Dogfish Head Olde School - A barleywine style ale brewed with figs and dates. (2012)
12 fl. oz. / $5.45 USD / 15% ABV
About: "Bold, yet smooth! Fermented with dates and figs, this bone-crushing barleywine has a unique flavor. The concept for this beer came from an old cellerman's manual Sam came across. At about 15% ABV, this beer is a great candidate for aging. Over time, the beer dries out and the pit fruit flavors come forward and the hops recede. Our recommendation? Grab a few bottles when you find it - enjoy one now, and age the others for a bit. Let us know which you prefer! Olde School Barlewine comes out in the fall annually. It is available in 12-ounce bottles by the 4-pack. Want more info on the cowboy label art? Check out 'What's The Deal With The Cowboy?"
Thougths: Poured a dark orange color with a one finger light tan head. I wasn't really expecting much of a head but there it was. Also, I wasn't really expecting the color on this one either. While the beer is light enough to see a blurred shadow through, it's still hazy as all hell.
Huh. The first whiff I got it sort of hit me like an extremely high gravity IPA. Wait a minute... I know this one is pretty fresh. It was just put out on the shelf and the bottle recommends in two different spots that I should age it. Is this one of those DIPAs that turns into a Barleywine over time? Or is it the other way around?! Quite perplexing indeed. ;)
But all fucking around aside, this barleywine is very hop forward in the nose! The figs and dates in this are abundant, and the brew itself smells very smooth. Any glimpse of alcohol in the scent is invisible. It smells very fruity, very sugary... like dried apricots, and kinda raisiny. It smells really good, like a baby barleywine though. How in the fuck is this so mellow?
First swig, and it is amazingly smooth. Holy shit. I was expecting a hit of booze, at least on the first gulp (and even with the gentle scent), but man that went down easy and was just full of flavor. Man do I love me some figs too. It's a particular flavor that gives this one something so special. Most of the time when beers have a lot of fruit flavors in them it's either grapefruit, orange zest, lemon, cherries or apple... but man, there is just something about figs that give the raisin and dark fruit type beers an extra special kick. It's just distinct and flavorful, not to mention hard to describe unless you've actually tasted them (and fig newtons only sorta count). While I'm starting to feel the alcohol just a bit, it's laying so low in this beer that quite frankly I'm a bit mystified.
So I'm pretty sure that I'm drinking this way too early. But the way I see it, once it's bottled it's ready to be drank. Whether I can find another bottle and save it is another story. I'd rather find a few dusty old bottles sitting on the shelf but I doubt that'll ever happen. It really feels and tastes like this beer has been barrel aged, but it hasn't. This has to be the most exceptionally smooth barleywine I've ever drank. Not to mention the easiest going with such a high ABV. It's so light feeling that it's nearly distracting. I would have liked this experience to be a little bit more full and rich, but I'm not really complaining here.
This is a weird one. I suppose you can't really expect anything else from DFH, but while this one threw me for a loop, it was indeed tasty and enjoyable. Which is about as much as one can ask when they shell out five bucks for a 12oz beer. If I see this one again at the store and I don't have one last brew to fill my mix-a-six, I'm sure I'll grab this one again and try it out later with something else.