Old Embalmer | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

very good
48 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
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50  | next → last
Reviews: 48 | Ratings: 211
Photo of metter98
3.94/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is clear amber-orange in color and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a large patch of bubbles in the center, a collar around the edge and some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of caramel malts are present in the nose along with some faint hints of floral hops. Notes of toffee also become apparent as the beer warms up.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has flavors of caramel and toffee along with hints of sweetness and a very slight amount of bitterness from the hops.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation with notes of warming from the alcohol.
O: I found this barleywine to be quite drinkable compared to other beers in the style because it's not overly sweet or cloying and it also hides the alcohol very well from the taste. If you let the beer warm up, it will become a little more complex and start exhibiting aromas and flavors of toffee.

Note: 2012 vintage

 1,068 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 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 Pencible
3.7/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a cloudy copper with some off white head.
S: It smelled like orange and copper hops, with sweet caramel and earthy bread crust.
T: It tasted like sweet caramel and earthy bread, with some bitter citrus and copper hops. It had a bitter and waxy aftertaste.
M: It was somewhat thick with lots of carbonation. Fairly lively body.
D: This was a decent barleywine with average scent and taste and body. The finish was a bit harsh, and the alcohol was noticeable, so it was not super easy to drink. Age would probably help, but this will likely never be great.

 569 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 TheSixthRing
3.97/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing Old Embalmer '12, bottled July 18th, 2012.

Appearance - Pours a hazy, orangish amber color with a white, finger width head. Average retention. Lacing is spotty at best.

Smell - Loads of caramel notes on the first whiff. Moderate bread. Minor hints of astringency. Faint chocolate.

Taste - Predominant caramel and toffee notes. Hints at berry sweetness. Finishes sweet with a touch of heat, and a lingering moderate citrus bitterness.

Moutfheel - Full-bodied, with light, but tingly carbonation. Sticky on the lips, but goes down like a beer with lesser body.

Overall - At this stage, reminiscent of Mendocino's Eye of the Hawk, with a bit more kick. Loads of caramel flavor backed by strong fruity ester character. Still has a touch of hop character, even with 5 months of age on it. At $4 a bottle, I must have purchased it at a closeout discount. Hopefully there's still another bottle or two, because I'd love to get a good year or two of age on this thing.

 975 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.24/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2012 vintage...not sure if there are any others, or if there will be, but there's a '12 on the bottle, so there it is. Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer has a very thin, light appearance on the pour. Light, bright, amber-copper coloring with a thin ring of film on the surface. Aromas of tropical fruit sweetness, with some fig and date sweet in the backbone, cherry highlights, and a fairly heavy dose of resiny hops the clean everything up. Flavors have a more roasty and woody characteristic initially, followed by cherry and old world fruit sweetness. Peppery spicings, with a molasses characteristic at the tail end of the palate. Very jumbled flavors jumping all over the tongue. The beer is very thin in mouth, with a sharpness as it nears the finish. The aftertaste has notes of pepper, tobacco, and very light hints of molasses. The finish is filmy and quick, almost watery. From start to finish I do not get Barleywine on this brew. All in all, it's not a bad beer, but it's not a Barleywine, in my opinion.

 1,029 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.6/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear copper colored beer with a small white head. Looks awfully mild for a barleywine.

Scent is sweet malt and pine with a noticeable alcohol scent. Pine, wood, tea and scent of pecan.

Starts off tasting of toffee and caramel with a buttery after taste. A little sweet it is woody and nutty with malt candy flavors. Slight melon flavor.

Mouthfeel is good.

Mild tasting barleywine that packs a hidden punch. Consume with caution.

 433 characters

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 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 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 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 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 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 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

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.76/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at Toronado 2009 Barleywine Festival.
Pours clear deep gold with copper core and nice off white head. The mild aroma has notes of dark fruitiness, some sweet malts and floral hops. The taste is very much to English barleywine style to me with rich chewy dark fruity esters coming from prunes, cherries and ripe plums. It slowly takes on sweet malts and a hint of caramelization. Nice brew that is right on the mark now.

 427 characters

Photo of csiewert
3.65/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very sweet barley wine that gets the job done. Pours a nice red color with very sticky white foamy head. Smells very sweet and fruity. The taste is thick with fruity flavors and malty sweetness. Almost a little too sweet for my liking. Mouthfeel is a little harsh but finishes with not much harsh aftertaste. This beer is a good change of pace.

 344 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 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 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 IceAce
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750mo bottle Labeled 'Annual Employe Meeting ~ April 1, 2004

Well, this 10.9% ABV beauty has been aged for almost 1½ years and autumn-like weather has brought out my thirst for a big, bad, barleywine...let's see if this one qualifies.

Pours an orange / brown body with slow CO² streamers rising from the chalice bottom. The thin white foam cap rapidly dissipates. At first glance, the nose resembles bigfoot...sans hops. As it warms, however, the aroma is ripe with candied fruits,figs, and dates.

Entry features light carbonation on the front of the tongue and the midtaste steals the show with a caramelized sugar starter followed by the taste of dates and ripe figs. The finish is fluffy candi sugar and the full warming effects of previously undetected alcohol.

While this bottle was a limited edition, the draught version lives every winter at the Gasthaus in Portland, Oregon. This is highly recommended is you shoould be in the area.

 954 characters

Photo of freed
3.62/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this at Widmer's Gasthaus.

This ale has a surprising clarity to it - and a rather thin amber look to it. You'd be expecting their oktoberfest just on its looks.

However, as soon as it gets within olfactory range - you know its a barleywine. The brazen spicy aroma seems almost too aggressive, and almost masks the malt. I had to let the ale warm a bit before the aroma became so aggressive, but it wanted to get out.

The taste is also quite boisterous with spices. Molases, cloves, ginger, cinnamon all come as a bit of a shock compared to is somewhat sparse body, as does the somewhat excessive alcoholic content.

I really ought to try this again come winter - I might be more appreciative of its directness. Now though - its a bit too much on the decorations without having a satisfying bready body.

 818 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50  | next → last
Old Embalmer from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
3.87 out of 5 based on 211 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.