Brimstone Big Ale | Wild Goose Brewery, LLC

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Brimstone Big AleBrimstone Big Ale
Very Good
21 Ratings
Brimstone Big AleBrimstone Big Ale

Brewed by:
Wild Goose Brewery, LLC
Maryland, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.20%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-21-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 21 |  Reviews: 20
Reviews by BigMcLargeHuge:
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

October 1998 12 oz bottle consumed 12/07. The label states that it improves with age up to 10yrs. Year nine is being sampled with the cap coming off with a solid 'pop' and instant odor of red grapes, red wine and olives. It pours a cloudy brown with dull orange edges and big frothy tan head that lasted a couple of minutes. Big "in your face" aroma with red wine, red and black grapes, olives, over ripe red delicious apples, a bit of yeast and behind that is a faint barleywine dark fruitiness. The above average carbonation allows the flavors to light up the taste buds initially with HID arc brilliance illuminating red wine, red grapes, olives, raisin, dates and apple flavor notes. It becomes more tart beyond midway and into the finish along with some oxidation. Body seemed a tad thin.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of sponberg
4.37/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beer sampled: On tap, 3 year old keg. The beer poured a coppery/caramelly red color. Little carbonation.

The aroma was sweetly malty, with fruit and alcohol notes. The flavor started out same, followed by all kinds of fruit overtones - plum and apricot, with others peeking in - but little dryness. Just enough underlying bitterness to keep this brew from becoming cloying, but little hop aroma or flavor. The alcohol was there in the background from start to finish, but 13%? My friends and I pegged it at 8-9%. The finish is still a bit sweet, but not like, say, EKU 28. Overall, a very enjoyable ale, especially if you are a fan of fruity maltiness.

Dangerously drinkable for the octane. I suspect whatever hop character was there when the beer was kegged had dissipated over time. I was rather surprised that there was as much residual sugar/sweetness left after three years. The yeast apparently died young and happy. The beer was still in remarkably good shape.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in October 1998. Carefully poured so as not to disturb the lees, but held well above the glass to rouse a head; a somewhat hazy orange-ish amber body is capped by a frothy lid of beige cream. Unfortunately, the head dissipates quickly and leaves no lace. However, for a beer with so much alcohol that can be overlooked; and what the appearance lacks the aroma more than makes up for. Its bright malt reveals rich caramel and toffee laced with lightly vinous, ripe red berries and (surprisingly strong considering the age of the beer) floral, grassy and spicy/piney hops! The body is medium and it flows silky smooth across the palate with just a caress from its very fine and seemingly natural carbonation. The flavor is more vinous upfront than the nose suggests with a light bit of acidity that softens with a quick flash of caramelish malt and then becomes over-shadowed by piney/citrusy hops and a still-remaining solid bitterness. It finishes quite dry with a gentle memory of its maltiness, a splash of alcohol, and a light zest of piney hops that slowly subside. The label suggests that "this deep ruby red ale will continue to improve with age for up to 10 years" but I disagree. It's a beautiful beer at 5 years, but it's vinous quality indicates that it will only decline in the coming years. And, as a fan of this beer even before it was brewed by Frederick (out of Brimstone in the old Natty Boh plant), I'd suggest that this is an ale that's best enjoyed fresh. Still, it holds alot of charm and delivers a cornucopia of character on a cold winter's night after a good meal. Vey well done indeed!

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Photo of RBorsato
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Murky copper color with a low beige ringed head and good carbonation for it's age. Sweet carmelized malt aroma and flavor with little to no alcohol character. Full bodied but feels closer to medium due to carbonation.

Aged well for 7 years !! No longer brewed .. Frederick Brewing Co. ceased Brimstone beers a while back. :-(

Per Label: "1.058 O.G." & "Brewed with Brown and Cane Sugars"

Bottled in: 10/98
Tasted: 09/18/05

(12 oz. bottle capped and dipped in maroon colored wax)

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.68/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12 oz. brown bottle, bottled in October 1999. Pours out a dark scarlet applecider color. Head is fluffy at first, about 1/2" on the top of my goblet. Fairly good retention for 13.2% ABV. Smell is very "dark". Lots of brown sugar, alcohol, raisin, and some carmel scents. This beer is like a kick to the mouth. Big alcohol flavors are present throughout this beer, starting with a strong shot of alcohol burn, then revealing a fine hop presence, before leaving a tingling burn in the back of you throat. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, and does all it can to accetuate this beast of a beer. I could drink this stuff until I passed out (about 2 bottles, if that was possible [they only had one bottle left in the cooler]). I really liked this beer, it was a very intense and challenging barleywine, that I don't believe is brewed anymore.

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Photo of jgasparine
4.32/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Sampled a 1997 Vintage bottle- Thank you Jim Wagner!

A- Poured from the bottle with just some faint trickles of carbonation showing through the red-tinged amber body. No real head, but still some tiny bits of lacing. Some fantastic clarity to it.

S- Smells wonderful. Oxidized with some sherry-like notes on the nose, lots of esters and some stewed malt, rich with melanoidins. Nuances of caramel throughout.

T- A wonderful replicate of the nose... and the melanoidin comes out much more on the palate than indicated by the nose. Finishes with some wonderful madiera notes and some faint heat from the alcohol.

M- Thin to medium body, with just a touch of delicate carbonation. Just the TINIEST touch of astringency.

D- Just a wonderful beer. By far the best vintage I have tasted. The 1997 is quaffable and still may be able to stand some additional years of ageing!

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of goodbyeohio
3.79/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

courtesy of lackenhauser via b&g bif '05

1999 vintage 12oz

murky red pour, ring of bubbles and no foam to speak of. aroma is (no pun intended) big with maltiness and the added bonus of a sparkling sourness. almost like a hint of underripe fruit. somewhat boozy in the nose.. big on alcohol like a cognac.

taste is surprisingly smooth and light with a mix of chocolate and raspberry surrounded by the more anticipated alcohol sting. barleywinish malt thing makes its presence known but stops short of sweet dominance. old, big character contributes more to the evenly spread roasted malt and cocoa element.

strong and flavorful but light and drinkable (for a BW lover). just wish it had a bit more complexity to the flavor. stops short of being great.

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Photo of gbarron
3.19/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

October 1998 vintage. Shame they are no longer making this and the other Brimstone line of beers.

A - dark caramel brown, chestnut. Head is massive and a medium dark tan color. Head retention is excellent, leaving a thick, creamy layer of bubbles on top and thick lacing. Color is slightly hazy, but appears to just be chill haze.

S - wow, don't know if it's just the age of this one or what. Very, very sour nose, almost like a Belgian-style sour beer. Aromas of sherry, higher alcohols, port, musty old grapes, over-ripe raisins and bananas. Not all that pleasant, at least to me, and I don't remember it being exactly like this fresh.

T - smell belies the taste here. Mild malt sugariness, candy sugar, astringency of over-steeped tea, tart, tangy. Not sweet and not bitter, fairly well balanced still after all this time. Strong flavors of higher alcohols and warming. Disappointing. Used to love this beer when it was in regular production in the late 1990's.

M - medium to medium thick. Despite the massive head on this thing, carbonation appears average to low. Tart, tangy, drying finish.

D - unfortunately I either let this beer wait too long or accidentially abused it over time. Drinkable, but only barely. I'm still giving it a 3.0 on drinkability because I used to love it so when fresh.

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

Vintage 1998-this sucker is 8 years old and I was thinking about this brewey for whatever reason and decided now is the time.

Nice, slightly garnet to orange color. Quite the carbonation level. Some floaties but that is to be expected.

Interesting aroma-has developed quite the cherry and oak like smell to it. Almsot fruity. The more I sample it really has a wet cardboard sort of mustiness to it-has to be oxidized.

Big malty flavor with an underlying harshness. Almost feels like it "stings" your tongue. Seems the oxidation is coming out in the flavor. While not unpleasant its a very pronounced characteristic. Trace of alcohol burn as well.

Big body all around-still quite the big and vinuous beer.

Fairly drinkable all these years later. You can tell it has changed from what it was thats for sure. I think my other review is from 1997 and I sent my 1999 off in a BIF. This vintage was produced by Frederick Brewing and not the original Brimstone out of Baltimore. Still quite the sipper. I wouldnt wait much longer if you have any. I wonder what Marc Tewey the original brewer is up to these days?

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

An incredible find, I enjoyed this beer very much, but must admit to being a bit overwhelmed by it. Huge thick body and a muted head, still it did produce some subtle deposits. The look is syrupy thick and has a most lovely red caramel appearance, almost of a glowing nature when held to light. The nose is big and portends of big malt sweetness. Right on target as this fine brew unsettled the palate with its big maltiness. The feel is thick and luscious and limits the drinkability along with high ABV. The alcohol does enter the taste cycle, but not as much as you might guess. But the warmth in body and mouth warn of the trouble you could be in should you not beware of this ale's power.

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Photo of DarthMalt
3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Figures. I own a Brimstone glass for years, and a week after it breaks, I find a Brimstone beer. Must have been an omen.

Brew Date: October 1999

Pours thick like EKU, difficult at producing a head, but comes through, nonetheless, with a cryptic layer of aged, gray suds.

Color is Belgian topaz, with suspended chunks throughout (and, I mean SUSPENDED, 'cause they aint goin' up, and they aint goin' down).

Aroma is thick, woody, honey and....Belgian.

Quenchingly sweet overall, but releases to a very dry and oaky flavor, with a noticable hop twinge. Finishes with a beautiful, almond/marzipan bouquet. Quite lovely.

Strangely, the quenching part is what follows through most of the drink, leaving the tongue almost as clean as a lager, making this a VERY DANGEROUS BREW!!! Brown and cane sugars, paired with the 95 degree fermentation temps, definitely put this one in the "Top 10 Fusel Alcohol Beers".

Quite a master stroke by the local micro. God knows if they make this any more, but it was definitely worth a try.

This beer is complex as hell, to tell you the truth. A true journey for the beer snob. A mighty-nighty winter warmer for the rest of us. Drink Carefully!

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tonights the night. I've been looking at this beer for a few years and finally the label fell off so it's time to pop the top and see what waits inside. October 1998 on the label.

The beer started pouring into the glass crystal clear light amber, but after a bit of sediment crept in it gave a slight haze. The head was off-white and formed well, but departed in an instant to leave wispy traces on the glass.

The aroma was malty and alcoholic with a strong presence of sherry and a bit of port. The aroma had a vinous nature, but was supported by a frontal assault of malt. The malt contained raisins and prunes, but more raisins than prunes. A very lightly tart acidity was notable as well.

The flavor was malty with an underlying bit of acidic and lactic tartness, that was not strong, but was interestingly present. The malt and hops had melded into a caramelly and muted hop bittering and flavor which was uniquely interesting with the lightly tart acidity. The flavor was strong with alcohol and also had more of the raisin character of the aroma. Very malty with a muted hop and strong alcohol with fruits and tart thrown in for good measure.

The finish was even with just some lasting malt, raisin and very, very light tartness into the aftertaste when the finish ultimately became dry. The body was almost full with a low carbonation. The tart character may be an indicator that this one is on it's last legs. The flavors were certainly aged and complex, but fresh this may have been a force to be reconned with. At 8 years old it is still a beast of a beer.

12 ounce bottle, wax sealed top.

Note: Looking at the label is say 1.058 OG. There is no way that this beer was that low of an OG and has that much alcohol in the aroma and flavor.

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

Vintage 1998

Pours reddish copper, biege head, filled with medium to fine carbonation. Perfectly clear from the cellar.
Vineous nose, quite unique.
Slightly burnt cherry syrup cut with rum.
Warming alcohol, akin to robitussin.
Nose finishes hot and tropical.
Medium to full body, syrupy texture and boardering viscous.
A bit stinging on the pallet, followed by fusel soaked cherries and singed brown sugar bits.
Hops only represented by bitterness, trying to offset the lingering residual sugars.
Finishes hottish, with a drying astringency.
Becoming more approachable after seven years.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.6/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottled October 1999; Sampled February 2008
A vigorous pour produces a scant, quarter-finger thick, frothy, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear, light cranberry color when held up to the light, but is otherwise a dark amber hue. Aromas of aged malt, sherry, a slight woodiness, intense berry aromas and even some cherry are all quite noticeable. The aroma, while clearly aged is quite agreeable and makes me think of a fruit spiked sherry. This really has a vibrant fruit character to it right now. I am really digging the aged character of this brew right now, the mix of sherry and fruit is certainly interesting and even a bit unexpected.

Lightly sweet flavors meld with a fairly substantial body here; this is clearly a sipping brew. The alcohol is quite well hidden at this point. The malt has aged into a chewy, almost meaty / brothy quality (think umami) that adds a richness to this brew. Slight flavors of sherry, perhaps a touch of wet cardboard (more so in the finish), a husk-like grain character and a definite nuttiness are all part of the aged character of this brew. The fruitiness is not nearly as intense as it was in the aroma. The upfront sweetness is actually fairly fleeting, really this has a rich brothiness to it and even a touch of tartness towards the middle and end. A light carbonation is still quite present and provides a mellow offset to the rich body of this brew.

This is clearly still well within the suggested best by date of ten years. This has held up fairly well and is definitely worth the experience; this will remain quite drinkable for many years to come, though I am not certain it will get any better, just different.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My selection was bottled in October of 1999.

Scarlet red appearance. Thin beige head recedes to a slight collar that sticks around. Lacing is spotty. This beer bombards my nose with fruits, raisins, alcohol, malts and figs. Great aroma. Flavor profile follows suit with the nose with an added blast of oak and vanilla. Cedar like dryness as well. Lingering aftertaste is a little medicinal. Mouthfeel is smooth wiht a tinge of carbonation and the body hovers close to full. I'd love to taste this fucker fresh. I bet it's abrasive as hell.

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Photo of DIM
2.8/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottled in Oct. 1998, making this my oldest beer.

a: A very hazy copper color with minimal head, but a bit more than I expected. A couple of floaties broke free despite my careful pour.

s: Brown sugar and over-ripe fruit, not much subtlety here. Alcohol is noticeable and keeps things a bit balanced.

t: For the first couple of sips all I could taste was sweetness. As it breathed more emerged. Apples, brandy, and alcohol all became noticeable. I would have liked to try this a few years ago.

m: Very thick, almost syrupy. Some chalkiness at the finish.

d: Certainly past its prime, but overall not a bad beer today. I'm very grateful to LittleBreeze for the chance to try this one.

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Photo of mmmbeer
3.45/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. capped and wax-dipped bottle, vintage October 1998, sampled November 2008. Brewed with brown and cane sugars, fermented as high as 95 degrees, aged four months before leaving the brewery, and unpasteurized. OG is labeled as 1.058, which is way too low for a beer of this strength; perhaps they meant 1.158, which would be more reasonable. The brew is a chill-hazed cherry hue, with a yellowed, half-inch head that fades to nothing within thirty minutes. Quite aromatic and vinous, with a touch of floral hops and some calmed-down alcohols. Berries and stone fruits on the palate, vinous, with a sturdy bitterness that comes and goes. There is a mild, yet increasing sweetness, perhaps a touch of acidity, and a light dose of some higher alcohols. It has a medium body despite the high strength (due to the sugar additions), a good amount of carbonation, and a medium, dry finish. This brew is very smooth has survived the decade incredibly well. Unfortunately I think this one has peaked, so I would consume this one sooner rather than later if you still have some kicking around.

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Photo of nvsblman
3.68/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Oct 1999 release.

Ruby red with a small white head. The bubbles slowly rise to the top. Aroma is mostly of caramel and oak with a little sour fruit. Fruity flavor with a tart finish. The alcohol is also fairly noticable in the flavor. Dry finish with lots of light, small bubbles. Despite the prevalent alcohol flavor it is pretty drinkable.

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Photo of beerorRIP
3.67/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

thanks to engisch for sharing this one with me...

Poured from a brown bottle that the label had fallen off, so "BIG ALE '98" was written on the bottle in white-out. Crack open the wax seal, pour into pint glasses. No head whatsoever in this one, so no lacing during consumption. Tiny bubbles creep up the glass amid the slightly cloudy amber/red liquid.

The smell is of sweet malts, alcohol, and... well sweet things like cider or mead. Various fruits but i can't put my finger on which ones they are. Hops? I don't think so!

The taste is really different from most barleywines i've tried. It is slightly bitter with plenty of raw alcohol showing up. Lots of sherry / mead sweetness, fruits, sweet malts. A sipper for certain.

The carbonation, while giving no head or lacing, feels almost champagne / sparkling mead in terms of texture. Strangely i expected it to be super-thick, but it feels thin, even though you would assume it's really thick with so much alcohol and malt in it. Really an interesting part of this brew.

I'm glad i tried this one. It's just different than what i expected. Would i drink this often if it was still brewed? Probably not... but once and a while it would be a pleasant surprise.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.6/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After a very brief warm spell and a halted thaw, we've got winter again here in late-February Minnesota...perfect time to induldge in a tasty barleywine. Happily, I have one on hand, courtesy of Brad "The Beerguy"...1998 edition
I've cut away the red-wax covering, and un-capped the bottle and the distinct sweetness of the perfect barleywine aroma wafts out. I can't wait to taste!
So, I pour...nice, deep, opaque, amber hue, with a decent helping of creamy, bubbly froth far, looks good, like a barleywine should!
Aroma: rich, dark, deeply fruity, grapes and cherries, leather, WOW!, this is a complex, heady thing, vast and mysterious, everything a decent barleywine should aspire to, sweet, tasty, delicious, dark and full of so, so much! Little hops felt here, but abundant in maltiness, feeling a touch sharp, but not too much, uttely integrated, very, very...Wow! Ooops, I said it again...
This is a wonderful brew, fruity, never too alcoholic, well-masked by the fullness of flavor, totally tasty...a very happy nightcap. Wish I had more on hand, that's for sure!

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Brimstone Big Ale from Wild Goose Brewery, LLC
Beer rating: 3.93 out of 5 with 21 ratings