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Old Birdbrain | Black Raven Brewing Co.

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Old BirdbrainOld Birdbrain
101 Ratings
Old BirdbrainOld Birdbrain

Brewed by:
Black Raven Brewing Co.
Washington, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
This robust strong ale features pale malts and generous hop additions. After primary fermentation, several American rye whiskey barrels are filled and cellared to age. The remaining beer is then cellared in a stainless steel tank. After many months of aging, the barrels are then blended into the remaining batch aged in the stainless steel tank.

Added by barleywinefiend on 03-07-2010

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 101 |  Reviews: 23
Photo of Dogfishipas
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of beefandbean22
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of piclee
5/5  rDev +16.3%

Photo of NWer
4.97/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage at the brewery.
I first tasted this at their birthday celebration but my senses were too overloaded to make an accurate review.
Revisited at the brewery today. Very nice young lady allowed me to taste both the 2009 and the 2010 before I decided on the 2010.
I am overwhelmed.
This beer should be shared with the world but alas it isn't bottled. Not even growlers to go.
Nice deep red/brown/black appearance subdued head typical of a high abv beer.
Bourbon. Bourbon notes. Bourbon smell. Bourbon taste.
Taste lingers exceptionally well making this the perfect sipping beer.
I can't wait for Black Raven to re-offer this beer at a celebration of some sort next year to see how it ages since I don't have the opportunity to put some away myself.
Did I say I'm overwhelmed?
Try it if you get the chance. Savoring this beer is one of life's great pleasures.
edit: original review 5/27/2011 revisited 6/5.2011.
Went with the 2009 this time and similarly overwhelmed but even though the 2009 gets all the accolades, I like the 2010 better. I'm sure they will have some around next year to do a nice vertical with the 2012. Can't wait.
Edit 1/27/2012 Tapped a keg today and rushed over. This is my most sought after beer except for Pliny the Younger. Two glasses, savored every drop. Damn I love this beer!
edit 1/25/2014 2012 vintage bottle release snagged my limit of four and had a glass. Forgot how much I love this beer. Been a while. Hasn't missed a step.

 1,472 characters

Photo of TheEarl
4.9/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I had this most recently at Black Raven's 2013 Flock Party. It was served in a 12 ounce snifter.

Appearance: The beer is a clear, orange/amber with white lacing.

Aroma: Aggressive notes of caramel, vanilla, apple, and oak with a bit of alcohol on the end.

Taste: The taste mirrors the aroma with an initial sweetness that fades into the more complex flavors and finishes with some alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel: Birdbrain is viscous, chewy, and more carbonated than I'd expected. Very nice.

Overall: Old Birdbrain is a masterpiece of a beer. This is easily my favorite barleywine and one of my favorite beers overall. The flavors and aromas are so distinct but also blend together quite well.

 696 characters

Photo of kevwcamp
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of Tuckersmth
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of ford0626
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of TysonA
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of ScreamForMe
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of laminam
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of Can_has_beer
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of benbjb
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of adkieffer
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Photo of BillRoth
4.68/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Just when I'd thought I'd been there/done that with American Barleywines...yet another pleasant surprise from Seattle. Had heard about Black Raven and Old Birdbrain, but still...

Thanks to Paul! Had finally made it to Black Raven during a recent NW Beer Safari and was enjoying a wide range of BR IPAs, a Saison and an amazing infused porter...when I asked about OB. I was told that the keg had recently kicked, and I was understandably bummed.

But thanks to Paul...he said they had 2012 bottles available, and grabbed me one before I left.

OK...push forward 13 days and I'm back home chillin to Olympics and the beer is calling me...

From what I've read..this has been pretty much all said before, but just to add my big thumbs up...

Caramel, but not sweet; threads of molasses but not bitter, hints of nougat and maybe dried apricot... all enveloped in a warm rye vanilla background.

I thought the blending and aging was masterful. Perfect alcohol. The very moderate buzz just excited all the flavors...did not overwhelm or distract.

Don't really care to compare. Just sign me up for more.This is one top notch winter warmer.

Highly recommended.

 1,156 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours a medium orange amber with a thin white, persistent film of a head. Aroma is intense caramel, vanilla with light caramel malt and oak, inviting. Oh, man what great flavor. Caramel, vanilla, sweet dark fruit, syrup, light apple and pear developing before a caramel malt, oak, whiskey and light hop finish. Nice weighty medium to full bodied. An excellent, flavorful barley wine in the English style, although there is a bit of hop kick in the finish. A bit on the sweet side, but skirts being cloying by great depth of flavor. The alcohol is somewhat noticeable in the finish, but actually seems to fit in with the flavor profile quite well because of the light whiskey character. Perhaps the most caramel I've noticed in a barley wine. Superb. In my top five barley wines and at the moment, with the alcohol kicking it, my favorite.

 875 characters

Photo of jpbebeau
4.65/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Preview of 2011 vintage on tap at the brewery during Washington Beer Open House. To tulip. 10.9% ABV.

From notes.

A: Clear golden amber with beautiful slow-release carbonation rising from the bottom. Very fine bubbles collect at edges of the glass. Minor head and lacing. Legs consist of those fine bubbles.

S: Malts, mild sweet whiskey, floral hops, honey. Lovely.

T: Gorgeous hop/malt balance. Lingering, perfect hop finish. Never over-sweet. Never too bitter. Went well with the provided paired cheeses.

M: So smooth. Such fine carbonation. Not too thick or heavy, but definitely substantial.

Wow. If this is the young preview version of this beer, I can't wait to get a taste of it matured, or, hopefully, the 2010 and/or 2009 vintages.

Black Raven does not disappoint.

 780 characters

Photo of lupercmda
4.6/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of itracy63
4.59/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of czechsaaz
4.56/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2011 Vintage. The brewery held on to it and bottled in 2013. I then stashed it away for another six months. I bought my limit on release day and this is the first one.

Aroma is seriously malty with lots of fruity yeast. Not much hop aroma. Big crystal/caramel malt nose.

Dark amber colored almost red. Thin white but persistent head with decent lacing. Perfectly clear with lots of rising carbonation bubbles.

HUUUGE caramel malt flavors right off. Balanced very well with hop biterness on the back of my tongue and finishes with a solid malty flavor that lingers for a long time with each sip. If there was hop flavor it's dropped out with age. I get yeast esters of pit fruit like ripe plums. But the big deal is the caramel flavors and vanilla notes.

Big body, kind of chewy with just enough carbonation to keep it from syrup. There's no alcohol harshness in my mouth but a nice warming in my stomach.

Overall, this is a stellar beer. The fact that they aged it for so long before bottling really shows. Totally well balanced big-ass barleywine. Drinking this makes me happy. I will stand in line whenever they release future vintages.

 1,144 characters

Photo of Seattle_Suds
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of DOCRW
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of cyrushire
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of ShanePB
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

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Old Birdbrain from Black Raven Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.3 out of 5 with 101 ratings
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