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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 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.

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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 BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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 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 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.

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

2003 edition, with jovial, beret-bedecked Fred Eckhardt raising a glass to us from the label.Appearance: in the light a clear, perfectly rich, bright garnet out, out of the glare, it approaches plum, with a terrifically plush, creamy, eggnog-colored head.
Aroma: potent and sweet, complex, awash with associations of dark fruits, cherries, grapes, but with a wicked, roasted kick. Deep, dark, divine.
Taste: fierce, but friendly, hops, big, matched well with lush, solid malt, mmm, tasty. Full-bodied, long, happy finish, with the alcohol not asserting itself immediately, but ringing in by 1/3 of the way through. Although, at "mere" 9.1%, it doesn't rope-a-dope you like certain bodacious barleywines, Victory Old Horizontal, just of the top of my head...and that's a good thing, for certain. A full-flavored, warmly textured, utterly delicious bw that caresses it's way into your heart, rather than blundgeoning into your braincase.

Thanks to vitriola for this bottle!

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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.

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Photo of WesWes
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a dark ruby red color with a thick frothy off-white head. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that dry and bitter. The taste is good. It a rich malty flavor that warms on the way down and finishes dry, yet creamy. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a decent barleywine. It has a warm, malty flavor and good aroma; a fine sessions beer.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
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.

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Photo of Gavage
3.43/5  rDev -14%
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...

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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 barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured 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.

S: Very fruity aroma not much hop presence very juicy and effervescent,maybe a touch of brown sugar.

T: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.

M:Big and bold very flavorful the beer has a prickly feeling in the mouth and it warms the insides.

O: Not bad.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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Photo of ccrida
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on draft at the brewery in their Old Knucklehead glass, the barleywine is a medium dark garnett/ruby color with moderate, light tan head leaving a bit of lace.
The aroma is very good but understated, malt, fruit, caramel and some citrusy hops, and no real indication of the ABV.
The taste is similarly understated, particularly for a western US barelywine, but that is what I really liked about it. There are other more robust offerings out there that I like better, but just as many, if not more, overdone palate busters that I just don't find to be that drinkable, which Old Knucklehead certainly is. There is not a ton of complexity to the taste, but it's plenty interesting. Starts out pretty malty, caramel and other specialty grains, apricot and a distinctly nutty character, almost boarding on hazelnuts, a al amaretto. There is enough bittering hops to keep this very well balanced, which is something I've found too many barelywines to be lacking.
The mouthfeel is moderate to light for the style, with a medium amount of carbonation.
The drinkablity of this is pretty high as it is deceptively strong and mild tasting for a barleywine, although maybe not that exciting.

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

Pours an orange-tinted brown....nose is sweet dark fruits...blackberries...plums....black cherries...fantastic nose..full bodied....smooth in the mouth..some spicy alcohol bite on the finish...sweet maltiness is in the forefront...but a nice dose of hops enters on the finish along with the alcohol..the taste is sweet dark fruits....but the hops really bite off an over-sweetness on the finsih...a real tight chinook type bite on the finish..works splendidly..

An excellent BW...very balanced and tasty....the nose is really nice....everything else is well above average....can definitely taste the ABV on the buds...this one shouldn't sneak up on you...sip it..savor it...and enjoy it...

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.23/5  rDev -19%
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.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.71/5  rDev -7%
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.

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