Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine | Thomas Hooker Brewing Company

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Thomas Hooker Old Marley BarleywineThomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine
Very Good
208 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 208 |  Reviews: 175
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 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 klewis
2.28/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

500 ml bottle

A: Pours nearly black with a small bubbly head that quickly subsides to a frothy ring. Specks of lacing.

S: Not much smell at all. Oaky aroma with a bit of alcohol.

T: Balanced taste with both malt and hops qualities. The barrel aging is quite noticable and imparts a woody character with a slight vanilla taste. Overall, the taste is stale (oxidized perhaps?) with a flavor that just doesn't do much for me.

M: Full-bodied with moderate carbonation that feels a bit prickly.

D: I loved the doppelbock, but I'm kicking myself for spending $7 on this. A huge disapointment. When compared to other barleywines, this one is lacking in just about every category.

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Photo of Doomcifer
2.3/5  rDev -42.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Bottled in 2006.

Poured a dark brown with no head and no lacing.

Aroma is of oak woodiness and huge alcohol fumes. Faint sweet malt is picked up as well but overpowered by the wood and alcohol.

Taste is extremely harsh. Very woody and alcoholic. Almost like a spirit, it's so harsh. No smoothness to be found here. Faint sweetness, again, of malted barley.

Mouthfeel is semi-creamy and not very carbonated.

This is in no way at all drinkable.

This beer needs to be aged for a few years to be enjoyed. I wouldn;t touch it again fresh.

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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 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 DIM
2.77/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

a: This is a dark amber/orange color. It pours with a large white head that has good lace and retention.

s: The bottle says this was aged for a month in the barrel, but in that short time smokey oak aromas have completely taken over. However, some dark fruit, alcohol, and vanilla do manage to peek through. Too much wood.

t: Mirrors the smell, unfortunately. Oak is the dominant feature here as well. Some alcohol, cherry and vanilla.

m: Both the body and carbonation are above average.

d: My least favorite barleywine so far. Cool bottle though.

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Photo of ppoitras
2.8/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

500ml blue swing-top bottle bought at Julio's, Westboro, MA. 2005.

Bottle opens with nary a pop. Ominous. Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" uneven tan head above the murky, reddish dark brown brew. Head quickly vaporizes, leaving some bubbles around the rim, and minimal lacing. Aroma is dominated by the alcohol, with numerous flashes of various flavors underneath. Taste is not impressive, bitter caramel with lots of booziness. Mouthfeel is bitter and very low in carbonation, and just overall not easy to get down, and drinkability is pretty limited as well.

Hopefully this was a bad bottle, I will have to revisit and see. At this point, reminds me of Sam Adams Triple Bock, and that's kind of scary to me.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.82/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

(2006 Bottle - 11/07)

Appearance: Pours a filthy-looking, dark brown body with a small, bubbly off-white head. Truly, a grody sight.

Smell: Aroma of charred wood, dark malts, prunes, pine, and brown sugar.

Taste: Starts with a subtle brown sugar sweetness and dark maltiness that's trampled by a brash bourbon flavor along with notes of pine, ash-covered wood, and dash of soy. The flavors just don't mesh well at all. Plenty of hop bitterness in the sour, fusel alcohol finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: I didn't really dig this back in '06 and I'm not diggin' it now. Some breweries come up aces in their bourbon barrel aging, others just make a mess.

12-09-08 Update!

If I am to believe this little yellow sticker, this was Bottled in 2006. I did NOT enjoy it a year, but, who knows, maybe things are finally looking UP for the Old Marley Barleywine.

Appearance: Pours a murky, brown body with no real head beyond the few bubbles coaxed out by a heavy, hopeful pour.

Smell: Malty nose smelling of brown sugar, dark caramel, hot chocolate mix, and the notes given off by the barrel aging: vanilla and toasted oak.

Taste: Loads of charred, toasted wood in the taste with the caramel, brown sugar malt flavors trying to tip-toe around. Starting to show just a bit of oxidization. Spicy, piney, earthy hops with a fair amount of bitterness remaining. Again, this still rides out into the still hot, burning finish. 2009 maybe?

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Zilch on the carbonation front.

Drinkability: Well, it's gotten a little bit better since last year and the two years since bottling, but not by much.

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

500ml cobalt blue flip-top (first commercial brew I've seen in one of these) poured into a cervoise, Old Marley is a very dark ruddy brown, which even with an aggressive pour yields only a large bubbled, quickly settling tan collar that leaves scattered lace. No date that I can find on the label or flip-top, but I just bought it in Boston the other day and assume it's from last winter, or a recent batch if it's a year-rounder.

Smell is very strong and rich, and initially had me fearing the first sip, as it's pretty heavy on the booze. As it opens up, more chocolate and caramel, perhaps a hint of vanilla, but really more bourbon then anything else from the barrel aging.

Taste is thankfully, smoother and pretty tasty, with the booze on the nose well pretty well hidden by the richness of the malt, savor for the dry finish, with alcohol vapors lingering on the breath. Not as sweet as most English BWs, with the hoppiness mainly in the firm bitterness, this ones all about the darker malts, although not roasty or anything. Even though it looks like a Porter, it's definitely not, although for some reason I'd probably think of it as and olde ale more then a barlywine. I don't get any of the smokiness or vanilla from the bourbon barrel referenced on the labor, but I do get strait bourbon notes, like wet barrels. Either way, it's ok but not terribly exciting.

Mouthfeel is slick, not as heavy as it looks though, but basically flat.

Drinkability is ok, but it could use some time for the booziness to round out. While I don't like BWs this dark, I assume those malts would contribute to this aging very well over the long term. I would have been better off saving this for winter, but the bulky bottle seemed like a hassle (and possible leaker) for flying home. Overall, it maintains the streak highly rated New England brews I picked up on this trip that just didn't measure up. I must be getting really spoiled in Portland!

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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 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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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 Vancer
3.13/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From my 2007 Secret Santa cartdan, thanks again!

First time ever for a blue bottle - 500ml. Pours a mahogany brown, but a lifeless head and no lace what-so-ever.

Classic aroma of caramel, hops, spice and malt. Quaff is surprising also, cloying thick sweetness finishing with a medicine chocolate and vanilla. Thank goodness for the bourbon barrel aging to add some kick.

A true sipper, I still can't believe the sweetness of this brew - more hops next time!

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2006 Swing top, still sealed bottle.

A – Poured a rather dull looking dark brown liquid. Rather uninspiring as it had no head what so ever and show no real signes of left. It was rather opaque so I could not tell whether there was ample carbonation or not, however I doubt that there was much as I said earlier no head at all. No lace either. Overall this was rather uninspiring to look at, and really quite dull. Not what I would normally expect a barley wine to look like, or really what I have seen in the past.

S – Aroma was charged with alcohol and had a rather brandy like aroma to it. There were some detectable notes of sweetness to be found if you really looked, but again you had to really look. Some light caramel and perhaps some nuttiness in the back, but overall it was not really impressive on the nose either. I was frankly starting to get a little worried here and was not so sure how this was going to turn out.

T – Ugh, I really hate when I am disappointed by a brew, and this one really was letting me down. It was not very hot, I mean the abv was somewhat hidden inside, but the bidy was just lifeless. Some underlying hop notes could be found, and there was a decent amount of sweetness to it iff you looked, but taken as a whole, it was just not that impressive. The flavors were toned down far to much for it to really stand out, and the aftertaste was kinda stale. Bready, with a touch of brandy mixed in. This was really not going well here.

M – Very flat here, to be honest one of the flattest mouthfeels I have had in a while. There was just no life to this, no body at all. It was an uncarbonated, thin mess. Ok, so it was not that bad, but still, I expected a bit better here, especially from the brewer, but I just do not know what it was about this one, it just was totally and completely flat and lifeless. A little thin as well. A barleywine should fill you up, it should be almost a meal sometimes, and this was liked a hopped up thin ale, just no where near as robust as I would have thought that it would be.

D – Not very good. I really struggled through 500ml on this one. It just was not bringing anything to the table. It wasn’t that it was too strong, and it was the lack of body, of really full flavor that hurt this one here the most. I just could not get past that. I wish it had just a little more to it and it would have been nice, but I have to be honest I am just really not a fan here.

Overall I was not impressed. I know there are some out there that really love this, and maybe I just got a bad bottle, but it was just not good. There is really no way I would try and track this down again as it really just did nothing for me. If someone has some out there and think I may have just gotten a bad one, by all means please send me one and let me re try this as it really should have been better then it was.

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Photo of mcallister
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Very dark mahagony in color. A odd shade of tan/scarlet head appears and fades at a moderate rate. Very spotty lacing.

Thick with chewy toffee malt and brown sugar, hints of maple, and caramel, a flowery hoppy aroma is noticeable as well as cinnamon and a very subtle freshly ground nutmeg and creamy vanilla.

Fig, raisin, brown sugar, toffee, big malt, maple, hints of alcohol, vanilla, and toasted oak. The finish is a huge blast of floral hops that devour the palate and leave a unpleasant finish that goes on a while. This is a very complex barleywine but the problem is it lacks balance. I would have preferred this to be more english in style with less hops.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I think the brewery is to blame for what was wrong with this beer. It had one of those awful swing tops on it and I am blamming this for the complete lack of CO2 and possible begginings of oxidation. There was a sticker on the top that said 2006.

The beer poured a murky brown/red color with absolutely no head. The color it self wasn't bad but it was very hazy.

The smell and taste were very mild to say the least. I can appreciate a good english barleywine but I was confused by this one. The smell is of aged malt and a touch of cardboard (hence my remarks of the onset of oxidation). It wasn't offensive, actually it was mildly pleasant. No hop smell to speak of.

The taste was bitter and malty. No hop taste though. I enjoy a good aged barleywine as that sweet malt profile can really be quite good if it doesn't get contaminated. The bitterness on this one was harsh, either bacteria or more likely, the hops used. In the end it wasn't awful but it was like a bad homebrew.

It had a good thick body to it and was drinkable but not overly enjoyable.

After reading the reviews on this site I think I would like to try a new one. And hopefully it isn't over hyped like so many beers on this site are.

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Photo of radshoesbro
3.17/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

500 mL bottle with a swing top. bottled in 2005 on top.

a - muddy brown with a poor head. didn't leave much lacing.

s - alcohol, mints and hints of prune or raisins. the nose is similar to creation (the beer not the act).

t -'s offical! i don't like barleywines! now that i've offically discovered that i'll review this to the best of my ability. first off, i don't like this taste, it's to overpowering. it has a bit hit of alcohol with some grains and it leaves a very bad hop bitterness in the finish.

m - this is the opposite of smooth! quite tannic as well.

d - sip this one! strong taste with a strong ABV.

i'm really bummed cause this is the first hooker that i haven't liked.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.2/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not sure if this is the current or a prior years release. no dates on the bottle. While I dig the blue swingtop bottle, my review is based solely on the brew itself.

A - muddy, murky dark brown with a small trickle of off-white lacing.
S - dark ripe fruits, burnt malts/harsh bitter notes with underlying bourbon, oak and vanilla
T - more or less as it smells. Seems to have been heavily hopped and some of that edge is taken off by the barrel aging. The initial aroma and first quarter of the glass have a harsh burnt / overboiled harsh hop taste that gradually mellows out.
M - medium to full bodied, mildy carbonated
D - I bought 2 since it's a bit of a haul to get to the brewery. Definitely one in a session. While it mellowed out over the course of the glass, it was a bit tough to approach for a while.

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Photo of geexploitation
3.2/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2007 bottling -- this edition of Old Marley, according to the brewery rep, was made using second fill (beer-wise) bourbon barrels, which means the wood notes will be lesser than last years' version. Pours a very pretty chestnut brown with tinges of ruby when held to the light. The head is thin and fades to a collar quickly. The smell is pretty tame, with some light English, yeasty fruit notes, but the main element here is a sourish, winey smell. That smell carries over into the taste, where that thin, winey note composes the finish. Otherwise there are very sweet, marshmallowy malts at the beginning, but the biggest note, unfortunately, is that winey unpleasantness. Mouthfeel is quite thick and rather still, with some stickiness. Overall, this is a beer that is obviously helped by the bourbon barrel aging it had in 2006. We'll see how this one ages, but for now it's showing some weaknesses without the oak influence.

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Photo of xgrigorix
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Half liter cobalt blue swing top bottle. Cap is sealed with tape - printed with the words "Bottled in 2005."

Deep chestnut hue. Topped by a thin beige head.

Nose is full of tobacco leaf hop aromas. Taste is slightly smokey, green, with raw hop leaf flavours, & some grapefruit pith. Full bodied, smooth, gentle carbonation. Not impressed.

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Photo of counselor
3.33/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a problem offering, some off flavros, Not as up front as some of the other premium barleywines, subdued and subtle - nothing wowish here to make me remember the beer - never the less a decent brew on a cold rainy day. Deep dark reddish color with a thin head. The body was a little thin, slidng past the gums with alcohol and hop notes. Spices, cloves, pepper notes with alcohol flavors dominated. Some off flavors of soap and wood - I wonder if this is right - clean glass? - yes. just something off about this beer that doesn't make it bad, just makes me wonder every once on a while..

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Photo of RunawayJim
3.34/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a beautiful dark blue 500 ml flip top bottle into a snifter (said "Bottled in 2006" though I bought it like 3 weeks ago). Beer pours a dark coppery brown color with no head and no visible carbonation. The appearance took a big hit because I expect some carbonation and at least a small head in my barleywines. This could be due to the aging.

Smell was of oaky vanilla mixed in with some alcohol and very slight fruitiness. A smoky scent was also present, though very light.

Taste was mostly the oaky vanilla that I was smelling (the label says it was aged in oak bourbon barrels for 1 month, though it tasted and smelled more like it spent 6 months in the barrels). There was a very slight fruitiness to the taste and a large malt sweetness. The beer was too sweet. I couldn't taste any hops. Again, this is all likely due to the aging.

Mouthfeel was nice and smooth and thick (it's a heavy sticky liquid). The beer is drinkable because it had a good flavor.

Notes: I don't know if I'd call this a barleywine. It's more of a strong ale as it lacked a lot of the common characteristics of a barleywine. I'd buy it again and drink it, but not when I'm expecting a barleywine. I found it a bit expensive for what it was. I'm going to guess that this is much better fresh when the hops flavors haven't disappeared. I'll re-review if I come across a fresher 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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Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine from Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.99 out of 5 with 208 ratings