Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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
Reviews: 93 | Hads: 204
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.

 711 characters

Photo of number1bum
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, Batch 12, courtesy of BeerTruth. Thanks man.

Pours a cloudy brown color with a slight reddish tinge to it. About two fingers of beige head settle to a pretty nice lace, with a splash of stick here and there on the sides.

Smell is quite rich, with aromas of dark fruits, vanilla and sweet caramel. Has a bready quality to it as well, with lots of rich dark caramel.

Taste is also quite fruity, with flavors like plum, apricot, cherry and black currant. There is some darkly caramelized malt sweetness, which like the nose also has a breadiness to it. There is some vanilla and a subtle woody flavor from the barrel aging, but it's not boozy at all. I'm really impressed by the depth of fruity flavor in particular in this beer. Very flavorful and really nice.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, quite smooth and surprisingly clean in the finish for such a big, barrel aged barleywine. Nice.

This is quite good and a very impressive example of a barrel aged barleywine. It's clearly mellowed from the aging, as booze is not at all evident, and it's quite smooth. Quite nice.

 1,082 characters

Photo of RoyalT
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – A decent barley wine head atop a deep, brown body with a tinge of orange.

Smell – This one has a nice bouquet of deep, ripe fruits rolled in molasses and balanced with sharp hops. The toasted malt lays the groundwork for some strong smells of smashed dates and apricots soaked in alcohol.

Taste – Boy, this is big. The sweetness comes out in force here. There seems to be more sugars than in the nose – brown sugar, table sugar, and molasses again. The overly ripe brown pineapple flavor soaks well in the dark rum. The hop and malt profiles battle to a standstill. This one is complex and fun.

Mouthfeel – Flat and refreshing and definitely full-bodied. You can almost roll this one into a ball.

Drinkability – I doubt that the stern alcohol warning of this ale will slow many. This is one for the ages.

 835 characters

Photo of mentor
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
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!

 1,322 characters

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.

 605 characters

Photo of Mitchster
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
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 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!

 976 characters

Photo of DeepBrew
4.19/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Number 14, aged for about 6 months. Poured from 22oz bomber into snifter

First pour was a murky cherry color, second one cleared up. Foam was almost inch high, with medium retention, left little lacing behind.

Great malt and dark fruit smell and taste. Hop bitter in the background and aftertaste.

Medium-high strength, medium body.

Very good and drinkable/sippable barleywine.

 381 characters

Photo of RedDiamond
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
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 Quaffer
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11th bottling, 2003

Appearance: This beer poured a dark brown that actually showed its true, deep ruby color when held up to a light. A light tan head rose up to one finger in the goblet and then settled back into a thin layer of foam that capped the brew for most of the drink. There was not much lace to speak of.

Smell: The main components of the smell were a typical sweet maltiness combined with dark fruit. These were combined with more subtle aromas of bread and yeast. The 9.1% alcohol also started to reveal itself as the beer really started to warm up.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied and very creamy smooth. Occasionally there was a tingle on the tongue from the alcohol

Taste: Upfront, there were flavors of sweet malt (but not too sweet) and cherries. In the middle rose a very vinous flavor that was followed up by a light bitterness on the finish. An alcohol flavor was also present on the finish, but it was not overpowering at all.

A very nice, mellow barley wine. The flavors were good, but this brew was not even close to being a powerhouse barley wine. Long-term aging might not benifit this brew much.

Oh, yeah. My cat liked it, too.

 1,170 characters

Photo of lou91
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
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

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

The barlywine pours a turbid hazelnut brown and supports a modest head that forms slowly from co2 coming out of solution similar to the way a nitro does but on a much smaller scale. Nose is somewhat timid but has that characteristic rich malts and slightly sour and bready notes that I associate with the style. This brew tastes great and is not as "big" as some of the other barlywines. Flavors are somewhat smoother and mellower than some other bareywines and yet it is still characteristic for the style. Hop bitterness is moderate and esters are light. Mouthfeel is medium to full, is not syrupy and carbonation is moderately low.

 634 characters

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.

 610 characters

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

This is No.13. Pours a dark amber with a thin tan head that recedes to an outer ring. Smells very nice. Got hints of pine resin, spruce and even some faint banana. Intense flavors. Bittersweet with a strong alcohol finish. banana, amber, clear, frothy, tan foam, Very bittersweet flavor. Intense. Starts sweet, then a sort of bitter fruit flavor. Strong alcohol finish. Thick feel with average carbonation. Definately a big beer with alot going on. I may have bumped taste just a bit if the alcohol was masked just a little more, but then again this is a barleywine.

 566 characters

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...

 692 characters

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Pretty good looking, brown with amber notes and clear, not a very large head but good lacing.

Aroma is pretty good, oak and lots of caramel malt, some hop notes, brown sugar.

Flavor is really good, as is the body. The malts chosen for this beer were well chosen, it's got a great caramel malt flavor (but not too much), brown sugar, molasses, nuts, and maybe even a touch of chocolate. Carbonation is low but right at the point where it compliments the other aspects of the beer perfectly (note: I really don't like under-carbed beers, so if I say "low" carbonation, but like the beer, that's saying a lot).

Overall this is an amazing barleywine and I plan to go buy several more bottles before the store runs out of it.

 725 characters

Photo of Rizalini
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into my Deschutes tulip...

A - Pours a clear, bubbly amberish/burgundy color with 1 finger of light tan colored head. Very nice lacing left behind while I sip on this.

S - Smells of some slight dark fruits, rum raisins, and some slight earthy hops. Nothing extraordinary.

T/M - Some more of the dark fruits, and some toasted oak notes make this one very tasty! Some vanilla notes are present as well. Nice blend of flavors with a little alcohol warmth. Medium slick mouthfeel, perfect carbonation.

O - This a damn fine barleywine. Has a lot of the same charasteristics of Sucaba. Nice warming feel as it goes down, good malt character. If I could get this regularly, I would more than likely get this again.

 733 characters

Photo of ilikebeer03
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into snifter. 12/2013

A: pours a deer ruby red, with nice off white head (about a fingers worth) good retention, and lacing.

S: oaky, vanilla upfront, drank fruits, cherry, raisin, plums,

T: malty sweetness upfront, follow by dark fruits similar to the nose and a nice, dry oaky, vanilla finish. no traces of alochol.

M: good mouthfeel, appropriately carbonated.

O: delicious beer. the oak plays in nicely

 435 characters

Photo of Kuaff
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served to myself in a snifter at cellar temperature.

The Old Knucklehead has a one-finger off-white head on a transparent, dark ruby body. Looks attractive.

Smells like butterscotch, raisins, cherries, and some fluoral hops. Very nice, very nice.

The taste gives me sweet and buttery butterscotch (is that redundant?) and caramel at first, transitioning into earthy, woody hop flavor. A nice breadiness in the finish that's both sweet AND bitter. However, the sweetness feels a bit out of balance to me. This may be classified as an American barleywine, but I would have guessed it to be an English one. Definitely tastes more like the sweeter English style to me.

A thick body and lax carbonation. Pretty good feel to it.

Well, there are other barley wines which I think are way better than this, but it's still a very good one. Moderately recommended.

 858 characters

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.

 730 characters

Photo of artoolemomo
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours up little head which has almost no retention. The head is a light to medium beige while the body is a cherry with hints of maroon which appears maroon/amber when held up to the light. Leaves rings of lacing/sheeting.

Nose- Not the aroma that I was expecting from a barleywine. Notes of coconut, vanilla, and toffee from the bottle. But from the glass, it's a whole different ballpark. Apricot which moves to other stone fruits- notably canned peaches. Almost smells like the syrup. Some hints of cherry. Slight notes of caramel, oak, vanilla, and toffee are underneath the strong fruit from the glass but they are minimal in comparison. The aroma from the bottle is the exact opposite for the most part. Swirling reveals a pretty generic stone fruit profile.

Taste- Starts off with the stone fruits of the nose. Apricots being the strongest and then a little bit of coconut asserts itself and becomes very dominant. A good amount of vanilla. Some caramel and toffee. There was almost a leather quality that seemed to accompany the stone fruits of the front. Very noticeable heat in the middle but not really on the finish which was weak in comparison to the flavor profile of my first taste. Cherry as well but is not as strong as the apricots which are seconded by peaches. The dominant vanilla of my first taste seems to fade into strong oak. Some burnt caramel on the finish combined with some matchstick, slight grapefruit. This is very different from the barleywines that I'm used to but I like it. Lots of presence but it really isn't that messy. The noticeable booze, however, does suggest aging. I don't know if I would classify it as a really good beer (the oak is a little off putting) but it is definitely a good beer. Nice pine and resin on the finish to contrast the considerable fruit of the front. Every once and a while, a nice little note of coconut hits me and nudges this closer to being a really good beer.

Mouthfeel- A little more than medium bodied with a good amount of syrup to the texture. Carbonation is low key and fits the style.

Drinkability- Remarkably accessible for a fresh and noticeably hot barleywine. This beer flirts with being dangerous, especially at the price of 6 bucks a bomber.

Overall- I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. I know it's almost a 4 but so is Bigfoot and I find this beer to be much more accessible fresh than that one. This may just be the 2013 version though. My reading of reviews of this beer seems to suggest that this 14th release is a different beast than previous ones. I can't comment on those but I am pleased with this version. I will be buying additional bottles for aging. This is definitely worth a try.

 2,705 characters

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.

 615 characters

Photo of HochFliegen
4.02/5  rDev +0.8%
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 PhantomVodoo
4.01/5  rDev +0.5%
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 CRJMellor
4/5  rDev +0.3%
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

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