Old Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
AleSmith Brewing Company

Old Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel-AgedOld Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
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Style:
American Barleywine
Ranked #9
ABV:
11%
Score:
95
Ranked #894
Avg:
4.31 | pDev: 7.66%
Reviews:
100
Ratings:
446
From:
AleSmith Brewing Company
 
California, United States
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SCORE
95
World-Class
Old Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel-AgedOld Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Notes: A West Coast style barleywine. A huge malt profile and a very aggressive dose of premium domestic hops give Old Numbskull a tantalizing complexity, from the aroma to the aftertaste. A year spent in bourbon barrels adds amazing depth and complexity.
Reviews: 100 | Ratings: 446
Photo of tectactoe
4.06/5  rDev -5.8%
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 -4.4%
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%
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 -17.4%
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 -0.9%
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 +4.2%
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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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at AleSmith Brewing Company in San Diego, CA.

Pours a murky dark orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a wisps of film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, bourbon, and wood. Taste is much the same with a woody flavor and an alcohol kick on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp but medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a great aroma and some tasty barrel aged flavors.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.99/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750ml Bottle from 2005 - Thanks to Phyl21ca for sharing this

Appearance - Hazy copper/brown colour with almost no head. Hard to make out the level of carbonation and there is some fair lacing. The head lasted for only seconds.

Smell - Malts, dark fruits, butterscotch/toffee, hint of chocolate

Taste & Mouth - There is a low amount of carbonation and I can taste malts mixed with some toffee/butterscotch. There is also a bit of a dark fruit taste and a woodiness mixed with a touch of chocolate. The booze lingered a bit on the finish but it was still very smooth.

Overall - Perhaps a bit past it's prime, but still a fantastic beer. The smell was amazing and with a little more carbonation this beer would have been even better. Glad I had the chance to try this.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.8/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep copper color ale with a light foamy head with minimal retention and minimal lacing. Aroma consists of sweet toffee and caramel notes with light cardboard notes and light bourbon notes. Taste is also dominated by sweet toffee notes with some caramel malt with some bourbon notes though not as much as expected. Light cardboard notes a re revealing that this bottle might be past its prime. Bourbon notes are not as dominant as I would have expected. Body is a little bit thin for style with medium carbonation and no apparent alcohol notes. Fell a bit short of my expectation but good nonetheless. It would be interesting to try a fresher bottle next time.

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Photo of claspada
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2005 Vintage shared with HimerMan and mrand01 @ a recent bottle share.

Pours a murky caramel, deep copper-hued color with zero head; pretty much par for the course though after all these years.

Aromas begin with copious amounts of vanilla and dark caramel, almost dessert-like in sweetness. Then I get some toasty, sugar cookie and toffee. As it warms the barrel imparted aromas are more detectable highlighted by vanilla, brown sugar and light musty oak.

The tastes are quite lucious to say the least beginning with sweet vanilla bean, caramel, and sugar cookies. Toasted wood character emerges mid-palate. As it warms you get some dried dark fruits and some musty slightly oxidized toasty/bready malts.

The mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with zero carbonation (pretty much still like wine). Finish is quite sticky and creamy.

Overall this was super even though I think it is slightly past it's prime. The oxidated notes and low carbonation hurt the overall experience but it's a deal breaker for this style. I would say consume this within 5 years for maximum enjoyment so it is still worth it to seek out the 2007 release but get it soon.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by ygtbsm94. Thanks Brad!

The beer is hazy and appears brown to amber in color. The head is off white and thin. The aroma is bold and offers malt, booze, toffee, dark fruits. Very enticing. The flavor really delivers. A delightful beer to sip and savor. Medium to full bodied. Very malt forward and well balanced. A gem - I definitely recommend this beer.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Brad, served in a snifter. At the time of the review, this is the #5 beer on the "Top Beers - American Barleywine" list on beeradvocate.com.

Beer is dark amber / brown, hazy with a thin off white head of small bubbles. No lacing, low carbonation, low carbonation.

Beer smells like barrel, oak, wood, malt, raisins, plums. Smells really nice, in my face, strong, aggressive.

Beer is medium in body, creamy with a mildly dry finish. It is strong, fruity and malty. Very strong, nice finish, a very good beer.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.97/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have to thank the same guy I always thank for beers like this. Thanks Jeffy. 2007 vintage.

A: Pours a clear, deep, dark caramel color with a thin light tan head that faded into a faint collar.
S: Sweet and fruity smelling with hint of leafy hops, tobacco, brown sugar and hint of bourbon.
T: Flavors of raisin, caramel, oak, tobacco, vanilla, bourbon, barrel wood spices, sweet fruit juice and a bit of cocoa. Oak is strong in the finish along with some brown sugar and toast.
M: Full body, slick moutfeel, tingly but low carbonation. Booze is barely noticeable at this point and oh so smooth.
O: A great barley wine and an improvement on the original. Thanks ipa247.

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

2006 vintage

A: Poured a murky brownish color with a light sediment presented, a light tannish cap

S: Still has a quantifiable amount of old spent oak spirals, Earthiness, light vanilla and booze

T: Still had some light residual sugar sweetness, with old wood, light vanilla and pinch of raisin remains

M: Medium to big body at this age with lower carbonation, some fading flavors, light booze and stickiness

O: Good but it is peaking IMO or has recently peaked

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Photo of drowland
4.58/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

6/26/10. Sampled at the Tally Tasting 2010, with HUGE thanks to fata2683. Could have used this as rating 1900, but I did like one brew better, so I’m using it for 1899. Aroma is AWESOME BA. Amazing buttery, vanilla, coconut, holy shit. The flavor will knock you over. Much the same but with wonderful sweet and dark fruits. Love it.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

767th Review on BA
Bottle to snifter
750Ml Cap/Foil

2006 Vintage

@Woodshop Classix
Thanks to Adam for sharing!

App- A murky mix of browns. It's pretty flat as its poured being an older bottle but with a quick swirl you can build up a nice 1/2” of head. A nice bit of cling and spots as it falls.

Smell- This was a very nice nose on a barrel BW. Big amounts of the oak come through with the malts being very subtle and mostly the vanilla and caramel taking over.

Taste- For a bottle being aged and a BW this was very smooth. Most of the malts and juicyness were gone, instead replaced by the oak notes and a lot of vanilla and caramel sweetness.

Mouth- Medium bodied and a smooth low carb feel. Very creamy finish with a few bubbles and a ton of vanilla.

Drink- This was very damn tasty. I haven't had the Old Numbskull as a base beer yet, so this was quite a treat. Ill have to go pick up a bottle. Great imparted flavors on the beer and aged quite well.

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Photo of BlackWednesday
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

170/223. Sampled with the MN crew at the Winter gathering. Bottle via trade from cbkschubert. aroma of sweet malt, toffee, huge wood influence, alcohol, vanilla and loads of bourbon spice. Pours thick amber with minimal carbonation or head. Boatloads of vanilla, charred wood and bourbon on the palate. Spice. Sweet charred caramel. Toffee. Creme brulee. Holy thickness! Chewy. Rich thick and oily.

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

Poured hazy reddish-brown hue with a large off-white frothy head that mostly lasted with good lacing. Moderate complex aroma of bourbon, malt and caramel. Medium to heavy body with chewy malt texture and flat carbonation. Flavor is full complex sweet with the same complexity of moderate to long duration. This is one of the best.

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Photo of ChadQuest
4.59/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My pants fit tighter the moment i saw this bottle set down at the Alewatcher/Oreo fest. Thanks to Dan for this wild want.

Did i mention this is the 2004 batch.

Anyway, the body was pretty murky with alot of yeast, my pour was at about 1/2 bottle so i wasn't at the dregs zone at all. color was a brown leather color.
The aroma made me work to get the details, im not saying there wasn't alot of aroma, but it was just so packed together and the heat was present but somehow speaking second that it was like hearing 30 people whisper the same thing. Balanced and incorperated like only a well aged barleywine can achieve.
The flavors were the amplifier to these whispers and said without hesitation that toffee and cleanly fermented brown sugar would take the lead and the barrel heat would wait their turn. there was some great butterscotch flavors noticable along with caramel. delicious. who has a bottle to trade.
The mouthfeel was unique in that it was semi-viscious, but seemed soft, like how soft water is to hard water, it seemed...how to say it....puffed, whipped, just made more volumous. Like Silk,Velvet. Most likely from the hazy body i assume.

I would love to get another chance to try this, it was excellent...
I mean, it was horrible, trade me all your bottles for daisy cutter.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.92/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle brought by me, 2007 Vintage, #117/449. Poured into Darkness snifter.

A - Pours a dark brown/reddish color, cream ring, with random whisps on top.

S - Dark fruits, huge oak/barrel, ever so slight hoppy bitterness, caramel, burnt sugars. Perhaps a little more oak-forward then I prefer but otherwise, pretty good.

T - Dark fruit, caramel, oak/barrel. Smooth booze, nice caramel sweetness, and the oak isn't quite as strong as the nose (that's a good thing).

M - Light to medium (a bit too thin), good carbonation, and creamy sweet finish.

O - I think I actually prefer the regular 2007 over the Barrel-Aged version. Perhaps a bit too much oak for me in this one. I wonder how the other years stack up to 2007? I guess I'll have to try them and see.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.02/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I forgot to write it down, but I believe it was Paul who shared this 2007 bottle. Thanks!

A: The pour is sort of a murky dark amber/copper color with a small khaki head.

S: Moderate amounts of bourbon hit the nose followed by some vanilla and brown sugar. Plenty of caramel and toffee sweetness to go with it. No real hop character left at this point.

T: Surprisingly restrained bourbon from an Alesmith barrel aged beer. Vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, and bread, and yes, some bourbon too. Perhaps a hint of chocolate, and definitely a bit oxidized.

M: Medium to full in body with a moderate carbonation.

O: Not as overwhelming as some of the other Alesmith barrel aged releases, but quite good, and significantly better than the previous times I've had it.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.12/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Photekut for busting this out at the Jackie O's release. Served in a SAVOR snifter. 2006 vintage -- 48/208.

Pour yields a caramel-colored brew with a thin off-white head. Nose is filled with aromas of sweet bourbon, caramel, and a bit of brown sugar. Mild booze there as well. Flavor is not as integrated as the nose, but the bourbon is nice. Not terribly bourbon-forward, however. Also some caramel, sweet bread, and some brown sugar intermingling. Mouthfeel is medium with low carbonation and a bit of booze in the finish. A very excellent brew that I had wanted to try for some time. Thanks again, JR.

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Photo of Jmoore50
4.49/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle number 175/223. 2005 Vintage. Brought out by jh1982. I wonder why this is in a green bottle? Interesting.

With a very mellow hissing of the cap the beer is released. It pours an incredibly thick oil like viscosity. It is a murky brown with no head. I actually thought this was going to be flat, but it owns good carbonation in the mouthfeel. Super thick alcoholic legs tear down the sides of my glass.

The smell is amazing, just perfection. Strong hints of burnt caramel and brown sugars. Toffee with huge vanilla scents. There is a large barrel character in this one that brings out a nice booze smell. Perfection on the nose.

For being almost six years old, this is beautiful. Nice mellow carbonation makes this feel more like a liquor. Caramel and sweet sugared malts are strong, with barrel adding subtle hints. Vanilla, whiskey, and slight tannic notes are there. The booze is great on this, with it not being overbearing, just right.

A lower carbonation effects the mouthfeel in a more positive way than negative. Real oily on the palate with not much burning, which is something I was expecting. A good beer that we did side by side with the original non barrel aged version.
Bravo

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.95/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Joe for bringing this to our tasting. This is phenomenal. Review from notes.

2006 Vintage poured a clear ruby/garnet with a long lasting off-white head. Beautiful shades of red glittering in my glass. The world has just been set right. I was expecting a ginormous blast of bourbon and sweetness, but this is mellow and refined. The vanilla, oak, and toffee are deliciously blended and gives way to a touch of figs and even a bit of molasses cookies. The oxidation offers a touch of vinous character. I find nothing to critique. Just let me sit and enjoy this wonder. Carbonation could use a sliiiight reduction, but a gentle swirl is all it took. I wish there was a 4.8 I could give in the mouthfeel category instead of a 4.5. Coats the palate with caramel goodness. This is bewildering. Probably the highlight of the night.

And this is also my 500th review on BA :)

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Photo of corby112
4.82/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From notes:

2006 vintage. Huge thanks to BigFish for sending this years ago in one of my first trades.

Pours a very dark, murky chestnut brown color with a one finger off white head that quickly fades into a thin ring. Sporadic splotches of lacing left behind.

Slightly earthy, leathery malt aroma with hints of biscuit, caramel and toffee. This is accompanied by an amazing bourbon barrel character. Plenty of earthy oak with a healthy dose of bourbon/booze and a very prominent vanilla character in the nose.

Medium bodied with the perfect balance of earthy, leathery malt, caramel/toffee, alcohol sweetness, bourbon, oak and vanilla. Slight heat but overall the alcohol is excellently masked with subtle warmth in the finish. The malt profile is earthy/leathery yet sweet with hints of caramel, toffee and hazelnut. There's some slight bitterness that adds balance and an incredible bourbon barrel presence. Earthy oak as well as a huge bourbon and vanilla character. I can't believe that Alesmith was able to create such a delicious bourbon flavor without it tasting like a hot, booze bomb. The ABV is incredibly well masked resulting in a delicious, extremely quaffable beer.

This is the best BA barleywine that I've had to date and I wish I that I had more bottles.

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Old Numbskull - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 446 ratings