Brew Review: Olde School Barleywine

21 Sep

Brew: Olde School Barleywine

Brewed by: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales (Milton, DE)

Style: Barleywine (15% ABV)


Another entry into the world of Dogfish Head, who has a tendency to really hit or really miss.  These brewers really like pushing the envelope with high ABV beers and beers with crazy ingredients.  This brew is fermented with dates and figs and they mention that this is probably suited to a period of aging before enjoying.  I don’t know how long I aged this one but it was at most 6 months, looking back that was definitely not enough time.

The Olde School pours out a deep amber/red color.  It is a great looking beer with oranges, faint brown colors and great ruby red’s poking through.  Little to no head rests on top due to the high ABV which pretty much kills that part of the brew.

The aroma is big.  Plenty of stuff going on here.  Big malt presence, sweet and sticky, but also there were huge hop additions at one point because that pretty much reach out and poke you right in the nose.  There is so much going on its hard to pick out individual things but a floral hop aroma is the most dominant although it’s a pretty big cluster of everything in there.

The taste was similar to the aroma, on first taste it was just ‘big.’  A ton of flavors swept over me.  The most prominent is the booze aspect.  It’s hard to mask ~15%  especially in a lighter ale color/bodied ale and that was pretty obvious.  The booze was replaced with some residual sweetness on the end but it was a very ‘hot’ beer.  The intense hop bitterness does eventually push its way through which adds to the somewhat unpleasant effect of this beer. 

The combination of the high ABV which is very apparent and the intense hop bitterness really leads to a tough beer to drink.  With a lot more age I think that the flavors will soften and this could become a much better all around brew but to start off this is intense and somewhat off putting.


Final Grade: B-


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