So I read the ba notes and I still had very little clue what the difference was because the tasting notes sounded very similar. So i did research and by research I mean i read the second link in google for barleywine vs old ale.
Which led me to http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/so-what-is-the-difference-between-barley-wine-and-old-ale/
I'll give a synopsis for the unwilling an please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm glad I called Adam a barleywine cuz now I know more about the two.
So in the old days of England breweries made a few style of beers: bitters, mild ale, strong ale (with a few degrees of beers separated by age ability bw the two), east ipa, and stout/porter (or stout and porter if you prefer. Old ales were brewed in four areas: burton upon trent, Scotland, London, and Wiltshire home of the kennet ale. So we have four categories of old beers: burton ale, scotch ale, London ale, and kennet ale. Generally old ale refers to the mild beer the brewery made that either was aged or could be aged by the buyer without the beer souring (cuz of high gravity). At some point in time the term barleywines began to be used in place of old ale.
Another piece of evidence was that bass no. 1 which was made with the same recipe as the old days used to be called old ale in early labels and at some point was referred to as barleywine and today their labels show barleywine.
Many breweries and people seemed to use the terms burton and old and old and barleywine interchangeably.
Basically an old ale is an aged mild ale with high gravity and so is a barleywine. Some companies call their products differently than others and differently than they had in the past.
Another thing is http://seancoates.com/brews/hotd-adam
Both are recipes for hotd Adam. The first seems like a clone while the second is a recipe direct from head owner and brewer Alan sprints.
The first calls hotd Adam a strong scotch ale, while Alan sprints calls it a smoked/other ale. Alan's recipe however calls for not just smoked malts but two packages of Scottish ale (I think yeast). No hops in either and Alan's calls for bottle or keg conditioning. Basically fits with the idea above that old ales were strong ales brewed in button upon Trent, Scotland, london, and Wiltshire (thus the strong scotch ale and call for Scottish yeast (I think)).Edited by indesertum - 9/13/12 at 3:20pm