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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine | Big Sky Brewing Company

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Olde Bluehair Barley WineOlde Bluehair Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
75 IBU

Added by JohnGalt1 on 01-24-2009

For Trade:
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Reviews: 125 | Ratings: 343
Photo of Wasatch
4.83/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Silver Foil/Capped
Bottle 864 of 1800

Poured into a chalice a very nice amber color, very nice carbonation, this brew has probably the nicest head from a BWSA to date for me, huge two-finger plus creamy, thick light tan head, with tons of thick/creamy sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slight hop, slightly fruity (figs, plums, raisins), oaky. The taste is awesome, malty, with some hop notes, very nice touch of dark fruits and oak/bourbon. Medium body, goes down pretty smooth, ABV hidden very well (which is not high), but easy drinking. Very drinkable, really enjoying this one today, highly recommended.

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Photo of gueuzer
4.79/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

App- Mahogany with a lacy white head

Sm- Best barley wine aroma I've ever come across. Bourbon with plum pudding.

Ta- Phenomenal. Spot on oxidation notes coming through with toffee, raisins, stone fruits, mixed with a subtle bourbon and generous oak tones.

Ov- Drinks like a 10 yr old barleywine. great balance. Very hard to beat.

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Photo of pat61
4.66/5  rDev +16.8%
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.

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 91 out of 1800. Not sure of vintage.

Cellar temp bottle poured into a snifter. The beer pours arich mahogany hue, with just a hint of cloudiness in the beer. Minimal beige head foams up a cm or two and fades to an edge layer. Aroma is all malt with brownsugar and dark fruit (raisins and plums), I also get a bit of oak and a little booze. Maybe just a little grassy hop note.
First sip reveals an average body with minmal carbonation and smooth texture. The beer goes down very easy on each swallow.
Flavor is similar to the nose, with brown sugar and some fruit, a little toffee and some vanilla and oak on each swallow. There is a little warm booze mixed in but not enough to require sipping.
This seems to be more english style b-wine with the lack of hops and general sweetness, but the higher booze and some showing through make it American. A bit of a mix of some of the finer points of the style IMO.
I really like this brew and wish I had another one. Good stuff!

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Photo of Deuane
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle 1349 of 1800. Thanks to Kegatron for sharing this one!

A-Deep copper with a thin light tan head that hung on strong and left decent lace.

S-Sweet caramel, bourbon, vanilla and toasted coconut meld together into a sniff inducing intoxicating aroma.

T-Initial sweetness with nice bourbon notes a touch of earthy hop and a nice spicy bite in the finish. This one is very tasty. Notes of apricot and honey emerge with warming.

M-Medium bodied, super smooth and luscious. Good lingering flavours.

D-At 8.75% could this be deemed "light" for a barleywine? Well, no matter it is packed full of tasty flavours and an outstanding smoothness. I could enjoy this one all night long beside the fire!

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
4.52/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle, #3101 of 3240. Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a wonderful copper caramel color. with a nice 2.5 finger head. Head dissipates pretty quickly with minimal lacking on the glass. Very slight alcoholic legs present.

S: WOW, huge smack of the barrel right away. Smells like "fresh wood" (I'll leave that one alone). Huge barrel on the aroma though. Caramel malts, slight toffee coming in the backdrop.

T: Creamy toffee/caramel, some dark red cherries, with a nice sweet malt build.

M: Slight over carbonation, red cherry sweetness tingles and lingers on the tongue. Caramel candy sweetness coats the mouth with the spicy-ness (that right?) staying on the palate.

O: A fantastic BA Barleywine. One that I would put on the same playing field as sucaba. It's that good. Highly underrated brewery/BA program. ITs a highly limited brew, but if you come across it buy it. Its fantastic.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly murky red brown amber. Nice thick, long lasting off-white head with lacing. Nice presentation. Sweet malt, light fruit and oak aroma. Smells good. Sweet malt, dark and light fruit, bourbon and oak. Finishes sweet and oaky. Creamy body. An excellent barley wine.

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Photo of drpimento
4.49/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Whoa, this is some really good stuff and a gift from good ol' Paul B! Poured at a good temperature with a large, billowy, fluffy, light tan head that settled after a bit and no lace. Color is a slightly hazy amber red. Aroma is yeast, malt, dark ripe fruit, burnt sugar. Flavor's much like nose with bittersweet malt balanced very nicely with perfect carbonic tang. Body is perhaps the best I've ever had for a barley wine and despite its power, is quite drinkable with mouth filling textures accented by aggresive appropriate carbonation. Finish is like flavor, of average length, a little boozy, and tasty. Gracias por esta Paulo!!

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I decided to add this one to the database as a new beer in hopes that it will emerge as the single source for reviews of Olde Bluehair as opposed to having a bunch of different vintages under the same brewery.

750 green Champagne style bottle ... Picked up today at the Boise COOP for $12.49... No vintage year (I assume '08) given, but the bottle number is #793 of 1800. Label says it is aged for a minimum of 3 months in American Oak Bourbon Barrels. Front Label has an old grandma hoisting a tulip of beer while standing behind a walker.. 3 barrels are in the background.

Poured into my New Belgium snifter.... 3 finger head rises pretty quickly atop a crystal clear deeep ruby brew.. the head took probably 15 minutes to die back.. leaves nice lace with every sip.

The aroma is pretty hoppy.. but also fruity with emphasis on grassy/spicy hoppiness and a drying woody element...

The flavor is really pretty good.. alot of fruits.. apricot and strawberries immediately come to mind.. caramel and hints of bourbon that come across more as vanilla.. this has quite a bit of "wood" flavor as opposed to actual bourbon... sorta fruity on the finish with a little bit of EtOH.

The body is on the lighter side for the style.. carbonation is on the higher side.. but it is a small bubble kind that really doesn't distract too much.

Good beer that I can see getting a whole lot better with some age.. seems slightly rough around the edges, but not bad at all.. in fact it is very nice and very drinkable right now.

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Photo of ferrari29
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer poured from bottle into a Stone stemless 4 oz. tasting glass - 2010 Limited Edition

A - Brown maroon colored body; cloudy; two finger creme colored foam formed with a rocky head; thick poured looking body; floating sediment; no lacing formed on the side the glass

S - Bourbon, oatmeal; caramel malt back-end; some celery; subtle hints of anise; high ABV content; fig and dark fruit

T - Bourbon oak aged barrel taste; caramel; fantastic brown sugary blast; toffee; dry oak rinse finish; touch of fig, raisin and dark fruit at the end to finish off a great blend of flavors

M - Smooth; slightly chewy; effervescent and leaves a somewhat dry aftertaste

D - Awesome drink; great taste and smell; I love this stuff; don't pass it up if you have a chance to try a sip or two; goes down nice and smooth, I'll definitely have to try more beers from Big Sky, they impressed me with this batch

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Photo of hardy008
4.45/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage, number 2060 of 3000.

Pours a hazy caramel brown with a two finger light tan head with very good retention and nice lacing. The aroma has caramel, toffee, apricots, and vanilla.

Sweet flavor with caramel, toffee, apricots, honey, vanilla, oak, raisins, and light hop bitterness. Not much balance, as this is a sweet beer, but that is not a problem for me. I like this beer quite a bit.

Full bodied, chewy, smooth, and properly carbonated. Sweet aftertaste, and the alcohol is pretty well hidden for 10.50 %, but then again, I held onto this for a while before drinking it. I recommend trying this beer, if you get the chance.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.43/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one was bottle #1008 of 1800.

Big old silver foil wrapped and capped 750ML bottle. It pours a clear reddish brown with a large and growing head of foam. I have to take a sip just to get the foam down a bit. And again.

The smell is on the sweet side, ie big caramel malt reminding me of an English BWSA, with a light nose of bourbon. OK, not so light, but it's nice. Some dark fruit sneaks in and I'm going to say plums also some toffee. Nice nose without anything there to tell me that this is an American version of the style.

The taste starts off very sweet with the caramel malt and honey(yeah, it says so on the label but it's true) followed by the dark fruit(same as in smell), nice substantial but not overpowering bourbon flavours, and a light hop bitterness about mid palate that fades rapidly before the finish. I'm trying to decide whether this is hot or not and I figure, maybe a bit but it's not at all hard to take more sips. I bet with some age on it, this would be super good.

The mouthfeel is just under full and the carbonation is on the low end of medium. Whoah....getting some real warming now so I guess I figured right. ;^)
Head retention-excellent. Lacing-excellent.

Drinkability? Pretty potent for the abv as the warming continues to gain momentum but it's really a comforting warming. Nothing too wrong with that. Drinking fresh is a wonderful experience. Drinking an aged bottle could be ?

Big Sky continues to impress me and... I still think this should have been put in the English
Barleywine Style Ale category as it is very malt dominated. Try some if you see some!

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Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to someone for sharing this at the May Freetail bottle release. This is a beer I have been looking forward to trying, hopefully it does not disappoint.

The beer pours a copper color with a white head. The aroma is what I expected. I get a ton of bourbon notes as well as some maple and toffee. The alcohol is also noticeable.

The flavor is similar. I get a lot of toffee and caramel malts along with some bourbon whiskey, vanilla and maple notes. There is also a nice oaked quality to the flavor which melds well with everything else that is going on.

Medium to thick, slightly syrupy mouthfeel and low carbonation. A very nice barrel-aged beer.

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Photo of draheim
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle (2010, #2530 of 3000) into a snifter. Pours a gorgeous clear deep amber w/ a nice rich fizzy head that dissipates pretty quickly.

Aroma is rich w/ vanilla up front, oak, figs, toffee, brown sugar, caramel and booze. Smells super sweet, dessert-like.

Taste is rich, fruity, sweet. Lots of sugary malt, smooth vanilla, and a solid bourbon presence. Caramel and brown sugar. Really boozy but in a good way, especially for a snowy January night. Warming.

Mouthfeel is coating, thick. Slight bitterness on the finish.

Overall I'm really glad I pulled this one from the cellar, it's a perfect complement to a cold winter evening. Cheers!

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Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Thorpe at a small tasting the other day. Thanks Mike. This was the sleeper hit of the night for me.

Beer is golden in color and mostly clear with a thin wispy head of small white bubbles, low carbonation, low lacing, low retention.

Aroma is sweet with hints of vanilla, oak, and bourbon, nice.

Beer is medium in body and sweet up front with a mildly dry finish, a nice bourbon character on the midpalate and a great finish with more in the body in the midpalate than expected. The toffee comes through nicely and finishes strong. I really enjoyed it, one of the better beers of the night IMO.

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Photo of arizcards
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of zhanson88
4.39/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Note: 2010 version is 10.5% ABV.

Appearance: Olde Bluehair pours out a dark ruby color with a full 3 fingers of beige colored head. I can see a lot of carbonation rising to the top. Retention is pretty good, though the head seems to give way very easily. Resulting lacing is more of a film.

Smell: Caramel, malts, oak, vanilla, and some dark fruits (fig, raisin, maybe apricot). There is a lot going on in here, very nice.

Taste: Caramel maltiness right off the bat, with barrel flavor in the middle -- oak and vanilla. Finish is fig and apricot, with just a hint of booziness from the bourbon barrels. This really is a phenomenal example of the barleywine style.

Mouthfeel: Body is right on medium, with quite a bit of carbonation. As it warms the carbonation mellows out a little and it gets smoother drinking. It is very easy drinking for the style, even though ABV is 10.5% it seems like less. This is hands down my favorite example of a barleywine that I've had to date. I definitely want to have a couple of these on hand for a while to see what age does.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

brown in color with a light tan head on top that hung around for a good few minutes before settling down into a thin layer on top. One of the best aromas I have ever come across. Rich bourbon notes just rippling across the nose. Lots of toffee and vanilla, light touchs of oak and a piney hop presence as well. So immacualtly complex. Nothing subtle about this beast at all. Rich toffee and oak flavors are all over the place. Huge hop notes coming through with a nice alcohol hotness that is really well placed. A very tight flavor here with a long lingering vanilla flavor that lasted long after my last sip.

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Photo of tpd975
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice amber with a small tan head. No retention or lace.

S: Aromas of light bourbon, vanilla, caramel, toffee, and rich sweet fruit.

T: The barrel is there in a mild way. Light vanilla with hints of coconut. Sweet fruit with loads of caramel and toffee. Rich sweet and good.

M: Full bodied, rich, sweet, smooth.

D: Awesome, Love this one.

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Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #0007 out of 3000 (2010 bottling)

Appearance: This is a beautiful barleywine, pouring an ice tea brown color with a two finder head that leaves a smattering of lace around the chalice

Smell: Toffee, apricot, oak and some fusel alcohol

Taste: Toffee and apricots, up front, with an earthy hop balance developing by mid-palate, when the fusel alcohol arrives; after the swallow, the oak and vanilla add a complex dimension that lingers, after the swallow, along with the apricot malt

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; perhaps a little too thick

Drinkability: This is an extraordinary barleywine that is only going to improve with a year or two of age; while some complain that it is too sweet or lacks hops, I would point out that this is much more in the English style and is a superb example

Thanks, sholle, for the opportunity

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Photo of Allpe45
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 edition
Bottle #2609

Appears reddish brown with a creamy tan cap, recedes quickly but leaves plenty of lacing. Just a bit hazy. Smells predominantly of bourbon, sweet fruits, caramel malt, toffee and wood. Despite the powerful bourbon aroma, it does not seem hot. Taste matches the smell but there is much more balance. Caramel and toffee maltiness up front, alcohol soaked dark fruits in the middle, and barrel in the finish. The bourbon is very well integrated, adding flavor throughout and a subtle warmth to the finish. Medium-full body, low carbonation, very smooth texture at first but leaves a sticky residual feeling. Easy to drink but the strength is noticeable after a few sips.

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

This was a lucky pick up at Goebbels in Wichita.

Bottle #1319 of 3000 opens with a major pop! Pours caramel with a pinky of khaki lacing. Nice viscious look to this, good head retention & some lacing

S: Toffee, dark fruit & slight boozeyness

T: Rich dark fruit, Bourbon, leafy hops, a touch boozey vanilla. Honey, figgyness, a bit of smokey toffee as this warms, along with some booze-soaked cherries. Finishes oaky dry with nice Bourbon notes, figs& sweet toffee. Slight deduction for lack of American BW hop profile, would've maxed this out as an English BW. Wish I had some more bottles...

MF: Chewy, smooth carbonation, great balance, nice warming sensation

Drinks too easy for the ABV & style

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to sweemzander for opening this one.

(A) Pours a brownish color with a slight bit of cloudiness. Ruby hues when held to the light. The barrel aging definitely took some effect on the coloration of this beer. About a half inch head on this beast.

(S) There area a lot of fruits and sweeter aromas. Fig and dark sugar, but then there is some lighter roasted malt present. As it opens there is a note of licorice.

(T) Taste is a lot like the nose. There is fig and a good amount of dark dried fruits. The barrel wood gives a great characteristic to this beer. Doesn't really hit like a barleywine usually wood and I think it's because the woods toned it down a bit. Other residual sugars linger as well as the hint of a licorice taste.

(M) Solid medium body, slightly grainy, and ends dry.

(O) This was a different one. I really liked it, but it caught me off guard not tasting as I would expect a baleywine to taste. The barrel did wonders for the flavor. It was a solid beer and I look forward to revisiting this one in the future.

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Photo of gford217
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle poured into a tulip.

Pours a deep mahogany that shows clear copper when held up to light. There is a small creamy beige head that recedes to a small collar leaving little in the way of lacing.

The aroma is sweet with caramel malts and vanilla leading the way. There are some dark fruits, raisins especially. and a little bit of sherry coming out as well. The bourbon is very muted in the nose.

The taste is even better for me with all the same caramel malts, vanilla and dark fruits as in the aroma. But it almost tastes like a bit of chocolate sweetness in the there as well. The finish is sweet but the bourbon is extremely subtle.

The mouthfeel is slick with good carbonation and maybe on the lighter side of medium for overall mouthfeel.

This is an excellent barleywine with an understated bourbon presence which really leads to a very drinkable barrel-aged brew.

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Photo of yamar68
4.29/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle 2900 of 3240

2012 vintage:

Tobacco brown body capped with a frothy finger of sticky lace. Plenty of alcohol is apparent in the appearance.

Semisweet toffee and caramel dominate the nose. Vanilla and oak suggest some kind of bourbon characteristic. The alcohol is apparent but appropriate. Not too hot but also not too tame. Some mushy cherry or cranberry surfaces as the beer warms.

Vanilla, mellow bourbon, tobacco leaf, papery dessert sweetness. It's a bit hollow on the palate but it goes down smooth. The beer warms and evolves in a big way - cherry cobbler, root beer float, red wine... really interesting.

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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.99 out of 5 based on 343 ratings.
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