823: Old Boardhead Barleywine Ale

823 - Old Boardhead Barleywine AleName: Old Boardhead Barleywine Ale
Brewery: Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Hood River, Oregon
Style: American Barleywine
Alcohol Content (ABV): 9.0%
First Brewed: 1990
Price: $4.49

Tasting Notes
Rich, malty aromas of sugar and caramel dance with strong alcohol and citrus. An initial sweetness of brown sugar and caramel is underplayed by hops and spice as the alcohol blooms with a warming glow in this silky smooth brew.

Ricky’s Thoughts

This bottle has been staring at me at Total Wine & More for months… and I never pulled the trigger. I have never been impressed with beers from Full Sail. Then I saw a couple of barrel aged beers come in, and decided to give this one a shot. It was only $4.49 a bottle, so I grabbed a bomber. I have since found out this is on the 1001 Bottles list, and might possibly be retired. I am still looking into this, but I am seeing conflicting reports online. Regardless, this is the 2011 barleywine, which makes me think there are already two years of age on it. The label is also old, and a beer like this should get better with age. The tasting notes said this beer should be enjoyed fresh… but I have never had a good barleywine that was good fresh. Hoping the age has mellowed this beer out a little.

I did drink a bottle of their doppelbock a few weeks ago. It was nice. Let’s hope this one is as good as I want it to be. Remember, I am picky when it comes to barleywines. My fingers are crossed!

In the Glass: This has a nice rich brown, almost red color to it. My expectation for a barleywine is dark brown, but I am not turned off by this. The head is white and fluffy, and has a nice lingering lace. Barleywines also have a nice sweetness on the nose and on the palate, and that is what I am expecting here. A beer like this will also get better as it heats up.

Nose: This smells like a barleywine should smell. There is a nice sweetness there, and is loaded with malty goodness. At 9% ABV, you would never know that from smelling this. I still don’t know why they say enjoy this fresh. It even says on the bottle that this beer ages well. I might grab another bottle depending on what it tastes like. I am hooked on aging beers! OK… here we go. Let’s see what this brew tastes like.

Flavor: Oh yeah, THAT is what a barleywine is supposed to taste like. I knew it would taste good, but man… this tastes GREAT! Holy cow, this is delicious!!! The flavor is sweet, then the malts really kick in, and the finish and aftertaste are while sweet, drying. This is also ice cold, and I bet this would get better (and thicker) as it heats up. Man, Full Sail… I am impressed!

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is not as thick as I wanted, but slides across the palate with an aggressive sweetness. On my last drink, I swished it around my mouth a little, and the flavor really explodes. There are a few bubbles on the outside of my tongue, but not enough to discuss much about. I am just so excited that this is good! No no… GREAT! So happy right now. I’m telling you, I am fickle when it comes to barleywines.

Aftertaste: This might be my favorite part of the beer. I have been saying that for a few beers, but the aftertaste here is really sweet, dry, and I just keep swallowing to taste this beer. Full Sail, I am impressed. I did NOT expect this to be this good. I did enjoy the doppelbock, but didn’t think they would throw such a good offering with their barleywine. I am clapping my hands for you Full Sail.

Like I said, I expect a barleywine to be thick, sweet, and high in alcohol. We have a winner! Plus, we get almost two pints out of a bottle! If there are still bottles of this on the shelf, I am going to grab another one to age. At 9%, this will age for at least 3-5 years. If the beer is this good “fresh”, imagine what a few years will do to it! Yummy!

Beer Name – The bottle says: “A deliciously rich barleywine ale with spectacular depth & delay of flavor that is deep & robust. Its full, sweet body is balanced with centennial & crystal hops for a pleasant hoppiness & Finish. Makes  great cellar brew.”

Rating: 5/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

Today we are drinking a barleywine.  I love barleywines!  Well, most of the time.  I have had some barleywines that were just way too hoppy for me – so hoppy they basically tasted just like an IPA.  I hope this barleywine isn’t like that.  It’s a big bottle today – almost produced a full pint for each of us.  I like that kind!

The beer looks to be kind of a medium thickness.  I can see through the glass, but it’s not completely transparent.  And I did notice a lot of little bubbles floating to the top.  It had some of that marshmallow fluff kind of head, too, but now that’s mostly gone.  It’s kind of a dark reddish orange color, and smells mostly of cinnamon sweetness.  Well, at least that seems like a barleywine.  I don’t smell much in the way of hops, so maybe this will be the kind of barleywine that I like.  Let’s see!

It doesn’t taste too hoppy, and there is a lot there in the way of flavor.  After the aftertaste sits in my mouth for a minute, I do get more hops hanging around there.  It’s got kind of a spicy cinnamon taste to it, along with those hops floating around at the end.  I’m not sure what I think of it.  Honestly, while I’m sure Ricky probably likes the aftertaste, I’m not so sure that I do.  I like the flavor of the beer, but it’s not my favorite barleywine.  It is actually pretty hard to find a good barleywine, the same way I find it hard finding good porters and stouts… it’s probably even more difficult with barleywines, actually.  I like sweet beers, so that probably factors into my decisions.  This is a good beer, but just okay as far as barleywines go.  It’s hard for me to rate and hard for me to tell if I would buy it again, just because if I was… I’d be looking for a barleywine and I’d probably pick something else.  But it’s still a good beer!  I’d give it 3.5 stars, but since we don’t have that option, I’ll say 3!

Rating: 3/5

822 bottles of beer on the wall…

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