AleSmith Old Numbskull | AleSmith Brewing Company

503 Reviews
AleSmith Old NumbskullAleSmith Old Numbskull

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 xlperro on 02-14-2002

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Reviews: 503 | Ratings: 1,424
Photo of funkyspunk87
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Alesmith Old Numbskull
AleSmith Brewing Company
Style: English Barleywine
ABV: 11.00 %

Out of the big bottle into a chilled glass.

Simply incredible...the best barleywine I have ever tasted. 11%?! You cannot even tell. So smooth and tasty you'd think it was a regular beer.

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Photo of HoustonTX
4.97/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been holding onto this beer for a little over 2 years now.
Mine is the bottle with the blue logo on the front, with a silver foil top.

Poured carefully, into my Alesmith Tulip. Felt this glass was more than appropriate. This beer pours beautifully, lovely amber highly carbonated body. Gorgeous streaks of orange, red, and yellow - create the essence of the amber glow. Bubbly lace sits around the glass with ease.

Huge nose on this one. Largely bready, earthy, a bit musky, semi-spicy, molasses, toffee, fresh baked crust, fruit esters, a hint of black pepper, and toasted caramel coated walnuts. Just absolutely phenomenal, one of the best noses I've ever
encountered. Words almost can't describe just how intoxicating and amazing the aroma really is. 5+++

The taste is godly as well, the complexity and intensity is mind blowing. Starts out with a nice raw earthy body, gorgeous amounts of breadiness, delicate fringes of nuttiness, and a great reminiscent toastiness - brown sugar, toffee, and molasses, pine needles and oil, dried fruits, and citrus rinds. Flavors are all well balanced and work with each other in perfection.

Nice chewy and thick full-bodied mouthfeel, you just really can't go wrong here.

Intensely malty, one of the more divine malt bombs I've ever had. The best Barleywine I've ever had. Along with intense hopping, and an incredible balance. This beer has the whole package, and the 2 years aging held up beyond belief, and did wonders. This is a world class beer, and there is no doubt about it. Definitely one of my all-time favorite beers.


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Photo of Naerhu
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Loads of yeast settled in the bottle before opening, gave the bottle gentle shifting to integrate it back into the beer.
A - Reddish opaque body. Small head.
S - Sappy malty aroma, prunes and middle eastern spicyness.
T - Maple, mildly sweet. Luscious. Malt everywhere.
M - Low carbonation, The yeast creates an amazingly, smooth mouthfeel. Lovely.
D - The alcohol is so integrated and the hoppyness is so balanced, this has to be the perfect barleywine.

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Photo of AlexJ
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Blue 750 labeled as 10% abv.

Pours a murky hazy chestnut brown with burgundy highlights and a thin but rich caramel colored head. Head retention is moderate for a beer of this strength and lacing is light and spaced out. I don't think I've seen a barleywine this murky before, perhaps it suffered a bouncy car ride on the way here.

Indulgant aromas of creamy malts, caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits, rum cake, vanilla, candied grapefruit peels, crystalized orange blossems, and citric and pine hops. Beautiful nose on this one, a joy to inhale.

Equally luscious in flavor with creamy and chewy malt flavors up front. Gooey caramel, melted brown sugar, scorched toffee, raisins, dates, and rum soaked fruitcake. There's a generous addition of hoppy candied citrus and sappy pine notes to provide perfect balance. The hops are gentle enough to let out a lot of malty complexity. This is a really delicious barleywine.

Body is big and thick with a chewy mouthfeel and creamy carbonation. Definately for sipping. I would love the chance to dance with a whole 750 to myself! Thanks to Felton for sharing this rare treat.

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Photo of Mike_Aguirre
4.91/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Exquisite beer. Pours deep amber, ruby highlights. Aroma is malty and fruity, alcohol is present, no hops. Taste is complex, rich and malty, some fruits, alcohol and kind bitterness. Bold body with medium carbonation. Amazing beer.

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Photo of hyuga
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is the 2002 vintage. There's no date on the bottle, which is a 750 ml green champagne-style bottle with the Old Numbskull logo in blue and a silver foil around the top. No cork. Poured into my glass, it's a dark brown brew with a reddish hue, topped by a small tannish head. The head goes down before too long to a modest lace clinging to the edges of the glass. I have to say this is the most unique barleywine I've ever smelled. Not only am I getting the expected caramel malt, English hops and citrus character (the brewer is said to have used a mix of American and English-style barleywine brewing techniques), and spicy alcohol, I'm getting some tart apple and apricot as well. The flavors are just as complex. At the front, some "English" hop bitterness sets the stage, and then a smooth wave of caramel malt takes over. The malt is slightly bready and yeasty as well. A bit of fruitiness is present, some fig and plum as well as a bit of the tart apple that was present in the nose. Very "Belgian." A hint of "American" citrus is detectable. Leafy/plum skin hop bitterness in the aftertaste, very pleasant. Extremely smooth mouthfeel. Surprisingly lighter bodied than most barleywines, but very complex and enjoyable. Very interesting and unique take on the style. It's like Belgium meets America meets England. I highly recommend trying this one.

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Photo of beergeek279
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served as a sample from the 750 mL bottle, into a sample glass. The color was a dark amber, with a nice white head. The smell was a strong citrusy hop. The taste was a very rich caramel malt sweetness that was well balanced by the strong citrus hop taste. Mouthfeel was very nice and thick. As for drinkability, this is one I could drink till I hit the floor.

A simply fantastic barleywine from Alesmith, and I have to thank WVbeergeek for supplying this one as well on the Gathering. As good a barleywine as I've recently had, and certainly one I'll be waiting for next year!

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Photo of founddrama
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Velvety smooth. A little boozy but dangerously drinkable. Sparkles a bit on the tongue. Sweetness present but not *sweet*.

Good comparison here is Old Horizontal. Both make Ridge Runner look like a Pabst.


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Photo of silenius
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a darker reddish brown with pinkish highlights. Head is light tan and frothy; it lasts through the beer. Bubbles come up slowly as if through something thick and viscous. Light lacing is evident.

Smell is wonderful like sticking your nose is a bag of fresh ground coffee or sniffing the first freshly drawn espresso of the day. It has a sharp hops edge around it with a background of toast.

Taste is burnt sweet caramel and more espresso/ground coffee with a sweet maple kicker. It ends with a dead ringer for creme brulee. All these tastes are big and wonderful.

Mouthfeel is thick and refreshingly carbonated. The thickness tells you what a big wonderful beer this is and the carbonation clears it away for another sip. It ends with the same sensation as eating a walnut. A sharp drying that leaves the mouth watering.

I am numb. This is great stuff!

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Photo of scottoale
4.83/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up this growler of one of my favorites while at the Speedway BA release...ohh yeah! From the growler to my favorite tulip glass, pours a deep red-copper with a thick, frothy 1/2 inch of sticky lacing head. Beautiful looking stuff, the lace left is delicate and intriquet...lots of it...very nice !

The smell is quite a bit hoppier than the bottle of this that I just reviewed, probably fresher and definitely sharper in the nose, none the less it's the bomb.

The flavor is still just awesome and just hoppier than the bottle I just had recently, it's just much fresher and will age beautifully, no doubt! The malt backbone still supports the sweetness, yet the hops dominate this still young Barleywine This is still the taste I live for and aging is just an option...for better or worse it still kicks ass either way.

Full bodied and a mouthfeel that's just gettin better, day by day...drinkability? YES please!!! Another growler is in order ASAP !


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Photo of montageman
4.83/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

I received this bottle in a trade a year or two ago. I forgot that I had this in my stash, so I figured that 2009 should be brought in properly with a properly aged barleywine. I believe this is a 2004 or 2005 bottle, so we're looking at around 4 or 5 years of aging. This is a delicious beer. Malty, chocolately, and fruity - everything is here and balance is the name of the game. There is not much in the way of overwhelming flavors here - what you have is an easy drinking barleywine that has aged incredibly well. I'd be very interested to try a fresh one to compare the differences. I guess that means a trip to San Diego is needed! Highest recommendation.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.82/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11/29/05- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 750ml capped bottle. No freshness date, but from 2005 release. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Off brown colored pour. 1/2 inch head which fades quickly. Random pieces of lace on the glass.

Smell- Sweet caramel, honey, chocolate, alcohol and dark fruits. Lots of goodies here.

Taste- Word of advice....drink this at room temp! Granted it was very good in the low 50's, but when I got to the last 1/3 which was at room temp it was incredible. Almost like drinking liquid milk chocolate with swirls of dates and raisins. Ultra caramely with a nice alcoholic bite that really warms your tummy.

Mouthfeel- The slightest of carbonation, liquid caramello bar smooth and warming.

Drinkability- A perfect beer for a cool winters night by the fireplace. Damn, I wish I had a fireplace!!! Get one if you see it!!

1998 Version***

Poured at a tasting event, brought by Lou91. Tasted virtually the same. Didn't really gain much in flavor, maybe a bit more alcoholic, but had one small drawback. Seemed much more carbonated. Strange, was expecting the opposite. Either way, it was still top notch.

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Photo of carln26
4.79/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a slightly hazy copper to amber color with a thin tan head. Hints of sherry, vanilla, plumbs, and a touch of tangerine on the finish. The taste is sweet and smooth. A mix of fine sherry and brandy. Layers of vanilla, black cherry, plumbs, and the tangerine I sensed in the nose. Incredibly complex. The alcohol heat blends well with the sweetness of the malt. Full, smooth mouth feel. Very satisfying, and surprisingly drinkable. Wonderful beer.

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Photo of 81tillinfinity
4.79/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Deep rich barleywine that is bursting with flavors of toffee, dried fruit, peaunut brittle, and sweet hard candy. The hops are perfect giving the beer a great bitter balance. The alcohol is warming but unobtrusive so watch out. A great available barleywine.

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Photo of russpowell
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one time (thanks Dauss) during a pretty intense tasting/drinking session; let's see how this holds up to a fresh pallet!

750 ml bottle pours a chill hazed caramel with minimal sand colored head into my Bush tulip glass. Average head retention & lacing

S: Rich oaky, boozey, plumy notes

T: Jammy fruit, raisins, boozeyness & a bit of smokeyness up front. Piney hops come to the fore as this warms, along with much fruittyness & a bit of boozey heat. Finishes with leafy hops, caramel, leafy hops, Finishes, dry, chewy, figgy & oaky; with a touch of vanilla; yum!

MF: Chewy, syruppy, fairly balanced for the heft, with just a trace of carbonation

Drinks a bit slow, despite all the goodness, a very nice AMERICAN (IMO) style BW, their ABW might just rip your lips off. My favorite Cali brewery, now. Stellar offering!

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Photo of grub
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

got this one in a trade with tangfoot, and it didn't even last 24 hours. thanks fred!

750ml bottle with silver foil top. sampled dec 22/07.

pours a great red colour witha small dense tan head. the head drops fast but leaves lots of spotty lace behind.

aroma is great. resiny grapefruit and pine. alcohol. big caramel. biscuit and bready malt. a touch of earthy character too. orange and tangerine.

taste is excellent. nice solid medium bitterness level. grapefruit and pine balanced with orange and tangerine and a great caramel sweetness. big bread and biscuit malt. light alcohol and a nice warmth on the way down. light toasty and earthy notes in the background too.

mouthfeel is excellent. low carbonation level, very well integrated and super smooth. medium-large body.

drinkability is excellent too. perfectly balanced - even my coors light drinking father-in-law liked it and commented on how well balanced it is. one of the benchmark beers for the style. balanced and complex enough to keep you going back for more. a big beer and yet the full 750ml bottle went down with no trouble and i was still wishing for another. i really just need to get a case of this one in my cellar...

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Alesmith Numbskull, bottle bought at City Swiggers in Manhattan for $14.99.

Appearance: Comes looking a slighty transparent dark amber-mahogany with a nice foamy white head. Some spotty lacing after sipping and good carbonation.

Smell: Hops, barnyard, spice. Toasted spices, coconut shaving. Burnt caramel, simple syrup. Sweet but balanced, enticing, delicious.

Taste: This is how a barleywine should taste! The balance here is ridiculous. Nice nuttiness, crème brulee, chestnut puree and dark fruit. Mellow hops, some barnyard funk. Some clover, spice, aromas of Morocco. Toasted citrus, raw honey, a bit of tobacco and crunchy oak leaves. Tad of sweet booze all around.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and rich, boozy and balanced… so enjoyable! Full flavor, medium body and carbonation. Beautiful all around
Overall: I love this. I think it is dangerously drinkable despite the high ABV, and just so easy and nice and complex.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I got this for 14.20 at Downtown Wines in Boston.

Pours a deep mahogany with brilliant cherry edges and a little haze. The head is small and persistent. Lacing is decent. Immediately I smell a tonne of fruit. There's plenty of rich toffee and pine tar hops going on as well.

The taste is hoppier than expected from earlier reviews, I guess that is because I drank this fresh. Anyways, pine forest and grape fruit rind abound. There's fantastic balance of caramel and fruitcake malt. Some estery banana and berries is present as well. The mouthfeel is syrupy with little carbonation. The finish is decidedly bitter and fruity and caramelly. Alot going on! Alcohol is at a minimum.

This is a fantastic barley wine. I tasted hops, and I was kind of surprised judging by the review. Not sure if this is a factor of freshness or my being from hop starved Ontario, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Seek this beer out.

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I've had this bottle for about two months or so now. I wish I had another.

A- Nice dark copperish color. The head is a tight foamy mix of large and small bubbles. The head looks creamy and wonderful.

S- I'm digging the smell of this beer, very complex smelling. There is wonderful citrus hop smell, pineapple and mango as well that is combined with a great malt profile. Caramel, honey, sweet baked bread. This is very nice smelling.

T- The first taste of this beer was sweet honey, its there pow right off the start. The hop taste is mild at first, but comes more in the aftertaste, with nice grapefruit flavors. Each drink there is more and more flavors that come though. I just got a mouthful of cinnamon and spices. This is a delightful and amazing. I'm kinda beer geeked out for sure with this beer. I had my wife try this and she was amazed at how this beer changes with each taste. I like how the beer keeps me guessing. Excellent barley wine. I wonder how this would do when aged.

M- Feels good in the mouth, not drying, and the thickness is mixed well with the carbination.

D- Hell Yes! and More Please! I think this is excellent, and even though this should be sipped its hard not to just drink it.

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Photo of hansavijaticar
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

8 months old bottle. Beautiful clear copper colour. Caramel, hazelnuts and a bit of peppery hops on the nose, same flavours, but surprisingly bitter finish. No alcohol in smell and taste. Love it, one of the best beers I've tasted.

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Photo of Bob_Horne
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours a deep ruby amber color with a half inch of frothy off-white head. Retention is solid and leaves behind some nice lacing. S: Strong aromas of caramelized malts and earthy hops. Followed by notes of brown sugar, toffee, dark fruits, nuts, vanilla, and fig. Lot of pleasant aromas colliding at once. T: Sweet toasted malts, barley, caramel, and brown sugar. In the middle you find notes of dark fruits, fig, honey, toffee, nuts, and vanilla. Finishes with some nice earthy hops and a pleasant level of alcohol to really balance the brew. M: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Slick and smooth with a nice alcohol warmth and a nice astringency to balance the sweetness of the malts. O: A very well balanced and delicious barleywine. I think that this would probably age incredibly well.

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Photo of Crosling
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I brought this over to my friends last night and we split it. It poured a hazy dark peach. The head was creamy and dense and laced well.

The nose was great. At first, I couldn't smell anything but knowing that is allergy season I blew a bunch of shit out of my nose then resmell it and the nose was definatly there. Very fruity and citrusy hop nose. Somewhat floral with cherries and cinnamon apples.

The flavor was outstanding. Tons of dark fruits. This beer was juicy and big and massive and the flavor never stopped in the mouth. Not once. Ripe fruits, a little banana with black cherries. Finish was long lasting. Big in the mouth. Both of us said that we wanted the entire 750 mL to ourselves and we meant it and we both could have done it. Very drinkable barley wine. Barley Wine: A style that is closely becoming my favorite but is very unmatched compared to Imperial Stouts, especially Speedway. I have had 3 beers from Alesmith so far: IPA, Speedway and Numbskull. All three were excellent. Alesmith is amazing. At this point I have a new favorite brewery.

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Photo of Trueant1
4.74/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

No date on bottle. Bought it in 2007 and am drinking it in May 2008.

Pours a medium orange and sits in the glass hazy with lots of yiesties. Leaves a great coating of lacing. A thin head at best.

Smells of sweet malts. Very "bready". Citrus hops and alcohol also on the nose. Perfect smell!

Tastes sweet and thick up front. An asprin and alcohol burn on the way down...a good thing.
Many darker fig flavors in here, pineapple, alcohol, cream, and vanilla. WOWWEEE~!

My favorite thing about this delectible brew is the rich and thick overly malted mouthfeel. A meal in a bottle. WHat a great brew! Memorable.

note: need to purchase a case for aging!

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Photo of PhiloPsych
4.73/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a pretty orange brown from the bottle (750ml bomber), slightly hazy dark copper brown in the glass, garnet red as I sip and look through the bottom of the glass. Not much head at all, just a slight ring around the edge. Aroma is not strong but is pleasantly malty and hoppy as well. Now this is a great tasting beer! The mouthfeel is adequatly carbonated up front, thick in the middle, and finishes clean and dry. This is a well constructed beer. Not as sweet as other barleywines, this one has plenty of hops. The malt and the hops are evenly balanced. Dangerously drinkable--if I were wise I would share this bomber; but I am very happy to have it to myself!

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into my chalice glass, per their suggestion... again, thanks to GClarkage for the glass, damn if it hasn't come in handy!

This beer was a lovely, slightly hazy amber with fine beads of carbonation and almost no head. I tried to generate one, but tonight it wasn't up for the task.

It came through in the aroma though... fruity malt, a little sweet, some alcohol, and citrusy hops in a very layered complex construction.

Taste was of rich, wonderful malts, with a slight hint of roastedness. It was a little fruity, with some citrusy hops present, but DEFINITELY true to the English style.

Mouthfeel was creamy and silky... damn near heaven, in my book.

Drinkability... well, I have to take away half a point because I finished the bottle solo and felt quite buzzed for a bit. This was a good thing, especially that day... I needed it. But I couldn't drink too much more of it. One was plenty, and it took a while to come back down. A wonderful beer, and even at $13.99 I will get another to cellar (I know it's a lot, but hell, it's a limited distribution here).

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AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.14 out of 5 based on 1,424 ratings.
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