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AleSmith Old Numbskull - AleSmith Brewing Company

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AleSmith Old NumbskullAleSmith Old Numbskull

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1,114 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,114
Reviews: 449
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 184
Gots: 282 | FT: 22
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: 1,114 | Reviews: 449 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bashiba
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of Blakaeris
4.55/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of TheJollyHop
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of tigg924
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of adamette
3.63/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of nickd717
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of jrallen34
3.6/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into my Rochefort Chalice.

The beer pours a clearish medium brown with a light tan head. The head is gone quickly and the brown is not a very attractive looking color.

The aroma is medium, very sweet and matly on the front. The end has a small but nice hoppy finish.

The taste is a little lighter than the aroma, it actually starts pretty plain. The end has some hops.

The feel is pretty light.

Overall, this is a rather boring bw. It doesn't have the sweetness or balance of a great bw. I would skip this one.

Photo of Alf7247
4.63/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottle.

A- Very dark, hazy, brownish/copper, slight hue of orange/red. 1 finger tan head that left quickly which I thought because it was too cold, but when I poured the warmer left over from the bottle it dis the same.

S- Lots of sweet fruit, ripe dark, sweet fruit maybe? Faint piney hoppiness with some malt background. When it was colder, the alcohol was well hidden; as it warmed it peeked through faintly.

M- Felt thick and creamy. Nice carbonation.

T- Dark fruitiness, a little bitter, hops, a little malt. Well balanced. Alcohol was hidden, but it came through a little bit as it warmed. Very complex. Reminds me of port wine.

D- Wow I don't know if I could handle this lol. I was on an empty stomach when I started and felt a nice buzz; ate something, continued and still feeling a good buzz!

Photo of strengthdoc
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured from the galss to reveal a nice copper hue with a rich foamy head, mild lacing and legs. The aroma was a mix of apricot, pine and alcohol. The mouthfeel was buttery with a carbonation feel. There was a mild fruity and apricot taste at first that quickly gave way to the taste of earthy hops and an alcohol warmth in the finish.

Photo of snpub540
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice mahogany color with a khaki colored head that left very clingy lacing the whole way down. Some nice ruby highlights that popped out when I held it to light.

Smell was very sweet with a hint to the alcohol content. Pine hop aroma in there as well.

Taste was very balanced and super smooth. Caramel malty sweetness up front with a resiny, pine hop bitter finish. Nice alcohol warming sensation.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied and smooth. Drinkability is amazing for such a high ABV beer. Alcohol flavor isn't harsh, pretty much non existent. I think its my new favorite barleywine!

Photo of cpetrone84
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-hazy reddish copper in color, thick and creamy eggnog colored head. the head sits for quite some time, well over a minute and leaves a big lacing on the glass.

S-the smell is interesting. it brings some sweet caramel malts with brown sugar first. then some citrus and piney resign hops come in next with notes of alcohol in there as well

T/M-this is quite smooth and the alcohol is pretty well hidden, just barely noticeable. it is quite syrupy and almost full bodied. quite a balanced barleywine following the nose. big caramel and carmelized brown sugar first, next is the resignous pine hop flavor followed by some sweet citrus and hints of the alcohol.

D-i really like this, big flavors and well balanced. i love hops, seems a little more american west coast style barleywine but i'm not going to split hairs.

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep orange, not to thick and pured easily to a dirty white head. Smelled of big time malt, brown sugar and hops. Definitely an English bwine..can tell by the nose alone. Taste was big on english malts and hopped like an American bwine. Had some notes of caramel, brown sugar and maybe even some dried fruit in there somewhere. Best served at room temp. When it warms it peaks. Served cold is rather weak and bleak. I have been ating port wine cheese with this and it was really good. This bwine hid its ABV VERY WELL!!!! I could drink it anytime, all the time. I believe this would be a much better and profound bwine in about a year or so. Still very immature but good tasting and easy drinking.
2007 Vintage: Lots of English malts, toffee, caramel left and still pretty hot after 3 years. Very good.

Photo of steve8robin
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found this gem at a local beer store...

A: Perfect example of an english barleywine. Deep copper color with a thick off-white head that slowly thins but never completely fades.

S: I can smell it without putting it anywhere near my nose. Smells awesome! Smells very hoppy and boozy at the same time. Very unique scent.

T: Tastes good, but too much like an IPA. This brew reminds me of an American barleywine and should not be considered an English barleywine. English batleywines are more sweet whereas American barleywines are more hoppy. This is very hoppy. Not bad, and since I'm not a huge fan of large amounts I've hops, I'm trying to put that aside. It's very refreshing.

M: Good amount of carbonation and mouthfeel.

D: Just have to get through the hops and booziness to get it down easy.

All in all, this will be a great brew for BA's that enjoy IPA's and American barleywines. I feel like this should not be labeled an English barleywine but should instead be an American.

Photo of drseamus
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 bottle provided by aerozeppl

A: Amber body with tons of floaties. Touch of head but the beer is two years old so not much is expected. Great lacing.

S: Big malty nose. Very nice.

T: Huge flavor. No hops but a malty backbone. Very big. Dead on what it should be.

M: Big meaty body. Almost chewy.

D: Good barleywine example.

Photo of bulletrain76
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draught at The Red in Santa Cruz. Deep amber with a lasting, creamy head. Candied fruit and butterscotch aroma. The flavor is really malty with caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, and some berries. The alcohol flavor is clean and smooth, but present. Hops balance nicely and never distract too much from the rich malts. Very nicely balanced and drinkable overall, quite smooth and full, but missing excitement for me.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Props to mauerhan for the killer extra! 750ml bottle (2009) into a Corsendonk tulip.

After allowing Old Numbskull to warm to 40F, a slow pour unleashes a tea-colored body with a core of caramel. The light custard head is creamy and tall; doesn't look like the foam is budging any time soon, thanks in part to a vigorous carbonation level. Not much lacing, but great retention for an 11% ABV beer. Very solid aroma--has just about everything I look for in an English Barleywine: loads of caramel malt, toffee, raisin bread, and a balance of floral hops. Clean mineral profile in the background with a whiff of ethanol as it warms to serving temp.

First sip near the recommended 50F is boozy bliss. English toffee, caramel syrup, and dried fruits hold down the sweet side of the palate, while the hops add a (distinctly American) bitter, resinous balance to the top and sides of the palate. The finish is equal parts bubbly and boozy, with a pronounced warming from the alcohol. Body is medium-thick and a bit over-carbonated at first, but becomes more manageable as the drink progresses. All in all, a delicious interpretation of the English Barleywine style, as Alesmith rarely disappoints. I almost wish I would have given this a few more months in the cellar, but Old Numbskull is still amazing fresh.

Photo of TheSarge
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Numbskull pours decently to produce a two finger thick, tightly forming off white head with impeccable lacing. The body is very hazy, and is deep dark ruby/copper in color.

Aroma is dominated by the grassy and piney fragrance typical of the style, along with slight lemon and a little toffee from the malt.

The taste is quite sweet upfront, with hints of fig/raison, and hits with prickly and piney characteristics, the turns into an almost blunt coffee flavor, and then a good clean herbal finish.

This is full in body with mild carbonation, and then a syrupy middle. Old Numbskull ends on a warming alcohol note.

Photo of rhinos00
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a Rochefort chalice. 2007 vintage.

A- Pours a dark brown, semi-clear. Produced shades of red when held into light. Produced a fingers width of off-white head. Reduced to a ring throughout consumption.

S- Sweet malts, caramel, and dark fruit. It was a little more difficult to pick up the scent than I thought it would be.

T- Very good, just not as rich and complex as I wanted. A sweeter dark fruit flavor is the first thing to hit the palate. A bit of caramel comes in to add some variation. Finishes with sweet malts and a slight bitterness.

M- Medium bodied. Has a thin feel to it. Needs to be more viscous for a big beer such as this.

D- Pretty drinkable, especially as it warms. Alcohol really doesn't play that much of a factor.

Overall, a good attempt at an English Barleywine. Just not up to snuff when compared to other beers in this style. Still a beer I wouldn't mind have access to on a daily basis.

Photo of Docer
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed a fresh 2009 periwinkle glass paint and silver topped bottle at The BeerMongers... trying to see if I want to buy any more to age. Recently had Stones Old Guardian and loved it.. will be hard to beat. Let's see...

- Nice cloudy dark copper muck... thick frothy cream colored head, down to a nice thin cake of creamy lace making goodness... very nice looking brew.

- Scent is cool fresh caramel malt. Some nice fruit-salad-like hopping... with a bit of a floral backnote... bit of nuttiness... filbert, walnut.... much like a Waldorphs salad...

- Strong thick malt presence... bit of the fruity and walnut taste... no alcohol in taste but only a traveling burn... not too bad, and I am sure would be much better with age as they describe on the bottle. Little bit of an English and/or ESB style malting as well noticed in the belch.

- Little dry, bitterness... bit resinous.. bout overall not too teeth grating..

- A fantastic barleywine, and fits the style very well... even fresh. I will certainly get 1 or 2 more for aging.

Photo of RedHaze
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle with no bottled on date, but I think it's a 2008.

Pours a clear deep amber with a pillowy tree finger hea. the foam settles very slowly to a rather thick cap. Lacing is thick, coating most of the interior of the glass.

Smell; sweet brown sugar, molasses and alcohol at first giving this a faintly rum like quality. Dark cherries and light citrus give a nice fruitiness to the aroma. Very nice, and as it warms the alcohol fades from the smell, and the fruits some through a little more.

Taste; Molasses, brown sugar and honey all are present with just a touch of spicy herbs swirling in the background. Sweet without being cloying, with a bit of an earthy quality to it. Some orange peel, dark cherries and dates come together to give this a deep underlying fruitiness. Unfortunately the alcohol continues to have a fairly strong presence throughout the entire drink, otherwise this would have been a fantastic beer. Still pretty damn great though, and definitely a sipper which works pretty well with our mid thirties weather.

Mouthfeel/drinkability; mouthfeel is near full bodied and fairly slick. The carbonation stays relatively light in the drink, keeping this one fairly smooth. The drinkability is pretty decent, taking aa good hit due to the alcohol presence.

Photo of maximum12
2.25/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to Dubbercody for sending this over in an excellent trade. Really, my heart isn't in this after watching the ass-munching Yankees beat my Twins again.

Pour reminds me of fresh apple cider sipped out at the orchard. Smell is overwhelmingly sweet, with an alcholic sting.

Old Numbskull follows a recent pattern of barleywines I've had. Sweet, no much depth, & a tendency towards a wet dog taste that I don't dig at all. Maybe I'm a fresh barleywine guy, 'cause everything I age tends to fall into this camp of 'wet dog'. Loved The Flying Mouflan, but had that fresh.

Not very good, which is odd I was expecting to really enjoy this. May be time to lay off the barleywines for a while. Can't finish this one.

Photo of jdklks
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

pours an absolutely gorgeous dark rusty amber with a thick two finger orange-ish tan dead that laces the glass very nicely. beautiful does not even begin to describe it. smells great, though i prefer a more intense aroma to the rather faint scent of citrus hops and sweet malt fruitiness. smells like the best of the barleywines, just not strong enough.

this is a fantastic barleywine. it is overly-hopped, but, and i never thought i would say this about an overly-hopped barleywine, in a good way! the over-abundance of citrus fruitiness mixes very well with the darker sweetness of the malt, and neither of them take away from the other. there is a very smooth alcohol presence that declares itself most notably in the aftertaste, accompanying an almost grapefruit-like hop bitterness that is not at all overwhelming but rather pleasant. everything about this beer is subtle, which could be good or bad, but right now im enjoying it very much.

great mouthfeel. nice and thick. oily from the hops, and carbonated so as to make it perfectly smooth. drinkability is great as well. keeps you reaching for more. now i wish i'd gotten more of this when i had the chance.

Photo of Oxymoron
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I would think that most numb skulls would be young, who knew. Pours a slightly cloudy darker amber to brown hue with a soft white head. Good retention and lacing through the whole tasting.

The nose is malty with noticeable yeast characteristics. To start there is a sweetness from the malt but some complexity as well. A big caramel note with some lighter bready notes. No real distinct English character but ok. Noticeable yeast and esters. Some prunes and raisins. Some plums and a light cherry aroma. Some alcohol but for the most part clean. Some sherry notes as well but relatively fresh.

The taste is more complex versus the nose. The malt really blends well with the alcohol and a light hop taste. A good caramel note with some melanoidin thing going on. Some minor bread notes, but great complexity. The alcohol is a bit more noticeable than the nose but there is a sherry note as well but blends well. The yeast is a bit cleaner as well. Some nice plum and fig notes. Light plum and a touch of mango. Nothing really jumps out and says English Barleywine but the hops are light for a US. Some citrus note and a light earthy hop finish really plays tricks.

The body is big but clean. Some yeast character but overall smooth. A touch of heat but should age very nicely. A very nice barleywine. To me though this is more on par with an American B-wine but overall very very good.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.05/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Reddish copper with some nice head and lacing.

S: Somewhat hoppy and a decent amount of malty sweetness. Some dark fruits and sherry notes as well.

T: Malty sweetness and some mild earthiness alongside some pine and citrus hops.

M: A little hot, but overall not too bad. It's medium bodied and could definitely use some aging.

D: A nice sipper that improves a lot as it warms up, but still a little too much alcohol.

Photo of aerozeppl
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 bottle from a kind BA whose name eluded me.

A: Fairly clear and bright for a barleywine. Amber in color. One quarter of white head with some lacing.

S: Nice clear malt nose. A touch of tea as well. Has that nice aged beer smell.

T: Nice faded hop smell with a good malt backbone. Nice sweetness with a touch of raisin thrown in. All of the booze is gone.

M: Nice full mouthfeel. Spot on carbonation.

D: Super easy drinking. Probably too drinkable for the ABV. So smooth all around. So smooth in fact that nothing really pops out.

AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,114 ratings.