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Old Knucklehead Barleywine - BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

Not Rated.
Old Knucklehead BarleywineOld Knucklehead Barleywine

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

93 Reviews
THE BROS
98
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 93
Hads: 200
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 11.19%
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Old Knucklehead Barleywine Alström Bros
Reviews: 93 | Hads: 200
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
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. (2,323 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.77/5  rDev +18.7%
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, (380 characters)

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
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. (958 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.48/5  rDev +11.4%
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! (2,294 characters)

Photo of mentor
4.21/5  rDev +4.7%
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! (1,322 characters)

Photo of meathookjones
3.91/5  rDev -2.7%
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. (700 characters)

Photo of RedDiamond
4.17/5  rDev +3.7%
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. (497 characters)

Photo of oberon
3.98/5  rDev -1%
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. (545 characters)

Photo of Thrasher
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
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. (1,263 characters)

Photo of Mitchster
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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. (1,341 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
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. (615 characters)

Photo of HochFliegen
4.02/5  rDev 0%
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. (443 characters)

Photo of MrNuggets
4.37/5  rDev +8.7%
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. (326 characters)

Photo of beerceller99
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
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. (383 characters)

Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
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. (943 characters)

Photo of WesWes
3.9/5  rDev -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. (407 characters)

Photo of 99bottles
3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
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. (814 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.5/5  rDev -12.9%
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. (602 characters)

Photo of bditty187
3.44/5  rDev -14.4%
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. (1,672 characters)

Photo of Reidrover
3.97/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle " No 011" Fred Eckhardt on the label 2003 edition. Lovelly malty aroma mixed with a rather resinous alcohol scent.Prunes and figs come to mind for some reason. Dark amber, almost chesut in apprearance, small white head that dissapears fast..leaving small amount of lace. Taste is chocolate, creamy toffee,rum like, bitter near the end, alcohol is pronounced. Nice on the tongue quite warming going down. I liked this ale..one dimensional maybe but its a bloody good dimension!! (496 characters)

Photo of CRJMellor
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red hue with a slightly off-white one-finger head with tons of lace on the glass.
Aroma deep dark fruits, hint of caramel candy apple and some grain alcohol.
Flavor is somewhat nutty, with caramel and fruit flavors. Some biscuity hits and a spicy, peppery alcohol note.
Mouthfeel is very full and dense with a grainy and somewhat phenolic hit
Drinkability is fairly high. Far some reason this beer didn't work fully for me, the transitions wern't quite right an didn't find the balance between sweet and bitter that appealing. That being said it is still a very good beer. (591 characters)

Photo of grynder33
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very faint malt aroma,very blackish with a small head, sweet pleasant malt taste, a wonderful smooth texture on the tongue. I was hoping that some other flavors would start popping up as the brew warmed, but it really didn't happen. A nice enough beverage, but I like barleywines a little more compex. (301 characters)

Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.01/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

Good mouthfeel, although the body isn't quite as full as many barleywines.
Very drinkable.
Overall, a good, balanced barleywine. (541 characters)

Photo of ark57
4.29/5  rDev +6.7%
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. (288 characters)

Photo of lou91
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1996 vintage in 2004. Wow this beer has aged very well showing an amazing mouthfeel and rich thick malty goodness. The beer poured still with a clump of sediment landing at the end. The color was dark amber brown with little nose. It has a similar profile to thomas hardy with subtle sweet fruit and chocolate notes and a thoroughly satisfying alcohol warmth. This is my last bottle of this great vintage and great to see this beer tasting so good for so long. (460 characters)

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