Olde Bluehair Barley Wine | Big Sky Brewing Company

very good
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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

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Reviews: 128 | Ratings: 354
Photo of jimmah120
3.86/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.5

750ml corked and caged bottle. 2012 bottle marked 2856 of 3240. also says it's 12.0% ABV.

Great cloudy ruby look, silky off-white head. Smell is very wooden and reeks of rubbing alcohol. Also lots of dark fruits; raisins, prunes, fermented grapes. Taste is much better thankfully: sweet woody malts, the dark fruit, hint of cheap bourbon. High amount of carbonation for the style, and the bourbon sticks around on the tongue.

I'd love to have another for aging.

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
4.52/5  rDev +13%
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 Jwale73
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

750ml corked and caged bottle. 2011 vintage served in a tasting glass. Bottle opened with a pop. Pours a hazy amber-mahogany hue with a fluffy, 1/2 inch, cream-colored head that settles into a consistent, frothy skim. Nose expresses citrus, cotton candy and some vanilla notes. Taste consistent with nose with the addition of some toffee flavors as well as some ethanol. Unfortunately, the mouthfeel on this beer kills it for me - way too much carbonation first off; however, once you get past that, it comes off somewhat thin and slightly oily. Overall, a very good example of the style - I have a second bottle, so I'll have to see what 3-5 years does for this beer. Hopefully it will dissipate the carbonation.

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Photo of Scotchboy
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Corked & caged 2011 vintage 750ml poured into chalices.

A: Holy carbonation; not a gusher, but tons of head and bubbles screaming to the top of the glass...murky tawny/brown-colored body...decent lacing....lots of floaties from this old bottle.

S: Big caramel and toffee malts, very inviting barleywine nose...nice oaky backbone with suggestions of vanilla and brown sugar...alcohol heat is pretty subdued...lots of sugary sweetness, hops seem pretty minimal.

T: Tastes how you would think after smelling it; really like the bourbon presence on this one, solid but not overbearing, with more alcohol heat felt than smelled. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, and sugary malt without being cloying at all. Figs and other dark fruit as well.

MF: A viscous medium body, and surprisingly the carbonation isn't overwhelming or even distracting.

O: I'll be darn, this was tasty! Glad I split the 750 with a mate but this was a really good beer for 11 or so ounces.

One other note: be careful with this vintage at least, over-carbonation seems to be an issue. I sent a bottle in a trade that broke (only bottle break I've EVER had break in transit - assuming it was the pressure on the C&C), and I've seen lots of feedback on over-carbed bottles and semi-gushers.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage. Bottle #1759/3000.
Poured in to snifter.

A - Very dark copper, almost opaque with just a slight ruby glow along the bottom of the glass. A huge amount of light, fluffy dirty-white head formed.

S - Sweet caramel, toffee and raisin aromas are in a great balance with oak, bourbon, vanilla and a touch of caramel form the barrel aging.

T - Barrel flavours come to the forefront in the palate with oak, bourbon and vanilla flavours present. The base beer provides great balance to the barrel flavours, adding dark caramel, raisin, toffee and plum flavours.

M - Medium body, almost full body. Moderate carbonation. A little over-carbonated, which likely detracts from the mouth feel.

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Photo of oline73
3.61/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottle poured into a tasting snifter.

Pours a murky red amber color. This one looks to be super over carbonated. The smell is sweet. I'm getting dark fruit, caramel, and a hint of vanilla. The carbonation distracts from the taste, which is pretty good otherwise. Lots of caramel malts and some vanilla from the barrel. The bourbon is smooth with just a touch of alcohol burn.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured a burnt coffee brown in color with dark ruby highlights when held to the light with a thin bubbly head that left a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: plenty of sweetness is noticeable upfront in the aroma consisting of caramel first, brown sugar, a little molasses, toffee with a good amount of booze heat i assume is bourbon and signs of dark fruit;

T: the caramel sweetness was just as intense on the palate alongside more brown sugar toffee sweetness, good bourbon barrel oak character, a little booze, dark fruit accents and a touch of underlying vanilla.

M: the brew was medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a bourbon barrel, oaky, boozy, mild dark fruity, sweet and creamy finish.

O: I thought it was a decent barleywine and was worth trying.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.15/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Foamy as hell. Murky red. Looks light and overcarbonated.

Smell - Light malt notes. A ton of bourbon and a little oak.

Taste - Oaky and astringent. Overcarbonated. Caramel comes through more here as the bourbon is lighter. Nothing special in the flavor. Maybe a little fruity.

Mouthfeel - Way overcarbonated. Astringent and dry. Kinda ruins the experience.

Overall - The flavors are ok, but it's mouthfeel is a tremendous let down. Thin, kinda they way I felt about Ivan the Terrible.

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Photo of harrymel
3.35/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2010
Nice dark cherry color with a solid thick sheet of light caramel foam. Smells of toffee, caramel, nougat, vanilla, oak, some hints of alcohol and a touch of graham. Nice nose. Tastes of sweet malts, toffee, a bit of toasted sugar, some grassy hops(?), a little bit of alcohol. Medium on thin actually with low carb and a semi dry finish. A decent beer, not $15 decent, but worth a taste in the right situation.

Vintage 2010
Original review (Jan, 2011): 4/3.5/3.5/4.5/3.5 - 3.63
A: Ale pours a beautiful deep cinnamon building a two fingers maple creamy head. This dissipates over the next few minutes to thick blanket of the same. The beer is like maple syrup, with caramel hues, this is a looker. Laces stick to the sides with little effort.
S: I poured this several times, and each time, the nose is dominated by green apple skins. After several minutes, the beer really opens up and toffee, caramel, malts come through beautifully. Slight tea aromas come through and balance out the sweetness. Vanilla oak low to slight in the nose.
T: A bit warm. No, quite warm. The ABV is not well concealed here. The malts come through and dance among the oak notes which stand out much further than in the nose. Lower bittering on this one, can't say I like this, but not very disappointed either. Can see this one really shining through in another year.
M: Sticky, thick, viscous beer. Wow, super sticky. Heavy with medium carbonation. I'm impressed with the velvety feel with which this presents.
D: I think the beer is good, but not quite as good as maybe say Mirror Mirror or some others. More malt forward than many popular Barley wines, which I like. This is a good beer, but not a great one. Worth a try, but I would split the cost if I could.

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Photo of bum732
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2011 vintage

S: Slight bourbon and oak, caramel and toffee sweetness

L: Cloudy, brown, big light tan head with great retention and lacing.

T: Rich maltiness up front with a sweet bourbon backbone. Medium herbal bitterness with some hints of dark fruits. Some caramel as well, but not too sweet. Finishes semi-dry with some earthiness and slight alcohol.

M: Medium high carbonation, medium light bodied.

Not bad, nice blend of bourbon and malt. Don't know why the wanted the carbonation to be so high. Really detracts from the flavor, IMO.

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Photo of GregSVT
3.68/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle into a snifter - 2011 Vintage, bottle #341

A: Pours dark dark red with a huge tan head that fades to a layering and leaves a ton of lacing on the glass. Maybe a bit overcarbed.

S: The nose starts with big notes of dark fruits, citrus, toffee, and an odd rye aroma. Was expecting more bourbon and barrel notes in the nose and didn't get much.

T: The taste is a step up from the nose with flavors of toffee, red dark fruits, vanilla, bread, and malt.

M: The feel is medium with a bit too much carbonation.

O: I was expecting a bit more from this one but it wasn't too bad. It definitely improved as it warmed and I would love to see this with a few more years of age.

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Photo of Dope
4.09/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle, thanks ScotchBoy!

A: Pours a rusty sort of murky brown. Large bubbly tan head. Fades slowly, leaving only the tiniest spots of lacing - almost none at all really.

S: Strong molasses, toffee, brown sugar and caramel. Really nice, rich with a great combination of malty sweetness and bourbon notes. Touch of vanilla and a little alcohol sting.

T: Lots of bourbon up front, heavy on the toffee, caramel and burnt sugars. A bit of oak kicks in in the middle some molasses. Oaky vanilla in the finish with some toffee and molasses. A touch of bitterness from perhaps some earthy hops? Hard to tell under all the bourbon. Lingering oak between sips.

M: Heavy, thick, viscous.

O: A big and boozy barleywine. Bourbon is quite strong in this one, unfortunately overpowers the barleywine aspects a bit I feel. With some age on this I think it could be stunning, however. It's pretty good as is, just quite sharp, boozy and bourbon heavy. Heavy and sweet - a sipper for sure!

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Photo of drpimento
4.49/5  rDev +12.3%
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 azdback
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, bottle number 411/3000. Poured into a Stone imperial glass. First pour almost fizzed out of the glass so I let the head recede, which took forever, and tried it again. A very dark caramel color and hazy. Head is a huge frothy, light tan monster. Lace is huge as well and sticking in very large chunks. Quite nice!

Smell is of caramel malts, some wood and booze. I'm not getting much more from this now. Maybe it will as it warms.

Taste is very sweet, caramel, hard candy, some vanilla and oak way way at the end. I think this is going to be fantastic as it warms. I am also getting some alcohol burn but not too much and quite welcomed.

Mouth is silky and almost chewy, body is medium with mild but decent carbonation. Finish is long and medium wet with lots of boozy burn.

Overall, I must say that this has been a want of mine for a very long time and it didn't disappoint. It could have had some more barrel in the nose and taste but overall a pretty good barleywine. Pick this up if you can but don't trade the world for it.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to egrace84 for sharing this beer! Thanks elliot!

2011 vintage. bottle# 1117 of 3000.

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: a amber orange copperish colored beer with a giant off white to tan colored head from a gentle pour.

Smell: malty, lots caramel notes from the malt profile. Decent amount of barrel notes in there too.

Taste: Big caramel and brown sugar in the malt profile with some barrel notes mostly oak and sweet bourbon nicely balanced and mellow. Some dark fruits and toffee, but its really subtle. Some fruity esters and a little buttery taste as well. Hops are earthy, spicy, floral. They are really hard to find in this beer and add minimal bitterness or balance.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with high carbonation. It overcarbonated. It did not ruin the beer, but it just overcarbonated. It is not proper according to the style, but it was a minor thing. A touch of booze in this beer as well.

Overall: Solid offering by Big Sky. It a tasty beer, but its overcarbonated. The beer was not a gusher when the C&C was opened, but you gotta pour this beer really gently. I wonder if the carbonation will get better with sometime.

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Photo of ESPNman
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml. bottle into a Stone RIS Snifter. 2010 vintage, reviewed on 8/27/2012

A - Pours a deep murky amber. Shocking amount of tan head, leaving virtually zero lacing. The cork nearly exploded out of it, which makes me think this may have been bottled a little early.

S - Classic barleywine with a bit of almost salty bourbon on the nose. Candied fruits, bready malts, and a bit of toffee dominate the nose. A bit of oak, bourbon, and peat-like salt hang around as the beer warms up a bit.

T - The heavy caramelized malt flavor dominates at first, and fades to the more robust barrel flavors. A nice change of pace and take on the classic barleywine. It probably could have sat for another year or two, as it's running a little bit hot, but overall it's quite tasty.

M - This is where this beer loses me a bit. It's crazy overcarbonated. I almost lost 1/3 of the bottle when I popped it and tried to GENTLY pour it down the side of my snifter. I had stored it upright for the last year or so, and had it in the fridge (undisturbed) for the last day or so. I don't know what's wrong here, but something about this brew is slightly off. It's overwhelming and can take a bit of time to really get used to tasting what's there through the raging carbonation.

O - Good beer that could have been great. There are elements of a fantastic barleywine in there that were undone by one glaring flaw. I definitely will pick up another vintage of this when I find myself in Seattle again... hopefully it's sooner rather than later.

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Photo of Etan
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml into a tulip. 2010 bottle (#503/3000).

A: Pours a murky burnt caramel color with a big tan head.

S: Toffee, buttered bread, caramel, light apple, cinnamon, old hop resin, a bit of barrel heat.

T: Syrupy caramel, strong lingering hop notes of apple cider and brown sugar, slightly smoky charred wood and sweet bourbon. A bit of tannic vanilla and dark fruits, brief wave of old bitterness in the finish.

M: Creamy carbonation, medium-bodied.

O: Good, but I definitely prefer barrel-aging in less hoppy barleywines. The old hop character, while interesting in its own right, sort of covered up some of the barrel character.

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Photo of bump8628
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ThirstyHerf for sharing this bottle. A great American-brewed barleywine that still seems to be flying under the radar. Deep amber, khaki head. Big dark fruit notes on the nose - raisin and currant. Toffee and caramel notes are at the forefront too, but the dryness allows the hops to stand firm. Balancing herbal flavors with a smooth bitterness. Complementary fruit from yeast adds a nice depth of flavor.

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Photo of mulder1010
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to readbaron for the bottle
750 ML poured into a tulip 2010 vintage

A-- Poured a light orange amber color. Once settled it turned into a murky brownish orange color. One and a half finger of off white head. Head held up nicely before settling into a thick film. Very nice waves of lacing through drinking and swirling.

S-- lots of dried fruits at first. thought a lot of fruit cake with apricots and Carmel in it. Then came subtle oak, vanilla, coconut and bourbon. Really nice how the flavors changed from fruit to the barrel character.

T-- Once again a lot of dried fruits. Mostly honey dipped apricots, raisins, and orange. Then the barrel kicked in. Well balanced bourbon, vanilla, warm oak, and coconut. Not too extreme and well balanced. No real notice of hop presence and that is fine.

M-- Maybe a touch too carbonated but medium bodied and easy to drink. Alcohol is very well hidden and do get jammy notes in the mid and back palate. Not over the top and not too weak. Almost just right. Good bourbon finish to this.

O-- Maybe a touch underrated I think. Very nice barleywine. Lots of fruit flavors and enough of the barrel to carry this very well. Something I would seek out again.

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Photo of billab914
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Portsmouth tulip. It poured a murky, orange caramel looking color with a fluffy white head to it.

The aroma is malty and rich with some nice notes of caramel and candied fruits really showing through. I get a little of the residual hoppiness to it as well. The barrel flavor is subtle, but the does add some depth and complexity to it.

The taste is also very malty with notes of caramel and toffee mixing with some more of the resiny residual hops. Just a little woody oak and a touch of bourbon.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being a little high for the style. Overall, It had a nice rich malty profile for the style and what was left of the American hop profile blended in pretty well. The barrel was a little more reserved than I would have preferred, but it added a little character to it. Pretty solid overall.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 750mL C&C bottle to Devil's Backbone glass on 5/5/12
*From notes

-- Thanks billab914 --

A: Turd copper in color. A standard pour yields a .5 finger head and a really nice, thick collar. The biggest issue I've got ain't the color though - it's all the damn floaties. I don't mind a couple, but this is a bit much.

S: Sweet, mature bourbon. I get some dried, almost candied fruit. Figgy pudding becomes more pronounced as it warms.

T: Again, the bourbon here is quite calm and collected. It's in fine form, and becomes the backbone by which the beer stands. I also get a touch of firm malt, which adds an earthy and rather nice bite to the beer.

M: Spot on. This is plenty thick. The carbonation is low, and the weight is hefty. The body really helps the cellared flavor profile.

O: I wish I could recall the vintage on this, a I remember thinking that this has held up really well. It may not be the best of the BA Barleywine bunch, but it's certainly upper middle class. And there ain't nothin' wrong with that.

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Photo of Treebs
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml C&C bottle served in a Deschutes tulip. Shared in line at DLD. Bottle #804/3000, 2010 vintage.

A: Pours a murky amber and brown combination with a thick, frothy off white head forming on the pour. It recedes to a thin film and thick ring that leaves some splotchy lace down the glass.

S: Big malty body working nicely with a smooth bourbon smell. The barrel treatments is nicely blending with some fruity hops that are still around after two years.

T: Some light fruity esters are up front and then the barrel takes over, but in a good way. Sweet bourbon, very smooth, with some light oak and delicious caramel and vanilla on the finish. The malt body is a slight roasted character and adds a depth of creaminess to the finished product.

M: Medium bodied with a slightly above average carbonation you'd find in a BBBW, but it works nicely. The finish is smooth, creamy and mellow barrel.

O: I think this beer is right at it's sweet spot and drinking quite nicely. If you've got some 2010's laying around pop them open! Now it's time to play the waiting game with the 2011 vintage.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.5/5  rDev +12.5%
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 ChugginOil
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy orange amber color with an inch of cream colored head that sits shortly, leaving layers of lace behind.

Then nose is full of caramel, sweet biscuit-like malts, sweet raisn bread, dark fruits, light vanilla and candied sugar. The bourbon is subtle in it's efforts.

The flavors are offering more bourbon characteristics than the nose. There are some vanilla notes, caramel, toffee, and bready malts. Sweet, biscuit-malt is most prominent. The bourbon is faint as far as the booze level but there are some.

The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. There is a low and almost absent amount level of carbonation.

Overall, this is a decent bba barleywine that has decent flavors but i wish the barrel flavors shined a bit more. There is contribution but it deserves more.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour sampled at mrbubbler's tasting courtesy of mrbubbler himself.

2010 vintage. Bottle # 1959/3000.

Pours a murky honey orange with a tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, citrus zest, vanilla, and bourbon. Taste is the same with a woody aftertaste. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a smooth and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barleywine with a nice barrel aged presence.

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Olde Bluehair Barley Wine from Big Sky Brewing Company
4 out of 5 based on 354 ratings.
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