Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine
2,664 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 2,664 |  Reviews: 1,081
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.

 452 characters

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.

 816 characters

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

 378 characters

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...

 685 characters

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.

 460 characters

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.



 505 characters

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.

 1,175 characters

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.

 769 characters

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.

 692 characters

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.

 1,242 characters

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.

 1,426 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

 610 characters

Photo of BeerCon5
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy, bright copper color with about 1 finger of white foamy head.

The scent is of sweet sugar, apple, citrus, and alcohol.

The taste is of sweet fruit, sugar, citrus, yeast, noticeable alcohol.

Medium body, smooth and a little creamy, light carbonation.

This was a very good barleywine. There was very good flavor and the alcohol is hidden very well making this dangerously easy to drink.

 401 characters

Photo of david18
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had a twelve ounce glass of this at the Amsterdam Ale House on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This may be the strongest draft beer I've had. The bar strongly recommends taking a taste of the beer before having a full glass of it. I took both the taste and the glass and overall found it to be very good but not really great for sitting at the bar. More of an end of evening at home beer.

Color is a dark orange with a surprisingly large head considering the alcohol by volume and it stuck around for quite a while.

Aroma is very stong, featuring dark fruit, hops, malt and even some of the heat can be sensed from the nose.

The flavor had all the elements of the nose but, I have to admit, was a little unbalanced toward the alcohol.

This was somewhat difficult to drink and certainly difficult to drink before or after other beers. It is, however, very good if you just want one beer and you definitely want to feel it.

I like it under the right circumstances.

 972 characters

Photo of SpdKilz
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 Bottle, bottled 2010.

Appearance - Pours into my Bruery Tulip with a nice hazy dark orange color with two fingers of fluffy white head that dissipate slowly leaving some nice looking lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Sweet and lots of alcohol. Caramel, dark fruits, and hops.

Taste - Similar to the nose. A heavily sweet beer, somewhat one dimensional. I don't get a lot going on here. Raisins and prunes, molasses and caramel, and slight hops.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, lower carbonation, nice mouthfeel.

Drinkability - Honestly, not as bad as I would have thought for being so "young" of a beer, and being 15%. Sure there is a slight taste of alcohol, and warming, but again, for being 15% this beer is as drinkable as you could imagine a 15% fresh beer to be. I have one in the cellar and can't wait to see what some age does to it. Despite being one dimensional overall, not a bad beer.

 900 characters

Photo of tzieser
4.92/5  rDev +23.6%
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.

 819 characters

Photo of LOCAL
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle date 11/21/08

poured into duvel tulip.

Pours a lovely dark orange/auburn with a half finger of head that fades quick but come back with a swirl of the glass.

The nose is sweet. Toffee and caramel mix with a blend of dark fruits. Alcohol... hello? Nope, time seems to have rendered it undetectable.

The taste is pretty solid. Rich malts combine with toffee and dark fruits for a smooth, pleasurable experience. Alcohol is only ever so slightly in the background.

Medium to heavy mouth feel. Coats very well.

Over all this was a very nice brew. I've never had this fresh, but from reading the reviews and second hand accounts, this beer is quite a chore to drink fresh... this was the opposite. Looking forward to enjoying the last two bottles of this in a year or two.

heres a video review of it that I did... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4dcfBgbzmk

 866 characters

Photo of happy4hoppybeer
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bought in a 4pack carryout batch from my local Italian restaurant.Quite pleasantly surprised they had it, as I've been chasing this one down for a while.

Poured into snifter glass a dark cloudy amber-brown, with medium head, leaving a good trace of sticky lacing.Looks wonderful.

Some fruits, nuts, and heavy alcohol aromas come through the nose big time. Good heavy use of malted barley. Right off the bat, I can tell this going to be a BIG beer.

Heavy malts and booziness come through upon first sip. Little to almost no carbonation, which is a plus for the barley-wine style.Heavy body. This is most definitely a sipper. Makes an excellent after-dinner meal brew.

Outstanding. But the high alcohol and heaviness of this limits the drinkability, as well as restricting it to only one, no more than two.

 808 characters

Photo of BamaViper1
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. 2010 vintage.

The beer pours dark amber and opaque into the glass forming a quarter-inch thick white head. The head dissipates fairly quickly, and there is minimal lacing.

DFH's barleywine has an interesting array of aromas. There are hints of fig and dried fruit, wet soil, and even red grapes all surrounding a caramel and malt backbone. Additionally, the alcohol in this beer makes it's first appearance as well.

The front of the tongue immediately gets the fruit of the beer but is then overpowered by hints of hop dryness and caramel malt with the slightest hint of bread. Detracting from what could be a great overall flavor is the presence of the alcohol, and it sticks with the beer from beginning to end. The finish is long and mostly bitter although there is a round sweetness at the center.

This beer is medium bodied with with good carbonation. The alcohol has a severe drying effect on the mouth, however.

I'm not going to lie, this beer is pretty stout and drinking multiple would probably be a problem. That being said, the flavor and aroma of the beer is appealing, and with perhaps a little age, this beer could be phenomenal. Bottom line - I like this beer and will buy again. Good beer from Dogfish.

 1,274 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.34/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

(sipped from m' Delirium Tremens tulip/snifter)

Yeah, this may be a bit stronger than a barleywine needs to be. But I love it for what it is and what it does to me. And it's honestly quite tasty for its biggerness.

It even feels heavy in the bottle! Starts w/ 1/4" head - gone in a blink. Lovely deep orange/red - sediment in suspension. The color is certainly lighter than what's customary.

Vibrant, boozy, herbal aromas - creeps toward "barleyhooch". O'er the top slick/thick juiciness - is that raspberry? Malt syrup. Barley liqueur. This is what I want an American Barleywine to smell like! It ain't called barley-hop-wine.

All I'll say is the taste is magnificent. Plenty caramel-fruit-jewel (fruit roll-up? nah, that doesn't sound appealing). Super-concentrated ester malt oil.

Quiet-storm warming sensation builds up. I would think 12-13% here - but 15%?! No way. Soft, silky, silent. Only knock is the slightly dry or bitter or alc sting in the end. Gets hot with the last few sips. Carbonated motor oil.

Winner! Intoxicating in more ways than two. What faults it has in feel I think are more than made up with the flavor. A little over the top all-around, but DFH isn't a modest brewery. Sip slow! Savor.

 1,219 characters

Photo of ColdPoncho
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage

A - good off-white head, thins to a ring. Body is a semi-translucent amber/red.

S - a big smell, with a bit of booze, vanilla, lemon, sweet malts, and wood notes. Very interesting, quite complex.

T - Kind of weird. Tastes like raisins. mostly sweet. Makes me wonder: is this raison d'extra?

M - Heavy, medium-robust body. smooth.

D - Definitely a sipper, but pleasant to drink.

 395 characters

Photo of bs870621345
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

2010 vintage into a Duvel Green tulip

Pours a deep amber color with a half inch of white head that fades quickly. Doesn't leave any lacing down the glass.

Smells like alcohol, cinnamon, plums, raisins, and a little wine like.

Taste is mainly plums and raisins, with alcohol, citrus, and spice in there too.

Mouthfeel is nice, not too carbonated and nice thick mouthfeel.

Drinkability is not good. Too much alcohol on the end and almost fusel like.

 453 characters

Photo of dsartwell72
4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage poured from a 12oz bottle into an oversized wine glass.

Appearance- Pours a murky orange color. Very small amount of beige head that returns with a swift twirl of the glass. Small dots of lacing stick to the edge of the glass.

Smell- Great aroma. Smells sweet with fruity characteristics coming through. Alcohol hotness comes through subtly.

Taste- Much smoother than I was expecting. Very impressed with my first sip. Taste is not overly sweet at all. Alcohol is detectable but definitely doesn't feel like 15%. Can't detect much for hoppiness, but I can tell they used to be there. Overall taste is quite inviting.

Mouth/Drink- Medium bodied beer, incredibly drinkable for a 15% barley wine.

 710 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from 750ml bottle into snifter glass. Pours clear dark orange with a thin beige head. Aroma of brown sugar, figs, a touch of citrus and some alcohol. Full body and fine carbonation. Boozy taste. Not a surprise given the ABV and youth of this beer. This beer is too hot to be particularly enjoyable.

 305 characters

Photo of bubseymour
2.65/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was the first time I've sampled a barley wine so I'm sure my pallet is just in shock at the moment. I'm not going to bother with the usual format of my review.

The good - the appearance and smell is ok. It leaves a nice warm feeling in your tummy. It actually does seem like a beer/wine hybrid drink in some ways which I'm assuming is primarily from the alcohol level being more in the range of wine than beers (except high ABV RIS).

The bad - well...sorry to say this tastes like cough syrup to me. I've had about 10 sips now and it just isn't getting any better at all. I'm glad I only bought a 1 12 oz bottle, because unfortunately I'm going to have to dump about 9 oz of it down the drain. I just can't go any further into this beer..the struggle to enjoy is unbearable. If I need a high-alcohol warm winter option...I go with either a RIS or a port wine. Barley wines just must not be for me.

Revised review March 2017 - So thougth after several years and a more sophisticated pallete that I'd enjoy this one a second time around. It seems my tastes as a noob are still on par with my thoughts today. This beer is a sweet hot mess, and reminisent of cough syrup. And I've hadmany Barleywines now that I've loved. I'm also a big fan of DFH brews but this one just didn't work for me.

 1,299 characters

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 2,664 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.