Overview for the American Barleywine

The American Barleywine is based on the English Barleywine but is aggressively hopped. And it’s typically the strongest beer style a brewery will offer. The bitterness from the hops and high alcohol is evident in the aroma and palate with a bite that typically lingers long through the finish.

Style Expectations

A well-hopped American interpretation of the richest and strongest of the English ales. The hop character should be evident throughout, but does not have to be unbalanced. The alcohol strength and hop bitterness often combine to leave a very long finish.


Color may range from light amber to medium copper; may rarely be as dark as light brown. Often has ruby highlights. Moderately-low to large off-white to light tan head; may have low head retention. May be cloudy with chill haze at cooler temperatures, but generally clears to good to brilliant clarity as it warms. The color may appear to have great depth, as if viewed through a thick glass lens. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.


Hop character moderate to assertive and often showcases citrusy, fruity, or resiny New World varieties (although other varieties, such as floral, earthy or spicy English varieties or a blend of varieties, may be used). Rich maltiness, with a character that may be sweet, caramelly, bready, or fairly neutral. Low to moderately-strong fruity esters and alcohol aromatics. However, the intensity of aromatics often subsides with age. Hops tend to be nearly equal to malt in the aroma, with alcohol and esters far behind.


Strong, rich malt flavor with a noticeable hop flavor and bitterness in the balance. Moderately-low to moderately-high malty sweetness on the palate, although the finish may be somewhat sweet to quite dry (depending on aging). Hop bitterness may range from moderately strong to aggressive. While strongly malty, the balance should always seem bitter. Moderate to high hop flavor (any variety, but often showing a range of New World hop characteristics). Low to moderate fruity esters. Noticeable alcohol presence, but well-integrated. Flavors will smooth out and decline over time, but any oxidized character should be muted (and generally be masked by the hop character). May have some bready or caramelly malt flavors, but these should not be high; roasted or burnt malt flavors are inappropriate.


Full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety, luscious texture (although the body may decline with long conditioning). Alcohol warmth should be noticeable but smooth. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. Carbonation may be low to moderate, depending on age and conditioning.


Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

American Barleywine  •  Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale is an American Barleywine by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. that blends piney and herbal hops with biscuit, caramel, dark fruit, and booze. Read More

Olde GnarlyWine

American Barleywine  •  Lagunitas Brewing Company

Olde GnarlyWine, an American Barleywine by Lagunitas Brewing Company is a complex blend of hops, bready malts, citrus, caramel, and booze. Read More

Lawyers, Guns & Money

American Barleywine  •  Crazy Mountain Brewing Company

Lawyers, Guns & Money, an American Barleywine by Crazy Mountain Brewing Company is a boozy hop bomb that blasts citrus and herb with stone fruit and spices. Read More

Olde School Barleywine

American Barleywine  •  Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Olde School Barleywine is an American Barleywine by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery that offers a complex palate in a boozy heavy hitter. Read More

Dry-Hopped Barleywine Style Ale

American Barleywine  •  Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.Avery Brewing Co.

Dry-Hopped Barleywine Style Ale is an American Barleywine that strikes with a hop bomb but has enough bottom with its caramel and toffee malt. Read More


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