Old Numbskull
AleSmith Brewing Company

Old NumbskullOld Numbskull
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Barleywine - American
Ranked #34
Ranked #2,969
4.14 | pDev: 9.42%
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States
Old NumbskullOld Numbskull
Reviews: 535 | Ratings: 1,540 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by SHODriver:
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SHODriver from North Carolina

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.

Feb 21, 2019
More User Reviews:
Photo of hoptheology
hoptheology from South Dakota

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.

Apr 20, 2018
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mickeymac from California

4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It's golden brown and has good looking off-white head that leaves traces on top all the way to the bottom of the glass. The smell is reminiscent of Bigfoot but slightly on the mellower side. The hops are definitely there, but they don't smack you in the face. The citrus flavors tend to dominate and detract slightly from the drinking experience. Despite the 9.25% abv, the flavor of alcohol doesn't make itself obvious. It has an almost milky mouthfeel that is reassuring in a barleywine. It's good but it's not one of the best from Alesmith.

Oct 16, 2002
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walshclimb from Nevada

4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great Barley Wine. I tasted it against Stone's Old Guardian, and this was clearly the better (even if they are slightly different styles). It pours a slightly cloudy reddish amber with a relatively thin off white to tan head. The smell is very aromatic, malty with alcohol and a hint of fruit. The taste has an excellent balance with lightly sweet and complex malty intial flavor with good hop balance. The sweet malty finish is short- to meditum-lived. Full bodied, slightly creamy with soft carbonation and a clean, dry alcoholic finish. Very drinkable for this style. Probably the best BW I have had personally.

May 19, 2007
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KAP1356 from Pennsylvania

3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle (with silver foil on the cap) purchased in May of 2010 into a Victory snifter...

A - Hazy caramel-amber color with a nice rich 2 finger tan head forming. Nice retention and some nice sticky lacing.

S - Toffee, brown sugar, malts, raisins, dates and a hint of vanilla all mixed with some piney and some citrusy hops. Very sweet aroma and some booziness detected as well.

T - Very bready taste along with toffee, caramel, dates and brown sugar. Very very sweet but with the hops, it doesn't quite reach the level of cloying.

M - Thicker and very rich. Heavy bodied with moderate carbonation. Almost syrupy after drinking most of the bottle.

O - Nice barleywine and one with a pretty big hop presence. One bottle was defnitely enough. I was worried that the sweetness would make this one hard to finish, but I was able to get through it.

Mar 31, 2011
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Jules11788 from California

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Dec 03, 2011
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JayCin from New York

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Oct 24, 2012
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Czequershuus from Minnesota

4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a deep reddish amber with a rather large tan head. The aroma consists of prune, raisin, nutmeg, and apricot. The flavor follows through with rich dried fruit, a moderate level of sweetness, and a spicy hop character. The mouthfeel is velvety but not syrup, perfect for the flavor profile. Overall this is a very solid barleywine, lots of character, but suitably relaxing as well.

Oct 11, 2015
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DaveMaciolek21 from New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brown amber pour with an off-white, minimal head. Beer starts out impressively, with oak and caramel most prominent. and the alcohol content well-blended. As the beer warms, the bitterness and booze creeps in, giving a bit of a caustic edge. Overall a good barley wine, but sip slowly at your peril.

Mar 29, 2021
Photo of Bierman9
Bierman9 from New Hampshire

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

07DEC07 - Enjoying my second bottle of Numbskull tonight, courtesy of Artied2. Color this time is more muted, a tawny russet color with some cloudiness. Still attractive, but no ruby/garnet espied. Dropping the appearance by 0.5, and upping aroma by the same, as it is quite distinct and enticing, with the lovely combo of toffee-ish malts and citrussy hops. Beyond that, most everything else matches what's noted below, from 2004. Quite the tasty bier, all-in-all. Thnx, Bro!!

overall: 4.5
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4.5

*** ***

Original review (29MAY04). Bigass bottle, but no visible vintage date that I can find.... does say 10.00% abv, though...
Ooooh....nice color!!! Old Numbskull has a deep, clear, tantalizing ruby/garnet hue, with a thin topping of microscopic, light tan-colored bubbles. The head leaves an appealing trace of lace, and within the liquid arises a steady yet fine stream of carbonation. Sitting in a Rapscallion goblet, this bier looks marvelous! Aroma is heavy on the malt, with caramel and toffee abounding. It's very similar to an Old Horizontal I had the other night. There is citrus, too, but well in the background. Body gets down in the middle of the road....a solid medium; no more, no less. Carbonation being quite fine, it plays softly on the tongue, and traverses the palate smoothly, setting off no alarms on the way... Mmmm! Taste reminds me somewhat of Old Ho, too. It has a big malty start, with lots of caramel which just sticks all over the mouth. There's a healthy amount of piney, resiny hop action playing along as well, and it's quite flavorful, though the malt (which suggests 'mocha" to me) is still sticking it to my tastebuds! Very little evidence of the abv, as well....so far.... Very nice brew!! (5.0/4.0/4.5/4.5/4.5 = 4.50).

Zum Wohl!!


May 29, 2004
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drewone from California

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Jan 18, 2012
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JamFuel from Sweden

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Oct 14, 2012
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rolltide8425 from Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -3.4%

Feb 25, 2013
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richj1970 from Alabama

4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 750 ml dated 12/18/2013.

A: Pours a rich mahogany brown and slightly cloudy with generous two to three finger tan head. Long lasting retention with head settling like a cap on top. Lots of sticky lacing,

S: Caramel and toffee. Dates and raisins. Roasted barley. Earthy hops and fresh pine cones.

T: Rich toffee, butterscotch, and caramel. Sweet dark fruity flavors with dates and plum. Biscuits drizzled with honey. Finishes with a big hop punch that cuts through the sweetness.

M: Thick and chewy with an average carbonation.

O: Very well done. Wonderful barleywine, and incredibly drinkable even considering ABV and fairly assertive hops.

Oct 20, 2014
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Beer-Ed from Netherlands

4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jun 18, 2017
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oberon from North Carolina

4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber color near brown with a white tight sticky head that is gone pretty quickly.deep vanilla aromas mixed with a generous hopped piney aroma intermingled nicely.Wow what a combination of sweet caramel and alcohol with a generous amount of grassy piney drying hop very balanced and indredibly flavorful barley wine big time winner here I wish I had more what a flavor combination with a big alcohol punch.A little harshness in the mouthfeel dept. kept it from being off the charts.

Dec 19, 2005
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davegray from California

3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Aug 10, 2014
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Rhettroactive from Pennsylvania

3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 750ml bottle to glass at Shannon's Big Bad Barleywine Tasting on 4/9/11.
*From notes

A: Unfiltered - there are quite a few floaties in this one. It looks like freshly squeezed acai juice. This isn't nearly as dark and robust as most of the other barleywines we poured. A good pour yields a 1.25 head and minor lacing.

S: Hops, big hops and some sweet alcohol esters.

T: This is a prime example of an American (primarily west coast) barleywine. Loads of big, robust hops and forceful malt that break onto the mid-palate. The heavy alcohol and figs appear at the end, but the bitterness from the hops reemerge on the finish.

M: Pretty standard here, with good thickness and a rich, velvety nature that kept me coming back.

O: This one followed the Mother of All Storms and I must say, it didn't fall flat. This is a quality American Barleywine that I would recommend without hesitation.

Apr 13, 2011
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gshak from Texas

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Nov 13, 2012
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xacidx from Connecticut

4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oct 30, 2015
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brittanylicious from Indiana

4/5  rDev -3.4%

Nov 15, 2014
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aracauna from Georgia

4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is for the 2000 Numbskull tasted on 10-25-02. Nice medium maltiness. Starts off a bit bland, but the bitterness slowly picks up as does the alcohol. Ends up really good. Body is dark reddish amber with an off-white head. There's some lemon zest in the aroma. I think it's a compbination of the alcohol, malt and yeast.

Oct 25, 2002
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largadeer from California

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

May 17, 2013
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jwhancher from Pennsylvania

4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 750ml bottle at the brewery back in 2011 on a trip to San Diego. Aged this one in the cellar the last few years. Capped with foil presentation. Cold as heck in Philly right now after about an 8- inch snowstorm so figured the timing was right to open this one up.

Pours a hazy orange amber with nice lasting head. Lacing clings to the sides of the snifter I poured this into. Good solid carbonation evident.

Smells of orange marmalade, candied sugar, and sticky/chewy malt sweetness. Hops seem to have since faded but some lingering piney citrus seem evident in the background. No hot alcohols in the nose.

Tastes sweet upfront with nice firm bitterness that dries out most of the residual sugars before giving way to more sticky/chewy malts. Some dark fruits and light cocoa seem evident.

Feels full, thick and chewy. Exactly what I've come to expect from an American style barley wine. A few years seem to have mellowed out any potential harsh alcohol notes. 2-3 years seem about right to age this badboy.

Overall, another excellent beer from a brewery I truly admire and whose beers all seem to kick some ass.

Jan 04, 2014
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hilgart1 from Illinois

3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Jan 06, 2014
Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 1540 ratings