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 Sammy
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good head that dissipitates. Wood was not too bold, so it mellowed the taste. Sweetness, mollasses, boozy, hoppy, fig, drop smoke and vanilla, smooth sipper. Thanks Casey(DYC17Soccer)I will have to try another annual edition. Nine months' later had the 2006 and was excellent for a fresh barleywine, very porterish, hoppy, not too sweet, very drinkable, wood mollasses there.

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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 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 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 NeroFiddled
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

For whatever reason, I was expecting something a little more English from this. Perhaps it's the name, as I'm assuming it refers to Scrooge's business partner in Dicken's "A Christmas Carol". And the fact that it fits so nicely in an Imperial pint glass, well... ... ... ;)

But this is so much more of an American barleywine than anything English in nature (although we do need to tip our hats to them in credit). And sure there are grassy and floral Goldings notes floating here and there, and perhaps even some mineralish and earthy Fuggles, but the citrusy and piney hops really dominate - they stand out within the whole brew. There are some very nice malty and yeasty characteristics going on too, including notes of caramel, raisin, prune/plum, fig, tangerine, apple, red grape, dull dark chocolate (especially in the finish), and some alcoholic spice. In fact, the alcohol (in combination with the malt) also lends some tropical fruit to the nose with notes of coconut, tangerine, and perhaps, some papaya.

It's full, but not overdone. Rich without becoming cloying. Fruity and malty, malty and fruity. Splashed with alcohol, but otherwise very nicely balanced. I've waited a long time to try this bird, and by God, it's certainly delivered the Christmas goose! Supple and smooth, easily accessible - mmmm, mmmm! The head could be better, but at 10% that's to be expected; perhaps a little less "alcohol", but... Probably worth trying just to be sure that you really, really don't like it :)

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Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of oberon
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had been looking forward to trying this for sometime maybe a bit of a letdown,great pour into an imperial pint glass a mix of deep amber and ruddy brown a nice tight one finger tan colored head atop.Great mix of juicy sweet cherry and resiny hop in the nose with an underlying vanilla/oak element as well that became more pervasive as it warmed.Flavors started out great that big splash of cherry hits up front with a noticeable brown sugar note the hops come through with a decent pine punch,the big wood and vanilla flavors come through in the finish and get bigger as you drink more to the point where the oaky flavors become a bit much after awhile.I think the aging in the oak barrels maybe added to much to this beer I love the malt to hop complexities but I could have done without so much oak and vanilla,still pretty damn good.

I will say it did have great sleep inducing qualities it knocked me right out and it was quite warming as well.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500mL bottle (bottled in 2006) into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep brown color, absolutely no head or lace.

S: The aroma is of brown sugar, caramelized malt and alcohol. I was expecting more hops in this one, so in that regard I was a little disappointed.

T: The taste starts out with brown sugar & dark fruits with a high malt presence. A big alcohol burn follows. There’s a little bit of hops, but not quite the amount that differentiates an ABW from an EBW. Even as the beer warmed, the hops didn’t get any stronger. After-taste is very sweet.

M: Crisp and quite smooth despite the high ABV, medium-to-heavy body, very light carbonation, finish is a little sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down easy for a beer with 10.00% ABV, but this one is definitely a sipper. Although I can appreciate the craftsmanship of this beer, I wouldn’t purchase it again.

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Photo of russpowell
3.69/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cheers to ppotrias for this one!

Pours an effervescent chestnut with minimal brown head. Bubbles cling to the side of my Kostrizer chalice. they clear after this warms then this takes on a viscous appearance. Average head retention & lacing, murks up a bit at the bottom of the bottle

S: Slight toasted malt & leafy hops. Vanilla surfaces as this warms

T: Vanilla & oakyness up front along with dryness & leafy hops. Hop tea & figs show as this warms, along with some booze. Finishes figgy with much dryness, some raisins & more leafy hops; plus whispers of bourbon & maybe cherry

MF: Medium bodied with some wetness. plus moderate carbonation

Drinks very easy for the style & ABV, could easily pass for an English BW as well. Not bad. Wish more folks would use the blue glass, pretty & functional!

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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 BuckeyeNation
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ruby that becomes bright cherry when backlit (top half of the bottle, in a snifter). Hugely murky dark tawny with murky orange highlights when backlit (bottom half of the bottle, in a pint glass). This is an interesting experiment; Old Marley looks like two different beers. The snifter contains a thinning film of light caramel colored foam with no lace on the glass itself. The pint glass contains a fat one finger cap of beautiful, chunky, rough-hewn, similarly colored foam with a thick, slurred collar. Both add up to the same thing: magnificence.

The nose is more than solid and consists of sweet caramel, toffee pudding, cherries, berries and bourbon. There's more alcohol emanating from the snifter, perhaps because the aroma is being concentrated by the shape of the glass. The aroma coming from the pint glass is more oaky, more vanilla-like and smells more like fine leather. In short, it's more rich and refined.

Wow, this is amazing, it's almost like I'm tasting two different beers rather than different bottle layers of the same beer. The snifter beer (top half) is more alcoholic, in the poorly integrated sense. It tastes overwhelmingly of cherries macerated in vodka, is less expansive and less interesting. The pint glass beer (bottom half) is more complex, deeper and more interesting.

The bottom of the bottle barleywine tastes of rich caramel malt, leather, tobacco, cocoa, dark butterscotch and orange zest. It's much less boozy and is the better for it. It's also sweeter and softer in the mouth. The mouthfeel on neither portion is as big as I like for beer of this style. I require more chewiness and a bit more viscosity to be truly impressed.

I'm not sure what made me split this bottle of Old Marley '04 into two halves and analyze them separately; it just sort of happened. I'm amazed at the differences though; differences that have to be due to the position of the two halves in the original bottle.

Had I used just the single glass, I would undoubtedly have said how much the beer changed with warming, etc. The die would have been cast regarding first impressions since the first pour was obviously inferior to the last pour. This was an interesting experiment, but I doubt I'll do it again.

Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine 2004 is a good example of the American barleywine style. It still tastes young in terms of the alcohol, yet there isn't much hoppiness left (if much was present to begin with). Further aging might have done it some good, but then again, it might not have. It's still an enjoyable sipper and I'm going to alternate samples from the snifter with samples from the pint glass until every last drop has met its fate in my rapidly warming belly. Thanks to far333 for the bottle.

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Photo of Jason
4.02/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 16.9 oz cobalt blue swing-top bottle with a vintage bottling year of 2004 taped over the top.

Appearance: Web-like tan lacing creeps down the glass, decent clarity with a deep brick red hue.

Smell: Rich and ripe dark fruity esters, hints of prune, fig and caramelized sugar. Very sweet and malty as well.

Taste & Mouth Feel: Semi-smooth and slick on the palate with a full and slightly syrupy body. Mild alcohol gets lost in the lightly pungent hop and sweet malt mix. Flavors seem to blend together very well.

Drinkability & Notes: This is without a doubt a sipping barleywine, please by all means drink it at cellar temp as the flavors and aroma really do come out. A lovely brew to drink now or possibly cellar for another year.

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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 rab53
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of Billolick
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Classy blue bottle with swing top and slim sticker that tells you this is the 2005, packaging points. Pours dark mahogony, minor tan head and thin whispy lacing. Nose is smokey rum. This is a thick, warming concoction. Layers of malt goodness in counter point with a resiny crunch of hops. Rum, vanilla, smoke, slight tropical sweetness somehow squeezed into the finish. Classy sipper. Rich and very tasty, did somebody say "night cap"

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Photo of JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

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

Photo of GClarkage
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

06/24/06- Received in a trade with SethB. I have a 2004 vintage in waiting.

Presentation- Vintage 2006, 16.9oz bottle poured into my Duvel tulip. Lovely cobalt blue colored bottle. Assumed it was brown until I emptied it and turned on the lights and saw this glorious bottle. Will be going up on my wall of credible empties.

Appearance- Milky and thick colored brown pour. Like a watery melted hershey bar. The most mimimal of head, slight rim of off white fluff. Lacing was very skimpy as well. I haven't really found a textbook look for a barleywine, so I won't hold against it too much.

Smell- Quite the scented one. All chocolate in this one. Well, some pretty roasted malt, but for the most part chocolate (milky) and more chocolate. Some other very nice accompaning scent, but can't quite make out what it is. Maybe a booze soaked fruit of some kind?

Taste- Drink this one at room temp. Chocolate malted flavor comes out sooo nicely after it hit's the mid 50's or so. Lightly hopped taste, brandy and chocolate flavors combine nicely.

Mouthfeel- Very light on the carbonation. Pretty silky smooth as well.

Drinkability- One of the better barleywines I have had for sure. If you are a chocolate fan, try this one least the 2006 version.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to TheManiacalOne for this one.

2006 Vintage Swing Top Bottle/Blue

Poured into a chalice a nice clean dark brown color, not much carbonation, no head or sticky lacing. The nose is roasted malts, slight hops, toffee, chocolate, and caramel. The taste is a nice roasted malt, slightly bitter, lots of toffee/chocolate/caramel. The alcohol is warming and hidden very well, slight dry/bitter finish. Medium body. Very drinkable, another awesome brew from TH, highly recommended.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Marley was dead, to begin with, dead as a doornail ...or so I thought,(but what's so dead about a doornail?)and, yet, he's here in this bottle, waiting for me to drink him...funny, huh?
Dark crimson color, nice, if thin, layer of beigish foam on top.
Nose bespeaks of everything I want out of a barleywine, dark fruits, cherries, berries, currants, plums, , with a wicked, alcoholic twist, mingled with maple, spices, anise, more...beautiful....marvelously complex....oh, very nice.
Drink now, if I dare...Big, fierce, buzzing blast on the palate, big hoppiness, huge fruitiness, rich maltiness, no, "rich" doesn't qualify, it's a tonnage going on here. Tasty, tasty, tasty!
This does wonderful things in the month, sets it ablaze and soothes again with delicious flavors. Has great potential to enter my pantheon of favorite, it's a shoo-in, f'gettaboutit!
Plentiful flavor, not too punishing in alcoholic strength, very warm, with a full body, and a long, fruity, toasty finish, this is a winner. Classic barleywine, all the way!
Happily, I've got a couple bottles (thanks sulldaddy and wyllder!), and can stash one away for a rainy day!

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Photo of Gavage
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: nice looking flip top blue bottle. Pours a dark brown color with only a spot or two of surface foam. No lacing develops during the session.

Smell: big malt and caramel candy sweetness with hints of vanilla and earthiness. Quite bold for a barleywine.

Taste: the nose warns the tastebuds that this will be a big flavored beer and it is. Caramel and malt sweetness is big, but there is some softer chocolate and earthy tones in the background. Decent bitterness and very present alcohol warming rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: heavy bodied beer. Smooth from start to finish and warming in the mouth. Finish moves towards syrupy consistancy. Long aftertaste as the flavors glue themselves to your tongue.

Drinkability: nice for a barleywine. The flip top bottle is great to have a few ounces in a session allowing you to have another style if you wish, unlike those bomber bottles which forces a long barleywine session.

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Photo of tempest
4.4/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2005 Vintage, picked up in Newport, RI in 2006.

I was immediately hit by how silky smooth and drinkable this was. There's a wonderful vanilla oak and roasted grains (almost smoky) that comes to the front. That's followed by subtle malts and hops which are good, but don't quite stand up to the oak. I guess its a little unfortunate that it doesn't end as well as it starts. Rather, I guess it points out how unfortunate it is I don't have a second bottle.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.55/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer, and I'm surprised to see so many people hating on it. Perhaps there are some consistency issues? I'm revieewing a 2006 I opened about a month ago and took notes on. haven't had the 2007 yet, so can't say how it compares. Pours a dark, murkey brown with a big offwhite headthat fades to a thin cap and leaves some great lacing. The smell has warming alcohol, brandied fruit, sweet malt, and smells lightly spiced at the end. The taste starts with rich brandied fruit, sweet malt, vanilla, and cherries, followed by a long earthy hop bitterness and some oaky tannins. Delightful. The mouthfeel is big, sweet, creamy, smooth, and with nice tannic structure. Delicious fireside digestif.

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Photo of WesWes
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a coudy brown color with a thick frothy tan head that fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a rich, burnt toffee scent that also boasts of caramel and chocolate malts. It has some smokey/earthy notes as well. The taste is great. It has a complex malt flavor that is smokey with loads of caramel notes. It has a nice bitter edge in the finish as well as a wonderful warming effect; very nice. The mouthfeel is awesome. This is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. I've never tried Thomas Hooker beers before. Thanks to my friend Tim for enlightening me on this one. Cheers!

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Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine from Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.99 out of 5 with 208 ratings