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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.

1,068 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,068
Reviews: 445
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 181
Gots: 279 | 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: 1,068 | Reviews: 445 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Durge
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought this home from a visit to San Diego last fall and finally got to it last night at the well chronicled Warwick Drinking Society session hosted by Ohoove last night. This one poured a dark amber color with lots of floaties and a decent oatmeal colored head and nice big clumps of lace. The aroma is incredible with butterscotch malt, buttery smooth and vanilla beauty, awesome! The flavor isn't quite as awesome as the aroma but it is still great with a viscous feel. Buttery malt and vanilla. Plenty of herbal hops bouncing around here. Nice body with even carbonation that makes this reasonably drinkable for the style. Not as robust as some but quite enjoyable to my tastes and a very solid barleywine!

Durge, Apr 12, 2009
Photo of Lothore
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a nice ruby color with a thick, creamy, 2.5 finger off white head which sticks to the side of the glass all the way down.

S- Loads of caramel, raisin, supremely malty with hints of piney hops.

T- Very sweet from the outset, lots of rich caramel notes and slight raisin and dark fruit to round it out. I wave of hoppiness rushes over your tongue about half way through and is just about perfectly blended.

M- Thick with medium low carbonation. Just about perfect.

D- This is a very drinkable barleywine. It's big and bold but delicious enough to keep sipping on all night long.

Lothore, Mar 23, 2009
Photo of oakbluff
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage- pours a red chestnut with excellent clarity. A ruby glint comes out of the brew in strong light. Medium sized head, settling down to a frothy off white and some soapy lacing. Nose- caramel, sticky hops, dark fruit. Taste- toasty malts followed by a big hop punch. More bitter than I expected and really cuts into the malt sweetness. Actually this is a very dry barleywine. A little hot in the finish between the booze and the tremendous hop presence. Medium bodied and medium carbonation. A top shelf barleywine.

oakbluff, Feb 15, 2009
Photo of bigkahunas4
4.58/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this for my 100th review. It was a 2006 vintage, poured into a tulip. The first thing I noticed was the incredible webby lacing on the glass. About a 1/2 finger of thready head, with dense retention. Body was a gemlike amber. Nose was of grapefruit and wet wood.

Flavor on this had great balance - as the hops, surprisingly, were still quite noticeable. Very resiny feel, sweet flavors of chocolate and cherries, move towards an earthy hops finish. Smooth, medium body.

Really a great brew - one I'll need to compare to a more recent version. Though - I can't argue with this aging.

bigkahunas4, Feb 06, 2009
Photo of sweetbrew82
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750 Ml into a snifter/ no freshness date

P: Pours reddish-copper from the bottle, and sits a deep cranberry amber with orange highlights. Hardly any head, even with a vigorous pour. What is there is not thick and creamy like I expected. Rather, it is quite bubbly and foamy. Even after intense swirling, the head was gone immediately, and sank to a thin halo on the surface.

A: Biscuity malts, citrusy hops, caramel, and a touch of toffee.

T: Toasted, sweet biscuity malts dominate throughout. Citrusy hops are more resinous & pungent, rather than leafy and fresh. They do deliver some orange-flavored bitterness, but stay buried underneath the overpowering malts. Creamy caramel and toffee blend in nicely, but only add to the very sweet profile. The biggest problem I'm having here is that the alcohol is way too present, even for a Barleywine. No wonder why they call it Old Numbskull, that alcohol leaves everything numb!

M & D: Full-bodied, rich and creamy, almost no carbonation. I had to subtract from the drinkability score, based on the heavy alcohol presence here.

Notes: Damn! Don't get me wrong, this is still pretty good. But, it's just way too sweet and alcoholic to be great. I wish the hop bill was substantially increased to take the edge off of the sweetness, and aid in the masking of the alcohol. No idea how old this bottle is, but I'm thinking it may have a year on it, at least. Maybe when it's fresh, the hops would be much more effective. Overall, I'm disappointed with this overly sweet malt bomb that I had high hopes for.

sweetbrew82, Jan 29, 2009
Photo of illidurit
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

08 vintage. Pours medium amber color with a fluffy tan head. Aroma is huge toffee with subtler candied grapefruit and oranges. Flavor is multifaceted with toasted bread, caramel, toffee, and graham malt notes along with a tinge of citrus and figs. Thick and chewy body, great nightcap beer.

illidurit, Jan 26, 2009
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this bottle for quite some time and I've forgotten who the heck I got it from?...
but I did get it in a trade, so Thanks!

750ml silver foil wrapped cap with blue lettering served in a small snifter.

L - clear reddish amber color with a tight beige head that remained as a ring leaving some sticky bits of lacing.

S - sweet caramel malt with a touch of earthiness in the aroma.

T - sweet flavors of caramel and chocolate covered cherries upfront is balanced out with an orange rind-like bitterness on the back end.

F - silky smooth, creamy feel.

D - sip this one slowly and enjoy.

JoeyBeerBelly, Jan 19, 2009
Photo of hellbilly
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours hazy and a copper-y shade of brown with a small dissipating almond tinted off white head.

the aroma is quite woody and earthy with a bunch of hot spices and alcohol stinging the nose... vanilla, brown sugar, bitter roast, grass and lots of perfume-y flowers.

the palate is very bitter... it actually seems a bit out of place. flavors of bitter cocoa, caramel, wood, 'british' hops spices, orange and a soapy floral hop finish... ick! that soapiness is rude when this thing warms up.

a medium body is not sticky (very important) but it is thick. the level of carbonation is perfect... very creamy and soft. the alcohol warms the belly nicely!

given the ratings this bottle must be transitioning between good ages for sampling because this is just a step up from ordinary... 7/3/7/4/15/3.6

hellbilly, Jan 12, 2009
Photo of HoustonTX
4.97/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been holding onto this beer for a little over 2 years now.
Mine is the bottle with the blue logo on the front, with a silver foil top.

Poured carefully, into my Alesmith Tulip. Felt this glass was more than appropriate. This beer pours beautifully, lovely amber highly carbonated body. Gorgeous streaks of orange, red, and yellow - create the essence of the amber glow. Bubbly lace sits around the glass with ease.

Huge nose on this one. Largely bready, earthy, a bit musky, semi-spicy, molasses, toffee, fresh baked crust, fruit esters, a hint of black pepper, and toasted caramel coated walnuts. Just absolutely phenomenal, one of the best noses I've ever
encountered. Words almost can't describe just how intoxicating and amazing the aroma really is. 5+++

The taste is godly as well, the complexity and intensity is mind blowing. Starts out with a nice raw earthy body, gorgeous amounts of breadiness, delicate fringes of nuttiness, and a great reminiscent toastiness - brown sugar, toffee, and molasses, pine needles and oil, dried fruits, and citrus rinds. Flavors are all well balanced and work with each other in perfection.

Nice chewy and thick full-bodied mouthfeel, you just really can't go wrong here.

Intensely malty, one of the more divine malt bombs I've ever had. The best Barleywine I've ever had. Along with intense hopping, and an incredible balance. This beer has the whole package, and the 2 years aging held up beyond belief, and did wonders. This is a world class beer, and there is no doubt about it. Definitely one of my all-time favorite beers.


HoustonTX, Jan 11, 2009
Photo of humanawho
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - great brown color with a little red, a nice cream colored head

S - lots of toffee, some light caramel, a little woodyness

T - a lot of nuttyness, walnuts and hazlenuts very strong, some earthy woodyness, and a good sweet toffee taste, some sugary caramel

M - mouth feel is what i expect

D - very drinkable for a heavy beer

humanawho, Jan 09, 2009
Photo of montageman
4.85/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

I received this bottle in a trade a year or two ago. I forgot that I had this in my stash, so I figured that 2009 should be brought in properly with a properly aged barleywine. I believe this is a 2004 or 2005 bottle, so we're looking at around 4 or 5 years of aging. This is a delicious beer. Malty, chocolately, and fruity - everything is here and balance is the name of the game. There is not much in the way of overwhelming flavors here - what you have is an easy drinking barleywine that has aged incredibly well. I'd be very interested to try a fresh one to compare the differences. I guess that means a trip to San Diego is needed! Highest recommendation.

montageman, Jan 01, 2009
Photo of badbeer
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ruby red color with a creamy beige colored head with excellent retention and lacing. Smell is sweet, yet hoppy. Smooth pine and citrus notes perfectly balanced by sweet caramel and dark fruit aromas, I also get a little bit of sherry and some other vinous notes. Taste is sweet caramel and brown sugar with a beautiful array of hops joining in as well; finish is hoppy, but still plenty of sweet malt to it. Flavors are in perfect harmony, nothing overpowers anything else, instead they all work together. Full bodied, but not cloyingly sweet; carbonation is at about medium levels. Excellent beer.

badbeer, Dec 27, 2008
Photo of johnnnniee
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had this bottle about a year, but I'm not sure how old it was when I purchased it. I can't find anything on the bottle regarding a bottling date.
Pours a beautiful red color with a thin off white head that disappears quickly. Smells of Caramel and burnt sugar some citrus hops in there too. Tastes of Caramel, toffee, pine and grapefruit. Finishes kind of dry. Nice mild lingering malt and citrus. Mouthfeel is sticky and syrupy, body is medium, carbonation is low. Alcohol is very well hidden, dangerously drinkable. I love this Barley Wine.

johnnnniee, Dec 21, 2008
Photo of JoeMayo
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a somewhat light brown color with very little head.

S- I'm not sure how reflective of the style this beer is. It strikes me as a "West Coast" barley wine as it is not nearly as subtle as the English barleywine style. It had the nice maltiness, resembling toffee and caramel, but had a heavy hop influence. Even after a year, this barleywine had a really citrusy hop kick in the nose.

T- Again, doesn't taste like an english barleywine, but is very good. The malt takes the lead with a rich toasty flavor with notes of caramel and toffee. Although the malt is dominant, the hops certainly make thier presence known. A really refreshing, crisp hop profile comes through with notes of grapefruit and orange.

M- This doesn't have that superfine carbonation that many alesmith brews have that I love, however, it is exactly the mouthfeel I would expect for a rich barleywine such as this: modestly thin with a lingering wet finish.

D- For the ABV, its not boozy at all. I was impressed that after a year, this beer was still so hoppy. Overall, a really unique take on the style, but a very good beer.

JoeMayo, Dec 15, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great beer. A little tricky to pour at first, was hard to keep the yeast in the bottom of the bottle. My fault, I was a little too excited to try this beer. Strong taste; alcoholic, with nice mix of flavor. Enjoyed this beer a lot. Will definitely buy again. I would like to age one for a year and see the difference.

magictrokini, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of rkuhnel
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper color with medium tan head. Powerful nose and obvious alcohol. Carmel sweet, with lots of hop pop. A multitude of other subtle flavors makes this something very unique. Good mouthfeel. Costs a fortune but worth the price. Super brew. Wish it was not so hard to get up my way.

rkuhnel, Nov 27, 2008
Photo of tmoneyba
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Basket Gourmet in Cincy.

Poured reddish-brown hue with large off-white head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Complex aroma of hops, malt and caramel. Full body with chewy malt texture. Flavor is full with the same complexity as aroma with a medium dry hop finish of moderate to long duration.

This is one of the best.

tmoneyba, Nov 21, 2008
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12/02/06 Walk the Line Barleywine Festival, Dunedin, FL. 1999 vintage sampled from a 0.750L bottle. It poured a hazy brownish orange with tan head. The aroma was light with burnt oak, sweet caramel. The flavor was smooth fruity kind of sweet red wine maybe, vanilla, caramel and sweet candy orange. Delicious. I really enjoy the way the hops have rolled over with all this aging compared to a fresh bottle. It really starts to turn into a classic barleywine.

BigMcLargeHuge, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of hopdog
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottles.

Talk about tasting various versions of this beer at the same time! We did the BA version, and 2 different vintages of the non-barrel aged version (Vintages '03 & '99). Poured a medium amber color with an averaged sized off white head. Aromas raisins, plums, alcohol, and caramel. Tastes of dark fruits (the same plums and raisins), caramel, and had a light to medium alcohol burn in the finish. Sweet.

hopdog, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of Goliath
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a somewhat clear dark amber/slightly reddish color with a half inch yellowed head. Excellent retention and some fine lacing.

I love the aroma, really nice. The nose is malt dominant with big caramel notes taking the lead. Some dark fruit (raisins and plums), as well as toffee, booze, and a faint citrusy hop in the background.

The taste is nice. Some nice big caramel and toffee notes take the lead. Some raisin plays a nice role as well as a big boozy alcohol presence. Citrusy hops are faint, but there.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and slightly syrupy. This beer is lightly carbonated with fine and gentle bubbles.

Drinkability is fairly high. The flavor is nice, though not as aggressive as I had hoped. Still, it's a solid Barleywine and I'm diggin it. Another great Alesmith offering IMO.

Goliath, Nov 05, 2008
Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.13/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark burgundy in color. A very short lived head forms on the pour and is gone quickly. Smell is malty and alcohol. But to my chagrin, a large amount of hops as well. The hops are too prominent in the flavor. I was hoping for a low hopped 'English' barleywine, which I prefer. The hops are just too much to get past to focus on the rest of the beer. My least favorite beer from an otherwise standout brewery.

FtownThrowDown, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've had this bottle for about two months or so now. I wish I had another.

A- Nice dark copperish color. The head is a tight foamy mix of large and small bubbles. The head looks creamy and wonderful.

S- I'm digging the smell of this beer, very complex smelling. There is wonderful citrus hop smell, pineapple and mango as well that is combined with a great malt profile. Caramel, honey, sweet baked bread. This is very nice smelling.

T- The first taste of this beer was sweet honey, its there pow right off the start. The hop taste is mild at first, but comes more in the aftertaste, with nice grapefruit flavors. Each drink there is more and more flavors that come though. I just got a mouthful of cinnamon and spices. This is a delightful and amazing. I'm kinda beer geeked out for sure with this beer. I had my wife try this and she was amazed at how this beer changes with each taste. I like how the beer keeps me guessing. Excellent barley wine. I wonder how this would do when aged.

M- Feels good in the mouth, not drying, and the thickness is mixed well with the carbination.

D- Hell Yes! and More Please! I think this is excellent, and even though this should be sipped its hard not to just drink it.

Wetpaperbag, Oct 29, 2008
Photo of BretSikkink
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Burnished amber-orange color, not really very dark actually. Head is tinted just a hair; it retains well enough but the lacing is just ridiculous. It's a little spotty, but leaves no piece of the glass fully untouched. Beautiful.

Strong caramel component to the bouquet but the piece de resistance is clearly the hopping: bright, citric, very orangey and displaying a fair amount of alcohol firepower.

In the mouth, the Numbskull is a real delight. Not an oppressively hot or peppery barleywine, this beer could moonlight as a double IPA without requiring a huge stretch of the imagination.

The star of the show is obviously the West Coast hopping; leaving large amount of Curacao liquer, grapefruit pith, and straight up alpha acid residue to linger good and long on the palate. In fact, one of the only things about this beer that makes me think English (rather than American) barleywine is full, syrupy mouthfeel and palate-coating thickness that comes from a very light carbonation load.

The alcohol is poorly masked, but matched nicely by the other flavors - I've talked a lot about the hops but the caramel malt is particularly prominent throughout, and helps build that mouthfeel. A crystal-like malt is also in evidence, lending a pleasantly light toffee flavoring as well.

Humongous ale all the way around; this is a beer to be respected and drank slowly. Every sip is a gem, and even if this isn't my absolute favorite barleywine (and the price tag really hurts me), this is an ale I would like to get to know better.

BretSikkink, Oct 27, 2008
Photo of funkyspunk87
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Alesmith Old Numbskull
AleSmith Brewing Company
Style: English Barleywine
ABV: 11.00 %

Out of the big bottle into a chilled glass.

Simply incredible...the best barleywine I have ever tasted. 11%?! You cannot even tell. So smooth and tasty you'd think it was a regular beer.

funkyspunk87, Oct 06, 2008
Photo of cswhitehorse
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Old Numbskull poured a reddish brown color with some sediment coming through and floating around. It had sudsy wave like lacing.

The aroma had a nice hoppiness to it which was flowery, spicy with some caramel in the background. The taste was rich and spicy. It was real smooth and balanced. Not too hoppy not to malty. The abv was well hidden and it was smooth and creamy and delicious. It was well malted and a very enjoyable brew.

cswhitehorse, Sep 30, 2008
AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 1,068 ratings.