SG (465) - Valley Center, California, USA - AUG 24, 2003
Red/brown tint with no head worth speaking of. Definitely smells like a hopped up barley wine. Some fruity tones hiding in there as well. The flavor is very nice. Balanced. This is such a pleasure to drink. MAP (1133) - Lakewood, Ohio, USA - AUG 11, 2003
UPDATED: AUG 10, 2005 Origional Rating: 8/11/2003 :Smells very sweet and citrusy, much like many IPA’s. IT has a fine amber color and a little modest bit of head to it. It has a very smooth taste to the barley malt and only get more smooth when it warms up. The only down side to this in my eyes is that it makes me feel more tired than i should be after such a long day.
ReRating: 2.12.2004: Bottle of 11/18/2003. The aroma of this is wonderful, full of strong cherries, caramel, banana, and all sorts of malt sweeetness. The flavor of this is something that ir rarely comprimised. It has the perfect blend of sweetness, hearty malt, and sublt alcohol. (Granted this is an aged bottle, but I had one of my ’02 bottles and it was something out of this world.)
Another tasting of the 11.18.03: I really feel wrong for not giving this top honors in my ratings. So I am going to correct that. -9-4-10-4-20-
---Magical find of a sixer of 1.6.01for only $10. Cracked open to a small bit of foam in the bottle. No age signs so far. Yeah, Im expecting a true gem here. Just out of the bottle, aroma is intoxicatingly good. Barley malt is flowing out in a sugary sweet way. A touch of red apples and hay comes with it, as well as cold honey and fresh tilled earth. The pour of this thing is still amazing. It comes out a dark red with a soft layer of foam and trails of bubble feading it. Just holding this up to the side of a sheilded halogen light makes it glow red. Beautiful. So, after 4 and a half years there is no touch of alcohol really noticable. Soft taste, like a camprfire roasted marshmellow it just settles down on the tongue. Malty caramel flavor seeps in all around my mouth. Just fantastic. The hops are still present at the very end, but its just telling me, hey, this still has a shelf life of another 5 years or so. Christ. What a find. What a beer. It just keeps getting better. -10-4-10-5-20- 1more4dessert (336) - Upstate, New York, USA - AUG 10, 2003
like a fine cognac, burnt umber color, good hop presence as accent on sweet malt background. Kasteelfreak (341) - Fallbrook, California, USA - AUG 9, 2003
UPDATED: DEC 28, 2003 I'm drinking this along with Anchor Old Foghorn. This one is more apricot and citrusy, while the Anchor has mor caramel and apples. Victory is clearer with more of a hoppy fish. Aroma is incredible. My favorite barley wine so far, but I still haven't tried the Alesmith that's in my frig.
90403: Just bought three more bottles. This beer is a classic. I think it represents the best of its style. Numbskull is second. Rererate: This might be the best beer ever. OK, I'm a bit buzzed. I just found a nice stash of the '02 version at a local liquor store, and I can't stop drinking it. I prefer this style so much more than the English bready style. I just don't like eating a slice of bread with my beer. The Old Horizontal is crisp for a barley wine. This is something special. I'm getting a little chocolate and a lot of apritcot out of this. I can smell this stuff all day. The aroma is tremendous. drinkbeer (289) - Redondo Beach, California, USA - JUL 29, 2003
UPDATED: DEC 4, 2003 This is so good. Slightly hazy chestnut color with some reddish tones. Nice hops, sugary malt up front, dry finish, 11% alcohol is VERY well hidden...almost too well hidden, haha. Taste some apple, cider notes in the background. Awesome smooth and full caramely palate.
DougShoemaker (3146) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - JUL 28, 2003
Hoppy, caramel, malt aromas, with some butterscotch and brown sugar scent. Reddish/copper, large billowy tan head, lots of carbonation, some lace. Caramel, butterscotch flavour, plums, and very hoppy taste as well. Complex, well balanced, warming, bitter and dry. Terrific! cquiroga (371) - Tujunga, California, USA - JUL 27, 2003
UPDATED: APR 21, 2006 RERATE:
4/20/06. Poured out of 12 oz. bottle, purchased at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, CA, 7/25/03. 2002 Vintage. Rated blind. Hazy, dull clay orange-meets-dark brown color. Fairly slight head, creamy pale tan with a touch of orange and quick, somewhat beady lacing that falls mostly in large sheets. Aroma is slightly fruity with zesty caramel-drizzled berries, crisp creme brulee crust, brown raisins/dates and brown sugar. Fairly gentle overall, but sweetly inviting for every sip. Flavor is surprisingly mellow caramel with a scratchy toastiness, soft raisin and dusty, brown, biscuity nougat. Bitterness throughout which is wonderfully integrated with the caramelization-- very gentle. Full body with a velvety carbonation that fluffs and soothes your tongue against the apparent alcohol prick. Finishes with toasty, soft caramel dough, surprisingly dry, concealing a tinge of crystalline bitterness that feels like an expertly controlled twiggy flavor. Sticky on the lips in a slick film. The finish seems more complex, with more pronounced flavors *and* more variety, than the initial swirl. There are *tiny* notes of oxidation (hints of metal in the nose and "sogginess" to the flavor), but I don’t mind it much at all in a barleywine. Especially one as terrific as this. Eminently drinkable. I love barleywine. This is a great one. (9/3/8/5/18 - 4.3)
Poured out of bottle, purchased at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, CA, 7/25/03. Pours to a rich amber color with moderate head, dissipates but good carbonation and decent lacing. Delicious smell of fruity sweetness, barley, and even a little cinnamon. Tangy bite on the first taste, nice full mouthfeel with good zesty fizziness and a little bite of bitter hops and spice on the end. Flavor does not have much sweetness-- only enough there to fill out the mouthfeel and make it go down easy. . . and it works. Surprisingly smooth and very, very tasty. This is a very delicious barleywine. (9/4/8/15/16 - 4.2)
Final rating reflects some kind of average between the two ratings. omnivore (270) - San Francisco, California, USA - JUL 26, 2003
Poured a ruddy gold with a sweet an hoppy aroma. Flavored bitter and buttery with a bitter leave. Not bad. Not bad at all. EdPaulsen (117) - Rochester, New York, USA - JUL 25, 2003
UPDATED: JUL 27, 2003 delicious. the first really convincing use of cascade (or cascade type) hops blending with others for a great complexity. alcohol notes of course but less than might be expected and fruitiness and vanilla(?). really easy to drink with the dangerous ABV. best barlywine i've tasted and a great one to start out on. Kinz (3786) - Glen Allen, Virginia, USA - JUL 22, 2003
Nice medium brown with red highlights, rapidly diminishing head, which is OK for this style. You can smell the hops a foot away, nice and spicy. Upon sticking your nose into the glass, a mild cooked brocolli aroma emerges. The palate is good, not cloying. Very well done balance of malt and hops. This to me is the trick to making a good Barley Wine. I'm not a huge fan of the style, but this is a beer worthy of respect.