Prior to the DIPA's popularity, barleywine ruled the hop roost. Brewed for winter release, these stand between 8.5 percent ABV on the low side to 15 percent on the high side. Barleywines have rich malt bodies redolent of caramels, wine, fruit, and hops to punch through the sweetness
Fresh barleywines have such strong hop characters that collectors try one bottle per year, cellaring the rest for at least six months. Barleywines benefit from the time to meld and mellow.
Anchor Brewing rolled out their mellow Old Foghorn barleywine in 1975. Serving as an inspiration for later barleywine brewers, they also set a legal precedent followed to this day. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms balked at approving the term “Barley Wine” for fear that customers would confuse it for table wine. But they had no problems with the term barleywine-style ale, reflected on labels to this day.
Due to the amount of malt and boil time needed to reach barleywine strength, specialty malts aren't critical to achieve the colors and flavors associated with the style. As with other strong beers, the best approach to a complete and fast fermentation is to pitch with yeast fresh from a smaller batch of beer. A common tactic: brew a strong APA or IPA first and use the resulting cake to drive the barleywine.