Sipping an English-style barleywine I brewed last year and I'm not sure how I feel I about it. It hasn't turned out quite like I expected; it almost seems more Belgian-style than English. First of all, the nose has a lot of banana-toffee esters that are mixed in with a pretty heavy caramel-toffee smell. The taste is a bit sweet with some hop spice and a lot of caramel and toffee, while the finish seems dry at first; but with a late tawny port sweetness that fades to corn sweetener. The banana in the aroma is unexpected as is the corn sweetener taste late in the finish. I wouldn't be surprised to notice banana esters in a barleywine if it had fermented and conditioned real warm, but according to my notes (from 11 months ago) the beer fermented at 72 degrees F. and was conditioned for the last nine months or so in a 60-70 degree F. basement. Reviewing my notes I also noticed that I re-pitched a yeast from an English bitter that I brewed. The yeast was Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire, substituted for the NB recommendation of either Safale US-05 or Wyeast 1056.
This was a Northern Brewer Barleywine kit with not a lot of hops which is why I used the English yeast. If I brewed this again I think I would add a touch more bittering hops and some aroma hops, too. Looking at my notes, I reduced the flavor hops addition at 15 minutes to 5 minutes and stuck with the NB recommendation of no aroma hops. If I brewed this kit again I think I would follow the direction on the flavoring hops addition and add additional hops to the kit as aroma hops (probably Goldings or Fuggle.) I think I'd still stick with an English yeast but don't if I'd be able to use the Wyeast 1469 again since it was a limited edition strain.