From The Cellar: Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine

In Cellared Beer Reviews by Ryan

With notes of fresh fruit, molasses and mint a five-year old pour of Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine is one to be savored.

IMG_1349This is one of the few cellar reviews that I’ve written without initial tasting notes; no point of comparison to know how this beer was fresh.

Call it a lack of foresight on my part, five years ago, to not snatch a second bottle. Perhaps, then, I didn’t think I needed a baseline review. Or maybe I didn’t want to plunk down another $5 for a bottle. Although now that I think about it I probably wouldn’t have been that stingy.

Whatever the reason it happened.

Five years ago I bought one bottle of Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine and cellared it. Here’s the end result.

Dogfish Head says its Old School is fermented with dates and figs and that age will help the hops recede and the fruit flavors to emerge. You can pretty much take that to the bank as this beer had no signs of hoppiness whatsoever and was instead teeming with fruit and an underlying current of sweetness.

A fruit smoothie-like nose gives off a blend of blackberries, raspberries, mint, plums and cream soda. The fresh fruit carries over to the palate with cherries, blueberry pancake syrup, cola and molasses added to the mix making for a sweet and fruity beer that borders on cloying but doesn’t cross that threshold.

Let is warm a bit and you’ll catch some oak, vanilla and butterscotch in the finish.

The carbonation is still lively, which is surprising given how long this beer has been in the cellar. There is a slight alcohol burn that sits in the chest but it’s pretty minimal given this beer is 15% ABV.

While I can’t say how this compares to a fresh pour of Old School this is a damn fine beer after five years in the cellar and could certainly sit for a few more years. If any of you have sampled a Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine beyond five years chime in below in the comments. I’d be curious to see how it compares.

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About the Author


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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.