Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
2,642 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,642 |  Reviews: 1,074
Photo of BigMike
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage

A: Pours a clear golden orange color. Just about one finger of eggshell colored head. Large bubbles that disappear in minutes

S: Very complex nose. Caramel, toffee,figs,dates,vanilla,brown sugar and a light oakiness that smells almost barrel aged.

T: Lots of initial sweetness. Candied figs and dates. Lots of toffee and vanilla. 15% is pretty much hidden. It only shows up in the chest a few seconds after sipping.

M: Full bodied with lots of stickiness. Coats the entire mouth and lips. Good amount of carbonation. A slow sipper. Perfect for this 20 degree December night.

Overall: Another big abv. beer from DFH that's not as scarey as I thought. It's actually got alot of nice flavors going on that I'm sure will only blend in time to make an even smoother drinking BW. I planned on aging this like I did my recently consumed WWS but I couldn't hold out. And at $3.50 I can always get more to age.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.21/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Live review of a 12 oz bottle dated 2010D.
A: Clear copper with essentially no head.
S: Alcohol that comes off as bourbon and vanilla oak with a strong citrus character, sweet caramel malt is far in the background, green hops with banana and tangerine.
T: Very noticeable alcohol that is sweet like a mix of bourbon and orange liqueur. This is almost like flavor extract alcohol presence. The taste is quite similar to the aroma.
M: Thinner and undercarbonated but with a sticky feel.
D: Ok. Half the 12 oz is good.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a dark reddish/copper. Thin head doesn't last all that long.
S- Smells tremendously sweet, slightly candy sugar aroma, dried fruit (apricot, fig). For a 15% it hides the booze.
T- Very sweet, tremendously so. Caramel, but not atogether malty. More sugary caramel than malty caramel, some fruity flavors (apricot and fig). Slight booze warmth.
M- The effects of the candy sugar are certainly noticable.
D- For a 15% beer, it hides it well. Significantly too sweet to be truly "drinkable." But a solid barleywine nevertheless.

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Photo of Giggy
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow! 15% alcohol is disguised within the taste but....easily warms you up.

A: Amber/orange with a thin creamy head. Clear and transparent.

S: Caramel/Vanilla/Peach/Raisin

Taste: More mild than expected. Sweet to the tongue. Grapes/citrus & fruity. Spicy finish

M: Creamy with a modest alcohol kick

D: Very nice. Will drink again but not more than one in a sitting

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Photo of Lolli1315
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Color is a hazy copper orange color with a small head that disappears almost entirely with little to no lacing available.

S- Full of dark fruits and malts, most notably a plum smell with underlinings of apple and pear. Some dark sugars available as well as the end of the beer brings a noticeable alcohol smell.

T- Wow, tons of flavor in this beer starting off with the dark fruits once again and plums take the show to start. The apple and pear flavors start to take over towards the middle of the beer as well as a heightened flavor of alcohol. The alcohol keeps increases towards the end as it edges up towards the nose almost tingling it while creating a warming sensation as well. The alcohol is almost a little too overwhelming which takes away a little bit, but at 15% still pretty good.

M- Thick body, but not incredibly thick. Some lack of carbonation, but more than I expected there to be.

D- At 15% and with the apparent alcohol involved this isn't going to be one that you will be getting through fast. Nevertheless, still a solid beer.

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Photo of bronco94
3.67/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle

Appearance: clear amber, thin head with little retention

Smell: dark fruits (raisins, plums), sweet sugar and alcohol

Taste: caramelized dark sugar, raisins and alcohol, slightly tangy

Mouthfeel: thick and syrupy, warming and a slight burn from the alcohol

Drinkability: at an obvious 15% abv, this is one to sip. gains character and flavor as it warms.

Definitely a good beer to sip on. I'll be aging a few bottles to see how it changes as it gets older.

After trying this again fresh in 2010, I realize this beer needs a good bit of time on it to settle down...very strong an boozy. Not a bad beer but there are quite a few other barleywines I'd go to before this.

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Photo of glazeman
2.78/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Orange in color with a 1/3 finger white head. There's a little lacing and a decent head retention.

S: The main smells in this beer are alcohol, and a sweet, sweet fruit smell.

T: Cloying sweetness is the first and foremost taste. There's also some alcohol heat.

M: There's a low level of carbonation, boozy aftertaste and a decent body.

D: There's no way I could drink more than a half-bottle of this. It was overwhelmingly sweet and boozy.

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Photo of airohead2001
2.12/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

HUGE thanks to glazeman for this one!

A - Copper reddish/brown with no head. Really clear and light looking for a barleywine. I like it. No lacing.

S - Bubble gum, sugar, cotton candy, and flavored coffee syrup. This smells absolutely disgusting.

T - Booze, booze, booze, hard after dinner candies, and oranges. Similar to the smell, this is really gross.

M - Nice. Thick.

D - No way. Not a chance in hell. No drinkability at all. This beer is terrible. This is a fun beer just because it is so bad. Glazeman and I had a good time with this one.

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Photo of assmandugle
4.88/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Almost no head when poured into a snifter but I'm sure would be larger with age. Wine in the name of this means what it is but it has an amazing beer like start with a nice almost wine like fruity fig taste. Amazing beer could get plastered on this stuff except I'd rather enjoy the flavor.... great for pre-game.

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Photo of Zodijackyl
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours sunburst orange which looks more reddish copper in thicker areas of the glass. Aroma is a lot of barley, and a sweet cake-like yeast with tannic hints. Taste makes "barley cider" come to mind - the sweetness and grainy malt of the barley come through, as do some fruity flavors, and tartness like an apple peel. Very complex with lots of flavors to digest. Tartness and strength factor in to make it a difficult one to drink, though I will certainly get another one to further experience the flavor.

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Photo of TheElusiveAlexT
4.33/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - A copper/reddish-orange color. A nice thick head with a fair amount of lacing that creeps down the glass and almost dissapears by the end of the drink. Good level of carbonation.

Smell - Sweet and minty almost like a Dr. McGuillicuddy's. A candied orange, cherry and floral scent that compliments the beer. A mild and spicy hop smell that cuts through.

Taste - Similar to the smell. It tastes sweet/sugary sort of like a shot of hard liquor. The hops have a spicy ting similar to apple cider and there is a light floral and lime after-taste.

Mouthfeel - Strange for a beer, it almost doesn't feel like a beer at all it feels like a mouthful of hard alcohol with the same kind of clean finish on the palate. Smoothest beer I've ever had.

Drinkability - This beer will kick your ass, no question buddy. 15.04% ABV means the drink is harsh. It's a bit of an aquired taste but its smooth and enjoyable leaving a cooling feeling. But for the kind of beer it is its enjoyable, just drink them carefully ... sip by sip, you'll love it.

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Photo of Naugros
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An orange/amber brew with a tight, thin head of off-white that is slow to disperse into floaters and a crown.

The smell is typical of a barleywine: raisins and boozes buoyed by a malt backbone that screams caramel. There are hints of vanilla as well as floral hops. This barleywine can boast a much better balanced nose than most of its kind.

The booze fights with phenols for control. Amazing since the ABV is so high you'd think booze would be king, but it's well-contained. The phenols relax as the beer warms and you're left with a dark fruit sweetness that has a citrus tone. This is from the hops and is a change from the floral character in the nose.

Full-bodied and a bit thick and sticky on the tongue. The aftertaste does a slow fade, carrying the citrus and raisins with it.

Not one for the faint of heart or weak of liver or unsteady of hand. This one packs a whallop and finishing it yourself will make you pleasantly numb and ready for a nap...or running with the bulls in Pamplona...whichever is most convenient.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 11/27/10 notes. 2010 vintage, poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Split the bottle with my brother.

a - Pours a somewhat transparent amber color with one finger of fluffy off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, sweet fruity malts, dark fruits, and spices. The alcohol is well hidden in the smell.

t - Tastes of sticky dark fruits, fruity malts, caramel malts, spices, and alcohol. The alcohol comes out a lot more in the taste than it did in the smell. Very sweet.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A decent barleywine, but a little too alcoholic and too sweet. Would like to try again but with age on it.

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Photo of Saro
4.78/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into my Maudite snifter.

A- Dark ruby red, still transparent. gorgeous color.

S- spicy and the alcohol punches you in the face.

T- for being a barley wine at 15%, the amount of spices mask it very well.

M- very smooth over the tongue with the subtle boozey burn. cant wait to see what happens over the years. I can see DFH blowing up to the point where they lose the respect of the "smaller" micros, but for now, Olde School is a serious barleywine.

D- i picked up a 4pk. drank 2 within 4hrs. sip it slow eat nothing with it so you can get the complexity of it. dont think you should have more than 2 bottles at a time.

overall, this beer is great. one of the best barleywines ive had. good work to the people at DFH

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Photo of deaconoflove
3.1/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Ap. 2010 bottle poured into a Victory chalice...who cares? It's a gorgeous ruby red and extremely clear. Almost no head at all.
Sm. I can't smell much other than spice...cloves and cinnamon maybe.
Ta. Just a strongly spicy flavor, not much else on my crude palate.
Mf. Little carbonation. Consistency of Coke.
Dr. This is not a bad beer. It's a sippy beer, so one bottle is maximum. I'd say it's a competitor to Mad Elf, but not nearly as tasty or as drinkable. I'm not trashing the beer, just not impressed.
Update 03/2015. Bottle cellared 11/2010, so 4.5 years in the dark.
The strongest aroma and flavor reminds me of raisins (just noticed it's fermented with dates and figs). Still a bit of a medicinal aroma/taste. Overall, it's a very mild, smooth raisin/date/fig flavored sippy beer...kind of like a very smooth cognac or brandy. Very good at this point.

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Photo of PBoegel
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 Bottle poured into a Dogfish Head oversized snifter.

I had this beer relatively fresh late last year and was just way too rough and green. So here it is a year later...

It pours with a slight carbonation and a touch of peachy white head that fades rapidly. The color is mango yellow-orange to straw.

Aromas have dropped from harsh alcohol when young to a mix of bright tree fruits, sliced honey crisp apples, asian pear, and berries, blackberry especially. Some vanilla, coconut butter, maple sap and still plenty of perfume flower like wafts of alcohol.

The flavor profile is similar to the nose, but much more upfront of vanilla, maple sap, coconut flavored rum, then the fruit touches in back end through the finish. Fruit flavors are very much berry fruits, raspberry, blackberry and a very apparent alcohol warmth in the flavor upfront and in the finish.

The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a sweet finish that is balanced off by some hop bitterness but more so the alcohol. There is no astringency or worse harshness from the alcohol at this point.

There is an aspect of this beer that reminds me of Samiclaus, particularly the Helles version from 2007. It has to have something to do with the high alcohol content for certain and how it presents itself through the residual sugars of the malt, because beyond that the beers are substantially different.

Hard to call this beer "drinkable" but that is not a knock, that is just a fact. This is an on occasion sipper that in my opinion needs a minimum of one year in the bottle.

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Photo of Morey
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 2010 12oz. bottle. One more in the fridge and the other two in the basement.

This high-octane Barleywine poured reddish-copper in color with brilliant clarity. Nice cream colored head is still holding it's own after several minutes following my straight down the middle of the snifter pour. Pretty good head retention too for a beer so high in alcohol.

I anticipated an alcohol dominated aroma, but that's not the case at all. Sweet caramel and and dark cherries come to mind. Not picking up too much in the way of hops though. A touch of turbino surgar in there as well.

The alcohol is there, but it's seriously not that overwhelming for such a high ABV. Sweet and fruity with a touch of bitterness from the hops.

I expected a fuller mouthfeel, but I'd still say medium bodied here. Carbonation is right were it should be.

I wouldn't want more than a bottle....possibly two in a sitting. That being said, this is one drinkable 15% barleywine.

Morey's Bottom Line: I was in the mood for a sipper, so I went out and grabbed the last 4 pack of this at my local six pack shop. Definitely glad I did. Drinkable right now, and I'm excited to age the other two. Don't let the alcohol scare you, it's smoother than Brooklyn Monster, Blithering Idiot, and some of the other Barleywines I've had as well.

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Photo of SeaUrchin
4.33/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a 2010 at thanksgiving dinner, poured from bottle into my duvel tulip, complimented the meal nicely

appearance - poured a golden amber, slightly above mild carbonation, small head that lasted for about half of glass, mild lacing if any

smell - up front was a strong alcohol smell, balanced out by a sweet malty flavor and mild smells of fruit

taste - just like the smell up front i tasted alcohol, followed by a bitter hop kick(but not too strong) that quickly melded into a nice sweet malty flavor(this was a very sweet malt) that moved into an almost apple cider flavor, and finished with a slight alcohol burn(not unpleasant but noticeable similar to after a shot of bourbon) overall only 2 strong flavors were malt and alcohol but the hops was noticeable and helped attempt to balance this out. as it warmed up the alcohol was more pronounced in my nose and only after i swallowed, the sweet maltyness then dominated with the apple cider playing an important supporting role

mouthfeel - had slightly thicker than water texture, left an almost fuzzy film in mouth, not unpleasant but made the after taste last longer than average

drinkability - while this is a heavy hitter on alcohol(in ABV, flavor, and taste) it is balanced out nicely by sweetness. while this is a sipper for me but if i wasnt trying to age my other 3 each 1,2,3 years respectively i would have gladly had another, something to be careful with if you dont drink big beers often

on a side note my mom took a sip(she was teaching me how to host a thanksgiving dinner because it seems i will be the one taking on the responsibility of thanksgiving dinners when she gets a little older(and everyone said my turkey blew hers away) but she is a white wine drinker who is also partial to whiskey(iv let her try a few whiskey ages brews and shes liked all of them for that whiskey flavor) but she said that this reminded her of one of her favorite wines. definitively a must try in my book especially in trying to have a wine drinker learn to appreciate the world of beer.

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Photo of YouSkeete
4.18/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: cloudy copper/orange. Small head, definitely some lacing.

S: Both light and dark fruits fill the nose. Candied honey/caramel malts smell strong. Alcohol is present in the aroma. Seems pretty straight forward.

T: Almost an overpowering sweetness in the initial sip. The sweetness rounds out to a distinctively malty mouthfeel. Apples, grapes, even hints of citrus: it's all there. ABV is powerful and clearly present in the taste. The aftertaste is a delectable combination between the burn of alcohol and the malty sweetness of the body of the beer.

M: Milky and syrupy. Super boozy. Exceptionally smooth. Medium to full body with light carbonation.

D: A little too sweet, but other than that it's absolutely amazing.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dogfish Olde School on tap at mighty Max's in Baltimore, MD, served in their classic thick "Viking" goblet.

Appearance: Deep ambar, slightly translucent, but mostly hazy. A rich, oily pour. Barely any head, dies fast. Good lacing.

Smell: Candied orange, citrus. Booze. Smells young and sweet. None of the raisin/dark fruit that appears in the aged version of this brew.

Taste: Bitterness upfront, a pungent one. This brew could use some serious aging! Overcooked/boiled citrus. Alcohol and hot orange juice.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and carbonation, full hot flavor. Burns!
After-ship stickiness. Unbalanced. Very filling.

Drinkability: Higher than the aged Olde, but not as tasty. Too bitter, too young, too pungent. Feels like a West Coast IPA gone wrong. Not a fan.

I love barleywines and I love Dogfish, but I've been long troubled by Olde School. It has always struck me as unbalanced, huge and too sweet. Aged (at least one year) is more than drinkable, but this fresh tap was just not enjoyable.

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Photo of metter98
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

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Photo of loren01
4.62/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a clear amber color, slight head not much lacing down the glass.
S: Smells very fruity (apple/pear/grapefruit)
T: This beer is very sweet, much the same as the smell...tastes like apple/pear and citrus fruits. ETOH is actually well hidden in the taste.
M: Medium bodied, medium amount of carbonation
D: This is a very tasty beer, definately a sipper. Wish I would have bought more because I bet its real good aged a few years.

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Photo of perrymarcus
4.33/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served in an oversized wineglass.

an aggressive pour yields a solid finger of beige colored head; body is a translucent deep amber/orange tone... good retention, nice walls of lacing.

bold nose is rich with sweet malts, candied sugar, and alcohol. a bit of dark fruits.

taste follows and exceeds the aroma. big candied fruit presence... and while the dominant force is sweet maltiness, there is some hoppiness to it. plenty complex; huge 15% ABV relatively well-hidden. has a not unpleasant boozy finish. a delicious sipper if you don't mind sweet, malty beers.

creamy, full-bodied mouthfeel with some chew to it. very drinkable all things considered. all in all an outstanding barley wine and one i will look forward to revisting.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had not seen/ heard of this beer before purchasing it. Steep $$ as usual, but generally I find sanctuary with a DFH purchase. The packaging is nice as usual, I appreciate the cowboy theme. I did at least have the immort ale prior to this beer/wine hybrid, so I look forward to what will be offered.

This beer is more clear than expected. I thought that bottle fermentation would have left at least a haze, but it looks generic and filtered. However, a fair transient head was able to form in my tulip and the carbonation seems to be ample. Holding the glass to a light source presents a copper orange, fairly thick and inviting.

The beer smacks you with its 15% abv. Fruits, aldehyde, and sweetness come through very potently. I would definitely know something strong is to come based on its smell, hopefully there is balance amongst chaos.

Issues with an overpowering abv are gone once the beer is trickling down the back of my throat. Truly a delicious brew and I get both elements of wine and beer harmonizing as one. The barley is superbly sweet and I'm sure the yeast additions put a hurt on the ample sugars available. I have had barley wines that like to focus on the hops, but this one is all about the sugar fermentation stage. Olde School could easily be aged and I look forward to seeing some of the flavors smooth out in that aging process.

Residual sweetness, smooth, and as dense as a loaf of bread. I am not concerned with the beer being too sweet, although more dryness may have added improvement. The beer has very little bite, but does carry a potent barley aftertaste. The beer carries an inherent thickness, but not to the point of being a syrup.

Very drinkable and would easily compliment a meal. The beer is smooth and refreshing, however does pack the punch of a wine in regards to its abv content. Overall the beer is pretty good and I would recommend it for others to try. Unfortunately, a $15 price tag will keep me from a second purchase, unless a particular occasion arises.


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Photo of jhammel01
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear dark amber with a fizzy thin head. Almost no racing.

Smells of orange peel, slight cinnamon, malt. Fresh hop aroma. Alcohol

Complex flavor! Tons of sugary fruit, malt, slight hops, many dark fruits, but most notably granny smith apple, orange peel and grape. Smooth alcohol burn..Not too bad at all.

Smooth mouthfeel, chewy, reminiscent of the barleywine style.

Overall a great beer. It's way complex. I can't even pick up half of what it has to offer..However, I have a ton of respect for this beer and can full appreciate the craft behind it. Another great one from DFH!

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.93 out of 5 based on 2,642 ratings.
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