Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Barley Wine Style Ale) | Heavy Seas Beer

515 Ratings
Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Barley Wine Style Ale)Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Barley Wine Style Ale)

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer
Maryland, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Higravity on 09-09-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 515 |  Reviews: 346
Photo of pathman
4.5/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2/12/17 bottle (2011 vintage)

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Photo of HopsForBrains
4.25/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of StoutAtTheDevil
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Kegatron
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Farral
2.92/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Photo of ShadyRigglesbee
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of LloydDobler
3.28/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Jadjunk
3.46/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"An English style barleywine ale that can be enjoyed now or kept "below decks" as it becomes more complex as it ages." Brewed in the style of an English Barleywine ale. Available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft. Originally an annual winter release, discontinued following the 2012 season. I will review the most recent release (2012) alongside two older vintages (2011 & 2010).

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Served above 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a creamy frothed light caramel tan head over a deep cherry cola body with caramel highlights and high clarity, little sediment and light, relaxed carbonation. Retention is average and lacing is light and spotty. 3.75

(Smell) Bready caramel, toffee malt, moderate grainy esters, some mild fruit syrups of raisin and plum, reserved sweetness and aromatic qualities in general. Potency is mellow. 3.25

(Taste) English malts with a touch of toffee sweetness, light caramel syrup character, light to little fruit profile and not much graininess, fairly shallow flavor profile, perhaps preferable to newcomers of the style who prefer a lighter-bodied barleywine, not particularly satisfactory elsewhere. Concludes with a reserved alcohol finish. 3.5

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, residual, lightly oily, mildly dry. Carbonation is mild, generating a light frothiness and a lightly crisp finish. Body is light/medium for an English Barleywine, medium/heavy overall. Balance is slightly grainy over sweet. Alcohol presence is moderate and there are no off characters. 3.5

(Overall) Below Decks comes off to me as a Barleywine ale that doesn't take enough chances to stand out as a reputable Barleywine against other choices. Notably light bodied, with little flavor development of the malt profile or the yeast character. The alcohol profile is certainly there, but without a satisfactory malt backbone, it comes off as forced. The alcohol could easily be dialed down a few percentage points and create an enjoyable and more accessible style but as a barleywine, this is not one of Heavy Seas' stronger styles. 3.5

Vintage Notes:

2011 (3.5 Years Aged): Creamy frothed head of same color but shorter lived, body is a touch more opaque and denser with slightly more sediment, same carbonation. Holds a bit more fruit sugars and molasses than the 2012 batch, although even less malt presence, despite an ever present graininess, shallow potency. The flavor generates some more tart fruitiness and a slight edge of funk over 2012 but suffers from the same level of malt body shallowness with not a lot of malt character nor sweetness to round it out. The texture is slick, residual, lightly creamy, moderately dry. Carbonation is moderate with light frothiness and a moderately crisp finish. Alcohol presence is moderate. While I find this vintage an improvement over the evidently shallow 2012 version, it is still a shadow of its potential in malt body and character.

2010 (4.5 Years Aged): Light foamy head of a softer tan color with the most visual body depth of all, thicker flaked sediment, same carbonation. A trained nose may discern trace caramel and toffee, faint fruit syrups, surprisingly shallow and not particularly potent. The flavor of 2010 has the most caramel and toffee backbone, much better and more thorough malt profile than either of its successors and a slight fruitiness, still incredibly easy drinking at 10%, arguably shallow flavor profile still, but the most satisfactory of all. The texture is slick, lightly sticky, modestly chewy, moderately dry. Body falls shy of moderate for the style, alcohol presence is modest. Compared to the following two years of Barleywines, I can only suspect that corners may have been cut to generate an inferior product in the years that followed, and I think this is arguably the best of the three Barleywine vintages I have tried tonight, although it is still a step behind comparable beers of its style. I do not think that the ingredients going into this beer would make it a good aging beer. I could not predict how well this beer would fare past four years.

Recommended vintage: 2010, or just avoid altogether

Heavy Seas Beer's
Below Decks Barleywine Style Ale

 4,227 characters

Photo of Nickcal
4.29/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From the cellar. Brewed and bottled 2007. Aged very well lots of sediment on bottom.

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Photo of IdrinkGas
3.07/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Photo of yeaprolly
3.25/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of burly_enzymes
3.91/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle poured in a whiskey tumbler

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Photo of outoffocus
3.4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Sludgeman
3.56/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Tasted 2012 version at 2015 Mad Fox Barleywine Festival.

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Photo of Petegrieco
3.91/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Masters
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of 1KEVIN1
3.81/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of misternebbie
3.66/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Sanderson
2.97/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Photo of AllanPatchin1016
4.5/5  rDev +24.3%

Photo of RavenForBeer
4/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of duceswild
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%

Photo of jds16
4/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of jaasen64
3.19/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2009 vintage, cellar aged and purchased off the shelf at a local store for $5.

A- Pours a murky brownish with a golden hue, slight translucency, decent amount of floaties, almost completely flat with just faint carbonation here and there.

S- Light toffee and caramel muted by cardboard oxidation, not bad but not overly flavorful or aromatic, definitely showing it's age.

T- Light muted toffee, caramel, and butterscotch, just a very faint hint of tartness attributed by the age, finishes with light cardboard oxidation and very faint smooth caramel. Overall the age has smoothed this out nicely but the flavors are very muted with some definite oxidation poking through.

M- Very flat with some light carbonation here and there (doesn't completely ruin the beer though), booze is definitely present but fairly smooth for the age.

O- I've had my fair share of aged beers. While this wasn't terrible, for the style it could be doing a lot better. I've had beers aged 5x longer that have held up much better. While it was definitely worth the $5 to try, it's not something I'll be going back to try anytime soon.

 1,123 characters

Photo of medraut
4/5  rDev +10.5%

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Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Barley Wine Style Ale) from Heavy Seas Beer
3.62 out of 5 based on 515 ratings.
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