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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.

1,023 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,023
Reviews: 444
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 176
Gots: 275 | FT: 18
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: 1,023 | Reviews: 444 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Atron67
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to olibeer22 for this in a trade

A- poured what was actually surprizingly light for a barleywine almost clear amber golden with some red tones. off white tan head that didnt build up too high and fell down pretty quickly to a thin lace, but it left some pretty decent lace where it was at too

S- huge malt kick first in the nose, strong fruity tones that go along with it, some sweetness with it, there is also a pretty strong hops character as well.

T- huge delicious malt kick that starts it off, some strong fruit tastes underneath as well. after the really strong malt burst it slowly fades down into a lighter finish. slowly lingers on the tongue but isnt really sticky on the tongue

M- thick full body, medium carbonation,

D- pretty solid beer

Atron67, Apr 05, 2008
Photo of cjgator3
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle with a silver decorative foil wrap. Pours into a Duvel tulip glass. Pours a beautiful brownish amber color with a nice off-white head. The aroma is absolutely mouthwatering! The aroma features a huge malty aroma with lots of caramel, toffee and hops. The taste starts out unbelievably smooth and malty with the hops making their presence in the finish alongside a warming sensation from the high ABV. Despite the high ABV, this beer is dangerously drinkable, a sipper for sure. Overall, I am completely blown away with this beer. It is the best barleywine I have tried. Highly recommended.

cjgator3, Mar 29, 2008
Photo of tpd975
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This one comes from Joey at Southbay. Thanks for sending the good shit.

A: Pours a wonderful amber brown, kinda reminds me of nice cherry wood. The head was nice and thick and the lacing is ample.

S: There is no doubt this is an English Barelywine. The aroma is big on caramel and candied cherries. Rum and toffee come next with an alcohol note that brings the burn.

T: English in taste as well. The flavor is big and bold with lots of sweetness upfront. Caramel and toffee come first with hints of rum. Spicy hops come next with tons of malty sweetness. To be honest though you really have to concentrate to bring out the hops as this one; as it is all about the malt. The finish is big and boozy with lots of alcohol to burn. This is a big beer no doubt about it, maybe the biggest English style Barleywine I have ever tasted.

M: Rich, smooth, and creamy.

D: This is a big beer in character and size. 750 ml is a bit too big for me so I knocked it down a half point here.

Overall: A wonderful English style Barleywine, though I think I like the hoppiness in the American style a bit better. I do really like this one though, and in my opinion Alesmith at this point can do no wrong. Try it, you will be glad you did!

tpd975, Mar 18, 2008
Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased during my SoCal beercation about nine months ago. Dark amber in color with a thin head. Smells sweet and of fruits and carmel. Taste is sweet with a majority of the flavor coming from piney hops and fruits. Mouthfeel is smooth and I can detect only some of the ABV so it is drinkable despite the 11%. I have had this fairly fresh before and I think it benefits from some time to mellow. Recommended & very reasonably priced.


SkinnyElvis, Mar 16, 2008
Photo of Bitterbill
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This one pours from 750ml foil wrapped bottle a deep copper with a 2 finger head of foam that shrinks to about a 1/2" solid layer and there's some decent lacing.

The smell at first is all hops...both citrus and pine. A few more whiffs reveal some caramel malt in the background.

The taste is strongly flavoured both with the hops and the malt. Caramel malt is nice and sweet and the hops impart some citrus and some pine that cuts into the sweetness but I think the malt is ruling it here. I'm also getting some notes of some dark fruit and a bit of molasses..pretty darned nice and the alcohol is hidden pretty well too. Just some warming after the swallow.

The mouthfeel is medium full to full, the carbonation is medium-light, and it finishes on the bitter side with a fairly long aftertaste.

I like this BWSA and I can see why it's listed as an English style because of how the malt character plays center stage. I'd drink it again, no problem.

Bitterbill, Mar 14, 2008
Photo of WesWes
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark amber color with a 1/2" offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a rich and warm burnt toffee scent that's out of this world. It's a beautiful thing. The taste is excellent. It has a very complex taste that boasts of warm malty flavors and powerful hoppy notes. It goes down slow and smooth with a warm, dry finish. This is a very tastey brew. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This beer certainly lived up to my expectations. It's one of the better barleywines on the market. Highly recommended.

WesWes, Mar 13, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought this bottle in December in Portland. Pours a nice reddish dark amber with a very nice head that fades to a thick cap and leaves some clumpy lacing. Good head for such a strong non-Belgian beer. Somewhat sweet and malty, but not overly so in the aroma. This is well balanced with some nice citrusy hops and some spicebox scents. Very nice. English in aroma with a tad more hops than usual- without straying over into DIPA terrritory at all. The taste is also wonderful with more of that sweet maltiness restrained in its sugariness, some more citrusy hops, and faint spiceiness that complements rather than dominates. A beautiful example of the style, perhaps a bit less sweet, slightly more hoppy, and slightly more robust than English examples. Mellow mouthfeel, waxy and a bit creamy, and full without being harsh. Astonishing that this is 11% abv- it doesn't taste like it. How pleasant. I'm always a fan of Alesmith's stuff.

Georgiabeer, Mar 06, 2008
Photo of jdhilt
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours without a head?? so no lace. Thought it might be flat but it isn't. Nose is mellow caramel. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor is caramel but it is sweet and sour, some alcohol. Clean finish. $7.70 for a 750ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

jdhilt, Mar 05, 2008
Photo of charlzm
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Consumed on 02/08/08.

Pours a hazy dark honey/red with plenty of carbonation, enough to make a fine, off-white two finger head without much effort.

The nose is greeted with notes of sweet malty fruit and a hint of yeasty booze. Mouthfeel is smooth, almost creamy.

Sharp acidic citrus tang on the tongue with huge sweet malt not far behind. Some raisin-like fruit flavors evident. Quite bitter near the end, just before the mild alcohol burn on the finish. Something off in the flavor, perhaps oxidization. Then again, I'm drinking this pretty young. It may just not be mature yet.

AleSmith has yet to do wrong that I have tasted.

charlzm, Feb 29, 2008
Photo of jwc215
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for bringing back a bottle of this from California for me!

Pours deep/dark copper with a thin tan head that leaves some lacing.

The smell is of citrus giving way to pine/resin, then dates/figs. Caramel and warm, spicy alcohol come through strongly, as well.

Heavy in hops, malt and alcohol, this has a nice taste to it. Dark fruitiness - dates/figs and resin do get lost in the alcohol at times, though it is not sharp, nor affecting the smoothness. Finishes with a warming sweetness.

It has a very nice feel - full-bodied and syrupy, but not too sticky.

Given that it rings in at 11% abv, this sure does have quite the drinkability to it. A nice barleywine, to say the least.

Thanks again, John!

jwc215, Feb 15, 2008
Photo of woodychandler
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2004.

This poured with only a minor, light-tan head. It was slightly hazy and medium-amber in color. It had a great malty nose accompanied by a nice alcohol scent. Mouthfeel was medium, but it had a very spicy aspect to it on the tongue, prevalently pepper, but more complex than that. The finish was explosive with the heat and the spiciness going right up the ol' chimney pipe and into the sinuses. It made my eyes water and then I sensed the tannins beginning to take over. It had a lovely lingering taste of buttery toffee. No doubt that this was an English-style barleywine.

woodychandler, Feb 01, 2008
Photo of charlesw
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Way pale (light amber) in color with a tiny head. Smells so strong... Smells so bitter... Maybe a bit of caramel and other malts, but a lot of citrus and grassy hop smell to it, too. Tastes... Pretty close to a barleywine, darn it all! "Not like that other crap we've been drinking!" says SWMBO. Ah, interesting... Listed here (now) as an English b'wine. Well... Weird. It's way too bitter for one of those! Of course, it's not bitter enough for a 'merican b'wine... So... How do you rate it? Arg, I say, arg! I'll call it 'merican and say that it's lacking in bitterness. For an English... It's fricking amazing except that it's way too bitter. Oh! The traumas! Right, it's too bitter and too light. At least there's enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness, you know what I mean?

charlesw, Jan 29, 2008
Photo of TheBierBand
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The label says "improves with age... 6-24 months or longer"... HOWEVER, there is NO DATE ANYWHERE ON THE BOTTLE! So, consequently, I have NO IDEA how old this bottle is... Maybe it's already 24 months old?

I poured it from the 750ml brown bottle into a tulip glass to form a 1" light beige/off-white head. The head dissipated to a thick cap leaving pronounced lacing. The beer is copper in color with a trace of cloudiness.

The nose is abundant. Lot's of toasted malt. Some grassy hops. A sweet, fruity aroma is also present.

Taste: Big taste! Good mix between the sweet and the bitter. The sweet somes from the toasted malt and a little bit of raisin. The bitter comes from the grassy hopsand also a little touch of smoked nuttiness.

The mouthfeel is slightly on the thin side... not as smooth and chewey as my favorites in this class. Although I HAVE NO IDEA HOW OLD THIS BOTTLE IS....

Drinkability: Good solid barleywine... I definately prefer Weyerbacher Insanity to this though.

TheBierBand, Jan 28, 2008
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a chalice)

A- This beer pours a light brown body with a deep amber glow at the base of the beer. There is a yellowish tan head that is bubbly but last for a good bit of the beer as a thin film.

S- This beer has a faint musty quality to the sweet malt that has a light caramel quality to it. The smell of grassy pungent hops with a citrus nose that increases as the beer warms finishes it. There is a nice resiny note that comes through as the beer warms also.

T- The taste of caramel sweet malt has a dry malt note that follows with some honey notes aswell. The big dry pungent flavor of hops finishes this beer. There are big resin qualities to the hops that linger for a bit after each sip.

M-This beer has a medium light mouthfeel with a soft alcohol heat that increases to a whiskey burn in the second glass.

D- There is some nice complexity in the malt which is followed buy a big monster hop flavor. So although the hops are the biggest flavor the malt complexity really adds to this beer.

rhoadsrage, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of Slatetank
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to imstillthegman for sharing this bottle of the 2000 vintage at the Phatz barleywine tasting. Decanted cool into a snifter.

A - A murky med brown w/ a ring of tan head. The ale has reddish highlights and leaves a film of lace.

S - Smooth and creamy malt odor w/ a sweet fruit note and slightly caramel like smells.

M - Moderately effervescent w/ a subtle hop and English malt feel. Lightly bitter aspect and a warmth of alcohol in a subtle way.

T - A very well balanced barleywine w/ caramel malts, sweet nutty notes that seems relaxed from the aging, the abv is noticeable -just nowhere near what an 11% beer tastes like fresh. I found the flavor to be very well blended and just the right amount of bitterness in the mix.

D - This is a fine example of a traditional Barleywine w/ plenty of english malt traits and sufficient abv to make it a satisfyingly drinkable brew.

Slatetank, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of LittleBreeze
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This bottle came from Tayner. Thank you.

Old Numbskull is pretty on pour and pretty in the glass.

It doesn't strike me as an English Barleywine, but whatever style it is, it is very good.

Caramel and citrus fruit. Smells like candy.

It is smooth and goes down so easy. It almost seems light.

This is one I'd like to always have on hand.

LittleBreeze, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of grub
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

got this one in a trade with tangfoot, and it didn't even last 24 hours. thanks fred!

750ml bottle with silver foil top. sampled dec 22/07.

pours a great red colour witha small dense tan head. the head drops fast but leaves lots of spotty lace behind.

aroma is great. resiny grapefruit and pine. alcohol. big caramel. biscuit and bready malt. a touch of earthy character too. orange and tangerine.

taste is excellent. nice solid medium bitterness level. grapefruit and pine balanced with orange and tangerine and a great caramel sweetness. big bread and biscuit malt. light alcohol and a nice warmth on the way down. light toasty and earthy notes in the background too.

mouthfeel is excellent. low carbonation level, very well integrated and super smooth. medium-large body.

drinkability is excellent too. perfectly balanced - even my coors light drinking father-in-law liked it and commented on how well balanced it is. one of the benchmark beers for the style. balanced and complex enough to keep you going back for more. a big beer and yet the full 750ml bottle went down with no trouble and i was still wishing for another. i really just need to get a case of this one in my cellar...

grub, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of Floydster
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle with silver foil purchased from the Beverages and More in Torrance yesterday while on sale for about eleven dollars

Split with my dad last night as our New Year's Eve drink of choice, decided to hold onto the bottle of Surky Darkness a little longer for another special occasion

Poured into my Firestone pint glass with a deep amber brown color with a bright red tint when held up to the light, large 3/4 inch creamy off white head that stayed almost the whole time, great retention and lots of sticky lacing

Smell was complex but a little boozy and strong, some oak, vanilla, raisins, sweet caramel, cream, figs, cognac, and other dark fruit aromas, smelled something different each time it seemed like, all over the place

Taste was hot but not in a bad way necessarily, first few sips had some dry hoppiness but the beer became sweet once it warmed slightly, some toffee and sweet white zinfandel-like tastes shortly after, got some caramel and creamy accents following that, lots of malt in this one and not as much of a hop profile like I was expecting, by the end I could taste fig and a signifcant amount of chocolate, lots of sediment in the bottom of my glass once I started to reach the end, took me about an hour and a half to get through twelve ounces, great tasting beer overall

Body was really thick and looked sludgy, good level of carbonation, aftertaste stuck around for a long time and it was nice, both chewy and spicy, great mouthfeel

Could drink another bottle of this no problem but it is certainly a sipper, heavy stuff but not overwhelmingly filling, alcohol percentage is very high though which makes it drinkability lower than it would have

Great way to end 2007 with a bang, also wanted to drink this one soon as I will be trying the barrel aged version in the upcoming weeks most likely, even though I do not know how much better it could taste than this

Another fantastic beer from Alesmith, one of the better barleywines on the market, cannot wait to try this on tap, highly recommended regardless of its hefty price tag

Hello 2008 and another year of great beer drinking, definitely going to pull out some amazing beers from my cellar this coming year, hope everybody had an enjoyable holiday

Floydster, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to tayner for the trade.

Pours a deep amber red/brown, mostly brown. Good off white head with good lace. nose is of mad hops and clean malts. some malt and dark sugar as well. Taste is a wonderful balance of hop and malt. The malt flavors come first with dark fruit/date and some raisin. Through the middle the sugars and hops creep up slowly. The hops become more intense as the sugar fades. A good crisp hoppy finish. Sugar and hop bitterness linger. Mouthfeel is a little bit thin, but overrall its refreshingly smooth for a BW. Drinkability is dangerously high. Overall this is a wonderful barleywine, I wish it had a little more malt and a little less hop flavor for an english style, but overall it is quite good. The 2003 in my cellar is laughing at me, and begging me to open it like a serpent in the garden.

AKBelgianBeast, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of ccrida
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into my old La Cinacienne snifter, my 2nd of maybe 5 or 6 bottles in the past year that cracked out at the lip when I opened them, and the only bottles to do so, weird...anyways, Old Numbskull is bright garnet with nice sized, spidery off-white head that leaves pretty thick, sugary lace.

Smell is rich and very spicy, Slivovitz, deciduous forest, tangy biscuit, and caramel, and rather boozy.

Taste is very rich, hop-malt bomb tug-of-war, lots of phenols and firm bitterness but still somewhat clean and balanced, a bit dry and generally fantastic. I love how rich the cured dark fruit taste is, honestly reminding me of my favorite, medjool dates, wow! I normally can't get enough flavor from my beers, and Old Numbskull really delivers. I can't wait to try this with some age, hopefully soon at a winter fest near me! A truly classic American BW.

Mouthfeel is thick, creamy and dry, with a boozy tingle on the tongue.

Drinkability is rather high, as this is a fantastic BW. Served at cellar temp, good thing theres a few more in there! Alesmith, can't go wrong, I had this during a MASSIVE BW tasting (thx SamuraiArtist!), and now a full bottle to myself is barely enough!

ccrida, Dec 29, 2007
Photo of russpowell
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one time (thanks Dauss) during a pretty intense tasting/drinking session; let's see how this holds up to a fresh pallet!

750 ml bottle pours a chill hazed caramel with minimal sand colored head into my Bush tulip glass. Average head retention & lacing

S: Rich oaky, boozey, plumy notes

T: Jammy fruit, raisins, boozeyness & a bit of smokeyness up front. Piney hops come to the fore as this warms, along with much fruittyness & a bit of boozey heat. Finishes with leafy hops, caramel, leafy hops, Finishes, dry, chewy, figgy & oaky; with a touch of vanilla; yum!

MF: Chewy, syruppy, fairly balanced for the heft, with just a trace of carbonation

Drinks a bit slow, despite all the goodness, a very nice AMERICAN (IMO) style BW, their ABW might just rip your lips off. My favorite Cali brewery, now. Stellar offering!

russpowell, Dec 28, 2007
Photo of DIM
3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: This beer pours a hazy apple-cider amber color. The long skinny neck on the bottle produces a big off-white head that leaves lots of lace.

s: This smells great as a DIPA, but they call it a barleywine so... The most noticeable aromas are a combination of brown sugar from the malts and some alcohol. Some raisins and a piney hop are also present.

t: Here also I'm reminded of a very good DIPA rather than a barleywine. The malts are rough and sugary, lacking the ripe fruit tastes I'd associate with the style. The hops on the end are piney and somewhat subdued. The warming alcohol upon exhaling is very pleasant.

m: The body on this is a bit thicker than average. The carbonation is superbly lively.

d: Thanks to tayner for this one. I enjoyed this much more than the score would indicate, I just could not find many barleywine characteristics here.

DIM, Dec 20, 2007
Photo of MiguelMandingo
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I bought this as part of a shipment from South Bay Drugs. Everyone should check them out if they plan on ordering beer online. Thanks Joey, this is some tasty stuff. I wanted to bust out something special for my 100th review, and this is it. This is my first English-style barleywine.

Poured part of a 750 ml bottle into a snifter.

Appearance - It produced a one finger head that slowly rose from the bottom of the glass. It then dissipated to a thin halo around the perimeter of the beer's surface. It is a ruby burgundy color that was hazy on the initial pour, but became transparent as the beer warmed to room temperature. There is a minimal amount of lacing left behind.

Smell - This beer smells good, but perhaps slightly subdued. I guess I am just used to American styled barleywines. It has a pineapple scent, tied very closely to a pine-like essence. The 11% ABV makes its presence know as the beer warms to room temperature. There is a sweet scent that is similar to caramel or toffee. The scent explodes the warmer the beer gets.

Taste - This beer is tasty. It has a sweet initial flavor with raisin-like notes tied with caramel and toffee. The flavor morphs to a resinous pine-like hop overtone. The alcohol presence comes through, big time, as the beer warms. There are a lot of different flavors going on here, and it takes the beer warming to make them apparent. This beer is very complex.

Mouthfeel - Medium/Full bodied. On the lighter side of full bodied. It is much lighter in the body than a lot of other barleywines I have had. The carbonation level is excellent for a barleywine - very fitting. The finish is very dry. It isn't really sticky or mouth coating or oily, it just goes down smooth. It makes for very easy drinking.

Drinkability - The drinkability is excellent. This is an instance when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The mouthfeel and scent and flavor tie together to make one delicious beer. It is much easier to drink than a lot of other barleywines I have consumed. This is a beer I would regularly search out, if it was available in my area. Until then, I am content to order it online, as a special treat.

MiguelMandingo, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of RustyDiamond
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split with a friend and poured into Brooklyn goblets. Poured a seductive brownish-red, with one finger tan head. Quite opaque with tiny bubbles in the head. Huge hop notes followed by a nice backing of caramel. Mega-syrupy in the mouth, as one would expect from a 11% Barleywine. Unbelievably smooth for such a big beer! Hop Kicker the whole way.

RustyDiamond, Dec 13, 2007
Photo of jjayjaye
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy red hued dark amber orange color with an innocent layer of eggshell colored bubbles that disperse quickly. Limited lacing observed. The smell is a thick rich malt over a nice hop and alcohol fibre that involuntarily cautions the user to dispense a meager portion for consideration. Lightly carbonated, the mouth feel is heavy but notably shy of being syrupy. Full flavored, the honey caramel vanilla taste is complemented by its smooth texture. The 11.0% ABV is not bashful nor overbearing; very smooth and without any burning effect. A really nice warmer; recommend enjoying this one when you can take it down a notch.

jjayjaye, Dec 08, 2007
AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,023 ratings.