Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine Review

Brewery: Dogfish Head Brewery | Beer: Olde School Barleywine
Style: American Barleywine | ABV: 15.0% | IBUs: 85
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine
Inspired by a tidbit in a cellarman's manual Sam found, Old School Barleywine is a big, gnarly American Barleywine fortified with figs and dates. The manual outlined adding those fruits if the casks were flat to get the yeast going again to re-carbonate things. Seems like as good as a jumping off point for a beer as any.

At 13-16% ABV (15% this time around), it's one of the strongest Barleywines available. Dogfish Head recommend aging the beer, which is unsurprising given the style and alcohol content. I plan on doing just that.

When I first started getting into Dogfish Head, this was one of the forbidden fruits that didn't make it here to Texas that I wanted most. While most of them finally showed up, Old School took forever. Last fall, it finally showed up much to my delight, and I scooped up enough for the cellar. Now, hopefully World Wide Stout will be next.

Here's How Dogfish Head describe the big hitter:
Bold, yet smooth! Fermented with dates and figs, this bone-crushing barleywine has a unique flavor.
Let's crack it and go old school, shall we?

Appearance: A hazy, orange-brown body capped by a finger of cream-colored head that fades to a ring in average time, leaving thick patchy lacing on the way down. Impressive head given the alcohol content.

Aroma: Heaps of sticky toffee pudding malt, leafy hops, and plenty of spicy booze. As it warms, the boozes takes over.

Taste: A mix of leafy, moderately bitter hops and rum-soaked dark fruit (raisins & dates) over a big, brooding sticky toffee pudding malt backbone. The booze is present throughout, adding plenty of spice and a bit of fusel character; feels more like ten percent. All of the elements here are big and bold, but everything ends up pretty balanced in the end. Husky rich caramel malt, faded hops, and a touch of booze in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and chewy with medium carbonation and a dry finish. Plenty of heat from the booze throughout.

Drinkability: Considering the massive alcohol content here, this actually drinks a little faster than expected; though still a solid sipper.

Verdict: Olde School is every bit the big bastard of an American Barleywine I was hoping for; it has a few well-defined, intense flavors that balance each other out. Anxious to see how it ages.

Grade: A- (4.2 out of 5 stars)

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