Old Treehugger

Brewery:  Live Oak Brewing Company
Style:   English Barleywine (17D)
Package: 12oz Can
Purchased: Beer to go!
Packaged Date:  2020
Consumed Date:  March 4, 2021

Details From the Brewer

ABV: 10.1%

 A wine-strength ale made entirely with our base barley malt true to the English tradition.


Aroma – 11/12

Caramel and figs jump out of the glass first at medium high levels.  This is immediately followed by a wafts of bread crust and fresh dough.  The dark fruit develops deeper with dates and dried cherries.  Some red apple.  A moderate sweetness is present.  Some muted earthy and grassy undertones develop as it warms.  Low levels of ethanol vapor.  No fusel alcohols or off notes. 

Appearance – 3/3

Deep copper colored liquid with some haze from rousing the can.  A mixture of large, fine and medium tan bubbles compose a thick head that lasts with great retention.  Good lacing as the beer is drank.

Flavor – 18/20

Toffee and sweetness hits the tongue at medium levels.  Accompanying notes of toasted bread, figs, and dried cherries with raisins fill in.  Bread crust at a lower level with a touch of biscuit.  These flavors meld almost seamlessly together.  The moderate-high sweetness comes forward in the mid-palate with a low bitterness.  This fades in the back half of the taste.  Low levels of earthy, minty hop flavor come out towards the finish.  The dark fruit character lingers on the finish with a surprising dryness. 

Mouthfeel – 5/5

The moderate carbonation gives a bit of a bite up front, fading to silky, creamy texture.  Full bodied, but shorty of chewy.  There’s a velvet character to this which persists throughout the taste.  A slight stickiness coats the mouth after the finish.  Moderate high alcohol warming in the throat, but not a burn.

Overall Impression – 9/10

For all of the fruity and sweet flavors, this beer finishes much drier than you would expect.  The high ABV is noticeable, but plays along nicely with the bold flavors.  As a minor improvement, I’d like to see the bready base malt character a touch stronger to keep it in line with the yeast esters and melanodins.  This is an outstanding traditional English Barleywine.

Rating – 46/50

I once had a small pour, maybe a few ounces of one of the original batches at the Whip Inn.  I really can’t remember what I thought of it for comparison.  This beer was talked about in Austin for years with most figuring it was lost to Live Oak’s old location.  I’m glad it’s back.  You can’t find many examples of an non-barrel aged English barleywine that his this level of quality.  Old me, would probably save some of these cans for aging.  Don’t.  It’s already at its peak drinking.