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Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Cabernet Barrel Aged) | Heavy Seas Beer

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Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Cabernet Barrel Aged)Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Cabernet Barrel Aged)
Very Good
191 Ratings
Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Cabernet Barrel Aged)Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Cabernet Barrel Aged)

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer
Maryland, United States

Style: British Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 191 |  Reviews: 94
Photo of Sludgeman
3.67/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A 2016 keg tapped on 2/23/19 at the Mad Fox Barley Wine Festival. The wine barrel aging is clearly evident. At first I was a bit taken aback, but this barley wine turned out to be a nice beer but certainly not to style in my mind. The wine acidity certainly cut through the maltiness of the barley wine to give it a more balanced presentation.

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Photo of jlindros
4.22/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage, buried in the cellar and realized I never reviewed it. Hopefully it's still good.

Pours a decent small fizzy head that fades very quickly, no lacing but nice long legs, very dark brown molasses color

Nose a touch of oxidation but I'll try to ignore that, plenty of dark aged malts, sweet candy, caramelized everything, toffee, a touch nutty, some mild dark fruits, maybe a touch of red wine but hard to tell, so toasted mild buttery oak notes, hint of alcohol, and a touch yeasty

Taste starts super rich, a big nougat caramel candy, tons of candy bar, caramel candies and toffee, a touch nutty, sweet candy coated apple, chewy almost, soft aged malt characters, mild toasted oak, a bit of vanilla, faint faint red wine but more dark fruits mixed in, dried fig date kinda thing, raisiny too, caramel raisin candy. Finishes with a touch of alcohol warmth and tingle, loads of caramel and candy lingering, mild dark fruits, a bit of a condensed red wine jam lingering.

Mouth is fuller bod, rich chewy like caramel but smooth, decent carb, very light warming alcohol

Overall this was a nice beer, lots of aged effects going on, alcohol is hidden well, nice soft aged malt, tons of caramel, dark fruits are there but muted, same with the cabernet notes are mostly gone but there is some especially late, very little oxidation, pretty enjoyable all around though. Wish I had more.

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Photo of rspauldi
3.5/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.98/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Shawnspl
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of chinchill
3.96/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz 2011 bottle served in a wine glass.

Approached with some pessimism due to experience with some other ales aged in red wine barrels, but this is a very pleasant and dangerously drinkable barleywine. The aroma is dominated by the effects of red wine barrel aging, soft fruit notes, and alcohol esters.
The flavor largely follows but with less pronounced impact of the wine barrel aging. Rich and fairly complex.

Slightly hazy, dark red-brown body with a limited head.

Very smooth medium+ body with ample warming after swallowing but nicely tame warmth in the mouth.

 576 characters

Photo of kvgomps
3.25/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of WesMantooth
3.81/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Jadjunk
3.66/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

"This English style barleywine ale has been aged in cabernet wine barrels. Enjoy now or cellar it "Below Decks" as it will become more complex as it ages." Brewed in the style of an English Barleywine ale. Available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft. Released as a small batch variant of the annual release Below Decks Barleywine standard.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Served above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a frothy foam head of a medium tan color over a very dark brown body with little transparency. Retention is below average and lacing is light and spotty. 3.25

(Smell) The impact of the Cabernet barrel aging is markedly strong in the aroma, with strong earthy tannins, robust vinous characteristics and a fully dry delivery. Like the Bourbon Variation, the barrel aging is certainly a main focus rather than a component, and the normal aromas of a barleywine play a very minor role. Potency is moderate. 3.5

(Taste) The Below Decks Barleywine components of grain malt, molasses and fruit syrups are strongly accented with the inclusion of Cabernet barrels, a very unique treatment in my experiences with barleywines as well as most barrel aged beers. Strongest in the finish, the barrel impact is very bold, moderate toasted oak and strong wood tannins, finishinglightly fruity and earthy with a mild vinous and tart grape finish, moderately dry with some reserved sweetness. The slight tartness stands out as a welcoming finish. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, residual, moderately dry. Carbonation is light, generating a modest frothiness and a mildly crisp finish. Body is medium+ for the style, medium/heavy overall. Balance is slightly dry and tart over sweet. Alcohol presence is modest, and there are no off characters. 3.75

(Overall) Considerably more expensive than the Bourbon barrel aged and understandably the standard version of Below Decks, Cabernet barrel aging is simply not all that common in most craft beers, warranting no less than a sample of this beer for me. Coming out, it is my favorite variant of Below Decks by a hair due to the dimension of flavor impact it contributes to the base recipe. Even though this variation of Below Decks isn't quite rich enough to complement the flavor strength of Cabernet barrels, the barrel treatment doesn't sit entirely unmatched. I'd like to see Cabernet barrel aging make a more mainstream impact in other rich, flavorful, malt heavy beer styles, as the tannins, vinous characters and tartness of a flavorful red wine compliments this beer quite well. Stouts, anybody? 3.75

Heavy Seas Beer's
Below Decks Barleywine Cabernet Barrel Aged

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Photo of Sanderson
3.4/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Eziel
4.25/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Cyberkedi
4.13/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Comes out of the tap an opaque chocolate-brown with a fairly thick light tan head. Malty aroma has subtle notes of chocolate and cinnamon. Flavor has a strong, fruity alcohol bite that still lets through malty, chocolate and toffee notes. It is somewhat sweet, but not overly so. Texture is quite thick, almost syrupy, with subtle but persistent fizz. Drink with care, lest you end up "below decks"! ;)

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Photo of nathanmiller
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of johnnnniee
3.96/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Bottle from Mike's Barleywine tasting brought by Todd, thanks for the opportunity!
Huge grape almost jelly like aroma with a fair bit of caramel and oak tannins to balance. Nice Aged Barleywine.

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

Photo of 1KEVIN1
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of RichD
4.34/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of SlothB77
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of aasher
4/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.4/5  rDev -13.5%

2011 Release

Nose is really confused at first. Leads off with big red wine notes with toasted malts and dark caramels trying to push through. Bits of chocolate turn up. Creates a chocolate sundae effect topped with a big maraschino cherry. A fair amount of rough oak from the cab barrels winds up framing the nose as the flavors begin to merge into a cherry-chocolate-covered caramel. It's pretty much a big red wine / imperial robust porter mash-up. Toward the end of the bomber, the caramel malts finally take over, but the cherry only fades, never completely disappearing. It seems that, like wine, this beer needs time to open. Perhaps it's the residual wine itself that needs to oxidize and open.

Moderately toasted malts with nibs of cocoa are front-and-center in the taste. Dark, sweet fruits like dates and red cherries follow. Finish shows off caramels with a touch of silky light milk chocolate, but the wine leaves it dry on the sides of the tongue. The only hint of the ABV is in the full, solid body and rich mouthfeel. The issue here is that the individual taste components clash rather than complement.

Not really my kind of profile; I like the sugars, vanilla wood, and ABV from bourbon barrels over the cherry effect this one has from the cab. It has the structure of a well-made beer, though, so if cherry-chocolate sounds appealing, this approach may work for you. Working through the bomber also revealed an effect common with big, oaked cabs – as they warm and open, they move through various stages that emphasize different characteristics. While certainly not as pronounced, the end of the bomber found much less definition in individual components and considerably more nuance. I have a 2012 version of this beer I'll approach more like wine when I taste. It might not be enough to simply pour at a target temperature; the beer could well also need time for the wine in it to open.

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Photo of Jspriest
2.5/5  rDev -36.4%

Photo of GeorgeCarroll
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of Hopbully
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of sweemzander
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks Chris!

(A)- Pours a fairly dark mahogany color with minimal off-white froth and bubbles.

(S)- Slight hint at some dry red wine barrels meets some rich raisin and toasted oak.

(T)- An ever so slight tannic earthiness meets some rich raisin and caramel-like molasses. Some dark fruits from the barrel.

(M)- A nice smooth carbonation level meets and interesting body of tannic bitterness and richly sweet malts.

(O)- Definitely an interesting take on a barrel aged barleywine. The red wine barrel adds an interesting alternative to the norm.

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Heavy Seas - Below Decks (Cabernet Barrel Aged) from Heavy Seas Beer
Beer rating: 3.93 out of 5 with 191 ratings