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Old Birdbrain - Black Raven Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old BirdbrainOld Birdbrain

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

76 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 76
Reviews: 18
rAvg: 4.36
pDev: 7.34%
Wants: 59
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: 76 | Reviews: 18 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of LopeJuice
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

LopeJuice, Nov 14, 2014
Photo of ScottJWing
3.75/5  rDev -14%

ScottJWing, Oct 27, 2014
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

WILD-THING, Oct 18, 2014
Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

spycow, Oct 17, 2014
Photo of Port_Seat
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Port_Seat, Sep 18, 2014
Photo of bcrossan
4.16/5  rDev -4.6%

bcrossan, Sep 09, 2014
Photo of Dactrius
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Dactrius, Jul 16, 2014
Photo of ShanePB
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

ShanePB, Jun 05, 2014
Photo of ford0626
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

ford0626, May 19, 2014
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

CHILLINDYLAN, Apr 29, 2014
Photo of laminam
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

laminam, Apr 24, 2014
Photo of anticipation23
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

anticipation23, Apr 14, 2014
Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.26/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 Limited Release.

A - Pours dark amber with slender lacings of foam. Deep orange marmalade. Looks very syrupy, and swirling for legs bears this observation out. Per the BJCP Guidelines, Old Birdbrain really does have great depth; my fingers on the rearward side of the glass appear as if viewed through a thick lense.

S - Elderflower cordial, maple syrup and a whiff of aged Jamaican rum. All sweetness and honey. Hints of apple scone. Also getting mild oak which is presumably owed to its partial aging in American rye whiskey barrels.

T - It's very mellow. One suspects the hop presence was originally much stronger for it to be considered an American Barleywine. Cozy, caramelised malts smother the tongue, followed by a wave of drowsy alcohol which warms the heart and the head. The aftertaste is as of a Highland or Speyside Single Malt, albeit it many times milder. Honey fades to bitter orange marmalade as the liquid washes away. My wife described it as a candy liquer, knowing nothing whatsoever about the contents of the snifter handed to her. A fairly apt description if you ask me. A little more fruitiness would have taken this to the next level.

M - Follows the eyes; it really is syrupy and the mild carbonation suggested by the lack of head is confirmed. A quarter of an hour in and I could be drinking Sherry or an aged Sauterne, so still does this beverage become. It is syrupy but I would not describe it as underattenuated. Very rich. Powerful.

O - I've never had a Barleywine of either variety which makes it challenging to evaluate to style. Having read the guidelines for both, it definitely has more in common with an English Barleywine after its couple of years of aging. Starting at cellar temperature, this beer offers more as it warms but never quite reveals the depths of which I hope a barleywine is capable. Time will tell as I have a top drawer barleywine in Sucaba waiting to be drunk. The abv. doesn't burn but is a constantly warming presence, just as it should be. This offering is a great reminder that beer can provide such a range of experiences, from the contemplative to the celebratory; having as it does, much more in common with sipping a Single Malt than with necking pints at your local.

abeeronthebeach, Apr 09, 2014
Photo of sukwonee
4/5  rDev -8.3%

sukwonee, Mar 30, 2014
Photo of anteater
4/5  rDev -8.3%

anteater, Mar 24, 2014
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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.

LiquidAmber, Mar 11, 2014
Photo of lgcphoto
3.5/5  rDev -19.7%

lgcphoto, Mar 09, 2014
Photo of mrchrisray
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

mrchrisray, Mar 05, 2014
Photo of SixPack6
4/5  rDev -8.3%

SixPack6, Mar 02, 2014
Photo of Seattle_Suds
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Seattle_Suds, Mar 01, 2014
Photo of Eighty
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%

Eighty, Feb 24, 2014
Photo of cyrushire
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

cyrushire, Feb 21, 2014
Photo of dionito
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

dionito, Feb 20, 2014
Photo of BillRoth
4.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Just when I'd thought I'd been there/done that with American Barleywines...yet another pleasant surprise from Seattle. Had heard about Black Raven and Old Birdbrain, but still...

Thanks to Paul! Had finally made it to Black Raven during a recent NW Beer Safari and was enjoying a wide range of BR IPAs, a Saison and an amazing infused porter...when I asked about OB. I was told that the keg had recently kicked, and I was understandably bummed.

But thanks to Paul...he said they had 2012 bottles available, and grabbed me one before I left.

OK...push forward 13 days and I'm back home chillin to Olympics and the beer is calling me...

From what I've read..this has been pretty much all said before, but just to add my big thumbs up...

Caramel, but not sweet; threads of molasses but not bitter, hints of nougat and maybe dried apricot... all enveloped in a warm rye vanilla background.

I thought the blending and aging was masterful. Perfect alcohol. The very moderate buzz just excited all the flavors...did not overwhelm or distract.

Don't really care to compare. Just sign me up for more.This is one top notch winter warmer.

Highly recommended.

BillRoth, Feb 19, 2014
Photo of dar482
4.16/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage.

The beer comes in a clear amber color.

The aroma has lots of sweet caramel, vanilla, oak.

The flavor follows with those gentle vanilla notes and then a good amount of toffee and bright sweet caramel, brown sugar. Then onto a heavy hoppy and spicy bitterness. Definitely getting a sense that only part of this beer is barrel aged.

dar482, Feb 18, 2014
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Old Birdbrain from Black Raven Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 76 ratings.