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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.

1,097 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,097
Reviews: 446
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 10.19%
Wants: 184
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: 1,097 | Reviews: 446 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

rhinos00, Nov 19, 2009
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.

Docer, Oct 16, 2009
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.

RedHaze, Oct 12, 2009
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.

maximum12, Oct 10, 2009
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.

jdklks, Oct 02, 2009
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.

Oxymoron, Oct 01, 2009
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.

Thorpe429, Oct 01, 2009
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.

aerozeppl, Sep 30, 2009
Photo of Jwale73
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Courtesy of Mauerhan. 750ml bottle capped with silver foil served at 49 degrees in my Old Guardian glass (also courtesy of Mauerhan). Poured a translucent mahogany with a rocky, two inch beige-colored cap. Head eventually settles into a frothy, solid quarter inch skim with some residual slashes of lacing revealed during the tasting. Complex and intense nose - grapefruit, citrus, caramel, malt, brown sugar and molasses. Consistent with nose, but also a little peppery, some dark fruits (perhaps prunes or figs), with a little residual booziness at the finish. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and quite bright and lively with a mild burn at the back of the throat. Typically not a style I seek out; however, this is delicious. While there is definitely an alcohol presence, I have to say that it is not suggestive of an 11% abv. An exceptional beer I have to say.

Jwale73, Sep 28, 2009
Photo of kegger22
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a reddish brown with an enormous head with that slowly faded to a heavy skin. The aroma was hop citrus with a alcohol kicker and malt bring up the rear. The taste was just opposite of the aroma, toffee sweetness in front, but a refreshing bitter aftertaste. The alcohol did not loom large in the flavor. Feel was about medium bodied with modest carbonation. Drinkability was good, but this is an 11.00 ABV, so keep your wits about you.

kegger22, Sep 27, 2009
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A foil wrapped and capped 750ml bottle split with psycohops and poured into a pair of shaker glasses. The barleywine appears a cloudy crimson brown color with about two fingers of dense tan colored foam. Aromas and flavors consist of lots of caramel, brown sugar, hints of citrus such as tangerine, dates, raisins. Falls between medium and full bodied with ample carbonation. Noticeable alcohol heat throughout. Went really well with some sharp cheddar.

ClockworkOrange, Sep 21, 2009
Photo of WeisGuy
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a - pours a brilliant copper color with a dense, two-finger tan head, retention around the edges, first pour is quite clear

s - very strong aroma of orange and other citrus mixed with heaps of caramel and toffee, smells quite sweet, but it's evident that there is a substantial hop component mixed in there

t - intense bitterness cuts through the caramel and toffee sweetness up front, lots of orange and lemon on the mid-palate as the sweet flavors subside a bit, finish is surprisingly dry and bitter, with alcohol making its presence known by warming the mouth and throat, this greatly tends towards an American-style barleywine rather than an English version to my palate

m - medium-bodied and highly carbonated, a surprising amount of carbonation in this considering the style, very dry on the finish, good amount of alcohol warming

d - just about what I expect from the style, though the lower amount of sweetness than the typical English barleywine raises the drinkability a bit in my book, definitely a sipper

WeisGuy, Sep 07, 2009
Photo of BARFLYB
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into some small snifters. Picked this one up in NY.

A- Numbskull has a ruby red look with some brown highlights. A frothy off white head reached about a inch in height leaving some sticky lace. Some bubbles seen rising up.

S- A big burst of hops with caramel malt giving off some candy. Some burnt sugar with a lot of barley. Getting some light dark fruit scent in the distance. Also some alcohol from this beast.

T- Not sure the age on this but the hops are still present with just as much malt sweetness. Candi, dark fruits, figs and raisons with a big amount of sweetness worthy of being called a english barleywine. Some vanilla. The hops giving off a pine like taste. Some alcohol seeping through a bit more than in smell.

M- A bit hot with a above medium body with a light amount of carb. Some bitterness in the finish from the big hop bill but enough malts to smooth it out. For a B-wine this big, it is a smooth sipper.

D- Not knowing the age of the bottle I would say this is not extremely fresh as I did not get a hop bomb like some other reviews. What I did get was a delicious and great balanced barleywine that I would not mind having another bottle.

BARFLYB, Aug 11, 2009
Photo of Phenom
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From a bottle I have had for over a year, and I suspect may have been on the store's shelf for a while before that.

A: Inch high head that quickly subsides to a thin tan film. Orange-brown and slightly cloudy.

S: Does not exhibit much of the citrus hop aromas that are described on the bottle, due to the age. More of a malty deliciousness. Plenty of fruit, raisin, plum.

T: Hop bitterness still there, but not much of the bright citrus hop flavors. As it warms the hops do become more prevalent. The malt and warming alcohol flavors blend nicely.

M&D: The mouthfeel is outstanding, with just the right amount of carbonation. It is stunning how well the alcohol is integrated. You barely notice it at all, which makes the beer dangerously drinkable. The smoothness is off the charts.

I would love to try it fresh because I am a hophead, but for anyone with the patience to age this beer it becomes a truly wonderful smooth malty treat.

Phenom, Aug 11, 2009
Photo of TexIndy
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got from ummagum who got from South Bay - many thanks! Poured from a 750ml capped bottle into a Duvel tulip. No dating info but this should be a fresh batch. Ruby red in color with the usual Duvel tulip carb geyser. Great lacing as well. It had a massive beige head that ever so slowly settled into a thick bubbled foam.

The aroma was excellent. It was citric hops, resin, malt base and a dose of alcohol. Not as hoppy as an ADIPA but more balanced with the heavy dose of malt. The taste was excellent as well and a little better than the aroma as the alcohol was less present. I love the hop/malt balance. You get the great hop flavor right from the start but the malt keeps it from overpowering. It also keeps your tongue from getting shredded so you are ready for more. You can smell the 11% ABV but not really taste it but you definitely feel it halfway thru.

Overall, an excellent Eng Barleywine. I highly recommend this one. Because of the high ABV and 750ml size, sharing would be a good idea. For me, I wish they'd bottle these larger ABV beers in 12oz bottles as well. I'd probably drink them more often as I usually don't want a whole 750ml but a 12oz would hit the spot. As they don't, the drinkability is hurt a bit. Rotation: not available here but if it was maybe a bottle every few years due to the size and price. Definitely would try on tap.

[NAH; rare-size/$;y-tap]

TexIndy, Aug 08, 2009
Photo of JohnQVegas
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into red wine glass. Let this one get to cellar temps at least before trying.

Pours a deep, dark copper-brown, just a bit hazy, with a gorgeous fluffy, light-khaki head that clings desperately to the sides of the glass as it settles fairly slowly into a thinnish cap, though it stays thicker around the edges. Very nice looking beer, from the gorgeous color to the impressive (for the abv) head.

Nose is fantastic as well - tropical fruits mesh with a rich caramel malt note that even carries some rich cocoa hints. There's a bit of solvent-like fusel in there as well. Overall, well rounded, complex, and delicious.

Taste is a bit less complex; up front is a perfect balance between orangey fruits, hop acidity, drying alcohol and rich caramel with a touch of brown sugar from the malts. Nice mesh between everything; bit of alcohol bite in the throat on swallow. Warming for sure. Really impressive - I was prepared to give this one a 4 until it really started to warm up, then it just came alive.

Mouthfeel is much lighter than expected - full in flavor, light, soft, and very spritzy in carbonation. Lots and lots of soft, tiny bubbles. Just a bit oily, but not a hint of syrupy or stickiness. Very, very well done.

Surprisingly drinkable - nice balance and a fantastic mouthfeel made this a perfect match with some nutty, buttery-sweet Midnight Moon cheese.

JohnQVegas, Aug 05, 2009
Photo of bobjonesSD
4.13/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a growler into a wine glass.

A key to this beer was letting it warm up from the fridge to merely a slightly cool temperature. This really opened up the scent and flavors and revealed the fruity notes underlying the hoppy overtones.

A - Very nice reddish caramel brown color. Reasonable head and lacing even from the growler.

S - I thought this was quite nice actually. A subtle cherry hint along with some fresh hops.

T - Once warmed up a very good flavor with a good balance between hops and darker fruit.

M - Reasonable mouthfeel - not precisely 'clean' on the palatte but a good finish.

D - Good. A little bit more of the 11% alcohol comes through at the warmer temperature but I still wanted to drink another glass after the first.

bobjonesSD, Aug 03, 2009
Photo of smcolw
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Foamy lace that leaves extensive lace on the glass. Copper red color and clear.

A surprising amount of hop aroma in this beer. Solid malt base. In two words: well balanced.

An interesting mix of powerful, alcohol heavy malt and strong hop. Thick, almost oily mouthfeel. Decent carbonation. Spicy finish from the hop, but the aftertaste has a powerful alcohol component. This is a pleasant, but a strong beer. I only notice the strength in the swallow. Easy to enjoy, easy to overindulge.

smcolw, Jul 27, 2009
Photo of KBoudreau66
3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Finally started getting a good selection of Alesmith brew's in Massachusetts, so I picked a 750 ml bottle of this one.

Poured in to a snifter an impressive looking, brown leather like color with about one finger of frothy, slightly off white head. A slight carbonation that rolls from the bottom, up the side of the glass.

Has a very sweet caramel, and brown sugar aroma up front. There is some type of fruity aroma that I can't quite put my finger on, but it's along the lines of apple. Hops and alcohol phenols in the undertone. I can tell just by the nose on this, that it could use at least a year to settle down, which comes as no surprise with most barleywine's.

The taste for the most part falls in line with the nose. Very sweet, caramel malts, with a slight burnt brown sugar flavor. The hops stand out more than I expected which is a good thing. The alcohol flavor isn't as harsh as I thought it would be, but certainly has a slight burn going down the esophogus.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but on the heavier end of the spectrum in that particular category.

The drinkability on this brew is what you would expect from a barleywine. It's a high octane, slow sipper. It's still a very well crafted and tasty beer, but it took me a very long time to polish off the 750 ml it was bottled in. Overall this was a great beer. I plan on buying another one and adding it to the collection for it to age. Like most barelywine's I would expect this to be much better if I gave it at least a year if not two.

KBoudreau66, Jul 25, 2009
Photo of bort11
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

mikesgroove is leaving me numb from the neck up. Thanks to him and the Fight Club Project Mayhem BIF.

750 ml bottle poured into a Boulevard Smokestack chalice. Half inch of white lacy head. A few rings on the glass and a solid cap on the surface. Color is a clear reddish amber.

Smell starts off with a honey sweet malt character. Red fruit sweetness comes through in the finish with a hint of orange peel. It's a little warm in the back of the nose. Taste is more hoppy than the smell. Orange juice and tangerines. Brown sugar a little cinnamon come in with the malt. Peppery warmth from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth with a very loose carbonation. Not as chewy as some barleywines, but does have body.

Blipped "Something is Squeezing My Skull" by Morrissey.

bort11, Jun 28, 2009
Photo of paytoplay
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Have had bottles before, all great. This note is from draft at the brewery from a super fresh batch. Hop bomb! Wow. Totally not what I expected. The beer was so fresh it was extremely green pine hoppy. Very interesting. Guessing bottles were still fermenting and carbinating from this batch it was so new. Very refreshing and super easy to drink 10% beer. Fun to try but I prefer bottles of this and with a year or more of age they get better and better

paytoplay, Jun 26, 2009
Photo of rye726
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a peach mahogany color with a silky tan head. Nose has fruity hops, caramel, plums, figs and sherry. Taste has chewy malts, dark fruits, toffee, earthy hops, peppery wine, and vanilla. Thick body is well carbonated. Big lasting finish. Great stuff, should age very well.

rye726, Jun 20, 2009
Photo of 0110x011
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep ruby hue with gold highlights. off-white tan head fades fast and leaves little lace.

S - Dark fruits and sherry. Caramel, toffee, and raisins. Citric and piny hops. Excellent depth.

T - Caramelly sweetness with a dark fruity undertone. Leathery earth paired with a soft nuttiness. Pine-heavy hops in the middle & back. Warm & spicy alcohol on the finish.

M - Medium-full body. Light carbonation keeps it smooth. Not as big as I'd like.

D - Alcohol heat keeps the score down a bit, but the bottle makes for a good sipper all night long.

I'm usually not aa fan of American-style Barleywines. Too much hops, heat, & coarseness (I'm looking at you, Green Flash...). This one may change my mind. Hoppy without losing its Barleywine soul, and smooth and silky mouthfeel, this is at the top of the local Barleywines that I've had. Recommended!

0110x011, Jun 04, 2009
Photo of jujubeast6000
3.33/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 5/21/2009 (Bottle aged 5 months @ 53oF):

Pours a dark brown clear color body, off-white color head, decent lacing, lastingish. Strong, aroma, malty and hoppy dry. Very malty sweet. Sweet malty taste, dry. Somewhat hoppy. strong alcoholy taste. Strong. Way too alcoholy as it warms.

jujubeast6000, May 30, 2009
Photo of quinlin
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark ruby/amber with a nice creamy head.

S - dried fruit, sweet bold malt, spices, pine, floral

T - very bold, fruity, floral, hoppy, dark malts

M - creamy, full bodied, med/low carbonation, alcohol on the finish

D - very drinkable, all round great barleywine, ill take a glass anyday.

quinlin, May 21, 2009
AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
92 out of 100 based on 1,097 ratings.