drismyhero (815) - Tacoma, Washington, USA - JAN 12, 2003
3 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 13/20
Every time I buy a new Barley Wine I"m just itching to try it, but this was disappointing. Very watery and the alchohol exists here only as a slight astringent smell and taste. There is a bit of a burliness to the malt, but the barley is overshadowed by an unpleasant bitterness. The wateriness on the palate is distracting, as well as the bitter. I"m usually partial to barley wines, but this was not so hot.
Crit (3191) - Surrey, British Columbia, CANADA - JAN 6, 2003
3.1 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 2/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 12/20
Tap:Brown with no discernable head.Malt alcohol nose.Great malt palate. The light alcohol heat doesn’t detract from the flavor
Oakes (11031) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - JAN 4, 2003
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Tasted fresh, 2002 version. Very dark reddish-brown. Lacks head but it’s a barley wine so it’s forgiven. Looks thick - coats the glass a bit when you swirl it. Rich syrupy malt aroma. This is the stuff they ferment other beers from. Earth, toast, and resin make their way into the picture. The body is indeed thick, but has just the right amount of carbonation to keep it from getting oily. Earthy malts predominate - this beer hasn’t had the bottle time to develop any shocking complexities. Sweetness takes hold briefly, but the chocolate and crystal malts are using their roast to balance things out. Billed as English style, and it is, but only Tally-Ho can match the balance here. It wavers into Imperial Stout territory sometimes, then gets hauled back. I have to admit, a taster of this wouldn’t do much for me but as the bottle goes it is starting to really impress me - quality craftsmanship and again I wonder why so many people think Hale’s has lost it?
BillKismet (3164) - Seattle, Washington, USA - JUN 23, 2002
3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
Lovely toffee brown-amber appearance and emanating a candied cherry and toffee aroma with an alcohol backbone. Candied flavors are apparent, but are sharp and lack dimension. This barley wine is fairly good, but lacks ideal balance as the sweetness dominates--could use some hops in equipoise.
Shadallion (534) - Sacramento, California, USA - JUL 5, 2001
4.9 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 20/20
Unlike its northwest brethern, this barleywine is not a showcase of the almighty hop. Instead, Mike Hale has produced an ale strongly reminiscent of Thomas Hardy’s Ale, with its focus on subtle malt flavors of candied fruit, coffee and berries. The body is very thick, almost viscous, and just to prove that this is an American barleywine, there is just enough hops at the end to give it a rounded drinkability. One of the best barleywines ever. Maybe THE best.