In my quest to try as many Dogfish Head beers as I can find, I’ve managed to get my hands on a four-pack of Olde School barleywine-style ale. Barely. One of the local bottle shops here in Charlotte posted on Twitter that they had gotten a couple of cases in that day, and when I showed up roughly two hours after the tweet was posted, they had one solitary four-pack left, so I made it mine. So what is it, exactly? It’s a barleywine-style ale, as I’ve already mentioned. Specifically, it’s a big, fruity barleywine-style ale. And I do mean big. And fruity. The fruitiness comes from the fact that it’s brewed with figs and dates, which, quite frankly, are a perfect match for a barleywine-style ale and make for a lovely winter beverage. The bigishness comes from an absolutely whopping 15% ABV, which makes this legally the most potent beer the nanny-state government of North Carolina will allow to be sold here. The nose is rich with fig and plum notes, and even the alcohol comes through, which is pretty unusual for a beer. The body is heavy weight, and the middle is syrupy and sweet with flavors of raisins and dates, and brown sugar. The finish is sweet and warming as the alcohol comes back through again. I like a good barleywine-style ale, but I generally don’t love them. This however, is an outstanding beer and can even reasonably stand in the stead of a stiffer drink on a cold winter’s night.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5