Style Details

Eng­lish Barleywine
Strong Bri­tish Ale
BJCP Style Code
17 D
Color may ran­ge from rich gold to very dark amber or even dark brown (often has ruby high­lights, but should not be opaque). Low to mode­ra­te off-white 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.
Very rich and stron­gly mal­ty, often with a cara­mel-like aro­ma in dar­ker ver­si­ons or a light tof­fee cha­rac­ter in paler ver­si­ons. May have mode­ra­te to strong frui­tin­ess, often with a dark- or dried-fruit cha­rac­ter, par­ti­cu­lar­ly in dark ver­si­ons. The hop aro­ma may ran­ge from mild to asser­ti­ve, and is typi­cal­ly flo­ral, ear­thy, or mar­ma­la­de-like. Alco­hol aro­ma­tics may be low to mode­ra­te, but are soft and roun­ded. The inten­si­ty of the­se aro­ma­tics often subs­i­des with age. The aro­ma may have a rich cha­rac­ter inclu­ding brea­dy, toasty, tof­fee, and/or molas­ses notes. Aged ver­si­ons may have a sher­ry-like qua­li­ty, pos­si­bly vinous or port-like aro­ma­tics, and gene­ral­ly more muted malt aromas.
Strong, inten­se, com­plex, mul­ti-laye­red malt fla­vors ran­ging from brea­dy, tof­fee, and bis­cui­ty in paler ver­si­ons through nut­ty, deep toast, dark cara­mel, and/or molas­ses in dar­ker ver­si­ons. Mode­ra­te to high mal­ty sweet­ness on the pala­te, alt­hough the finish may be modera­te­ly sweet to modera­te­ly dry (depen­ding on aging). Some oxi­da­tive or vinous fla­vors may be pre­sent, and often com­plex alco­hol fla­vors should be evi­dent. Mode­ra­te to fair­ly high frui­tin­ess, often with a dark- or dried-fruit cha­rac­ter. Hop bit­ter­ness may ran­ge from just enough for balan­ce to a firm pre­sence; balan­ce the­r­e­fo­re ran­ges from mal­ty to some­what bit­ter. Pale ver­si­ons are often more bit­ter, bet­ter atte­nu­a­ted, and might show more hop cha­rac­ter than dar­ker ver­si­ons; howe­ver, all ver­si­ons are mal­ty in the balan­ce. Low to modera­te­ly high hop fla­vor, often flo­ral, ear­thy, or mar­ma­la­de-like Eng­lish varieties.
Full-bodi­ed and che­wy, with a vel­ve­ty, luscious tex­tu­re (alt­hough the body may decli­ne with long con­di­tio­ning). A smooth warmth from aged alco­hol should be pre­sent. Car­bo­na­ti­on may be low to mode­ra­te, depen­ding on age and conditioning.
Over­all Impression
A show­ca­se of mal­ty rich­ness and com­plex, inten­se fla­vors. Che­wy and rich in body, with warm­ing alco­hol and a plea­sant frui­ty or hop­py inte­rest. When aged, it can take on port-like fla­vors. A win­ter­ti­me sipper.
Typi­cal Ingredients
High-qua­li­ty, well-modi­fied pale malt should form the back­bone of the grist, with judi­cious amounts of cara­mel malts. Dark malts should be used with gre­at res­traint, if at all, as most of the color ari­ses from a leng­thy boil. Eng­lish hops such as Nor­th­down, Tar­get, East Kent Gol­dings and Fug­gles are typi­cal. Cha­rac­terful Bri­tish yeast.
Strong ales of various for­mu­la­ti­ons have long been bre­wed in Eng­land, and were known by seve­ral names. The modern bar­ley­wi­ne traces back to Bass No. 1, which was first cal­led a bar­ley­wi­ne in 1872. Bar­ley­wi­nes were dar­ker beers until Ten­n­ant (now Whit­bread) first pro­du­ced Gold Label, a gold-colo­red bar­ley­wi­ne in 1951. Usual­ly the stron­gest ale offe­red by a bre­wery, and in recent years many com­mer­cial examp­les are now vin­ta­ge-dated and offe­red as a limi­t­ed-release win­ter sea­so­nal spe­cial­ty. The ori­gi­nal bar­ley­wi­ne style that inspi­red deri­va­ti­ve varia­ti­ons in Bel­gi­um, the United Sta­tes, and else­whe­re in the world.
The richest and stron­gest of modern Eng­lish Ales. The cha­rac­ter of the­se ales can chan­ge signi­fi­cant­ly over time; both young and old ver­si­ons should be app­re­cia­ted for what they are. The malt pro­fi­le can vary wide­ly; not all examp­les will have all pos­si­ble fla­vors or aro­mas. Paler varie­ties won’t have the cara­mel and richer malt fla­vors, nor will they typi­cal­ly have the dar­ker dried fruits – don’t expect fla­vors and aro­ma­tics that are impos­si­ble from a beer of that color. Typi­cal­ly writ­ten as “Bar­ley Wine” in the UK, and “Bar­ley­wi­ne” in the US.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Adnams Tal­ly-Ho, Bur­ton Bridge Tho­mas Sykes Old Ale, Conis­ton No. 9 Bar­ley Wine, Fuller’s Gol­den Pri­de, J.W. Lee’s Vin­ta­ge Har­ve­st Ale, Robinson’s Old Tom
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.080 - 1.120 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.018 - 1.030 SG
8 - 22 SRM
8.0 - 12.0 %vol
35 - 70 IBU