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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 UCLABrewN84
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks to wethorseblanket for sharing this one at drewone's tasting.

2011 vintage.

Pours a hazy honey orange with a foamy tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, and whiskey aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and toffee flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a very nice whiskey smell and tasty barrel aged flavors.

 621 characters

Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of SocalKicks
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Thorpe429
4/5  rDev -7%

Photo of ygtbsm94
4.16/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of mdaschaf
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Thanks to Greg for sharing! 2011 vintage.

A: Pours a clear amber/ruby color with a small off-white head on top that reduces quickly to a thin ring on top. Thin lacing forms down the sides.

S: Rather sweet upfront, lots of caramel right away. There is a vanilla and a bit of oak, a bit of alcohol as well.

T: Again, on the sweet side with plenty of caramel and toffee mixed with vanilla and oak. Some caramelized brown sugar as well.

M: Medium to full bodied, slightly hot, but still pretty nice.

O: A pretty good barleywine, definitely one I want to try again.

 587 characters

Photo of drewone
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of rab53
3.75/5  rDev -12.8%

Photo of imbibehour
3.82/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter at Smoke & Barrel DC for the dc bottle share. From notes.

A real nice light orange amber body, with an off tan somewhat creamy head. Makes a decent collar that always sticks around.

Nose is very small and closed, but there is that pickle brine again, with some indistinct mild hop presence I can't determine.

The palate opens up though on first sip with a good caramel sweetness. Thick malt action with a real crackery mix of crispness and toasty brown sugar. Feel has a good thick body but doesn't get into a huge over kill of sugar and alcohol boozy rush. Coats the palate nicely with it's caramel and lingers nicely.

Overall a real nice solid barleywine, like the toasty angle on this quite a bit.

 742 characters

Photo of IrishColonial
3.75/5  rDev -12.8%

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 MasterSki
4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanks to Alistair for sharing this one. Think this was the 2011 vintage. Served in a tulip.

A - Nice amount of white foam that settles to a thick collar, leaving behind specks of lacing. Transparent amber body.

S - A nice blend of maple, caramel, mild rye whiskey, oaky vanilla, and some bread and dark fruits filling things out.

T - The taste is very sweet; more in line with what'd I'd expect from an English barleywine. Lots of maple, brown sugar, caramel, and some lingering tangy whiskey and spicy rye flavors. There's still a faint trace of alcohol, even after two years of age.

M - Sticky, chewy, medium-full body. Lower carbonation, and minimal alcohol warmth.

D - A well crafted barleywine, with restrained barrel-aging flavors; you can tell this is blended rather than 100% barrel aged. A good beer that I enjoyed drinking, but not unique or amazing enough for me to go out of my way to acquire it again.

 920 characters

Photo of ShanePB
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of dar482
4.16/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage.

The beer comes in a clear amber color.

The aroma has lots of sweet caramel, vanilla, oak.

The flavor follows with those gentle vanilla notes and then a good amount of toffee and bright sweet caramel, brown sugar. Then onto a heavy hoppy and spicy bitterness. Definitely getting a sense that only part of this beer is barrel aged.

 346 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 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 jzeilinger
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In review is a 2011 vintage.

A - Pours a dark chestnut brown, burgundy color with a very thin lacing ring at the top.

S - Roasted toffee/caramel, whiskey/bourbon, oak, faint vanilla.

T - Blended superbly throughout with not one thing overpowering the other. Roasted caramel/toffee, whiskey/bourbon, vanilla, oak, there's also some orange the surfaces midway through and carries out until the end. There's also a delicate pine bitterness that rounds things out. Alcohol warming is very little to undetectable.

M - Full body, thick, slippery, lip smacking sticky, velvety.

O - This is a superb example of the style, IMO. Seek it out.

 640 characters

Photo of rudzud
3.79/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Received as an extra in a trade long ago. 2012 vintage.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a...well...this looks like a glass of caramel sauce. Little bit of head fades quickly to leave thin wisps and a light halo.

S - Aromas of caramel, little bit of dirt, old hops, little bit of sweet malts, super faint barrel notes, maybe a little vegetative.

T - Taste is similar to the nose. Caramel, sweeter malts, old hops, really faint whiskey notes. Awfully vegetative. Little bit of cardboard, slightly dirty. Ehh

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, little bright, not really syrupy. Booze hidden nicely.

O - Overall I feel like this just sat in my cellar a year too long. Clearly has hints of a really good beer, however, it's really a shell of that now which is greatly unfortunate.

Serving Type: Bottle

 804 characters

Photo of beertunes
3.75/5  rDev -12.8%

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a nice copper color with a small white head with light lacing left behind

S: Nose is super nice with hints of vanilla, American oak and a nice bourbon note.

T: Taste has a BIG but subtle and soothing barrel influence with vanilla, oak and bourbon, caramel being key influences. I picked up a light floral and citrus note with darting hints of toffee and carameilzed sugar. Not overly done on any note but well played and each tasting note is well meshed and not in competition.

M: Mouthfeel is big body but not overly hefty and chewy, pretty easy going; dry, sugary sweet, vanilla, bourbon, oak.

O: Drinkability is very good as this was very impressive

 669 characters

Photo of Dactrius
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.2/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 on tap at the brewpub.

A - Served a deep red/brown/copper with a very few dark tan bubbles on the top that quickly disappear.

S - Carmel, toffee, vanilla and lots of bourbon greatness.

T - The taste does not disappoint. Carmel, toffe and more bourbon. Drinks so freaking easy it is rediculous. It is scary how good and how easy this one is to drink.

D - Lower carbonation with a lighter than expected body and mouthfeel.

O - I had low expectations and left very impressed with this one. I very good BW that drinks easy and isn't as heavy as most others.

 568 characters

Photo of threedaggers
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of dirtylou
4.38/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

on-tap, brouwers. I believe this was the first keg to kick at hard liver 2012

1x12oz pour, 1x3oz pour

appearance: served in unbranded snifters - clear golden orange body, one of the lighter ales served up at the festival.

smell: sweet malts, oak, vanilla, booze

taste: black raven is quite popular in this area and it seems like whenever their kegs hit Seattle mainland, they disappear immediately, probably because nobody wants to drive to Redmond. This was a very HQ barleywine - nice balance of hops and malt, great oak/vanilla presence, citrus, bourbon and caramelized sugars

mouthfeel: creamy medium body

overall: solid stuff

 636 characters

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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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