Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine
Very Good
2,682 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: 2,682 |  Reviews: 1,092
Photo of vandemonian
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

DFH Olde School Barleywine has a dark brown colour and a good head. The smell is of strong alcohol with a hint of raisins. The flavour was creamy with raisins with some alcohol warmth. It was very nice, but the alcohol was too noticeable. This beer had a very creamy texture in my mouth but didn't have much noticeable carbonation. A very nice (and strong) barleywine.

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Photo of ebby82
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a honey hued color into a snifter. The aromas are very fruity, and they remind me a bit of DFH's Immort Ale.

Taste is again fruity, sweet, with touches of honey.

It's pretty viscous stuff, and it certainly isn't a quick drinker.

I was expecting this to have a hop tastes, because my limited exposure to Barleywines have been hoppy. However, it dispelled my expectations, which is always a great thing. That being said, it's extreme alcohol content prevents it from being an easily quaffable brew.

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Photo of beersensei305
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


A- Pours a clear brownish copper with a nice white head with even lacing

S- Malty sweet tinge of grapes? I can't get much other than the ABV

T- Fruity & Tangy, malty, alcohol bitterness

M- Smooth and Sticky

D- Very high ABY this brew will sneak up on you.

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

On tap at Venti's -- served in a tulip glass.

Pours a completely translucent, appley bronze, like Treetop apple juice -- acquires a red hue when the light is low -- with a thin layer of off-white head that clings temporaneously to the sides as it dissipates. Looks fruity, refreshing, and remarkably like apple brandy.

Smells like it looks -- malty, with ruby port-like grapes, some moderately-sweet apples, pears, and, perhaps, a bit of strawberry. As the glass warms, some subdued hops present themselves. The 15% is noticeable, but not offensive. The aromas are slightly difficult to discern, but I'm sitting next to a kitchen, so I'm going to write it off as interference.

The alcohol is definitely more noticeable on the tongue, but still not as prominent as I would've expected. Apples and pears return, supported by a nice malty backbone; there are other tart fruits in there, as well (cherries, grapes), creating a very well-balanced experience. There's some piney, hoppy bitterness in the finish, but it's very subtle. All-in-all, great flavors, reminiscent of apple brandy, ruby port, cider, and/or a semi-weet white wine.

The beer borders on syrupy, but the carbonation is lively enough to prevent it from crossing that threshold.

Olde School is smooth, fruity and crisp, like a cider or an enormous, malty imperial IPA -- certainly an atypical barleywine and one of Dogfish Head's most palatable big beers. That being said, while the alcohol is masked deceptively well, especially given the beer's freshness, you can't help but submit to its will (I felt light-headed after my first taste), which makes it a sipper. A slow, slow sipper; in fact, it's probably best shared. With some age on this, I'd expect great things -- I've got one cellared and am anxious to revisit this brew in a year or two.

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Photo of ryanonline
3.52/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

extremely clear and very thin looking. reddish brown. head is non existent, ergo lacing is difficult to trace.

hops are light, and the malt is difficult to define. overall kind of grassy and grape like.

wooo, a bit more sweet (almost champagne like (brut)) but the hops are more pronounced. the drink has the same kind of, for lack of a better term, paste like taste that the super high abv dfh brews have.

FULL bodied and very dry in the finish. creamy and yet juice like in its consistency. dry alcohol finish. dry...dry.

i am so full after one...no more.

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Photo of Rguardian989
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. 2009 release bottle served into one (not two which in retrospect, i should have listened to the bottle) snifter.

Appearance and Smell - burnt orange with a nice white head that sticks around like a frat guy the next morning. Some american hop citrus with malty sweetness. smells a LOT like red wine to me and i kinda like it. wow.

Taste and Mouthfeel - american hops like in the nose but not as strong. apples. alcohol and fruit on the back end with a light lingering bitterness. Nice full mouthfeel with a good level of carbonation.

Drinkability - only gonna need one bottle of this stuff. this is really kicking my ass and im only half way through it as i'm up to this part of my review. each sip however makes my tongue beckon for the next sip. Still scores a 4

Other Notes - not my favorite barleywine but that being said i really am enjoying it . i cant wait to see how it vintages over the next few years. This is a very good beer. if you can find it, get it.

Vertical Review 1/3 - 2009 bottle on 1/13/2011 into a snifter.

wow this is a totally different beer. ill just write scores next to each point

A&S - dark ruby with a decent lasting head. Smells like dark fruit, burnt caramel, and a little alcohol on the back end, definitely lost its hop character and now is nice and malty. its completely lost its wine quality in the smell. definite improvement on smell. A-4.5 S-5

Taste and Mouth - dry dark fruit (figs?) with still some alcohol punchy on the swallow. burnt caramely/molasses sweetness is definitely there. mouth is still very full and carbonation evened out and became more appealing. taste-4.5 mouth-5

Drinkability - i count drinkability in the want to take another sip rather than wanting a whole nother bottle because clearly thats a bad idea. i'd say this is good drinkability but not the best. its richness makes it so strong that i can wait to take another sip but each sip is very good while its in my mouth.

Notes - this beer clearly benefits hugely from age and it's become even better with time. its complexities have only become more for lack of a better word...complex. I look eagerly to a year from today when i get to open my next bottle of this beer.

TD/LR Get this beer and age it for later.

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Photo of Dlish
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- pours a ruby red of an esb, little carbonation and almost no head, very light lacing on the side.

S- a sweet prune flavor, some grapes, an hint of alcohol and apples and a hint of oak.

T- really amazing, the hops give a very grape and sour granny apple, the sweetness of the carmel malts. Whole lot of flavor in ya ear!

M- booze very thick, but the low carbonation is great cause it makes you silp it slower.

D- I'll tell you how I feel when I finish this 12oz bottle.

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Photo of jmerloni
4.6/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Ruby light brownish. Looks like grapefruit juice on crack. Head is fairly large, recedes pretty fast and leaves a little lacing.

S - Sugar plums soaked in bourbon. Hops, bready, and boozy. Smells a lot like wine.

T - Fruity. A whole lot of flavor here. Lemon, orange, ginger. Boozy.

M - Medium to full bodied. Good level of carbonation.

D - A slow sipper. Makes sense at 15%. Very good beer overall.

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Photo of cratez
3.52/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle from Wolverine Market in Port Huron, MI. Pours a hazed copper hue with amber edges, a thin ring of cream coloured head, and no lace. Smell is caramel, toffee, perfume, white wine, dark dried fruit, cinnamon, toast, cotton candy, light doughiness, mild phenols, green apple, and oak wood. For some reason DFH beers always exhibit flavours and aromas that I don't pick up in other brews. Taste is caramelized apples, slight sourness, green grapes, sparkling wine, malty sweetness, spicy and woody hops, strong alcoholic burn (somewhat harsh), lingering heat in the throat. Mouthfeel is silky upfront, syrupy middle, fuller than medium bodied, spicy and acidic hop bite, a little juicy, warming liquor in the finish. Definite sipper.

Overall impression: although the vinous character of Olde School is a unique take on a barley wine, I'm not sure it's intentional. Some of the aromas seem a bit 'off' for the style, the mild sourness is unpleasant to me, and the evident alcohol detracts from the beer's drinkability. On the U.S. b-wine spectrum, I prefer bolder, hoppier, and smoother examples like Old Ruffian, #100, and Old Crustacean.

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Photo of VoiceOfTheSoul
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured 8oz into a Blue Moon Grand Cru flute. On tap at Pinocchio's in Media, PA.

A Pours a copper brown with thin, light tan head that sticks around for just a few minutes before going to a ring with floating islands of foam. Leaves sagging, lazy lacing that sticks and gives up after a few minutes.

S Smells of strong maltiness. It's sweet, spicy smell of barley, mixed with fruits like apples and green grapes.

T Sharpness hits the tongue up front with strong maltiness. As it progresses down the tongue, spice comes through after the malt in a big way, attacking the taste buds and subduing shortly thereafter. The sweetness and spiciness switch off for dominance, battling the entire way. It finishes with dry fruitiness and pleasant bitterness that likes to hang around.

M It's got a nice full feeling. It's spicy all around with slight astringency around the sides and back of the tongue and light carbonation.

D Tastes great and goes down easy, sits harder in the stomach. You'd never know its 15% by taste, but by the warmth and the quick setting buzz you find out later.

This was a great foray into the world of barleywines, as I've not yet been happy with my previous encounters (e.g. Old Horizontal).

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Photo of axeman9182
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle, marked 2010A, poured into my Duvel tulip.

Olde School pours a bright, clear amber color. Just more than two fingers of bone colored foam crown the beer. Retention is good and there is a fair bit of lacing left behind. The nose is big on toffee and caramel, with some resinous pine hop notes providing balance. There's a distinct booziness cutting through everything though, and giving me pause. Yeah, everything is in place for a great barleywine. Rich, deep malt flavors (again, caramel/toffee are the main offenders) almost perfectly offset by an aggressive hop bite (the bitterness is spot on, but I could have stood for some more late addition hops). All of that is trampled over by the beer's abrasive alcoholic presence. As one might expect from a beer with such a malt backbone, the body is incredibly rich and full. Unfortunately, the carbonation isn't quite up to the task, it's a bit too subdued. The result is a definite syrupy quality to the beer. I've had aged Olde School before, which is absolutely sublime. Unfortunately the alcohol is a bit too pronounced fresh for it to be a great beer.

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

Had from a 12oz bottle into a Great Divide snifter.

A- Pours a clear reddish brown with pretty much no head. Completely clear, fairly pale red color. Not as dark brown as I would have expected.

S- Booze hits the hardest, also some sweetness. Not a very complex nose on this.

T- Far better than expected. Not as hot as I had been led to believe. Very light on the palate. Very similar to the nose. Not very complex, but good. Sweetness, booze and a good bit of dryness on the end.

M- Light but coating. Really does coat the mouth as you drink it.

D- Excellent, especially for the ABV. While it's hot, dogfish has yet again worked the booze into the flavor profile as opposed to letting it dominate.

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Photo of slowbie
3.11/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. 2010 bottle.

Pours a nice clear amber. A bit lighter in color than I expected, though still a great color for a barleywine. One finger head sticks around for longer than I would expect from a beer of this ABV.

Smells of caramel and dark fruits, but a strong whiff of alcohol. Other than the prominent alcohol, smell reminds me of the last scotch ale I had.

Taste very much mirrors smell with the caramel and dark fruits up front and a strong alcohol taste in the finish. Lacks the hop character of an American Barleywine which I'm willing to overlook but the alcohol taste is too much for me.

The mouthfeel is good but the drinkability suffers at the hand of the alcohol taste. I'll have to get some to age though because it definitely has potential.

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Photo of 100floods
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pour into a pint glass. The pour yields a cream-white head that seems to be mellowing down. Amber hue, minimal visible carbonation and pretty damn clear. This has the aroma of a good American Barleywine, at least a 15% BW. Smooth, warm aromas from the alcohol. Fruit and candy sugar notes from the malt. Not much in the hop department on this one. For such a strong brew, the alcohol hides pretty well. Also, notes of orange zest, possibly the hops I was looking for. Damn this is sweet! Alcohol heat and a strong malt bill dominate the first sip, the alcohol warm closes it out. Notes of orange rinds, possibly burnt rinds. The alcohol heat is accompanied by some spiced flavors. This beer, for it's size, ain't too shabby. It does a good job of hiding 15% better than some beers, whose alc% are even lower than 15. Aside from that this seems to come off as an English style Barleywine on steroids. There's nothing 'American' about this beer, definitely the English style comes to mind, not a bad thing. This beer's main feature seems to be masking the alcohol. Aging this might do something. Move along people, not much to see here.

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

A: poured amber brown in color with yellow highlights that had a thin head and left very little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: I was greeted by some pleasent booze and pear apple notes upfront alongside banana, caramel, and sweetness from the malts; smells yummy.

T: the caramel pear apple flavors were more apparent on the palate with lots of sweetness from the malts, brown sugar, and mild booze notes.

M: the brew was medium to full in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, slight fruity and boozy sticky finish.

D: this beer is a good interpretation on how I like my barleywines. It had some good sweetness and booze but not overly hoppy. It drank really good too.

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

157th review on BA
Bottle to pint
12 oz bottle

App- A very murky dark orange with yellow highlights on the bottom of the glass.

Smell- I can't pinpoint it. It's hops, berries. I hate to say this but I smell marshmellow.

Taste- It's a very tart beer in a good way. A bit boozy at the 15% but the flavors play well together to make a really nice brew.

Mouth- A bit of a medium body with a high carb level. Very unique in my opinion.

Drink- This think snuck up on me after a brooklyn 1 and a dreadnaught. I lost a couple hours the other night. Very nice and different beer.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a vibrant orange color, looks like a happy barleywine here, aroma was just what I like in a beer, hoppy andf full of alcohol.

Thicker viscosity than most/any for a beer of this color, allows some wood flavor and hop presence to chill. I think I like how they hop the barleywine more than any of their other 60/90/120 minute ipas. Slight apple feel to it. Not heavy, lighter than expected.

Mouthfeel, eh, hops still, alcohol, clear alcohol feel to it. Nothing too complex develops in this barleywine, it leans very much to the side of just being a gigantic ipa. And hey, there's a time and place for that. Hides its alcohol a lot better than some beers half its strength.

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Photo of abc3
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

As expected, didn't pour much of a head. Beer itself looks deep amber, like a nice brandy. Nice balance between alcohol and malt. Hops are not prominent. Overall, this is a nice sipping beer. The alcohol content, along with DFH's reputation for stuffing every bottle with ingredients, gives the beer the potential to release a cornucopia of many intense flavors.

Drunk right from the store, the beer tasted a bit "young". I'm sure aging would make this beer amazing.

I still would recommend it...even if you can't wait to drink it. How many 15% beers are out there, after all?

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Photo of BigPlay1824
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a dfh shaped pint glass

A: pours a beautiful hazy golden amber color with an ample amount of frothy white head that lingers a bit, leaves a nice amount of lacing

S:nice sweetness, quite apparent hop character, also almost a sour scent, slight alcohol content is noticeable

T: very nice hop character, incredible depth, alcohol is definitely there

D/M: drinks a bit thick, incredible depth of flavor makes it enticing to drink, alcohol sting hurts the pallet a bit but ill accept the sacrifice, slight carbonation tingle

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had a bottle of 07' with Huhzubendah. Thanks Matt!

A: Crimson to brown color. Almost no head at all, but great lacing. Thick.

S: Sugary coated raisin and big molasses notes, huge malt, prunes, and sweet alcohol thats is still sort of hot, but i like that. Great barleywine smell.

T: Good but not as promising as the smell. Burning, citrus like finish with huge dark fruit, raisin, molasses, plum, cookie, and lots of leather.

M: A little burning, but nice smooth heavy feel on the palate.

D: Big stuff, got to have it bit by bit.

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

Pours light copper with a creamy white head that leaves sticky lacing.

Aroma is sweet caramel malt, and dark fruit. Alcohol comes on strong and hot.

Taste is caramel malt, toffee and brown sugar up front. Nice bit of plum and date. Finishes woody, with mild earthy hop bitterness that brings some balance to the overall sweetness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a slight diacetyl quality.

There is no hiding the alcohol in this one. I happen to like a lot of alcohol heat so I found this brew to be tasty. However, a stronger hop profile would go a long way.

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Photo of bashiba
3.64/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a crystal clear amber with a thin but sticky off white head.

The nose is huge alcohol, very boozy, big sweet malt behind the booze. Burns a little.

The taste is much different than the nose, very bready and malty with a slight bit of brown sugar, toffee, dark cherry and a touch of alcohol, very mild compared to the nose.

The mouthfeel is very thick and warm.

Suprisingly easy to drink for as huge as it is. Good but doesn't have the complexity or depth I would expect in a barleywine.

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Photo of Emmanlop
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Honey copper from bottom going to a deep cherrywood top, a 1 inch head that dissipated rather quickly.

Smell: Burgundy wine mixed with honey/rose honey and citrus.

Taste: A red wine with undertones of spice and a strong, warm honey finish.

Mouthfeel: Lightly carbonated, easy to swallow, and leaves a smooth, whiskey-like burn as you exhale.

Drinkability: Goes down amazingly at first, as it gets to the bottom however the burn increases and makes for a tough swallow. Also due to the high alcohol content one should be a little careful with how many you drink.

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

Pours a golden tawny amber color. Some white crusts.

Smells like sugary caramel sugar toffee with some sweet orange-y juicy sugary hops. Sugary. SUGARY.

Taste is a malt/sweet bomb. There's little to no bitterness here ... maybe just a hint of pungent grapefruit and orange rind. Sweet dewy oranges, caramel with a touch of brown sugar, and an interesting sugary grapefruit/tropical fruit note.

Well, I have to admit I liked it more than I thought I would. It does, however, pack one heck of a wallop. Yipes. For it's ABV and strong flavors, quite drinkable. I would say the thick, syrupy mouthfeel is superb.

You know what ... I really didn't get much alcohol heat from this. If nothing else, it's one hell of an accomplishment to mask that much ABV.

Also: SUGAR, MOTHERF***S!!!!

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Photo of aepb1
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- cloudy, amber body with a small off-white head

S- Fruity malts, dark sugar and some booze

T- Like the nose, fruity malts, some grassy hops and LOTS of warming

M- Medium-bodied, smooth, good carb and warming

D- Nice sipping winter beer. Goes slower because of the high ABV

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 2,682 ratings