Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Old Embalmer | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
47 Reviews
Old EmbalmerOld Embalmer

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by freed on 08-08-2004

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 209
Photo of scotttheoldembalmer
4.83/5  rDev +24.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

To me, this brew by Widmer is great. Another reviewer said to watch out because it creeps up on you. That, beer aficionados, is an understatement. At 10.2% alcohol, this one will flat out kick your ass! (It tastes good, too!) Proceed with caution and enjoy.

 257 characters

Photo of badgustav
4.6/5  rDev +18.9%
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.

 407 characters

Photo of alpinebryant
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours a dark caramel orange with a fluffy white head and sticky lacing.

S: aroma of sticky sweet citrus and a good biscuit malt aroma. Long boil time sugar caramelization and some pine.

T: the taste here is refreshingly sweet and well balanced. This is not overbittered, or too sweet but pleasantly balanced and goes down easy. The end has a cotton candy sweet finish but it is very well balanced with the clementine and tangerine hop flavors. I really am impressed with the Bravo hops here and would love to try brewing a batch with Bravo in the near future.

M: medium body sticky with a light carbonation.

O: this is a clear winner for my favorite beer from Widmer brothers yet. Very well rounded and while it is sweet it is mostly the result of the hops flavor additions I feel. The bitterness is not overbearing with this strong beer you would expect them to be in order to compete however they are pleasantly sweet and mostly flavor additions by their profile. I hope to get my hands on some of these in the future.

 1,029 characters

Photo of pat61
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

 361 characters

Photo of oberon
4.21/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

 622 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

New review from the "Alchemy Project" 22's... Picked up at the COOP for a pricey $13.. poured into my slim tulip.. Decent enough light tan head... nice lacing and retention.. the brew is a crystal clear light amber.

Nose shows some hoppiness that reminds me of orange blossoms.... floral and somehow a bit earthy.. balanced backbone of pale malt and pieces of toasty malt... no real "caramel or toffee".. pretty damn good.

Very balanced... not bitter ever.. good malt presence and a nice floral hoppiness... palate mirrors the aromas.

Body is a slippery medium and carbonation is light yet makes me want another sip.. liquid velvet.

Very drinkable out of the gate... The label suggests "cellaring"... I am torn, I have my doubts it will do any good, but you never know. Damn tasty and drinkable.. no element overwhelms any other.


Serving type: bottle

Reviewed on: 09-14-2012 04:28:42


On tap tonight at The Front Door... poured into a probably 10oz goblet... nice looking frothy off white head.. the brew is lighter than many barleywines ... sorta a medium orange color.

Nose is pretty piney backed up by buckets of maltiness...

Flavor pretty much the same... chewy big maltiness with just enough caramel is hammered pretty heavily by hop resins... the body is on the medium side with a lighter than expected carbonation.

This was really damn good.... I wish they would bottle this up again... It really reminds me of Full Sail's Old Boardhead with about a year in the bottle.


 1,519 characters

Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours an almost clear amber-orange with a finger of frothy white head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of grapefruit, pineapple, tropical, and floral hops with sweet caramel and biscuit malts with a bit of booze.

T - Starts off with some grapefruit, pineapple, tropical and citrus hops with some bitterness and some sweet caramel malts. Through the middle, some resiny pine and floral hops come through with some more bitterness and some sweet biscuit malts. The finish is a mix of grapefruit, pine, and grassy hops, bitterness, sweet caramel and bready malts, and some booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a dry, bitter, and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice hoppy barleywine. Good overall balance and body. Good hop profile.

 836 characters

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into an oversized pilsener glass.

A: Deep, burnished copper color with excellent clarity and a two-finger head of dense, creamy, tan foam that left some nice lacing on the glass.

S: Bitter, sweet and zesty aromas courteous of the Bravo hops blends nicely with fresh, juicy malts and a whiff of spicy, berry-like booze.

T: Heavy, complex malt flavors from the start throw off very fruity and spicy malt flavors ranging from blackberry to citrusy grapefruit pulp. An herbal, spicy and peppery alcohol flavor comes in around mid-palate with a further citrusy hop smack from the Bravo hops. The finish is long, warm and bittersweet with plenty of fruity and floral esters still resonating on the palate.

M: Full-bodied American barleywine balanced with the herbal and citrusy snap of Bravo hops. Fuller as the brew warmed, but also more enjoyable for it.

O: An extremely complex and interesting American barleywine, old Embalmer is big, bold and hoppy, which is something you like to see for the style. The hopping isn't over the top, but if it is at times, it's all for the sake of drinkability with this brew. The bold, spicy fruitiness never breaks your ability to concentrate on the finely chosen hop varietal to showcase. I'd pick one up to age and see what happens over time.

 1,312 characters

Photo of Odysseyalien
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

 282 characters

Photo of Phigg1102
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
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!

 246 characters

Photo of sommersb
4.14/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 05-30-2013
Freshness: 2012 Vintage
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry cap
Glassware: Signature glass
Purchased: Received in a trade

The label says my bottle of Old Embalmer '12 was bottled on 07-18-2012.

The appearance has a semi-clear amber/orange colored beer with a nice sized off-white head on top. Both lacing and head retention are very good.

Aromas are very pleasant; first with piney and floral hops, then malty caramel notes, followed by fruits and spices, with perhaps a hint of tobacco.

The taste follows suit, leading off with hop bitterness in the medium range, then a dose of caramel malts and some oak and woody flavors. The alcohol lends a pleasing warming to the taste.

For mouthfeel, the body is thick and full, moderately carbonated, and finishes with an excellent balance of hoppy bitterness and sweetness of rich malts and fruits.

Overall I enjoyed this beer a lot. With almost a year in the bottle, I'm sure the hops are much more restrained than they would have been at bottling, but it seems to have aged very well.

Thanks to my cousin Brian for this one!

 1,099 characters

Photo of Nerudamann
4.14/5  rDev +7%
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.

 720 characters

Photo of DoctorZombies
4.12/5  rDev +6.5%
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!

 309 characters

Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

 1,401 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
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

 613 characters

Photo of ISmith87
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
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 .

 804 characters

Photo of srandycarter
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep dark clear honey, lots of tan head, leaves pretty quickly. Good amount of spotty lace.

S - Big sweet caramel. Bittering is pretty evident too. Doesn't smell hot even with the ABV.

T - Very similar to smell. The caramel center hits you first, then the hops rein it in. Still deceptive well hidden booze.

M - Medium body, good carb, great balance.

D - Be careful with this one. It will creep up on you!

 413 characters

Photo of SawDog505
4.03/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 20 oz Duvel tulip glass, bottled in July. Pours a clear bright orange red, with a off white 4 inch fluffy head, that leaves lots of lace on the sides. Smell is carmel, toffee, biscuit, pine, citrus, and some dark fruit. The smell is very balanced, much less flavor than the nose, but that doesn't make it bad. It almost seems like this beer is aged, not hot, a very easy drinking beer. Body is medium, plenty of life, not dry, and very smooth. This a good barleywine, but for $14 a bomber I want barrel aged or earth shattering, especially when I could get a six pack of Bigfoot and lottery ticket fir the same price.

 631 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.02/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

 1,047 characters

Photo of lordofthewiens
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter, this beer was a cherry amber color, very bright. It had a thin white head that left a little lace.

Aroma of sweet fruit and earthy hops. There seemed to be a little oak also.

Nice taste of cherries and some plums. Still sweet. Mildly hoppy.

Nice beer. I'm writing this review while drinking a 2012 Bigfoot. Old Embalmer is milder, smoother, and less aggressive. Very enjoyable.

I think it would be worth cellaring.

 441 characters

Photo of HopHead84
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


On tap at the Widmer Gasthaus. The bartender initially refused me a four ounce pour, adamant that  10oz was the only serving option. Eventually he could no longer brook my wistful visage, and he relented.

Dark golden with a frothy off white head. Hope are assertive in the nose, grapefruit and pine resin with some earthy notes. Malt is caramel and lightly sweet, and alcohol is evident. An aggressive yet pleasant aroma, not unlike Old Guardian. The flavor is very bitter with prominent notes of pine and grapefruit, and a balancing caramel malt base. Alcohol is definitely present in the flavor and the warming aggressively bitter finish. Medium body with moderate draft carbonation and a sticky, dry mouthfeel. Overall, an aggressive and very bitter American Barleywine, akin to Old Guardian.

 807 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is super malts. Loads of them, with a fairly firm sweet tone to it. The bravo hops are still carrying a good deal of influence with a noticable spicyness from them. Very slight burn from alcohol. This is a good barleywine as it is now, but I think a very significant amount of time in a cellar would bring out a much different experience.

 348 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an orangish color with good carbonation and a small white head. Nose is pine, sweetness, booze. Taste is good with pine and a tad citrus to it, booze, but not as hefty as I wanted. Mouthfeel is pine, light hop bitterness booze, sweet. Fisnish is dry despite hop resin the taste.

 285 characters

Photo of tdm168
3.99/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - caramel amber with a soft lacing of pure white head that fades but leaves nice lacing on the glass.

S - bready, caramel, candy sugar; intensely malty aroma

T - bread, caramel, candy sugar, some citrus, bitter finish, some underlying sweetness in the finish as well; spicy alcohol that warms the throat

M - warm, a bit thin at times, medium to full bodied

This is a decent barleywine. Just as advertised it showcases "copious amounts of malts". The bravo hops in this '12 edition offer a big bitterness similar to a vegetable-like bitterness and some citrus notes throughout. My only complaint is that this beer is a bit thin and alcohol is a bit intense. I wish I had another bottle to age for a year or two. Once this beer blends and mellows, I bet it would be fantastic. Even relatively fresh (5 months old) it's pretty decent.

 837 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.98/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The old Embalmer is back for 2012. Bottled July 19, thank you Widmer for a clear date. Something about that golden light brown color is quite appealing. Poured in my Crooked Line 1/3 litre tulip. Not a tall head but a nice cap of foam and loads of fine prickly carbonation on the tongue.

For a strong beer, this is extremely pleasing and highly sippable. A nice balance between the inevitable sweet malt, the hot alcohol, and some bitter hops. It is not as bitter as Bigfoot, say, nor as sweet as the typical Barleywine. If you don't like Barleywines, try this one. It borders on being acidic, but with the spritzy mouthfeel and dry, fruity finish, it's a winner. Just a whiff of raisins and canteloupe, a nutty taste, and the long malty aftertaste prickled with those hops.

This is more like a mixed drink, some kind of dry whiskey liqueur and club soda. "This year's version features Bravo hops that lend earthy and floral qualities..." according to the label. Bravo, which I had never heard of, are described as a "super high alpha variety."

 1,046 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Old Embalmer from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 209 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!