Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Delaware
Beer: Olde School
Serving: 12 oz bottle
Information: Bottled in 2009, 15% ABV, serving and burying (seriously) instructions, “this beer ages with the best of ‘em.”
Style: American Barleywine
Price: $3.99 / single
Availability: Limited Release (November)
Cellaring: Under proper conditions, this beer can be cellared for extended periods.
Pairings: 2-year aged sharp white cheddar, Caesar salad with Texas toast croutons, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, bunny tracks ice cream.
The tall pour creates a head that’s long-lasting for a barleywine with this alcohol percent. The good retention eventually leads to a foamy layer and ring with some glass-coating lace. The color is a beautifully clear copper-amber with carbonation bubbles lazily floating up. Legs drape the lace following a hearty swirl.
The nose is just bursting with fruity nuances and estery-turned-solvent alcohol that almost makes one’s eyes water. White grape and peach compliment a mild apricot, pineapple citrus, and apple fruit concoction. Honey-drizzled English muffin gives a good depth to the malts while “hop” aroma is almost non-existent, rather, it’s just fully fruity. The finish has a really light lupulin gland, resiny touch. The aroma really reminds me of Fort, actually.
Light solvent hints are complimented by bold, fruity flavors but this is surprisingly lower in alcohol flavor than the nose would suggest. A fruit-basket containing citrusy pineapple, crisp, juicy apple, apricot, peach, and plump white grape all appear in the flavor, soaked in sweet white wine. A mellow hop flavor announces itself towards the finish with just a light harmonious floral and citrus smoothness. Again, the honey-draped English muffins come out of the malts with a bit of caramel too. The booze is there but not too powerful. Just enough to let you know what you’re drinking.
Initially Olde School is very soft and smooth with a medium-full-feeling body. The alcohol is really warm and the finish is somewhat crisp but sweet like a plump, juicy apple. Very light dryness and mild bitterness finishes out this boozy barleywine with finesse. It might be the solvent-like alcohol, but the finish is just a touch on the thin side.
Olde School is a delicious barleywine full of terrific nuances but a beer best enjoyed around 55° F with sipping time to warm up and develop even more. While delicious, it’ll certainly take some time to drink. This beer begs to be savored and cherished. I will say, however; for a 15% brew, it’s not too hot and the $4 price tag is a complete steal.
[2009 bottle reviewed. This ages incredibly gracefully.]
Score: 91 / 100 - Exceptional