Barley Wines are generally a style that are preferred with age, especially American Barley Wines due to the ramped up hops and alcohol. English-style Barley Wines are usually leaning more toward the sweeter, maltier side, but can still benefit from a substantial amount of aging to tone down heat from the alcohol or to allow the beer to become a little more balanced. Olde School even states on the label that one way to enjoy this brew is to bury it in the woods, dig it up a year later and drink it.

The beer boasts a 15% ABV level, which is pretty apparent in the nose when fresh, but after time that booziness had subsided a bit. What you get more of now is a ton of mixed fruits and a large amount of fig. Old residual hops are present but are dominated by the sweet malts, caramel and toffee notes. The booze is still evident once it opens up a bit and warms, but it's not nearly as cutting as it was fresh.

The beer definitely doesn't drink like a 15% beer anymore. The heat picked up in the nose doesn't really show in the taste. The main components are caramel, fig, and some pineapple. There is a bit of some dark candied sugar which gives the taste and mouthfeel its stickiness. Just as in the nose, the hops have definitely subsided and the sweet grains are the backbone of the profile. There is a bit of honey in the aftertaste that rests with the caramel and toffee.

This is definitely one that I prefer with a lot of time on it, at least a year. With almost 3 full years in the bottle, this beer has really come together well and is very enjoyable.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on April 25, 2014 .