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Irish Walker | Olde Hickory Brewery

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very good
97 Reviews
Irish WalkerIrish Walker

Brewed by:
Olde Hickory Brewery
North Carolina, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.14%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by oberon on 12-25-2009

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Reviews: 97 | Ratings: 328
Photo of brewskifan55
3.84/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of angrybabboon
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

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Photo of mothman
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.21/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.23/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of mabermud
3.79/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.98/5  rDev +1%
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.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
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

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Photo of tillmac62
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of humuloner22
4.46/5  rDev +13.2%
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)

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Photo of MalibuKenny
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
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

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Photo of argock
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
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!

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4/5  rDev +1.5%

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.

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Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev +1.5%

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!

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Photo of bcheng
4.62/5  rDev +17.3%
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.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a reddish copper with two finger head and lace ring down glass. Boozy, alkie aroma with bourbon, wood, hint of vanilla, caramel/sugary goodiness and touches of dark fruits (mostly figs and toffee). Fuller bodied, chewey, pronounced alcohol bite with a touch of burn on backend, this is a slow sipper b/c it will hit you and hit hard. That being said, well balanced, not overpowering in any sense, love the dark fruit and sweetness that balances with the alcohol and wood for a quality barley wine. Would love to see how this ages so I guess I'm buying another bottle.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.36/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage that i picked up last year when i was in NC (or maybe i picked it up longer ago?) none-the-less, enjoyed from an olde hickory half pint taster glass thingie.

a - brew poured a stunning ruby brown with crimson highlights. to the light you can somewhat see through it...massive cream colored head that hung out for ages and coated the glass as it vanished. pretty amazing looking.

s - nose is amazing. nougat, toffee, caramel...lush english barleywine. butterscotch. just spot on for what i like. really rich and thick with tons of candy.

t - taste matches the nose, just fantastic. really rich and thick and lush toffee butterscotch. caramel, nougat...you get the point. great barleywine.

m - fairly chewy and thick...a bit boozy on the finish.

o - overall, really great english barleywine. this sort of tows the line of old ale...really what i love about the english barleywine style. this is a keeper...would definitely have again.

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Photo of chinchill
3.38/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Large shared bottle pours dark reddish-brown with a decent head.
The aroma is somewhat boozy with a dark malt base and notes of dates and soft ripe fruits.
The flavor largely follows but has a sou note that seems out of place and a very bitter aspect to the aftertaste.
Smooth, full body with medium carbonation.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2011 vintage, which I usually wouldn't review, but this shows few signs of oxidation or decline. Thanks to n2185 for the bottle. Tasted 24 August 2013.

Pours deep rusty brown, dark, but clear with light behind it, which makes it look even more reddish. Half-finger of tan head, okay retention, stellar lacing.

Smell is big and malty, just what I want from an English barleywine. Dark fruit, a bit of molasses, and tobacco. Has both sweetness and depth.

Taste is pleasantly complex. It's less potently sweet, with more leather and tobacco than in the smell. Lots of brown, tannin flavors. In the finish, hops and alcohol come through as a two-pronged bitterness. Just a touch of oxidation.

Feel is good. Medium-heavy body, very sticky. It's a little low on carbonation, but there's enough to keep things active. Lasting.

A tasty beer, with nicely varied malt character. I like it, though some might find it overly sweet.

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Photo of davey101
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage into a Founders 15'th glass. Really digging the wax job with the stamp on top of the cap.

A - Pours a very dark brown body. Look more like a stout than a barleywine. Two fingers of light mocha foam sticks around for a long time. Excellent lacing and retention.

S - Now I know why its so dark. Lots of roasted malts, char, and chocolate combined with the traditional toffee, brown sugar, and raisins. A bit of faded piney hops and some booze

T - Toffee, heavily roasted malts, brown sugar, molasses, raisins, and a metallic aftertaste alongside light oxidation. Its pretty tasty but rather lackluster. The mouth feel is great though, rich and creamy.

O - A very roasty barleywine with a lot of good attributes but none that shine too bright. The metallic aftertaste takes its toll and oxidation is starting to creep in. I'm happy to have tried it but it wasn't exactly memorable.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - pours a deep murky mixture of mahogany and burgundy. A thin tan foam rises as the liquid is poured but quickly settles and recedes to a film. leaves a touch of lacing spots on the glass.

S - classic rich fruity, malty sweet barleywine nose. Notes of rich juicy dark and dried fruit like dates, plums and raisins. all that draped on top of grain notes such as bread pudding, rye bread. along with notes of sweet cream, burnt sugar and almond liquor.

T - spicy, doughy, rye-bread like flavor. there is also a nutty toasty grainy character along with a burnt sugar sweetness. hints of dried fruit like dates and raisins are present in the center along with a classic English herbal hop character. more notes of burnt sugar and brown sugar on the backend along with toasty notes of almonds and a subtle alcohol heat. finish is sweet yet smooth.

M - full bodied. thick viscous almost syrupy texture. medium carbonation.

O - very good barleywine. hits all the classic notes of the style. something i would definitely like to have again and see how it develops overtime.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.74/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured a cola brown color with a tan cap which fades leaving whispy bubbles and light lacing clinging to the edge of the glass

S: Sweet caramel meets toffee meets dark fruits. Rather straightforward and simplistic,l common for the style.

T: Initial but subtle booze sting coupled with toffee, caramel and underlying dark fruits plus residual sugary sweetness. A bit high on carbonation upfront. It finishes smooth, sweet, near decadence and lightly sticky

M: Medium to big bodied but I felt it need a bit more in the middle to make it fuller, well rounded and decadent

O: Good example of the style.

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Photo of Wolfpack2005
3.64/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Poured a deep mahogany into my tulip glass with about a half finger head that fades quickly.

S-Toasted malts, dark fruit (especially raisins), and a little bit of rye and hops.

T-Follows the nose with the toasted malts and raisins. Strong caramel sweetness. There is also faint notes of hops and a little bit of warmth from the alcohol.

M-Low carbonation creamy medium body.

O-This is a very mellow barley wine not overpowering with either the malts or the hops which is nice but nothing that really stands out and makes this beer unique.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.27/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Looks solid in that there is a small shortly sustained head and a rich color. Not much else to say.
I like the aroma, richness with a faint alcohol, light dark fruits and toffees.
The flavors are less rich, partially cut down by a hint of alcohol but it isn't hot by any means, there is just less richness and sweet density on the palate, still caramel and toasted toffee, just less of it, the dark fruits come out more, a bit of a pomegranate like note that has a faint itty bitty tannin aspect.
mouth feel is medium bodied.

Nice, solid, enjoyable Barleywine, not phenomenal, but a nice beer to drink solo in an evening.

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Irish Walker from Olde Hickory Brewery
3.94 out of 5 based on 328 ratings.
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