Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine

I decided to try Hooker’s Old Marley Barleywine tonight since we skipped the gym. The beer pours a dark copper/brown color with absolutely no head and no visible carbonation. Smells of alcohol and oaky/vanilla scents with a little bit of the normal fruitiness found in barleywines. Taste is more of that oak/vanilla with a hint of smoke. Unfortunately, this was nothing like a barleywine in my opinion. It lacked the strong fruity flavor and hops. Fortunately, it was a very smooth ale, though a slow drinker. It was more like a good strong ale with it’s fine sherry/cognac characteristics. I’d say it was drinkable, though I don’t know if I’d call it a barleywine. I liked it and would definitely drink more, but not when I’m expecting a barleywine.

The label says the beer was aged in oak bourbon casks for a month. It tastes like it spent 6 months in the oak casks. While I like a good oak aged beer, I think this whole thing is getting out of hand. This would probably have been an excellent barleywine had it skipped the oak barrels. If you like scotch, cognac, whiskey, or sherry, this would be a good beer for you. The 10% ABV was noticeable with a nice warming quality and a nice buzz after drinking 2/3 of the bottle.

I absolutely love the bottle. It’s a dark blue flip top 500 ml bottle. Very beautiful bottle, but the beer could have been better, considering it cost over $7.  Most of my issues with this are probably due to the aging of it.  Hops flavors tend to disappear after extended aging and this one is probably 1-2  years old as it said “Bottled in 2006” (I don’t know when they release this one).  I’m going to try to find a fresh bottle and try that one.  I’m hoping it’s better.

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