Old Knucklehead Barleywine | BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

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Old Knucklehead BarleywineOld Knucklehead Barleywine
Very Good
222 Ratings
Old Knucklehead BarleywineOld Knucklehead Barleywine

Brewed by:
BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
Oregon, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 12-16-1998

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 222 |  Reviews: 98
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of hoesweizen
4/5  rDev +1%

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thick brown, though you can see some light through it, no head and a nice lace top it off. Smell is hopped for sure, but with a subtle sugary undertone, and a hint of alcohol too. Taste is not very strong at all. There is the natural piney hoppness you would expect from a barley wine, but not too strong, there is also a sugary, nuttiness about it as well. The alcohol is there, and that keeps this a sipper. It is actually nicely carbonated, and not harsh going down, has the warm feeling on the way. Overall this was a good brew, I would not mind having another and certainly kept me warm this evening.

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Photo of number1bum
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, Batch 12, courtesy of BeerTruth. Thanks man.

Pours a cloudy brown color with a slight reddish tinge to it. About two fingers of beige head settle to a pretty nice lace, with a splash of stick here and there on the sides.

Smell is quite rich, with aromas of dark fruits, vanilla and sweet caramel. Has a bready quality to it as well, with lots of rich dark caramel.

Taste is also quite fruity, with flavors like plum, apricot, cherry and black currant. There is some darkly caramelized malt sweetness, which like the nose also has a breadiness to it. There is some vanilla and a subtle woody flavor from the barrel aging, but it's not boozy at all. I'm really impressed by the depth of fruity flavor in particular in this beer. Very flavorful and really nice.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, quite smooth and surprisingly clean in the finish for such a big, barrel aged barleywine. Nice.

This is quite good and a very impressive example of a barrel aged barleywine. It's clearly mellowed from the aging, as booze is not at all evident, and it's quite smooth. Quite nice.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.63/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A heavy dark and cloudy appearance. Aroma, super sweet and even a degree of hoppiness.

Taste, big winter warmer style enjoyable heat. There seems to be a lot going on in here. some of the dark fruit, a good degree of hoppiness, sweet yeast effect. Its not Bigfoot, but it ha a lot of similarity to that rare kind of big hop, big everything kind of BW.

Never aged this one, doesn't seem like it would be up my alley, the hops are the draw.

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Photo of hoppymcgee
3.99/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to my boy Bill for this bottle. Poured from a 12oz. bottle dated No. 011 - 2003 bottling.

A: Dark brown with carbonation still remaining but recedes to a thin ring and swirls on top.

S: The best feature of this beer. Caramels, toffees, and buttery rum dominate with a nutty backdrop.

T: Too many flavors come at you in one shot - there's not enough layering in this beer. It's also a little bitter at the moment, maybe a little past it's prime? Nonetheless I get some white raisins, prunes, and chestnuts.

M: Still has great carbonation after this much time. A smooth beer but definitely a little too watery - maybe that's due to the age?

D: Was not a problem to finish this bottle. Unfortunately there were signs of oxidation.

Overall, a beer with only 9% ABV that ages this well gives me hope that other beers I'm cellaring with higher ABV's will be awesome in 5 or so years.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a auburn brown in color with a reddish highlights.
Smells of spent hops and slight malts.
No barrel aging or bourbon to be found in this beer at all. Still a good amount of spent hops showing in the flavor. Still a good amount of carbonation going on in the flavor. Nothing special gong on here. Move on.
Drinkable, but nothing special.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.73/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Courtesy of Gillard. First Bridgeport rating for me, wow, I've been drinking their beers for years. Pours deep copper with tan head. The aroma is caramel, 90L crystal malts, some roasty malts, very faint dark fruity esters and growing alcohol heat. The taste feels a bit creamy and ushers in roasty 90L like crystal malts mixed with caramel and some pine hop bitterness that leans toward grassy. The alcohol begins to grow and starts to become distracting. I get zero barrel agedness in this beer even though the label clearly states it.

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Photo of scottoale
4.32/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Knuckleheads No. 9 & 10. 12oz. brown embossed bottles, brewed in 1998 & 1999. Both bottles are signed by the guy on the No. 10 bottle - Alfa Zinkus, a Seattle pub owner. Pours a murkish hazelnut brown with a small ivory colored head that dwindled rather quickly.

The smell is sweet and malty with notes of raisen, molasses some vegital greens and alcohol makes it's presence when warmed. The flavor is big and raisen filled with the sweetness of molasses and brown sugar. Green vegital hop brings things to balance with a gentle warming from the alcohol...these have aged very well. Both tasted very similar to a 1998 Old Crustacean I had a few days ago...I love these old Barleywines. Mild carbonation and a full body deliver a lively but smooyh mouthfeel. Good drinkability, the No. 9 has just past it's prime and the 10 is fine...wish I had an 11 to compare to. A big thanks to Travis for making these available to me, Cheers!

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Photo of charlesw
2.3/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On the dark side of murky, orange. No head. Weirdly bitter and unbalanced. Bitter... Well, not as bitter as a Pliny, but it definitely reminds me of one. I imagine that all good barleywines are. The problem, here, is that there is no body/sweetness to balance that out. So, for an American BW what this has is hops. It could use malt and body.

Call it an American Strong Ale and you're probably fine. Maybe even an Old Ale (well, drop the hops, up the color). But BW? Nah.

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Photo of SickBrew
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The barlywine pours a turbid hazelnut brown and supports a modest head that forms slowly from co2 coming out of solution similar to the way a nitro does but on a much smaller scale. Nose is somewhat timid but has that characteristic rich malts and slightly sour and bready notes that I associate with the style. This brew tastes great and is not as "big" as some of the other barlywines. Flavors are somewhat smoother and mellower than some other bareywines and yet it is still characteristic for the style. Hop bitterness is moderate and esters are light. Mouthfeel is medium to full, is not syrupy and carbonation is moderately low.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. Bomber

Poured into my St. Bernardus Watou glass a very nice cloudy dark amber color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy off-white head, which leaves some nice small islands and sticky lacing. The nose is malty, slightly hoppy, spicy, with some figs, prunes, raisins. The taste is very nice, malty, nice touch of hops, slight spices, dark fruits. Medium body, with the alcohol hidden pretty well. Drinkable, this is a very tasty BWSA.

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Photo of JDV
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber with small offwhite head. Smell is sweet, touch of alcohol, and nice fresh hops. Taste is smooth mild malt followed by a bit of warming alcohol that is unobtrusive, however, and some nice spicy bittering hops. Nicely bittered as well. Slightly syrupy body with medium carbonation. This is definitely a well above average barley wine and I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of jakon
2.69/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle purchased $4.49 on 4-2-8 at Whole Foods Portland.

This beer pours a copperish hue with a needing-to-be forced two finger tan head that recedes at an average pace while leaving behind uniform rings of sticky lacing.

Not picking up much bourbon in the aroma. Mostly a caramel/brown sugar sweetness sitting atop a malt backbone and a very light hop presence. Grain alcohol.

The taste first reminds me of malt liquor. I can taste the bourbon, but it comes across very raw and medicinal. The hops provide bitterness, but not much in the way of the more subtle flavors.

Overall, this was a disappointment for me. It's an ok beer, but I was just expecting something better.

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Photo of smttycty
2.88/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

It took a second aggressive pour from the bomber to get a decent crown. Good legs and decent lacing on my snifter. Reddish brown semi-opaque body. The nose was nice but not pronounced. Peaty sweet malt tones with an obvious alcoholic hit.

The first sip stopped me in my tracks. I looked at the bottle again. Yes, it says barley wine very clearly. This is the driest version of the style i've ever sampled. Not really what I want from a BW. Lots of alcohol, but no real off flavors to stop me. There is hop character in back but it doesn't linger. Kind of an oaky bourbon thing with a clean finish. The carbonation is just right for the medium to heavy bodied brew.

Weird! Definitely not what I'm look for in a barley wine, but drinkable in a one-before-bedtime kind of way. Either way, with BridgePort's long history in the craft beer world I think they need to practice a little more on this style.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.87/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A vertical tasting of six vintages on consecutive evenings, followed by bottling #12.

Vintage 1992, bottling #4, 6.4oz nip at 6.7%ABV.

The cap cracks with barely a whisp, and an exaggerated pour revealing zero carbonation.
Burnt amber in color, with some fine particulates in suspension, and not a trace of head.
Aromatics are laced with malt, leather, toffee, dried figs, and caramel.
The malt is surprisingly juicy, with barely a trace of oxidation.
The mouthfeel is slick and sticky. A slight amount of fine carbonation shows itself.
The pallet is malt-heavy, with some faded citrus below plenty of raisins, wet leather, reduced caramel, and toffee.
Bittering as well as all other hopping is gone, and no apparent signs of oxidation on the pallet.
Finishes with some warming alcohol, lingering sweet malt, and plenty more chipped toffee.

Pretty faded in general, but for a 6.7% brew, it's held up incredibly well for sixteen years! Holding steady at a solid "B".

Vintage 1993,bottling #5, 6.4oz nip at 6.7%.

Pours the same color as the 1992, but with some faint carbonation. Almost a whisp developed on the surface.
Aromatics are more intense, as well as the pallet. Plenty of tobacco, leather, juicy malt, and chewy caramel. A hint of drizzled chocolate is apparent in this vintage.
Still no hops, and very little oxidation, if any. Almost a "B+", but not quite.

Vintage 1996, bottling #8, 12oz at 9.9%abv.

Pours identical in color to the previous vintages, but a beige head of a quarter-inch developes.
Quite a different beer. Dark fruits in the nose, with raisins, toffee, and toasty malt.
A fuller, lightly carbonated mouthfeel, and far less syrupy.
The pallet is still quite malt-forward, but it's much cleaner, and with a bigger alcoholic bite.
There is a fair amount of bitterness present, as well as added vineous and sherry-like qualities.
Improved from the previous vintages overall, but the depth of flavor and complexities of the elders is missed.
A solid "B+".

Vintage 1997, bottling #9, 12oz at 9.1%.

Pours dark amber once again, but with a lot of sediment, even with a shortened pour.
A beige head of an inch-plus finally developes with this vintage, resulting in some streaks and dots of lacework also.
Aromatics are laced with dusty malt, rum-soaked raisins, sherry, and a hint of smoke.
Some faint wet-cardboard shows some age.
Mouthfeel is crisper than the elders, and less sticky. Almost creamy, with a very soft carbonation.
The pallet has plenty of malt, but it's less juicy than the elders, and is underscored with wet paper.
Alcohol is more subtle than the 1996, and bitterness is medium, at best.
This one comes in just behind the 1996, even with the increase in carbonation. <B+.

Vintage 1999, bottling #10, 12oz at 9.1%

Color unchanged from the previous. A full one inch-plus of thickish beige with similar lacework to the 1997.
The malt is a bit juicier in the nose, but the hint of smoke is more apparent as burnt rubber or smoldering peat.
The mouthfeel is fuller and creamier, but still lowly carbonated.
The pallet has a significantly fresher malt profile, with still a good mix of caramel, toffee, and residuals. Some underlying citrus shows itself in this vintage.
Alcohol is also more apparent, with some lingering warmth, and bitterness is a smidge increased. Back to a solid "B+".

Vintage 2003, bottling #11, 12oz at 9.1%.

Pours a bit lighter in color than all the other vintages. Dark amber with crimson hues.
A tight, beige head with a decent amount of lacework.
Aromatics are superior. Plenty of ripe fruit, juicy malt, vanilla, caramel, and some butterscotch. Vineous and complex.
The mouthfeel is crispish, with plenty of chewy malt and a light to medium amount of carbonation.
The pallet has a restrained amount of malt compared to the elders. Dark fruit, sugared spruce bark, and a bourbon-like fusel note.
Bitterness is medium, and balancing.
Finishes with lingering warmth and tacky malt.
At five years old, this vintage stands firmly in "A" territory.

Generally speaking, the fresher the vintage, the better, with the exception being the 1997, which was bested by the 1996.
The 1996 was also the only vintage at 9.9%abv.

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Photo of ojiikun
3.82/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found on tap as the '05 vintage at a strong beer fest at Collins in seattle. Served in a 12oz goblet, has a little head that falls to a doilie in moments. Body is dark, dark brown down the center and a cool amber on thew edges. Crystal clear.

Restrained nose with pretty strong malt notes, dark candi, and fruity hops.

Taste is overwhelming. Fresh limes, oakey booze, sour fruit. Meaty, salty middle of black teas, a middle that is reminiscent of gin, and with a finish like irish pot still whiskey and very hard cheese. Sweet but not overly so, balanced well with all the sour acid. Aging has really brought the components together. Grains remain clear, hops get a little muddy with the booze, but are still prominent.

Mouthfeel isn't sticky but is coating. Carbonation could be stiffer. Booze hides well, but not completely.

This brew is big on flavour, overwhelming this geek's palate without remorse. Time has merged things but not mellowed them. Might actually be even more remarkable at a year old or less.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a deep bronze with a nice creamy head that dissapates pretty quickly leaving a light amount of lace seems to be quite heavily carbonated for a barleywine.

S: Very fruity aroma not much hop presence very juicy and effervescent,maybe a touch of brown sugar.

T:Alot of different malty/fruity flavors going on some caramel and raisin with alcohol cutting hard thru the fruit a light dryness in finish but I didnt pick up the hops as much as others have.

M:Big and bold very flavorful the beer has a prickly feeling in the mouth and it warms the insides.

O: Not bad.

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Photo of mcallister
4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Russet colored, deep and bold with vibrant ruby hues. Head is brilliant white with tremendous length.

Pine riddled hop with sweet toffee malt and a fig backing. Prune and some raisiny aspects witha maple and brown sugar push.

Coconut and nutty flavors come to the fore front and lead into a fresh smyrna fig flavor. Dates and brown sugar seem to mystify the senses with a dry finish that may be too fruity. A feathery light body and mouthfeel fit this beers style and is a good barley wine for a warm fall evening at the brewery.

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Photo of ccrida
3.91/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on draft at the brewery in their Old Knucklehead glass, the barleywine is a medium dark garnett/ruby color with moderate, light tan head leaving a bit of lace.
The aroma is very good but understated, malt, fruit, caramel and some citrusy hops, and no real indication of the ABV.
The taste is similarly understated, particularly for a western US barelywine, but that is what I really liked about it. There are other more robust offerings out there that I like better, but just as many, if not more, overdone palate busters that I just don't find to be that drinkable, which Old Knucklehead certainly is. There is not a ton of complexity to the taste, but it's plenty interesting. Starts out pretty malty, caramel and other specialty grains, apricot and a distinctly nutty character, almost boarding on hazelnuts, a al amaretto. There is enough bittering hops to keep this very well balanced, which is something I've found too many barelywines to be lacking.
The mouthfeel is moderate to light for the style, with a medium amount of carbonation.
The drinkablity of this is pretty high as it is deceptively strong and mild tasting for a barleywine, although maybe not that exciting.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.71/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a 2004 vintage on tap at the Falling Rock for Barleywine month. Poured into a pint glass it was dark red-orange with a very short white head. The smell was faint and indistinct. The taste was good but didn't taste much like a barleywine, more like a malty DIPA. I couldn't taste the alcohol I definitely felt it after drinking this one. Oh well I wanted to try this for some time and now I have.

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Photo of Sammy
3.62/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Soapy off-white head, a hoppy barleywine. Carmel malt, a little roast. 2003 edition, average barleywine. A complexity of hops, citrus,cinammon and fruit. It all sounds tastier than it really is. Maybe by itself at dinner. Ohio International gathering, thanks JSquires.

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Photo of Gavage
3.43/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: clear deep dark burgandy in color with a nice 1/4" head that slowly faded. Some spots of lacing developed.

Smell: general sweetness and a bit of alcohol are picked up by the nose.

Taste: strong malt level here with prunes and raisins bringing an extra sweetness. A bit of dark chocolate is detectable and this is mildy bitter. Alcohol is definitely noticeable.

Mouthfeel: basically smooth, almost syrupy on the tongue. Heavy bodied. Flavors last forever on the tongue after swallowing.

Drinkability: so-so. The overall flavor was a bit better than average but this just did not excite me at all to think about having another. Try it but your mileage may vary...

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Photo of RBorsato
4.85/5  rDev +22.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tasted at the BridgePort Brewing Co./Brewpub in Portland, OR on 06/15/06.

Mahogany in color with a low tan ring for the head. Aroma was primarily malty with a hint of hops shining thru. Very well balanced strong malt profile with lots of hops and any alcohol character was well hidden. Perfect balance of hops and malts. Full-medium bodied and smooth with a warm lightly bitter finish.

A wonderful ABW without trying to be over the top on ABV !! Much more enjoyable than some of it's jet-fuel counterparts.

Per BB website:
11th vintage (?)
ABV: 9.1%, OG: 20.8, IBUs: 60

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Old Knucklehead Barleywine from BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
Beer rating: 3.96 out of 5 with 222 ratings