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Old Birdbrain - Black Raven Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old BirdbrainOld Birdbrain

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

70 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 70
Reviews: 18
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 7.32%
Wants: 55
Gots: 17 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Black Raven Brewing Co. visit their website
Washington, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
This robust strong ale features pale malts and generous hop additions. After primary fermentation, several American rye whiskey barrels are filled and cellared to age. The remaining beer is then cellared in a stainless steel tank. After many months of aging, the barrels are then blended into the remaining batch aged in the stainless steel tank.

(Beer added by: barleywinefiend on 03-07-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 70 | Reviews: 18 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by czechsaaz:
Photo of czechsaaz


4.59/5  rDev +5%

2011 Vintage. The brewery held on to it and bottled in 2013. I then stashed it away for another six months. I bought my limit on release day and this is the first one.

Aroma is seriously malty with lots of fruity yeast. Not much hop aroma. Big crystal/caramel malt nose.

Dark amber colored almost red. Thin white but persistent head with decent lacing. Perfectly clear with lots of rising carbonation bubbles.

HUUUGE caramel malt flavors right off. Balanced very well with hop biterness on the back of my tongue and finishes with a solid malty flavor that lingers for a long time with each sip. If there was hop flavor it's dropped out with age. I get yeast esters of pit fruit like ripe plums. But the big deal is the caramel flavors and vanilla notes.

Big body, kind of chewy with just enough carbonation to keep it from syrup. There's no alcohol harshness in my mouth but a nice warming in my stomach.

Overall, this is a stellar beer. The fact that they aged it for so long before bottling really shows. Totally well balanced big-ass barleywine. Drinking this makes me happy. I will stand in line whenever they release future vintages.

08-16-2013 06:56:44 | More by czechsaaz
More User Reviews:
Photo of NWer


4.98/5  rDev +14%

2010 vintage at the brewery.
I first tasted this at their birthday celebration but my senses were too overloaded to make an accurate review.
Revisited at the brewery today. Very nice young lady allowed me to taste both the 2009 and the 2010 before I decided on the 2010.
I am overwhelmed.
This beer should be shared with the world but alas it isn't bottled. Not even growlers to go.
Nice deep red/brown/black appearance subdued head typical of a high abv beer.
Bourbon. Bourbon notes. Bourbon smell. Bourbon taste.
Taste lingers exceptionally well making this the perfect sipping beer.
I can't wait for Black Raven to re-offer this beer at a celebration of some sort next year to see how it ages since I don't have the opportunity to put some away myself.
Did I say I'm overwhelmed?
Try it if you get the chance. Savoring this beer is one of life's great pleasures.
edit: original review 5/27/2011 revisited 6/5.2011.
Went with the 2009 this time and similarly overwhelmed but even though the 2009 gets all the accolades, I like the 2010 better. I'm sure they will have some around next year to do a nice vertical with the 2012. Can't wait.
Edit 1/27/2012 Tapped a keg today and rushed over. This is my most sought after beer except for Pliny the Younger. Two glasses, savored every drop. Damn I love this beer!
edit 1/25/2014 2012 vintage bottle release snagged my limit of four and had a glass. Forgot how much I love this beer. Been a while. Hasn't missed a step.

05-27-2011 21:18:30 | More by NWer
Photo of Seattle_Suds


4.5/5  rDev +3%

03-01-2014 22:23:00 | More by Seattle_Suds
Photo of jpbebeau


4.65/5  rDev +6.4%

Preview of 2011 vintage on tap at the brewery during Washington Beer Open House. To tulip. 10.9% ABV.

From notes.

A: Clear golden amber with beautiful slow-release carbonation rising from the bottom. Very fine bubbles collect at edges of the glass. Minor head and lacing. Legs consist of those fine bubbles.

S: Malts, mild sweet whiskey, floral hops, honey. Lovely.

T: Gorgeous hop/malt balance. Lingering, perfect hop finish. Never over-sweet. Never too bitter. Went well with the provided paired cheeses.

M: So smooth. Such fine carbonation. Not too thick or heavy, but definitely substantial.

Wow. If this is the young preview version of this beer, I can't wait to get a taste of it matured, or, hopefully, the 2010 and/or 2009 vintages.

Black Raven does not disappoint.

02-26-2012 05:52:47 | More by jpbebeau
Photo of kevwcamp


4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

11-17-2011 05:15:47 | More by kevwcamp
Photo of kslsc400


4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

06-13-2012 01:47:12 | More by kslsc400
Photo of mdaschaf


4.41/5  rDev +0.9%

Review from notes. Thanks to Greg for sharing! 2011 vintage.

A: Pours a clear amber/ruby color with a small off-white head on top that reduces quickly to a thin ring on top. Thin lacing forms down the sides.

S: Rather sweet upfront, lots of caramel right away. There is a vanilla and a bit of oak, a bit of alcohol as well.

T: Again, on the sweet side with plenty of caramel and toffee mixed with vanilla and oak. Some caramelized brown sugar as well.

M: Medium to full bodied, slightly hot, but still pretty nice.

O: A pretty good barleywine, definitely one I want to try again.

04-02-2013 00:01:46 | More by mdaschaf
Photo of Tuckersmth


4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

09-19-2013 12:42:07 | More by Tuckersmth
Photo of dirtylou


4.4/5  rDev +0.7%

on-tap, brouwers. I believe this was the first keg to kick at hard liver 2012

1x12oz pour, 1x3oz pour

appearance: served in unbranded snifters - clear golden orange body, one of the lighter ales served up at the festival.

smell: sweet malts, oak, vanilla, booze

taste: black raven is quite popular in this area and it seems like whenever their kegs hit Seattle mainland, they disappear immediately, probably because nobody wants to drive to Redmond. This was a very HQ barleywine - nice balance of hops and malt, great oak/vanilla presence, citrus, bourbon and caramelized sugars

mouthfeel: creamy medium body

overall: solid stuff

03-05-2012 00:13:49 | More by dirtylou
Photo of jmccraney


4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

01-26-2014 05:00:34 | More by jmccraney
Photo of DOCRW


4.5/5  rDev +3%

01-25-2014 04:08:39 | More by DOCRW
Photo of ford0626


4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

05-19-2014 20:00:55 | More by ford0626
Photo of cyrushire


4.5/5  rDev +3%

02-21-2014 06:31:09 | More by cyrushire


4.5/5  rDev +3%

04-29-2014 17:48:03 | More by CHILLINDYLAN
Photo of TysonA


4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

05-12-2013 21:15:07 | More by TysonA
Photo of smakawhat


3.85/5  rDev -11.9%

Poured from the bottle into a snifter at Smoke & Barrel DC for the dc bottle share. From notes.

A real nice light orange amber body, with an off tan somewhat creamy head. Makes a decent collar that always sticks around.

Nose is very small and closed, but there is that pickle brine again, with some indistinct mild hop presence I can't determine.

The palate opens up though on first sip with a good caramel sweetness. Thick malt action with a real crackery mix of crispness and toasty brown sugar. Feel has a good thick body but doesn't get into a huge over kill of sugar and alcohol boozy rush. Coats the palate nicely with it's caramel and lingers nicely.

Overall a real nice solid barleywine, like the toasty angle on this quite a bit.

03-10-2013 22:45:29 | More by smakawhat
Photo of LiquidAmber


4.68/5  rDev +7.1%

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours a medium orange amber with a thin white, persistent film of a head. Aroma is intense caramel, vanilla with light caramel malt and oak, inviting. Oh, man what great flavor. Caramel, vanilla, sweet dark fruit, syrup, light apple and pear developing before a caramel malt, oak, whiskey and light hop finish. Nice weighty medium to full bodied. An excellent, flavorful barley wine in the English style, although there is a bit of hop kick in the finish. A bit on the sweet side, but skirts being cloying by great depth of flavor. The alcohol is somewhat noticeable in the finish, but actually seems to fit in with the flavor profile quite well because of the light whiskey character. Perhaps the most caramel I've noticed in a barley wine. Superb. In my top five barley wines and at the moment, with the alcohol kicking it, my favorite.

03-11-2014 03:07:52 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of Eighty


4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

02-24-2014 21:42:47 | More by Eighty
Photo of ShanePB


4.5/5  rDev +3%

06-05-2014 12:29:05 | More by ShanePB
Photo of KevSal


4.44/5  rDev +1.6%

Boom! huge thanks to stx00lax, Jacob your kindness never ceases to surprise me!

This is a huge huge want that I've been hoping id get to try some day or it would be bottled, my wish came true.

12oz bottle into a tulip

A- looks great, nice and dark red. Looks just as expected. Slight beige head.

S-huge! Lots of wood upfront, smells massive and thick. vanilla and very slight cherry in the back end. The oak is prominent and very pleasant

T- oak upfront with vanilla and tons of malts and some spicyness, reminiscent of ba hifi, maybe there's a lot of rye in this guy? Either way it's fantastic!

M- this one is thick, lots of weight and body, one very noticeable characteristic is it's not super chewy or sticky.

O- fantastic! It's a huge contrast to most ba barelywines that are chewy and tons of dark fruits. This goes in another direction, it's a lot more along the lines of ba hifi (which i found out is my highest rated ba barlywine!) and coast nuptial. I have a strong feeling this one will age along the same lines, in 2 years this will be the real deal ba Barleywine. I dot expect to get that chance but I am very greatful to have this one.

Thanks again Jacob, I really hope this wasn't your one and only! Either way Ot was thoroughly enjoyed!

03-10-2013 10:34:32 | More by KevSal
Photo of ScreamForMe


4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

03-12-2012 05:59:23 | More by ScreamForMe
Photo of anticipation23


4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

04-14-2014 05:28:16 | More by anticipation23
Photo of Smurf2055


4.44/5  rDev +1.6%

Hard Liver

Pours dark amber with little head.

Candy and licorice, vanilla and caramel, maybe a bit of toffee. Very sweet smell.

Taste is like the smell; lots of vanilla up front, malt, oak, and almost marshmallow comes up after. Bit of booze on the end.

Good carbonation, medium to full bodied. Damned good barley wine.

07-19-2013 01:52:50 | More by Smurf2055
Photo of sukwonee


4/5  rDev -8.5%

03-30-2014 22:10:57 | More by sukwonee
Photo of dionito


4.5/5  rDev +3%

02-20-2014 05:08:13 | More by dionito
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Old Birdbrain from Black Raven Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.