Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine
Very Good
2,678 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: 2,678 |  Reviews: 1,088
Photo of WSB
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a very bright amber/brown color. Head is thin but grabs the glass then dissipates.

Smell is complex- pungent- alcohol, malt, touch of hops, something sweet- its like a beer flower.

Taste- Surprisingly smooth. Lots of malt and very subtle hops on the palate.

Mouthfeel- Ale like, thick, smooth, numbs the tongue on the way down.

overall- A great brew, very complex. This one was aged 6 months and was superbly smooth for a brew with 85 IBUs

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

2010 bottle opened May 2011. Poured a luminescent ruby-orange into a tulip with a finger of quick-receding off-white head. Very hot, brandy-like aroma of sweet grapes and sugar cookies.

Moderate carbonation and a surprisingly light mouthfeel. Immediate alcohol warmth followed by more sugar cookie, grapes, cherries, a hint of raisin, and tart apple mixed with a muddled hop bitterness on the finish (and of course more alcohol burn).

There's probably some potential with this one and I have a couple more bottles in the basement, but even if this develops nicely I don't feel compelled to stock up on any more. Some interesting flavors going on, and it really does have a brandy-like character, but the sugary sweetness is just a little overbalanced for my taste. It does improve as it warms...or is that just the booze talking...?

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Photo of RSchaeffer
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review #7
12oz - 2004 vintage (thanks Plenum!!)

A - Pours a deep orange, bit murky. Slight bit of head that quickly recedes, leaving no lacing around the glass.

S - Very nice aroma, sweet and rich. Dark fruits, toffee, hint of butterscotch and a trace amount of alcohol.

T - Quite sweet and exceptionally smooth. I know this beer is 15% ABV, but I would never guess it. As it warms, I pick up on the alcohol more, but still it's balanced so well. Amazing what age does to a beer. The taste matches the nose nicely, lots of caramel and dark fruits, mainly raisins and cherry.

M - Medium bodied, slight carbonation. This beer, with this age at least, is very smooth, coats the mouth with sweetness.

O - This is a fantastic beer with some age on it, I really enjoyed this. Will certainly acquire some bottles of this to cellar on my own.

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Photo of HosP
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured 12oz bottle into Delirium Tremens snifter.

A- Nice amber, deep red in color. Very little head to this, what is there is a nice white color.

S- Nice sweet smell to it. A little musky aroma with some sugary, tart smells coming through at the end.

T- Sweet fruit tasty, some candy sugar flavors coming through at the beginning and middle. There are a lot of flavors and tough to separate all them. Some bitterness to the end of the drink, that balances out the sweet flavors nicely.

M- Medium body, low carbonation. Pretty hot from the high ABV.

D- Took a while to enjoy this, with the high amount of alcohol to it. Got much better as it warmed too. Enjoyable drink, but only one bottle for me at a time. Glad to try this though.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
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 Krakistophales
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a bubbly, dark orange with about a finger's worth of cream colored head that dissipates into a thin film atop the glass.

S: Cherries, caramel, malts, alcohol, slight hops.

T: Raisins, plums, cherries, grapes, sour apples, slightly hoppy bitter aftertaste.

M: Thick and syrupy, huge ABV, warms nicely, good carbonation.

O: I like this one. It's sweet, tart, and has some nice flavors. However, it isn't quite as complex or balanced as I'd like, so I'm going to keep trying american barleywines.

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

Had this on Tap at Iron Monkey in Jersey City and drank out of a tulpit glass about a 10oz pour. This is super sweet full body barley wine.

Appearance: An orange red color with a faint white head. PERFECT

Smell: Fruity and Sweet with a strong alchol overtone.

Taste: Carmel sweet, not very hoppy but the 15% ABV gives it a bit of a kick. Smooth none the less.

I have to put this beer in my top 10.

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Photo of gkunkle
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rosy orange color with a thin off white head. Not much visible carbonation. Smell is of sweet fruit and a touch of alcohol. Taste starts slightly bitter when it first hits my tongue, but is quickly overtaken by a mixture of sweet fruit tastes, I think I catch apple and raisin. Mouthfeel is where it should be for a barleywine. Overall, a very impressive beer, hides the 15% ABV very well.

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Photo of PEBKAC
3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An approachable 32oz growler fill from New Beer. ;)

Baby Duvel tulip. Gorgeous, clear, cherry/amber color. Just a faint wispy ring of off-white head.

Smell is cherry pits upfront, followed by toasted malt & orange oil. Ugly aerosols soon follow.

Mildly sweet, slightly caramelized malt. A woody/barky note. Appropriate oxidation I think. Soapy, more so then rindy hops. Light sour cherry & notes of fruit peel. Bitter, dried out finish helps me endure till the end.

Slightly, slightly syrupy, but lots of carbonation & bitterness to keep things flowing. Not terribly difficult for the quoted 15%ABV, but it doesn't feel that far off. No warming effect. I'd guess 12%, based on DFH's notoriety for being inaccurate.

It's missing that extra note, but it feels & drinks much better then most other American barleywines in my opinion.

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Photo of Pahn
4.64/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Rereview: 12oz bottle into a snifter, at DFH Pub in Rehoboth, DE. Bottled 2007, drank 2011. (numerical scores from this bottle)

A: Careful pour leaves a 1/3 inch tan head, that dissipates quickly. Pours red orange, leaves mild lacing.

S: Raisin, sweet caramel, mild effervescence. Some smoke, some grape, molasses, BBQ sauce. Grows and changes with time. Deep.

T: Caramel, raisin, brown sugar, sweetness, booze, all in amazing balance. Warming alcohol, but no trace of solvent. Chewy, refined, nutty, beautiful. Just enough fig and raisin. 4 years turns this into a world class barleywine.

M: Medium bodied, mildly sugary but smooth. Low carbonation.

O: I've been talking shit about this beer since I tried it a year and a half ago. Those who told me to age it were right. It's world class with age; the sweet, dark fruit and malt depth of a great English barleywine with the adventurous hops and sweet caramel flavors of all the best American barleywines. Fantastic.


12oz bottle into Duvel tulip. Bottled in 2009 (doesn't specify month). Drank 1/9/10.

Appearance: Aggressive pour yields a nice, fizzy 3/4 inch white head that dissipates quickly. Semi-opaque amber with bubbles rising in the middle. Head and sips leave arches of lacing that disappear after a minute or so. (4.0)

Smell: Grape lollipop, pear, apple, and a strong hit of alcohol. Prune hits as the beer warms. Honestly, I find the Jolly Rancher aroma kind of disgusting, but I'm giving it a high rating for the deep complexity of the aroma, and how it changes over time. (4.0)

Taste: Up front, apple juice and grape juice, hot alcohol, then a nice roasted malt finish. While the occasional interplay between the alcohol and the bready malt in the finish is very nice, the fruity beginning gets cloying, fast. Characterless hop bitterness only serves to exacerbate the unpleasant hit of what tastes like mixing apple juice, grape juice, melted apple Jolly Rancher, and Bacardi 151 together in a vat. Tastes way too much like cheap red wine. (2.5)

Mouthfeel: Full and creamy. The unmasked ABV could be a problem for some, but it's fine with me. Shame the taste isn't better, because the mouthfeel is good. (4.0)

Drinkability: Giant ABV, cloying flavor, over the top tartness and bitterness... I don't even want to finish this bottle. (2.0)

In short, barley wine shouldn't taste like bitter fruit juice mixed with hard liquor and several spoonfuls of sugar (actually, I don't think *anything* should taste like this). There's definitely some good aspects of this beer... but I don't think any of the huge problems would be solved by aging. It's a shame, because the finish is (sometimes) really nice, the mouthfeel excellent, the IBU decent (but hard to appreciate among the sugar shock assault), the smell full and complex (if itself too hard candy for me). Overall, I wouldn't recommend this beer to anyone who doesn't regularly steal sugar packets from coffee shops and wash them down with vodka. (original score: C)

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.19/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottled 2010A and courtesy of THECPJ. Thanks Shane!

It pours a brilliant reddish colour with over a 1 finger head of foam and brings some nice lacing.

It smells..kind of weird. I get some caramel malt and a bit of hop bitterness but what I'm smelling the most is a tartness that varies at times from sour cherries to vinegar. Is this how it was intended? A strange brew.

Medium to medium full bodied, fairly brisk carbonation, the mouth feel is fine.

I'm finding it a tough one to sip on; the alcohol is pretty much in my face and I still can't get over the tart element that Old Horizontal brings to the table. As always, I'm most appreciative for any beer I get the chance to try but this one does not work for me.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Average looking. Brown and cloudy, not much head or lacing.

Smell is deep and darkly fruity, with figs and prunes and raisins, earthy and almost dirt-like, slightly alcoholic.

Taste is pretty darn nice. Sweet, very sweet, a beautiful mixture of pears, prunes, figs and plums, with a hint of pineapple and granny-smith apples too. Underneath it all you can tell it's definitely a barleywine tho, with a rich, grainy, lovely barley flavor that's tied in to all the other subtle nuances of this delicious beer creation.

Feel is very sweet, thick, rich, slick, and lightly alcoholic. Really this one is pretty damn smooth for the ABV. Can't read the date on the bottle, but from the source (BIF from alewatcher) I wouldn't be surprised if this one had been aged a while.

I'm not a huge barleywine drinker, but this one is very damn tasty indeed. No surprise that it's DFH, one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of Mosley1212
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle (dated '10) into my DFH Snifter.

A--Poured a ruby red that is amazing. Reminds me of a fine bourbon or a nice brandy. Had a cream colored head that dissipated quickly, not really there for any length of time.

S--The booze from the beer hits your right away. It's a very pungent alcohol smell. On the back end I get a lot of dark, sweet fruits. Dates, raisins, plums, and brown sugar. The nose is pleasant, but the alcohol kind of ruins it.

T--I get a taste that reminds me of coffee? The back of my tongue is picking up coffee. I didn't expect that. Aside from the heavy booze taste, I get sweetness of brown sugar and raisins. it's very pleasant, but the taste is hurt by the bitter taste that overpowers the sweet.

M--The bitterness and alcohol combine to form a burning sensation in the mouth. On top of that, there is heavy carbonation in the beer. It all combines to form a less-than-pleasant feel.

O--It's good for a barleywine. I'm not really a barleywine fan, and this beer didn't change my mind--but it was close. It's a good barleywine. I wish I liked the style a bit more.

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Photo of psumjl269
4.62/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was served this from a tap in a snifter glass. Definitely a sipper.

Color is heavy amber, almost to the point of being ruby-ish. Very mellow taste, with hints of fruit. I was actually surprised I could not taste the alcohol considering the ABV.

Overall, an excellent choice.

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Photo of benclimbs
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Let me preface this with the fact that i'm not a barleywine fanatic...and man this beer is intense!

look was good, dark brown black w/o much head

smell is not much ,a bit of booze and mlat and dried fruits

taste is super intsense, wow! uber bitter, dry and boozy on the finish...this thing packs a hell of a wallop.

overall, its an interesting beer, but not really something i would seek out - killing a 750 of this might prove pretty difficult.

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Photo of tbrown4
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz -> Weyerbacher tulip. 2009 vintage. Split in to two servings at room temperature, shared with my buddy Greg after doing some work on one of my vehicles.

A - Ruby red, slightly cloudy, thin off white head, light lacing

S - Earthy, musky, light sweetness, mild bitter hop notes

T - Mild sweetness which is somewhat surprising. Tart candied fruit, burnt sugar. All of these flavors intensify as it opens up a bit. Tastes very complex, lots of depth. Fairly well balanced between all the sweeter notes and the bitter hops.

M - Medium to heavy-medium, feels chewy, decent amount of carb, lots of alcohol warmth

D - This is definitely a sipper at 15%, not too heavy on the palate which was surprising. I'll continue to buy this and add to my collection. I much prefer an aged bottled version to fresh on tap.

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Photo of rwinzing
3.74/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz. bottle into my DFH snifter. Beer is a dark amber and has a cream color head. Very small head which vanished quickly.

Smell was very malty with hint of boozyness

T - Very nice barleywine flavor a little hot but not to boozy or hoppy. Will balance with age

M - average not to thin but no much either

overall - good barleywine. Would perfer it a little mellower

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
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 IdrinkGas
3.63/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz (bottled 2010D) .

A:Pours golden ruby. A little fizz but no head to speak of.

S:Barley, raisins, lots of sweet carmel notes, and alcohol.

T:Mostly sweet and carmel malt flavors. Dry apple and alcohol finish.

M: Coats your tongue with an over the top sweetness.

D: Directions from the bottle say to split between two snifters. I would agree, too sweet for me to drink the whole think and still want to drink something else afterwards.

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Photo of THECPJ
3.72/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

reviewed from notes:
A big Thank You goes out to "DeadTerry" for dropping this one off at my place.
Vintage 2003

appearance: orangish brown with no head

smell: alcohol, sweet, malts, bread

taste: butterscotch, caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits

mouthfeel: little carbonation, medium body, sticky

drinkability: what we had here was a nicely aged barleywine from Dogfish. It never seems to amaze me that a company can produce high ABV beers and have them hold up over all these years.



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Photo of JednoPivoProsim
3.27/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 fl oz bottle into a pint glass. Bottled in 2009. Picked up two singles, specialty beer store guy told me 2009 was the last time they released this (don't worry dude, I was buying it anyway). Just to be sure, I checked DFH website and it is released every November or so. Plus, I have seen a lot of 2010 reviews here. I'm guessing the 18 months or so have done this some good, so here we go:

Smell: I'm starting with the nose, because holy heck, it hit me before I had the cap fully off. Molasses! Has almost a port/sherry smell to it.

Appearance: Pours a thick, hazy golden amber color with a medium head. You cannot see through this beer. Talk about sustenance, that looks like a meal AND the dessert.

Taste: Taste is overpowering for me. I can recognize some spices and a hint of tartness, but the alcohol is making me do a hard liquor style squint. I thought the vintage would give this a bit of a mellow character, I can't imagine what a fresh(er) 2010 version would taste like. After a couple more sips, this really has a port/sherry flavor to it.

Mouthfeel: It is a mouth full, that much I can say.

Drinkability: Low. Too much booze for my tastes.

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Photo of OldPenguinHunter
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drank out of tulip glass, the other day (1st annual Gnarly Barley Party...bad idea).

From what I remember, I did not like this as much as everyone at the party said that I should have.

A: Beautiful. Simply put, this beer looks wonderful, it sort of goes down hill from there.
S: Incredibly spicy, volatile alcohol and candied/brandied/dandy(why not) fruits, some oakyness.
T: Too hot with alcohol, I am going to buy a four pack or six pack, whatever it comes in and lay it down as it says I should and come back to it in a year.
M: Again, too hot.
D: ...Too hot.

I am intrigued by this beer, the nose and the appearance are great but everything else just feels like it needs to incorporate a bit more, this sort of reminded me of the Samael's from Avery, but better.

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

12 oz bottle, split between two Smuttynose Big Beer Series tulip glasses (per the directions... I did not, however, bury any in my backyard, so stop digging!).

Garnet color, clear. Low, lasting off white head. Alcohol in the nose, strong, with raisin backing it up. Dark fruit, light caramel, alcohol flavors dominate. Some woodiness at the end. Mild alcohol warmth, feels like 10-12%, not the 15% the bottle describes. Definitely a sipper. Can't decide if the alcohol reminds me of port, or some other strong wine/liquor, but I'm leaning towards port.

Mouthfeel is good, coating, but not thick and oily.

Alcohol aromas come out more as it warms, as does malt-like sweetness in the flavor.

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Photo of imbibehour
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12oz bottle dated 2010D into what else, my large Dogfish Head snifter glass. Thanks very kindly to happy4hoppybeer for the trade!

On pour out of the bottle is a nice deep brown gold, but gives to a great dark amber to red body. Body is actually fairly clear. Great head on this beer with lots of stickyness and a caramel light toffee colored head with tiny bubbles. Great looking beer.

Fruit figs and florals, herbacious grass components on the nose getting almost into herbal tea territory. Malts come in a little later with tea essence in front of it. Quite nice smelling nose on this one, hints of cocktail cherries and cinnamon red hots on the nose too.

Ridiculous sweet stemmed cherry fruits at first and light brown sugar. Very front forward palate and not a hint of any booze at all considering that this is basically at a very high abv. Small finish with a good mouthfeel, almost like eating swedish fish or ju jubes candy for aromatics. This is very subtle and nice. It feels like kid in a candy store beer for adults.

Wow great friggin barleywine this is. I am not so sure from the bottling code how old this is, my mind wants to say its only December. Regardless this is real good, would love to get more and age this.

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Photo of maximum12
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Quite an event! Side-by-side of '05 & '09 bottles of Olde School. I've been saving the '05 for over three years, it came in my fourth trade ever from the kind marcpal. Thank you, sir! I'm sure you figured all those brews were consumed & recycled into the city waste system long ago.

Pours are interestingly different; the '05 has is a red shaded with plenty of yellow, the '09 is red with a tinge of orange. Aromas are similarly unalike. The '09 is sweet & slap-happy boozy, the '05 is a bit off, dank, raisin-like, not nearly as bright.

Olde School '09 is a boozy hot-shot of a mess that tastes pretty damn good. Slick, sweet malts mix with a shotgun of alcohol, & those two whip the palate good, but there are other hangers-on: Topps bubblegum, more raisins, flakes of Thai spices, cane sugar. Wow. Complex & probably not ready to drink yet, this is hot as Mercury. The '05 is, again, a startlingly different turn of events. Four more years has morphed this brew into ethanol to fuel your auto-mobeel. There's a distinct taste I can't quite place...sip...sip...nope. It's not good. Very surprised that a beer as hot, sweet, & tasty as the '09 has gone downhill, but perhaps this is only a phase, & the gangly young'un will fill out in time.

I'm only grading this on the '09 since the '05 is a pretty big down-grade. Very good barleywine, & I'd be interested in finding the sweet spot, because I'll bet it's a good one.

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 2,678 ratings