AleSmith Old Numbskull - Barrel Aged | AleSmith Brewing Company

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AleSmith Old Numbskull - Barrel AgedAleSmith Old Numbskull - Barrel Aged

Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kmcnair on 12-13-2004

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Reviews: 94 | Ratings: 422
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.29/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage, on tap at Alesmith Anvil and Stave in San Diego, CA.

This one pours a dark rusted looking brown, with a small head, and no lacing.

Smells like caramel drizzled brown bread, dark fruit, piney hops, figs and oak.

Despite the extended barrel slumber, this still has some vestige of hop character left, which was cool and surprising. It was piney and slightly bitter. It may have added some fruitiness, but the base had a figgy fruity flavor anyway so it's hard to tell. There's also raisin, and a nice caramel sort of brittle flavor. This is quite nice, and usual with Alesmith- quite complex.

This has a surprisingly crisp mouthfeel, with only slightly syrupy feelings.

This isn't Alesmith's pinnacle of BA beers, but it's still quite competent and delicious- gets the job done.

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Photo of gibgink
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Shared at SP bottle release. The barrel aging made this more like an English style barleywine. I did not pick up on the hops, but that didn't bother me. Poured a light reddish/brown, with strong caramel notes on the smell and taste. Was glad I got to try.

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Photo of imonhiatus
3.98/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 vintage enjoyed side by side with a 2013 brandy barrel old numbskull. the nose is nice on this and the flavor is also nice but for a bourbon barrel aged barleywine this isnt as good as many of the other BA barley of similar ilk. the brandy barrel is also far superior to this one. good, not great.

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Photo of Mitzvahman72
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

With a dark, bold mahogany color, this is a very well made barleywine with a complex, malty taste that’s one of a kind! Also boasting wonderful dark raisins, some vanilla and a fantastic aroma, it has just the right amount of booze without being overdone! As we get to the bottom, especially when it’s aged, some peppermint hues start to appear in the palate. Throughout the entire tasting, it has a fantastic mouthfeel. This sipper is worth every penny and waiting in line with the ticket to buy the bottle!

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.08/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown almost black in color. Cherry, oak, vanilla, toffee and caramel. Good boozy dryness. On the thin side. Lacks a true depth of flavor, but overall still pretty good.

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Photo of rudzud
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared this beer during a little cellar cleaning party with JLindros and friends. 2012 vintage. Reviewed from notes.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a hazy dark bronze with a thin tan head. Decent legs.

S - Aromas of caramel, toffee, vanilla beans, rich bourbon, barrel. No noticeable booze.

T - Taste is similar to the nose. Loads of caramel and vanilla courtesy of the barrel and bourbon. The bourbon is rich and mellow. Incredibly harmonious.

M - Mouthfeel is very smooth, almost silky, with no discernible alcohol.

O - Overall this beer really held up nicely. Age made this barleywine super mellow and drinkable without a hint of the ABV. Tasty.

Serving Type: Bottle

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Photo of Jwale73
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I believe the vintage was 2014. Color on this beer is lovely - caramel apple with a loose, cream-colored head that dissipates into a cluster of bubbles around the shoulders. Nose expresses a bready quality, figs, buttery notes and a trace of vanilla. Taste follows nose; however, some bourbon notes comes through in the flavor profile along with caramelized sugar. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body, but closer to the medium side of the spectrum, with a mild, barely detectable carbonation and a slightly oily texture. Overall, I'm very impressed with this beer - it's been a long-time want and I wasn't disappointed.

I also had the opportunity to try a 2002 vintage side-by-side. It was still and slightly oxidized, but quite good nonetheless; however, I have to say that I enjoyed the more recent vintage more.

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Photo of jlindros
4.19/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 thanks to rudzud

No head, hazy reddish murky color.

Taste big sweet malts, toffee caramel, syrup, juicy, big sweet candy malts, little oxidation, light vanilla barrel and faint bourbon.

Taste brings sweet candy, smooth caramel, nice toffee, velvety smooth soft malts, complex, nutty, chewy, little nougat, nice vanilla barrel faint bourbon, touch of oxidation.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.74/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

1 pint 9.4 fl oz brown glass bottle with black foil-ed over unbranded pry-off pressure cap purchased at the brewery in 2012 or 2013 and served cold into a goblet at low altitude in Austin, TX. Reviewed live as a bourbon barrel barleywine. Allowed to warm over the course of consumption.

Expectations are high given the brewery and bourbon barrel aging.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Whie colour. Creamy and smooth. Retention is subpar - about 1 minute - though that's understandable given its age and 11% ABV. Leaves no lacing as it recedes.

BODY: Dark auburn-brown. Translucent. Not real vibrant. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears aptly carbonated. Not unique or special looking, but apt for a barleywine. Looks good overall.

AROMA: Smells sweet. Vanilla-forward; the oak has receded. Marshmallow, toffee, English dark malts, crystal malts, treacle, cream, white oak barrel sugars, and caramel.

Aromatic intensity is high. It's on the sweeter side, but it's certainly appealing.

No yeast character, overt booze, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: Subtle refined bourbon barrel character replete with vanilla and slightly toasty oak. Ample barrel sugars. Marshmallow. Treacle. English dark malts, sweet amber malts. It's sweet, yeah, but the barrel just melts into the base seamlessly. Great overall balance. Good depth of flavour. Average flavour duration and intensity.

Some might find this too sweet, but I think it really works - especially with the soft marshmallow. I've had more complex and intricate beers in the style (e.g. King Henry), but when you're forced to compare a barleywine to beers in the ilk of King Henry you know they're doing it right. Tasty stuff from Alesmith.

The marshmallow steals the show. This isn't the most subtly executed brew, but boy is it balanced.

TEXTURE: Soft and creamy, with a shockingly sleek silky feel and a great overall presence on the palate. Comforting without being boozy or syrupy. Complements the taste really nicely. It definitely elevates the beer.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, or rough.

OVERALL: Highly drinkable for its 11% ABV. This is a definite improvement on the base beer, and the bourbon barrel - while not the most intricate in character - seamlessly melts into the beer. Really tasty stuff. I'm glad I cellared it as long as I did, and I'll plan on cellaring my other bottles a bit longer; she's only getting better. More proof Alesmith is one of San Diego's best breweries. A very good barleywine.

High B

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Photo of breadwinner
4.43/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Excellent barrel-aged barleywine that doesn't seem too have many flaws. Just a nice showpiece for deft employment of bourbon barrels. Had this one on draught and didn't get any of the hotness some others have noted. Just a really good BA barleywine with a bit of decadence.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.16/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a wine glass. 2013 bottle.

Appearance - Deep murky ruby body. Nice khaki head. Thick collar.

Smell - Bourbon is strong. Very oaky. Vanilla. Nutty malts. Smells a bit oxidized.

Taste - Sweet caramel. Nutty. Bourbon builds. Very oaky. Bitter in the back end. Oxidation is a mixture of sherry and bitter cardboard.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. Boozy. Well carbonated.

Overall - Fantastic barrel. The wood permeates and some oxidation goes a long way in this beer.

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Photo of Etan
4.09/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml. I think this is a 2013 bottle.

A: Pours a monstrously thick mahogany with reddish hues and a small off-white head.

S: Aroma brings thick raisins, citrus pith, caramel, figs. Smells of sweet overripe dark fruit.

T: Taste brings more fig, mild tannic bourbon, orange peel and a bit of lingering leafy hoppiness, dense cooked sugar, molasses, maple.

M: Thick-bodied, very viscous, light carbonation.

O: This is a very good BA barleywine that retains some hoppiness and isn't very barrel-forward. Certainly a bruiser but more restrained than I was expecting.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle, 2012 vintage. Poured into a brandy snifter, 5/2/2014. Updated the previous Hads which was from a beer fest.

A- Caramel brown body, neither light nor dark but certainly substantial and slick appearing. One finger off-white head, minimal retention, not much lacing.

S- Delicious caramel glaze, melted toffee mixed in with a shot of whiskey and a heaping dose of barrel-contributed vanilla and oak. Has a slight but distinct melted marshmallow character hiding behind the whiskey.

F- The whiskey seems to cover up the caramel and toffee malt beneath more than in the nose but this still has a very nice vanilla contribution. Caramel, nougat, toffee with the whiskey barrel contribution. Very good.

M- Medium body, good carbonation for the style which is to say on the lower side, but still plentiful to keep things interesting throughout the palate. Finish is a bit hot, but not too hot.

O- Very nicely done BA English Barleywine. Not anywhere near the best, but it's definitely better than the vast majority of the other BA English Barleywines out there.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.19/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rating #1,100!!! 2012 bottle from trade. Thanks dude! Pours dark reddish amber with a small yellowish khaki head. Aroma of hard candies (like the kind on the outside of candy apples), brown sugar, toffee, biscuits, a small bit of vanilla, oak, and some whiskey. Flavor is very similar to the regular version up front: hard candy, toffee, biscuity sweetness. But the finish provides something new: notes of vanilla, oak, and bourbon. The difference from the regular is rather subtle and maybe that's because this has been in the bottle for 2 years or so. Slick and thickish bodied, low carbonation, but not quite syrupy. This is a very good beer, but I must say, I am a bit disappointed at the lack of barrel influence here. I was expecting a big oaky vanilla infusion here that I didn't really get.

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Photo of Sumdeus
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage on tap poured into a snifter.

A: burnt amber but clear. Very little head with some lacing.

S: malty sweetness. It's decently subtle but so e oaky/woody underneath.

T: malt heavy and glorious at that. The alcohol is hidden very well. Sweet caramels and burnt wood.

M: moderately bubbly in the mouth, it coats the mouth well but doesn't outlast it's welcome.

O: Numbskull is great to start out with, the barrel aging makes it even better. Well balanced malt and sweetness forward with some smooth finish.

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Photo of timc100
4.81/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage (though released in April 2014) aged a year since, enjoyed 07/2015

Aging into something darker, maltier and more complex than I thought this beer could. The '12 vintage I had with a year on it expressed some of the lighter barrel nuances with lighter fruits and malts as well, the fresh 2013 vintage was too sweet with bright fruits and almost thinner feel. This, was quite different and incredible.

Going in the direction of Sucaba, but with more prominent dark fruits. Has the BA alesmith 'must' that I find on their barleywines and old ales - like a dank attic. Tons of rich dark fruits, chalky dark chocolate, thick caramel, oak, and some bourbon sweetness. Incredibly full, almost sticky. Great booze heat on the finish.

2012 vintage, enjoyed Christmas Eve 2013

Huge, incredibly well balanced and interesting aroma - hard to find a place to start. Burnt brown sugar, bourbon - caramel, oak, vanilla, oak - wet oak. Then there is another layer of vinous red grape, booze soaked raisin, tobacco and leather. The hops have fadded quite a bit giving an old-caramel note. Amazingly well balanced - each flavor in tune with one another. It tastes fantastic as well, but not as outstanding as the nose. Caramel, brown sugar, toffee, bourbon. booze, and oak dominate. The tobacco and leather come through as well - lesser fruits and sweet vanilla and coconut. I'm not sure how best to describe this, but there is a musty/old-feel to it - like an attic. Full, smooth mouthfeel - appropriately bereft of carbonation.

This is truly outstanding.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.47/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle poured into a snifter. 2012
(A)- Pours a deep mahogany brown color with minimal tan froth.
(S)- Kinda dry but with some rich dark fruits. Deep oak and vanilla with some boozy fig and caramel.
(T)- Same from the smell. Smooth boozy fruits with oak and vanilla. Good caramel.
(M)- A well balanced barrel aged barleywine. Not overly hoppy but with some good fruits and barrel profile.
(O)- One of the better BA barleywines out there. So happy this is not overly hopped. Some time could only improve this, though this was one pricey bottle

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Photo of zhanson88
3.22/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Sampled at the Alesmith taproom. 2013 version.

Appearance: Pours a nice clear auburn color. Decent off white head which reduces to a pretty nice ring around the glass. Looks pretty nice.

Smell: Smells of caramel and strong hopping with a good level of barrel as well. Rye whiskey and wood. Lots going on here, overall it contributes to a bit of a muddled overall scent.

Appearance: Caramel malts and heavy hopping presence up front. Initial impression is that it tastes buttery, and I could not shake that throughout the duration of the beer. The barrel is fairly subtle. Oak tannins and rye whiskey stand out.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Under medium bodied with pretty high carbonation. Okay mouthfeel, probably a little thin for my tastes. Overall, I wasn't a huge fan of this BA version of Numbskull. As I mentioned before, I could not shake the impression of buttery flavor and that pretty much sealed this beer's fate for me. Definitely would not be opposed to trying this again at some point to give it another shot.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From 08/02/13 notes. 750ml bottle into a chalice. 2012 vintage.

a - Pours a deep, murky reddish brown color with one to two inches of light tan head and moderate carbonation evident. No lacing or head retention on the glass.

s - Smells of delicious bourbon, caramel malts, toffee, bready malts, oak, toasted malts, alcohol, coconut, and light fruit. Nose is really great, with tons of bourbon and caramel mixing together wonderfully.

t - Tastes of slightly harsher bourbon, alcohol, caramel malts, coconut, toffee, oak, dark fruity malts, toasted malts, bready malts, biscuit, and earthy notes. Nice taste to it, but definitely a bit harsh right now. I still like it but I like BBA beers hot...a big step down from the nose right now.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Little bit thinner than I expected but nice. A bit hot.

o - Overall I thought this was a very good beer but the taste is a bit harsh right now, keeping it from being great. I'd guess is a few years this will be outstanding. The nose is great and there is a ton of bourbon and caramel throughout. Would like to get another bottle and revisit in a year.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.06/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Again, one last big thanks to Kevin R for breaking out the barrel aged AleSmith goodies. This was the last of the bunch. BA Numbskull pours a seedy copper-ish and overtly muddled brown color. Label it mostly opaque and call it a day. It takes just moments for the khaki head to settle to a dollop of foam in the middle and a crust that outlines the top of the brew.

Very sticky and very deep is the aroma; a brick road paved with elements of prune, raisin, caramel, and toffee, upon which a boisterous crew of bourbon-lathered barrel staves comes tap dancing heavily across. Acetone notes here and there, thundering in and out, covered up by some sweeter grape and brown sugar notes in the finish.

I can already tell that this sucker is going to be a bourbon punch in the throat... or at least it smells that way. It should be noted that the base beer is quite pungently sticky and delicate in and of itself - without its superior pungency, barrel-aging of this magnitude would likely create an undrinkable beer. Sweetness and heat tend to balance, so I sure hope it does, here.

I have a bowl in front of me filled with grapes and prunes, lacquered in a 50/50 mixture of brown sugar and bourbon, and I'm shoveling them in my face with dry, spicy oak spoon each time I take a sip of this beer. It's quite hot. It's quite sweet. But definitely more hot than sweet, like the type of girl you meet at a bar and are afraid to date because she's got no morals or ethics, but she's a freak that can bring you to your knees.

BA Numbskull finishes with more (heavy) bourbon, boozy oak, slightly burnt coffee, bourbon, sweet prunes, bourbon, and brown sugar. Did I mention it was bourbon-y? Order up a cocktail with 2 parts bourbon, 2 parts brown sugar, 1 part prune juice, add 2 dashes of cocoa powder, garnish with a date and a sprinkle with oak chips. Viscous, heavy, thick, and carbonated well enough for the style it represents; creamy, heavy mouth feel.

This beer was pretty good, no doubt, but I don't exactly think it lives up to the acclaim it has been given. Perhaps I should have let the bottle mellow out a bit more? As is, it's a bit too "in your face" with the bourbon and heat to thoroughly enjoy more than a four ounce sample. It's delicious in extremely small doses; the flavors are excellent and work well together, but it becomes clamoring and cumbersome in larger ones due to its heat. I'd like to have this again with more age and see how it fares.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.12/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a tulip. 2012 vintage.

BA Old Numbskull pours a dark cherry caramel color. Initially a large off-white cap forms, but it bubbles away down to a ring around the edge. A full, rich looking barrel aged barleywine.

There is a lot of bourbon in the nose. Vanilla and sharp brown sugar scents follow. There is a nice malty presence in the second layer that will probably come out more as it ages. There are some tannic woody notes and alcohol in the back.

The flavor has a nice balance between bourbon and barleywine. The bourbon comes through first, with vanilla and tannic woody notes. Brown sugar is the strongest sweet flavor, with caramel, marshmallow, toffee, and dark bread notes. A little bit of citrus or earthy hoppiness comes through at the end. Aside from the bourbon harshness, this beer has tied together very well right now.

There is a noticeable stickiness in the mouthfeel. The bourbon comes through, keeping it a little bit dry and boozy. The carbonation is moderate and creamy, and it has a full body.

This is a very good beer with a strong character. At the moment the bourbon is a bit harsh, but it will smooth out over time for sure.

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Photo of evanforbeer
4.7/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 750 purchased at the brewery (I'm fairly certain this was $30!?!). Bottle says barrel-aged reserve 2012
Pours a lovely deep, murky auburn with nice soapy off-white head

aroma- so rich. toasty walnuts, some orange, bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, caramel

taste- follows nose, leafy/citrusy hop bitterness come through, quickly turns to lush caramel, walnut, and vanilla; dark fruits, walnut raisin cookies, finishes with bourbon/bourbon heat, musty orange, and caramel

feel- rich, perfect carbonation, pretty drinkable

Very complex and delicious beer. The barrels really works nicely for this beer, but all the malt and hop flavors just shine richly.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.56/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the latest batch

A - Walnut / light brown with nice off white head that settled down to a layer of foam

S - Malty. Vanilla with light oak to it that gives it some barrel presence. Smells like Bigfoot but with more barrel presence.

T - Dates, vanilla,caramel, oak, and lots of booziness to it. This is also definitely a hoppy American Barleywine and the hops give the beer a bitter finish.

M - Medium body with light astringent finish from the alcohol and oak

O - I thought this was a decent BA barleywine but it was still too hoppy for my taste. The hops and bitterness throw it off a bit.

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Photo of maximum12
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks out over the wifi to ObeMaltKenobee & kyle2k10 for this beer, which I've been unreasonable obsessed with for quite a while. Big 750ML bottle, 2012 vintage, split with my wife after a good Twins win at Target Field with our girls.

Pour is respectably carbonated for its bigness that looks like slightly frothed liquid caramell rolls. The nose is heady bourbon, toffee, & wood. That is a good smell.

Old Numbskull - Barrel Aged thrusts the barrel forward & jams it into your solar plexus. Barrel is as subtle as a chin-high fastball; bourbon, vanilla, & drying oak all defining the beer with pizzaz. The base beer contributes caramel, toffee. Samples of earthiness & brown sugar accent a distinct sweetness in the middle, before bleeding back into barrel, with a slice of alcohol soaking the end. Pretty quiet in the glass & mouth. Easy to swill. The alcohol presence isn't keeping me from putting my lips on it with frequency.

Alesmith knows their way around a barrel, & this is no exception; I'd be delighted if they stepped up the frequency & volume of their releases. A standard for the fairly rare style of barrel-aged old ale: an excellent beer.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Matt (starrdogg) for sharing this beer!

The look is a nice brown core with golden color on the rims,small ring of head almost clear look. The smell is nice, with a mellow oak slightly bourbon vanilla overtone with brown sugar, molasses, leather, and more malt in the nose as well. Actually some small fruit notes and honey too. The taste follow the smell closely, and strikes an incredible balance and palate ability for a beer of this abv barrel aged. Actually, all the guys at the tasting thought that it was remarkable how little bourbon overpowered the taste, for me the barrel actually just pumps up the flavors of the base beer very well: huge oak, brown sugar, savory almost meat like malts, vanilla. Great taste, very balanced feel.

Very nice beer, worth seeking out.

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AleSmith Old Numbskull - Barrel Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.29 out of 5 based on 422 ratings.
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