Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
2,645 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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,645 |  Reviews: 1,076
Photo of caburdette51
4.6/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of andrewh995
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very a hazy deep red with almost no head. Smells of sweet malts and booze. Tastes of dark fruit, booze, caramels, and sweet malts. Medium mouthfeel with low carbonation. Overall an incredible beer. I only aged it for about 2 months but it's delicious.

 259 characters

Photo of EMV
3.77/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Cloudy dark golden amber pour. 2 fingers of off-white head. Solid retention and sticky lacing.

S: Boozy... dark sugars and figs. Fruity and malty... caramel.

T/F: Very rich... caramel, toffee, and dark sugars. A malt/sugar bomb mixed with very aggressive booze/alcohol. Almost too much so. Almost tastes like a port. Fruit character is in the background... fig and apple skin. Wouldn't have picked out dates if it hadn't bee on the bottle. Thick in body.. moderate carbonation... a bit more than expected. Some hop bittering at the finish but not much in the way of hop flavors. Finish and aftertaste is warm booze and candy sugar.

O: Well... booze. Reminds me of a nice port, and at 15%ish ABV it drinks like one too. A bit too boozy to be an easy drink. One to sip on a cold night... possibly share with a buddy. Becomes more interesting/full as it warms.

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Photo of Braz
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of akolb
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Scott17Taylor
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark amber with large head that dissipates quickly.
The aroma is charmel malts, dark fruits, dates plums etc, and a resinous piney hoppiness.
It's a really sweet barleywine, it's syrupy dark fruits. The Carmel sweetness gives way to an orange marmalade before finishing with a pronounced, but not overdone resinous hop finish.
Overall, this is great out of the gate and I can't wait to see how it ages.

 409 characters

Photo of AlexFreudenberg
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of zbooks
3/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of evanwoertz
4.9/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of woodychandler
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

As the eradication of the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody continues, the next brewery's horizontal to be conducted is that of DFH with this beer being my last for the time being. On to the next from here!

From the bottle: "A Barleywine style ale brewed with figs & dates"; "This beer ages with the best of 'em"; "What you have here is a bottle-conditioned Barleywine style ale. DIRECTIONS: Open bottle, pour contents into two snifters. Enjoy. OR: Walk-hand-in-neck into the middle of the woods. Use a shovel to dig a 2 x 2 hole three feet deep. Seal the bottle in a plastic bag. Place in hole & pack with dirt. Memorize location & leave. Return exactly one year later. Dig up bottle, open & enjoy."

I am coming to embrace the idea of Pop!ping the cap & proceeding with a gentle pour, rather than an aggro one. Less chance of a mess + it gives me the opportunity to conduct an in-glass swirl. In this case, I raised just over a finger of foamy, light-tan head with moderate retention that left decent lacing in its wake. Color was Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity. Nose had a LOT of fusel heat atop layers of caramel; leather; dried, dark fruits and pine resin. Phew! In sum, it was like the rush of inadvertently inhaling olde school model glue as a young man in the mid-1970s. Mouthfeel was big, full & viscous, befitting a behemoth like this. The heat was overwhelming on the tongue, but upon swallowing, the caramel malt and minty pine flavors really came to life. Inhaling to catch my breath, it was like a dichotomous cool heat rushing through. Finish was hot, dry, minty and yuge! Yuge, I tell you!

Mine was a fresh 2017 bottle, but I will revisit it again, either with a vintage from this same year or with something from my cellar.

 1,770 characters

Photo of drdiesel9483
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look - Auburn color with really no head very very slight skimming and slightly hazy.
Smell - boozy with dark red fruit like dark red cheeries and figs
Taste - strong booze taste with dark bitter fruit
feel - heavy fizzy bold
Overall - to much carbonation. I think this beer would be a lot better with out so much carbonation. I'd lessen the booze as well.

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Photo of weareallfalafel
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter (in two installments, of course). Pours a hazy auburn color with a half inch of off white head that falls quickly. Smell is booze, tons of booze. A little bit of dark fruit (the dates and figs) and maybe some hops, but mostly alcohol. Taste is a lot easier to decipher. The figs and dates come out a lot more, some vanilla, lots of toffee, a hop bite, and then a good bit of alcohol in the finish. Feel is a bit slick, but not too much and feels pretty full in body, with a little alcohol burn in the swallow. Overall, it's big and a bit intimidating, but if you let it warm a bit and sip it slowly, its easy to love as well. I'd recommend it, but definitely not as an everyday drink. Maybe age would do it well, too, but I tend to not like old barley wines as much, due to that soy sauce/brothy quality. If you like big, boozy barley wines, I'd pick one up!

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Photo of moodyxc9
3.74/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Photo of JamieDuncan
3.81/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Stud122433
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of neenerzig
4.37/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

poured out of a 12 oz bottle into one of my tulip glasses, this beer pours a fairly cloud/hazy copper color with lots of streams of little bubbles continuously and fairly rapidly rising to the beer's surface. Has a creamy looking tan head that's over an inch thick when first served. Head settles to a solid 1/2 of an inch thick with good retention and quite excellent lacing. Aromas of toasted, dank caramel malts, booze, dates, figs, a bit of brown sugar, and perhaps a hint of honey. The flavors are pretty much the same, with some toasted, dank caramel malts, booze, some additional sweetness from the aforementioned dates and figs, some brown sugar, and some earthy hop bitterness to add a bit of balance. Has a fairly crisp, slightly chew, slightly syrupy, fairly thick, full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Very easy to drink for a 15% AVB beer, as the booziness is well masked. I really started to feel that 15% AVB after a few swigs though. Has a fairly clean, slightly dry finish. The sweet and bitter flavor notes like to linger on the palate for the after taste after each sip. An interesting take on this style of beer.


 1,160 characters

Photo of SaisonRichBiere
4.38/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage poured into a snifter. Pours dark honey golden-brown with minimal head, but here is some bubble retention around the glass. Smell is smooth date, fig, honey, brown sugar aromas. Taste is all date sugars with a hint of fruitiness, and smooth caramel. Texture is soft and not overly heavy making this more of a drinker than a sipper. Great barleywine with 5+ years of age to smooth it out. A dessert beer for sure.

 431 characters

Photo of Marzen_Fan
3.64/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of dbl_delta
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Undated bottle into pint glass. Pours a hazy deep honey-amber with a light tan head. Initial impression is booze - bourbon or cognac or something, but whatever it is, it pretty much overwhelms everything else. There is a fleeting sweetish caramel taste, followed by astringent bitterness. Mouthfeel is sticky and thick; carbonation is on the light side but kinda irrelevant at this ABV. Definitely a weekend sipper. Finish is dry and slightly bittersweet. Bitterness comes a little more to the front as it warms.
This would be a good candidate for cellaring. Wish I'd bought a second bottle, 'cause I'm betting it would improve with age.

 647 characters

Photo of Benjolovesbeer
3.43/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Rating is based on fresh, I am aging 3 so perhaps those will taste better:

L: amber scotch look with minimal head

A: vodka

F: heavy, boozy, slow sipper yet smooth so with age I have a feeling this will be amazingly good

T: scotch, vodka, booze, and more booze, slightly sweet

O: I was expecting more fig and date flavor but hey for 15% this is pretty flavorful and I have a good feeling this will greatly improve with age.

 427 characters

Photo of KevCan
4.31/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle. Bottled on 01/18/17. Poured into a tulip glass.

Look: Golden amber orange. Very little head. Clear.

Smell: Lots of alcohol heat. Honey. Warm malt.

Taste: Very boozy. Bitter. I can't taste much of the figs or dates.

Feel: Medium body, low carbonation, syrupy.

Overall: Tons of bite on this one. I think it needs a year or two to mellow out. Not their best high-ABV brew.

 389 characters

Photo of jzlyo
4.48/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Aroma is dark fruit, caramel malts and fruit/expected alcohol. The flavor is caramel malts, fruit/dark fruit, very mild nuttiness and an alcoholic/medium sweet finish.

 168 characters

Photo of Bonis
3.91/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Shade1951
2.96/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Wow. Not sure about this one. DF Head just about never misfires, in my experience. I am tasting this as I write, and at the moment, I am disappointed.

The appearance is reasonably barleywine-ish. Cloudy, dark brown/amber. The smell is quite boozy. Sure it's 15% ABV. Even so, I really get that alcohol on the nose, and not in exactly a pleasant way. I guess the other smell would be that of dark dried fruit - figs maybe. A very small hint of sweetness.

The flavor somewhat follows the smell, except for the sweetness. It's a dry brandy/cognac flavor. It's not bad... but it's not what I prefer in a barleywine. Given the high ABV, this beer is obviously a sipper. But the dry, bordering on unpleasant flavor insures that one doesn't drink much at a time.

Now that it has warmed a bit, the flavor may have improved... a bit. Or maybe my palate has adjusted. I still would not describe the flavor as good, though.

I purchased a 4-pack, and I'm glad that's all I bought.

For me, it's an extremely rare misstep from Dogfish Head. If you really like dry brandies, cognacs, you may find this beer to your liking. It just doesn't work for me.

 1,143 characters

Photo of Bartleby91
3.43/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.93 out of 5 based on 2,645 ratings.
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