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: 93 | Ratings: 419
Photo of alcstradamus
3.95/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by me at our pre-Dark Lord Day tasting. Thanks me! Reviewed from notes.

This one pours a murky copper color with a finger of head. The aroma is big caramel and hops with a strong vanilla backbone and a hefty amount of booziness.

The flavor is an oddly sour/fruity combination, but not in a bad way. Lots of caramel and toasty maltiness. Very boozy. The body is medium and the carbonation is appropriately low. Like most of the barrel aged Alesmith releases, I found this one to be solid, though very unspectacular.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I guess it's time to take this off my gots list. Thank you Carlos, for providing me with a beer I thoroughly enjoyed on a crisp, if nippy spring evening. Bottle # 297/449 from the 2007 release.

What a gorgeous pour! Crystal clear ruby red with a dense light brown head with excellent retention and mild lacing, this is one stunning barleywine.

The nose is excellent. Quite a bit of malt character is noticeable with toffee, nougat, booze, vanilla and a mildly floral character, one that reminds me of a saison in its brightness (yes, I know it's not a common description for the nose of a barleywine, but that's my experience, so please let me be) The alcoholic bite really adds to the nose, especially the fruitiness with plums, a little pear juice and a little apple and wildflower honey. Stunning stuff.

The palate is beautifully integrated with flavors of caramel, toffee, dried fruits and nuts with dates being prominent. Vanilla and bourbon are present as well, growing in prominence mid-palate with the brown sugar, maple sugar and honey. Fruity with a pronounced English yeast character, this is great. Warming on the finish with lingering flavors of caramel and toffee, there's also a touch of spice and a chocolate liqueur. Full in body with moderate carbonation and a great finish, I guess it's safe to say that I'm not filing my taxes tonight.

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Photo of John_M
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at Dyan's tonight during another excellent tasting. This was probably the belle of the ball on this particular evening. Thanks Dyan. I believe this beer was bottled in 2007, and was I think bottle 297 of 449. In other words, this is an extremely rare and limited beer.

The beer pours a toffee brown color with OK head retention, but with lots of sticky lacing. The nose is very attractive, with caramel, vanilla, brown sugar and butter toffee. As good as this beer smells, it tastes every bit as good. The beer is fairly sweet, and seems to be dominated by vanilla and toffee. Yet this beer is very light on its feet, and so is not at all difficult to drink. The mouthfeel is very smooth and long, and there's a lightness to it that is really quite nice. Alcohol is barely an afterthought, though the way my cheeks are starting to warm is an indication it's up there.

This beer is just a thing of beauty and is one of the better barleywines I've had in some time. As the beer warms, I pick up a bit of chocolate as well... just very, very nice.

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Photo of rhinos00
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Very grateful for the opportunity to try this one. Thanks Shane! Poured from a 750 mL bottle into a Rochefort chalice. Split with Pecorasc. 2007 Vintage (Bottle #422/449)

A- Pours a dark maroon color with tan hues throughout. Semi-cloudy. Produced a fingers width of off-white head. Reduced to a thin ring throughout consumption. Probably should have been a lower than a 4.0, but this is such a good beer that I don't want the appearance to skew the ratings.

S- This was a 'tweener...wish there was a 4.75 button. Caramel and toffee upfront. The bourbon is there, but it has a very mellow, vanilla quality to it. Also a bit of wood. Think almonds soaked in bourbon. Some sweetness from candied malts is imparted into the aroma as well.

T- As soon as the beer hits the palate, caramel/coconut galore. Infused is bourbon, oak, vanilla, alcohol, and candied malts. Interesting to note that the bourbon was very mellow and well integrated. There was definite heat from the alcohol, but it was only felt in the chest, never in the taste. All the components were balanced nicely.

M- Medium bodied with good carbonation. Really like that there was some amount of residual stickiness...could have used a little more viscosity to put it over the top.

D- As stated above, for a BA beer, this pretty mellow. The only thing prohibiting me from consuming much more than I did was the gathering of alcohol heat in the chest. This is somewhere in between a slow and moderate sipper.

Overall, I've come to the conclusion that my favorite BA beers are english barleywines. I can't think of a better style of beer to match the bourbon characteristics. This is another great example to support my conclusion.

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Photo of Pecorasc
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2007, split with Rhinos00 and poured into a Leffe glass.

A- Appears brown, but shows a deep cherry red when held to light. Thin whisps of head that swirl from the beading and active carbonation. Khaki colored collar. Sediment floating throughout.

S- Sweet carmel and bourbon dominate. Very little barrel or oak flavor. Huge english malt base with some alcohol. Very smooth and refined.

T- Vanilla and coconut bourbon flavors, followed by intense matliness, including breads, nuts, and grains. Subtle english hops in the finish. So smooth it almost tastes like cream. No identifiable burn from the alcohol, but you know your close to the fire. No oxidation at all, even at 3 years. Every few sips I would detect a little roasted character- I'm not sure if I was even tasting that at all. Absolutely perfect.

M- Velvety smooth with texture from very small bubbles of carbonation. Clings to the palate and coats the lips.

D- Sips by sip, this doesn't drink all that slow, but the warming sensation gives the impression that this is only a couple glasses and done. Considering the 11%, nice drinkability.

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Photo of Lothore
4.54/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2007 113/449

A- Pours a deep ruddy brown color with a very small light brown head that fades quickly.

S- Absolutely amazing. Huge raisin and brown sugar notes, vanilla, bourbon, caramel.

T-Very decadent and rich. Lots of brown sugar, dark fruits with deep caramel and bourbon notes.

M- Thick with medium carbonation.

D- The taste doesn't quite deliver what the smell promises but non the less I think this vintage is drinking very well right now.

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Photo of pwoods
4.84/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750ml capped dark green bottle poured into a snifter. Notes. '06 bottle.

A: Deep mohagony, opaque. Moderate head on the pour, keeps rising. Good retention and lacing.

S: Loads of wood and age and a nice depth of bourbon. Aged malt sweetness. Great alcohol line. Damn fine barrel.

T/M: Great barrel, very woody, some vanilla and oxidation, soft bourbon. Aged and nicely rounded alcohol and hops. Rich, rounded out malts. A tad dry in the finish. Still a touch hot but nice. Body is medium full with soft carbonation.

D: Absolutely delicious.

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Photo of gford217
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle, 2004 vintage #75/240, courtesy of a very generous BA, poured into a snifter.

Pours a hazy amber brown with a surprisingly big cream-colored head that recedes slowly to a healthy collar and a little lacing. It shows some legs clinging to the sides after each sip.

The aroma is excellent and well-balanced. It's got the underlying BW character with the caramel malts, toffee and dark fruits coming out especially. It's balanced perfectly with the wood and whiskey which brings a bit of vanilla sweetness to the aroma. What sets it apart for me is the balance as the whiskey is not too overpowering.

The taste is just as good with the bourbon coming out a little more than in the aroma with the big sweet malts forming a solid backbone. I do think the flavors are a little more watered down than I expected and that's probably just the age.

The mouthfeel is slick with a low carbonation and medium bodied. It's probably thinned out a little bit over time honestly.

This is an excellent barleywine that was probably world class a year or two ago. The flavors have mellowed out a bit and it's extremely drinkable, but it's probably lost a little complexity and body. Still extremely good.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! It is listed as an English Barleywine, really? This is about as far from an Englsh Barleywine as you can get. Again, Wow!

2007 vintage pours rosy deep copper with brown hues and micro thin off white head. The aroma is smooth oak moving to pine hops, vanilla, caramel and bourbon soaked oak. The taste is smooth goodness with pine hops mixing with vanilla and a mild amount of bourbon. The oak picks up toward midway and to the finish with increasing bourbon and a slight alcohol burn. Yum.

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Photo of seaoflament
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I finally found a nice occasion to open my last Barrel Aged Old Numbskull this past August. This one was shared at La Bella on 8-25-09 with Joey and Danny (hope you enjoyed this b-day beer, buddy!). A 2005 vintage, bottle #182/223.

Poured a reddish-caramel color with very little carbonation. Light orange highlights on the sides of the glass.

There was a light bourbon aroma upfront but quite tamed with time now, vanilla, caramel, and toffee follow close by. Very malty on the nose with deep toast and multi-grain bread. The bourbon has really toned down now and just becomes an integrated part of the aroma instead of dominating it when fresh.

Super complex malt bomb. Toasted bread upfront with caramel, toffee, chocolate, vanilla, oak, booze, and light bourbon in the finish. The aftertaste is long with hints of earthy noble hops. Lots of dates, raisins, prunes, and fruitiness when the beer opens up. Chocolate corn flakes come to mind as well with some more chocolate cake and smores. Just like in the aroma, the bourbon now hides in the background, creating another layer of complexity.

No carbonation to talk about, but I'm not complaining as it works very well for this beer, a sipping beer for sure. Syrupy and coating on the palate. Drinking the whole 750ml by myself might take a while but I wouldn't complain if I had to do it.

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Photo of tpd975
4.72/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to retorp for popping the cork on this one. 2007 vintage.

A: Pours a nice clear amber hue with a small head that never really manages to build. No real retention or lace.

S: Huge sweet malt aromas up front. Caramel and brown sugar dominate. The barrel then kicks in and you really pick up the oak, vanilla, and booze. Hints of piney hops hide beneath.

T: Tasty stuff! Roasted malt and toffee right at the start. Subtle piney notes do manage to make an appearence as well. The barrel takes over in the finish and like all Alesmith BA brews it really brings it to another level. Wonderful marriage of oak, vanilla, and booze seem to meld into the wonderful base beer to create something that is hard to put into words.

M: Rather full in body, rich, smooth, nearly flawless.

D: Sip, Savor, and Repeat until the bottle is empty.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.92/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2006, bottle #204 of 208.
Pours brown in color. There are some reddish highlights. A little foam around the edges.
Smell is absolutely heavenly! This is what I'm all about! Smell is bourbon with plenty of vanilla to support it. I can't stop smelling this thing.
Taste is even better than the smell. Much more vanilla to comingle with the bourbon flavor. This is one incredbile beer. I like this better than the BA Speedway. Just a little bit of alcohol that warms the back of the throat. This is world class and among the best beers that I've had. The real deal. Full on the mouthfeel. The only knock that I can think of is that it's just a bit hot. You get some heat in the throat that escalates as it goes.
World class beer. Outstanding.

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Photo of DIM
3.99/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2005 vintage, 71 of 223

a: This was a hazy and almost shiny mahogany color. It poured with almost no head.

s: Wow, beautiful nose on this one! Muted bourbon and vanilla aromas compliment oaky musty fruits like raisins and figs plus some toffee. There might be a little soy sauce lurking around the edges.

t: Falls a bit short of the smell, but not by a whole lot. Toffee and raisin flavors take a bit of a back seat to woody bourbon and vanilla. The finish is smoky wood.

m: Barrel aged b-wines don't need much carbonation, but this one didn't have any. Overall though, the lack of carbonation didn't lessen my enjoyment too much.

d: Thanks to the absurdly generous rallison for the chance to try this one. I enjoyed this more than the score would indicate I think.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.02/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Number 166/449

A - Brown/ prune juice color, with red highlights. Small head, leaves completely. Low lacing.

S - People talk bourbon, but my first impression is brandy or sherry, wood, nice malt base. Hops are hard to discern.

T - Big boozy shot of brandy laced beer. Bitter is apparent at end.

M - Medium body, creamy texture, good carb, not incredibly balanced, but for this style, pretty good.

D - Nope. Too big, too thick, too strong.

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

Bottle number 438 of 445 2008 poured a pinkie sized off white head into a Duvel tulip. Head vanished quickly,leaving a ring to the end,no lacing or sheeting.
Smell is all about the bourbon barrel,some vanilla. Kind of thin feel in the mouth, not much carbonation,taste on the bourbon side with a hint of chocolate/Vanilla. The barrel is the highlight of this brew. Certainly not sessionable. Well not tonight anyway. Of course I have just came back from O'Brien's where it was all about Pliny The Younger>My Bloody Valentine>Cask Stone Sublimely. So this review may be tainted. lol But for a late night sipper to end the night it is working.

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Photo of abfraser
4.08/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown with lots of carbonation. Nice looking beer

S: Holy bourbon! I don't know how previous reviewers could call this even remotely subtle. Huge aromas of oak and vanilla. There's some caramel lurking in there, but this is all about the bourbon.

T/M: Same as the smell. On the positive end, this is really smooth and well balanced, which can be a problem with some beers with bourbon aging. Very delicious. My only knock is that I thought it was too one-dimensional. All I got was the bourbon flavors, which I thought dominated over pretty much everything else. That's not to say it wasn't quite tasty.

D: Definitely mellowed out the hops from the original version. This one goes down nicely despite its intensity.

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Photo of waltonc
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Garnet brown color with significant tan carbonation. Smells of bourbon, caramel, boozy dark fruits, and wood. Taste is more of the same. Not too hot, and the hops are totally mellowed out compared to fresh Numbskull. Medium bodied and medium carbonation. Really nice and much different from regular Numbskull.

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Photo of OlieIPA
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks the MAN!!!

A: Poured a light-brown hue with a very carbonated look. Even though it settled in with little head, the lacing on my glass was amazing.

S: Very subtle...oak barrel with a little bit of alcoholic back.

T: A strong barrel-age quality along with hints of malt sweetness. The flavor isn't as diverse as I anticipated, with the barrel-aging flavor taking the lead.

M: Full-body with a gentle amount of carbonation

D: Alcohol is present, but not overwhelming at all...especially for a barley wine! Smooth taste along with a complimentary oak character make for a great combination.

Overall: One of the best barleywines that I have enjoyed. Seek out! A must try....cheers!

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Photo of Mauerhan
4.62/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

first off a HUGE thanks to pehlman for cracking this. also nice to enjoy this with aimstatus and the very sexy olieipa.

pour is beautiful. a rich deep brownish red. a small amount of lacing. a small layer of head.

smell is great. the oak is the star of the show. with a supporting role of malts vanilla caramel with a cameo of booze.

taste...yum. nothing else describes it. sweet. woody notes. very smooth ride. sweet malts take my tastebuds for a ride.

mouth is rediculously smooth. alcohol is hidden like a fucking ninja. awesome brew.

if I had the chance to I would crack this bad boy as much as possible. its a great beer.

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Photo of badbeer
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 Version:

Reddish amber color with an off-white head. Smell is really sweet with lots of bourbon and butterscotch and some vanilla. Sweet caramel, quite a bit of booze in the taste, as well as oak and some bourbon flavors. High carbonation and medium body. Thanks to iowaherkeye for sharing a sample and to doubleo for giving me a bottle to share with some age on it. I'm looking forward to seeing how this ages and hopefully develops.

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Photo of weeare138
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to hopdog for sharing this rare gem...
Bottle # 152/449
Appears a dark mahogany toned amber with a small, light tan head that slowly fades out. Spotty lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of bourbon, caramel, oaky vanilla, and a touch of spice and brown sugar.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with more of a nutty flavor coming through to compliment the sweet, & savory flavors.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, chewy, mildly syrupy, and sweet in the finish.
Overall, whatever hangups are in this beer with the sweetness, the good points far outweigh any negative ones.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.69/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage, bottle 279/479

Pours a dark amber with a frothy, 2 finger beige head that recedes after a minute. Lacing is decent.

Aroma is of bourbon alcohol, earthy hops, and caramel. The sweet malt does well in balancing the earthy hop bitterness. The Alcohol is very noticeable but the bourbon is delicious. The finish is nice and long with some pine notes and bourbon.

This is very well carbonated. The mouthfeel is sticky and the beer has a medium full body.

The drinkability is excellent. I drank the 750ml bottle to myself and still wanted more.

2006 vintage consumed on 9/27/2009

This showed signs of complimentary oxidation. The malt was very aggressive in the flavor, with notes of maple, and tons of bourbon. The nose had some nice tobacco character.

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Photo of hopdog
4.94/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml Bottle. Batch 1, bottle # 200 of 225.

Poured an amber color with a small off white head. The vanilla aroma and tastes really stands out. Vinous. Other aromas and tastes of wood, citrus, raisins, dried fruits, and alcohol.
Smooth body.

This beer was/is just way tooeasy to drink!

Notes from and tasted on 1/15/05

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Photo of Floydster
4.54/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle, 2005 vintage, #50/223, originally purchased from at the release for twenty dollars with a two bottle limit, 900th review, taken from notes, poured into my Dogfish Head snifter

A-Color was a mix between a murky medium brown and deep copper, very small 1/8 inch bubbly light tan head that went away immediately, no retention, not a spec of lacing
S-Huge bourbon smell, caramel, vanilla, cream, oak, deep rich malts, hint of citrus, dark fruits, candied sugar, milk chocolate, toasted coconut, and
T-Starts off with a huge bourbon taste, only had put this in the fridge for about twenty minutes so it was practically room temperature after the first few sips, lots of malt make up the middle while the finish is warm and full of whiskey, tasted sweet like a dessert but not in a bad way, the smoothness allowed this to go down easier, not as fruity as the non-barrel aged version, oak and vanilla become prominent later on, by the end there is a nice mix between caramel and booze which actually balance each other out somehow, enjoyable to drink
M-Creamy, boozy, sticky, sweet, and spicy mouthfeel, medium bodied, not much carbonation, taste lingers for quite some time, best thing about is the thick feel even thought he body is not full
D-Tried to drink the whole bottle by myself and made it through three quarters of it, ABV is high and got the best of me after a while, not heavy on the stomach though, smooth as can be, nice warming feel on a cold night

Last of the barrel aged Alesmiths I needed to try and while this was not better than the Speedway, it beat out the Wee Heavy, this barleywine has really mellowed out, I wish I would not have traded my only other bottle, this stuff will most likely improve even more with age, I look forward to next batch being released in the future, cannot wait to drink again, highly recommended

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Photo of largadeer
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: '06 vintage, bottle 92 of 208, enjoyed side by side with barrel-aged Wee Heavy. Turbid dark amber, semi-clear as it thins. No head, just a thin sheet of bubbles and a hint of carbonation. Not exactly what I'd call a good looking beer, but it's appropriate for the style.

Smell: Lots of musty barrel aroma upon first smell. After letting it breathe and warm up a bit the complexities start to come out: rich toffee and vanilla, bourbon barrel, iron, dates and a lingering hint of musty barrel. Very complex and interesting, but somewhat boozy, especially once it reaches room temperature.

Taste & mouthfeel: The taste closely mirrors the aroma. Dried fruit, toffee sweetness and boozy bourbon are most prevalent. Rich, but not actually extremely sweet - the oaky tannins do a lot to balance the flavor. The hoppiness of the regular Numbskull has completely subsided, though the barrel-aged version is both more mellow and complex. The mouthfeel is full and coating with little noticeable carbonation. A friend compared the texture to vintage port, and I think that's accurate. Alesmith did a good job minimizing oxidation, as there's barely a trace of it. The finish is long and semi-drying with a slight heat that's both fitting and pleasant.

A great beer overall, and I'm very glad I had the chance to try it. It's not something I'd reach for often, however.

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AleSmith Old Numbskull - Barrel Aged from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.29 out of 5 based on 419 ratings.
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