Fish Tale Leviathan Barleywine | Fish Brewing Company / Fishbowl Brewpub

very good
126 Ratings
no score
Send samples

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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 126 |  Reviews: 108
Photo of Sammy
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

batch #5 bottled in Novemeber 2004. I agree with the manufacturer that there is hop bitterness, long hoppy finish. That there is lots of malts, chocolate malts, there is quite a bit of carbonation. Smells like a barleywine. Looks like an IPA. Drinkable and would definately want to try again in years. Most unusual, thanks Joe McPhee.

 334 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.43/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Artistic looking label and cap with a “giant squid” painting done by Dennis Lyon. Batch # 4. Nov 2004.

Ap: Sure pours like a barleywine. Dark ruby brown cloudy from th browner with a thin khaki cap loaded with uneven bubbles.

Ar: Deep malty sugary syrupy scents. Reminds me of Horny Dog. Some fruity citrous scents mix with the pancake malts.

First swigs: More fruity sweet than malty. Dry finish. Warming in the gullet. Dry biscuit malts prevail. Hops are judiciously tame. An English style Barleywine mostly. Some saw dusty woody notes. Some smoky flavors creep out. A 10% ABV, this is a well hidden Awl-kee-hawl brew.

Heavy body and rolls semi-flat on the tongue. Light sticky lip smacker.

Last swigs: Basically a diluted SNBF. Just my thoughts. Neds to be fruity or malty. This is neither. Best aspect is the hidden ABV. $3.39 a 12 oz’er at Johns Market in Portland, OR.

 894 characters

4.06/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Filthy copper brown in color with lots of yeasties swimming throughout. The head is nothing to write home about, but I don't care today.
This smells almost exactly like sweet rolls with a slight alcoholic reminder. A little bit of banana notion is detected.
Well this has got some diacetyl going on, but not overly so. The butteriness fits the scenario quite well. There are some interesting things in the flavor of this. I keep getting the sense of spearmint leaf. A very woody tone is set throughout. A bit medicinal at times, and earthy at others. THe hops aren't incredibly outspoken with this one, but every time you've got your finger on a flavor perception the hops kick in and make it an afterthought. Sometimes I feel like i'm getting lost in the shuffle with the flavors here, but I like it that way. This is an interesting, if not confused drinker. I'd give it another go.

 887 characters

Photo of cokes
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Batch 5, 2004.

Generally clear scarlet bronze with a frothy, well-held beige cap. Yeast adds a cloak-like sandy veil.
Vinous nose, backed with bread dough and pine.
Begins with a pale bread and toffee maltiness, one that immediately mingles with the buttery barrel-contributed hues to suggest something close to Fullers Vintage. It diverts from that path rather quickly. It gains a lemon fruitiness, juxtaposed with liquorice, and a woody vanilla. The middle is awash in honey glazed apples, glinting briefly at mead (or cyser), then the floor drops out onto a dryish, red vinousness. Lightly tannic, with notions of pepper and cinnamon. The end is hoppy, and NW and piney, but not as forceful as expected. Perhaps the barrels had their way with them.
Heavy bodied, and lowly carbonated. It took me several moments to acclimate myself, as this is vastly different than I expected. It's not a bludgeoning barleywine, as US tradition might have one expect, and its allure comes in its unsuspected, serpentine nature.

 1,022 characters

Photo of marc77
3.31/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled 11/02, consumed 12/04. Hazed dark bronze hue. Lean, but dogged tan head leaves loose lace. Bourbon soaked brittle and overripe grapefruit in aroma. Mild lime like tartness and hints of burnt caramel as well. Rough, yet enticing aromawise. Upfront in flavor is a note of lemon rind. Caramel apples and sourdough biscuit ensue mid palate. As the beer warns, dark toffee sweetness augments offsetting tartness. Persistent grapefruit and sour lemon hop flavor. Moderate in body, with an acceptable light viscosity. Finishes warm, with melted candied orange and sour plum hints lingering. An odd, yet enjoyable brew. Vinous, burly and ragged. A bit of a disappointment considering I cellared it for almost two years, though.

 727 characters

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.

 820 characters

Photo of sweethome
3.67/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottled vesion from batch 5 - Nov 2004

Pours amber with a slight haze. Off white head.

Sweet nose of candy sugar and cherries. Alcohol is dominant also.

Huge sweetness, a bit medicinal. Cherries, hard candy, and alcohol fire. Slick, silky mouthfeel. Rich malts backing here, just overpowered by the alcohol fire.

A tight beer. Needs aging. If you get the 2004 version, cellar it for while. A bit too limited and tight at this time. The medicinal charachter should evolve to something better. Will be better with some time to mellow.

 550 characters

Photo of mikeys01
4.04/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

November 2004 Ediition, served from a 12oz bottle courtesy of a recent trade with Weefisheads, thanks! Poured into my glass a quite clear darkish amber color with just a hint of sunset red. Faint wisps of tight white foam make cloud patterns at the top of my glass. Aroma is super fruity and almost slightly Brett funky , with a hint of spice. Rotting plums, sweet dark grapes, and tart cherries come to mind, lots of vinous goodness in the nose. Tasting reveals much more malt character than expected from the nose. Starts off with a slightly bitter and almost like toasted oak, though I don’t think this one is barrel aged. Takes a bit and a little more warmth to let the fruit flavors blossom, with strong cherry and tart apple featuring prominently. Finish has a palpable alcohol heat, a hint of bitterness, and a lingering hint of vintagesque fruity funk. Nicely put together, this barleywine bodes like it would age very well. Body is medium, for a barleywine, and it’s a sipper to be sure, but quite tasty.

 1,015 characters

Photo of freed
3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Blue Monk for Barleywine Long Haul 2005. Vintage 2002.

Dulled copper appearance, skimming of foam across the top with small waifish bubbles. Somewhat hazy with a darker sediment.

Aroma of farmhouse must, malted barley and apple crop from the yeast.

Sweet tart, malty and mild overall taste. There are weak spice flavors, but the dryness leaves a great after mouth feel. Somewhat cidery/champagne yeast finish.

 429 characters

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.

 925 characters

Photo of danadeny
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002. Pours a cloudy dark ruby red with no head and no carbonation. Smells of pear, red wine, granny smith apple, a little roasted malt. Taste is a alcohol kick like red wine, very much like red wine. Coffee aroma aftertase. Hints of roasted malt in the middle, overall different in a nice way. Clean finish withred wine notes.

 327 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle obtained via trade with Skyhand. Thanks for the opportunity... Cool label art, nice heavy green bottle, marked Batch #3, Bottled Nov 2001.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" light tan head over the roiling and murky reddish brown brew, which is only translucent at the edges. Head remains foamy and thick and laces well during the <lengthy> drinking experience. Aroma is strongly of oak and vanilla and malty taste potential... Taste is upfront with the oak-y alcohol, but quickly has the edges sanded down a bit by malty body, and then closes with a bit of hops, seemingly just for effect. Fruit flavors are also running around the periphery in here, which allows you to find different flavors with every mouthful as the glass warms. Mouthfeel is excellent for such a heavy barleywine, and the drinkability is good. Would probably be even better if I wasn't scaring myself by knowing how much alcohol was hiding in this bottle.

 965 characters

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.

 771 characters

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.

 484 characters

Photo of ngandhi
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch No. 3, Nov. 2001.
Aged in Hungarian Oak used for Cab-Franc.

Though aggressive to the point of being undrinkable on first taste, this enormous barleywine mellows -- veritably ages -- in the glass and demonstrates what good oak can do to a beer. Hot with alcohol, numbing the back of the throat, the 01 Leviathan is immediately rich with rum-soaked berried fruit and little bits of buttery oak poking through. Butter pecan.

After a few minutes in the glass, the oakiness comes out full force. We're presented with ripe berries and a few heaping tablespoons of drawn butter (ghee) on the nose -- not the stuff of diacetyl, but instead the vanilla- and cocoa-laden butter of great oak.

This has the intensity of great Zinfandel, but, at times, is far more complex. Leviathan is a tour-de-force of barleywine and there is nothing like it -- probably for the best. Drink 2006 - 3024.

Relax, relax.

 916 characters

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.

 771 characters

Photo of BierReise
3.25/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750ml Capped bottle. Batch#4 bottled November 2002. Poured a cloudy deep red color with a thin head that seems well carbonated. Aroma is unusual and complicated from the aging in oak wine casks. Has a sherry like quality with notes of fruit, sweet malt, hops and oak. This is the second I've had that is aged in wine casks and in all honesty, I'm not a fan of the idea. To me wine and beer do not blend well. Flavor is sweet and syrupy with oak and wine really dominating. Mouthfeel is really smooth and full. I suppose many like this since it's in the top 50, however I really just don't appreciate the wine attributes. I'm guessing it would be a whole lot better if aged in beer casks.

 687 characters

Photo of aracauna
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This has a good cherry wood stain body with a high carbonation. The full carbonation creates streaming bubbles and a full head. The aroma is apricots and grapefruit peels. Strong bitterness is a bit unbalanced, but it's interesting. This is one of the better barleywines from my recent tasting.

 294 characters

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.

 437 characters

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.

 1,094 characters

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”!

 771 characters

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.

 406 characters

Photo of Wildman
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very dark amber color and formed a light tan bubbly head that left circular lace as it subsided. A small amount of carbonation is present. Some interesteing aromas are going on in this brew. I detect malt, wine, wood, a bit of caramel, some hops and some pine. The flavor was an exlplosion of malt, wine, some of the woodiness. The finish was a touch bitter, yet astrigent. This is a very powerful barleywine, not only in alcohol content, but in the presence it gives particulary in the flavor and finish. Definately one to take slowly like a wine or liqour, which it shares some elements with. A fine product, but hard to come by and expensive. Worth a try though if you can get it.

 702 characters

Photo of ZAP
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great oak/bouban nose....smells like Beam....brown in color....perfect 1/2 inch creamy tan head...very smooth, creamy mouthfeel....alcohol evident...can taste the oak....some nice bittering on the finish....sweet malt emerges first though, then som woodiness....pretty solid, and pretty unique...nice change of pace Barley Wine..also some caramel on the nose....definitely worth a try

 384 characters

Photo of Bighuge
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled Nov. 2001. Batch #3.

Murky looking brown/burgandy mix. Very creamy dense beige head. Little lace left on glass. Dry, woody, alcoholic and bourbon-like aroma. Pretty cool. Very unique tasting barleywine. Huge dry woody tones. Alcoholic. Some sweet caramel tones. Not as big with the hops or malt that I like in my barleywines, but this is probably the most interesting barleywine I've had. I get fairly heavy whiskey and bourbon tones. Good to try, but I won't spend the Big $$ for this one again.

 507 characters

Fish Tale Leviathan Barleywine from Fish Brewing Company / Fishbowl Brewpub
3.89 out of 5 based on 126 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.