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Old Knucklehead Barleywine - BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

Not Rated.
Old Knucklehead BarleywineOld Knucklehead Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

93 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 93
Hads: 204
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 17.54%
Wants: 38
Gots: 15 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Knucklehead Barleywine Alström Bros
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Reviews: 93 | Hads: 204
Photo of FadedWonderland
5/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I bought this beer out of a genuine curiosity because I have been interested in Bridgeport Brewing for a couple years now and after seeing this on the shelf at my local grocer, I figured I would give it a shot. Needless to say, after buying my seventh one, I'm a firm believer that for the price that this is a great brew. Great smooth taste, beautiful brownish orange color, strong aroma, and a good beer for relaxing and enjoying with some friends.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.85/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tasted at the BridgePort Brewing Co./Brewpub in Portland, OR on 06/15/06.

Mahogany in color with a low tan ring for the head. Aroma was primarily malty with a hint of hops shining thru. Very well balanced strong malt profile with lots of hops and any alcohol character was well hidden. Perfect balance of hops and malts. Full-medium bodied and smooth with a warm lightly bitter finish.

A wonderful ABW without trying to be over the top on ABV !! Much more enjoyable than some of it's jet-fuel counterparts.

Per BB website:
11th vintage (?)
ABV: 9.1%, OG: 20.8, IBUs: 60

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Photo of freed
4.82/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Horse Brass Pub has this firkin in an oak cask. Got it for the 2003 Oregon Brewers Festival. Well then I'll have to try it!

Deep cherry and currant color with no head but a few bubbles, it shows a slight change of color when lifted to light. Even over the ambient smoke in the room, the rich malt, fruit, and spice aromas are obvious. A taste reveals flavors along the same line, rich sweet malts, tart apple, smooth melon, and bright spice notes. Rich and warm in the mouth, it swallows much easier than it should, but the small glass is just the right size for desert. Thanks to the waitress for bringing this one out.

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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,

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Photo of lunarnorth
4.75/5  rDev +19%

1 pt 6oz brown bottle. Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Ruby red with a fine-looking, enduring head, tan, two fingers high. Good lacing.

Smell: Primarily fruit -- grape and fig. Vanilla. Oak.

Taste: Loads of malt, vanilla, more fruit, including cherry. Plenty of alcohol, as expected, but not at all unpleasant.

Mouthfeel: Smooth on the tongue, slight stickiness, warming from all that alcohol.

Overall: Wow, this is pretty much a perfect barleywine -- a treat to the eyes and nose that really delivers.

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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.

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Photo of halvbeerson
4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Finally drinking a barleywine after way too long. Went to the store tonight and saw this on the shelf. Bought one to drink and one to age. Here we go.

A: Color is a caramel, wood color but when held up to the light is shows a cherry, amber color. Good lacing after taking a sip. Carbonation is as expected with a barleywine. Half a finger head with decent retention. Moderately cloudy with a color that says drink me, I'm full bodied.

S: Definitely a caramel aroma partnered with a hint of oaky, nuttiness. Hop notes are spicy.

T: The oak really comes out with a full drink, along with the great barleywine taste I was hoping for. Also the caramelly flavor lingers after the gulp is gone.

M: A moderately thick or heavy feel that coats the tongue nicely which helps the taste linger. The carbonation was just right for me considering what I am drinking.

Overall: I am really glad I bought this beer, it's been far too long since I enjoyed a barleywine. I am definitely not disappointed. Every sip is enjoyment.

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Photo of lsiberian
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The barley wine Old Knucklehead shows a thin brown head on the pour while the beers' body permits presents semi-transparent image through it. On the nose this Knucklehead offers a sweet roasted oak malt that stays throughout the end of the drink. This number 014 bottle tastes like a sweet roasted oak malt that fades into a pleasant bitter finish. In the mouth, this beer delivers a potent sting on the cheeks and tongue while still leaving enough for sensation to enjoy the beer beyond the early drinking phase. Overall this beer delivers an amazing well aged barley wine that represents the style and brewer well. I definitely recommend it to fans of the style or those looking to try the style.

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Photo of godlessape
4.55/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Used my trusty snifter for this one. The body has a intensely dark ruby red shade with an off white almost beige head.
The aroma's are earthy, like forest mulch after a morning rain. I'm picking up oak of course along with tobacco, an overloaded wicker fruit basket, grains, and alcohol. A feast for the schnoz.
The hops that hide in the aroma profile come out in the flavor rather nicely. I taste a lot of sweet malt and molasses, along with some dark unidentifiable exotic fruits. You'll notice a hint of vanilla and toffee in the mix as well.
The mouthfeel is full bodied with a crisp hoppy finish.
Overall this is a great barlywine, that has all the elements you want in this style to stand up and take notice.

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Photo of N3rdM3t4l
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown bomber labeled Batch #13. Slightly chilled into very cold pint glass.

A: clear deep mahogany with ruby hints. slightly offwhite foam forms a ring but no real head or cap. Lots of tiny bubbles coming to the top. Looks pretty good.

S: surprisingly hoppy on the nose, notes of citrus makes me think some cascade in the hop mix. Some alcohol smell and only a bit of that sweetness one expects from a barleywine. At 9.1% I expect either an overly sweet barleywine because it didn't ferment out to much or a really dry barleywine. All in all the hops is a pretty dominant aroma.

T: much to my amazement it is really well balanced. Opens with a burst of northwest hops(those cascades?) never really fades but hides in,the background while a solid malt body rounds out the middle. A hint of the expected sweetness teases then hides behind a second hop wave that finishes off with a lingering but not overpowering bitter. This beer is too drinkable for 9%, dangerous.

M: not as chewy as a stout but has the heft I want from a barleywine. A bit more carbonation than I expect but not too bad.

O: Wow is all I have to say. As far as barleywines go this would be a session barleywine. Really good, surprisingly hoppy (almost like an IPA which I am nlt a huge fan of). not a big sipping beer like Firestone Walker Abacus, you want to get a big mouthfull of this one. This is a DAMN GOOD brew, way to go Bridgestone, I love it!

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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!

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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.

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

I received this one from Weefishheads. Excited to try this years offering. I last has this in 1998 I think.
2003 vintage Fred Eckhardt does the label honors.
I sample this from a snifter I receieved at a recent beer event.
12 oz bottle pours a clear ruby amber color with a small beige head foaming up and fading rather quickly.
The aroma is fruity and complex. I get raisins, plums, ripe pears, some caramel and just a hint of alcohol.
The carbonation is very soft and the body is slightly thick.
I am definitely enjoying this one so far!
Flavor is very similar to the aroma. Plums and raisins lead the beer into my mouthand carry through the middle. But the finish is a little of a surprise, a nice piney hop bitterness comes in out of no where and leaves me wondering where they came from.
The finish is also slightly dry.
A very nice example of the style. I wonder if this one varies from vintage to vintage??
Thanks for a great brew weefisheads!!!

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

Beautiful clear deep burnished cherry wood color. Fine 1/2" beige head settles to a thin incomplete cap.

Nose is rich toffee and caramel. Lots of dark candied fruits as well - raisin, prune, cherry. Touch of vanilla and allspice as well. Manages all this without being cloying, and, in fact, has a refreshing lightness to it.

Thick and rich in the mouth. Base is toffee/treacle but with a good underlying bready maltiness. Lots of fruit. Hop is firmly in the background, but becomes evident on the finish . Bit of chalkiness as well. Very well-balanced, and very long. No alcohol taste at all, a plus in my book.

Mouthfeel is very good, adding just a touch of lightness to the full body of the beer. Exceptionally drinkable for what it is. A top-notch barleywine. Big thanks to MJR for bringing this one back from his vacation for me!

2003 edition (11th) 12 oz bottle.

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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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottling No. 013, 9.2% abv

Appearance: Pours a clear tawny color and only builds up much of a head with a hard pour; plenty of squiggles of lace stream down the side of the chalice

Smell: Caramel and oaky/vanilla Bourbon, with rich, fruity undertones (fig and apricot) as well as hints of pine, strawberry and nuts

Taste: The Bourbon and piney flavors jut forward , buttressed by the caramel, dried fruit and strawberry flavors; in the middle and after the swallow, the booze factor builds, as does the fruit, nuts and hops; Bourbon, vanilla and oak tones linger in the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: Clearly a barleywine to drink fresh, this beer offers a variety of flavors that come together with finesse; it has been about four years since the last time this was brewed but this one was well worth the wait

Thanks, mdaschaf, for the opportunity to try this infrequently brewed delight

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Photo of Bighuge
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazed shade of burgandy. Thin and tight off white head. Lace comes in rings. Aroma is quite nice. Sweet and exotic. Passion fruits and pineapple. Ripe melon. And some piney hop notes as well. The ripe fruit flavors hit the palate first. Pineapple and orange rind. Melon. Then comes a wave of alcohol. But it's definitely not a tidal wave. Malts seem to be caramel and toffee based. But they aren't overbearing. Overall, a nice blend of malt and hops in this BW. Nicely carbonated full bodied beer. This one is a keeper.

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Photo of jtfest
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11th bottling -- clear but dark reddish amber, small tan head -- big malt aroma. Mouthfeel so full it's almost chewy! Really smooth without a bit of alcohol bite. This is one tasty and dangerously drinkable barley wine! The funny thing is that it has a hint of a taste that’s familiar, but I just can’t place it -- almost a candy, I think -- but not sweet. Not very helpful, I know, but the point is that this is a great barley wine. Highly recommended.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 vintage no 011

The beer poured into the glass clear at first and then with fine particulates in a deep amber color with an almost tan and frothy head which rose tall and fell slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a slight alcohol aromatic coupled with a deeply fruity and caramel aspect. The aroma was bready and had a slight candy aroma which was quite enticing.

The flavor was divine with a strong malt backbone of caramel malt and vienna or munich most likely. The flavor contained a dark caramelization and a nice breadiness that was almost nutty. The malt was balanced by a substantial bittering that kept the almost candylike impression in check.

The finish was just almost dry with a lasting caramle and fruity impression and a nice bittering bite that lasted well into the afteraste. The body was just full and nicely done. A very nice barleywine that I hope is distributed in NC when it is released!

12 ounce bottle.

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Photo of MrNuggets
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Rough pour sets off a small but dense head that fades fast. Tan ring stays around the glass for the remainder of the drinking experience. Nose is full on burnt sugar. Bing Cherries soaked in rum. This is not as assertive as other barley wines I've tried in the past few months. Very plesent mouthfeel, and amazingly drinkable.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. Bomber

Poured into my St. Bernardus Watou glass a very nice cloudy dark amber color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy off-white head, which leaves some nice small islands and sticky lacing. The nose is malty, slightly hoppy, spicy, with some figs, prunes, raisins. The taste is very nice, malty, nice touch of hops, slight spices, dark fruits. Medium body, with the alcohol hidden pretty well. Drinkable, this is a very tasty BWSA.

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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!

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Photo of marc77
4.31/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Brilliantly clear garnet hue. Topped by an almond white, thick, creamy, pitted head that leaves Belgian lace. The aroma is a melange of butterscotch, figgy esters, mild sherryish notes of oxidation along with earthy hops. As the beer breathes, dark caramel malt sweetness with a roasted tinge couples with the woody hop nose lending a sweet, fresh tobacco impression. Nutty, brittle esque sweetness is perceived upfront in flavor, then yields to a combination of moderate hop bitterness and burnt toffee. Diacetyl emerges mid palate along with a resurgence of sweetness in the form of darkly fruity, fructose laden dates. Permeating notes of woody oak meld with the buttery undertone, forming a agreeable suggestion of rich carob late. A touch lightly bodied and shy of residual dextrins, but that's perhaps due to the moderate starting gravity for style. Finishes with a snap of bubblegum esters ensued by a mild, tannic bitterness and fading toasted malt. Old Knucklehead is a delicious, complex barleywine that packs excellent depth of character into a package both light on the palate and in alcohol, when compared to ubiquitous, overly assertive examples. Stately and very tasty.

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Photo of ubenumber2
4.31/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 22 oz bottle into appropiate glassware , deep redish brown color with one finger off white head and small amounts of lacing

The smell is amazing , vanilla , earthy and lots of fruity , bannana and some cherry just pop out of the glass , really complex

The mouthfeel is amazing , a nice full bodied beer in all the right places

The taste is on par for barleywine types , lots of oak coming through with the alcohol coming in halfway through the drink and hanging around till the end , a bitter sweet bite at the end

Over all a great example of the barleywine style with its own special touches , the fruity smells really set this apart from other barleywines I have had , I will for sure pick up another bottle or two , would like to age one of these

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Photo of ark57
4.29/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage - It is ruby with some brown tinges to it. The aroma is very fruity with strong cherry notes and some hops evident. The full body is very malty and fruity. Cherry is the dominant flavor, but there is also some banana. It finishes slightly bitter and has a good warming punch.

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Old Knucklehead Barleywine from BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
89 out of 100 based on 93 ratings.