Old Knucklehead Barleywine - BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

Not Rated.
Old Knucklehead BarleywineOld Knucklehead Barleywine

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BA SCORE
89
very good

199 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 199
Reviews: 96
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 11.81%
Wants: 37
Gots: 13 | 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: 199 | Reviews: 96
Photo of graybayou
2.25/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Overpowering taste of sickly alcohol.

Photo of charlesw
2.3/5  rDev -42.2%
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 jakon
2.69/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle purchased $4.49 on 4-2-8 at Whole Foods Portland.

This beer pours a copperish hue with a needing-to-be forced two finger tan head that recedes at an average pace while leaving behind uniform rings of sticky lacing.

Not picking up much bourbon in the aroma. Mostly a caramel/brown sugar sweetness sitting atop a malt backbone and a very light hop presence. Grain alcohol.

The taste first reminds me of malt liquor. I can taste the bourbon, but it comes across very raw and medicinal. The hops provide bitterness, but not much in the way of the more subtle flavors.

Overall, this was a disappointment for me. It's an ok beer, but I was just expecting something better.

Photo of smttycty
2.88/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It took a second aggressive pour from the bomber to get a decent crown. Good legs and decent lacing on my snifter. Reddish brown semi-opaque body. The nose was nice but not pronounced. Peaty sweet malt tones with an obvious alcoholic hit.

The first sip stopped me in my tracks. I looked at the bottle again. Yes, it says barley wine very clearly. This is the driest version of the style i've ever sampled. Not really what I want from a BW. Lots of alcohol, but no real off flavors to stop me. There is hop character in back but it doesn't linger. Kind of an oaky bourbon thing with a clean finish. The carbonation is just right for the medium to heavy bodied brew.

Weird! Definitely not what I'm look for in a barley wine, but drinkable in a one-before-bedtime kind of way. Either way, with BridgePort's long history in the craft beer world I think they need to practice a little more on this style.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3/5  rDev -24.6%
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.

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.23/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep amber color with a tiny head of white foam. The head fades super fast leaving almost no lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer consists of a mix of a sweet and hoppy smells. The strongest of the aromas is that off a caramel smell, which is mixed with some fruity smells of raisin and plum. The hoppy smells are mainly herbal and earthy in nature, with these aromas all mixing with a decently strong boozy oak smell producing a rather moderately hopped and boozy aroma overall.

Taste – The taste begins a mix of sweet and hop as was depicted in the nose. Some caramel and a little bit of molasses are the forefront of the sweet and are mixed with a hint of apple and raisin at the start. Along with the sweet, is a little bit of hop, with it mainly of an earthy and herbal nature. The two hop flavors grow stronger and stronger as the taste advances to the end and are joined by a decent boozy taste. The boozy taste begins initially as a more warming vodka flavor, with it taking on more and more oak and sharp booze as the taste gets to the end. With the sweet fading a little bit and slight increase in the maltiness, one is left with a rather boozy, harsh, and somewhat sharply hopped barleywine flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is quite thin for a barleywine of 9.2% with a carbonation level that is on the slightly higher side. A thicker body and lower carbonation would have certainly been better for the style and made for a more flavorful and less boozy tasting brew overall.

Overall – Not really one I enjoyed too much. The hops were OK, but the oaky and harsh booze mixed with a little bit of sweetness at the end really took away from the beer as they just did not meld very well. For those reasons and the rather poor mouthfeel, the brew make for one that I will not frequent too often.

Photo of Gavage
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: clear deep dark burgandy in color with a nice 1/4" head that slowly faded. Some spots of lacing developed.

Smell: general sweetness and a bit of alcohol are picked up by the nose.

Taste: strong malt level here with prunes and raisins bringing an extra sweetness. A bit of dark chocolate is detectable and this is mildy bitter. Alcohol is definitely noticeable.

Mouthfeel: basically smooth, almost syrupy on the tongue. Heavy bodied. Flavors last forever on the tongue after swallowing.

Drinkability: so-so. The overall flavor was a bit better than average but this just did not excite me at all to think about having another. Try it but your mileage may vary...

Photo of bditty187
3.44/5  rDev -13.6%
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 WVbeergeek
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
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 Sean9689
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, vintage 1996.

A - Pours a burnt brown/red color, tan-colored head, thin collar.

S - Fruity sweetness, light oxidation, light burnt sugars, caramel, some coffee. Smells pretty darn good for 15 years of age with a hint of oxidation. It's very "delicate" now, and the booze is gone.

T - Similar to the nose. Dark fruits, caramel, light oxidation, burnt sugars. The booze is long gone, and it goes down sweet and sugary, if anything. Finish is dark fruits and caramel sweetness.

M - Medium, light carbonation, creamy finish.

O - For as old as this beer is, I was surprised how well this held up. The booze was gone and the sweetness was just right for me. I wouldn't recommend holding onto your bottles this long, but it was really cool to try.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Burnt orange with burnished orange-copper trim and a surprisingly large head of whipped, frothy, creamy foam that is equal parts pale orange, gold and beige. I can tell by the sound and feel of the pour that the mouthfeel will be full and sticky. Well, full at least. The cap has faded to a rumpled, thick disk and has left a fair amount of lace in small sheets. It's a clean look, with complementary colors.

The nose is pale and caramel malty and is fruity, with boozy cherries as the centerpiece. Despite the quadruplets that make up the hop bill (Magnum, East Kent Goldings, Cascade and Chinook), I'm having a devil of a time appreciating hops. My hope is that they haven't faded into oblivion in the two short years this beer has been in the bottle.

Call me underwhelmed. Very few, if any, of the attributes that I look for in a barleywine are present on the palate. Old Knucklehead is clearly malt-dominant, but not nearly enough malt is present. The brewery claims that 'double the malt' has been used. My question is 'twice as much as what?' Triple the malt would have been better. Or course it's easy to be malt-dominant when the hops don't put up much of a fight.

The four varieties noted above (warriors all... usually) are playing a very convincing game of possum. In fact, this is closer to an English barleywine than an American one for that simple reason. It's still a trifle cherry and orange fruity, but it's a few pounds of fruit short. Nothing really stands out here, nothing grabs me by the taste buds and forces me to pay attention.

Bad call on the mouthfeel. It sounded more full than it feels. When beer first enters mouth, everything is copacetic. At the midway point, cracks begin to appear. By the finish, what should have been a mouthcoating fullness had faded to a Teflon-like lightness. The subtle carbonation would have been a plus in a bigger beer, but becomes a minor fault here.

Fred Eckhardt smiles at me and tips a pint in my direction on the label of this 2003 bottling, #011 (despite the fact that Old Knucklehead has been brewed since 1989, '03 was the 11th time that it was brewed rather than the 15th). I must admit that I'm disappointed in this beer. I've gained an appreciation for a well-crafted barleywine over the past year or so. This one just didn't measure up.

Photo of hreb
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
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 BeerResearcher
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2003 Vintage.
It poured an orange-hued dark amber/brown with a thin off-white head.
An earthy barn-like aroma (not in a bad way) houses smells of sweet malt, citrus and alcohol.
The malt has a caramel and candy sugar sweetness mix with a hint of chocolate.
The hops have a peppery spiciness and white grapefruit edge, along with lemon and orange zest bitterness. An unrelenting astringent medicinal taste and white grapefruit rind tang is a bit much and a bit hard to swallow.

Photo of Sludgeman
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottling 14

MF - Smooth but thin (-), medown heavy body, semi-dry.

Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep burgundy with a thin white head that subsides to a thin layer that is constantly replenished by the high carbonation. The aroma is full of prune and sweet malt with a distinct alcohol scent. Very clean in the nose with no offending esters at all this beer was aged just enough even though it is only the 2003 bottling. The flavor is a bit more aggressive than the aroma as there is a hop bitterness that is not revealed in the aroma. An initial bitterness reveals a rich malt background that has a slight chocolate flavor at the end. The body this ale has contibutes to a very nice smoothness which takes some pressure off of the dryer malt flavor and makes it very palateable. The brewer must have used specialty grains in this ale to get these flavors as there is a nice complexity of the malt flavors. The drinkability on this ale is not as good as other barleywines as i think the sample i had could have used a couple years.

Photo of Sammy
3.62/5  rDev -9%
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 Beerandraiderfan
3.63/5  rDev -8.8%
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 99bottles
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No. 11 ? 2003 bottling

Appearance: This pours an deep ruby color, with a very faint head (1/4") that soon disappears.

Smell: Sweet barley malts with a restrained hop scent.

Taste: Yet another b-wine that focuses on the malted barley over the hops. I taste sweet carmel and decadent fruity sweetness with a good interplay of leafy cascades to even things out. Cherries and Plums. Nothing too complex, just a full barleywine with restrained hops. Think the complete opposite of a Bigfoot.

Mouthfeel: Rich and full body that drinks quite lightly. The alcohol only reveals itself in the aftertaste.

Drinkability: For a barleywine, this went down really quickly and without any effort. Great drinkability, but that may arise from its somewhat quiet flavor.

Muchas Gracias al Weefisheads for this one.

Photo of Crosling
3.66/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

2003. Dark brownish red, with a lovely full foaming mocha colored head. Light oxidation (Sherry) in the nose, with aged malts, juicy dark fruits (mixed berry), brandy and alcohol. Buttered raisin bread malt flavors, with jammy fruits and light hints of toffee, cherry and licorice. Pretty light in body, but still pretty juicy and flavorful.

Photo of woosterbill
3.67/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from 1997. Big thanks to Tony for sharing this old thing.

A: Hazy mahogany body with a thin, fine tan head. Pretty good for its extreme age.

S: Musty and oxidized to all hell. Caramel and cobwebs. Cool.

T: Musty cobwebs up front, with caramel malt and basement mustiness afterward. Sweet, dusty finish. Very, very, very old tasting.

M: Medium body, moderate, lively carbonation. Excellent life for such an ancient beer.

O: I love old Barleywines, but this is just too old.

Cheers!

Photo of ArrogantB
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a 2004 vintage on tap at the Falling Rock for Barleywine month. Poured into a pint glass it was dark red-orange with a very short white head. The smell was faint and indistinct. The taste was good but didn't taste much like a barleywine, more like a malty DIPA. I couldn't taste the alcohol I definitely felt it after drinking this one. Oh well I wanted to try this for some time and now I have.

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Courtesy of Gillard. First Bridgeport rating for me, wow, I've been drinking their beers for years. Pours deep copper with tan head. The aroma is caramel, 90L crystal malts, some roasty malts, very faint dark fruity esters and growing alcohol heat. The taste feels a bit creamy and ushers in roasty 90L like crystal malts mixed with caramel and some pine hop bitterness that leans toward grassy. The alcohol begins to grow and starts to become distracting. I get zero barrel agedness in this beer even though the label clearly states it.

Photo of beerceller99
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

10th bottling from 1999.

Pours a reddish-orange hue with a slight head. Smells of red wine, caramel, and alcohol. Medium bodied, very light carbonation. Has a fruity sweet flavor of fermented plums and dried dates ? Not much hop action here. A strong alcohol kick finishes the drinking experience.

Not bad, but probably past it's prime; still have a couple bottles to find out.

Photo of GClarkage
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

04/26/06- Purchased at Bottleowrks in Seattle, WA.

Presentation- Aged 2003 version. 12oz bottle with a vintage date on the front label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Cherry-mahagoney colored pour. 1/2 inch head at pour. Light rim staying power as it warms. Light lacing left behind.

Smell- Tons of dark fruits. Raisins, dates and figs mainly. Deep sweet caramel malt as well. Very nice scent.

Taste- Not picking up even close to the amount of fruits in the taste. Caramel isn't as strong either. Has a light figgy taste with a deeper roasted malt background. Light amounts of dark chocolate as well.

Mouthfeel- Too high of a carbonation for a barleywine. Somewhat cola-like. Lightly bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability- Had higher hopes for this one. Not bad, but just a bit above average.

Photo of beerguy101
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark amber color, medium head. Richly malted and intensely hoppy, Well aged barley wine style ale. This is the 1999 version, tasted in May 2001; aging has not harmed this beer. Complex subtle flavors, mix of malt and hops nearly resinous in taste. Aging has done some interesting things with the malt sugars in this beer; there are many layers of taste and interaction. Mouthfeel is full and round. Very smooth. Finish is crisp. Aftertaste is hoppy and malty, a little bitter. No noticeable alcohol bite, despite the 9.1% alcohol. Very nice beer.

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Old Knucklehead Barleywine from BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
89 out of 100 based on 199 ratings.