JMerritt (1941) - Macomb, Illinois, USA - JAN 30, 2004
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
2003 vintage sampled young and raw. How surprised I was to find this in Macomb. Murky brown-red with a thick, heavy head with excellent staying power. Fresh caramel aroma is thick and delicious; you can nearly take a bite out of it. An impressive balance of citric hops and sweet, sticky malts. Bitter finish is long lasting. Truly incredible; I can't wait to try this after it's aged for a year or two.
Gromit (479) - Port Orchard, Washington, USA - JAN 26, 2004
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 18/20
Goodness. I didn't know it was this heavy or I would have saved it for a few months. This is my second experience with a Bell product and with this one, anyway, I wish they had them in the PNW.
Pours a dark brown with lots of suspended yeast. Nice head and great lacing.
Smells strong and sweet. Definately alcohol in there. Reminds me of a Jubel or Celebration style. Mmmm.
Tastes, yeah, strong. Nice caramel really hits you. Just the right amount of hops. The alcohol is present but it's not in your face. The flavors are rather complex and well-balanced.
Mouthfeel is full and quite carbonated. Drinkability suffers from the fact that it's still over 75 degrees out and the high alcohol content. For the money I'd still prefer Jubulation or Celebrations, but this is a damn good contender.
kathouse (1626) - Nevada, USA - JAN 20, 2004
3.1 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 10/20
Had this after a Batch 6000. Aroma of apples and malt was more mild. Pours a reddish brown with a creamy tan head. Good lacing and a slight haze. Tastes like fermenting apples and pears. Noticeable bitterness and warm alcohol. Aftertaste stays around for a while. High alcohol taste and bitterness make this harder to drink than the Batch 6000. One of these is enough.
Pigfoot (2268) - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - JAN 18, 2004
4.8 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 20/20
Dark burgundy color, huge foam, a cappucino cap, cast in a light tan hue, beautiful and bubbly, leaving attractive lace.
Aroma: deep and vinous, to put it simply, awash in dark fruits, cherries, berries, plums, brandyish and with potent alcoholic notes, warm and wondrous.
Taste: again, to be simple:transcendent. Warm and fruity, good initial hop play on the palate, settling back soon, and letting the malt, dappled with caramel and fruit, take charge, washes over the palate with every sip, juicy and generous with flavor, and alcohol eventually inches in, 1/3 through. Sublime balance, never too strong, but never, ever flagging in flavor. Full bodied, eternal finish, extreme satisfaction.
This was long-ago decided to be my favorite barleywine, though I've yet to compare it against a new contender, Bell's Batch 6000. Only KBC itslef could give my fave BW a run.
cherr (162) - Rochester, New York, USA - JAN 18, 2004
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
This beer pours a dark amber color with a very slight cream head. The smell is dominated by carmel malt. The taste is full with initially noticeable carmel malt then nice bitter grapefruit hops. Excellent beer.
Vikingbeau (67) - Albertville, Minnesota, USA - JAN 16, 2004
4.6 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
This bitch smells almost as good as she tastes. Give her to much of your evening and she will F--k you up. She leaves a beautiful head and has a fantastic carmel taste in her high alcohal snatch.
cquiroga (371) - Tujunga, California, USA - JAN 6, 2004
4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: MAR 16, 2006 RE-RATE. 3/15/06. Poured out of 12 oz. bottle, bought at The Party Source in Bellevue, KY 5/25/04. Rated blind. 2002 Vintage. Murky brown with a touch of orange shady, mostly dark. Solidly dense cream-tan head with patches of broken foam, diminishes to to a thin patty with a rocky, sudsy ring. Mediocre lacing that breaks in large clumps, but thereís great sub-surface lacing to impress. Very impressive aroma of rich, sweet caramel and fuzzy hints of butterscotch, almost like butterscotch-soaked hop leaves. A bit of soggy earthiness, zesty herbal brightness, and alcohol to outline the fuzz. The initial taste gives a flash-swirl of juicy caramel that is positively intoxicating, but itís far too quick to subside to a prickly, forwardly alcoholic, potently twiggy/piney bitterness. Thereís a soggy, aged malt character that seems like itís deteriorating a touch (but which I still enjoy), and thereís even still some of that rich caramel-- but it now takes a sad, depressed back seat. Finish is long but lightly leathery and astringent, decreasingly juicy as it goes along. Thereís also a papery oxidized character that comes to the fore mostly in the finish. The caramel-alcohol combo is a bit obvious, and the nasal burn from alcohol is clearly evident, but itís paired with a minty/menthol character that I quite enjoy. The softly introduced fuzzy bitterness takes over throughout the beer, even making me appreciate the aroma less as I work through the glass. Slight hints of smoke with a crackling toastiness that blooms throughout the long finish, together with an interesting but underrepresented figginess that I fight and often struggle to find. Medium-full body and fuzzy carbonation. Somewhat of a disappointment once I found out what it was. I think this bottle has seen some better days. (9/3/7/3/15/3.7)
ORIGINAL RATING 12/3/03. Poured out of 12 oz. bottle, obtained in a trade with Indra on RateBeer 11/18/03. 2002 Vintage. Medium toffee brown color. Aroma is very nice, almost butterscotch but not quite. The smell of barley wine is one of my favorites in the world-- one of those fantastic smells that is so complex and delicate that itís hard to articulate. This one is no exception. Very nice, bold sweet malt and caramel flavors. Bitter enough, complex and long-finishing. A little bit of fresh, bright hops. Nice and almost minty along with the butterscotch. Just a great brew. Thanks so much Indra! Canít wait to get more of this stuff. (9/3/9/4/16/4.1)
Final rating is some kind of weighted average of two scores.
grant (842) - Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA - JAN 1, 2004
3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 15/20
Ruddy, muddy color with effusive yeast bloom, enshrouded by spare heterogeneous head. Aroma is maple syrup, vanilla, and roasted espresso beans. Flavor hits with a blunt sweet edge serrated with a slight acidity. Very malty body shot through with whisps of raisins and bitters. Creamy, slightly alcoholic finish. Thank you, Indra.
davesarman (159) - Waconia, Minnesota, USA - JAN 1, 2004
4.7 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
Musty aroma of wood, leather and spice. Very intriguing nose. Color is a nice deep amber. Slightly cloudy, as one might expect with a bottle conditioned beer. Light carbonation. A nice off white head forms, but fades fast, most likely because of the 9% abv. Big, chewy malt makes itself known first, then a myriad of complexities start to intertwine. Some hops, but also figs, raisins, licorice and of course, alcohol. Vinous notes as well. The finish is long and warming, but not overpowering. Body is very full. This is a world class barleywine that becomes much more complex with age. This particular bottle is from 2003. I've had several cellared vintages and they get better with age. Well done! Excellent way to start the new year!
jgb9348 (5676) - Arlington (Pentagon City), Virginia, USA - DEC 31, 2003
4.1 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: JAN 24, 2010 2005 Bottle (Sampled on 24 Jan 2010) Additions:
Crisp aroma of honey, oak and pitted fruits, nice. Medium to partially Full-bodied; Very mellow fruit, oak, vanilla and alcohol in this one - a very mild beer that definitely lost a lot with the age. Good, but I definitely prefer this after a year or so aged - this is a bit too muted for my tastes!
Very nice hazy copper colour with a very thin tan head. Aroma of raisins, caramel, pineapple, peaches, caster sugar and a fruity sweetness. Full-bodied; Very sweet initial taste with fruit and sugar flavours as well as a spicey finish. Aftertaste has some malt bitterness, but is left sweet. Overall, a very nice barleywine- 1+ year on this bottle and the complexity and flavours are brilliant. Alcohol is hardly noticeable to boot! I sampled this twelve ounce bottle purchased from Merchantís in Dearborn, Michigan on 24-December-2003.