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AleSmith Old Numbskull - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Old NumbskullAleSmith Old Numbskull

Educational use only; do not reuse.

477 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 477
Hads: 1,303
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 16.18%
Wants: 198
Gots: 330 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of AleSmith Old Numbskull Alström Bros
Reviews: 477 | Hads: 1,303
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

a very american barleywine ale, as determined by its aggressive piney hop profile that is just as prevalent in nose and taste as the malt here, which is what english barleywines usually showcase. more of a balanced offering, but a massive one. beautiful red copper glow to this, high gravity for sure, under a khaki head an inch tall and thick as tar. lots of hops on the nose, bitter, which counters the sweetness of the grain well, and it transitions right into the flavor. but grain bill no doubt, caramel sweetness and a dried fruit complex, but the hops wake you right up and this finishes real hoppy and bitter. like all the foiled alesmith brews, the alcohol is brilliantly well disguised and this drinks far lighter than it really is. a scary bottle to finish alone, but i would be happy to try. nice example of the highly hopped american barleywine.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Red tinted brown with a light brown head, and beautiful.

S: Tons of orange in the nose with some alcohol.

T: Orange/mango, papaya, brown sugar, and some alcohol character, but more burn than flavor.

M: Close to full bodied, average carbonation, a bit harsh with alcohol.

O: A great (I'd say American-style) barleywine.

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Photo of Mdog
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Red-amber with slight haze, good head, good lacing.

Smell: Hoppy citrus, not much malt detected.

Taste: Candy sweetness to start before a big kick of bitter citrus pith. As it warms up, a little more caramel comes through, but this seems more DIPA than barleywine.

Overall: Tasty stuff, but straddles the line between BW and DIPA. Even hoppy BW's like Bigfoot have substantial malt flavors when young, this one leans even harder on the hops. Not a big deal as I like both styles.

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Photo of jwhancher
4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 750ml bottle at the brewery back in 2011 on a trip to San Diego. Aged this one in the cellar the last few years. Capped with foil presentation. Cold as heck in Philly right now after about an 8- inch snowstorm so figured the timing was right to open this one up.

Pours a hazy orange amber with nice lasting head. Lacing clings to the sides of the snifter I poured this into. Good solid carbonation evident.

Smells of orange marmalade, candied sugar, and sticky/chewy malt sweetness. Hops seem to have since faded but some lingering piney citrus seem evident in the background. No hot alcohols in the nose.

Tastes sweet upfront with nice firm bitterness that dries out most of the residual sugars before giving way to more sticky/chewy malts. Some dark fruits and light cocoa seem evident.

Feels full, thick and chewy. Exactly what I've come to expect from an American style barley wine. A few years seem to have mellowed out any potential harsh alcohol notes. 2-3 years seem about right to age this badboy.

Overall, another excellent beer from a brewery I truly admire and whose beers all seem to kick some ass.

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Photo of crnipeter
2.86/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

Following the brewer's advice I left the beer to mature for 18 months with dubious results.

Deep murky coppery with 1/4 inch of light tan head that gets easily revived with each swirl.

Resinous-woodsy hop aroma mingles with caramel-marmellaty malt foundation and plummy ester undertones.

The flavor starts malty sweet with orange-liquor qualities but the balance quickly shifts towards bitterness. The later combines with alcohol to lend dry finish. The alcohol is too evident throughout the smell and taste and overrides everything else as the beer warms, completely ruining the impression.

Mouthfeel is medium to full with tiny-bubbled moderate carbonation.

Ageing hasn't softened the booze and the beer is just another let down from the Alesmith.
But one must admit the name has been well chosen: the Numbskull...after purchasing it I feel exactly like one - a stupid person, that's it.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml capped bottle with blue foil. Bottled 9/24/13.

Served chilled into a goblet, Old Numbskull is a hazy ruby amber color with thin white head. It settles quickly but leaves a little lacing behind.

Aroma fruity, hoppy and sweet with pleasant caramel apple and candied citrus notes.

Flavor is sweet up front with similar character to the aroma. Orchard fruits and caramel. Middle to end its hoppy but never over powering as the malts just help to balance it out nicely. Alcohol is fairly well hidden for such a strong beer.

Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and perfectly carbonated for the style.

Overall a very well made barleywine and one I would definately buy again as a splurge.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wine glass.

A: Pours amber with two fingers of yellowish/cream colored head. Excellent retention, with the head only slowly deflating over several minutes, leaving behind a wall of lacing.

S: I can smell the pine and citrus hops from several feet away. Caramel and toffee and some dark fruit that you might see in an old ale.

T: Bitter grapefruit pith and pine hops, with a generous backbone of caramel and mild to moderate, gripping bitterness on the finish. Quite dry, I actually wouldn’t mind a touch of sweetness.

M: Delicate, light carbonation and medium-full body. AleSmith always nails the mouthfeel.

O: Finally getting around to reviewing ON. This is very good, despite my not being a huge fan of the style in general. The draft is excellent, and I think better than out of the bottle (freshness may play a role in this).

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.74/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Pours deep orange auburn with a near 2 finger sandstone head. Fair to good retention, leaving a fair and consistent layer of suds upon the surface. Lacing is small and spotty with fair stick.

Smell - Fruity esters are strong in this one, with a fair caramel backbone.

Taste - Follows the nose; fruity esters take a prominent role while the caramel character fills in most of the rest. Touches of heat nip around the edges, but an earthy sweetness is mostly to be found in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with low carbonation. Bone dry finish.

Overall - A fairly good barleywine, though mostly forgettable. While it's drinkability is there, it fails to capture the spirit of uniqueness and/or tenacity of your outstanding Barleywine. In the end it comes across as good, but unremarkable.

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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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AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 477 ratings.