Berserk | Valkyrie Brewing

41 Ratings
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Brewed by:
Valkyrie Brewing
Wisconsin, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bighuge on 09-05-2002

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Ratings: 41 |  Reviews: 37
Photo of Atron67
4.47/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

had this at the old fashioned in madison tonight

A- poured a very thin head but still had a great retention

S- strong alcohol, maltiness, lighter hops than you might expect but still present. nuttieness and some dark fruits Smelled pretty delicious

T- pretty solid, not quite as good as the central waters one, but still a solid ale, had a strong maltiness throughout, good nutiness and smoothness present despite the 12% abv.

M- pretty thick but not syrup, smooth as hell for 12% and slightly light on the carbonation

D- ill take one anyday

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Photo of nvsblman
4.47/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep nutty brown flavor with virtually no head. It looked like pouring syrup into my glass. Rich caramel and chocolate in the aroma. Also some raisin and other dried fruits. Almost port-like flavor with some caramel and oak to round it out. Also a little vanilla and just a hint of alcohol. Syrupy mouthfeel with light carbonation. This is dangerously smooth and easy to drink!

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Photo of Bighuge
4.43/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This barleywine is damn near black and has some nice ruby edging. A dense brown head tops it off and is very well retained. A nice malt load is perceived on the nose. The first thing that I realize when tasting is that the drinkability of this 10% Barleywine is amazing. No sign of alcohol whatsoever. And the maltiness of this beer is unmistakable. This is definitely a Barleywine that tips the scale on the MALT side of the spectrum. I also get some rum soaked raisins on the buds. Molasses and anise also show up on the palette. The body of this beer is close to full. The mouthfeel is very creamy and silky smooth. This beer is a true joy to consume. And at $2.99 for 22 oz bottle, there may not be a better beer for the price around.

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Photo of cokes
4.33/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An old dusty, scuffed up liquid leather fills the glass. Opaque, deep, dark brown with a smallish tan head.
Leather appears once again on the nose, along with faint malt sweetness and a stale smoke smell. Some wet paper here too with a few flakes of chocolate.
Seems more of a traditional British barleywine than the hoppy American versions of the style. And in this respect, it is one of the better ones I've had, although a bit ragged around the edges.
Start of with a lightly toasted caramel sensation that mingles nicely (and helps mask) Viking's obnoxious, soggy cardboard yeastiness, They work in compliment to each other. Leathery hues appear once again. Touches of booze soaked raisins and plum pudding sweetness. Impressions of light roasted grain and flourishes of chocolate ice cream towards the finish. Light tea-like hops round it out.
Chocolate-milk bodied. Smooth, creamy and downable.
A winner of an alternatively styled b'wine. Perhaps Viking's best offering.

Thanks to Bighuge for this one. I guess I'd have to side with you in the Battle of the Bros over this beer. And I haven't even gotten laid today.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.32/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Berserk isn't quite as exciting as the name suggests, but it is a well-balanced and enjoyable brew. Sweet caramel peppered with leafy and herbal hops seems to be its essence; and it's not particularly complex, but it is satisfying. It pours a deep brown with a reddish cast and short-lived, light tan head; but it leaves no lacing (of course it does have 12% abv to help cut that down). Caramelish malt, a waft of fruitiness, a sniff of alcohol, and some herbal/piney hops greet you in the nose and welcome you to imbibe. In the mouth it's full bodied and smooth with a light caress from it's delicate and very fine-bubbled natural carbonation. Rich caramel again dominates the flavor, peppered with notes of darkish fruit, a mild spritz of alcohol, and some restrained hops. It finishes with a dollop of malt and some leafy hops, but still dry; and it's surprisingly drinkable! Not bad at all!!! In fact, it's quite unique.

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Photo of Wisconsin
4.32/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle straight from the brewery. After letting it warm to around 45 degrees I finally cracked it open.

A - A steady pour delivers a rich, dark brown, nearly black body. During the pour I noticed almost nothing for a head and figured it was simply another carbonation deficiency like many of the other Viking beers I have had. However, this one gave off a small half finger head that was tan in appearance. A minute or two later it was nothing more than a ring around the edge of the glass.

S - Dark caramel malts initially standout along with some earthy aspects as well. Sweet fruit joins in even stronger as the beer warms. Plums, grapes and other darker and richer fruits cover up the strong alcohol smell quite well and my mouth watering. Not as full as other barleywines I've had but it has the qualities.

T - Much like the smell here. Caramel malts that I initially smelled were not as pronounced as I had expected but aside from that the deep, rich fruit is present along with some grassy notes. The more this beer warms the less noticeable the 12% abv becomes present. I would like to see a bit more from the fruit and caramel malts, but I am splitting hairs. Overall, this beer has it all, and once it gets to the right temperature this is a great barleywine.

M - Thick and full bodied with a low amount of carbonation, too low for my liking, which is truly the only thing holding this beer back but I am being picky. Dark caramel malts up front quickly mask any alcohol presence. A smooth transition over to the fruit and earthy notes continues the masking of any alcohol. The finish is somewhat dry and boozy but nothing terrible.

D - Could I drink many of these in a single night? Absolutely not. But would I go for this again? Absolutely, and that is not something I could say about all of the Viking beers. This is probably the best Viking beer I have had and I will definitely seek this out again. Once this beer warms up the alcohol is completely hidden and it's smooth sailing from there. The key is making sure it's at the right temperature. I'm not so sure this isn't an English Barleywine either.

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Photo of Cfred371
4.16/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked up in Cumberland, no bottle date that I noticed
Look: Pours a medium to dark brown, minimal head, but what is there is a khaki. Seems to be some carbonation with it as well.

Smell: sweets come to mind, toffee and caramel, and maybe some malt.

Taste: taste follows the nose: toffee caramel and some vanilla.

Feel: Syrupy, somewhat thick, and little carbonation. Silk like, and not very drying. As the beer warms, bitterness comes through a bit more.

Overall: Grab this because it is a tasty barleywine, and at five dollars a bomber, a good deal

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Color's as dark as sin, rich, besotted, like a turned prune, caramelly at bottom, near total opacity, with a rich, toffeeish head, good and thick, at the top.
Tastiness in the nose, dark fruits abound, profoundly powerful grapes, dates, figs, and more...nicely roundedbeckons a taste...
In the mouth, it's a mo'fo...12% ABV rings loudly and proudly from the onset, and the taste is rich and smooth...full in body, to say the least, full in flavor, to boot...remarkable...not too sweet, not too hoppy...they have a balance, here, fills the mouth and stretches flavor wide and true...I'm actually impressed by a barleywine that's not too bold or brash in flavor, in hops, in malt, in alcohol, though it is a champ in the last regard...pretty well done, got to hand it to them, especially after sampling one of their lesser offerings.
I'm going to be enjoying this for a while longer, through this bomber, and I'll enjoy every second...nice one, Viking!

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Photo of ADR
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark chocolate brown, deep color for style, almost opaque. Head gives it a shot, eventually forms a ring in a tulip glass with whispery patterns on top. String laces, pretty thick. Malt dominates the nose, suggestion of dry cocoa and plums. Mouthfeel is fullish, carbonation is quite low. Almost a dusty Mexican chocolate flavor to begin with, some breadiness, then becomes lightly fruity with a sweet profile that reminds me most of Fig Newton cookies. Uncomplicated, low in hops, with just a tickle at the back of the throat. The ABV is REALLY well-hidden. Drinkable for me, actually a Barleywine without an incendiary finish is up my alley lately. A little one-sided to call "Berserk" in this style category.

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Photo of expatsteve
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Ruby with black notes, and low/medium visibility - great color. Low/medium viscosity. A little suds cover.

Aroma: Chocolate, cocoa, with hints of raisin and lemon peel. Roasted malt notes round out a sweet but balanced nose.

Taste: Chocolate malts, with a few orange and raisin notes; nice grainy malt emphasis that carries apples, raisins and oranges on the back palate. Sweet and refreshing, without much hops at all. Inky finish is the only hint of booze (can this really be 12%?).

Mouthfeel: No alcohol in the finish at all - creamy carbonation and a slightly lighter body carry the flavor well. Cool, chocolate aftertaste.

Drinkability: Not as fruity as I'd expect from the style, but pleasant nonetheless. Definitely a complex but balanced flavor, but the dark malts are almost more reminiscent of a scotch ale and the sweetness might catch a few folks off guard. Check this one out, as it's an interesting rendition of a barleywine and pretty drinkable to boot.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.05/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Round 5 of an 8 round American Barley Wine-off with expatsteve. Tough luck following a monster like Old Crustacean. Viking is the most hit and miss brewery in my short experience, I really had no idea what to expect.

Pour: deep ruby/garnet, clean visibility, minimal tan bubble coating atop.

Nose: smoked, roasted malt, chocolate, funky/tangy fruit and sour lactose constitute a nose that is unique to say the least.

Taste: Scotch ale smoke and caramel on tyhe forepalate, malted grain is followed by a fruity finish of raisin/date and apple skins. If this is 12%, the alcohol is magestically hidden, never distracting.

Feel: Smooth but substantial with crisp, tickling carbonation.

Drinkability/Overall: A nice little barleywine from Viking here. not the most complex of the bunch, but balanced and well put-together for a beer this big. Check this out along with their Big Swede and Whole Stein.

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Photo of mjmadsen21
4/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of dirtylou
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single, $1.99 at Riley's...Viking strikes me as a very strange brewery and I had always been looking for this and Big Swede, both of which i finally got

appearance: pours a cola-mahogany, garnet tinted, light creamy tan head that doesnt last long...light lacing

smell: smell is sweet dark fruit, raisin, fig, powerful booze factor, strong sourness comes through above all else, brown sugar...unlike any barleywine i have ever smelt

taste: very interesting...alcohol is actually quite well hidden. In fact, there is absolutely no way this is 12% ( i guess i'll let you know in a half hour). Sourness comes through in a delicate way, rich dark fruits with a booze undertone, thick caramel, brown sugar, fig, raisin, date, nutty, big thick and syrupy malt interesting interpretation

mouthfeel: thick and syrupy, medium-full body, bitterness in the aftertaste

drinkability: good

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Photo of lou91
3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to dirtylou for parting with this. The bottle looked very different from the picture so not sure the age. This is a solid representative malty BW with hints of molasses, rum and malt. It looked nice and dark brown and poured thick like it should. Taste is just like it smelled and hid the alcohol well. This is a borderline old ale and a good beer to try.

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Photo of happygnome
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a: poured a very dark brown color with about an eigth inch of head that dissapeared rather quickly, there was a very narrow ring of lace around the edge of the glass
s: sweet caramel malts, nut aromas, fruit aromas hints of the alcohol in the aroma
t: strong malty flavor with a little hops bittering flavor despite the high abv it was very smooth
m: full bodied beer with little carbonation very nice sipping no burn

overall, this is a very good brew that i enjoyed very much so

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.88/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"Berserk is named after the Berserkers, who were the fiercest of all the Vikings."

--Viking Brewing Company website

Dark caramel brown so dark it's opaque. Other than black cherry and orange accents along the bottom edge of the glass, no light is permitted entry. Given style and ABV, neither the small buttered wheat toast colored cap nor the lack of lace is surprising.

Berserk smells like the quintessential English barleywine in that it's dominated by caramel malt and an autumn leaves earthiness at the expense of hops. It's okay, but is nothing really special.

The first second or two of each mouthful is excellent. The beer is sweet and toffee-like with all manner of complementary flavors (pipe tobacco and figs primarily). Before long, however, an odd sourness enters the picture and ushers in a finish that doesn't hold together as well as it might. Things are becoming a little more enjoyable as the bottom half of the 12 ounce bottle approaches.

With warming, a dark fruitiness is becoming more evident and is giving the sourness some context. Thankfully, there's enough malty sweetness and just enough hop bitterness to keep the flavor between the ditches. Not that a crash is imminent, but we're weaving all over the road. Just wait 'til the 12.0% ABV catches hold!

My favorite barleywines favor caramel malt over pale malt (Midnight Sun Arctic Devil is a prime example) because it gives the beer an added flavor dimension and seems to erase the alcohol flavor more efficiently. A positive here is that 12.0% tastes like no more than 8.0%.

Although the mouthfeel favors the lighter end of the style spectrum, it has just enough hang-on to earn the good score. A minimal amount of carbonation helps.

Berserk Barleywine is a cool name, but it doesn't fit this particular beer. The biggest of Viking Brewing Company's offerings is more sedate, more polite, more... English... than a rampaging Norseman with a mean streak and a lust for blood. Like the rest of their lineup, Berserk is different. Unlike a lot of them, it's also good.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.87/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Like all of the four previous Viking beers I have tried over the last few days, a thick golden foil completely wraps the crown cap and the entire neck of this 22ounce brown glass bottle. The top of the foil has a red round sticker with the words ‘Something Special from Wisconsin’. The main (and only) label has a nice shiny silver metallic background with black text. A Viking Longboat rides the froth atop a large Mug. Listed as ‘Berserk’ and described as a ‘Barleywine’. No strength or freshness date listed. Bottle-Conditioned it seems.

Appearance: A very murky dark brown, powerfully lit from behind it had some rusty red hints that swirled amidst the turbid body. The head fizzled out quickly on the first pour from the Bomber into my half-pint glass. Subsequent pours however, released dissolved carbonation and helped to form a more plausible ¼” thick smooth tan collar head. But this too soon evaporated sadly.

Nose: Strange nose, strange as in hard to describe but strange as in nice as well. Thick smells that reminded me of the odors so often experienced when entering one of those old-fashioned Family run Cobblers that can still be occasionally found. Deep French polished woods, buffed leather, shoe polish, ground man-made soles, sweaty insoles, malts, sour alcohols, dark caramel coated well-worn horse saddles. It’s an Eye Opener (OO) for sure.

Taste: Massive malt attack that licks the face and tongue, bolstered by big but smooth alcohols and a creamy feel. The middle develops a light sourness that is far from off-putting but adds a nice dimension that balances the massive malts. Like sitting on a classic Triumph motorcycle, this has a feel of Old School British Barleywine.

Mouthfeel: Big, alcohol feel, as is to be expected. Smooth & creamy in texture. The fine carbonation assists in smoothing out the big alcohol feel and helping to take the edge of off the sour-ish twang.

Drinkability: For a 12% (?!) Barleywine, I managed this all rather too easily. Its funky sour character in the back-end only added to the enjoyment for me.

Overall: This is definitely not a ‘run-of-the-mill’ Barleywine; it has lots of individuality and character all of its own. I have to say that it reminded me of ‘fresh’ samples of English Barleywines that I have sampled whilst back in the homeland, in particular it reminded me of Bullard’s Old Ale (a long gone brew) for some reason, maybe it is the sour aspect that it exhibits. I enjoyed this one, but like Bullard’s I can’t help thinking this will either completely fall to pieces, or improve immeasurably with age. It’s one of those sorts of Barleywines. Hope it is the latter.

A BigThanks to BigHuge for supplying some excellent brews in his last Tuck Box to the West Coast, including five of Vikings great brews. Go Berserk!!

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.86/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12%...This beer is 12%??? No fricking way, this beer is 12%. This tastes and feels like one of the weakest barley wines I’ve ever put my lips to. I’m thinking 6%, 7% maybe, but 12%? No way. How is the ABV covered so well? This is a dangerous brew.

Grape juice brown with a disappearing tan head that clings to life on the edge of my tumbler. Rich and creamy caramel, fruity esters, and syrup. Light bitterness but without any distinct hops. Balanced. Not very barleywinish but damn good all the same.

Oh…and I’m starting to feel that 12% even though I still can’t taste it….

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aged for quite some time, but don't know how long
A very slight hiss is heard as I pop the cap on this. A careful pour produces a light dusting of a head, the sparse bubbles appear to be a dark tan color. The beer is a brilliantly clear, concentrated amber color that shows a cherry red color when held up to the light. The aroma is very rich and meaty; substantial malt contributes lots of umami like notes. Salty aromatics, even a touch of something like peat is noticeable as is some smoky phenolic character. Lots of concentrated caramelized malt aromatics are found here; aromas prunes, toffee, brown sugar and deeply caramelized bread crust. Toasty grain and biscuit-like notes are found in the finish. A touch of muted hop character is perhaps found here and there is also some noticeable rum like notes.

Chewy and fairly thick, though not overly sweet, as the malt character is rich enough to offset any residual sweetness. Aged malt character with touches of sherry adds a lot of complexity to this brew. The hop character, while missing in the aroma, is still quite present in the flavor, though it is a secondary note; the hops contribute a touch of citrus, light pine and a persistent bitterness that adds some balance to offset the malt character. This hides the alcohol pretty well for a beer of this strength; a touch of woody aged malt notes contribute to a touch of bourbon like notes when coupled with the alcohol. The flavor also has a touch of fruit character, made up of berries, a hint of cherry, prune notes and some raisin flavors.

This is a very nicely aged Barleywine. Quite good and it even seems to be peaking right now. The aged malt notes really add a ton of complexity here, on top of the already nice malt character; flavors of peat, smoke, fruit, oak and bourbon are all found here.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: As with most Viking brews--no head and very little sign of carbonation. With this style though, it may work to its advantage. Muddy brown colour with a hint of red around the edges.

S: Caramel apple, a little vanilla. Kind of a minty smell, from the combination of the hops and alcohol. Mild cherries and layered caramel. Something I can't quite put my finger on that you wouldn't expect from your average barleywine. An herbal/floral character, perhaps. Taffy.

T: The interesting character from the smell is present in the taste as well--I believe it may be darker/chocolate malts, or maybe a different kind of caramel malt. A light chocolate flavour combined with an herbal element. The cherry/plum dark fruit comes through in the finish, subduing the little alcohol heat present. A little more dark fruit and layered caramel malt come through as it warms, with a little bit of bubblegum/esters as well.

M: A little more light bodied than I was expecting, and is seemingly lighter on the tongue than many barleywines. A little creamy, but a medium mouthfeel for this style. Maybe it's the lack of carbonation. After it sits for a little, it seems to be almost still, though not unpleasant. Not syrupy, but very sweet and a bit heavy.

D: The low carbonation, well concealed ABV, and intriguing flavour profile make this a worthy brew to pick up. Not necessarily my first choice for a barleywine, but refreshingly different.

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Photo of Flounder57
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22 Oz bottle was poured into a snifter.

Appearance: A one finger off white head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a dark crimson color with no vision of anything.

Smell: Caramel, toffee, stone fruit, citrus, dark fruits, herbal, and warm. alcohol.

Taste: Caramel, toffee, grape, herbal, citrus, stone fruit, warm alcohol, and lingering bitterness. Slight off flavor in the rear.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, slight bitterness, warm alcohol, medium carbonation, and medium bodied.

Overall: Not too shabby of a barleywine. Aged well and could age a bit longer. A little more caramel, toffee, and dark fruit flavors would have been nice.

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Photo of bpfrush
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of blackie
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Pours into the snifter with a very slight, light tan colored head that soon all but disappears. The beer is a slightly hazy, deep orange-brown in color.

smell: Toffee, dark caramel, and a toasted grain sweetness on the nose. A touch of grain husk type aroma. Light hops.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is low, and the body full. Could use a touch more carbonation to balance out the heft of the body.

taste: Sweet, slightly buttery toffee and chocolate upfront. The slightest touch of roast lurks in the background. Moderate, nondescript hops and a very light bitterness.

drinkability: If this is really 12%, then it is exceptionally hidden. A pretty good barleywine. Seems a little more English than American.

Single bottle purchased at Riley's in Madison and smuggled back to NC

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2005

Pours syrupy brown, with chestnut edging and a tan, dense head.
The tight cap of foam required some encouragement via a tall pour to come out of solution, and faded within two minutes.
A thin ring remains on the placid surface.
Aromatics are malt-forward, heavily british slanted, and fruity.
Figs, raisins, and cherries run under the surface of a thick caramel and toffee nose. Chocolate and dark rum finish out the aromatics with a biscuity sendoff and a whiff of smoke.
Mouthfeel is thickish and tacky. Carbonation is subdued, and the residual sugars keep the brew lingering on the tongue.
Pallet is much less complex than the nose. Berzerk is laden with juicy malt and dark fruit, and light-handed with the hops.
Chocolate, caramel, and brown sugar notes keep it from being within the realm of "barleywine".
Bitterness is moderate, and hopping is negligent in the taste and aroma. Alcohol is well hidden behind the large malt character.
Finishes with chocolate drizzled fruit with toffee chips.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours to a ruby-brown color with a tan head that leaves spotty lacing.

The aroma is fruity...plummy, with an alcohol caramel malty sweetness.

The flavor is sweet and plummy...rum soaked raisins and fruit cake.

It is full bodied and syrupy. Not a bad brew at all.

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Berserk from Valkyrie Brewing
3.72 out of 5 based on 41 ratings.
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