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AleSmith Old Numbskull - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Old NumbskullAleSmith Old Numbskull

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,008 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,008
Reviews: 444
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 176
Gots: 274 | FT: 19
Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: xlperro on 02-14-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,008 | Reviews: 444 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jwinship83
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%

750ml capped bottle drank from my duvel glass. bottle says sit on it for 6 to 24 months but has no bottling date. this bottle was picked up in san diego in late march.

A- this one pours out dark reddish brown colored body with a rather large head of beige colored foam. excellent retention, plenty of lacing left behind. nice.

S- my initial thought is that this is going to be pretty sweet. plenty of caramel and fruits in the nose. cherries, plums, figs, dates, raisins, and maybe a little bit of orange. this is also surprisingly piny smelling for an english barleywine. a moderate aroma of alcohol.

T- sweet is right. lots of the caramel and fruity malts i could smell come through strong. very heavy on the cherry, fig, and raisin. the other fruits are less noticeable. the citric and piny hops are also stronger than i was expecting given the style. theres a decent amount of detectable booze in this one.

M- thick and syrupy. palate coating. a nice low level of carbonation which is good. ive found several alesmith beers to have incredibly high levels of CO2.

D- easy enough to finish my share of this bottle. this is still a brewery i wish i had access to here in illinois. pretty hoppy for an english barleywine. too strong to reach for another.

jwinship83, Aug 03, 2010
Photo of irishkyle21
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

Finnally starting to catch up on my reviews. This was the last beer we had at the Freakin Frog in Las Vegas. Has a nice thick foamy head that fades away but it does leave some nice brussels behind. Has a deep copper color.

Smells great! Lots of sweet caramel malts, raisins and other dark fruits, a little molasses and a good dose of citric and floral hops.

Tastes just as good as I was hoping. Sweet caramel, toffee, warming alcohol and a good dose of hop bitterness. A great beer to sip on if only I could get a few if these for the cold winters up here I would be very happy.

irishkyle21, Jul 22, 2010
Photo of mrasskicktastic
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%

A - A hazy copper to auburn color. A substantial head that is long lived. Only isolated flecks lace the glass.

S - Mmmm, pineapple, caramel, grapefruit, spruce, lemon, lime and toffee. The smell is incredible! As it warms the high alcohol is slightly evident.

T - Caramel, warming alcohol, pine, grapefruit pith and a touch of lemon. Aftertaste is of lightly bitter grapefruit pith and caramel, while breathing out reveals a nutty, lemon-touched malt flavor.

M - Smooth, thick, a little tingle on the tongue. Surprisingly refreshing.

D - $13 for the bottle, but I think I'd rather drink this than a $40 bottle of fantastic wine. The depth of flavors is endless. I finished the bottle too easily. A wonderful brew that has been masterfully crafted.

mrasskicktastic, Jul 21, 2010
Photo of snaotheus
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%

750ml bottle poured into big goblet

Pours fairly dark ruby-amber, big beige head that leaves big fat bubbles clanging in a ring around the glass and a thin film of very fine bubbles. Smells strongly astringent, some toffee, lots of smoke and balsa. A little spicy smell.

Taste has cherry in it, slightly sweet with a muted fruity sour. Surprisingly smooth for the strength. Alcohol comes out in the aftertaste with smoke for a strong bitterness.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light and smooth, surprisingly drinkable for such a strong beer.

snaotheus, Jul 19, 2010
Photo of ChrisPro
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%

750 mL bottle (2009?) tasted around 12/28/09. Pours a hazy dark orange with little bubbly tan head and beautiful lacing. Caramel, pine, perfume and some tropical fruit in the aroma. Typical bitterness of a west coast barley wine followed by a little sweet caramel finish. Pretty thin bodied, decent carbonation. ABV hidden extremely well, especially if this was a fresh bottle. Solid west coast barley wine, but didn't seem too much like an english. Would've liked it to be a little more malt forward.

ChrisPro, Jul 10, 2010
Photo of mdagnew
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

750ml bottle bought online from Beermerchants.com

Poured a deep coppery red colour. Mocha tan head poured tight, thick and foamy with a meringue like top then faded slowly to wispy covering... barely any carbonation... some sticky lacing lines...

Aroma - Lots of toasted toffee and caramel maltiness, strong citrusy and peppery hop notes, dark fruits (strong raisins, figs), some booziness, toasted nuts, piney resin, earthy, light liquorice, some orange, malt loaf, burnt sugar sweetness, light oakiness...

Taste - Strong toasted bready and toffee malts, lots of sweet caramel, noticeable alcohol - hints of rum, piney hop resin, fruit cake notes, light treacle sweetness, ripe fruits (raisins, spicy apples, bitter oranges), butterscotch and vanilla...

Feel - Smoothand syrupy initially then a little sharpness comes through... full bodied... a bit boozy to be very drinkable..

Overall - An excellent barleywine... rich and warming... recommended...

mdagnew, Jun 22, 2010
Photo of alleykatking
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

Poured from 750ml bottle.

A- Poured a coppery red color. One finger off white head that died to a cap actually pretty quickly. Some streaky lacing on the sides of the glass.

S- Big hints of caramel malts and light toffee notes as well. Darker fruits with some candi sugar in the middle with a touch of light cirus. The alcohol is balanced with the a light oxidated aroma.

T- Like the aroma the caramel comes out kicking first. Light toffee notes throughout the entire beer. Some darker fruits come through in the middle but comes out more in the ending. Hops are faded (this bottle is 3 years old) but still give a little bitterness to balance out the sugary sweet malts. Alcohol in the backend has mellowed out (very hot when fresh from what I remember) but still has a quick kick in the tail end of the beer.

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation was light for the style I thought. Sweet caramel malts left on the palate with some sugary alcohol in the aftertaste. Clean overall with a light drying on the palate after each sip. Everything blended well overall in the beer even after the age.

D- This beer was very well made and holding up as it did with age just proved it. Perfect bottle for the cellar. I personally loved the fact that it was so drinkable with the ABV so high. Do yourself a favor and get a bottle to try and a to cellar. Alesmith you have done it yet again!

alleykatking, Jun 18, 2010
Photo of weeare138
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%

From an aged, 4 year old bottle...
Appears a hazy dark amber with a light beige head that slowly fades into a mild cap and hearty collar. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, light oxidation, light nougat, cracked grain, vanilla, and creme brûlée.
Taste is of the aromas with a wallop of cinnamon sugar with caramel dueling it out. Delcious stuff.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, sticky, syrupy, and chewy.

weeare138, Jun 17, 2010
Photo of bonkers
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%

I poured from a 25 ounce bottle into a snifter. It pours a tawny port amber with a massive, sticky white head. It leaves nice lacing all along the glass. There are big piney hop aromas on the nose. The beer is thick and full of piney resin. The high abv is well hidden, making this a bit dangerous. It finishes with a lingering bitter pine. The beer is well carbonated and very smooth. IMO this is more of an American than English barleywine, and I graded it as such. It is a very enjoyable brew.

bonkers, May 18, 2010
Photo of Sean9689
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

Review from notes. 2007 vintage bottle shared with a couple of the Chicago crew. Poured from bottle into snifter tasting glass.

A - Pours a reddish/copper color, a bit of off-white head, some decent lacing and a ultra-thin cap on top with some bubbles around the edge of the glass.

S - Perfectly balanced blend of sweet candies, malt, burnt sugars, and some dark fruit notes.

T - Again, the age on this has done wonders. Candies, burnt sugars, malts, dark fruit, vanilla. Maybe a touch of alcohol, but it's very well hidden and is perfectly balanced. Sweet finish.

M - Medium body, oily and sticky, rich, syrupy finish.

D - At 11%, I'm amazed how easy this was to put down. One of the best English BW's I've had the pleasure to taste. If you have a bottle from or around 2007, it's on.

Sean9689, May 15, 2010
Photo of Derek
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%

A: Copper-amber with a light tan head, thin ring of retention, excellent lacing. Impressive for its weight.

S: Piny grass & rind with some underlying toffee sweetness. Definitely an 'American' aroma.

T: Piny resin, grass, rind, toffee, good bitterness, warming alcohol. Nicely balanced for its strength.

M: Well-attenuated moderate body has a drying alcohol finish.

D: Pretty incredible for its weight.

Derek, May 05, 2010
Photo of Bung
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%

750 ml. A nice hazy, but glowing orange/amber pour. A thin layer of off white head that surprisingly stays. Does lace the glass nicely.

Aroma is quite nice, malt, caramel, brown sugar, candied fruit, yellow raisin.

Taste has much more hop presence than the aroma would lead one to believe. Malt, toffee heavily accented by citrus and pine hops. Unfortunately there is a booziness to it that is not helped by this hop presence. Finishes a bit harsh, with some burnt bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium, not real sticky or coating. Alcohol is rather present, even after over a year in the cellar.

Drinking this by myself and I can see it is going to be a challenge. The hoppiness makes this one a little sharper, thus less drinkable for me. This definetely belongs in the American BW category.
Hate to think what this one was like fresh, more like a barrel aged IIPA.

Bung, May 03, 2010
Photo of DavoleBomb
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%

Poured into a snifter. Big thanks to hoppymcgee for this one. No sure what vintage this is.

3.5 A: Really dark amber color. Aggressive pour yielded slightly less than one finger of beige head. Average retention, but lots of lacing.

4.0 S: Lots of caramel sweetness and breadiness from the top. Plum fruitiness with a touch of orange citrus. Alcohol is pretty well hidden.

3.5 T: Like the nose caramel stands out, but the breadiness is at most slight. There's some citrusy remnants of hops in the taste as well and the bitterness does well to balance out the malty sweetness. Not all that complex, but decent. The alcohol that was hidden in the nose comes out now in a big way.

3.5 M: Lighter heavy body, but sticky like a very heavy body. Carbonation is fine. Somewhat creamy. Finish gives a long lasting alcoholic bite and also a slight bitterness.

3.5 D: Not a bad brew, but the alcohol is a bit too apparent in the taste and it then becomes downright militant in the aftertaste. I wonder if aging this a few years to calm that down.

DavoleBomb, Apr 27, 2010
Photo of bobsy
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%

Bottle shared by Derek.

Pours a rich, deep amber with a puffy off-white head that soon settled to a film, but left lots of lace behind. Sweet aroma, with a big caramel and vanilla component, but hoppier than expected for the style (I suspect this is more of an American barleywine). Some good sweet grapefruit leaps out at me. Flavour is pretty damn good - caramel dominates, but the c-hops adequately balance it. Quite sweet at first, but finishing good and bitter. Alcohol seems well-hidden. Full, slick mouthfeel with a hop stickiness to it.

Not as much complexity as I thought there would be, but there's no denying the craftsmanship of this barleywine.

bobsy, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of Arbitrator
2.93/5  rDev -28.9%

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. Purchased for $16 (!) in April 2009 at Perry's in Livermore. God, I hate that guy's prices.

A: Pours a very dark, but clear, maroon-amber body that passes glowing red light at the edges. Two fingers of light tan head fill the snifter and recede over a minute or so into a light collar and tons of scattered bubbles on top of the brew. Thick, sticky sheets of lacing left behind as the head vanishes, and more sticky lace during a sip. Great appearance.

S: Caramel, toffee, grapefruit hops (surprisingly still hoppy for a beer that I purchased over a year ago). I'm surprised this is intended to be an English barleywine.

T: Wow, this is really pretty hoppy. Lots of citrus up front, lending both flavors and an oily bitterness that pulls through into the finish. Malt backbone is supplied by caramel, toffee, and nuts. There's a peppery, boozy bite at the end. I'm not sure I could identify this out of a lineup of other American barleywines, and there are several I'd pick ahead of this one on flavor.

M: Medium-full bodied. Not as chewy as the Old Ruffian I had yesterday, although it's still pretty impressive. Carbonation is prickly. It finishes just a tad dry.

D: I'm liking it, not loving it. Horribly overpriced to me: I'd rather buy 3 Old Guardians instead.

Arbitrator, Apr 18, 2010
Photo of kbeals
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%

A- Pours a clear dark amber color with two fingers of fizzy off white head. Head retention and lacing is very good.

S- Vanilla, caramel and some citrusy hops. Rarely do I pick up hops this well in an English Barelywine, but these come through quite well.

T- Very complex. Vanilla and caramel come through nicely. A touch of booziness and once again the hops come through. The only thing that hurts it here is that it is a bit cloying.

M- Nice heavy body, slightly prickly mouthfeel.

D- The sweetness of this brew really hurts it, also the booze shows up in it as well so that detracts from its drinkability also. Still a fantastic brew however.

Better thank gn0sis for sending this bottle to me in an awesome trade!

kbeals, Apr 05, 2010
Photo of Traquairlover
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%

750ml bottle poured into tulips. Had this one in my cellar for a while after a trade (I would give better credit but I lost some of my trading records and am not sure who gave it to me).

A = Clear amber liquid, large yellowish off white head, heavy lacing.

S = Caramel, vanilla, still strong grapefruits hops smells given it is over a year old.

T = Well balanced tastes even give n a strong bitterness, much marmalade and half toasted bread.

M = Medium body, decent mouthcoating, steady but not offensive carbonation level.

D = A nice tasting beer, but a sipper, perhaps its drinkability will improve with more age.

Traquairlover, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of Mora2000
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

Thanks to slasher007 for sharing this bottle and thanks to kaiser81 for sending the bottle to him.

The beer pours a reddish-amber color with a medium-sized white head. The aroma is much hoppier than expected, with citrus hops, brown sugar and sweet malt. The flavor is more of the same. The beer tastes like oranges covered in a brown sugar glaze. The hop flavor is high but the bitterness is pretty low. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Mora2000, Apr 02, 2010
Photo of womencantsail
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%

On-tap at Alesmith

A: The pour is a dark amber color, bordering on brown, with a fluffy off-white head.

S: A fresh citrus hop aroma, primarily grapefruit. In the background (and the essence of the beer) are great notes of brown sugar, toffee, caramel, and perhaps dark fruits.

T: The flavor opens up with great sweet malt, caramel, and toffee. This is followed by a grapefruit citrus flavor and a piney bitterness on the finish.

M: The body is definitely on the full side with a smooth and moderate level of carbonation.

D: I'm not always the biggest barleywine fan, but Alesmith has a proven winner with Old Numbskull. I especially enjoy it fresh, but with some age (or from a barrel) it's delicious as well.

womencantsail, Mar 29, 2010
Photo of bashiba
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%

Poured a deep chestnut brown with a light thin soapring head.

The smell is huge with a big sweet grain and oak along with molasses and caramel.

The flavor is supremely smooth for as big as it is. Nice toasted grain, oak, vanilla, and molasses. Mild earthy hops in the finish, but definitely a malt bomb in the best sense.

The mouthfeel is thick and oily with a long lingering warmth.

Great Beer, superb barleywine.

bashiba, Mar 23, 2010
Photo of Blakaeris
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%

Pours dark red-amber with a slight soapy head.

Aroma is sweet and malty with generous brown sugar and hot with alcohol.

Taste is initially caramel malt and toffee up front. Then a very dry earthy bitterness takes over. There is a pleasant tobacco quality that really rounds this one out. Finishes earthy and nutty with a hint of light citrus fruit and lingering alcohol warmth.

Mouthfeel is medium full with a sticky resinous hop quality.

Very balanced and flavorful with subtle English qualities. Very nice.

Blakaeris, Mar 23, 2010
Photo of TheJollyHop
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

2009 Vintage

A reddish light brown hued barleywine with a thick, deep tan head. One of the first things I noticed was the intoxicating bouquet of sweet grain, caramel malts, toast, dried fruits, and raisins.

So far so good...

My modest pour led to a substantial amount of head; definitely highly carbonated. The balance is also present with the hops bitterness hitting just before the malt sweetness becomes cloying. Some light citrus, somewhere between oranges and lemons is present. The sweetness mimics the nose quite well. Definitely a substantial meal on its own. I couldn't imagine pairing this beer with food as its too sweet to contrast a dessert, and too filling to accompany a meal.

Nevertheless, the alcohol heat provides a warming mouthfeel on the tongue and back of the throat, where the heat lingers briefly. Despite the flavor profile being relatively simple, it is executed quite skillfully. A very enjoyable, high ranking barleywine.

TheJollyHop, Mar 22, 2010
Photo of tigg924
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%

Appearance: minimal head, moderate carbonation, orange-brown in color, slightly cloudy

Smell: brown sugar, toasted malt, alcohol, hops

Taste: big caramel, toasted malt, brown sugar, alcohol, cinnamon, raisin, and a bit of hops--especially at the end

Mouthfeel: sweet with an alcoholic bite, minimal carbonation, slick, full bodied

Drinkability: One of the best and most complex barleywines I have had. The alcohol really hits you over the head here. I do like the caramel taste, but really just a wonderful beer. A sipper though.

tigg924, Mar 20, 2010
Photo of adamette
3.63/5  rDev -11.9%

Live review. Poured from the 750 ML brown bottle capped with a foil covering that I bought at Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor for $12.99 a few weeks ago into my gold rimmed Brewery Ommegang Westvleteren style goblet. No observed "best by" date. I like how there is no label. The information is printed right on the bottle.

A Hazy, dark caramel body under a nice medium to light brown creamy head with fair lacing. Classic look for the style. 3.5

S Strong smells of barley malt with an emphasis on grain and some hops. I also pick up the warmth of the 11% ABV mentioned on the bottle. Again, a classic smell for the style. 3.5

T Big barley malt, moderate hops, and a bitterness which is appropriate to the style but a bit too much for my liking. The taste lingers for a while (5 to 7 minutes) with all of its bigness. Alcohol is not really well hidden with a "hot" taste that I have experienced in beers of this style but do not find, again, too much to my liking. I don't like alcohol for alcohol's sake. I really appreciate when it is presented with plenty of supporting characters. This remains a good example of the style. Indeed, I think that it could be considered a rather classic example of the style. 4.0

M A rather heavy, thick feel to this barley wine which is appropriate to the style but I found to be a bit too burdonsome. 3.5

D As can be interpreted from my comments above, this is a one and done for me but that is appropriate to the style as well, a style that lends itself to be sipped, not slammed. 3.0

Notes: A classic Barley Wine from AleSmith. I have to admit that I find Barley Wines to be a bit overbearing.

adamette, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of nickd717
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%

Had this again recently at a tasting (both 2007 and 2009 vintages), so I figured I'd take the opportunity to write a reasonable review on BA rather than just copying over the amateurish RB rating I posted a couple years ago when I was a bit of a beer noob.

Excellent appearance on this one. Deep chestnut-brown color with a nicely formed light tan head and very good lacing.

Aroma, when fresh, is very hoppy with a citrus character. In both vintages, there's lots of sweet caramel malt to back it up though. Maybe some slight dark fruit notes.

Great flavor, very complex. Fresh, it can be a little buttery, but this fades over time. Caramel malt, toffee, and lots of west coast hops on the fresher version. The older version really mellows out and you get some brown sugar, vanilla, sherry, and more dark fruits than in the fresher one.

Fairly full-bodied with medium carbonation. A little sticky and syrupy on the palate.

This is a pretty classic example of the style overall that just does everything well. Very well-rounded and somewhat drinkable despite the ABV. Always a good one to go back to. I suggest aging it for a few years.

nickd717, Mar 02, 2010
AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,008 ratings.