Fish Tale Leviathan Barleywine | Fish Brewing Company / Fishbowl Brewpub

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126 Ratings

Brewed by:
Fish Brewing Company / Fishbowl Brewpub
Washington, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-03-2002

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 126 |  Reviews: 108
Photo of Boto
4.7/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch #4, Nov. 2002: I’ve been holding this one for quite awhile. It ours a rich, cloudy mahogany color. There was about zero head on mine. There was still some carbonation and lacing around the edges. The aroma is rich. Some alcohol to the nose, as well as a complex fruitiness. Caramel notes also. A very smooth taste. A warming alcohol note is the first that is tasted. Hints of caramel and fruits, as well as a sherry-like texture. Extremely nice!

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Photo of jcalabre
4.65/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Originally reviewed 3 April 2003. Batch #3, bottled November 2001: It poured a cloudy brown color w/ a huge, long-lasting off-white head. This was aged in oak casks that had held some cab franc. Well, you can definitely smell the red wine in the nose. The nose is unique & beautiful. The flavor is smmmmoooooth. Some wine in the background, w/ chocolate, pear & hops. It's complex & extremely well crafted.

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Photo of hopdog
4.54/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch #4, 2002. Notes on the Barrel Aged version.

Poured a dark reddish-brown color with a smaller head. Aromas of wood, wine, smoke, oak, and plums. Tastes were vinous with wood, and caramel. Alcohol content overall well hidden.

Notes from and tasted on 10/10/04

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Photo of NickThePyro
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.45/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to tytoanderso for this one.

This beer pours a lovely strawberry amber with a frothy white film of a head.

Smells of dry powdery barley with hits of caramel, rid licorice, dry autumn leaves, charred marshmallow and a piney hop for balance.

Tastes sweet with toasty marshmallow and strawberry, balanced with a crisp birch bark and dried leaves. The balance between the sticky sweet and dry is remarkable.

Feels thin and crisp with a frothy carbonation that tends to swell a bit in the mouth.

Nice balance here! I'll have another.

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Photo of meathookjones
4.45/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sampled on 1/30/05 and reviewed from notes. 750ml bottle from 2001 batch 3.

Appears a dark ruddy brown with hints of red with a good sized tan foamy head on top. This left some scattered lacing and decent head retention. Malty sweetness dominates the aroma with strong dark ripe fruit notes. Present also is a touch of molasses and alcohol, surprisingly this is not overly sweet. Sweet with fruits and malty as hell this really packs a great flavor. Alcohol is there but it is minute, there is a bit of woodiness and smoke in here as well. Very tasty treat that has lots going on. Think feel and smooth going down. Ridiculously drinkable stuff here, I am only disappointed I have just this one bottle. I would love to have some fresher samples to compare. I hope the new 12oz none barrel aged ones are near this good.

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Photo of RedDiamond
4.44/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

They tend to pump cask ales with furious eagerness at the Fishbowl and elsewhere, so I asked my server to please pump it slow. She passed this on to the bartender who obliged my request with great decency and focus. I'm convinced her efforts were worth it. Not only are such professional courtesies honorable, but they genuinely enhance the enjoyment of the total drinking experience.

When my schooner arrived I drew it to my nose and inhaled one of the most succulent, fruitful bouquets I've known in some time. It took me more than a full minute before I could pull myself away from that luscious fragrance and venture a taste. My eyes were actually watering from the sheer delight of it. I can't recall the last time the smell of a beer stirred such genuine emotion.

I finally took a sip and was greeted with a cornucopia of overripe fruit - plum, fig, date, and raisin for starters - all saturated with brown sugar and rum. The bitterness was young and strong, and a measure of peat and alder smoke showed a defining presence. As the beer warmed beyond cask temperature, a greater measure of alcohol stepped forward and I was left with the impression that my barleywine might do well with a year in the cellar. It was still hot.

But this is a great beer for a winter's night. And the cask version is sublime.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage - sampled in March 2007

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a modest head that failed to hang around (I was not surprised, given the abv) but did dot the chalice with specks of lace

Smell: Caramel, roasted nuts and a vague pear fruitiness; the alcohol is certainly present, as well

Taste: Opens with a caramel flavor that is has some roasted nuts and pear to it; after the swallow, an earthy bitterness kicks in and joins the sweet and fruity flavors into a long waltz to the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A bit of an ugly ducking when I opened the bottle, it soon developed into a swan of a barleywine. What's with the octopus on the label? Remembering my Melville, I always thought a leviathan was a whale but I guess it now refers to any large sea creature.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.39/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

wow! what a neat barleywine. thanks to timtheenchanta for this via the little guy bif.

A - bottle conditioned with a decent amount of yeast at the bottom of the 12oz bottle. A careful pour shows a brilliant ruby / orange color with a 1/8th inch off white head.

S - Oh, intoxicatingly rich vinous malts swirl around the edge of my tulip glass. Few barleywines I have tried show such a wonderful complex swirling of malts.

T - sadly in one way, wonderful in another. Similar to the aroma but much more understated. rich dark ripe fruit, vinous malts combine with a touch of citric pineapple hops for balance.

M - full bodied, creamy smooth.

D - smooth and dangerously easy to drink. Yeah, I'd have a second one and call it an evening happily.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.37/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep copper and caramel shade with no real head whatsoever but appropriate carbonation present.
Aroma is orange, caramel, toffee. Heavy oak, some peaty notes and resiny hop oil.
Flavor is heavy caramel, deep citrus orange but with a very resined and oily hop profile.
Mouthfeel is sweet to start but moves to a grity, resiny hoppiness and finishes with a heavy alcoholic hit.
Drinkability is solid but heavy ABV and relativeness sweetness make me glad I split the bottle.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 bottle shared with a good friend. The 750 pours a deep garnet-red color topped off with a chunky and perplexing head of oatmeal colored fluff. The head has remarkable staying power for a beer of this strength. Glue-like lacings etch my Delirium tulip .

Full blown aromas of creamy malts, oaky vanilla, grape must, currants, cherries, root-beer, and spice cookies take over my senses.

Gobs of creamy malts start out the tasting experience. Mellow sweetness followed by vinious,dry, musty oak notes, sherry, sweet fruits, figs, apples, and a floral hop finish. A two-year cellar sentance has made this beer a delightful treat. I have no idea what a fresh bottle taste like, but it can't be better than this.

Mouthfeel is pure silk, chewy and filling. Soft as velvet with perfect carbonation. Warming all the way to my stomach without being cloying or intrusive. Finish is huge and dry with plenty of oaky vanilla.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Leviathan Barleywine Reel Ale...have I really never had this before? Is this truly my white whale, in a bottle? Eh, must be...

12 oz bottle...please recycle...

Tawmy crimson color, dusky, unclear, with a slim, perfunctory head....rosy look, all around...nice...

Nose abounds in wondrous, vinous sweetness, very wine-like, rich, burgundy-like, cherries and berries blessed with the richness of malt.... a deep feeling, rich and luxurious...cognac-like...decadent....

Taste: fullness to the exteme, plump, rich, fruity, beautiful, ....everything
I really want from a barleywine...all my slots are punched, here....I'm gettin' it...damned tasty!
Full-bodied, long, malty, hoppy, delicious finish...those seeking a sensous beery experience won't be disappointed here.

Lip-smackingly good!

After all of the years I've heard of this beer, I finally get it and it's not through, trading, no, it just shows up at Surdyk's...and now it seems like a regular ol' barleywine...nothin' wrong with that...once upon a time, we didn't have so many of those....this is also the year I never bought a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, too!

Quite a nice barleywine, highly recommended!

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.34/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle - simply capped. Batch No. 3. Bottled Nov. 2001. "Aged in Hungarian Oak casks previously filled with Cabernet Franc". Hazy brown in color with light mahogany highlights. The light tan head drops quickly to a limited collar. The aroma is quite unique: winey, woody/oak, lightly peppery, piney/resinous hops, with a licorice note. Estery. The body is full with a limited carbonation; leaving it fairly viscous on the palate. The flavor is quite bold but not really complex. It's richly malty but well-heeled by bitterness, hop flavor and notes of alcohol. This is a beer best served at @ 60F to bring out its sublte flavors. Once warmed it reveals a gentle dark fruitiness, burnt sugar, dark subtle caramel, licorice, and lots of resiny hop flavors that carry straight through into a long finish. The barrel conditioning becomes more apparent in the aftertaste with a wine-like character and clear notes of wood. Someone remarked to me that "'s more like a wine" - that's not far off the mark with the exception of its full hoppiness. The alcohol is clear from the start but not offensive in any way. It's got some sweetness, but it's also quite dry (probably due in part to the oak aging). I'd imagine that this would most likely benefit from additional aging. I found this quite easy to drink as the flavor is rich but straightforward. It left me looking for some more depth. I found it quite unique, and enjoyed it quite a bit, but don't think that I'd buy a case of it or put away more than a few bottles for aging.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a cloudy light amber with a faint head that disappears immediately.

Aroma is pretty typical barleywine....sweet malts, sort of tropical fruits, hint of citrus.

Taste is not typical at all. Incredibly fresh tasting. Sweet candied dark malt with some tropical fruits (mangos come to mind) and then nice lemon citrus hops on the finish.

Mouthfeel is perfectly creamy for a barleywine.

Aftertaste stays clean and the alcohol doesn't make itself known until it hits your head.

Very nice of the best.

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Photo of Gusler
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

“Batch #4 Bottled November 2002”
As it pours from the bottle a vinaceous color, the head leviathan in size, pun intended, the structure creamy and the color a winsome light tan, as it evanesces a fine sheet of lace is left behind to conceal the glass. The aroma of Oak quite evident, hints of red wine, fusel alcohol, sweet malt, and a real treat for the senses, start is ambrosial, malt laden, the top middling in its feel. Finish has a walloping hop presence, almost feral in its bite, the acidity stinging and the 10% ABV, produces a bit of bitterness, quite dry and long lasting aftertaste with the Oakiness lasting to the very end. Another “Bad Boy”, to put on my “Favorites list, and one certainly not meant for the “Lite” beer crowd, so “Drinker Beware”!

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Photo of Rastacouere
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 bottle, kudos to sham It pours a dirty earthy color, brownish orange dirty river alike with a thin off-white head. The aroma is explosive with oaky tones, mint and oranges. Vinous profile jumps to the face, full of grapes, sherry. Palate is fruity (grapes, cherries, bilberries, apples, pears), yeasty (bready particules) with a mild tartness and a wine-like astringence. I know some people dislike it, but I just admire the balance kept and very original character of this beer after aging in oak barrels. It gave it a totally unique flavor profile and it kept most of the lovely barley wine characteristic, complexity included. Rather full body with low carbonation. I need more of this, somehow, but you just owe respect to original quality recipes executed well.

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Photo of Crosling
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

The color is a murky reddish brown. A very attractive beer, especially considering that this bottle is approaching 3 years of aging. The head is off white and is long lasting and also provides a nice lace for my eyes.

Intense aroma. Grapes, plums, caramel, red wine qualities and you can definately tell this is oak aged. Wow.

Phenomenal flavor. The sip is long and dynamic but is very easy to describe. Plums and cherries first. Then the caramel and other sweet malts come out. Soon after, the cab franc flavors start to come out providing a lot of dry dark fruit flavors. Cashew flavor next. The finish is huge and is nothing but oak. Oak. Oak. Oak.
Coating texture in the mouth. The mouthfeel is delightful as well. Everything about this beer was delightful.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Murky, dirty brown body with a nice head that went down rather quickly.

Smell - This is a stiff one. The sherry comes out in force and works well with the nice hop aroma to create a wonderful scent. There are good oak undertones and a strong indication of the 10.0 ABV. This one is serious.

Taste - This ale will pucker the lips. The red wine tastes are huge. This is almost like a cab or hearty merlot. The oak lends itself well to the style. There are some sweet malt undertones adding dimension to the flavor.

Mouthfeel - Flat and full as hell. The alcohol is barely noticeable. This feels terrific in the mouth.

Drinkability - What more can you ask for? Strong, full-bodied, and unique.

Update - I popped the last of my '04 vintage at the end of May in 2008. This mellowed beer still had the personality of its youth but was more blended. The heavy red cab is still there, the woody sweetness even bigger, and the sense of alcohol a bit more laid back but ever-present. It'd say four years is probably a year too long in the cellar but this was still a very good nightcap.

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Photo of John_M
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

According to the label, this beer was brewed back in 1999. This was generously provided by the cellar master at Max's (Casey) at the BA gathering there yesterday. All of us were stunned by how well this beer had aged and held up.

The beer pours an amber orange color with surprisingly good head retention and lacing. To look at this beer, one would not guess it was 10 years old. The nose is also attractive and is not what I typically expect out of barleywine. There is some noticeable orange citrus, along with some sweet malt. I'm guessing that in it's youth, this was probably one hoppy monster of a BW. On the palate this beer is delicious. The beer reminds somewhat of older versions of Doggie Claws I've had, with the hoppy bitterness seemlessly integrated into the sweet malt and alcohol. While the beer is still on the sweet side, it's not overly so, which enhances it's drinkability I think. This beer is surprisingly light on the palate, and there is no way I would have guessed I was drinking a 10% alcohol beer.

Exceptional. Still can't believe how well this has held up after all these years.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. Bomber
2006 Vintage

Poured into a chalice a hazy ruby red color, some carbonation, little fizzy off-white head, some oil slicks are only left behind. The nose is malty, oaky, slight spicyness, and some caramel. The taste is slightly sweet at first, then the malts kick in. There is a nice oakyness to this brew, also some spices/caramel. The alcohol is kinda upfront on this one, otherwise very very nice. Medium body, well-rounded brew. Very drinkable, a nice one from Fish Tail.

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Photo of woemad
4.29/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle of 'Batch no.5," according to the label - bottled in November of 2004. It's a pity Fish no longer puts the year on bottles of this, as I have a more recent bottle, but don't know just how recent.

Pours dark amber, almost tea-like color with an inch of off-white foam. The foam drops after a couple of minutes, but a collar stays intact. Lace is modest and spotty.

The smell is still more sweet than one would think for a barleywine, though there's a hop presence as well, along with a booziness in the background. The honey-ish sweetness is the most dominant scent, though.

The honey-like sweet scent is what first hits the palate, but is then matched by a spicy hoppiness that is just slightly more restrained. The fade-out is alcohol heat. It's all very similar to the review of this beer when it is fresher, but each element is a tad bit more restrained and mellow than before. Seems to be aging well. I believe I have another 2004 bottle stashed. I'll be hitting it in another year or so.

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Photo of Mandrake
4.27/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium golden-orange with a fairly small head that dissipates reasonably quickly and leaves virtually no lacing. Quite still once it settles, though a few trails of tiny bubbles can be seen surfacing along the edges of my snifter. Smell is of resinous hops, pine and citrus, along with spices and piles of caramel. Oakey tones as well, and bright fruits. Nice. Taste is along similar lines, with some hot alcohol present throughout and a sharp hop presence in the finish. Pepper is strong in the middle, and it's quite dry throughout. Mouthfeel has piles of body and great levels of carbonation, and drinkability is great for such a big beer. 650ml goes down no problem, and I would love to get more as often as I can. Great barleywine, sharp and bitter without being a total hop bomb. Strikes such a balance that I can enjoy the balls-to-the-wall complexity and my girlfriend can still enjoy a sip here and there too.

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Photo of Vancoubeer
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Found a 2007 vintage for sale at my local bottle shop for 10 bucks. Why not right? A hard pour at first created some head which was a nice sign to see that the bottle's cap had not lost its proper seal and that this was kept in great care while aging. It has a thick white head and dark brown tone before being held up to light. When held up to light you get the nice red and amber tones mixed with the browns depending on the angle held at the light. On the nose at first you get a scent of candied dark fruit. Sweet plums and you get that caramel and toffee in there but not as strong as I thought. Very pleasant. For a 10% beer the fact that the alcohol scent is gone is a great sign of aging. Flavor wise this is smooth easy drinking. You get that really slight caramel flavors in there and no hops at all. I still get that almost Belgian double kind of frutiness but without the yeasty notes of a good trappist ale. This is superb. The carbonation is very light and no alcohol in the flavor. You get a full mouthfeel of the ingredients used, minus the hops of course that normally will disappear over time. For 10 bucks this is a steal. I would totally recommend this to barley wine fans and especially people looking for a strong malty beer because if the hops did anything in this beer, it did yield a bit of a earthy tone in the back end of the sip. Dare I say this is better than the aged O2 I had at Fish Tale's brew pub?

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Photo of beerguy101
4.24/5  rDev +9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2002 Version. Medium brown color. Smallish white foamy head. Aroma is malty, orange with a touch of wood. A Full-bodied barley wine. Malts are fruity and sweet. Orange and citrus with touches of vanilla. Hops are bold and grapefruity. There is a very nice hop sweetness that comes through the hop bitterness, Well balanced. Touch of an alcohol bite. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.21/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This was a 2002 bottle from MIckey. I split it with Stopper.
I am pouring the lightly chilled beer into a snifter. The brew pours a clear mahogany color with frothy beige head fading to a surface layer of large frothy bubbles. Aroma is complex and very appealing. Stopper even commented that it was "gorgeous!"
I agree very nice, I get woody oak scents, dark fruit, plums, and berries. First sip reveals a very fine carbonation that gently tingles my palate. The body is fairly thin, but not watery. There is a bit of stickiness to the beer. Leaving a sweet residue on my lips. The flavor is fruity with raisins and plums mixing with brown sugar and some woody hints again. I get a bit of warm alcohol on the swallow. The beer is great on the nose but is a little thin for a barleywine IMO. Especially when the nose advertises something much more robust. The alcohol is fairly well concealed and the beer drinks nicely for 10%.

Great artwork on label as well of a giant octopus! A keeper for bottle collectors everywhere.

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Fish Tale Leviathan Barleywine from Fish Brewing Company / Fishbowl Brewpub
Beer rating: 3.89 out of 5 with 126 ratings