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Old Birdbrain - Black Raven Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Old BirdbrainOld Birdbrain

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

72 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 72
Reviews: 18
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 7.32%
Wants: 54
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: 72 | Reviews: 18 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to wethorseblanket for sharing this one at drewone's tasting.

2011 vintage.

Pours a hazy honey orange with a foamy tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, and whiskey aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and toffee flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a very nice whiskey smell and tasty barrel aged flavors.

UCLABrewN84, Jun 11, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
4/5  rDev -8.5%

Thorpe429, Apr 07, 2013
Photo of MasterSki
4.1/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanks to Alistair for sharing this one. Think this was the 2011 vintage. Served in a tulip.

A - Nice amount of white foam that settles to a thick collar, leaving behind specks of lacing. Transparent amber body.

S - A nice blend of maple, caramel, mild rye whiskey, oaky vanilla, and some bread and dark fruits filling things out.

T - The taste is very sweet; more in line with what'd I'd expect from an English barleywine. Lots of maple, brown sugar, caramel, and some lingering tangy whiskey and spicy rye flavors. There's still a faint trace of alcohol, even after two years of age.

M - Sticky, chewy, medium-full body. Lower carbonation, and minimal alcohol warmth.

D - A well crafted barleywine, with restrained barrel-aging flavors; you can tell this is blended rather than 100% barrel aged. A good beer that I enjoyed drinking, but not unique or amazing enough for me to go out of my way to acquire it again.

MasterSki, Jun 12, 2013
Photo of drewone
4.5/5  rDev +3%

drewone, Jun 11, 2013
Photo of barleywinefiend
4.48/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a nice copper color with a small white head with light lacing left behind

S: Nose is super nice with hints of vanilla, American oak and a nice bourbon note.

T: Taste has a BIG but subtle and soothing barrel influence with vanilla, oak and bourbon, caramel being key influences. I picked up a light floral and citrus note with darting hints of toffee and carameilzed sugar. Not overly done on any note but well played and each tasting note is well meshed and not in competition.

M: Mouthfeel is big body but not overly hefty and chewy, pretty easy going; dry, sugary sweet, vanilla, bourbon, oak.

O: Drinkability is very good as this was very impressive

barleywinefiend, Mar 07, 2010
Photo of BillRoth
4.69/5  rDev +7.3%
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 mdaschaf
4.41/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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.

mdaschaf, Apr 02, 2013
Photo of smakawhat
3.85/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

smakawhat, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of rab53
3.75/5  rDev -14.2%

rab53, Feb 04, 2014
Photo of ShanePB
4.5/5  rDev +3%

ShanePB, Jun 05, 2014
Photo of beertunes
3.75/5  rDev -14.2%

beertunes, Jan 19, 2013
Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.23/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 on tap at the brewpub.

A - Served a deep red/brown/copper with a very few dark tan bubbles on the top that quickly disappear.

S - Carmel, toffee, vanilla and lots of bourbon greatness.

T - The taste does not disappoint. Carmel, toffe and more bourbon. Drinks so freaking easy it is rediculous. It is scary how good and how easy this one is to drink.

D - Lower carbonation with a lighter than expected body and mouthfeel.

O - I had low expectations and left very impressed with this one. I very good BW that drinks easy and isn't as heavy as most others.

HuskyinPDX, Nov 30, 2012
Photo of dirtylou
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

dirtylou, Mar 05, 2012
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.68/5  rDev +7.1%
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 strongaf
4.5/5  rDev +3%

strongaf, Feb 25, 2013
Photo of IrishColonial
3.75/5  rDev -14.2%

IrishColonial, Mar 09, 2013
Photo of Kurmaraja
4.5/5  rDev +3%

Kurmaraja, Dec 18, 2013
Photo of dar482
4.16/5  rDev -4.8%
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
Photo of anteater
4/5  rDev -8.5%

anteater, Mar 24, 2014
Photo of Dactrius
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Dactrius, Jul 16, 2014
Photo of sharpski
4.5/5  rDev +3%

sharpski, Feb 15, 2012
Photo of starrdogg
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

starrdogg, Feb 25, 2013
Photo of MaseFace
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

MaseFace, Jun 21, 2013
Photo of Treebs
4.3/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle served in a Black Raven curved pint glass. Thanks to OakedCanuck for the bottle. Thanks Colin!

A: Pours a clear amber color with some dark brown highlights. A light brown head forms on the pour and recedes very slowly to a thin film. Nice retention. The head leaves some sticky sheets of lace down the glass.

S: Lots of caramel sweetness up front. Some mild dark fruit, mostly raisin, with a little bready malt as well. Slightly boozy as well. Light rye whiskey, but it's hard to pull out.

T: Sticky caramel sweetness. Underlying hops. A little citric in nature, sorta like candied grapefruit. A little booze with some oxidation that has brought out a sherry like character. A little booze with some dark cherry. Some light herbal spice, maybe the rye whiskey barrel.

M: Medium bodied, a little sticky, but surprisingly drinkable. Smooth and sweet finish with a medium low carbonation level.

O: A very nice barleywine that has aged gracefully. I'm glad I have a second bottle to sit on for a while as I think it's going to develop a lot more and become more complex.

Treebs, Mar 19, 2013
Photo of jmccraney
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

jmccraney, Jan 26, 2014
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Old Birdbrain from Black Raven Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 72 ratings.