Olde Bluehair Barley Wine
Big Sky Brewing Company

Olde Bluehair Barley WineOlde Bluehair Barley Wine
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Barleywine - American
Ranked #89
Ranked #6,254
4.04 | pDev: 10.89%
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States
Olde Bluehair Barley WineOlde Bluehair Barley Wine
Notes: 75 IBU
Reviews: 133 | Ratings: 363 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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BenHoppy from Michigan

5/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2015 vintage served in snifter @
room temperature:

one of the best beers I ever had with flavors of oak, bourbon, figs, prunes, black licorice, sugar cane, wet basement, leather, wet cardboard, molasses, toffee, chocolate, and brown sugar that reminded me an awful lot of JW Lee's but at a cheaper price.

Aug 19, 2019
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Avitra from Switzerland

4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Not to many dimensions but still quite nice. There is a lot of summer fruit here, peaches and apricots. A tiny little hop and a bit more but still little chocolate. A lot of different flavors in a soda feeling mouth but somehow the blend while move doesn't necessarily add up. Still pretty good

Jun 01, 2019
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bushbeer75 from Michigan

4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

poured from a 1pt. 9.3 fl. oz. caged and corked brown bottle - bottled 2015, 0619 of 3300

Big Sky Olde Bluehair poured a copper color and atop sat a 1 1/2-finger bubbly off-white head that held well. A fair amount of lacing was left on the walls of my snifter. The nose was surprisingly sweet [i.e., toffee], some light fruit, and a little alcohol. The upfront taste was of light fruit and a little sweet. Then there was a noticeable light hop presence - light for an American Barley Wine more like an English Barley Wine.. A light hint of bourbon was evident with a nice light [for the ABV] alcohol warming at the back of the palate. Mouth feel is full bodied. creamy and a little sticky.

This bottle of Olde Bluehair is approximately 4-years old and I am sure that age has smoothed out this high ABV Barley Wine - making it very drinkable. Nice job Big Sky Brewing.

Apr 05, 2019
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polloenfuego from Canada (NB)

4.06/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 bottle 367/3300

Pours a lovely copper gold with a slight amount of cloudiness. Nice thumb of off white head that lasts for days. Some nice lacing too. The smell is quite appealing with dried fruits, caramel malts, oak and mild bourbon. Taste has many of the elements of the nose, including a lesser caramel, raisin, some vanilla, and especially oak. The hops are present, but have, I suspect, subdued over the last couple of years. Feel is a little thinner than many barleywines I have had, but still medium fullness and lighter carbonation with a fairly hidden alcohol makes for a nice sipper.

My first beer from Big Sky, I am pleased that it was this 12% ABV monster. This is a good barleywine, but I think it may lost a step or two over the last couple of years.

Sep 30, 2017
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.72/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

$ 16.95/750 mL cork and cage
bottle including discount and tax ($ 0.630/oz) at Oppermann’s Cork ‘N’ Ale, Saginaw, MI.
2015 vintage bottle, 2463 of 3300, stored at 42 degrees and served at 60 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Aroma – caramel malt, a hint of oak. The caramel fades but lasts, the oak is ephemeral.
Head – average (Maximum 2.5 cm, aggressive pour), high density, off white to tan, good retention diminishing to a one to two mm ring and partial layer. Head retraction leaves some clots and scars of tiny-bubbled lacing.
Lacing – other than that from the initial head retraction, none.
Body – medium brown, initially opaque. Chill haze lessens and the opaqueness diminishes to translucence.
Flavor – initially, caramel and toffee, sweet, followed by an alcohol burn. Allowing it to warm in my mouth releases massive carbonation but otherwise doesn’t affect the flavor. The bourbon barrel is conspicuous by its absence. No hops, no diacetyl.
Palate – medium to full, creamy, soft carbonation.

Not the best barley wine I’ve had, but still very drinkable.

Appearance 3.25, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 3.75, Palate 3.75, Overall 3.75.

Sep 03, 2017
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Marius from Netherlands

3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared at August THT. Vintage 2012. Clear dark ruby pour with no head. Notes of dried fruit, sherry, cherries, raisins. Medium body, smooth texture.

Dec 11, 2016
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REVZEB from Illinois

3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Classic barleywine hops and malts meld with the boozy bourbon in a powerful way. Wood chips are pervasive in taste as well. The feel is a bit hot, but perhaps aging would help this.

Jul 27, 2016
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stakem from Pennsylvania

3.84/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml corked and caged bottle. Vintage 2010 bottle number 1640 out of 3000. The brew appears a dark chestnut to burnt copper color with khaki head. Some strings of patchy lace cling to the glass.

Smells toasty like molasses with plenty of caramelized sugar character before some oak and cork-like oxidation and brett become evident. Something along the lines of orange rind hoppiness is present as it warms up.

Tastes oaky and sweet like caramelized suagrs. Mostly molasses with an aftertaste of cork and tannic character. As it breaths, even more cork character emerges which I cant really tell if thats some strange byproduct of the barrel aging, cork taint or brett innoculation. Its not displeasing...but its there.

This is medium in body with modest carbonation. Overall pretty interesting.

Feb 19, 2016
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.95/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Brown pour, barely produced some bubbles but not a head. Aroma hit with booziness, vanilla, toffee, brown malt, wood and bourbon notes.

Taste while strong, it was something I got acclimated to as the beer went on. Carbonation was actually just fine, it just looked like shit when poured. Bourbon and vanilla notes play well together. Toffee is smooth, supplemented by some caramel sweetness. Going cracker jack on this one. Similar to Fruet.

These are affordably priced too, which is always nice. Not a bad choice to have in the cellar. Not gonna buy a case, but wouldn't mind always having at least one of these around to crack open every other year or so.

Jan 29, 2016
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stevoj from Idaho

4.01/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle at Bar Gernika, Wow! Alcohol burn hits you at first sniff. Dark copper body with minimal head. Heavy malt profile with alcohol warmth. True winter warmer.

Jan 15, 2016
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Bung from Michigan

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap, 2013. No carbonation issues as some have noted. Toffee, caramel, dark fruits. Hops are a bit muted, but still a burnt brown sugar bitterness. Solid body, enough stickkiness.
Rock solid standard American Barleywine. It also seems like some may have reviewed the barrel aged one here, as there is no barrel presence in this one.

Dec 24, 2015
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crob3888 from California

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an orange-red with a small off white head; smell and taste are very complex and dominated by sweet toffee, caramel, dark fruits, and boozy fruit. Chewy and full bodied. Really good barleywine.

Sep 27, 2015
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pat61 from Minnesota

4.66/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours hazy amber brown with bubbles clinging to every surface of the glass forming a 2” cream to light tan frothy, clingy foam collar that stubbornly persists. S: Bourbon, vanilla, rich caramel malt. T: This is a liquid caramel roll soaked in bourbon. Big caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, dark dried fruit, flavors wrapped in bourbon. F: Big chewy, well carbonated beer with an outrageously creamy texture. O: An enormous beer that is almost too comfortable for its own good.

Jul 06, 2015
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.96/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

very cool mix of english and american barleywine styles in this rarity from big sky. its well hoppy, more than just bitter too, but leafy green and fresh on the hop side of things, more so than most other examples of the style i can think of. its also still primarily grain flavored, as it should be, with rich caramels, butterscotches, toffees, and nuttiness all the way through, and its still quite sweet with a floral honey vibe lightening it up a bit in the middle. cool that it can be both, and i guess its more american because it lacks the english yeast profile, but this yeast is not without flavor, its biscuity like a pancake batter, and it works super well with the sweet grain in here. medium bodied is all, which i suppose lends drinkability to a huge beer, but the booze is well hidden even though its not thick, and it kind of sneaks up on me pretty fast. i have never seen bottles of this for sale, was lucky enough to have it on tap at backcountry pizza in boulder, who seems to always be able to assemble a tap list of scarce beers. one of the better big sky beers out there, and one of the better barleywines i have had in the early going here in 2015. love the hoppiness to it, a great and enormous balance. clever brew.

Mar 21, 2015
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stortore from Illinois

4.21/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle 1104/3750. Seeing a lot of negative reviews for 2013, my bottle seemed like what you should expect when you pop the cork.

Big head for the style, lots of carbonation. Aroma is complex, bready at the opening, malty, getting some black pepper. Taste is oaky, malty, a little boozy. Some hop bitterness on the back end. Good body.

Might not be the best BBA Barleywine you'll ever have, but it had a kind of unique flavor, very tasty. A very enjoyable effort.

Jan 17, 2015
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infinitebruner from Arkansas

3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

November 13, 2014

750 ml bottle, snifter

A – Dark amber, copper, very high clarity. An inch-plus of off-white, slightly tannish foam head, very high retention.

S – Dark sweet raisin bread, caramel sauce, melted warm toffee. Perhaps some fruity hop aroma far in the background, but malt and sugar are prominent. Vanilla flan, mild oak, sherry, and some warm alcohol round out the nose.

T – Golden raisins and light toffee, and warm, thick, dense honey bread. Vanilla is high, some mild oaky character. Hops are fruity and herbal but mostly show as bitterness. The bitterness becomes a bit strong as the beer warms, to the point that it overwhelms the all of the amazing malt character.

M – Very juicy up front, some sudsy carbonation, and a relatively dry finish. A nice level of bitterness at provides a counter to the prominent malty sweetness, before completely taking over the beer. A very mild alcohol burn.

O – Barrel aging seems to be coming off a bit harsh, and the hops stay way too prominent. Good beer but needs some maturing.

Nov 20, 2014
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matt_duthie from Michigan

4.67/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Found this randomly and decided to suck it up and try it, even at a hefty $17.99 for a 750ml cork/caged bottle. 2012 vintage (one of 3240, wooo!) But I've always been a sucker for Big Sky and for barleywines (especially barrel aged...). Finished some tedious machining and decided to crack it open.

A: Dark translucent copper with nice thick clingy lacing and a moderately large head on the pour. Lively carbonation, generally pretty darn nice looking beer.

S: Bourbon, oak, a little vanilla, more as it warms, sweet dark fruits, toffee, some citrus hops coming through. About what I'd expected (hoped for...)

T: Follows the smell, with the bourbon always there but never overly harsh. Sweet caramel and toffee, more of the date/fig/raisin, vanilla is there just enough, and then some "American" hop bitterness that reminds you this is no English barleywine.

F: Smoother and easier-sipping than it should be at 12%. Medium to medium-heavy mouthfeel with just the right amount of carbonation to keep you coming back for another sip after letting the last one linger.

O: Maybe they still have that second bottle so I can try and hang onto it for more than two weeks like I did with this one...

Oct 15, 2014
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SomethingClever from Ohio

4.4/5  rDev +8.9%

A: Amber in color light pour soft head

S: smells a lot like an English ipa some rye and overall fairly earthy slightly herbal

T: it almost tastes like rust smells,malty, rye is there more herbal floral hops

M: medium to light mouthfeeel nothing noteworthy pretty straightforward

 O: a solid beer nothing really stands out on this beer not even the rye Southern Tier makes straightforward solid beers like GLBC but unless it's the backwater series nothing stands out 

Cork and cage

A: murky brown fairly big head for a barrel aged beer pours like a Belgian lively carbonation. Second pour warmer man the head was huge 

S: you get that sharp bitter hop smell and malts get a hint of bourbon the barrel you smell the base beer through the bourbon

T:get the bourbon taste but none of the vanilla toffee or tobacco just the bourbon harsh taste and the hops of the barleywine and the bitterness this might be bourbon barrel but the beer still shines through. As the beer warms the harshness of the bourbon fades and you do end up getting some vanilla 

M: very lively carbonation on the tongue lingers on the tongue quite nicely like the hops sit there oozing with bourbon

O: never had an American barleywine aged in bourbon barrels it's good but I don't think the barrel is  not complimenting the beer but clashing with it. Otherwise it's not too bad a lot lot smoother as it warms. Still I'm not sure this style benefits from barrel aging 

Oct 14, 2014
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archyquaffer from Montana

3.25/5  rDev -19.6%

Poured from a corked 750 ml bottle into a schooner glass. A moderate pour produces a big, billowing sticky head of about 2 inches. I'm forced to sip the foam for awhile. The beer is a hazy, fairly pale brown, with a swirling gusher of carbonation.

I perceive a nuttiness and vanilla in the aroma, but also a rather rank smell that detracts a bit. The beer is quite bitter, even astringent, with loads of earthy hops and tannins. A boozy warming sets in almost immediately. I'm not getting a lot of estery flavors- it could use some. In particular, a desired dark fruit quality seems mostly absent. Very little caramel qualities either. The flavors simply don't mesh well, and the alcohol is harsh.

This bottle is vintage 2013, imbibed at the end of September 2014. Perhaps it could use some additional aging. As it is, this beer is pretty tough to drink- it 's extremely bitter, with some rather unsavory off-flavors and aromas.

Edit: the above review was perhaps too dependent on initial impressions. The weird flavors do mellow some as the beer progresses. I increased the score by a quarter point.

Sep 30, 2014
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leaddog from Canada (AB)

3.37/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2013 vintage 10.2%. Bottle # 1665 of 3750.

Appearance - Pours a deep amber hue with three fingers of fluffy cream-coloured head.

Smell - Dark fruit (plum), earthy hops, oak/woodiness, alcohol, caramel.

Taste - Flavours of dark fruit, oak and alcohol. Touch of sweetness from caramel. A little bit of earthy hops, but not as much as I was expecting.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall - A so-so American barleywine. There is a good malt presence along with the woodiness from the oak barrels, but I was hoping for more assertive bitterness from the hops. This one is a definitely a sipper as the ABV is quite noticeable.

Sep 27, 2014
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biboergosum from Canada (AB)

3.32/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

750ml caged and corked bottle, 10.2% ABV. 2014 is already getting long in the tooth, so I guess it's OK to pop this 2013 vintage edition of Olde Bluehair.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, medium copper amber colour, with a teeming, barely contained tower of puffy, thinly foamy, and bubbly tan head, which leaves some patchy and sudsy layered cloud formation lace around the glass as it lazily recedes. Not your daddy's barleywine, so far.

It smells of acrid Bourbon barrels - more musty staves and over-proof booze than caramel, vanilla, or spice - reduced brown sugar, edgy molasses, black pepper, gritty pale and toffee-accent malt, dead yeast, wet leather, chewing tobacco, gritty earthy hops, and a swirling, barely restrained booziness. The taste is a lot more rounded, and yet plain - understated grainy caramel malt, still rather woody barrel essences - raw wood (natch), metallic vanilla, muted spice - powdered chalk, weird, fairly unattractive phenols, and herbal, weedy hops - the kind that seem beholden to the not so well masked alcohol.

The bubbles are pretty heady and pervasive throughout in their overwrought frothiness, the body a bit on the lee side of actual medium weight, and smooth, sure, but assailed from unseen vectors on all sides. It finishes mostly dry, the woodiness finally laying waste and claim to victory, all others merely book-ended by the lingering, as ever was, alcohol.

Ok, so, what we have here, is a seemingly and strangely bottle-reconditioned (the froth, she don't lie) barleywine, of English-style extraction (the hops apparently just incapable of speaking for themselves), with some of the titular old-lady's, um, blue-haired musty crustiness resplendent everywhere. Nah, not for me, not for me at all.

Sep 03, 2014
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DucksFanLV from Nevada

4.02/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle # 1634 of 3240
purchased at total wine.

drank from a chilled goblet rogue barley wine glass.

sound: the fun pop of a cork that we so rarely hear as beer drinkers

sight: this beer has a cloudy brownish red look with an off white head. other reviewers complained of an abundance of head which i didnt experience, maybe because of the specialized glass? beautiful cascade lacing on my glass

mouth feel: light feel, not thick at all, if anything, a little too thin.

smell: bourbon with a hint of something i couldnt detect, but it was magical.

taste: this tastes, to me, like what a barley wine should taste like. i tasted vanilla and oak along with the brisk crisp flavor or fruit.

review: this barley wine is pretty legit. as with most barley wines, by the time i get thru half the bottle i've got angels dancing behind my eyeballs, which is very pleasing. this beer, as with most good beers, reminds me of times in my past which were fun and memorable. if anyone is on the fence about trying it, i would say go for it, you;ve got nothing to lose. if they have more at total wine, i will probably buy teo bottles. one to drink, and one to stick way back in the back of the pantry for about a year to see how it goes later on. enjoy!

Jun 04, 2014
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Rifugium from North Dakota

2.76/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle shared at a recent tasting, not sure who brought it. Also not sure of the vintage or number, etc.

This was a very weird barleywine, and I don't really know what was going on with this bottle. Possibly infected. The cap came off with a massive *hiss* and after everyone poured out their share of tan foam, even more foam filled half the bottle as it sat there on the table. I can't say I've ever seen a "barleywine" that carbonated.

Once the massive head settled to a reasonable level, the liquid below it was a dull chestnut brown color, with a gooey murkiness to it. In the nose, phenols and some herbal bitterness, lesser notes of caramel and yeast. The taste was definitely weird and off, but I actually didn't think it was completely undrinkable. There were flavors of caramel and bready (bretty?) yeast, cooking sherry, and actually lots of herbal hops. Not very good, and possibly infected, but as I said, I didn't find it undrinkable, surprisingly. Did I go back for more after my little sampler? Nope. Light-medium body and pretty thinned out in the mouthfeel. Overall, this beer was a huge mess, and not at all what I like in my barleywines.

May 18, 2014
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jesseejames from Montana

4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a sample glass at the brewery and was impressed enough to take home a growler. It has a wonderful reddish brown color with a two to three finger off white head. The aroma of fine barley malt is immediately apparent. It tastes better than it smells too and has a nice balance of malt to hops. All in all a great barley wine. Well Done!!

Apr 25, 2014
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arizcards from North Carolina

4.42/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 750ml caged and cork 2012 bottle # 554 of 3240 from Total Wine in early February for $12.99.

Beer poured brown with a nice off white head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is bourbon, oak, and vanilla.

Taste is light bourbon, vanilla, light fruits, balance nicely by northwest hops.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly smooth. Despite the high ABV the booze burn is non-existent lending a nice smooth feel.

Overall this brew is awesome. Big Sky IMHO has nailed down the length of time to barrel age their brews...not to overly boozy but enough barrel flavor to blend nicely with the base beer. This rates right up there with Firestone Walker's Sucaba.

Apr 19, 2014
Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 363 ratings