, sweet malts, dark fruits/figs, oak, and brown sugar.

M- Full bodied, has a kind of dry syrupy characteristic to it.

O- Amazing beer for 15%. Simlar to samichlaus, and not quite as good as other great barleywines out there.

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Photo of mattboyer182
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a snifter. Dark brown and hard to see through and a small cream colored head that dissipates rather quickly.

S - smells of uber malts and alcohol.

T - tastes is great! So complex. It starts with hops then moves into sweet dark fruits and malts and tons of warming alcohol flavor.

M - heavy bodied and light carbonation.

O - great winter beer. It's so complex and delicious.

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Photo of Sideswipe
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. 2009 batch.

A- Deep orange color with minimal head. Nice lacing.

S- Big notes of caramel and sweet malt predominate. Boozy.

T- Opens sweet and sticky with big caramel and toffee notes. Booze is present but it's well integrated. I'm also getting figs and raisins. Very tasty. Finishes sweet.

M- Feel is viscous and sticky, befitting the style. Low carb level works fine here n

O- This is a very nice barleywine. ABV is not over the top, as I expected it to be. Sweet, candy like flavors are melded skillfully and provide an enjoyable experience. Recommended.

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Photo of GilGarp
3.79/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 11/21/2008. Nearly 3 years on this one.

12oz bottle with cap served cool into a goblet.

Olde School is a very hazy redish brown color. The head is short to begin with and settles quickly.

Aroma is strong and boozy. The hops have clearly mellowed but I can tell it was heavily bittered. Malty sweetness and an oaky vanilla characteristic.

Flavor is simply huge with tons of bitterness, bite, and booze. It almost seems more closely related to a scotch or rum. Sweetness up front with raisins, cherries, and plums. The middle of the sip turns strongly bitter and the alcohol makes itself known. It finishes with a mouth-drying alcohol burn. It's not hot but I can't imagine how it wouldn't have been 3 years ago.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and almost syrupy. Very low carbonation.

Small sips are the only way to enjoy this beer. It's strong and you can it warm as it goes down. I'm glad I sat on it a while but I wonder if it would have been any better fresh. The hoppiness would have been better, I'm sure.

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Photo of rowingbrewer
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a orangeish color with a 1/2 a finger of off white head. the smell is piney sweet, but not malty sweet with a boozey finish. the flavor is that thick sweetness from sugar addition. the hops are there to and fairly bitter and a good bit of alcohol warmth. the mouthfeel is medium to full and good carb and hot. this beer is pretty good, could deefnitely use some age.

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Photo of philbe311
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Just the slightest of head which is ultra fizzy and rust colored... Just a slight milky way of lacing in the center of the glass and a thin collar around the edges... Some deliberate paced carbonation rises along the sides of the glass... The color is a deep amber with some copper undertones...

S - The nose is attention grabbing... Loaded with dark fruits... Fig... Plums... Raisins... Brown sugars... Sticky bun... Some cherries... Some very subtle wood characteristics... A very slight whiff of booziness... Nice depth and complexity...

T - Wow... Plums... Booze soaked cherries... Fig... Raisins... Brown sugars... Pineapple... Toffee... Caramel... Almonds... A subtle citrus hop bite lies beneath the surface... Some alcohol induced heat/burn on the finish...

M - On the lighter side of full bodied... Thick... Sticky... Syrupy... Coats the entire mouth and lingers... Chewy... Very light carbonation...

D - A sipper to say the least... This one packs quite the punch... There is no hiding the 15.04% ABV... Each sips makes you open your eyes a bit wide... I don't have a bad thing to say about it... This brew is a case study in complexity... This is really good stuff... Nicely done by Sam and the folks as Dogfish Head...

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Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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 lanamj
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a nice clear copper tone with a very thin lace in the form of a ring around the edge of the glass.

S-Very sweet date smell, some carmel and molasses are present. Sweet booze lingers towrds the end.

T- The taste is very close to the smell. Nice balance, the booze in this beer is perfectly masked. Almost dangerous how drinkable a beer with a abv of 15% can be. Nice sweet malts and and sweet flavors dominate the beer followed by a sweet but subtle booze flavor. As it warmed up the booze was more prevalent.

M- The mouthfeel is nice but thin. Carbonation was light but accommodating. All in all rather nice feel but not the best.

O- A good barleywine. Kinda sweet and heavy but for the style not bad at all.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.62/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Olde School has a potent and nuanced nose, smelling on the one hand like a kettle full of sugary malt, with good brown sugar, yeast, and apricot notes, and on the other hand like fresh, wet hops in all of their grapefruit and pine goodness.

On the tongue, the brew is far more sugary than the nose would have ever belied, the liquid splashing against the tastebuds in huge apricot and sugared orange waves. The beer's sweetness is truly astounding to behold, with not-so-subtle notes of cane and confectioners sugar, light fruit esters (apple, pear, banana), and brown sugar. Balancing this is an equally healthy dose of more bitter flavors, including the aforementioned hops (which are cranked up to an Imperial IPA-worthy 85 IBUs to help counterbalance the sugars). The aftertaste is an interesting mix of bitter hops and sweet apple flavors, and lingers for quite a while. Despite the beer coming in at 15% ABV, there is relatively little alcohol taste present, except around the edges of the aftertaste; the huge flavors in the primary mouthful do a good job of disguising it. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium-high, making quite a tingling on the tongue and soft palate.

Overall, this is an excellent barleywine, and well worth trying.

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Photo of andrewinski1
3.18/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Split into two tulips. Nice half inch head atop a clear deep amber body. The lacing is nice and sticky.

The aroma is sweet orange candy spice. The alcohol is detectable in the nose. This isn't a super complex aroma, but it is good.

This is hot and sweet. The complexity has dropped off from what I remember; the taste mimics the aroma with the candy sweetness. There is a slight alcohol bite in the finish.

The body is pretty thick and the carbonation is medium to high, particularly for a big beer.

This is neither good nor bad. This can be certainly enjoyed by many but there are many better options out there.

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Photo of GregSVT
3.79/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a snifter - Vintage 2010

A: Pours a hazy dark honey color with little head and barely any bubbles at all coming up in the glass. Guess I can't say i'm surprised with a 15% beer but its not the best looking beer.

S: The nose is big aromas of honey, toffee, a hint of piney hops, and caramel.

T: The taste is wonderful with notes of caramel, toffee, white grapes, hints of hops, and some dark fruits.

M: The feel is viscous and oily which makes the finish last forever on the pallate. The alcohol is very apparant as well.

O: This is a damn strong beer with big flavors. While it's tasty it's pretty hard to drink. I'd love to see a more toned down version.

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Photo of NCBeerFan
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Set a few of these aside from an '09 four-pack that I bought, and decided to break one out tonight, despite the NC heat and humidity. Pours a deep amber with a very minimal off-white head. Aromas is sweet dark fruit, with plums, raisins, dark cherries, and alcohol dominating the nose. The dark fruits continue on the palate, but are joined by some caramel and toffee flavors. This beer is very sweet and syrupy, but not overly cloying. It goes down really smooth, with just a slight alcohol burn….I'm not sure if it's the aging that has taken away some of the alcohol burn, but if I didn't know this was a 15% brew, I wouldn't have guessed it. Maybe not my favorite American barleywine, but I'm glad I set a few of these aside, and can't wait to try another one down the road.

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Photo of VtBeerRun
3.06/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 12 oz.

Wow, talking about an interesting and some what intense beer. When you first open it, the smell takes you back a bit. Smells and tastes very sweet, especially at first. Strong on the caramel notes. I think I should have aged this for another year or two. If you are not use to this type of beer don't give up on it after a couple sips. Sip at it a while. It may not become your favorite beer, but I bet it grows on you a bit. I have to give Dogfish credit for trying some unique and bold things with their beer. I'm glad I got to try this, but this is not a refreshing beer or one that I would rush to get again. If I did, I would sit on it for a bit longer. The score may have been a bit lower if it wasn't for the uniqueness of the beer. If you like sweet and caramel beers try this out. If you can't stand sweet beers, try a different dogfish beer, they make some good beers.


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Photo of Yagman3000
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from the tap into a 4 ounce taster.

Appears a dark orange brown. No head but a slight centered film.

Smells boozeu and winey in a good way. Grapes aplenty.

Tastes mostly of grapes, figs, and warm fruits. Very hearty.

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy without being flying

Overall a very nice beer. Good tines with this!!!

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Photo of jester5120
4.44/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

vintage 2003 bottle poured into dfh snifter

A: poured a transparent copper color with thin white head that quickly receded. very minimal lacing.

S: The beer really shines here. strong smell of dates and figs which i've never picked up on from unaged bottles. a very sweet malty smell as well with vanilla and caramel notes with just a tiny hint of citrus.

T: very malty with no sign of hop flavor. strong caramel presence in the flavor with chocolate, berry and date notes. very little bite from the alcohol, just the warmth at the finish.

M: very thick and full bodied. This is more heavy and syrupy than most barleywines. flavor lingers for quite a while after each sip.

O: Excellent beer. barleywine's aren't my favorite style and as a huge dogfish fan i don't even really care for olde school but the 8+years of age on this beer have done amazing things. to bring out new complexity to both the flavor and smell while also probably destroying the head retention.

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Photo of ChugginOil
3.33/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage
Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip.

Pours a crystal clear ruby/amber that leaves a fingers worth of cream colored head. Oily lacing that clings momentarily. The nose is different to say the least. I'm sensing an almost port-like aroma that resembles raisins and figs. A stinging amount of alcohol infiltrates my nostrils and attacks them. A bit harsh. The taste is beastly. Some sweet caramel malts are matched with the dark fruit characteristics noted in the nose. Again, the 15% is boldly showing itself here and i can feel it on my lips, in my throat and belly, and in my head already! Wow, this one's hot. The mouthfeel is pleasantly smooth and full-bodied. Overall, this brew offers some unusual characteristics but is quite hot and could use some more time down in the cellar. It lacks drinkability due to the harsh booze effect. Nonetheless, I am glad i got to bust this one out.

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 2,669 ratings
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