Irish Walker
Olde Hickory Brewery

Irish WalkerIrish Walker
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Barleywine - English
Ranked #149
Ranked #10,414
3.97 | pDev: 9.82%
Olde Hickory Brewery
North Carolina, United States
Very Good
Irish WalkerIrish Walker
Notes: A long slow fermentation and cold aging makes Irish Walker a well rounded, complex Barley Wine Ale. Released only once a year, it exhibits malty sweetness, fruity esters, and hoppy balance. This ale will age well for years to come.
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Reviews: 106 | Ratings: 354 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of josanguapo
josanguapo from Spain

3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

De Labirratorium. En copa teku. No está mal, pero resulta áspera y muy alcohólica, no aportando la base maltosa suficiente presencia como para animar a repetirla.

Mar 16, 2021
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Irish Walker from Olde Hickory Brewery. Received 10/8/20 from @nc41 in BIF 12. Reviewed 11/2/20.
12 oz bottle stamped on front label “bottled on 02/13/20”. Stored at home at 42 degrees and served at 60 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter. Final temperature 61.7 degrees.
Appearance – 4.
First pour – Medium amber (SRM 12), clear.
Body – Amber brown (SRM 18), murky and opaque. When held to direct light, same.
Head – Tiny (Maximum five mm, aggressive center pour), tan, fizzy, short retention, diminishing to a one mm crown fed by lazy effervescence and no cap.
Lacing – None.
Aroma – 3.5 – Caramel malty, no hops, no yeast. Not very strong.
Flavor – 4 – Begins slightly sweet with weak caramel and toffee. No hops, no yeast. No alcohol (9 % ABV, as marked on container) taste or aroma but gastric warming reaches that sweet spot between too little and inferno. There are some additional odd flavors I can’t place, probably some more complex alcohols. No dimethylsulfide or diacetyl.
Palate – 4 – Full, just short of creamy, soft carbonation.
Final impression and summation: 4 A decent take on an English-style barleywine – good nose and palate – but a bit short on flavor.

Nov 02, 2020
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hman43 from North Carolina

4.29/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: It pours brown with a tan head. It has reddish hues when held up tot he light. Head retention is low.

Smell: It has nuts and toffee in the aroma. There are raisin notes with a bit of an herbal note and a slight alcohol note.

Taste: It has malty rich with nuts, toffee, and caramel. There are raisin flavors with a slight dark chocolate note. It has an herbal note to it as well.

Feel: It has a full, somewhat chewy body with alcohol warming. It has a finish that is on the sweet side.

Overall, the flavors are complex, the alcohols are enjoyable, a quality beer.

Sep 27, 2020
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Sabtos from Ohio

2.23/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2

Dull cola reddish-black with bubbly tan fuzz unevenly displayed on top of the surface.

This one is sweet of woody raisin with a thin watery body that has a bubbly rising carbonation. Additional sweet notes of bright red grapes and even super fruity raspberry and sweet bright red cherry take this totally out of barleywine territory for me, as the only non-fruity flavor I get is a bit of stale wet graham before the cardboard dry finish.

Mar 06, 2019
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.18/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

i love this kind of beer, old school barleywine, and i love it this time of year. this is a brilliant example of the style, and overall a splendid beer. in my limited experience with these guys, these strong ales are what they do best! a deep mahogany color to this, a frothy khaki head with great retention and lace. deeply concentrated long boiled aroma to it, dense toffee and sticky bread pudding notes, molasses and also a cool drier earthy kilned malt thing, nutty and dusty even, english and irish, with some character to the yeast too, old worldy and sturdy. the booziness is there, which i like in the style, and a neat wintery sort of hop complexion, bitter and spicy both. the flavor is like the nose, but the malt depth is unrivaled, dates and dried cherries and boozy raisins, toffee and caramel, a cool sappy sort of lower end too, bran and dark bread, warming alcohol ties it all together. baked and warming, cold weather beer at its finest, this is the kind of thing i could pour on a lazy saturday morning and enjoy with sausage and potatoes, and then let warms up for like the next five hours with a book. very impressive stuff, decidedly old school, but i love what the hops add too. killer example of the style here.

Oct 07, 2018
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avalon07 from South Carolina

4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark amber color and a thick and cloudy consistency. There was a half inch of foamy, off white, somewhat long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: A nice aroma of hops, caramel, malt, citrus fruit, and some dark fruit.

T: Tasted of a bit if citrus fruit (mostly orange), a fair amount of malt, a good shot of hops (not too much, though), some dark fruit (raisins, figs), brown sugar, and molasses. A different flavor than what I expected, but still likable. There's a definitely subtlety to it, with the sweetness of the fruit and sugars mixing well with the hops.

F: A well-carbonated beer with a sharp finish. Medium-bodied.

O: On the whole, a well made and tasty barleywine. Certainly worth checking out.

May 15, 2018
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farrago from New Jersey

4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Half a finger of solid brown foam, lots of larger bubbles interspersed which probably hurts retention some, lacing is nonexistent. Murky brown color with a yellow aura, a few tiny bubbles, looks like a very slow moving river. The nose is muscular without seeking to overpower, German chocolate cake, butterscotch, caramel, rum raisin ice cream, spiced oranges, scone, there’s a smokiness to it which evokes charcoal or tar, plum and date fruit as well, overall it’s more heady than boozy, no burn to it. Full-bodied while trim for its size, perhaps it has lost soft baby fat over the years. Caramelized brown sugar, toffee and toasted coconut introduce the fig, golden raisin, maraschino cherry fruit flavors, really not anywhere near cloyingly sweet. Scone and breakfast danish breadiness. The cocoa has enough roast to tease out coffee notes. Carbonation is weak, however, does not feel sluggish. That earthy, charcoal things appears mostly as aftertaste, lingering the most. Very good balance and complexity, hard to say how much of this was present on release. Eminently drinkable at a swift rate which is not always the case with these sorts of beers. (2014 edition)

Nov 24, 2017
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MacMalt from New Jersey

3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 2/2/2016. Poured into Olde Hickory pint glass. It pours a muddy, brownish-cola color with almost a finger of foamy, khaki-colored head and lacing that dissipated quickly. It's nose features sweet malt, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and raisin; it's a classic Barleywine smell. It may be the age of the bottle but the flavor isn't as sweet as the smell. It's boozy up front with with caramel, raisin, tart cherry, and a hint of molasses. There's also a touch of hoppy bitterness at the finish and a slightly bitter after taste. This ale is medium-bodied with pleasant carbonation, and the 10.14% (the bottle says 10%) is surprisingly benign. Overall, the taste is a bit of a let down following the aromatic nose but it's nevertheless a very solid English Barleywine.

Oct 14, 2017
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MMOSNN from North Carolina

4.26/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

1-year-old bottle poured into a goblet (2016 version)
Look - deep mahogany with a very thin khaki head that completely disappears, except for a few bubbles and the occasional light lacing.
Smell - this is what I want from a barleywine. Raisins and toffee are very strong, along with brown sugar, sticky caramel, vanilla, and a layer of booze is most definitely present and rounds out all of the sweet notes mentioned.
Taste - this is a little disappointing after getting that rich aroma profile, but it still has some complexity going on. Notes of raisins and toffee are dominant, but there's also a lingering element of tart cherries, which is really surprising and pleasant. I also get brown sugar, actually it's more like molasses, and again, vanilla and booze lay kinda heavy on the tongue.
Feel - moderate carbonation, medium chewy body, very smooth.
Overall, I was, at first, disappointed with my first sip, but it's really growing on me. I purposely aged this bottle for over a year since I like this type of style aged, but now I'm wondering how it tastes fresh. Regardless, the cherry notes really make this special and changed my mind on whether it was lacking in flavor (especially compared to the nose). I'll definitely pick up more of this.

Apr 22, 2017
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brewskifan55 from Mississippi

3.84/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a tasting glass. Thanks, Shannon.

A: Deep brown with amber highlights. A one finger tan head that whittled down to a foamy layer.

S: Heavy malts with caramel, molasses and toffee.

T: Oooh, the sweetness comes on strong with a thick, malty/caramel essence. Booziness mingles with dark fruits and toffee. A slow sipper for sure.

M: Medium to heavy with medium, chewy carbonation.

O: Way too sweet for our tasting group. Perhaps some aging may take it back a bit.

Jul 11, 2016
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Note: 2014 Vintage

A: Pours a lightly hazy but opaque very dark mahogany/reddish brown in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and moderate cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall fizzy foamy tan head that reduces to a medium to large sized patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of toffee, caramel, and dark fruits (raisin) over lighter aromas of dark + nutty malts. Light aromas of oak.

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of dark, caramel, nutty, and toffee malts with a moderate to strong amount of sweetness and moderate flavors of dark fruits (raisins). That is followed by moderate amounts of whiskey-like booziness and oak. Finally there is a light flavor of earthy + spicy hops which contribute a light amount of bitterness which does not linger for long leaving a lingering sweetness + booziness.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Moderate amounts of alcohol warming through the finish.

O: Very enjoyable and pretty easy to drink considering the strength (not sure how this one is fresh as I have always had it with at least a year of age on it). Really nice dark fruit aromas and flavors along with the more traditional barelywine notes and a touch of whiskey.

May 03, 2016
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angrybabboon from Massachusetts

3.83/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Consumed 3/11/16

Cheers to Bilco for this beer, split with Goblinmunkey7

A: Deep, dark brown with some burnt amber highlights - pours with a medium size, light beige head, fades to a wispy cap, retains a small collar, leaves some spots and streaks of lacing

S: Big, sweet, and chewy malts - malt-forward, as any self-respecting barleywine should be, with some caramel and amber malts, caramelized malts, amber malts, caramel, molasses, toffee, biscuits sprinkled with sugar - some dark fruits, figs, plums, raisins - some heat to round things out

T: Big and malty, with some caramel malts, amber malts, caramelized malts, cooked malts, caramel, molasses, toffee, sweet bread, bread crust, sweet biscuits - earthy notes - some dark fruits, figs, plums, raisins - sweet, but it should be, but maybe a touch too much - lightly nutty - some alcohol heat, again, appropriate for the style

M: Nearly full body, very smooth, low carbonation, finishes with lingering earth and sugary fruit

O: Irish Walker, Texas Ranger

This is a good example of an English Barleywine. The malt profile is solid, with tons of caramel, toffee, molasses, and dark fruits. It's a little too sweet, overall, but I'm not going to complain too much. For all I know, this could smooth out after aging for another few years. As for now, it's good, but not mind-blowing.

Mar 12, 2016
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mothman from Minnesota

3.87/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Tan head. Copper brown color.

Malty. Toffee and caramel. Sweet. Light molasses and raisins. Brown sugar.

Medium bodied. Easy drinking. Nothing crazy though.

Feb 13, 2016
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Apellonious from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bomber bottled 5/27/15 poured into a tulip glass.

A - Dark, dense, brown/ruby with almost a purple hue. No head or lace on first pour. 2nd pour yielded one finger of tan head that moved quickly to a thin lace.

S - Rich fig, caramel, oak, vanilla/brown sugar and bread.

T - Follows the nose, adding in molasses, dark fruit, nuts, and some well hidden booze.

M - Dense, full, low carbonation. Almost chewy, gets sticky.

O - A very warming, tasty, slow sipper for a winter evening. Have to pick up another and let it sit for a few years.

Feb 06, 2016
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bringing a full-flavored and robust British spread to the hills of North Carolina, the Olde Hickory brewers bathe the palates of their fans in juicy malt sweetness and mind-numbing booze. Not for the faint of heart, this isn't a quick session but rather a slow sipping affair for drinkers with a sweet tooth.

Underneath is deep mahogany austere, the ale easily seduces the senses with the intense and robust succulence of molasses, toffee and browned sugar. Laced with dark stone fruits and citrus, its taste slathers the early palate with toasty, buckwheat, nutty and chocolate-like sweetness.

Without the malt dominance wavering much over the middle palate, the boozy warmth of curacao liquor that brings with it notions of maraschino cherry, prune, raisin, dried apple, fig and date caldering up with it. With a port-like savory taste, the final flavors are spicy with a pep of shaven oak bitterness.

Light leather and tobacco frame the beer's final impressions as the full and nearly chewy beer slowly recedes past the late palate. As its spiciness grows, the alcohol and hops offer slight reprieve from the massive sweetness while returning with citrusy curacao liquor in aftertaste.

Oct 23, 2015
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mabermud from Washington

3.79/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This waxed 2014 bottle pours a butterscotch and diet cola colored body. The head is light mocha colored and instantly erupts into a one inch head during the pour, then just as quickly disappears to a thin halo with a filmy broken cover over the top. There are aromas of big brown sugar, caramel, and sweet plump raisins. Brown and white sugar, molasses, some toasted malts in the taste, with one plum, and two soft, overripe cherries. For me, the sugar aspects have control over the taste. Alcohol on the exhale, but the taste is muddled and pretty mellow. Carbonation is lower than not, it is soft in the box, and is medium bodied.

Overall, I was expecting more from this beer, but cannot expect anything else since this is my first time having this beer. Maybe the picture of Tron on the bottle threw me for a loop since I loved that movie. Therefore, I expected more from this beer. Nevertheless, Olde Hickory Brewery makes great beer.

Oct 15, 2015
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KYGunner from Kentucky

3.98/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Strong notes of chocolate malt, molasses, sorghum and pecan. The middle palate gets more roasted grain, barley and a toasted bread. It finishes very smooth, almost creamy, with a dry malt and fudge brownie. I like this one a lot.

May 31, 2015
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Treyliff from West Virginia

4.3/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage, poured into oversized wine glass

A- pours murky dark brown color with a small fizzy off-white head that reduces quickly, leaving nothing behind

S- lots of lush dark cherry aroma up front with some vinous notes along with rasin and red grape. Butterscotch and caramel candy, tons of sweet malt with notes of caramalized brown sugar and dark bread

T- lots of dark fruits up front with an emphasis on black cherry and fig, hints of chocolate and walnut, followed by a huge wave of melted caramel with brown sugar, some earthy herbal notes close it out with more caramel linger

M- medium viscous body with low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel and a thick finish that coats the mouth, light oxidization

O- over a year of cellering has produced a wonderful cherry/caramel forward sipper

Feb 02, 2015
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tillmac62 from South Carolina

3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014 release. Pours a dark brown, just like a porter. Normal head volume and retention, excellent lacing. Dark fruit nose of plums, raisins and dates over a light note of alcohol. As it warms, molasses is evident along with a caramel note.. Light full body with a nice creamy texture. Slightly below normal carbonation, with a bit of effervescence in the finish, buttresses the body/texture. The flavor profile is intense, very complex and reasonably balanced. It begins with a burst of blended dark fruits that flow into a molasses sweetness. In the middle, the molasses fades into a caramel note that is rather sweet and covers the alcohol that lurks underneath. While reasonably covered, the alcohol still exhibits a slight astringency in the middle. In the finish, alcohol dominates and leaves that nice burn at the back of the throat. As it all fades away, it is a bit dry and prune notes are detected. I'm not a big barley wine fan, but this one hits the outstanding mark.

Jan 07, 2015
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humuloner22 from North Carolina

4.46/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Irish Walker (2014)

I had seen this beer around for years and then last spring I decided I would try it and damned if it wasn’t there. So, I waited around and then it popped up sometime around the summer, at least that is when I bought this one. I had read that barleywine’s do better with some age, so I have waited until now to try this one. So, it’s got like 6 months on it. I had only tried one barleywine previous to this one, at least that I was aware of.

Appearance: Pours with a dark rich reddish brown color. Beautiful in the glass. I decent amount of head that settles into virtually nothing. Just a film over the top of the beer once it relaxes. (4.75)

Smell: Sweet, boozey, and dark fruits dominate the aroma. It almost has a boozy prune juice smell going on. (4.25)

Taste: Dark fruits dominate this one. Its sweet, and it is boozy I would recommend that you share this, as it is 10% abv. Not that you couldn’t but this is a very rich beer. It actually says on the bottle to share with friends. I get, a lot of those winter dark fruits, almost fruitcake like flavors going on. This is called an English style barleywine because it has less hop dominance than American styles and I although I have not had many of this style, I would have to agree there is no hops in this one, if there is, you certainly cannot taste them. Plumbs, figs, cereal notes dominate. In the aftertaste you get a bit of hop assertiveness but it is very mild. (4.5)

Overall: This is a well made beer, by one of my favorite local brewers. I may have to grab a few more up to cellar, before they are gone again. One note they have just began the transition to 12/ 6 packs and they have changed the label style. Personally I kind of like the older labels. I noticed the Lindley Park, which was one of their more sought after beers had the wax omitted and I suspect the Event Horizon will too. This may be the last of the, shall I say “reserve” beers from them that has the wax coating around the cap. If that interests you, I doubt next years will have it! (4.5)

Nov 17, 2014
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MalibuKenny from North Carolina

3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

T: malty molasses sweetness, but as soon as that wears off an overpowering bitterness from the hops come through. Really more of an American Barleywine than English

M: Many detected a medium body, but I detect both heavy body and thin body, varying in between sips

Oct 05, 2014
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argock from Virginia

3.8/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22 oz wax-sealed brown bomber into a clear glass snifter. 2010 vintage. Purchased at Peabody's (Boone, NC) and cellared at about 60-65F for several years.

A: Fairly clear medium-brown with short cap of light beige head fading pretty quickly to leave a few blobs of lace.

S: Malty aroma with a heavy dose of medium and darker, burnt caramel, herbal and floral hops, not much in the way of fruity esters but a bit of mustiness, faint oxidation but nothing off-putting.

T: Really nice full-flavored English barleywine, not at all hot but very well-balanced. Definintely favors the caramel style of barleywine, not much for fruitiness but a lot of darker crystal malts leaving a slightly sticky burnt caramel character along with some leafy, herbal hoppiness, almost tobacco-like. Alcohol is well-hidden. A shade under medium bitterness. A delight to drink.

M: Creamy medium-full body with low-medium carbonation and reasonably dry finish despite the sweetness and nearly full body.

O: I really enjoyed Irish Walker and it makes me want to look through the cellar to find my other bottle (2011 vintage) and give it a try to see how long I should hang onto this in the future!

Sep 28, 2014
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SportsandJorts from Virginia

4/5  rDev +0.8%

Appearance: Mahogany color. Almost no head but some tan foam forms. Does not stay around. Completely hazy and opaque. Some redness to it. 3.5/5

Smell: Strong caramel sweetness. Strong alcohol. Hoppy bitterness. 4/5

Taste: Starts with maple syrup. Some caramel and sweetness. Lots of barley and bread. Some alcohol. Good strong hops. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Syrupy. Sweet but balanced by bitterness. Some warmth. 4.25/5

Overall: a good english barleywine, on the hoppier side for the style but in a good way. definetly a good value from what I hear it costs and a good year round big beer. it'd be a good beer to throw in the cellar and play around with.

Sep 05, 2014
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joe1510 from Illinois

4/5  rDev +0.8%

22oz Bomber
Brawley's - Charlotte

2014 Vintage

Irish Walker is chestnut brown as it pours with a ruby hue but when the glass is full it's flat out dark, basically as dark brown as brown can get. A frothy milk chocolate crown sits atop the body. The beige foam doesn't grow much but does stick around for ages and leaves puffy drink lines down the glass.

This barleywine is English all the way. Sugary plum and raisins in spades, orange marmalade, black cherry, a veritable fruitcake in a glass. Deep, rich caramel and a drizzle of molasses bring through some sweetness though a touch of toffee is included as well. Soda bread and cashews add more depth still. This beer just keeps getting deeper and deeper. My descriptors barely scratch the surface but are the most noticeable.

The flavor profile is much the same, staggering in its depth. Deep caramel lays the foundation and gets richer as it works through until you're finally left with molasses. Dark fruits; figs, raisins, plums, black cherries all pop up in the front, that fruitcake again. Soda bread and tea leaf hops join the fray mid palate while flashes of stone fruit hit. The finish is a touch boozy which adds to the overall dessert quality of this beer, port like. With the booze comes back the dark fruits. Depth.

The body on this beast of a beer is full and robust. The sweetness, luckily, vanishes fairly quickly and actually dries up in good time. Carbonation is soft and helps boost the velvety feel. This beer, while most safely served in small sample sizes, is so easy to consume I would consider it dangerous.

I thoroughly enjoy a good English style barleywine and Irish Walker is just that. The complexity is immense. The depth, staggering. The....Nevermind. It's good. Go get some!

Aug 30, 2014
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bcheng from Virginia

4.62/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This was a nice purchase from my trip to Asheville, NC, recommended by the good people at Appalachian Vintner. Drinking from an Old Hickory glass, at room temperature, the mouthfeel is somewhat creamy, and like a previous reviewer mentioned, has the woody, old ale quality. A little sweet, but definitely not overpowering. Personally I feel it is well balanced, and I very much enjoyed it. Definitely would buy it again if I get a chance to go to NC. Oh yeah, that blue wax covering the bottle top, is interesting, but perhaps a bit too thick for easy removal.

Apr 29, 2014
Irish Walker from Olde Hickory Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 354 ratings