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Old Knucklehead Barleywine - BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

Not Rated.
Old Knucklehead BarleywineOld Knucklehead Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

193 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 193
Reviews: 95
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 11.53%
Wants: 38
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 12-16-1998

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 193 | Reviews: 95
Reviews by the Alström Bros:
Photo of Jason
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12oz Euro-style brown bottle with loads of information about the beer and brewing company -- too much for this forum. Bottling date clearly marked.

Appearance: Hazy brown with amber hues and a wispy off-white ring lace.

Smell: In the proper chalice, this smells of ripe fruit bathing in alcohol with notes of grain.

Taste: Dense mouth-feel, mouthful of grain with nutty, toasty and fruity flavours. More than enough hops to balance this big malt profile, also letting through some leaf. The sharp prickly alcohol is dominant, reddening the cheeks and warming the innards.

Notes: This is a beautiful barley wine, very flavourful and boasting 9.1% abv. The only problem with this brew was the dregs that did not settle, they wandered into the glass even with gentle decanting.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep bronze with a nice creamy head that dissapates pretty quickly leaving a light amount of lace seems to be quite heavily carbonated for a barleywine.Very fruity aroma not much hop presence very juicy and effervescent,maybe a touch of brown sugar.Alot of different malty/fruity flavors going on some caramel and raisin with alcohol cutting hard thru the fruit a light dryness in finish but I didnt pick up the hops as much as others have.Big and bold very flavorful the beer has a prickly feeling in the mouth and it warms the insides.

Photo of RoyalT
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – A decent barley wine head atop a deep, brown body with a tinge of orange.

Smell – This one has a nice bouquet of deep, ripe fruits rolled in molasses and balanced with sharp hops. The toasted malt lays the groundwork for some strong smells of smashed dates and apricots soaked in alcohol.

Taste – Boy, this is big. The sweetness comes out in force here. There seems to be more sugars than in the nose – brown sugar, table sugar, and molasses again. The overly ripe brown pineapple flavor soaks well in the dark rum. The hop and malt profiles battle to a standstill. This one is complex and fun.

Mouthfeel – Flat and refreshing and definitely full-bodied. You can almost roll this one into a ball.

Drinkability – I doubt that the stern alcohol warning of this ale will slow many. This is one for the ages.

Photo of grynder33
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very faint malt aroma,very blackish with a small head, sweet pleasant malt taste, a wonderful smooth texture on the tongue. I was hoping that some other flavors would start popping up as the brew warmed, but it really didn't happen. A nice enough beverage, but I like barleywines a little more compex.

Photo of Thrasher
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I believe Old Knucklehead was last released in Jan/Feb of 2003 so I presume this was a sample aged approximately 22 months. However it was sampled from the firkin at the brewpub, and I have no knowledge of how an aged cask beer is served. Do they add fresh yeast to an aged batch? Another possibility is that they brew fresh Old Knucklehead year-round for the brewpub and only release bottles intermittently. Regardless, I shall assume the sample was aged, since it was smooth, refined, and alcohol and hop flavors were kept well in check. It was just about the most drinkable barley wine I've ever had. From the cask, it was a ripe, vinous beer, appearing a very dark shade of amber with big-bubbled foam. Alcohol was lightly present on the nose but not really in the taste. The flavor was smoky, peaty, woody, full and malty with varnish hints. A light hop sparkle popped up on the finish, and while the substance of the beer is unmistakeable it is as user-friendly as a sessional amber ale. Despite the beer's hugeness it quickly disappeared from the tongue, requiring another sip to keep ahold of the fantastic flavor... and another, and another. Awesome.

** edit: the bartender at BridgePort told me they brew OK year round even if it's not being bottled.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A heavy dark and cloudy appearance. Aroma, super sweet and even a degree of hoppiness.

Taste, big winter warmer style enjoyable heat. There seems to be a lot going on in here. some of the dark fruit, a good degree of hoppiness, sweet yeast effect. Its not Bigfoot, but it ha a lot of similarity to that rare kind of big hop, big everything kind of BW.

Never aged this one, doesn't seem like it would be up my alley, the hops are the draw.

Photo of ADR
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 bottling, No. 011 run...

Orangey brown appearance, finely carbonated head of an 1/8 of an inch. Long glass ringing lace with drips every 1/2 inch or so. Aroma is on the light side, slight molasses with a far away asphalt hop sense. Fruity pear liquor flavors, low on the carbonation side produces a smoothness and a light hop sense. One of the few times I could use a little more carbonation. This is maltier than than the already malty Avery I just tried and may lean too far in the sweet and fruity direction. As much heat from the alcohol as from a resious pine sense that's mostly a feature of the aroma. I'd drink this if it was available locally, could be spicier...

Source: Liquid Solutions

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Deep ruby caramel tan head speckled lacing lines the snifter. Aroma: Deep alcohol and fruit surrounded by a barrage of caramel toned malts and a mild hop character. Taste: Piney bitterness comes to the palate unbalanced heavy handed on bitterness not enough hop flavor or sweetness to even everything out, plus it lacks a big lucious alcohol infused fruit finish that I was craving from a barleywine. Mouthfeel: Medium body smooth soft carbonation. Drinkability: I have to mark this down due to the unbalance overall a decent west coast b-wine but nothing I would crave to get all the time.

Photo of mdaschaf
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear brown/purple color with a small off-white head on top. A little bit of retention, eventually reducing to a thin ring on top. Streaky lacing.

S: Lots of caramel with vanilla and a bit of oak. There is a surprising amount of pine and a little fruit.

T: Good amount of bourbon upfront with plenty of caramel and vanilla. More pine and some dark fruit. Finishes very sweet.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: Better than expected. Lots of bourbon, vanilla, and caramel mixed with a good bit of pine. Really nice fresh, not sure how good it would be with some time on it.

Photo of Sammy
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Soapy off-white head, a hoppy barleywine. Carmel malt, a little roast. 2003 edition, average barleywine. A complexity of hops, citrus,cinammon and fruit. It all sounds tastier than it really is. Maybe by itself at dinner. Ohio International gathering, thanks JSquires.

Photo of hreb
3.55/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber of barleywine served in a chalice. Beer is a bright, beautiful amber color, syrupy in consistency, with nearly zero head. Not much in the way of aroma, a little bit malty and rich . Flavor is a big oak plank to the forehead. IBUs are pretty up there in here too, but they balance nicely with the heavy sugar and raw alcohol load in this barleywine. I don't get much in the way of fruity or grape/raisin flavors here, just huge beer with a lot of oak. Does it need cellaring to mellow out? Maybe. The "fresh" version is totally drinkable but it's no A+ / world-class barleywine.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.48/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From a bottle marked No 011 2003 BOTTLING. Fred Eckhardt on the label. Well, I listened to my beer as Fred suggests... ....only the crinkle of the cap at the opening of this... and not much more during the pour! But maybe he has something there, bacuse that's the way this beer is, smooth and subtle, and under the radar.

It poured a clear, dark ruby-almost-brown robe beneath a short head of creamy yellowish foam that held well and left some nice spots of lace about the glass. Upon inspection of the bottle I thought that it had been filtered, but a peek at the base of the goblet revealed otherwise. There, nestled tightly, were the very compacted remains of whatever yeast had been in the bottle at the outset... and there they stayed, never rising up into suspension.

The nose was restrained for a barleywine, particularily one from the Pacific Northwest of the United States, but it expressed a nice shot of yeasty fruitiness over some mildly caramelish malt and some citrusy/piney hops. In fact, the combination of its fruity, citrusy hops and lightly sweet, caramel drizzled malt made for an appealing nose that was more loaded with soft summer fruit than anything sharp like pineapple of grapefruit.

In the mouth it was superbly smooth, bordering between oily and creamy... I guess you could say it was silky. Medium/full bodied with a restrained, natural carbonation.

The flavor was very much as the nose indicated, and also like the way it felt in the mouth. This is one rounded barleywine! Now, whether 2 years of cellaring did that (or even could do that) I'm not sure... let's just leave the credit to their brewmaster! It started fruity and immediately pulled in its caramelish and lightly nutty malt before quickly revealing more fruit (strawberry, grape, cherry). Some bready and toasty malt appeared across the middle, and then lingered in the aftertaste with some dull, piney hops and a mild bitterness. Each sip brought out more character (at one point I even tasted watermelon), but it's not really that complex. The balance, however, is astounding! If this could offer more flavor, it would be a knockout, but I fear that in doing that it might spin off course. As it is, however, it's one of the most remarkably drinkable barleywines I've ever had. Splendid!

Photo of Fatehunter
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

No. 013 Bottling from a 22 oz bottle.
Thin head on a hazy, copper colored body.
The aroma is rich and deep: grain, bread and woody, like oak.
The taste is complex. It starts out woody, deep malt sweetness, bitterness in the middle, finishes candy sweet.
Smooth texture, low carbonation and heavy body.
A complex and deeply flavorful beer.

Photo of russpowell
4.77/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

vintage unknown...

Pours a light tan to white thick head that drops off, but has a fantastic lace chase the beer all the way down the glass. Body is amber with some floaty bits that don't detract.

Smells of honey, treacle, malt & alcohol!

Large Carmel tastes with stingy hops on the tounge. Honey, bread, and fruit cake and & yum....

Just superior mouth feel, chewy,

Photo of bditty187
3.44/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

No 011, 2003 edition with Fred Eckhardt on the label.

Murky bloody cherry-brown in hue, when held to a light influences of tawny-gold are found. It is a lovely color. A beige head reached a sad fourth of a finger in height and it quickly faded to a collar. The subsequent lacing was nil. The nose is a big burst of alcoholic fruit juice, strong aromas of cherries, plums, pineapple, and raisins with suggestions of sugar, nutmeg, and bubblegum too. The potency is huge. Big, round maltiness. I really like the bouquet, fantastic fruitiness; I can’t wait to see if the palate can match this intensity. Mouthwatering inviting. It is drinking time. The palate is disappointing. Period. Where are the flavor complexities? Upfront is alcohol heat, sugar, and a bit of yeasty spice, in the middle the maltiness is flat, it tries to be juicy and amble but this attempt is paper-thin. The finish quickly pushes through as a suggestion of tropical fruit and plums find a home. However the alcohol heat reemerges and it just sat on my lips. It burns. The promised fruitiness of the nose is never delivered. Where the hell is the enjoyment? Is this sample just too young? The sugariness becomes cumbersome. This is felt in the mouthfeel too, I found it very thin, especially for such a big beer, medium-light in body. The carbonation is also small. The drinkability is low because the alcohol is harsh and the palate is lacking in complexities and is basically unrefined. Couple this with the fact I can’t see myself drinking this again. There are way to many great barleywines I could spend my money on. I bought one 12-ounce bottle in Loveland, CO. I could not recommend this.

Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.01/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 Vintage, Run 011.
Tan head sits atop this very red amber brew. Minimal particulate matter.
Aroma of rich, sweet toffee, caramel malt. Woody and earthy with a bit of alcohol as well.

Taste shows a rich, smooth, caramel malt backbone. Woody and earthy. Solid hop balance. Neutral and not overbearingly sweet like some barleywines. Hint of dark fruit up front. Alcohol is well hidden. Finishes well.

Good mouthfeel, although the body isn't quite as full as many barleywines.
Very drinkable.
Overall, a good, balanced barleywine.

Photo of CRJMellor
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red hue with a slightly off-white one-finger head with tons of lace on the glass.
Aroma deep dark fruits, hint of caramel candy apple and some grain alcohol.
Flavor is somewhat nutty, with caramel and fruit flavors. Some biscuity hits and a spicy, peppery alcohol note.
Mouthfeel is very full and dense with a grainy and somewhat phenolic hit
Drinkability is fairly high. Far some reason this beer didn't work fully for me, the transitions wern't quite right an didn't find the balance between sweet and bitter that appealing. That being said it is still a very good beer.

Photo of charlesw
2.3/5  rDev -42.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On the dark side of murky, orange. No head. Weirdly bitter and unbalanced. Bitter... Well, not as bitter as a Pliny, but it definitely reminds me of one. I imagine that all good barleywines are. The problem, here, is that there is no body/sweetness to balance that out. So, for an American BW what this has is hops. It could use malt and body.

Call it an American Strong Ale and you're probably fine. Maybe even an Old Ale (well, drop the hops, up the color). But BW? Nah.

Photo of hoppymcgee
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to my boy Bill for this bottle. Poured from a 12oz. bottle dated No. 011 - 2003 bottling.

A: Dark brown with carbonation still remaining but recedes to a thin ring and swirls on top.

S: The best feature of this beer. Caramels, toffees, and buttery rum dominate with a nutty backdrop.

T: Too many flavors come at you in one shot - there's not enough layering in this beer. It's also a little bitter at the moment, maybe a little past it's prime? Nonetheless I get some white raisins, prunes, and chestnuts.

M: Still has great carbonation after this much time. A smooth beer but definitely a little too watery - maybe that's due to the age?

D: Was not a problem to finish this bottle. Unfortunately there were signs of oxidation.

Overall, a beer with only 9% ABV that ages this well gives me hope that other beers I'm cellaring with higher ABV's will be awesome in 5 or so years.

Photo of lou91
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1996 vintage in 2004. Wow this beer has aged very well showing an amazing mouthfeel and rich thick malty goodness. The beer poured still with a clump of sediment landing at the end. The color was dark amber brown with little nose. It has a similar profile to thomas hardy with subtle sweet fruit and chocolate notes and a thoroughly satisfying alcohol warmth. This is my last bottle of this great vintage and great to see this beer tasting so good for so long.

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Maudite snifter. Pours a medium to dark red-orange amber. Thin light tan head dissipates to ta ring around the glass with light lacing. Nice oaky aroma of sweet caramel malt and dark fruit. Flavor is a flat sweet malt and slight dark fruit that is oddly dry, but finishes with pleasant oak and dried fruit (dates and figs rather than the plum flavors more common in barleywines) with slight hop bitterness. An unusually flavored barleywine that lacked some malt and dark fruit depth. Medium bodied. An interesting take on an American barleywine that I will revisit, but suspect does not have enough depth to age well.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thick brown, though you can see some light through it, no head and a nice lace top it off. Smell is hopped for sure, but with a subtle sugary undertone, and a hint of alcohol too. Taste is not very strong at all. There is the natural piney hoppness you would expect from a barley wine, but not too strong, there is also a sugary, nuttiness about it as well. The alcohol is there, and that keeps this a sipper. It is actually nicely carbonated, and not harsh going down, has the warm feeling on the way. Overall this was a good brew, I would not mind having another and certainly kept me warm this evening.

Photo of scottoale
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Knuckleheads No. 9 & 10. 12oz. brown embossed bottles, brewed in 1998 & 1999. Both bottles are signed by the guy on the No. 10 bottle - Alfa Zinkus, a Seattle pub owner. Pours a murkish hazelnut brown with a small ivory colored head that dwindled rather quickly.

The smell is sweet and malty with notes of raisen, molasses some vegital greens and alcohol makes it's presence when warmed. The flavor is big and raisen filled with the sweetness of molasses and brown sugar. Green vegital hop brings things to balance with a gentle warming from the alcohol...these have aged very well. Both tasted very similar to a 1998 Old Crustacean I had a few days ago...I love these old Barleywines. Mild carbonation and a full body deliver a lively but smooyh mouthfeel. Good drinkability, the No. 9 has just past it's prime and the 10 is fine...wish I had an 11 to compare to. A big thanks to Travis for making these available to me, Cheers!

Photo of Gusler
4.27/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I must say that there is little experience better than chasing an 8% ABV Beer with a 9.1% ABV beer, to make you realize, that we are all “Mortal”! But then I do have a 13% ABV beer waiting to chase these two?

A luminous deep ruby color on the pour, the head majestic in size, bubbly in texture, and light beige in color and the residual lace clings lovingly to the glass. A light hit of fusel alcohol, bubble bum, maybe a sweet over ripe pineapple tone, a great sniffer to be sure, start sweet and nicely malt laden, top is middling in feel. Acidic bite at the finish, the hops pounces on your palate, spicy and persistent, quite dry aftertaste that is long lasting and a great representative to the style.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a auburn brown in color with a reddish highlights.
Smells of spent hops and slight malts.
No barrel aging or bourbon to be found in this beer at all. Still a good amount of spent hops showing in the flavor. Still a good amount of carbonation going on in the flavor. Nothing special gong on here. Move on.
Drinkable, but nothing special.

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Old Knucklehead Barleywine from BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
89 out of 100 based on 193 ratings.