Old Numbskull
AleSmith Brewing Company

Old NumbskullOld Numbskull
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American Barleywine
Ranked #31
Ranked #2,553
4.14 | pDev: 9.42%
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States
Old NumbskullOld Numbskull
Reviews: 529 | Ratings: 1,529 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jlindros
4.39/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is been in the cellar for a long time, probably from 2010 or 2011 time frame, but no date on the bottle. It's also 10% abv

It pours a bit like molasses or thick oil, inky looking, but no real head, dark mahogany brown hazy color with nice long legs

Nose definitely smells old, some oxidation with a little cardboard but also winey port notes, past that brings sweet malts, lots of caramel and toffee, candy notes, little toasted grain with butterscotch and layers of caramel, then comes dark fruits with some candied raisin, brandy soaked fig, a bit of nutty toffee

Taste layers the mouth, coating everything in a thick layer, lots of sweet malts out front, candy, molasses, brown sugar, etc, but then waves of caramel and toffee, lots of sweet candy flavors with med-high overall sweetness, toasted malts, a little nutty toffee, almost chewy level of caramel, then more dark fruits, brandy soaked raisin fig, candied prune, mild waxy oxidized port wine but no cardboard, that nice soft aged malt character as well, no alcohol presence, but a touch of bitter spicy hop late, mild sticky finish, a bit more bitterness lingering and more oxidation notes

Mouth is lush, fuller bod, thick and chewy, viscous, etc, with almost no carbonation but also no real alcohol either, just a hint of warming alcohol

Overall this aged pretty well, def has that nice aged barleywine characters that I was looking for, pretty tasty and enjoyable

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jlindros from Massachusetts, May 10, 2020
Photo of colts9016
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The date on this bottle of beer is 02/04/2016, and today is Easter 4/12/2020. I have wanted to try this beer for a few years now. Ironically, this beer took me a couple of years to track down. The beer is 50 degrees and served in a tulip glass. Prying off the cap, I got a lovely hiss and a malty aroma. The pour of the beer produced a two-fingered creamy and airy light tan head. The retention of the beer is excellent for having a high ABV. As the head dissipated, it left nice lacing on the glass. The lacing on the glass is thick and chunky. A lovely brown with ruby highlights charts the beer around SRM 20. The beer is cloudy with some clarity. The appearance of the beer is beautiful for being four years old.

The initial aromas in the beer are dry apricots, toasted malts, a hint of molasses, and treacle. Next, I smell caramel, toffee, bready, raisins, figs, a touch of floral, a skosh of roasted malts, alcohol, and some earthiness. The beer is fragrant and bright.

The flavors in the beer are caramel, toffee, orange, floral esters, figs, raisins, dried apricots, toasted malts, alcohol warming, a touch of solvents, toffee, bready, pine, resin, grapefruit, a hint of chocolate, earthiness, treacle, and toasted malts, and burnt sugar.

The mouthfeel is carbonated, astringent, and warming.

The body of the beer is full, medium carbonation, and fuller finish.

The aromas in the beer were fantastic, alas the taste did not match. The age on the beer did not provide any depth or complexity. The beer is an excellent example of American Barleywine. I am not going to award it a perfect score, yet I will give it around A-. I was yearning the complexity aging does bring to beer. I have consumed several beers that were aged over a long period. Those beers, generally have a depth and complexity to them. This beer has excellent flavors, a beautiful appearance, and a bright nose.

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Photo of Dr_C
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is a good looking beer, not bad tasting either....but really good looking.

Poured in a pint glass, this brew was a deep reddish brown with a finger of tan head. The was a little sedimentation in the visible in the clear red fluid.

Aroma was malty but very mild, was not what I expected.

Flavor was malty with a bitterness on the back end. Neither crisp nor heavy. Alcohol was well hidden as I didn't detect any and this is 11% ABV.

Feel was nothing special.

Overall, I loved the color of this brew so much I was hoping that it would give me a little more on the nose and pallet. Very easy to drink for an 11% brew.

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Dr_C from Colorado, Jul 27, 2019
Photo of rockaroo
3.62/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

(2015) aging these big beers is not paying off in general. This one too hop forward and not approaching sublime. It's very good but doesn't justify the time and cost. Last commenter nailed the profile for sure. I don't ever comment on "smell" but this one comes across at first kind of like a solvent.

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rockaroo from Virginia, Feb 23, 2019
Photo of SHODriver
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled May 2014
A: Poured into a snifter to a deep golden brown topped by a dense and rocky finger of cream colored head which fades slowly to a collar around the edge of the glass leaving decent lacing.
S: Smells of faded citrusy and piney hops with some nice caramel and toasted malt notes. Slight fruitiness as well.
T: Taste is faded citrusy and piney hops with some nice caramel. Light earthiness with some toasted malt notes and light fruitiness. Swallow is more oily faded hop notes with caramel and toasted malts on the back end along with a light earthiness and herbal note.
M: This beer is fairly full and creamy in body. Carbonation is effervescent and just a hair under prickly while the beer has a slightly oily but still drying finish.
O: Overall this beer is very well executed. Nothing too outside of the norm and it has held up very well over the years. This one doesn't seem to have any signs of oxidation from what I can gather. It has some really nice complexity and everything has melded together very well after about four and a half years in the bottle. Worth a try aged or fresh.

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SHODriver from North Carolina, Feb 21, 2019
Photo of LampertLand
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

AleSmith Brewing 'Old Numbskull' @ 11.0% , served from a 750 ml bottle
A-pour is a dirty amber from the bottle to glass with a small beige head leaving a streaky lace along the snifter
S-malty & spicey
T-solid base , good , yet no wow factor
MF-decent carbonation , full bodied
Ov-good beer , time in the cellar could be better
prost LampertLand

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LampertLand from British Columbia (Canada), Dec 13, 2018
Photo of JohnnyHopps
3.69/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - The beer was murky brown in color with a white head crowning the glass.

Smell - The nose was that if a grass forward barleywine.

Taste - Bitter piney malts are the dominant characteristic. Even though this is a 2013 edition, there is very little sweetness. The bitterness is unyielding.

Mouthfeel - The feel is full bodied as a barleywine should be.

Overall - Aside from the body, there is little to like about this barleywine.

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Photo of Harrison8
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky bronze with a finger of khaki foam that retains fairly well. Aroma is roasted, toasted, nutted and breaded malts with caramel, toffee, and pine and dank hop notes behind. Flavor profile is toasted, nutted, caramel, and breaded malts with caramel, toffee, and molasses mingled into the mash. Resin and pine hops give it a bitter finish. The alcohol kicks a little. Mouth feel is medium-thick, with a surprising fizziness that stands out against the velvety backdrop. Overall, a hearty and flavorful beer that combines sugary, dense malts with bitter, biting hops.

Served in a 12oz snifter from a 750mL bottle.

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Harrison8 from Missouri, Jul 07, 2018
Photo of Ozzylizard
3.37/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

$ 17.70 (Including shipping)/capped 750 mL bottle ($ 0.697/oz) from Tavour, Seattle, WA.
Bottle undated. Stored at 42 degrees prior to consumption and served at 59 degrees in a hand-washed and hand-dried Jester King snifter.
Appearance – 4.25.
Body – Dark amber, hazy. When held to the light, it becomes translucently medium amber.
Head – Large (Maximum 6.4 cm, controlled center pour), medium density, tan, average retention, diminishing to an irregular three to five mm ring and a thin complete layer with a rocky island.
Lacing – Poor. Just a couple of drag marks as the level drops.
First pour – Honey-amber, clear.
Aroma – 4 - Caramel malt. Lasts.
Flavor – 3 – Begins slightly sweet with caramel; the middle and the end are the same. The aftertaste has an unexpected slight metallic bitterness which hangs on. And on. And on. No alcohol (11% ABV), no diacetyl, no dimethylsulfide. No gastric warming.
Palate – 3- Medium, creamy, lively carbonation.
Impression and summation – 3.25 – Basically, a one-trick pony until the metallic aftertaste hits. The alcohol is well-hidden, but the metallic ending precludes consuming mass quantities. A bit of diacetyl would have gone well with the caramel. Sorry. This is an expensive drain pour.

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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania, Jun 14, 2018
Photo of GarrettB
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

May 15th, 2015 - Alesmith shows off how much nitro can change the face and character of a beer in their nitro Old Numbskull. Still dark and somber in the glass, the aroma is now twangy, grassy and lemony, with an herbal edge that really catches me off guard. The flavor has also gone weird. Its perky and acidic here too, beginning with a bright strawberry sweetness and sunsetting into a deep cherry lollipop sugar bomb. This sweet aftertaste is somewhat refreshed and lifted by fruitier notes of Fuji apple and bordeaux grapes, which brings me back to what the original Numbskull tastes like.

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GarrettB from Colorado, Jun 05, 2018
Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Approximately 1 year of age on this bottle.

Pours a beautiful butterscotch blonde-caramel color with a lovely head of 3 fingers, egg foam color. Lots of lace left behind as the head recedes.

Beautiful fruity and caramel aromas waft to the nose, with notes of vinous grape, popcorn ball, butterscotch, caramel, slight chocolate, and the same yeast of Speedway.; Slight smokiness, mouth-watering.

Flavor brings much more bitterness than the nose would suggest; with some of those grape notes giving off a white wine-meets-sauvignon flavor, with smokey caramel lingering in the background and alcohol heat lapping it at its heels. Hints of fruitcake develop as it's left to rest on the palate, with hints of raisins. That's the good. The bad is that it indeed tastes like oxidized hops, like someone aged a 120 minute in the sunlight for a year. Some onion and garbage flavors too.

Feel is velvety, then leathery, then hot, and dries out considerably on the finish. Carbonation is medium-light.

Overall, it's a great beer until it hits your lips. It's not something I'm overly excited about. The more I drink it the more it tastes like old oxidized hops or a very poorly aged 120 minute. Probably would not revisit.

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The-Adjunct-Hippie from South Dakota, Apr 20, 2018
Photo of AD_PNW
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle date: 2/4/16

Malty and spicy. Hops are are very evident, though they take a background to the complex maltiness of this brew. Bready and toasty with heavy raisin and fig type flavors. A little boozy, even after the two years of aging. The body is medium, coating and warming. Wonderful brew. Looking forward to drinking this again. The bottle shop down the street had five bottles of this vintage.

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AD_PNW from Washington, Mar 21, 2018
Photo of stevoj
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle from Ale Arsenal. Hazy, copper pour with bubbly ring of beige head. Caramel on the aroma, bready malts. Taste amplifies the caramel, mildly sweet, strong too. Fruitcake, raisins and molasses. Dries out a bit in the finish. I’ll be feeling this tomorrow.

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stevoj from Idaho, Mar 02, 2018
Photo of Taybeh
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a 750 ml bottle into a little Steel Toe snifter, this pours a beautiful slightly magical reddish copper with a decent head and some retention...the color is kind of bewitching. Nose is a whole lot of different kinds of sweet: some chewy caramel, some light molasses, some warm booziness. Taste is all of that but even more, with some additional dark fruitiness (maybe figs) and some biscuity malts, too. Also a little edge of earthy hoppy sweetness, too. Very smooth but very rich and layered. Excellent stuff.

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Taybeh from Minnesota, Feb 10, 2018
Photo of tp1962
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best Barleywines I’ve tasted. It’s definitely not an everyday beer for myself but great to share with friends who appreciate a great Barleywine!

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tp1962 from Illinois, Jan 23, 2018
Photo of Ciocanelu
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Clear amber color with beige head. Aroma has caramelized malt and earthy, resiny , woody hop notes. Taste is really well balanced with rich, complex malts and earthy hop bitterness. Medium body, a bit sticky, soft carbonation. A great american style barleywine.

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Ciocanelu from Romania, Jan 18, 2018
Photo of Everydayoff
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled Nov-2015, drank Dec-2017.

Mildly hazed with deep ruby copper color, the pour builds up massive silky light brown head that withstands with great retention before slowly subsiding to an everlasting fluffy layer on the surface and leaving lots of sticky lace here and there.

Full of malt through both the aroma and taste, I got obviously creamy smoothness layer as well as malty sweetness, also caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, toasted malt, burnt bread, and biscuit. Note of ripe dark fruit in kind of fig and raisin too as a complex layer together with the assertive hop profile of some fruitiness, peppery spice, and long-lasting earthy yet leafty bitterness. Of course, the booze is there with its pungent spiciness but who really cares? The end and aftertaste is lingering with hop bitterness, big malty sweetness, and some alcohol.

The body is rather full with smooth mouthfeel and mild to moderate carbonation through the palate. The feeling is well-rounded and just right to carry all the things well. Finish is very dry.

Kneel to this malty monster with its uncompromising booziness in contrast with the wide varieties of malt yet with earthy hop, it is great and can be a benchmark of what American Barleywine is all about.

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Everydayoff from Thailand, Dec 08, 2017
Photo of Sludgeman
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank this back in Sept 2015. (just found the written review).

Poured into a small stemmed tulip.

For me, this is a classic barley wine. Malty sweetness balance with an herbal bitterness and a background alcohol that makes this beer very drinkable. Crack this one open on a cold winter evening. 4.5

A – Pours amber and clear with a big 3-finger mousey reddish beige head. Nice lacing and a long-lasting head. 4.25

S – Aromas of caramel and malt with a slight sweetness. 4.0

T – Molasses, caramel, malt, faint vanilla and pepperiness, some dark fruitiness, a bit of alcohol bite and herbal bitterness at the backend. 4.5

MF – Medium heavy bodied with a semi-dry finish. Warming. Slight creaminess. 4.5

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Sludgeman from District of Columbia, Oct 16, 2017
Photo of maltznhopz
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2/2016 bottle poured into a snifter glass. Aroma is of burnt brown sugar, caramel, and dark fruits. Taste follows the nose with some added toffee and raisin. Fairly thin, medium carbonated mouthfeel.

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Photo of MikeWard
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle into a tulip. only dating i could see was "02". rest was worn away.

looks great. dark but clear red/amber body, small but persistent off white head leaving decent lacing, very light carbonation stream.

aroma is boozy and candy.

this is one hot beer, alcohol wise. that is the prominent flavor. There is some sweetness, and a suggestion of hops, but mostly hot, hot, hot.

above medium on the mouth, candy and booze on the finish, with, surprisingly, a little hop bite at the end.

overall, this one is just too much hot booze for me, and not enough of everything else.

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MikeWard from Pennsylvania, Sep 17, 2017
Photo of cmurphy7
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

as far as barley wines go, this AleSmith brew is solid. the strength of this brew happens on the nose and quickly dissipates in the finish. I have certainly had more complex barley wines, but this one was an OK option.

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cmurphy7 from Massachusetts, Jul 23, 2017
Photo of Treyliff
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into a wine glass
2012 Vintage

A- pours a deep amber color with a small creamy white head, good retention

S-smells of caramel/toffee, leather, tobacco, faded earthy hops, overall sweet and malty

T- lots of dark fruit up front with notes of raisin and fig. Mid-palate gives some earthy tobacco, caramel & toffee. The finish is more earthy malt, that longersnof caramrel and tobacco

M- medium-heavy body with low carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel and finish

O- this had completely mellowed out in five years, sweet earthy and malty, delicious

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Treyliff from West Virginia, Jun 11, 2017
Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was poured into a tulip. The appearance was a semi-hazy burnt amber color with a thin white slim little head. Lacing was filmy and glossy along the glass. The smell started off with leafy tobacco aroma up front. Subtle citrus hops invade light toffee and caramel malts. Crisp yet sweet and dry fruity esters slyly move in. The taste was moderately dry with a subtle sweet dry caramel to toffee. Subtle dried fruit rides underneath. Dry semi-sweet caramel to fruity to toffee aftertaste subtly moving into the finish. On the palate, this one sat about about a medium on the body with a good sipping quality about it. Carbonation rides in subtly and nicely, allows a super big stickiness, almost cloying, but not. Overall, as an American Barleywine it works, I'd have again.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from 05/2015

Still a little hoppy, delicious raisins and caramel malts, slight bitterness, raisins, prunes, other dark fruit. Not too intense but it has aged nicely. Highly recommended.

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ClavisAurea from New York, Mar 21, 2017
Photo of polloenfuego
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours an deep ruby brown with minimal head that moves to become a collar pretty quickly. The aroma is nice caramel malts, hops and dark fruits. Taste follows the nose, and the hops are nicely defined here. The malts and the hops work very well together. Feel is on the heavy side, with a lower amount of carbonation. Finishes creamy with an alcohol warmth. This is a great beer. This one was a 2015, and just pleased my palate to no end. I will seek this out again.

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polloenfuego from Ontario (Canada), Mar 20, 2017
Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 1529 ratings