Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine | Thomas Hooker Brewing Company

very good
175 Reviews
Thomas Hooker Old Marley BarleywineThomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine

Brewed by:
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
Connecticut, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This traditional American Ale blends copious amounts of five different malts and various English and American hops to yield a rich and flavorful brew.

We age our Barleywine in oak bourbon- casks to add vanilla and smoky notes, then blend these flavors into a full-blown sensory experience to enjoy on a cold winter's eve.
Old Marley Barleywine is extremely complex and full-bodied in flavor. The drinker will be rewarded by first letting a small amount warm in a brandy snifter , then sipping it, similar to a fine sherry.

74 IBU

Added by paceyourself on 03-01-2003

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Reviews: 175 | Ratings: 207
Photo of Jwale73
2.22/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

No clue on the age, but it is a vintage bottle - most likely circa 2005. Pours a deep brown color with red highlights when backlit. Clarity is fairly translucent. Nose expresses soy sauce solvent and dark fruit. Taste reveals soy sauce, chemicals and wet cardboard. Mouthfeel is light in body with a still carbonation and a slightly oily texture. Overall, not good and way past its prime. I would like to revisit a more contemporary bottle to see what it should taste like. If I do, I'll replace my review.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I cant believe Ive never reviewed this till now. I have several vintages in the cellar and this review will cause me to start cracking them open. THis is a 2013 12 oz wax sealed bottle born on 5-30-2013 is stamped on the neck.
I am sampling at cellar temp and poured into a snifter. The beer pours a deep mahogany with a creamy beige head of 1 cm foaming up that fades to a sturdy edge layer in my glass. The aroma is big and boozy with molassess, brown sugar, dark fruit, some raisins and plums and a bit of dark bakers chocolate. BIg complex nose with no hops to be found. Appealing and appropriate for a big boozy barleywine.
First sip reveals a smooth textured and fairly thick body with very fine and gentle rolling carbonation. the physical traits meet the style objectives.
Flavor is big and boozy with dark fruit of raisin, red grape, molassess and some warm booze on teh finish. I dont really get any hops anywhere and the finish reminds me this is a big beer. I will try to do a vintage bottle soon and add it on to this review posting.
I am enjoying this beer and glad I have another bottle, will be cool to see how the older bottles hold up.

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Photo of jaasen64
3.84/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

'06 vintage bottle. Purchased recently from Nikki's Liquors' vintage room in Providence for $11. 500 ml swing-top blue bottle.

A- Swing-top comes off fairly easily with a nice pop. Pours a very opaque pitch black, fairly flat with minimal carbonation bubbles floating on top but otherwise no head.

S- Caramel, molasses, toffee, licorice, booze that fades, malts, light oxidation that hides in the background. Has definitely faded with age but still maintaining a nice aroma that isn't ruined by oxidation.

T- Slick thin molasses, toffee, licorice, hints of dark cherries and char, finishes with a hint of chocolate, char, very light booze, caramel, and toffee. Like the aroma taste seems like it may have faded a bit but is maintaining a nice complexity and not too much oxidation despite the age.

M- Definitely thinner then I was anticipating, pretty much no carbonation to speak of, surprisingly slick with almost no alcohol burn whatsoever. While the mouthfeel doesn't kill this beer, it's hard to give it a better rating due to the slightly thin body and absolute lack of carbonation.

O- Taste and aroma wise this beer held up pretty decently for 6 years except I can tell it definitely faded a bit. Mouthfeel wise though this is as flat as you can get, almost like drinking water. The good thing though is the alcohol is almost completely hidden which makes it quite drinkable. Overall I'm definitely glad I tried this, but I'm not sure if I'd pay $11 again. Would have been really interesting to try this beer fresh and with 3 instead of 6 years on it.

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Photo of nebula1999
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2003 Vintage grabbed from my Cellar. Been aging this one since I got it just under 11 years ago. Made it though a major move too.

Pours deep, dark copper brown into oversized snifter. Thin scattered large bubbled head, then nothing.

Aroma is wood, wood, wood! The "one month in the oak barrels" really imparted a massive oakiness to the nose on this beer after all this time. Bold maltiness comes through, but zero hops. I didn't expect much of a hop presence after 11 years anyway. The hops are more pronounced when young, as I remember. Also picking up some herbal notes like fresh sage and even a hint of rosemary (?). No oxidation detected.

Flavor is a potent wood and malt explosion. I mean, not just oak but cedar and a hint of pine. Almost too much. Sticky malts in the mouthfeel, and a pinch oily to boot. Slight warming from the alcohol.

Overall, this beer should be respected for what it has become since bottling. It's completely different than its younger self. Definitely drinkable, but probably would be better appreciated a little younger.

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Photo of Naugled
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ruby brown with some haze. Little carbonation or head but I'm ok with that. I don't expect that from a beer like this.

Nice malty aroma, raisins, dark fruit, prunes and molassas.

Flavor is very oaky, and this beer is at least a year old. Lots of coconut and raw oak still present. Hints of caramel and vanilla.

Some late bitterness but over all a rich balance mouth feel.

Drinkable but the oak is a bit over the top, that's what kept it from scoring better for me.

12/30/12 (two years later)
I opened the second bottle of this beer to see how it has aged. It's much less carbonated now. The rubber seal on the flip top seems to have given up. It looks great though, crystal clear and chestnut brown. The aroma is dominated by oak and vanilla notes. The flavor as well, has some sweetness to it but the oak dominates. I'm surprised it hasn't aged out after 2 years. It still has a nice rich mouthfeel, but has lost some complexity and has become a single note - oak. All that said, I would still buy a few more bottles if it's offered.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.61/5  rDev -34.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Poured into a snifter. 500ml swingtop, 2009 vintage.

2.5 A: Uh-oh. No carbonation. I'm guessing this is due to the swingtop, but T. Hooker chose to use this format, so I'm continuing with my review as normal. Black color.

4.0 S: The nose is still solid. Tons of plum and caramel with raisin, prune, whiskey, and leather close behind. Minor notes of sherry oxidation, but overall very nice.

2.5 T: Surprisingly not a lot of oxidation. There is a some, but it's not undrinkable. Plum, raisin, tobacco, and caramel are strongest. Cardboard after that. The flavors are presented all that well without the carbonation though.

1.0 M: This really hurts from no carbonation. Lighter medium body. Not creamy or at all pleasant here.

2.0 D: I'm probably not being fair by reviewing this, but two years isn't so long that the bottles should have ended up this way.

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Photo of BlackWednesday
3.56/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Murky, dark brown appearance with little to no head. Taste is sweet, a little strong on the alcohol. Some undertones of vanilla from the bourbon aging. Fairly strong malt presence with little hops present. Overall, interesting and different from most barleywines I drink. However, I do like some more hops like in most west coast barleywines. Also found that this grew on me as I drank it, but I’m not sure if I’d pick this one up again.

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Photo of davey101
1.98/5  rDev -50.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

I normally don't bash beers, or post reviews for beer I dislike. However I'm making an exception for this beer. I love Thomas Hooker, but this beer has some problems.

I absolutely love the presentation, a blue tinted pop top 500ml. Its looks amazing, it really does. And that why its been in my cellar for the last few months. This is a 2010 vintage. A pop of the top reveals....whats that? Zilch. Zero noise. This can't be good. An aggressive pour yields some awkward large soapy bubbles that pop quickly...and zero head. A sip confirms that this is still and flat. Yup...the seal went bad.

The smell is amazing. I smell some candied dark fruits, caramel, and frankly...the smell is of a quality barley wine. However this is undrinkable. Buy these with caution! These tops are really flimsy and barely air tight. I'm glad I only picked up one since these were $7.

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Photo of Mess
2.32/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Been saving this baby for a cold winter eve. Bottled in 2004 served cellar temp in a wine glass. Slight hiss when the flip top popped was promising.

A - Rich browny- red mahogany, but no head. Absolutely still.

S - Earthy, sherry-like. Toast.

T - Biscuity. Meaty almost. Slightly sour and earthy. Umami in a beer?

M - Really dry, and yet slick - is that possible?

D - Meatiness is strong. Obviously has had some oxidation and past its prime. I guess aging flip-tops is risky, and it didn't pan out this time. Probably a good pairing with a rare steak.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Raw prune juice, near white head leaves fast. Tight sudsy lacing near surface.

S - Some Roasted barley, cocoa.

T - Ok, no freshness date, but I am really disappointed. Flavor has some aspects of coffee and chocolate and malt, with some hops. But the whole thing has a cidery tart underfinish that does not belong.

M - Medium body, fair carb, sour finish.

D - One is enough. Check please.

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Photo of Durge
4.59/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A solid dark brown colored brew with a fair light tan colored head and solid lacing. The aroma brings sour apple and raisins, port/sherry and maple nut. Fermenting dark fruits. Wow! The flavor brings big time tart apple malt, and a curious burnt oak alcohol. As it warms it just gets mellower and more beautiful. Somewhat resinous with very limited carbonation, silky and near full bodied. Not a highly drinkable brew but there is no reason to rush this lusciously flavored concoction. Tart malt dominates, raisin/prune, dark chocolate, just a beutiful barleywine to savor, probably will improve with a nice chunk of your favorite cheese! Bravo Hooker!!

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Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 500ml swingtop - bottled in 2006. Poured into my nonic pint glass and allowed to warm up a bit. Appears a clear dark auburn color with barely a finger of off white foam. Nose and flavors consist of raisins, molasses, prunes, dark cherries, caramel, fruity, brown sugar, a touch of oak and vanilla. Medium to full bodied for the style with ample carbonation. Nice with a hunk of sharp cheddar.

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Photo of asabreed
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. blue growler-type bottle poured into a Brooklyn tulip. Vintage 2006 thin yellow strip taped to the top of the white cap.

Appearance: Literally no head after there's the subtlest pop of the top, but a small amount of bubbles due to the high pour at the top. A syrup-colored brown in the light, though it seems to be a bit darker with a bigger pour and if it's outside of direct light.

Smell: Initial ripe and smoky wood aromas, along with sweeter caramel, vanilla, and maple. Mild bourbon coming through, but it's not dominant. There's almost a less sweet Kahlua type liqueur aroma coming through too. Could possible be mistaken for a lighter RIS with it's heavy aromas coming through. Some lighter sherry aromas as it warms, along with some darker cherries for fruit esters. But mostly there's the good smoke, wood, and mild bourbon aromas coming through nicely as an amalgam, and it seems to be working pretty well as a triumvirate. Also, about an hour after it continues to warm, there's some good honey and tobacco earthiness coming through.

Taste: First off, the lack of carbonation is evident here, but oddly enough that doesn't detract, since it does seem almost unlike a beer / Barleywine and more like a sherry or liqueur in some ways. Again, there's some wood, smoke, and bourbon flavors as prominent, but they're all nuanced and balanced. And there's a good middle to back end maple and caramel combination and woody sweetness, along with a presence of figs and mild dark cherries. Age has certainly helped this in the long run I imagine. There's possible a good sense of mellowing hops at the end too, which is something that didn't come out in the aroma as much. The hop presence brings some earthiness and grain flavors to the mix too. And like the aroma, after it warms after about an hour, there's an interesting darker tobacco presence, along with a nice burst of chocolate powder sweetness.

Mouthfeel: This would be lower if there wasn't a decent shot of back end carbonation, but it's obviously not a light-bodied brew, and even with the lack of carbonation the creaminess of the body works without being too cloying. That said, this is a beer after all, and I'm not sure I'm supposed to be liking this as is, though I imagine it probably has something to do with the age. I haven't found this in too many places, but this seems like a good candidate to compare to a fresh bottle for sure.

Drinkability: The mouthfeel and appearance move this down a half lower for me. That said, it's a big, complex, and tasty version of the style, though it's not for those on training wheels. It's smokier than most due to the cask aging, but aside from the carbonation and look, I really enjoyed the whole experience.

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Photo of donniecuffs
2.97/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a hazy brown/red with less than a finger of head, and spotty lacing. The smell was ridiculously sweet; pineapple, bad milk chocolate (think hollow Easter bunny), burnt figs. The taste wasn't much different; lots of sweet pineapple fruitiness followed by some caramel'ish flavor, and then a big alcohol burn on the finish. Very syrupy throughout; not very pleasant on the palate. I had a tough time finishing the bottle.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.35/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to someone for opening this brew. Pours dark brown with minimal head. The aroma is light with sweetness, hints of alcohol and not much else. The flavor starts with light dark fruitiness that is exceedingly smooth. Then the sweetness hits with hints of molasses, sweet roasted malts and faint caramel. Then the taste turns more bitter and slightly tart with vague hoppiness and a bit of astringency. The alcohol shows up near the finish along with more caramelness.

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Photo of brentk56
3.12/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

2006 bottling

Appearance: Pours a murky dark ruby color with a minimal head and no lace; I know...high ABV and all that but this did not age well

Smell: Charred dark fruit, licorice, tamarind and soy sauce

Taste: Tamarind and burnt caramel up front, with a building medicinal bitter edge appearing by mid-palate; after the swallow, the flavors mellow out and the sweeter caramel and dark fruit elements dominate the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous with very low carbonation

Drinkability: I'll have to try this again as this bottle did not age very well; suffice to say, even with the low carbonation, the flavors were somewhat unbalanced

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This was an interesting beer. Definate wine barrel qualities, a nice drying effect. Nose is sweet, and for the ABV, this beer is incredibly smooth and mellow. So much so that I had a hard time believing that it was 10%. I think this bottle had some age on it, although there was no date marked.

The mouthfeel was full and smooth, with a pretty good malt sweetness and fruity notes. This barleywine was a very close distance to some reds and whites I've had... this would be a perfect beer to give to wine lovers because of the flavors and the smoothness. I liked this beer, a bit pricey, but still very solid brew. Worth obtaining if you can.

I gave it a 5/5 for drinkability because its the smoothest barleywine I've ever had. Very nice.

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Photo of glid02
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased from Decatur Wine and Spirits in Decatur, GA.

Pours a hazy dark copper color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of tart black cherries with caramel malts, toffee, milk chocolate, and hints of vanilla.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet caramel malt flavors up front are quickly overtaken by tart cherry flavors that follow through to a mildly crisp ending that leaves toffee and vanilla flavors lingering on the palate.

Mouthfeel is good. It has a solid thickness and moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is alright. The flavors are all there but I had quite a time getting past the tart cherry flavors.

Overall I feel as though this bottle was off a bit - the first few sips were good but as it warmed tart flavors took over all other flavors and made it less enjoyable. I'll be keeping my eyes out to try this in the future to see if this was just a bad bottle.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.03/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 2006 courtesy of far333

Poured a deep orange almost brownish color with a small tannish, little carbonation. Nose is malt all the way. Caramel, toffee, fruits Taste is caramel, brown sugar, molasses, woody, fruits, tofee. ABV is lighter as it mellowed out over the years. This was approaching or getting ready to make a turn but it was saved just in time. Average bwine.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep cloudy burgundy color ale with a very thin foamy head with some retention and some lacing. Aroma of sweet malt with hints of vanilla and bourbon. Taste is also a well balanced mix between some sweet malt with notes of vanilla and light bourbon but no notes of alcohol. Body is quite full with limited filtration and low carbonation with no signs of alcohol which is quite a feat considering the ABV. Very well done though a bit too sweet for my own taste.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled this at an epic tasting hosted by EinWeizenbitte. Thanks a ton Todd!

Appearance: Pours out syrupy and earthy brown in color. Almost opaque. No head or lacing to speak of.

Smell: Sweet, smokey, sugary. Oak and molasses are definitely apparent, and some mild alcohol floats about as well. No real hop character.

Taste: Woody and smokey yet again with a good amount of molasses. Vanilla also quite present. Hops come through just a bit in the end. Some alcoholic dryness in finish.

Mouthfeel: Full, hearty, and dry. Tons of malt. Meh.

Drinkability: I only sampled about 3oz. of this, and that was enough. I didn't have any problem with this barleywine; it was actually quite decent. I just found it to be boring. Next!

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on 04/14/2009
500ml. swing-top bottle into Snifter glass
2008 Vintage

This brew pours a deep brown mahogany color with a very minimal head of a few bubbles on the outer edge of the glass, and little to no lacing is present. Smells of nuttiness, light tobacco, vanilla, and oak from the 1 month barrel aging. Taste is pretty consistent with the smell finishing with a very mild hop bitterness and slight alcohol warmth. The mouthfeel is slick at first, but finishes clean due to the high 10% ABV. Brew is surprisingly drinkable due to having a great flavor profile and well-masked ABV - however more than 2 of these bottles is a downward spiral toward disaster. Will definately be drinking more of this brew. The only problem I have with this one is it seems more Old Ale than American Barleywine based on appearance and taste, but they are in the same family. Reminds me of Thomas Hardy's but is not quite on that level.

Thank you to 7ways who is an excellent trader and threw this in as an extra!

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A deep ruby brownish color with a copper edge that looks extremely appetizing. Seems to me that the high alcohol content has destroyed any hope of getting any head out of this one. That is fine with me though. Looks thick and heavy. I want to taste it.

Candied sugars and roasted malts fill the nose and are complemented by dark fruits and dark chocolate. It is also incredibly hoppy. The cascade hops are definitely contributing a lot right here.

Bittersweet chocolate and plums greet the palate nicely as a slight alcohol flavor warms the mouth. Cascade hops with a malty sweetness follow with darker fruits and candied sugars in the background. The taste that is left after the swallow is phenomenal. Decadently sweet with a touch of hop bitterness.

Nice and smooth with some tingly bubbles on the palate. Light to medium texture. This beer becomes incredibly complex as it warms. It has a ton of character no matter when you drink it, cold or closer to 52 degrees, though I recommend the latter. Extremely sweet...too much so to have a bunch, but extremely enjoyable.

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Photo of Lothore
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Very dark brown and nearly impossible to see through. Very little, dark brown head.

S- Dark fruits, raisins, sweet.

T- Plum, dark fruit, fig, sweet, toasted bread.

M- Little to no carbonation, fairly thick.

D- I need more carbonation in my beer. This was not one of my favorites but it seemed like a well put together beer.

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Photo of Beertracker
3.07/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

TH Old Marley (2006 Vintage) pours up heavily w/o much carbonation that creates a low, thin tannish-white head that barely rings the glass above the bright, deep mahogany-reddish brown body. The aroma is quite fruity (cherry cordial, horseapple, sandplum) with an apparent caramel & light chocolate roastiness supplimented by hints of bourbon (char) oak, sherry & vanilla. No detecteable hops. Alcohol noted, vinous. No diacetyl. The flavor starts off cloying sweet from the kettle carmelization then carries to an unexpectedly tart (cherry), winey (acetic, sherry, wild), cheek warming finish. There's really not much hop bitterness to balance all of the malt sweetness. This medium-full bodied old ale is quite chewy & somewhat astringent from the oak. This is decently enjoyable as an old ale, but totally misses the mark for an American-style barleywine. Maybe a bottle or cask infection has spoiled this one as it cellar aged? I'll have to revisit this one someday with a fresh bottled maybe paired with some warm, cranberry-orange baked brie. I must admit to being dissapointed, so it's time to put Old (Jacob) Marley to bed!

CHEERS! Beertracker

*Trader's Note: Thanks to Damian for the opportunity!

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Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine from Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
3.99 out of 5 based on 207 ratings.
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