1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

AleSmith Old Numbskull - AleSmith Brewing Company

Not Rated.
AleSmith Old NumbskullAleSmith Old Numbskull

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

987 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 987
Reviews: 443
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 172
Gots: 276 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of AleSmith Old Numbskull Alström Bros
Ratings: 987 | Reviews: 443 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Lnedrive14


4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

No date on the bottle, but I believe I bought this in 2005. 10% abv stated on the front.

A: Pours a hazy (yes, weird, i know) orange/mahagony. a very strange color, but pleasant, with a huge cream head that lingered for a while.

S/T: Definitely more british here than american. rich citrus and mellow malts predominate. only the slightest hop character to round it out. a very pleasant, and well-balanced barleywine.

M/D: Alcohol is incredibly well-masked. creamy mouthfeel makes this incredibly palatable and fun to drink. very often i have a 12oz bottle of barleywine, and that is more than enough, but i easily polished off this 25.4 bottle.

glad i got the chance to have this one. i dont think barleywines are my favorite beers, but this was a very enjoyable one.

08-28-2007 15:59:49 | More by Lnedrive14
Photo of kernalklink


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%

Wow- what a great tasting brew. I love barleywines of all types and this one is a hop-heads best friend. THe pour was bubbly and deep dark amber, with some sweet molasses malts, and citrusy hop aromas. The taste was complex- defined brown sugars, ripe cherries round out the sweetness while the resinous hops hit the tongue with a grapefruit hop-bomb. The sweet burning from the alcohol is evident but not distracting whatsoever. The finish is dry and despite the oily hop flavor, stays that way. Great hop flavors and the brew is light even though the flavors are so thick. I finished one bottle myself in about 45 mins- there should be a warning on beers that taste this good.

08-26-2007 21:23:27 | More by kernalklink
Photo of GreenWBush


3.55/5  rDev -13.8%

This is one that I have lusted for and hesitated against for quite some time. $15 later, I get the chance to evaluate the objects of my pursuit.

This beer is crystalline clear ruby despite yeast globs that plop out at the end of the bottle’s pour. Perfect head and lace, even pre-sip.

Nose is hoppy with heavy citrus elements. Remains deeply English in terms of malt, however, with caramel, candy cane sweetness, and malt exuding from the surface. Seems halfway between the two Barleywines, English and American, intriguingly.

Taste goes initially to the American side of things; upfront and backend hop bitterness par excellance. Atop the bitter undercurrent is the various assorted candied/sugariness of English BW. Bigfoot comparisons are coming – and to a certain point they are well-deserved – but finishes significantly drier and with nuttier undertones. Clash of sweet/dry gives Nutrisweet afterglow.

Sort of a clashing-personality of a beer. Big, unrepentantly so, but not necessarily worth its weight in beer-dollars. For me, the ultimate BW test is, is it almost as good as Bigfoot for almost as cheap? That’s a hard prospect to come out victorious from.

08-20-2007 06:23:15 | More by GreenWBush
Photo of jasonjlewis


4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

A Great barley wine. Strong in Flavor. Very thick malts, but not an overwhelming bitterness like some barley wines. Appereance is exceptional. Smell is very strong as well. There is a very nice caramel malting that is very thick. The mouthfeel is thick, but lacks crispness. This beer is very drinkable for a barley wine. You should give it a try.

06-28-2007 06:18:08 | More by jasonjlewis
Photo of barleywinebrewer

New Hampshire

4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

many thanks to kirok1999 for this! a totally unexpected thank you for participating in the barleywine BIF, and I must add a very generous way of saying thanks as well!

A - Rich reddish brown color, thick creamy head that takes a while to settle.
S - another great barleywine aroma that I love - vinous rich malts swirl with ripe dark fruit notes and a light hint of piney hops.
T - Taste follows the nose with a solid malt / caramel backbone.
M - full bodied, nicely carbonated, sweet in the lines of a classic english barleywine. Did this really come from CA???
D - light on it's feet, hides the ABV nicely and drinks deliciously easy.

Definitely recommended. Stock up and cellar this as it should be good for years after the release!!!!

06-27-2007 14:11:45 | More by barleywinebrewer
Photo of CAMRAhardliner

Ontario (Canada)

4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

I got this for 14.20 at Downtown Wines in Boston.

Pours a deep mahogany with brilliant cherry edges and a little haze. The head is small and persistent. Lacing is decent. Immediately I smell a tonne of fruit. There's plenty of rich toffee and pine tar hops going on as well.

The taste is hoppier than expected from earlier reviews, I guess that is because I drank this fresh. Anyways, pine forest and grape fruit rind abound. There's fantastic balance of caramel and fruitcake malt. Some estery banana and berries is present as well. The mouthfeel is syrupy with little carbonation. The finish is decidedly bitter and fruity and caramelly. Alot going on! Alcohol is at a minimum.

This is a fantastic barley wine. I tasted hops, and I was kind of surprised judging by the review. Not sure if this is a factor of freshness or my being from hop starved Ontario, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Seek this beer out.

06-17-2007 05:36:13 | More by CAMRAhardliner
Photo of ggaughan


4.38/5  rDev +6.3%

Beer poured a deep brown almost black, cloudy body with a slight tan head into my tulip glass. There was a pronouced aroma of roasted malt and milk chocolate. The taste was more of the same, and more. There was a strong roasted malt, chocolate presence along with some very nice vineous and plum tastes that gave this beer even more depth than expected. The body is full and the mouthfeel is as well but this is a very enjoyable beer.

06-02-2007 16:20:45 | More by ggaughan
Photo of hoppymeal


4.18/5  rDev +1.5%

Pours a rusty copper to amber in color, cloudy and opaque, a two finger creamy head slowly chunks up and fades back. Aroma is aged dark fruitiness, full on sweet plums and prunes, also slightly grapey sweetness, some caramel vanilla breadiness as well. Taste follows with big pruney and plum sweetness, caramel breadiness is stronger in the flavor than it was in the aroma. Big rich sugary maltiness is nice and soft and creamy. It is cut by a small bite of alcohol at the back of the throat as well as some piney hops towards the finish. A warming alcohol blends with a nice drying hop finish. Outstanding barleywine, this bottle is about one year old but could easily age longer.

05-21-2007 02:46:06 | More by hoppymeal
Photo of walshclimb


4.7/5  rDev +14.1%

This is a great Barley Wine. I tasted it against Stone's Old Guardian, and this was clearly the better (even if they are slightly different styles). It pours a slightly cloudy reddish amber with a relatively thin off white to tan head. The smell is very aromatic, malty with alcohol and a hint of fruit. The taste has an excellent balance with lightly sweet and complex malty intial flavor with good hop balance. The sweet malty finish is short- to meditum-lived. Full bodied, slightly creamy with soft carbonation and a clean, dry alcoholic finish. Very drinkable for this style. Probably the best BW I have had personally.

05-19-2007 20:30:30 | More by walshclimb
Photo of bradybeer


4.6/5  rDev +11.7%

This is one of the best barley wines that I have ever tasted. This beer pours dark brown with thick head and with a citrus hops aroma. Taste is of piney resin and rich malt-for 11% the alchohol is not over-powering and is balanced with the hops-this balance and the 11% give this beer a thick and chewy mouthfeel. For a BW this beer from Alesmith is exceptional in its drinkability. I wish I hadn't split my bottle-just kidding

05-12-2007 15:27:48 | More by bradybeer
Photo of PhiloPsych


4.78/5  rDev +16%

Poured a pretty orange brown from the bottle (750ml bomber), slightly hazy dark copper brown in the glass, garnet red as I sip and look through the bottom of the glass. Not much head at all, just a slight ring around the edge. Aroma is not strong but is pleasantly malty and hoppy as well. Now this is a great tasting beer! The mouthfeel is adequatly carbonated up front, thick in the middle, and finishes clean and dry. This is a well constructed beer. Not as sweet as other barleywines, this one has plenty of hops. The malt and the hops are evenly balanced. Dangerously drinkable--if I were wise I would share this bomber; but I am very happy to have it to myself!

04-29-2007 02:34:21 | More by PhiloPsych
Photo of ArrogantB


4.63/5  rDev +12.4%

I drank this 750ml bottle all to myself which was most likely a mistake. Oh, well some mistakes are fun to make! This poured a dark orange with reddish tints. There was no head whatsoever. Only a few lonely bubbles rose to the surface. The smell was like candy and caramel. The taste was resinous with a citrus overtone. This was an outstanding barleywine. I'm glad I have another bottle which I will probably drink in two years. This was the best Alesmith beer I have tasted.

04/21/08 - I think this is from some time in 06 based upon the green punted bottle, I have cellared for over a year. Time has mellowed this beer out and it now does seem like an English-style barleywine. There is absolutely zero head. The smell is grainy and alcohol as well as brandy/cognac. The mouthfeel is pretty darn smooth. There is a blast of bitter hops at the end. I'm not sure that I like this more aged since it was so hoppy fresh but it does age nicely. Once it gets fully warm the candy flavors show up. This beer should be served almost at room temperature.

A:4 S:4 T:5 M:4.5 D:4

07/19/08 - 2007 vintage - almsot a year since I purchased it, hoppy and delicious...

04-16-2007 17:28:41 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of Phatz


4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

This is a big beer! $18 a bottle. 750 ml bottle. 11%ABV and you'll know it. It is really darn tasty but I'm glad I wasn't trying to finish off a bottle alone.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber copper color with nice clarity and a tan collar.

Smell: It is warm in the nose. It smells like citric hops and fusel alcohol right from the star. Like an orange rind wine. There is an undertone of sweet candy malts.

Taste: Again very warm and almost bitey in the mouth. Fusel alcohol does not hide. The hops are assertive and spicy and when side by side with the alcohol it poke like pins and needles and leave a spicy feel on the tongue after the swallow.

Mouthfeel: The spicy twang and the hotness make the mouthfeel a bit rough but other than some sharpness it is solid and rich through the mouth.

Drinkability: This is one I'd suggest sharing; or at least dedicate a good amount of time to it because it may be a project to drink. That said it is a quite enjoyable project.

Hope this is helpful.

04-08-2007 06:56:30 | More by Phatz
Photo of bennetj17


3.75/5  rDev -9%

On-Tap @ Zachary's Pizza. Arrived at my table with a nice tan foam the dissipated slowly. The color is sort of a hazed mahogany. Nicely balanced smell of caramel, fruit, and hopps in the aroma.

The alcohol really blew me away in the flavor, and it was something I didn't detect in the smell. It's like sipping some kind of liquor to which I'm not accustomed to. The other flavors are quite nice however, with raisiny caramel malt, and moderately intense hops. The alcohol, while readily detectable, fortunately doesn't really burn as it goes down. In fact it really smooths the whole thing out keeping the mouthfeel from being very thick/heavy. The carbonation was very nice and subtle also.

I actually finished this glass with ease, although it might not be a good idea to have more than one. It's too strong for my tastes, and I think that's why I waited to try this on tap rather that drop 12 bucks fro 750ml of it. I would recommend trying it...

04-07-2007 18:19:26 | More by bennetj17
Photo of brewcrew76


4.15/5  rDev +0.7%

A - Pours an orange, amber, tangerine with a thin tan head.

S - Sweet caramel, fig and raisin with some sweet citrus, almost like a sweet orange liqueur.

T - Sweet sticky caramel, figs and dates. The booze mixed with the citrus hops creates an orange liqueur taste that was picked up in the aroma.

M - Smooth and slightly on the sticky side.

D - Tasty and quite drinkable for 10% ABV.

03-24-2007 03:28:09 | More by brewcrew76
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.03/5  rDev -2.2%

Glowing tangerine-vermilion with diamond-like clarity. Old Numbskull is an absolutely stunning color when backlit with late afternoon sunshine. The pale orange-ecru cap is an impressive three fingers in size despite the double digit ABV, and is wonderfully sticky in the bargain. Even without all the thick, soon to be crusty lace, this would be a fantastic looking beer.

The nose is composed of caramel malt, orange liqueur, cherries and white rum. It's immensely powerful without necessarily relying on alcohol to make it so. Although my bottle isn't vintage dated, I'm pretty sure it's from 2005. That's plenty of time for things to have come together into a neat and tidy, fruity, boozy bundle.

I questioned the English barleywine classification prior to opening the bottle and I still question it after drinking several ounces. Reading AleSmith's website (where they use phrases such as 'a West Coast style barleywine' and 'domestic hops') and listening to my palate, I think this is an American barleywine without a doubt.

The dominant flavors are the same as the dominant aromas. Stickysweet caramel and orange oil are still in the spotlight. It's a shame there isn't more resinous hoppiness, but I guess that's to be expected after almost two years in the bottle. I hereby resolve to drink my barleywines fresh rather than aged from now on.

The reason I like Old Numbskull rather than love it is because of the still too-prominent alcohol. More hop bitterness would have masked it more completely; yet another reason to load up on the humulus lupulus. If you like your American barleywines to be on the sweet side, and like them tongue numbingly boozy as well, then this is the beer for you. It pains me to say it, but I expected a little more from one of my favorite breweries.

I've had bigger, stickier, chewier mouthfeels. However, this one is more than adequate for the task at hand. Increasing both malt and hops by at least 50% would have improved this big ale in any number of ways. I feel like I've been taking small sips, but I'd better slow down even more because my skull is beginning to feel numb.

As noted, AleSmith is one of my favorite American craft breweries and is a permanent fixture in my top-10. As a result, my expectations for Old Numbskull were stratospheric. In the final reckoning, it isn't one of my favorite barleywines, but it's still good beer and should warm me nicely well into the night. I'm guessing that I'll sleep like a baby too.

03-09-2007 23:01:50 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of macster


4.53/5  rDev +10%

2003 vintage. Pours a fairly thick and viscous consistency. Reveals a slightly hazy amber-burgundy color supporting a tight, dense bone-white head which gradually fades to a spotty film. No lacing noted.

A rich, beautiful bouquet of hot melted caramel candy, fresh cookie dough and chocolate malt balls combined with a respectable hop contribution of grapefruit, tangerine and pine needle. For a west coast product you can surmise from the aroma profile this is not an overwheling "hop-bomb" as are many other Barley Wines from this area.

Mouthfeel is just perfect for this style; thick, chewy, oily with a minimum amount of carbonation to keep it silky smooth.

Flavor profile is admirably balanced between the malts and hops. Lots of Sugar Daddy caramel candy sweetness with some toasty malts all balanced nicely with a citrus/piney hop bitterness to even it all out. The 10% abv is not in the least obtrusive, barely making its presence known.

One of the best balanced west coast Barley Wines I’ve had the pleasure to sample.

02-11-2007 06:49:12 | More by macster
Photo of BeerBelcher


4/5  rDev -2.9%

Given the "big" beers I've had from Alesmith, this barley wine seemed not very extreme. While not groundbreaking, it is an extremely drinkable and pleasant barley wine.

It pours a hazy, dull brown with virtually no head. Aroma is light hops with a significant caramel malt presece. Taste is also a lot of caramel malt, with a good amount winey oakiness. This beer hides its 11% ABV extremely well. Mouthfeel is fairly sophisticated and complex, better than most champaigns I've had. This is the most drinkable barley wine I've ever had.

01-27-2007 02:11:48 | More by BeerBelcher
Photo of Gavage

New Jersey

4.15/5  rDev +0.7%

Appearance: pours a clear amber and ruby red color with a spotty big bubbled surface foam for a head.

Smell: alcohol and sweet malts are upfront and easy to pick up.

Taste: large malt sweetness, prunes, red grapes, plums, alcohol, and a bold bitterness that helps balance it out.

Mouthfeel: smooth at the start while it finishes a bit syrupy. Long aftertaste as the flavors glue themselves to your tongue. Heavy bodied.

Drinkability: a very tasty barley wine that is relatively easy to consume. The alcohol is a warning to keep this at a slow sipping pace.

01-25-2007 14:30:14 | More by Gavage
Photo of bruachan

District of Columbia

4.1/5  rDev -0.5%

this beer has a very nice color: sunburst ruby. and the head is great for a beer of this strength. the aroma is also excellent; it's dazzlingly complex. rich brown sugar, date, caramel, toffee and a hint of chocolate

it's very bitter for an english BW. the flavor is not as full as i expected and the hops provide a numbing bitterness. a little hot in the finish, too. it's tasty, but doesn't cash the check written by the aroma. nice brew, though

01-25-2007 05:30:10 | More by bruachan
Photo of sulldaddy


3.95/5  rDev -4.1%

I am splitting this brew at room temp with Stopper. Pours into a stemmed bock glass and exhibits a clear chestnut color with thin offo white surface layer of minimal head that remains but is very thin.
Aroma is boozy and fruity with white grapes and pears dominant. A bit of caramel is mixed in for good measure.
First sip reveals a syrupy texture and average body with very gentle carbonation. Flavor is as nose advertises with sweet fruit, pears again, a general sugaryness and caramel too. The beer moves to a boozy warm alcohol hit on the finish. This brew is a definate sipper even after sitting on it for a year I found it to be just a bit too hot still.

12-29-2006 04:44:11 | More by sulldaddy
Photo of akorsak


3.95/5  rDev -4.1%

A 750 mL bottle from an earlier trade with Boolshot.

A: The barleywine is a hazy amber color, close to a vibrant red than orange. The head is not too big on pour, 1/2 a finger at max, and reduces to a small whitish ring.

S: The aroma on the barleywine is thick with concentrated malty cereal sweetness. The hop presence is not very strong, providing licorice hints.

T: For the malty nose, the ale is a well-balanced mix of hops and malts. Both the hops and malts have been amped up ridiciously high (but they are in balance). The malts are thick and sweet, cereal-like in their thickness. The strength and concentration of the malts are matched by the hops. They are intensely bitter, imparting a medicinal and minty taste. The finish ties both together, creating a sweet and bitter mouthplay.

M: A well-balanced, if not intense, barleywine with a great deal of hop and malt flavor. The medicinal taste lingers too long, detracting a bit.

D: The ale is big and bold, as I've come to expect from AleSmith. The high abv, while not detectable, hurts the drinkability but the ale is worth a look anyway. This strikes me as more of an American Barley Wine, based solely on the intensity of the hops.

12-23-2006 01:56:12 | More by akorsak
Photo of dirtylou


4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

750ml bottle split with expatsteve and golden2wenty1 courtesy of expatsteve...glad i can now sit on my bottle for a little longer!

appearance: poured into a house glass at expatsteves...dark clear amber body, strong mahogany tinting, very light tan head with little lacing

smell: moderate booze burn on the nose, strong caramel, sweet brown sugars, strong dark fruits...big contrast to its predecessor in the rotation, 3F Behemoth

taste: big booze covered fruit taste, plum, raisin, prune...sweet brown sugars, hops definitely toned down, strong malt structure, lightly herbal, nice alcohol burn left behind and very smooth

mouthfeel: boozy but smooth, nice drinker

drinkability: good

12-13-2006 01:54:58 | More by dirtylou
Photo of Golden2wenty1


4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

Courtesy of expatsteve, shared with dirtylou and myself over a mini barley-wine sesh.

Pour: ruby/strawberry/auburn/mahogany brown under a cm of cappuccino froth sizzling to a skim

Nose: malty and bready malt up front, minty/anise hops, dark fruits

Taste: buttery, bready malts, sweet toasted caramel, herbal/minty hops, black licorice, dates and fig, clean boozy finish

Feel: Smoooth.

Drinkability/Overall: This is a malty beast but oh so smooth. Rich flavors meld well together. Quite drinkable for 10%.

12-08-2006 02:28:35 | More by Golden2wenty1
Photo of isaac


4/5  rDev -2.9%

from my notes:

750 ml green bottle to brandy snifter.

A - Hazy ruby colored, not unlike cognac, with little to no head. off-white lace slowly moves along the glass.

S - dark, ripe fruits, alcohol, and strong, piney hops.

T - Hoppy, caramel-malts, breadiness and herbal spiced notes. also, a hint of dirt - not earthiness, but dirt.

M - Thick, but overly carbonated

D - I enjoyed this, but it was most certainly a sipping beer, and one that i may not go back to in the future. but, who knows? maybe i just didn't get an outstanding bottle.

11-25-2006 02:54:26 | More by isaac
AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 987 ratings.