Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Have Barleywines gotten a lot less popular?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by alucard6679, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (255) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    I mean, they're out there but at least in our little AZ distribution bubble (which has grown considerably with the past 3 or 4 years) we used to stock quite a few years round barley wines from prominent breweries. They weren't exactly IPA level but "Do you have any good barley wines?" was a question that I used to get at work a lot more often and I used to have a lot more to off them (the mere handful of times I've gotten that question this year). I used to drink them quite a bit, I was a huge fan of Old Ruffian from Great Divide, Old Knucklhead from Alesmith and Old Guardian from Stone. They were always there when I got the craving. Where are those beers now? I mean, maybe some of you guys still see them, but I don't. I guess it happens though, styles fall out of favor all the time (how many black IPAs do you still see? Or white IPAs?)

    Anyway, picked up some Third Coast Old Ale and it got me thinking about it

    jmdrpi and HorseheadsHophead like this.
  2. Giovannilucano

    Giovannilucano Devotee (445) Feb 24, 2011 New Jersey

    Now that you mention it, I have not seen any barleywines in South Jersey in 6 months!!!
  3. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,050) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Old guardian and old ruffian have been discontinued by their respective companies. Avery relabeled hog heaven as an IPA instead of a dryhopped barleywine. It seems their popularity has waned, with the exception of barrel aged variants.
  4. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Meyvn (1,169) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    It seems like the regular barleywines haven't grown in number like many other styles, although the BA versions are as popular as ever (it seems). I would still take a Bigfoot any day!
  5. zid

    zid Champion (839) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Old Guardian and Old Ruffian are both more or less gone. For Alesmith, I'm assuming you mean Old Numbskull (maybe that's why you can't find it :wink:).

    What makes things even more challenging, is that while barley wines are being discontinued, bourbon barrel aged ones are becoming even more of a norm. Makes it a hard to find a regular barley wine.

    And on top of that, the number of regularly imported English barley wines or strong ales around here is about zero. That's terrible for an "old world" style.
  6. zid

    zid Champion (839) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Sorry for the redundancy of my post due to other posts made as I typed mine.
  7. Crim122

    Crim122 Aspirant (271) Aug 4, 2014 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Of all styles I've tried to get into, none has been harder than barley wines. And I still haven't really found one I like. They're just so sweet.
    AnchorDrops and keithmurray like this.
  8. PorterPro125

    PorterPro125 Champion (871) Jan 19, 2013 New Brunswick (Canada)

    Yeah, I completely agree with @Crim122 . Out of all the beer styles that I've enjoyed over the years, Barleywines are one of the toughest for me to get through. I've had a few enjoyable examples of Barleywines, but they are typically quite difficult to approach for someone who is not well-versed in the style. Malt heavy, low carbonation, and high gravity is a combination I doubt the average BA is accustomed to!
    AnchorDrops likes this.
  9. Benish

    Benish Savant (903) Mar 13, 2013 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    English Barleywines are one of my favorite styles. I'm sad I don't see much of this - BA or not. I just got my hands on a Midnight Sun Arctic Devil. I'm afraid to open it because when I drink it, it will be all gone. It is the only Englis BW I have as I can't find any.
  10. ManapuaMan

    ManapuaMan Meyvn (1,154) Apr 3, 2015 Massachusetts
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    The “Barleywine is Life” #bil moniker, which is part tongue-in-cheek and part hardcore beer-geek-obsession (depending on where you see it) centers on the BA style.

    Some might even say this thread is proof that #bil
  11. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (233) Jun 4, 2005 California
    Beer Trader

    Agree with above
    That style has to be one of the more difficult ones to appreciate
    And even though I do enjoy it, Barleywine is not an everyday beer
    A2HB likes this.
  12. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (441) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    ^^^ This.

    They'll make a comeback when people decide to make them hazy and/or put fruit and/or spices in them and rebrand them as something else.
  13. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (47) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Yea, I would say that double/imperial IPA's are the new barley wine.

    Really bummed about Old Guardian...
    Lone_Freighter likes this.
  14. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (441) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Actually, in the craft beer world of 10 years ago, these two had much more in common than they do today. Now they bear little resemblance to each other and I, at least for one, am happy about that.

    Now to the question, "which high-gravity, malt-forward beer has replaced the barleywine?"

    Truthfully, I don't think there has been a replacement, as malt-forward beers seem to be waning in popularity as hop-forward beers continue to surge ahead. I think this has a lot to do with people just not liking how beer tastes and would rather drink beers that taste (and look) like fruit juice or like a baked good or some type of coffee.
  15. moshea

    moshea Devotee (426) Jul 16, 2007 Michigan
    Beer Trader


    You are doing your taste buds a huge disservice by not drinking it.
  16. puboflyons

    puboflyons Poo-Bah (4,227) Jul 26, 2008 New Hampshire

    I tend to see more barleywines in the cooler months but I have to agree with the basic premise of this thread. They do not seem as available as they once were.
    cjgiant and Lone_Freighter like this.
  17. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (502) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    If I am going to judge by the multiple cases of last years BCBW sitting on the end cap in the liquor section of my local grocers.
    Yes. They are not moving.
    FatBoyGotSwagger and SFACRKnight like this.
  18. thuey

    thuey Aspirant (218) Nov 13, 2015 California

    Toronado just had this on Saturday:

    That being said... I didn't go. It's a little bit too warm for that this time of year ^^
  19. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (255) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    Heh yeah....got that mixed up with a different beer:flushed: I guess that goes to show how long it's been since I've been able to find it:grin:

    Honestly, at least at my store, our section of UK beers in general has been drastically reduced over the past couple years.
    DonObiWan and zid like this.
  20. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Zealot (502) Dec 12, 2014 California

    Are high ABV brews in general getting less popular?
  21. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Meyvn (1,169) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Compared to when? There are so many high ABVs on the market now compared to even 5 years ago. I don't see them becoming any less popular.
    Brolo75 and HorseheadsHophead like this.
  22. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Meyvn (1,169) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    I don't know, the hoppy American barleywines are not really sweet, and they really aren't that far off from a big IPA. The main differences is that "drinking fresh" doesn't always apply to a nice barleywine!
  23. jasonmason

    jasonmason Initiate (170) Oct 6, 2004 California

    I actually think they may be, as compared to some of the high ABV monsters from 5-10 years ago.

    I think this hits the nail on the head - there are a lot of 'craft' drinkers that don't really like the taste of beer. They like chocolate, coffee, fruit, pastries, juice, etc...and that is why the market is being driven (shoved?) that direction. High ABV beers often have complex flavors and characteristics that aren't as easily masked by additions.
  24. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (441) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I, personally, haven't run into many American barleywines that I'd consider to be "hoppy". Lots that I'd consider to be bitter, but hoppy? Not so much.
  25. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Meyvn (1,169) Aug 17, 2013 California
    Beer Trader

    Have you had bigfoot? I would consider that hoppy.
  26. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (441) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Once or twice.

    I would not.

    This is probably due to the two of us having a different definition of hoppy, though. I think that Bigfoot, along with a lot of other American barleywines, has a distinct hop bitterness, but that doesn't extend to the flavor or aroma of the beer as much. Sure, outside of the bitterness, you get more hop flavor (and a different hop flavor) from an American barleywine than you would from an English one, but that isn't saying much. To be "hoppy", I'd have to compare these beers to West Coast IPAs, or any other beer that features all of the characteristics of the hop and not mainly bitterness. In that comparison, I don't think that anyone is referring to the barleywine as hoppy, even though both the barleywine and the IPA may have similar levels of bitterness.
  27. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (47) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Actually, I was referring to the popularity, not the similarity, or lack thereof.

    QUOTE="EvenMoreJesus, post: 5662195, member: 1202624"]Actually, in the craft beer world of 10 years ago, these two had much more in common than they do today. Now they bear little resemblance to each other and I, at least for one, am happy about that.

    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  28. frozyn

    frozyn Devotee (486) May 16, 2015 New York
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Or just using it from different perspectives:

    There's the within-"style" (generous use of the word on my behalf referring to BWs in general, since BJCP splits out UK vs. US) usage of "hoppy", which is a way to use the word to explain how two beers of a similar style differ, vs. your

    across-styles usage, which is also a helpful way to use "hoppy," especially when trying to recommend a new style to someone who (dis)likes "hoppy" beer. Semantics, sure, but not unimportant as you're both correct in your own ways.
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  29. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (145) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    Umm, no. Try some english ones.
    jkane101 likes this.
  30. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (145) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    If bigfoot has distinct hop bitterness how would you not classify it as hoppy? Seems kinda splitting hairs here. I've had hoppy stouts and brown ales too? Yes?
    LuskusDelph and redeemer like this.
  31. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Defender (642) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    Every style except IPA is getting less popular. Less variety these days.
  32. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (441) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    To me "bitter" =/= "hoppy". That may seem like splitting hairs to a lot of people, but when I want something hoppy, I want something that is dominated by the other characteristics of the hops AND that has some supporting bitterness. You can get bitterness from other things besides hops. You really can't get the hop oil derived characteristics that hops provide without using hops.
    SFACRKnight likes this.
  33. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (441) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I wouldn't say that, but, yeah, hops are certainly king in craft beer. Well, at least right now they are.
  34. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (145) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    ^^^^ When I crack open a fresh bigfoot I get distinct hop bitterness. The taste does have that malt, and sweetness and bitterness. It's like winning the flavortime lottery.
  35. Sweatshirt

    Sweatshirt Aspirant (246) Jan 27, 2014 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    One of my favorite styles overall. Doesnt matter to me if they are getting less popular overall they weren't that popular to begin with. One of the few styles you can easily get the god-tier examples of right off the shelf.
  36. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (502) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    No. because new drinkers tend to look for what gets them drunk before they look for something that tastes good.
    LuskusDelph and EvenMoreJesus like this.
  37. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Devotee (441) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Or something that someone else tells them that they should be drinking.
  38. Txex06

    Txex06 Initiate (145) Dec 28, 2016 Texas

    During the fall and winter you will see more barleywines. I love a great barleywine on a crisp fall day. I had a Helldorado yesterday and it was superb!
    LuskusDelph likes this.
  39. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,016) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    I'm very finicky with Barleywines, as there are several I've had that were just undrinkable drainpours, probably more than from any other style while a handful are some of my highest rated beers of any style as well.

    Not sure if there are less out there than in the past, just probably getting labeled as a Triple IPA, or Old Ale or Imperial Brown Ale and so on.

    Is FW planning to release Sucuba soon? Man that is one fantastic beer!
  40. needMIbeer

    needMIbeer Champion (830) Feb 5, 2014 Texas
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Don't let the guy from The Don't Drink Beer site see this.. :grin:

    I personally love barleywines but typically prefer the malt forward English variety over the American. I definitely think it's a style that is typically a limited release and makes appearances once the weather cools.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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