AleSmith Old Numbskull | AleSmith Brewing Company

505 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: 505 | Ratings: 1,436
Photo of maximum12
2.31/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to Dubbercody for sending this over in an excellent trade. Really, my heart isn't in this after watching the ass-munching Yankees beat my Twins again.

Pour reminds me of fresh apple cider sipped out at the orchard. Smell is overwhelmingly sweet, with an alcholic sting.

Old Numbskull follows a recent pattern of barleywines I've had. Sweet, no much depth, & a tendency towards a wet dog taste that I don't dig at all. Maybe I'm a fresh barleywine guy, 'cause everything I age tends to fall into this camp of 'wet dog'. Loved The Flying Mouflan, but had that fresh.

Not very good, which is odd I was expecting to really enjoy this. May be time to lay off the barleywines for a while. Can't finish this one.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
2.63/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Wow! What a shock. Poured a strawberry red in color. Bit of haze in the glass. Essentially flat but a nice head did form and dissolved down to a resting scum. Nose is all about the alcohol and just a bit of hops.

This beer is only 9.25% ABV?!? I can feel the heat before the beer touches my lips. Kind of permeates its way up the nostrils. Other than the alcohol there is at first a subtle sweetness of malts followed by a pungent, earthy hoppiness that is more American than English. Got some sickly sweet bornw sugar and a little bit of sour cranberries too. Mouthfeel is light. Lots of bitter puckiering from the hops and even more burn from the alcohol. Tougher beer to swallow than I was expecting.

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Photo of crnipeter
2.86/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

Following the brewer's advice I left the beer to mature for 18 months with dubious results.

Deep murky coppery with 1/4 inch of light tan head that gets easily revived with each swirl.

Resinous-woodsy hop aroma mingles with caramel-marmellaty malt foundation and plummy ester undertones.

The flavor starts malty sweet with orange-liquor qualities but the balance quickly shifts towards bitterness. The later combines with alcohol to lend dry finish. The alcohol is too evident throughout the smell and taste and overrides everything else as the beer warms, completely ruining the impression.

Mouthfeel is medium to full with tiny-bubbled moderate carbonation.

Ageing hasn't softened the booze and the beer is just another let down from the Alesmith.
But one must admit the name has been well chosen: the Numbskull...after purchasing it I feel exactly like one - a stupid person, that's it.

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Photo of RedDiamond
2.86/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I know the style doesn’t ask for fizz, but my bottle of Old Numbskull was notably flat. Even for a barleywine, this one was lifeless. The aroma is a delicious mix of fruity esters suggesting plum, warm honey, alcohol, and malt syrups. Body is a rich cognac color with lots of dead flocs adrift amidst a few solitary bubbles.

So far, I can live with the beer’s presentation. But the taste is blaringly harsh in its alcoholic temperament and the finish bites like a red ant. The initial outpouring of strawberry-accented malts is hammered by the aggressive finish, while the body feels limp and anemic. At its best moments Numbskull is suggestive of fruited brandy. At its worst, it’s simply disappointing, even after retrieval from ideal cellaring conditions.

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Photo of ajm5108
2.9/5  rDev -30%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Nice deep amber pour with vigorous foam. Aroma has candied plum, fruit cake, loam with some tannins and citrus hops. Not a bad smell, but oddly, it reminded me of handsoap (but not in an off-putting way). Lots of sweet malt upfront, and there definitely is some juicy hop flavor underneath it (tropical orange flavor). The astringent alcohol / tannins flavor comes out big at the end, and is a bit harsh and not blended well with the rest of the flavors. Gives it a pine sol vibe, at best maybe a stale pale ale, but not what I really look for in a top-flight barleywine. Feel is medium bodied, a little oily. Overall it is just an ok beer.

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Photo of Beaver13
2.91/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle. Pours clear ruby amber with a big creamy off white head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is toasted toffee malt, some sugary fruit and strong alcohol.

The flavor is sweet toffee malts with some fruit and a harsh ashy alcohol finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, OK barleywine, but too much over the top alcohol.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.94/5  rDev -29%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. Purchased for $16 (!) in April 2009 at Perry's in Livermore. God, I hate that guy's prices.

A: Pours a very dark, but clear, maroon-amber body that passes glowing red light at the edges. Two fingers of light tan head fill the snifter and recede over a minute or so into a light collar and tons of scattered bubbles on top of the brew. Thick, sticky sheets of lacing left behind as the head vanishes, and more sticky lace during a sip. Great appearance.

S: Caramel, toffee, grapefruit hops (surprisingly still hoppy for a beer that I purchased over a year ago). I'm surprised this is intended to be an English barleywine.

T: Wow, this is really pretty hoppy. Lots of citrus up front, lending both flavors and an oily bitterness that pulls through into the finish. Malt backbone is supplied by caramel, toffee, and nuts. There's a peppery, boozy bite at the end. I'm not sure I could identify this out of a lineup of other American barleywines, and there are several I'd pick ahead of this one on flavor.

M: Medium-full bodied. Not as chewy as the Old Ruffian I had yesterday, although it's still pretty impressive. Carbonation is prickly. It finishes just a tad dry.

D: I'm liking it, not loving it. Horribly overpriced to me: I'd rather buy 3 Old Guardians instead.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle (Courtesy of Hogtownharry): Poured a clear medium brown color ale with a small foamy brown head with minimal retention. Aroma of sweet caramel malt is dominating without being too sweet though. Some floral hops are discernable but nothing overwhelming. Taste is also dominated by sweet malt but I can’t find any complexity of dry fruits characteristics that I usually enjoy. Some hops provide a slightly bitter finish but nothing to overshadow the rest of the beer. Body is defiantly too thin and watery for my liking and alcohol is well hidden. Even do I usually enjoy English style barleywine, I cannot say that I was overly impressed by this one.

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Photo of beercollector
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This was a nice 750 ml bottle. The beer poured out ameber with a small head and little lacing. Perhaps it was too cold.

I did not get much smell from this one. The flavor was sweet malty with moderate bitterness and a good alcohol bite. The flavor lasted a bit. This had a light body and slick mouthfeel. I would not rate this a big barley wine, but a light one to share with a friend.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.03/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Opened up a 750ml for myself tonight, spent 4 hours riding my bike in our 10 degree snowy winter for training. relax time.

The color is a dark amber with more red accents, some white collar.
The aroma in this bottle is filled with dark fruit, there is normally this note in barleywines but i would say it is more prevalent here.
Other notes are the caramel that you normally associate with, and some cascade style hops giving a citrus note.
The flavors of this bottle seem different then the many others i have had, i remembered more maple/toffee, but this bottle seems to follow the citrus,caramel,cherry, and pine notes and leave a lot out. It is probably the age of the bottle i would have to assume.

This bottle was average, but i seem to remember drinking another bottle or two and liking them a good deal.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

750ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Weizen glass in low altitude Orange, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are very high given the brewery and the style.

A: Pours a two finger head of very appealing smooth glossy cream, great thickness, and very impressive retention (especially considering the 11.00% ABV). Colour is a dark auburn.

Sm: Surprisingly, it's a floral hoppy aroma. Cream and pleasant malts. A pretty strong aroma, and certainly an enticing one.

T: Nicely hoppy and balanced, with undertones of the nice malts. The hops cut out near the finish leaving the bare malts, which isn't particularly enjoyable. Other than that naked finish, I quite fancy the build. There's not too much bitterness from the hops, and no alcohol comes through in the flavours. There's not even any alcohol warmth in the stomach. It's nicely creamy up front, but this might be a touch overdone. The citrusy notes don't really fit into the flavour profile well, but they're tolerable.

Tastes nothing like any barleywine I've ever had.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with a fair amount of cream as well. It suits the flavours generally. The thickness is awkward; it's too heavy for the citrusy vibe but too thin for the malts of a barleywine.

Dr: Very drinkable - especially for the high ABV. It'd definitely be better aged, which is a strange thing to say considering how hop-centric it tastes. I don't know that they've fully resolved the battle between malts and hops for control of the focus, but this remains an experimental and bold brew that seems to challenge the conventions of the style.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.13/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark burgundy in color. A very short lived head forms on the pour and is gone quickly. Smell is malty and alcohol. But to my chagrin, a large amount of hops as well. The hops are too prominent in the flavor. I was hoping for a low hopped 'English' barleywine, which I prefer. The hops are just too much to get past to focus on the rest of the beer. My least favorite beer from an otherwise standout brewery.

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Photo of waughbrew
3.22/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Glowing reddish orange (much lighter than expected) with zero head, just small white patches on top. Tangerine, orange, caramel, nuts, very strong and interesting. The aroma seems to be fruity american hops to me, though this is listed as an English barleywine? Flavor starts with a big nutty malt character that pervades throughout the beer, changing very little. Very annoying and really clashes and ruins the rest of what is going on. Haphazard hopping is very very resiny and, well, bad. These hops taste like the bark of a tree soaked in alcohol. Too bad, really, because this beer has the perfect amount of alcohol presence and an awesome thick, low-carbonation feel. The alcohol warms and stings just a touch. Not syrupy at all - the only thing that makes this hard to finish is the flavor.

Cool color just needs a head, and with the amount of hops they must have used in this one, I guess only the very low carbonation is to blame. Smell is great, but the taste needs major reworking. Scratch the overly nutty malts and the harsh tree-bark hops, and this would be a classic. As it stands, I won't be buying it again.

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Photo of jellikit
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%

Appearance: Amber. Clear. Lots of bubbles rising to a thick tan head.
Smell: Christmas tree.
Taste: golden raisin, molasses, booze. Fusel Booze, and citric hops.
Mouthfeel: medium high carbonation. Dry.
Overall. Big. Boozey.

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Photo of capeannbass36
3.31/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 750 ml bottle

A- Pours a clear, nice looking deep reddish amber color topped by a 1-1/2 finger off white head. Plenty of lacing throughout.

S- Sort of smells like a typical barleywine, while lacking some sweetness. Caramel, malt, citrus and hops.

T- Dark fruit, a little caramel, malt, citrus and hops. Finish is lacking.

M- Creamy. Medium carbonation.

O- Rather disappointed by this. Was expecting so much more.

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Photo of jujubeast6000
3.32/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 5/21/2009 (Bottle aged 5 months @ 53oF):

Pours a dark brown clear color body, off-white color head, decent lacing, lastingish. Strong, aroma, malty and hoppy dry. Very malty sweet. Sweet malty taste, dry. Somewhat hoppy. strong alcoholy taste. Strong. Way too alcoholy as it warms.

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Photo of divineaudio
3.34/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

2011 bomber into my deschutes snifter.

a - pours a murky, reddish brown with no head whatsoever. only got a few thin, wispy bubbles that hung around for a while. light spotty lacing.

s - carmel, raisin, cherry, prunes, faint alcohol.

t - same as nose. tons of carmel with faint dark fruits. bitterness in the finish comes from the alcohol more so than hop character.

m - medium bodied but quite syrupy. has almost no carbonation. slight alcohol warming.

o - i had high hopes for this one but they fell flat. literally. alcohol content kicks in after the first glass. that combined with the syrupy mouthfeel makes for pretty low drinkability. i'd like to try another bottle of this or have some on tap for comparison to see if i got a bad bottle.

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.38/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Old Numbskull pours a hazy dark copper color with a big, lacing long lasting head. There is a very earthy aroma with hints of hops and oak. Big earthy flavors, big hop notes, some oak to finish. Nice body, strong flavors. Overall its very strong and sharp, earthy notes are a bit over powering, but still a decent beer.

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Photo of billshmeinke
3.38/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a snifter. A light brown/copper with some golden hues at the edges. NO head just a couple bubbles that die very quickly.

Smells of caramel/toffee/brown sugar sweetness. Then a touch of citrus/grapefruit hops. Light notes of oxidation.

Taste follows nose. Tastes of caramel sweetness, brown sugar. Some rsutic bread. Light alcohol spice and hints of dark fruits. Also, some resin and citrusy hops. Light wet cardboard notes too.

Almost 0 carbonation medium to full bodied. A touch of heat as well.

I bought this bottle recently, but it tastes like it already has a bit of age on it. Also, some clear carbonation issues. Hard to put down the whole bottle cause of those flaws.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.4/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Very dark amber, with a faint beige ring of velvet foam.

Big time, heavy caramel and molasses dominates this barleywine all over the nose as well as in flavor. Werther's Original also comes to mind, but with some commingling heavier dark fruits.

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Photo of Tilley4
3.4/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a murky brown with a small head... Very murky and dull...

Big faded hop aromas here along with sweet toffee and caramel malts... Raisiny fruity sweetness with a little booze...

Definitely faded a bit... Very sweet and syrupy with the malts dominating... No booze really. Not much in the way of hops either. All sweet malts and fruits...

Probably an older bottle... Tough getting through this... Too sweet for me...

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.42/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 Bottle.
Silver Foil on Blue & White screen printed bottle.
Listed at 10% Alcohol by Volume.
Sampled at 3 Years Old.

I purchased this bottle in early 2003, so this is about 3 years old. This is a long forgotten about bottle discovered hidden inside a box that had been cellared since I purchased it. As it was time for a beer stash clear out I figured it was worth giving it a whirl to see how it aged.

Appearance: Murky turbid brown body clears to a deep mahogany torso. Has a still-life village pond look with no head whatsoever lest a few single lone bubbles around the edge of the broken meniscus. Zero carbonation. Looks very, very tired.

Nose: Chewy toffee with a sweet malt caramel in the back end. Fusel alcohol punctuates the sweetness and adds some soft whisky tones.

Taste: Big thick dollop of hefty sweet malts with a lick of alcohol. Warming at the start and sweet in the finish. Gentle liquorice and anise spices the cheeks after the swallow and lingers. The general feel however is of a brew that is fading though, Old Numbskull has been a favorite brew when fresh, but aged it really does not seem to improve at all.

Mouthfeel: The alcohol still packs a punch, albeit with a sugar coated caramel boxing glove. Decent strength in the body and a dependable feel. The alcohol and sweet malts conspire to maintain a bold feel, though it feels like it is waning a little.

Drinkability: Despite the flaccid appearance and rather tired taste profile, it wasn’t all that bad in the Drinkability stakes and I worked my way through this one quietly whilst adding some BeerFlys. But it was clearly past its best.

Overall: Still has that slap of Old Numbskull Barleywine, but I expected a little more longevity from such an expensive brew that markets itself alongside other high end brews. I would not recommend cellaring the Old Numbskull beyond the 24 months mentioned in the “6 to 24 months or longer” on the back of the bottle.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.44/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Is this beer suppose to be flat? Beer is brown and hazy with nearly no head, no carbonation, no lacing. Oh no!

Aroma of the beer is unimpressive, mildly sweet, some fruitiness, overall VERY WEAK.

Beer begins looking up in flavor, seriously. About damn time. Beer is medium in body, thick on the palate, Mildly bitter at the end but entirely from grains, a late residual sweetness, not my favorite but a decent beer overall. Sucks I'm ending my night with such an unremarkable beer.

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Photo of ekardz
3.45/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish amber, little to no head, with almost no carbonation. Smell dark fruity notes, plums/raisins, resiny, malty, and somewhat boozy. Taste lots of sugar, malts, not much alcohol, lacks the flavor and complexity I was expecting in this barleywine. Medium bodied, no carbonation, dry finish. Very drinkable for 11% but not much flavor or reason to drink. Would not purchase again.

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Photo of MiScusi
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Lucky Baldwin's Pasadena for their Strong Beer Fest.

Poured a nice dark orange color with an off-white thin head. Smell was a malt soup for me with some earthy hops thrown in. The taste was a soup of big sticky sweetness, alcohol, and then cleaned out with some earthy hops. I thought this was ok, but probably wouldn't get it again. I prefer the barleywine style that Bigfoot and Old Guardian hit. This was a little to soupy, syrupy for me, but wasn't undrinkable.

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AleSmith Old Numbskull from AleSmith Brewing Company
4.14 out of 5 based on 1,436 ratings.
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