Olde School Barleywine | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

very good
1,052 Reviews
Olde School BarleywineOlde School Barleywine

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 15.04%

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 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,052 | Ratings: 2,595
Photo of SierraFlight
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Fairfax alehouse poured into snifter. Copper body with thin bone head that quickly collapses to nothing. Aroma is butter, alcohol, candied fruit especially orange, and toffee. Flavor is apples and pears, dried dark fruit, orange, buttery, spicy alcohol note on the swallow. Full body, thick viscous texture, light carbonation, boozy finish.

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Photo of marct13
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This review is of both the 2012 and 2015 batches.

L: Both were poured from bottles into snifters. They were bright reddish color with the '12 being a bit darker.

S: Figs, dates, plums, and booze. Pretty much as advertised. The booze smell wasn't as prevalent in the '12

T: Followed the smell. This is a really different barleywine, but in a good way.

F: Medium body with just the right amount of carbonation.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.18/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 12 oz. bottle of this a few weeks back up in Totowa, never having this before. I don't have this style a whole lot and these tend to be a bit too strong for me but I really enjoyed this and felt that this was a solid, textbook example of the style for so many reasons. The alcohol was present but recessed and the flavors were present but not strong enough to drown out each other or the booze in this. Combine that with a slick mouthfeel and this was a winner that I'd love to have again before this winter finally goes away!

Solid pour to this, as the dark orange hue had a good head and just a hint of lacing the stuck around for the duration. Not a lot of carbonation to this as this had the appearance and consistency of a true Barleywine, or even a dark mead. Lots of booze and dark fruit in the nose, as the dates and figs were reinforced with apricot, crystalline sweetness, and honey. Slick and smooth, this went down well without being too sweet or overloaded with grain and barley. The sweetness stuck around in the aftertaste, along with the resin that had a buttery feel to it.

To be fair, this beer was a beast and one bottle would be enough for a sitting even though I could have easily cracked open another. It did not feel like 15% ABV but there was enough here to bowl me over in more than one way. Possibly the best offering outside of the 120 for Dogfish and grand enough to turn me on to the style - if you've never had something of this sort before, this would be an excellent choice to start with. Quite lovely from start to finish!

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Photo of spykespnoypbg
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Boozy scent and finish. Each sip lingers in mouth smoothly with a sweet aftertaste. I would drink again, smooth overall for its high ABV.

Would like to age a bottle and revisit.

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Photo of spacecake9
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy amber/orange. Small head that dies down quickly.
S - Great aroma, my first thought was peach, and then alcohol.
T - The alcohol flavor is definitely noticeable in this beer. A rare good beer where the alcohol dominates.
M - Medium mouth feel, light carbonation.
O - Strong barleywines are fairly new to me. This is a good beer that I would like to have again. Like to age it and see what flavors come out when the alcohol dies down.

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Photo of Antg8989
4.57/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich hazy amber. Certainly smells of figs and dates - tastes like it too. A little more than you'd expect from a barleywine. Not my favorite, but very good nonetheless. At over 15%, it's quite enjoyable, although it may not be for everyone.

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Photo of mchegash
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - 4/5
Pours a nice, fairly clear deep orange. About a single finger of head upon pouring, dissipates down to a thin layer on the top of the beer. Can see an average amount of carbonation rising up the beer.

Smell - 4.75/5
The smell is very strong--when I first poured, I could smell from like 2 feet away. The smell is hard to describe, but I know it smells very similar to Bell's Expedition Stout. They both have this unique, sweet, slightly fruity, very alcoholic smell. The first time I had an Expedition Stout, I wasn't that big a fan of the smell/flavor, but it's grown on me. So now for this beer I can give it quite a high rating. After taking my first sips, I also noticed that the smell had a noticeable metallic tinge to it.

Taste - 4/5
Sweet malts, the unique fruity/alcoholic flavor I mentioned above, though it's not as strong in the taste as in was in the smell. The beer has a noticeable metallic taste, but I feel it only slightly detracts from the flavor.

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium bodied, smooth, moderate level of medium-light intensity carbonation.

Overall - 4.25/5
Overall this was a great beer. Will definitely probably get again, some time in the future. The only downside is it's fairly pricey--$17 for a 4-pack.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled on 10/27/14.

This one pours into the snifter a beautiful copper-brown in color with a small head that leaves as much lacing as it can. Hazy in body all the way through. Huge boozy and dark fruit notes hit the nose at first sniff. The second whiff reveals the dates and figs in a very fruity and nutty aroma that resembles raisins. At first sip, this beer really displays its alcohol and adjunct contents. Big alcohol and slight hop bitterness hits the tongue and then morphs into the dark dates and figs. Again, the fruits turn into a raisin-like flavor and combine with the alcohol to give that classic, alcohol heavy barleywine taste. Mouthfeel is rather thick and this is a really slow sipper due to the alcohol content.

Overall, this is an incredibly strong and complex beer. It really reminds me of DFH Raison d'Extra, except with less offense and aggressive flavors. I really want to take the advice of the label and bury this in my yard for 2 years, but I guess my cellar works fine as well.

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Photo of Vne0
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is a light amber with a half finger head. Smell is very potent alcohol with figs and dates. Bold taste yet very palatable. Similar to the Dogfish 120 in many ways.
Overall a fantastic barelywine.

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Photo of weltywm
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Dark amber with about a finger of thick head. Lots of lacing on the glass.

Smell: Raisins and figs, spice, alcohol, some sort of "holiday" smell that reminds me of cookies. Sugarplums maybe?

Taste: Caramel, sugar, and molasses; red fruit - cherry and figs; a hint of bourbon or whiskey. A little bit of spice tying it all together.

Feel: Maybe a bit on the thin side, especially given the ABV, but it's smooth and very drinkable.

Overall: A good barleywine, and the addition of figs and dates is a nice touch. Would love to see how it ages, but for now, it's a nice one to sip on a winter evening.

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Photo of Ale-Be-Damned
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The first taste is first alcohol heavy with a gentle warming of my mouth, and throat upon swallowing. The feel is heavy and slightly syrupy. After the alcohol there is a presence of richer fruits like raisin and fig, some apple. This is definitely a sipper. I like it though, and have put some bottles in the cellar to rest. Cheers!

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Photo of Harvest06
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Fresh this is not an overly hot ale despite the 15% abv. But it is tight and undeveloped fresh. It has great potential and the dates and figs are currently subtle but should become more dominant after several years of aging. I'd cellar this (or follow the instructions on the bottle for burying it) for at least 2 years.

Currently mine is cellaring and my review reflects the 2013 version consumed fresh.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.39/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

2014 bottle:
Lightly hazy light orange brown. Head is nice fluffy white, and stats well across the surface throughout the pour. Nose is a bit of light brown sugar, date and raisin, perhaps a hint of wood, but behind a shroud of alcohol.

Taste is unfortunately alcohol heavy as well. Their is alcohol soaked plum and raisin, some light brown sugar sweetness underneath. The depth seems lacking or obscured, the feel is hit and mildly effervescent.

Gonna have to let this age and retry to see if it mellows out a bit.

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Photo of Gear54
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap served in a snifter.

Look is great. Cloudy amber in color with a finger of thick head and light lace.

Very booze heavy in smell and taste. The dates and figs are present but almost totally over powered by the alcohol.

I almost feel like this beer was a big young. I will try this again, next time fr a bottle with a date.

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Photo of Pawoto
3.1/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I like DFH, I like barley wines and I like big beers...so this should have been a slam dunk...but this was a miss for me. Nose is pure booze, up front the taste is all booze...i think there were some yummy flavors in there somewhere, but totally overpowered. I bought 4 and drank 1 so I'll see how the others do in the cellar for a couple of years.

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Photo of ZebraCakez
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep golden amber color, small one finger head of light colored foam

S: Alcohol, with a fruity note buried in there somewhere.

T: Initially, it's all booze. If your a person who can't handle straight shots at the bar, don't bother. Find your way through the alcohol and your rewarded with a fantastic sweet fruity finish.

F: Light and well carbonated, a pleasant feel.

O: As with all of DFH's Caution Cap series, this is just a crazy strong, blown-up take on the style. Not the best barleywine on the market, but it's an absolute blast to drink. At 15%, it is not for the weak.... but if you like a brew that challenges you, this is totally worth a shot.

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Photo of Bowers-Brew
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Served @ 50deg. F. in snifter. Bottled on 10/27/14

I wanted to try one fresh, but maybe I shouldn't have tried it quite this fresh. It's very hot, dates and figs are washed out from the alcohol. I won't touch the remaining bottles for at least 1 year. I hope it cleans up with age. Prost!

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Photo of Apellonious
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle bought this week (assuming 2014 but no bottle date )poured into a tulip glass.

A - Semi cloudy amber orange with one finger head. Moves to a thin lace.

S - Off. Sure, its boozy. If you sniff real hard you may pick up something else, maybe fig?

T - Let it sit. Booze, fig, some dark fruit, metallic notes. I have another bottle, not planning on opening it for quite some time.

M- The mouthfeel is interesting. Not as sticky as most barleywines. The carbonation is average, right in the middle.

O - I'll be honest, never drank a 15% before, but the initial smell and some of the notes were off to me. Have to assume this is new, but I have no idea. Will try it again in 12 months to see if it evens out.

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Photo of marchoftheclouds
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%

I could drink this all day. We'll maybe until I fell down! Smooth, smooth, smooth. Hard to believe at 15% ABV. Wonderful, unique flavor. Not perfect or my favorite style, but very, very close.

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Photo of BMMillsy
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Tipples. Pours orange with a small off white head. Aroma of booze, sweet caramel, figs, fruits. Big and sweet. Flavor is also huge sweetness, fruit flavors, honey and caramel, booze, and a little more booze. Heavy bodied, medium carbonation, hot on the throat. This was decent enough I guess. Wouldn’t pay the $5 or $6 again for a bottle again though.

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Photo of outdoor7or24
3.88/5  rDev -1%

12 oz bottle poured into snifter. Purchased at CBX in Charleston, SC.
A: pours a deep orange copper, very thin white foam head, few spots of stringy lacing
S: tropical fruits, malty, some booziness, sweet orange, brown sugar
M: medium creamy body
T: spicy, slight sweet orange, malt, tropical fruit, can get some dates on the taste buds, oak, burnt sugar, booziness, a burning hot spice towards the end, some hops creating a slight bitterness
O: good brew, a sipper at 15%, maybe letting it age will take some of the alcohol heat bite off.

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Photo of bnes09
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dense orange color. Half finger head on the pour with pour retention and minimal lacing when poured into snifter glass as recommended on the bottle. Super dense, rich, malty aroma with nice dark fruits mingled within. Did I mention boozy in the nose? Wow! The flavor is intense. Heavy malt character hits right away with a maple syrup-soaked biscuit quality. Intensely sweet dark fruits hit mid drink. Figs and dates, of course. Hops are mild, even at 85 IBU, underneath the malt fortress. Hops are earthy with a pine-like, herbal tone. Medicinal quality in the finish, almost like Nyquil and probably a result of the alcohol. Dense, syrupy body. About as thick as beer can get, I think. Very different. Would serve well as a winter warmer. Will try to cellar and compare. Drink with the utmost care and respect. Take small sips!

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Photo of iTunesUpdates
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't see why this gets so much hate. I absolutely love the taste of this beer. I think the upfront burn is what makes it so great. I'll be cellaring the other 3 to see how this one develops!

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Photo of embass
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz poured into a snifter

A: amber color.

S&M: smells of toffee, raisins and booze. Taste is similar with some hops.

M: medium-bodied with a higher than normal amount of carbonation for a bw.

O: very good overall; like the abv and smoothness.

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Photo of PaulyB83
3.37/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Bottled 10/27/14
Poured into a snifter

A- Pours a hazy medium-dark amber but clears nicely as it warms. Thin off white head that dissipated quickly.

S- Smells like a sweet Marsala wine but with more alcohol presence. I get those date and fig sweet dried fruits but there is a big alcohol aroma that really covers them up. The alcohol aroma is very reminiscent of the one in World Wide Stout, they probably use the same yeast.

T- Dried fruits, getting even a little hop presence but the alcohol is again pretty overwhelming. I realize it's 15% but I just had too many other high ABV beers that hid the alcohol better to not consider it a detraction. It does leave a nice fig and date sweetness flavor in the aftertaste.

M- On the lighter side of medium, more carbonation than I would expect.

O- I didn't care much for this one and I don't really get all the high ratings for it. It seems like another beer Dogfish Head wants you to age before you drink but my belief is a beer should be good fresh first and if it gets better with some age well that is a bonus. Would like to try this with some age but I really don't think I'll be buying another bottle anytime soon.

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Olde School Barleywine from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3.92 out of 5 based on 2,595 ratings.
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