Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine

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Beer Profile

  • Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • Website:
  • Country: United States
  • State: Delaware
  • Style: American Barleywine
  • Malts:
  • Hops:
  • ABV: 15%
  • IBUs: 85
  • Tasting Notes: Boozy, white grapes, pear, earthy bitterness
  • Preferred Glass: Snifter, footed
  • Food Pairing:
  • PHM Grade: C+

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine

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Wow.  Olde School is one huge beer.  Read the beer facts to the right and you’ll see why.  One of the reasons DFH was able to get the abv so high was though the addition of pureed dates and figs during the brewing process.  Sam put an old cellar man’s trick of hanging dates and figs into old casks that had lost carbonation into modern day practice.  The yeast would get a second surge from the fruit sugars and re-carbonate the cask where here the puree is added somewhere before the beer gets bottle/kegged.

The appearance of this beer is a deep Bourbon hue some long legs as you swirl it in your glass.  The head is quick to rise, stays for a moment, then settles.  There is a consistent bead of bubbles coming up through the beer very easily.  This surprised me as I thought it would be more on the flat side, but it is bottle conditioned so it makes sense they are present.  There was no sediment at the bottom of my relatively “fresh” bottle, however given some age I’m sure some will collect.

Before I knew it was brewed with dates and figs, I was picking up a big white grape, pear, muscat grape aroma.  It reminded me a little of their Raison D’Etre and Midas Touch a little with the abv sting of their World Wide Stout.  The malts gave a minor caramel-like sweetness, but in the end the dates and figs did command the smell with hints of prunes.  It almost smelled like a thick grenadine you’d add to soft drinks.

The taste was just like the smell.  Dates, figs, prunes, grapes…all right there.  A minor licorice flavor was present that gave some bitterness along with the earthy bitter hops.  They did help in the drying effect this beer had on my palate.  Interestingly enough, despite the thick mouthfeel the carbonation and high alcohol content created a very clean finish which I was not expecting.  There is a heat in the finish as it opens up into dark fruits and sweetness.  I sort of reminded me of Rejewvenator a little.

In the end this beer did no do it for me.  While I appreciated the innovation, the flavor was hard for me to get over.  A beer to be shared with friends and definitely aged.  I could see this beer being a good one to do a vertical with.

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
  1. Thanks for giving Olde School a try, Tom. We agree: It is a “huge of a beer!”


    Justin — October 26th, 2011, 3:15 PM
  2. Haha…that might have been the abv typing there. Correction made. Thanks for reading. We at the PHM love us some DFH.

    Tom — October 26th, 2011, 5:20 PM
  3. glad you enjoyed the wine! We have a row of Eucalyptus trees aligosnde the vineyard and the minty character seems to come from compounds from the trees. My father, who makes the Thelema wines, also worked at Heitz in the early ’80 s and got a pleasant memory when he first tasted the wine from our Mint vineyard and was reminded of Martha’s Vineyard.

    Malla — November 10th, 2015, 6:11 AM
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