Olde Bluehair Barley Wine | Big Sky Brewing Company

very good
128 Reviews
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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 BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The fruity and malty-succulence all plays out in a display of balance and battle that play out in this hoppy-bitter and malty-sweet ever strong ale- this is Olde bluehair Barley Wine.

The stately beer pours with a hazy and rusty appearance of browns and slightly reddish hue. Billowing to the rim is the expansive lightly tanned head creates a liquefied foamy head with tremendous staying power and sticky lace. This beer is stately, rustic, and masculine looking throughout.

Brown sugar, freshly kilned barley, and molasses starts to frame the aromatic matrix, but also introduce the strong alcohol notes of rum and the estery scent of plumb, grape, and fig. Yet the musty malt character takes stage.

Flavors closely mimic the aromas as the beer starts with a sweet malt taste of the molasses, brown sugar, and sun kissed barley kernel. Yet the beer develops quickly into a rummy, port-like mid palate of fruit- resembling grape, fig, date, blackberry, plumb, and raison. Light herbal hops inform the flavor with under lying flavors of lemongrass but developing into a timid resonant of pine and fresh cut grassy bitterness to finish.

Full bodied but mysteriously refreshing, Old Bluechair delivers a wallop of malty-rich texture with a carbonated creamy effect. But the mid palate creeps in with a lightly peppery heat at mid palate that develops into alcohol heat to finish. Doing so with a hoppy resin dryness and ethanol warmth that closes the beer with confidence and semi-dry character that drives a malty fruit aftertaste.

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

1114th Review on BA
Bottle to stemmed cup
750 Ml
2010 Vintage Bottle 367/3000

@Hamiltons San Diego, CA

Shared with BdubleEdubleRUN and NanoBrew

App- A good looking mix of red and orange. A bit lighter than say MoAs or Abacus is but thats okay. A nice pillowy 1/2 in head formed and kinda fizzled away. Left a good 1/4" ring of bubbles around the edges. A couple dotted lines of cling were there but not much.

Smell- A well layered aromatic barleywine. Not overly thick with malts or overly done with citrus or even the bourbon for that matter. Seemded to have a bit of prickly nose like it was a lower end bourbon to me. Smelled nice and inviting and a bit warm. Sweet citrus and caramel notes with some oak and the bourbon were remaining notes.

Taste- The flavors meshed well on this one. Not overly done on the flavors like the nose. Well rounded and semi-smooth. Had that same type of prickly flavor from the bourbon. A little bit of dampened fruits and some sweet soaked malts were part of the flavor profile. The ABV is wrong on BA but the 8% does come through on the flavor adding a layer to the fruits and sugar notes.

Mouth- A bit of a thin- medium body with a medium high carbonation level. A bit prickly at moments with some popping bubbles.

Drink- The entire reason I went to Hamiltons was because this was on the bottle list. I was not dissapointed with my choice. I had this right after the Blind Tiger grilled cheese. Very good time. Would love another bottle to share with some friends again.

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Photo of MidMod
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750mL corked bottle #1713 of 3000, in the 2011 vintage. Drank in a shifter.

(A) - Pours much darker than expected...and had a huge head. Bottle produced an additional thick foam out the top after setting it down post-first-glass pour.

(S) - Powerful but still sweet...brown sugar, caramel, toffee all are present. There's definitely fruit coming through; plum, apple, fig? --- a lot all at once. Oak shows through, but bourbon is not as prevalent as a lot of other bourbon-barrel-aged brews.

(T) - Sweet and strong. Brown sugar is dominant, but the oak comes through...still not a ton of bourbon going on. Tastes is fairly consistent with smell, but a but mellowed.

(M) - Medium body but a bit harsh...a lot of carbonation going on...overall disclaimer: I think this beer needs another 12 months to realize it's potential. Not too sticky, has a dry finish.

(O) - Different than most Barley Wines, but enjoyable. I had the 2009 vintage after more aging and it enjoyed it more than this one...give it some time to age. Barrel aging flavor isn't too dominant (a good thing in this case). A fun beer from Big Sky, showing they can produce a nice, BIG beer.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
3.53/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Stone, though the abv on the beer menu clearly lists 8.75% ABV. Served in a snifter. Arrives a couldy deep dark amber color with ruby colored edges in the light. One finger beige head with good retention and lacing. The nose is earthy with hints of oak, dark fruit, roasted barley, and a leathery character. A touch of bourbon. The flavor starts with a raisin and fig fruitiness similar to the fruit found on the tongue. Hints of bourbon and vanilla. Mild bitterness. Medium bodied and finishes with a lingering taste of toasted oak. As it warms the vanilla and malt are more prevalent and overcome the strong boozy character. Overall, I found the beer to be a bit...harsh. Very complex though doesn't seem to be mellowed, yet.

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Photo of koopa
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle # 1383 of 1800 (2008 vintage I believe) shared amongst friends at the Copper Mine Pub.

Appearance: Pours a red tinged caramel with no head or lace.

Smell: Great array of bourbon, oak, vanilla, honey, brown sugar, apricots, and dates.

Taste: Much more mellow than the nose with a nice moderate amount of oxidation.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with little carbonation.

Overall: Probably should have opened this one 6-12 months ago but it hints at having been a great beer at some point.

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Photo of draheim
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
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 billshmeinke
4.07/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Consumed out of a tasting glass.

An amber/copper hued brew with a nice fluffy off white head.

Smells of rich toffee, caramel, and brown sugar. Some vanilla and oak too.

Taste follows smell. Rich toffee, caramel, and brown sugar accompanied by plumbs and hints of raisins with some spicey tannic oak and vanilla then some smooth bourbon. Plumb and raisin become more noticeable as it warms.

Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied. On the sweet side but it's accompanied by ample spice notes to balance it out. Just a bit thin for me.

Solid BA barleywine. At least as good as that Blighs stuff.

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

A brownish liquid comes out without much in the way of head. Some bubbles, but didn't amount to much. Aroma was boozy at first, but settled into an appreciable mix of toffee, vanilla, wood and bourbon.

Taste, still boozy, but with each sip, got better and better. Carbonation was better than expected after the not sexy pour. Nice bourbon and vanilla integration, this beer just kept getting better. Waves of caramel complimenting the toffee. By the end of it, you're wondering where the initial notes of alcohol went. Its like they fly out the bottle like the ghosts on Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark after the first sip and whiff. Sweetness level is just where it should be.

Pretty much a must try for any barleywine fan. Decently priced, picked mine up for $13 I believe in AZ, saw it for the price in Bend, OR as well.

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Photo of hardy008
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
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 corby112
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml, 2010 vintage, bottle 2126/3000, shared with shadowane.

Pours a cloudy, dark amber color with golden ruby edges and a one finger frothy, yellowish beige head. Very good retention slowly fading into a lasting ring that leaves chunks of lacing behind.

Musty, earthy aroma with lots of dark fruit, leather and wood. Nice barrel in the nose with toasted oak and vanilla notes but only subtle bourbon. Lots of leathery malts as well as some fig and raisin.

Medium body with soft carbonation up front with a strong barrel presence that's a bit harsh with lots of toasted oak and sweet booz. As it warms there is some vanilla and the sweeter malts and dark fruit notes shine. Leathery and musty with some sweet caramel and nut along with hints of fig, plum and apple.  Decent but kind of harsh up front. Finishes nice.

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Photo of mikedrinksbeer2
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes, on-tap into snifter.

A - Deep hazy amber nearing brown in color with a minimal head that leaves some spot cling remains.

S - Toasty malt scent, hint of alcohol.

T - Strong, mirrors the scent, maily malty sweet with an slight alcohol finish.

M - Slightly sticky, un-carbonated, decent.

O - A nice offering, but not my favorite Big Sky brew. Recommended to Barleywine fans.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review #1000!
750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage. Bottle# 1297 of 3000.

(A)- Pours a hazy amber hue. Produced a giant white frothy head with surprising retention and mountains of lace.

(S)- Rich. Bits of a woody oak, roasted caramel, toffee, honey, and subtle bourbon. A delectable aroma.

(T)- A nice subtle brown sugar sweetness. Bits of caramel, subtle oak, and mild slick bourbon.

(M)- A mellow to higher carbonation level. A nice balance of sweet, oaky, and booze, though by no means hot.

(D)- A solid barleywine. Age could further help this out to its advantage, though it is quite nice. Rich, but a mellow/subtle barrel aging.

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Photo of cjacobsen
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
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 wordemupg
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml corked and caged bottle poured into tulip 26/9/11 #717/3000

A reddish amber with a shit load of suspended particles and the most yeast I've ever seen in a bottle, short lived foam leaves no lace but the color makes up for it

S smells of a caramel apple, a little booze, brandy and bourbon with just a little raisin of all things

T thankfully the flavor mimics the smell quite well but not with the same intensity, a little more booze then I could smell and its rather sweet but still quite good. nice wet wood flavor comes out even more as it warms

M warm but I wouldn't say hot, thick but not chewy and a long finish of apple butterscotch is quite pleasant

O pretty solid brew that's mellow without years behind it, great smell and feel and 4.25 may have been dropped if it were an option

thanks Adam for bringing this obscure gem my way, not sure what some time would do to this seeing how its already a mellow brew but I'd like to find out and I doubt I ever will

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Photo of gueuzer
4.79/5  rDev +19.8%
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 mikesgroove
4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
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 seeswo
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours an off colored orange with a small tannish head. Caramel malts, vanilla, oak, toffee waft off of the nose. The taste is like the nose with the vanilla from the bourbon melding very nicely with the caramel and toffee base beer flavors. Actual bourbon and oak are subdued. Sweet, but not excessively so from a slight hop balance. Mouthfeel is relatively large with a light carbonation. Seems right for the style. Overall, this beer is a really nice option for the BA Barleywine category as a fairly accessible and not too expensive option. Almost the definition of a B+ beer in my book.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage picked up back in December.

Pours a light yellowed orange. Light off-white head. Smells like caramel almost a toffee aroma. Very malty with some light vanilla and a touch of oak. Barrel isn't huge on the nose. Tastes sweet and malty, again lots of caramel, barrel characteristics are strong but not overwhelming. Well balances . Overall very enjoyable

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Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
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 augustgarage
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap @ Blue Palms Brewhouse - served in a snifter.

Burnt orange to carmine gradient with a lasting beige collar and a faint surface slick. Faint sandy lacing, no legs.

Leather, tobacco, prunes, pine, peach pits, and stewed fruit in the nose. Lightly hoppy with a hint of burnt sugar.

White pepper, evergreen, spearmint, alfalfa, and moderate bitterness accompanied by a milky malt note. Complexity suddently vanishes in the woody dry finish, drawing you back immediately to see if the flavor profile was all an illusion...

Tinkgly, well carbonated (almost too much so) and not-quite-slick.

Well balanced, though malt-heads and hop-heads alike may find something missing if they are glass-half-empty types.

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Photo of matttttYCE
2.68/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

2010 Vintage, #2618 of 3000

Appearance - Poured into my Stone IRS balloon/snifter glass. Head is very frothy and luscious, about 1 1/2 finger high and off-white colored. Head fades very slowly. Moderate sticky lacing. Color of the brew is a root beer color with red highlights when held to the light.

Smell - Smell is...interesting to say the least. I get lots of sweet caramel malts, caramel, butterscotch, sweet fruit, apricot, a bit of plum possibly, honey, interesting slight tart notes and slight smell of apple juice or apple cider, along with some light notes of Bourbon and vanilla in the background. Really not at all what I was expecting from the aroma. Seems a bit disjointed as a whole. There's a slight chance this bottle is infected but more so I think it's just the odd way the brew smells.

Taste - Taste is pretty similar to the nose. Lots of sweet caramel malts, caramel and molasses, butterscotch, sweet fruit, apricot, fig, honey, toffee, slight Bourbon and vanilla notes, and again those slight hints of tartness and apple juice or apple cider. It's an off taste to me, but I think that may just be how the brewer intended it to be and not an infected bottle.

Mouthfeel - Consistency is silky smooth, carbonation is higher than I would have liked for a barrel aged Barleywine, round would probably describe it. Body is medium, slightly chewy, finish is medium. Leaves a taste of sweetness, caramel malt, toffee, and fruit/tart/green apple tastes in my mouth.

Overall - If this isn't infected, it's really not to my liking. There's the possibility that I got an infected bottle or that there is a good deal of bottle variation. Whatever I had, I didn't really care for it. I'll try the next vintage I can get my hands on to compare to this one (especially to see if there may have just been an infection in this bottle, but I don't think that's the case).

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Photo of claspada
4.27/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle. It was numbered 2000-something of 3000. Bad job by me but I was tired and recycled the bottle without thinking. Recently reassembled by apartment post-Irene flooding.

Pours a slightly hazy ice tea brown color with amber hues and a small inch of eggshell head that leaves a smattering of lace around the chalice.

Aromas begin with a ton of butterscotch, toffee, dried fruits and vanilla. The barrel has lended a barrage of influence here. Also some oak, brown sugar and caramelized malts are present. Pure bourbon smell emerges slightly as it warms.

The tastes begin with toffee dried fruits. Next I get the oak tannins and vanillas and caramel, brown sugar and toffee sweetness. As it warms you get a little more of the earthiness, hints of butterscotch and the alcohol/bourbon flavors become more predominant. Fruitiness is prevalent throughout.

The mouthfeel is full to medium bodied with ample carbonation. Really spot on for the style preventing this from being to syrupy which is always a plus for me. Finish is deceptively dry due to the barrel flavors and alcohol presence.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer after a long hard day. It really reminded me of a less aggressive, yet still full-flavored Firestone Walker Abacus. Abacus is a more complex beer but also much more in your face. Each has its time and place and I was definitely more in the mood for this "Abacus Lite". Highly recommended and I will be seeking this out each year it becomes available.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.42/5  rDev +10.5%
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 Thorpe429
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thakns to mages64 for getting this bottle out to me in a BIF a ways back. Served in a SAVOR snifter as part of our barrel-aged barleywine tasting.

Pours a golden-copper color with an off-white head. Average amount of lacing with a thin collar throughout.

Nose is fairly weak and non-descript with faint notes of bourbon and light caramel. Flavor goes up from there with heavy notes of bourbon and oak plus light vanilla and toffee. Caramel malt throughout.

Mouthfeel is chewy and nice with a great bourbon smoothness. Nice oak character and a buttery-vanilla smoothness. Low carbonation.

Really a nice brew. Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of thagr81us
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to my boy Lunch for sending me this one in a past trade! Shared this one with a huge number of BAs during the ORF '11 release. 2010 Vintage! Bottle #1827 of 3000! Served from bottle into a sampler snifter. Poured red-orange with a half finger off-white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, and wood. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a decent brew. The barrel aging on this brew really mellowed out a lot of the flavors that are typical in a big ABV Barleywine. This fact made this one really drinkable for all who had the chance to try it. The aroma was pretty good as well, but nothing awe-inspiring by any means. Definitely worth trying if you get the opportunity.

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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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