Caskalefan (168) - Bellingham, Washington, USA - DEC 8, 2012
At last, a barleywine I prefer even over Olde Curmudgeon!
Incredibly complex nose and flavor of caramel, toffee, bourbon (lots of it), sherry, cognac, vanilla, oak, raisins, honey, kumquats, orange zest, persimmons, plums, peaches, strawberries, prunes, dates, figs, cherries, pecan pralines, rhubarb, toasted coconut, leather, tobacco, and a hint of smokiness.
The body is syrupy, but playfully so, not sticky or cloying. This beauty has legs like Angelina, and the mouth becomes delightfully coated as the sipping continues. The finish is one of the longest I’ve ever experienced, and the woodiness and the alcohol prevent this one from becoming too sweet (as a gentleman before me pointed out).
It’s been quite a few years since I was an ardent fan of the barleywine style, but this one absolutely blew me away, even fresh. I can only imagine what a few years of aging might achieve. tdf201 (1) - Lebanon, Illinois, USA - AUG 14, 2013 does not count
Best beer I have had yet. Was given to me and shared as a birthday gift for my 36th birthday. bgramer (2) - Seattle, Washington, USA - NOV 12, 2009 does not count
I love barrel-aged barleywines and have been wanting to try this for some time. Kicked myself for not going out to the mall in Portland when it was available as late as February 2009, and thankfully to a generous trader, I was able to acquire a bottle which I still hold.
My review is for a 2009 bottle which I consider myself lucky enough to have gotten a few bottles of, thus affording me the opportunity to open one up. The 2009 StormWatcher batch was aged in the same Evan Williams barrels as the 2008 batch was.
Whoa, this beer’s aroma is pungent with vapors of vanilla, alcohol, and sweet malts as I removed the gold foil and opened it. A dark ruby/mahogany color fills my glass with a little head but there’s some carbonation and lacing. Viscous, creamy, chewy, nutty, caramelly, toffee, and very bready. Can taste the oak character and bourbon as well.
This is definitely an easy sipping beer, if only to enjoy the complexities and enormity of this beer’s character. I found myself inhaling the aroma each time I would sip, just to appreciate it. The alcohol presence is there but very drinkable in a smooth warming sense on the finish. I wouldn’t have known it was a 13% abv.
The buzz around this beer seems to be picking up. It’s no longer a NW secret, and it shouldn’t be because this is an absolutely fantastic barrel-aged barleywine. It’s a keeper. cmonster (1000) - Portland, Oregon, USA - NOV 4, 2011
UPDATED: NOV 5, 2011 2010 vintage. Bomber served in a goblet. Visually the same as Stormwatchers. Dark mahogany with amber hues. Little to no head and minimal lace. But this is where the minimalisticity ends as there’s something lurking in this viscous elixir. Massive aromatics show toffee, bourbon, dense dark fruits, nutty toasted malt, vanilla, caramel, and oak. Very complex. The hedonistic flavor is urged on by the alcohol. The mid-palate explodes with dark fruit, oak, and bourbon, all flowing through the finish. Huge body, ultra creamy thick texture, soft carbonation, and a long, sticky, warming finish. Amazing. Ratman197 (14822) - Arvada, Colorado, USA - JAN 30, 2011
Bomber 2009 poured a clear dark brown with a small lingering brown head. Aromas of bourbon, oak, vanilla, prune, fig and brown sugar. Palate was medium to full bodied and smooth with a dry warming finish. Flavors of bourbon, oak, vanilla, toffee, molasses and dark fruit with a smooth dry warming lingering bourbon finish.
wilnatp (692) - Minnesota, USA - OCT 27, 2014
Bottle. Surly Darkness Eve 2014. Perfect balance of sweet and tart and booze and malt. So good! PMgep (280) - Lund, SWEDEN - AUG 20, 2015
Rating from 2011 at Stockholm beer. This was wonderful, deep black colour, full aroma and great barrel aged taste. Tweety (377) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - NOV 9, 2009
Man am I ever glad that I took the time out of my day to run down to Pelican and pick up a couple cases of this stuff. Not only is it a beautiful place, but this beer is just phenomenal. The smell is all various bourbon notes, with the vanilla and oak that you expect. Taste is more of the same with a wonderful malty backbone just behind it. The only BA beer that I’ve ever had that took this much flavor off the barrels is Bourbon County Stout, but this one is a little less sweet, and yet still seems to have more flavor. xpimptastikx (103) - Austin, Texas, USA - JAN 11, 2010
A - Pours a ruby tinted root beer stream with a short lived dark tan head that recedes to nothing. Only a few sips in, but no lace. The appearance should be a 4, but I’m adjusting it to bump the taste to ~5.
S - Damn this smells great. As I started pouring this I could smell the sweet sweet bourbon. Fantastic toffee, raisins, oak, vanilla, and I think some nuts?
T - Thick brown sugar, vanilla, and rum soaked raisins. This is freakin’ delicious, and is making a great dessert night cap. I might be crazy, but it reminds me of Nutella a little bit...
M/D - There really isn’t much of an alcohol presence, but I also enjoy a glass of good bourbon. The mouthfeel is awesome; oily and coats your whole mouth with light carbonation. It’s a sipper, but one I seriously can’t put down. daknole (11049) - Scottsdale, Arizona, USA - FEB 6, 2011
Super dark pour. Nice creamy head. Aroma of leather, caramel, toffee, oak, bourbon, vanilla, roasted marshmallows. Flavor is so rich, sweet, hop balance, lots of vanilla and toffee, great oak flavors, bourbon...man this is superb!
Earlier Rating: 3/16/2009 Total Score: 4.6
Bottle from the Otown throwdown. Cheese brought this via JMFG I think. Brown pour. Aroma is full of bourbon, liquor soaked raisins, madiera wine, caramel, molasses, prunes and vanilla. Flavor is sweet with caramel, bourbon, wood, vanilla and a good balance of hops. This is one bad ass beer.