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Old Knucklehead Barleywine - BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

Not Rated.
Old Knucklehead BarleywineOld Knucklehead Barleywine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

176 Ratings
THE BROS
99
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 176
Reviews: 91
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 12.03%
Wants: 35
Gots: 10 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Todd on 12-16-1998)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Knucklehead Barleywine Alström Bros
Ratings: 176 | Reviews: 91 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ArrogantB
3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

ArrogantB, Feb 13, 2007
Photo of Sammy
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
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.

Sammy, Nov 12, 2006
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...

Gavage, Jul 27, 2006
Photo of RBorsato
4.88/5  rDev +22.3%
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

RBorsato, Jul 20, 2006
Photo of GClarkage
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
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.

GClarkage, Apr 27, 2006
Photo of Crosling
3.63/5  rDev -9%
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.

Crosling, Mar 18, 2006
Photo of AlexJ
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed medium amber in color sporting a proud head of wheat hued froth that retains well for the style, leaving some nifty lace artwork as it rededes.

Aroma represents a multitude of sweet malt notes, mainly scorched caramel and butterscotch. There's a deep sense of candied citrus peels with pinapple and cherries, almost like fruitcake.

Flavor begins with those lovely caramelized malt notes of burnt brown sugar, warm butterscotch pudding, and toffee. There some sweet fruit notes and a citrus-laden finish of candied grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon peel with hints of oozing pine.

Body is big, mouthfeel is oily smooth, with a creamy texture accentuated by fine, natural carbonation. An excellent barleywine.

AlexJ, Jan 10, 2006
Photo of Muddybuddy
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is a bottle of 2003 (No.11) bottling that I found at my local bottle shop (beer mail me if you want to know where) and was not kept refrigerated.


Appearance is somthing like a smoky amber with hints of rust. It's like looking through a reddish hued slab of smoky quartz. Pouing out of the bottle very slowly into the center of the glass and either raising the bottle or increasing the tilt allowed me to pour a dense two fingered head with slightly brownish tinges to a cream colored body. This was persistent and left some nice lacework.

Raisins that have been left out in a malty mixture and warmed up slightly with a sharp hops aroma hiding in the background create the main body of the nose on this one. There is a slight sweetness to the smell as well. This could be Old Crusty's cousin!

The taste is heavily malty and will probably be more mellow in a few more years, but hey... I had to try it. There is some definite sweetness to it that makes me want it for desert for some reason. The hops do make an appearance, but a mild one that reminds you of how hops degrade over time. I wonder how hoppy this was when it was bottled. Overall, I like the taste and wish I wasn't spending my time typing this instead of drinking it!

Mouthfeel is very acidic and somewhat dense. I do detect an overall alcohol warming, but it is very slow to set in and is very mild compared to some beers that I have tried lately.

Drinkability: Better than average. Though this beer may not be one I want to drink in quantity due to the heavy body, it is one that I will choose to drink again and want to share with my friends.

Muddybuddy, Dec 30, 2005
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.

BuckeyeNation, Nov 12, 2005
Photo of russpowell
4.75/5  rDev +19%
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,

russpowell, Sep 23, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
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.

GCBrewingCo, Sep 09, 2005
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
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!

NeroFiddled, Aug 10, 2005
Photo of mentor
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to someone whoe send this in a trade (but I didn't write the name clearly on the bottlecap, PN???...PisskyNights?). 2003, bottling No 011, stamped 15705 reviewed in April 2005. Hard pour to get a half finger tan head that has already settled to a thin ring around the glass. Beautiful color. Crystal clear and red coppery that's ruby when held to light. Smells caramelly and alcoholic. Really not much else there, surprisingly. Tastes great! Sweet and creamy rich malt with perhaps some hops and a quite guarded 9% alcohol. The mouthfeel is the first thing noticable. Smooth and silky like a rich thick oatmeal stout. Some brighter fruits come in the form of strawberries, peaches, and a hint of cherry sour. This rolls gently into a caramel and toffee pleasantness that's then teased by a rising alcohol. The alcohol rules a gentle reign briefly before caramel returns and lays the foundation for the aftertaste. The aftertaste is sugar sweet malt that's driving me to savor the aftertaste but also get more of this delectible nectar in my mouth. Throughout, the barely detectable cherry hangs around. Quite interesting. The predominant flavor that persists is caramel dipped strawberries. Me likey. Mouthfeel is actually just medium, but it's silky smooth. Carbonation is mild. Nice job, I'd take another any day!

mentor, Apr 19, 2005
Photo of meathookjones
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a deep caramel color with a good sized off white head. The head has good staying power for such a strong beer and leaves clumps and sheets of lace around the glass. Aroma is a huge bomb of malt sweetness and dark fruits. A little too much sweetness going on without much else to balance it out. Taste starts off with a sweet fruitiness over a touch of alcohol. Some molasses and caramel are mingling about as well. Ends with a nice fruity alcohol bite. Pretty thick and creamy feel to it that leaves flavor coating your mouth. Good drinkability as well. Goes down pretty easy and is smooth. I could definitely have a few of these if given the chance. Bottled in 2003 with a bottle number 011.

meathookjones, Feb 24, 2005
Photo of RedDiamond
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In comparison to the regular draught, I found the cask-conditioned version of Old Knucklehead slightly more relaxed though less flavorful. The maturity achieved in the cask tempered the taste to more modest contours. The aroma was equally dynamic and comparable to a fruit liqueur in both pours while the mouthfeel of the casked version, with less carbonation, came across as more rounded and plush. It felt like heavy satin to the tongue and did much to take the edge off a late December evening.

RedDiamond, Dec 28, 2004
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.

oberon, Dec 28, 2004
Photo of Thrasher
4.7/5  rDev +17.8%
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.

Thrasher, Nov 22, 2004
Photo of Mitchster
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hopped with Magnum, East Kent Goldings, Cascade, and Chinook.

9.1% ABV, OG=20.8, 60 IBU's.

Batch No.11 from 2003. Dedicated to Fred Eckhardt. Pours to a very cloudy deep caramel amber, forming a small yellow head with an interesting cinnamon tint. Retention is poor and quickly recedes to a thin layer of bubbles, and the lacing is sparse. Swirling produces a creamy looking head, but quickly fades, and the alcohol lightly stings the eyes. Carbonation is mild to moderate. Aroma is initially of spiced rum, followed by rum-soaked raisins, prunes, resinous oily hops, and caramel. Mouthfeel is stinging throughout, with a dense, syrupy body. Taste begins with resinous hops, rum and raisins, followed by a thick malt body with a moderate amount of roasted barley/chocolate malt/cocoa powder astringency and bitterness, with lingering notes of tobacco and leather through the finish. The finish is dry with moderate intensity woody bitterness. Alcohol is evident in warmth down the gutter, and has a isopropyl sting/astringency in the finish.

This is one of the better barleywines I've had. The tobacco, rum, cocoa powder and leather give it a lot of character that is sorely lacking in many barleywines, and the woodsy/husky finish pulls it all together. I could do without the isopropyl alcohol, but otherwise, this one's a keeper.

Mitchster, Nov 04, 2004
Photo of alexgash
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 Bottling no. 11
Pours a dark leather amber with a tight, thick, tan head. Great lacing.
Nose is very aromatic. Smells of earthy whiskey, tangy grapes, oak, bread pudding, and a whiff of alcohol leap out of the glass. Tangy/vinuous character is stonger than I would have thought for a barleywine.
Sweet, rich, fruity malt flavors up front. Tangy, musty, grape character comes through stongly in the middle. Hops ride in at this point as well. Bitter, resinous, and spicy pin pricks on the tongue. Bitterness swells into the sweet, caramelly/grape finish. Big, creamy mouthfeel that warms you up real nicely.

alexgash, Oct 28, 2004
Photo of HochFliegen
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Apperance: Deep red color with small head thin head.
Smell: Strong smell of raisins and the smell of alcohol. Intensely sweet from the malt.
Taste: Very sweet to start and smooth. Not abrasive or overwheliming at all. A nice bitterness in the middle that finishes with a nice warming and alhohol note to it. A very nice ending.
Mouthfeel: Fullbodied all the way. Very good.
Drinkability: It so good and right kinda hard not to drink it.

HochFliegen, Oct 25, 2004
Photo of MrNuggets
4.35/5  rDev +9%
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.

MrNuggets, Oct 04, 2004
Photo of beerceller99
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

beerceller99, Sep 29, 2004
Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.55/5  rDev -11%
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.

RenoZymurgist, Aug 01, 2004
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.

WesWes, Jun 29, 2004
Photo of 99bottles
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

99bottles, Jun 03, 2004
Old Knucklehead Barleywine from BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
89 out of 100 based on 176 ratings.