Old Embalmer
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

Old EmbalmerOld Embalmer
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American Barleywine
Ranked #292
Ranked #18,744
3.86 | pDev: 11.4%
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
Very Good
Old EmbalmerOld Embalmer
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Reviews: 49 | Ratings: 216 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

6 year old forgotten, but properly cellared, bottle. Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a medium reddish orange with a half finger, light khaki head with good retention and solid lacing. Aroma of dry caramel and biscuit malt, figs, dates, a hint of plum. Flavor is dry caramel malt, figs, raisins, dates, hints of nuts and plums. Light grassy hops in the finish. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess. A quit odd little barleywine here; the flavors are spot on and have aged beautifully with well integrated dark fruit and malt flavors, mellow and satisfying. But the flavor is surprisingly subdued. It doesn't taste weak or watered down, but is a much lower intensity of any barleywine I've tasted. Despite the low key flavor, the aged hops are not intrusive and add a nice, very light hop bitterness to the finish. I've stopped cellaring hopped barleywines now and actually had low expectations for this cellar find. I'm very pleasantly surprised. At this stage, it tastes much like a very mellow old ale with a little hop kick in the finish. This has aged remarkably well and is still enjoyable.

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Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Hazy copper color, with a small tan head, and thin, glass-coating lace.

Aroma: Dark caramel and toffee dominate the aroma, there are somewhat earthy hops as well and a subtle perfume aroma.

Taste: Caramel and sweet, vinous alcohol dominate the taste from start to finish. Midway through the taste, a flourish of earthy hops presents. Finishes with lingering sweet alcohol, caramel, and earthy hops.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and very full, with sharp champagne-like carbonation, and an almost syrupy mouth feel.

Drinkability/notes: An interesting example, which can be said to expand the boundaries of the style. Well worth a try.

Presenation: Packaged in a standard twenty-two ounce brown glass "bomber" bottle, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of Odysseyalien
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Old Embalmer 2012, opened 4/25/2016. Much tastier than I expected it to be. A very nice take on the American Barleywine. Not too sweet at all, mouthfeel was medium. Even after sitting in the bottle for four years, it was still on the hoppy side. I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of Whiteturtle
2.28/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.25 | overall: 2

Widmer Brothers Old Embalmer '13- featuring x-431 hops

*This is not barrel-aged, as there seems to be some confusion with previous reviews.

Eyes: Pours a burnt sienna colour, with a minimal head- about 1 fingers worth (but is one finger ever really worth it?). A pretty hue, and quite transparent. Low carbonation, but bubbles remain prevalent.

Nose: Butterscotch, carrot cake, and vanilla hit the nasal passages hard. Followed by pine, allspice, and toffee. Smells reminiscent of my old retired favourite- smuttynose barleywine.

Tongue: Caramel, cherry, sherry, and peppercorns. An extremely light, earthy, and unfortunately watery taste to this beer. Heavy spices, with not a lot of malt to back it up. The malt notes that are there are fruity, maybe pearish? Tastes like an vienna lager to me- woody, munichy, and lacking in depth.

Cheeks: Way too light. The 10% is masked nicely, but with flavour being the primary sacrifice. The mouthfeel during and after each taste reminds me more and more of a vienna lager. And as I mentioned earlier, an unfortunate H20 quality keeps peeking through.

Overall: Extremely disappointed. I love Widmer Brothers, and when I saw this bottle chilling in my local store I thought I came across a hidden gem (and I have quite the affinity for barleywines). I honestly don't know how this beer can be called a barleywine. Usually barleywines either veer towards the american way of hoppy bittery goodness, or the english malty syrupy (and better) route. This tastes like a watered down amber ale. I'm really hoping I got a bad bottle, and the actual beer that was meant to be tasted by the public is out there for others to enjoy.

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Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours hazy amber under a thin white film. S: the aromas are fruit, grain, malt, faint sherry T: A big malt palate with traces of vanilla, light caramel, fruit with a hint of cherry, and a grand dose of alcohol. F: It has a big body to balance big alcohol with below average carbonation. O: This is something you could drink after dinner instead of a bourbon.

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Photo of brentk56
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 version (with Bravo hops)

Appearance: With a bit of a bubble show, the beer pours cloudy and copper; the modest ecru head fades into a film; decent lacing for the age and ABV

Smell: Toffee, tobacco and pine, with underlying stone fruit tones

Taste: Toffee lays down the gauntlet, with pine and tobacco tastes developing; stone fruit sprinkled drizzled with syrup in the mid-palate and a hint of bitterness and booze in the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Overall: This beer has matured nicely and is drinking like a champ right now; glad I found a store with an older bottle

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Photo of badgustav
4.6/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2013, aged 2 years
Look: coppery red, almost cherry. Light head which lingers

Aroma: best part of the beer. Sweet maltiness with notes of raisin, left me thinking of cinnamon raisin bread. No hopiness.

Flavor: well rounded, sweet and figs. Body is light and slightly astringent and the alcohol is quite subdued. Light syrup notes with hints of allspice.

A well rounded barleywine, at least aged.

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasting notes: Initial impression is quite floral, woody. Recalls an extra-strength English IPA with some added leafy American hop character. Some peach and mango-like fruity notes. Tea-like. A little soapy. Some cherry and walnut esters. A whiff of allspice. Brandy-like booze is well-concealed and sneaks up a bit. Everything is well-integrated, smooth, almost creamy. Deep malt backbone that recalls bran muffins. Low key carbonation. Initially understated barleywine that packs some heat as one wades through a snifter.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.12/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Medium amber plus (12+), thick beige foam with good lacing. Toffee notes. Toffee start, alcohol on the exhale, caramel candy and lite fruity middle, some bitter pear in the finish. Medium lite mouthfeel and warming. Much lighter than I was expecting. Very interesting feel vs. flavor juxtaposition. Intrigued!

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.02/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 edition, on tap at mead street station, not the brothers reserve edition i dont believe. man, some age has done this well, helped it mellow and integrate, and dry up a bit, its excellent barleywine, one of my favorites of the season so far. super frothy on the pour, a little murky in its light amber color, looks light for the style, and the head just keeps rising, creamy and beige and unrelenting. it smells very english, yeasty and not a ton of hops, but it also doesnt smell sweet at all, more like a bran muffin than caramels and toffees and the usual suspect grain layers. i think the yeast helps that a lot, its very english, biscuity and obviously robust in its capacity for high gravity fermentation. its almost woody, the way new oak can add a vanilla earthiness, this definitely has that going on in the middle, and maybe a hint of fig or date fruitiness before it gets dried out. i usually dont love this style, but this one is awfully good. also a heck of a way to take on a hangover! maybe the best widmer beer i have ever had.

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Photo of Nerudamann
4.14/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from draft into a snifter glass.

Look - very light amber color with some caramel hints. A good inch or so of head, with somewhat steady retention.

Smell - This has a "strong" smell, letting you know that you're about to taste something with a kick. After that, there' s a strong maltiness without a lock of backbone from the hops.

Taste - much like the smell, there's initially a strong malty quality that blends into a slight bitterness on the sides of the palate, followed by a dulled maltiness in the finish.

Mouthfeel - more on the creamy side, which isn't atypical of this style.

Quite a pleasant beer overall. Best if had in small doses for full appreciation. Very good representation of the style.

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.15/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Hazy, murky light brown caramel color. Apple sauce and pear in the aroma with a touch of melon and pineapple. Taste is hoppier than expected with tons of brown sugar and more apple. Sharp mouthfeel with a touch of booziness. Awesome in the style!

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Photo of biboergosum
3.73/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, the '12 version, mit 'Bravo' Hopfen.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, medium copper amber colour, with one fat finger of weakly puffy, loosely foamy, and generally bubbly ecru head, which leaves some melting snowbank lace around the glass as it speedily abates.

It smells of semi-sweet bready caramel malt, candy sugar, reduced apple compote, dark orchard fruit - fig, date, and prunes, mostly - and still heady earthy, leafy, and floral hops, with more than a soupcon of bristling booziness. The taste is gritty, grainy pale and caramel malt, weak toffee pudding, a certain musty, been stored way too long red wine fruitiness, further fig, date, and cherry cordial notes, a mildly clammy yeastiness, a faintly acerbic woodiness, some late-arriving drupe esters, a touch of wet tobacco, and understated weedy, leafy, and floral hops - the north of 20-proof alcohol doing well to remain in the shadows.

The bubbles are fairly underwhelming in their middling, pithy frothiness, the body a decent medium weight, but like the aforementioned yeast, kind of clammy in its stab at smoothness. It finishes off-dry, as the grainy caramel malt starts to apply itself towards the English side of things, given the turtling behavior of the purported Yankee Doodle Dandy hops here.

Yeah, two years (+) on, and the hops are not peppy and do not get all American on my palate, you say? Big fucking surprise. Anyways, the teetering towards British quarters is thus duly understandable, especially given the otherwise well-rendered, and enjoyably drinkable maltiness, one which is easily quaffable, with the only caveat being that, damn, girl, this is one boozy mo-fo, once you get up close and suitably tight with it!

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.75/5  rDev -2.8%

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #70 (November 2012):

This years version is brewed with a relatively new hop (Bravo) for the aroma addition. Very intense both in hopping and alcohol, there lies the conundrum. Do you age this one to mellow out the alcohol and hope the hops don’t wither too quickly or throw caution to the wind and drink it fresh now. We can say that drinking it now was well worth it though have a spare bottle to see where this one goes.

STYLE: American Barleywine
ABV: 10.2%

LOOK: Deep copper hue, crystal clear, showy lacing display

SMELL: Spicy, citrus rind, passion fruit, pipe tobacco, marmalade, estery, catty, evergreen, fresh grass

TASTE: Incredibly smooth, creamy, full bodied, bitter throughout, pungent, citrus zest, grainy, brown sugar, ripe peaches, boozy warmth, leafy, hop resin, pithy, drying finish

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Photo of Cylinsier
3.87/5  rDev +0.3%

22 oz bottle

Pours a clear amber color with a yellowish white head, fine and about a quarter inch thick, retains well and dissipates to a lacing.

Smells of rich caramel and apple malts along with fruity and piney fresh hops.

Taste is of caramel and sweet crisp apple mixed with piney fresh hops and a hint of maple.

Full body with stinging carbonation on the roof of the mouth. Warms a bit going down.

A good but not quite great hoppy barleywine. Definitely worth a try for fans of the style or for hop heads, but there are better barleywines out there.

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Photo of jellikit
3.8/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: A semi-cloudy, amber ale with little to no head.

S: fig. Caramel. Flowers.

T: figs and raisins. Caramel. Alcohol. Bitter at the end but not too much. Sweet'ish.

M: Medium carbonation. Big body.

O: pretty solid Barleywine. Would buy again.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.78/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

From the 2012 batch. Dated July 19, 2012. Sampled on April 20, 2014 so not quite two years old.

Drinking at about 55 degrees. Lovely mahogany-amber-reddish pour leading up to a lingering, lacing off-white head. Invites me in.

Even after almost two years the aroma is still bold and forward with sweet roasted barley malts, a touch of fruit, and a mildly earthy hop sensation.

The body is a little under medium but it is smooth.

The taste also brings out all those barley malt characters and a low bitter finish. The 10.2% ABV has not faded all that much. This still has plenty of alcohol punch but not so much in the taste.

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Photo of Vierenner
3.64/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I once again tried a beer with the hope it would be surprisingly good ... not this beer. Lesson learned is to check Beer Advocate first ... I wouldn't have purchased this one. I prefer and have had more maltier barleywines, so I was hoping to find that quality in this one ... not the case.

Just a hoppy, high potency beer.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.95/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 oz, fresh 2013 vintage

rusty copper orange color, thin off white head that fades to a whisp of a covering. smell is a bit boozy, and strong hop flavor - fruit and pine flavors. taste has a good hearty caramel malt flavor to hold up the bitter hops. slight alcohol taste, good balance. thinner body, but slick oily mouthfeel, moderate carbonation.

overall - a little bit hot, but solid barleywine

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
3.57/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Served in a snifter glass. Embalmer '12 bottle dated Jul 18, 12-poured 12/04/2013.

Appearance: Thick bodied cloudy amber body with quite a few bubbles all over the place. An off-white head is quite thin with a vigorous pour rising to maybe 1/8".

Smell: Light rum scent that comes and goes. I am sorry to say but this brew has o potency when it comes to scent.

Taste: Strong alcohol flavors that remind you a bit of wood. It lacks complexity which is okay with with me. Barley notes that feel slightly fruity. That's really about it.

Mouth: Comes off a notch dry, feeling a bit toasty at the end. Is it sticky? maybe just a bit and it is what saves the "feel" rating of this beer.

Overall: Not a bad brew but considering it's price and the at least twenty other barleywines that are out there I would suggest skip. I am not knocking it, i just have had the pleasure of having quality over this brew, grab a glass and judge for yourself...Salud!

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Photo of kojevergas
2.78/5  rDev -28%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Bottled July 18th 2012. Featuring Bravo hops. 10.2% ABV confirmed. 22 fl oz brown glass bottle with uninspired label art and branded pry-off pressure cap served into a stem-tulip in low altitude Minneapolis, MN. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average; I'm in the mood for a barleywine. Reviewed as a barleywine because the label clearly identifies it as such.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a half finger wide head of nice khaki colour. A bit thin. Poor complexion and consistency. Retention is poor - maybe 40 seconds at best. No lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a decent translucent quasitransparent amber red. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's a bit too much of a clean amber for the style. I've never seen a good barleywine of this hue. I'm looking forward to trying it, but I'm suspicious given the brewery and colour. Not unique or special. No egregious flaws.

Sm: Toffee, caramel, light toasted malt, amber malts. Bread crust. Faint alcohol. Some pear/green apple - not really an orchard character, but enjoyable.

No yeast character is detectable. I'm not getting much hop character - if there is any, it's generic and fruity.

A pretty pleasant aroma of below average strength. I'm not horribly excited to try it, but it's average for the style.

T: Amber malts, light toasted malt character, toffee, caramel, and some very faint apple/pear. Generic fruity hops comprise the entirety of the hop profile. Balance is mediocre. Build is loosely cohesive but far from gestalt. Lacks complexity and subtlety - especially for the style. No intricacy or nuance at all. Not well layered. Below average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour. It just isn't that flavorful or tasty.

No yeast character comes through. Has some faint alcohol presence. I'm unimpressed. There's none of the rich malt foundation you'd expect in a great barleywine, and nothing about the flavour profile suggests it'd handle age well.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Full-bodied and thick without the diversity of flavour to back it. Overcarbonated. Unrefreshing.Okay presence on the palate. Suits the flavour profile okay, but doesn't feel custom-tailored to it.

Not oily, astringent, hot, boozy, gushed, harsh, or weak.

Dr: Drinkable but very unremarkable. A forgettable barleywine from a downright mediocre brewery, Old Embalmer offers nothing of interest to the discerning drinker. I wouldn't get it again and I wouldn't recommend it to friends. Not worth the cellar space to put down. I'm not sure what Widmer thought this was bringing to the already well-saturated barleywine market, but its relatively low quality renders it quite mundane. Barleywine fans will be disappointed.

Low C

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Photo of russpowell
3.4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2013 Vintage pours caramel/copper with a sliver of cream colored head. Good head retention & nice lacing, stays effervescent throughout

S: Breadyness, pears & little bit of woodiness, a bit of boozeyness

T: Dryness, woody hops, pears, boozey notes & a little caramel & green appleskin up front. Dryness, pears, booze & oakyness as this warms, plus some pine & citrus hop showing up late to the party, slight butterscotch notes. Finishes dry, piney, boozey & slightly fruity, plus a little bit of caramel

MF: Medium bodied, slight carbonation, actually thins out as this warms

A pretty run of the mill American Barleywine. Rough on the edges. I know these guys can do better. The barrel-aged one is better, but still nothing to crow about...

I am sure this will get better with age

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Photo of ISmith87
4.05/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a good beer but I've always kind of not liked the American barleywines as much is the old ales. American barleywines always tastes more like Imperial IPAs to me.

The appearance of this beer is great it's a dark copper amber color with about a a halfinger of head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. it's also very clear. The smell is like an American Imperial IPA w a little bit lighter hop smell, and caramel malt in the background. The taste is about the same as the smell with a lot of hops and malt in the background. The hops have a grapefruit an pine taste but they also have a red fruit smell kind of like pomegranate. The mouth feel is light to medium with alcohol calccompletely covered and an after taste of hops.

Overall this is a good beer but I probably wouldn't have it again .

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2012 vintage, bottled 7/19/2012. Pours lightly hazy orange copper color with a 1 finger fairly dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of orange zest, lemon zest, tangerine, pineapple, caramel, toast, brown sugar, biscuit, toffee, floral, grass, light pine, and floral earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of hop and malt notes; with good strength. Taste of orange zest, lemon zest, tangerine, pineapple, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, biscuit, floral, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness. Slight earthy pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of citrus, citrus zest, pineapple, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, biscuit, floral, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice complexity of hop and malt flavors; with a great hop/malt flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a moderately creamy and fairly slick mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent barleywine style. All around great balance and complexity of hop and malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
4.21/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle.Pours into an oversized wine glass a deep burnt orange color with a sticky off white head atop,it just looks menacing.Aromas of deep brown sugar and cramel,the hops are "green"and play a role but the malt wins out.Thick and chewy wich I think it should be for the style and how "big" it is.There is a slight rawness underneath the big malts,it has a green leafiness to it that let's you know it's American,it's alcoholic and pretty sweet with caramel and booze but I like the hop profile.Iam one of those that thinks Widmer is underrated in their "big" stuff,I liked this like I like alot of their other stuff.

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Old Embalmer from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 216 ratings