AleSmith Old Numbskull - AleSmith Brewing Company

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AleSmith Old NumbskullAleSmith Old Numbskull

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469 Reviews
very good

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Reviews: 469
Hads: 1,268
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 16.18%
Wants: 197
Gots: 328 | FT: 23
Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 02-14-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 469 | Hads: 1,268
Photo of brycemc
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle undated, drinking within 6 months of purchase. Poured from a 750ml into a snifter. A little cold as I start the review, as in 10 minutes out of fridge temp (mid 40s). Letting warm as I drink.

Appearance is a dark reddish copper. Slightly hazy. Nice thick mixed size head quickly dissipates into a thick lacing.

Smell is out of this world. Bready, and spicy, bold with alcohol. Getting some anise-type spices, strong pine notes, some citrus (kumquat is emerging as it warms), just sublime. And it's still a bit cold at this point!

Taste - Lots here! Initial impression is of strong malts and hops to match, a very good balance. No yeast notes to speak of, some resin character, maybe a touch of honey in the long finish. Spices (towards mace and clove?) come through as well, complimenting some bitter citrus. Finish is smooth and long, belying the 11% ABV.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light bodied for this gravity. Plenty of substance without being cloying, just on the edge of the thicker style you sometime get with heavy ales, reminiscent of a 120 Minute but lighter (a good thing). Finish is long and just barely off dry.

This is good stuff, and can easily sneak up you. Recommended!

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Photo of bpasquini
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours this excellent orange, red, copper color, and leaves a small head that has a slight tannish color to it, looks thick and looks creamy as well, beer is pretty murky, can see about halfway through the glass, I really enjoy the way this beer looks!

S: Definitely has a hop forward smell to it, get some orange, lemon zest, very slight hints of grapefruit, and pine. There is also a nice caramel toffee smell to it which makes it smell very sweet, can't detect any booze which is a bit surprising with 11% ABV, the smell welcomes you to the beer unlike some of the other American style barley wines I have tried, the smell is more refined with this beer

T: The taste is still kind of hop forward but it is executed well, the taste almost similarly follows the nose, at first I am getting that piney slight citrus broken down hop profile which is expected, but the hops aren't overpowering, it is quickly joined by the sweet caramel toffee flavor, a few bready malt flavors are joined shortly after and finishes with a crisp sweet slightly bitter piney bite from the hops at the end, the flavor doesn't linger at all, finishes properly, so far the best flavored american barley wine I have tried

M: Love the feel of this beer, it's very chewy! Thick bodied, slightly creamy feel to it, finishes quickly which really compliments this beer, doesn't leave an overbearing lingering broken down hop taste in your mouth like other american barley wines that I have tried, even though this beer is thick and chewy it finishes really crisp!

O: I was quite surprised by this beer, I've been wanting to finally try a solid and this one has done it for me, this beer is extremely well rounded and almost executed perfectly, almost gave up on this style of beer, but this one will keep me trying more of this style, well done Alesmith!

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Photo of hardy008
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear copper with a one finger light tan head, with nice retention and lacing. Nice aroma with caramel, toffee, toasted malt, oranges, and dark fruit. Smells both sweet and hoppy at the same time.

Tastes as great as it smells. Has a sweet flavor with toffee, caramel, toasted malt, dark fruit, oranges, citrus zest, and brown sugar. There is a perfect amount of sweetness for me, with a nice hop kick for some balancing bitterness.

Full bodied, chewy, smooth, and easy to drink. Has modest carbonation. One of the best Barleywines I have had in a long time.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.67/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Unaged bottle opened Oct 2013.

A - Great looking barleywine. Maple brown body with a nice yellowed paper head. Nice retention and great lace.

S - Maple syrup, brown sugar, touch of smoke, soft booze, crab apple.

T - Similar profile to the nose. Maple syrup, oak, malt powder, soft booze, and molasses. Herbal hop and caramel finish. Better as it warms.

M - Medium-light frame. A little thin for the style.

O - Decent, but might need a little more time for it to peak.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. Bottled on 05/07/13.

Appearance: Pours a deep caramel amber orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. Huge four finger light tan head with decent retention. Leaves a lot of clingy lacing around the glass.

Smell: A pretty aggressive hop forward aroma with lots of earthy hints and a big caramel malt base. Upfront presence of earthy, floral, and herbal hops with big hints of grass. Piney hop hints and citrus hop hints of orange, grapefruit, and lemon. Also some apple fruit hints. Toasty malts with hints of caramel, toffee, biscuit, yeast, grains, and cracker. Sweet hints of molasses and brown sugar. Dark fruit hints of fig, raisin, and dates. Noticeable scent of booze as expected for the style. A very good aroma.

Taste: Like the big aroma suggests, a big mix of both hops and malt with good notes of earthy hops and caramel malt. Big notes of earthy and grassy hops along with some floral and herbal hop notes upfront. Dank pine resin hops. Also some notes of citrus grapefruit, orange, and lemon. Toasted malts with notes of sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, grains, yeast, and crackers. Taste of apple cider lingers. Sweet taste of molasses and brown sugar notes. Dark fruit undertones of raisin, fig, and dates. Some alcohol taste is apparent. A really nice barleywine taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Nicely chewy with a fairly drying finish. Some alcohol is felt as expected but its not overly hot.

Overall: A really great take on the American Barley wine style. Big upfront earthy hop presence with a good balance of bready caramel malt.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Slightly haze reddish chestnut color with a thin off white head. The lace absolutely coats the glass. Insane.

S: Big and hoppy aroma with huge pine and floral notes. Grapefruit and orange zest, pine resin, caramel and a rich malt presence in the back.

T: Floral hops and pine held up by a big toasted bread malt backbone. Orange zest, toffee, and some sticky floral hop resin. Totally unlike any other barleywine I've had. And I like it.

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Photo of Etan
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml into a tulip. This one's a gusher.

A: Pours a rich maple color with a nice beige head.

S: Thick pine, cider, molasses, maple, leafy hop notes, grapefruit, brown sugar.

T: Taste brings somewhat pungent hop bitteness, earthy, burnt caramel, bitter grapefruit skin, toffee, browned apples, cooked sugar, booze.

M: Thick-bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: A pretty characteristic hoppy American barleywine, perhaps a bit heavier on the bitterness than most, but tasty nonetheless.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is a bright, muddled, opaque, chestnut-brown coloring with a dense, creamy, off-white head that sits low and slowly settles into a sparse, filmy surface coating. Aromas of cedar, peat, cracker and biscuit, toffee, apple, pear, and an overall fruitcake character. Smells balanced, but rich and imposing at the same time. Flavors of toffee and roast on the forward tongue, with hints of chocolate to follow. Apple pie, with all the spices, some subtle tropical fruit notes, and a light caramel highlight. Earthy notes pop in and out on the taste buds, helping to keep everything in some semblance of balance. Very balanced on a mid-bodied feel, which pulls off a lightening effect on the heavy, robust palate. The aftertaste is roasted sweetness, with a blending of all the rich, sugary sweetness together with all of the fruit characteristics, and also the first real hints of booze. A fruity sweet linger at the end, both tangy and slightly cloying, into a slick, slightly bitter, lingering finish. Tasty brew, and I bet it ages nicely.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.66/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

1 year old.
appearance: Quite hazy dark orange-brown. Impressive plush off white head. Thick, messy lacing.
smell: piney hops are prominent. Some bright fruit and caramel.
taste: More piney hops up front. A rather thin taste and a bitter, dry finish.
overall: I thought a year back would do more for this guy. Interesting and complex. Alcohol well hidden. If you dig American Barleys that are hopped up more than most Dipa's you'll probably dig this. Personally I prefer my Barley's more malt centric.

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Photo of thebigredone
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not sure of the vintage on this, at least a year old. Possibly two.

Pours a medium brownish orange.

Smells of hops and light sweetness.

Taste is initial bitterness, followed by light toffee and caramel sweetness. The bitterness stays through the mid-palate and the finish. 11% ABV is fairly well hidden.

Mouthfeel is viscous.

Overall, a pretty good beer. Not sure if this would have been better fresh or not (never really intended to age it so long), but I would be up for trying a newer vintage.

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Photo of BingCrosby7
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.75

A: A beautiful amber/auburn color, initially the former then it fades into the latter. The finished product a deep auburn, verging on nutty brown. Tan, foamy head with nice retention. About a finger and a half of head for a good while.

S: Lots of yeast and sweet hop to the smell. Semi-sweet, fruit lingers in the glass. A slight tinge of alcohol afterwards.

T: A bitter initial sip, hoppy on the tongue. Definitely some booze as well, but not so much so that it masks anything. Very interesting flavor, but not one that lingers. An elusive complexity, this beer.

M: The carbonation is perfect and the overall finish is very dry. This is probably as good as it gets.

O: I'm not too sure what to think about this beer. It has a very interesting flavor profile and the finish is wonderful. I think this would pair well with a variety of heavy meals. This, however, is not my go-to AleSmith. Definitely worth a try, though. And I would definitely want to age this.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into snifter; no bottle dating, but was purchased in late 2011. Pours hazy deep ruby red color with a small dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lasts. Light soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, apple, orange zest, floral, brown sugar, pine, molasses, toast, orange rind, brown bread, and floral earthiness. Damn nice aromas good balance and complexity of dark malt and fruity/earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, toffee, orange zest, apple, toast, floral, pine, orange rind, brown sugar, brown bread, chocolate, light roast, and floral earthiness. Fair amount of floral/pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toffee, orange zest, orange rind, light fruits, toast, light chocolate, brown bread, brown sugar, floral, pine, light roast, and floral earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic balance and complexity of deep malt and hop flavors; with a nice bitterness/sweetness balance, and hardly any cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and very full bodied with a creamy, slick, and fairly sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic well aged barleywine. Fantastic complexity and balance of deep malt and hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of sommersb
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Tasted On: 06-02-2013
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 750ml brown bottle, pry-cap with foil
Glassware: Snifter
Purchased: Received in a trade

Appearance: Murky reddish-brown beer, topped with over 3 fingers of off-white head. Superior retention and lots of lacing on my glass.

Smell: Fantastic aromas start with tropical fruit and piney hops, followed by the sweetness of dark fruits. Other smells include vanilla and oak.

Taste: Big 'wow' factor in the first sip -- a very rich beer comprising both big hops and big malts, for an excellent balance. Also a fairly hefty amount of alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy, with a moderate amount of carbonation. The finish is both bitter from the hops and richly sweet.

Overall: There's nothing small about this barleywine; the hops are big, the malts are big, and the alcohol is big. Kudos to AleSmith for a beer that's bold and powerful yet still balanced.

Thanks to my cousin Brian for this one!

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750mL bottle. Pours a dark brown murky swamp water color with lots of sediment floating around and an inch of head. Lots of lacing. The aroma is boozey with sweet caramel and bread. Some citrus and spicy hop notes. The taste is the nice alcohol burn with some orange peel and caramel. Some breadiness and piney hops. Warming alcohol at the finish. Pretty well balanced. Creamy mouthfeel with a good deal of carbonation. Overall, this is a well crafted Barleywine. I hope I can grab a bottle to age.

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Photo of yamar68
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Another winner from Hugonaut13:

Swampy, glowing red body with an oily finger of off-white head that leaves drastic lace with a bit of booze legs.

Interesting. Deep malt aromas with chocolate and orange. Citrus and chocolate don't always work together for me so I can really appreciate the combo when it's a success. Raw, earthy barley sweetness with vanilla and peat.

The citric bitterness is still quite evident... papery malt flavors can't quite compete with the hops and alcohol content (which I like).

This is pretty damn unique. I'd be interested to see how the barrel aged version compares.

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Photo of themind
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Numbskull is a very good barley wine as I enjoyed it very much. The skull pours a very generous head and has crisp carbonation. The aroma to me is molasses and dark fruit. The skull was hot but I did not age this one very long. I would purchase this again and since I have five more bottles I can experiment with age. Overall this is not Fegleys brewery barleywine but it's good.

Bottom Line: Good!

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Photo of SLeffler27
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Builds a one inch, rocky, beige head that slowly drops, leaving a coating of lace above a reddish brown, hazed ale.

This has a nice balance of sweet malt and pine, offset against orange. Fruit is more prominent than any spice.

A Dogfish Head snifter showcases this quite bitter beer with lots of grapefruit and pine tar. The background contains black tea and, oddly, some roasted malt. The finish is drawn out and builds in bitterness.

A full body with fine, prickly carbonation and dry alcohol as expected. There is a touch of astringency in this chewy beer with a woolly texture.

Old Numbskull is definitely a sipping beer with strong flavors. Bitterness is assertive and it warms well, probably best with a meal. I’ll finish this bottle with dinner tomorrow.

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Photo of Vixie
3.56/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep red color with a large tan head that longers for some time

Smell starts out a bit sweet, candy like with caramel and a bit of sweetness. There is a bit of a floral and grassy mix from the hops as well.

Starts out on the sweet side with caramel and candy sugar notes, then the hops kick in. The sugar taste is similar to a Belgian candy sugar.

Feel is pretty decent, maybe a touch on the thin side.

This beer reminds me a lot of an IPA. It starts out a bit sweet, but the hops kick in so fast, the sweetness is quickly overwhelmed. I think cutting back on the hops a bit would provide a better balance. If you like a hoppy beer, give this one a try. I am not a big fan of a lot of hops, but if you are, worth trying.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - pours a deep murky cherry wood/ mahogany color. bubbly frothy light tan foam. leaves little dots of lacing against the glass.

S - nose is deep and sweet. notes of blackstrap molasses, burnt sugar, and gooey caramel. faint notes of citrus as well as hints of clover honey, black peppercorns, and allspice.

T - deep toasty, caramel flavors. notes of burnt sugar and molasses. almost like an unsalted pretzel. deep woody, almost tree bark like flavors as well. notes of allspice blend with herbal and earthy bitterness. peppery notes on the finish with maybe a tinge of warming alcohol.

M - Full bodied. buttery texture. almost like it has touched oak. carbonation is medium at best adding to the syrupy thickness of it.

O - a feel like i caught this beer at a strange time. It seems like it is inbetween trying to be hoppy and trying to be malty. I would definitely like to give it a try again though to get a better idea of where the sweet spot is.

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Photo of Lucho
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a nice and thick caramel with a 1 1/2 finger head that leaves the 1/2 head for a while. There is some sediment.

Smell: hops and sweet malts and caramel. There is a slight vanilla scent too. there is some alcohol presence

Taste: This is yummy. sweet malts and caramel with a good hop backbone. nice west coast style.

Mouthfeel: medium to thick body with a great mouth feel. leaves a malt and sweet resinous quality.

Overall: This is a really good beer. A great interpretation of a hoppy barelywine.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Duvel tulip

A - Pours a dark clear copper mahogany colour.

S - Intense aromas of wood whiskey, hop and malt. Has a cola aroma too. Very intense.

T - Up front some some nice hop and malt flavours.Wow the finish is long and chocolatey and toffee, very nice indeed.

M - Full body and medium carbonation.

O - This is a massive beer, the flavours are very complex and its one of the few beers that you can smell from the glass when its on the table in fri=ont of you. Highly recommended.

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Photo of C_bill
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large wine glass. Smell is very alcoholic with some malty notes, but nothing specific. Deep amber to ruby in appearance with a good head initially that dissipates fairly quickly. Good lacing throughout drinking the bottle.

It has a very malty taste, with toffee being the most predominant flavor. It is pretty well balanced, but the hop flavor doesn't really show through the maltiness and alcohol level. Very viscous.

Overall a good representation of the style, though it could have a little more hop balance.

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Photo of korguy123
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I think this has been on my wants list since I signed up to BA years ago.
2012/2013 bottle into snifter.

Super hazy burnt copper/brown pour. Slightly creamy, half finger light tan head. Lacing is minimal.

Right up front alcohol, citrus, sweet cookies, dark stone fruits, caramel, toffee and some bitter pine.

Bitter pine, sweet candied sugar, caramel, light coffee, sweet malts, dates, figs and a touch of alcohol. It's amazing how the aroma has a strong alcohol and the taste has almost none.

Light to medium body, low carbonation with a slight alcohol warmth.

This was well worth the wait. It's listed as American but it has an English influence.

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Photo of BilbosNuts
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a cloudy garnet color with a off white, thick, frothy head with great retention. Appears still and leaves some spotted lacing behind.

S: Very strong dark fruits up front with a big kick of alcohol and piney hopes towards the finish.

T: Matches the aroma to perfection. Dark fruits including figs, raisins, and plums come through initially, followed by a slight booziness and a light hoppy finish.

M: Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. The alcohol is hidden dangerously well. Finishes with a slight drying effect

O: A solid barleywine all around. Alesmith continues to impress me. I will seek this one out again including other offerings from this great brewery.

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Photo of McD0uche
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep red/apricot color with some haze topped by a nice billowy caramel head. The retention is superb, and as the head subsides, leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

S: Caramel, citrus, hops, malts, toffee, licorice, fruits.

T: A bold, complex flavor that is sweet, boozy, and similar to the smell... ...with caramel, yeast, and hops dominating the palate. Very delicious.

M: Well balanced--the carbonation is at the right level. A little chewy. Finishes dry.

O: I thoroughly enjoyed this barleywine, and will be aiming to pick some more up so I can age it to perfection.

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AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 469 ratings.