Shadallion (534) - Sacramento, California, USA - JUL 5, 2001
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. TheBeerGod (6263) - Newport News, Virginia, USA - APR 5, 2004
Pours dark brown with a medium brwon head. Odd for a barley wine, I think. Aroma is rich! Sugary malts, alcohol, dark rum soaked fruits, light hops and caramel. WOW! The taste is phenomenal! More alcohol, more caramel, some toffeeish notes, more dark fruit, malt, hops, some brown sugar, light woody notes, etc. The alcohol is there but not overpowering. Finish with sweetned hops. That sounds like an oxymoron, but that's what I get. Damn good beer and dangerously easy to drink. I could get in trouble this... harrymel (1551) - Spokane, Washington, USA - DEC 20, 2013
Batch 2011 (January) Consumed 11AUG11 raindog (560) - Evansville, Indiana, USA - JAN 3, 2004
A: pours a toasted brown ale with three fingers of light graham head. This falls slowly to a quilt of the same. Cobweb lacing above rosy hues in this brilliantly clarified ale. Great look.
S: toffee, caramel, burnt sugar, thick and sweet malts. Man, I love the way this smells. A hint of bitterness.
T: Sweet toffee with metallic hints. Burnt caramel, nutty malt, earthy yeast. Slightest hint of bitterness and floral hops.
M: Medium to heavy body with moderate on hi carb. semi dry finish.
O: Man, this beer is going to age sooo well. I’ve had this beer at the two year mark, and remains one of my best beer memories. Can’t wait for my stash to age appropriately. My hidden gem.
Serving type: bottle
UPDATED: FEB 9, 2004 2002: Darker red/brown for a BW. Pretty tan,lasting head. Awesome English style,sticky/sweet malts aroma. Maybe some hop resins also. Full,round mouthfeel. Lots of bready malts,and toffee in the flavor.Malts are slightly fruity as well. Juicy hops in the finish.Excellent BW,Thank you Hops. DaSilky1 (2608) - San Diego, California, USA - SEP 6, 2004
very very dark burnt brown color with no head formation. aged malt, smoked peat, and meatiness in the aroma. malty, smokey, meaty flavors too with a very malty, grimey, dark finish..quite nice actually..a very dark malty experience for sure with solid smokiness.
flutetokill (523) - Fresno, California, USA - MAY 15, 2004
Very dark mahogany color with a beige head. Malt, grapefruit hops and alcohol aroma. Nice sweet malt, grapefruit, grape and caramel flavors with a bitter hops finish. Smooth feel with moderate carbonation and a dry hop finish. HopasaurusRex (195) - Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA - JUL 23, 2004
True to its description, very much in the English style-nice malty backbone and not a lot of hop bitterness. I’m more of a hophead, but thought this was very nice. BBB63 (6567) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - AUG 7, 2005
Side by side tasting of the 2003 and 2004 versions provided to me by André, served in my two Expedition glasses, near room temp: Volgon (2761) - Manchester, New Hampshire, USA - NOV 13, 2006
Both are quite dark brown with reddish highlights, the 03 has a bit more head retention and equally a better lace. Both leave a slight oily film as well. Score 5 for the 03 and 4 for the 04. I will go with a score of 4 for the rating since it is darker than the norm for the style.
The aroma in the 03 has huge notes of almond, prune, pine resin, pepper, mocha and vanilla, earthy esters and a bit vinous. The 2004 is weaker with notes of molasses, fig, candi sugar, spicy hops and a touch of walnut. Again the 03 is better with a score of 9 and the the 04 is a 7. I will split the different and give a score of 8.
The taste is vinous and a touch of old ale oxidition in the 03 with lots of ripened fruits before ending with a subdued bitterness and spice finish. The 04 is bit more like that of a American barleywine with the hops more towards the front in more bitterness, pine, and spice. The mocha undertone is also stronger in the 04 offering. The 2004 is fresher tasting and would appeal to more people than the 2003 I think. I would give a score of 8 to both even though they are quite different. I like prune and oxidition in the 03 and the hoppier nature of the 04.
Both are very similiar in feel, but the 03 is a bit more lush and the 04 has a bit more bite. Again equal scores of 4.
Overall I would score the 2003 version a 18 and the younger sibling a 16. Average score then of a 17. I really liked this more tradtional brew that does not try to overpower you with massive hops, balance and understated complexity works for me. Many thanks again André!
December 2003 12oz. bottle drank in November 2006: Muddy brown with huge chunks, massive floaties and a couple of bubbles on top, I couldn’t tell what color they were because they were not close enough together. Sweet cherries, earth and tangerines in the aroma. Starts and ends lightly sweet, with a trainwreck of bitter and sweet that is almost dry besides the slight alcohol burn. Ibrew2or3 (8860) - Tempe, Arizona, USA - DEC 4, 2006
12/02/06 Walk the Line Barleywine Festival, Dunedin, FL. 2001 vintage. This beer poured out a murky brackish brown color with a tan head. The aroma has lots of caramel. There seemed to be sweet caramel and maybe a more burnt caramel too. Nice aroma for this five year old beer. The flavor was tasty with the caramel that I smelled as well as toffee, dark grapes and a tad of pine hops. Very nice brew.