Over the Christmas holidays, my friend (and fellow Craft Beer Diaries team member) Ryan visited, and brought me a bottle of Madness of Ophelia, from 5 Paddles Brewing Co. in Whitby, Ontario.

A bourbon barrel-aged barley wine, this fuses together an intoxicating mix of bourbon, malts, barley, and wine, all brought together in a delicious yet powerful 10% ABV.

I wasn’t sure what to expect – I do like a good wine, and bourbon barrel-aged ales have been a staple for me over the holiday period. But mixing these together into a beer? My interest was definitely piqued.

Boy, I was not disappointed! Rich, with a slight tartiness, and an alcohol smoothness that belies its strength, this is a beer to savour.

It only comes out once a year around the Christmas period, so you need to be on your toes to get a bottle. However, with 5 Paddles now opening their online store, it may be just a wee bit easier to get a bottle of this at the end of this year.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.


  • ABV: 10%
  • IBU: 42
  • Style: Bourbon barrel-aged barley wine
  • Taste: Smooth, alcohol-rich, tart, warming
  • Rating: 4.8/5
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Danny Brown
Founder of The Craft Beer Diaries. Husband. Father. Part-time procrastinator. On a mission to help others discover the delight of, and passion behind, great craft beer. Favourite beers: IPAs, Belgian Trappist, porters.
Danny Brown
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