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 grynder33
3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very faint malt aroma,very blackish with a small head, sweet pleasant malt taste, a wonderful smooth texture on the tongue. I was hoping that some other flavors would start popping up as the brew warmed, but it really didn't happen. A nice enough beverage, but I like barleywines a little more compex.

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Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.01/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 Vintage, Run 011.
Tan head sits atop this very red amber brew. Minimal particulate matter.
Aroma of rich, sweet toffee, caramel malt. Woody and earthy with a bit of alcohol as well.

Taste shows a rich, smooth, caramel malt backbone. Woody and earthy. Solid hop balance. Neutral and not overbearingly sweet like some barleywines. Hint of dark fruit up front. Alcohol is well hidden. Finishes well.

Good mouthfeel, although the body isn't quite as full as many barleywines.
Very drinkable.
Overall, a good, balanced barleywine.

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Photo of ark57
4.29/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage - It is ruby with some brown tinges to it. The aroma is very fruity with strong cherry notes and some hops evident. The full body is very malty and fruity. Cherry is the dominant flavor, but there is also some banana. It finishes slightly bitter and has a good warming punch.

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Photo of lou91
4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1996 vintage in 2004. Wow this beer has aged very well showing an amazing mouthfeel and rich thick malty goodness. The beer poured still with a clump of sediment landing at the end. The color was dark amber brown with little nose. It has a similar profile to thomas hardy with subtle sweet fruit and chocolate notes and a thoroughly satisfying alcohol warmth. This is my last bottle of this great vintage and great to see this beer tasting so good for so long.

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Photo of ZAP
4.12/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an orange-tinted brown....nose is sweet dark fruits...blackberries...plums....black cherries...fantastic nose..full bodied....smooth in the mouth..some spicy alcohol bite on the finish...sweet maltiness is in the forefront...but a nice dose of hops enters on the finish along with the alcohol..the taste is sweet dark fruits....but the hops really bite off an over-sweetness on the finsih...a real tight chinook type bite on the finish..works splendidly..

An excellent BW...very balanced and tasty....the nose is really nice....everything else is well above average....can definitely taste the ABV on the buds...this one shouldn't sneak up on you...sip it..savor it...and enjoy it...

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Photo of sulldaddy
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I received this one from Weefishheads. Excited to try this years offering. I last has this in 1998 I think.
2003 vintage Fred Eckhardt does the label honors.
I sample this from a snifter I receieved at a recent beer event.
12 oz bottle pours a clear ruby amber color with a small beige head foaming up and fading rather quickly.
The aroma is fruity and complex. I get raisins, plums, ripe pears, some caramel and just a hint of alcohol.
The carbonation is very soft and the body is slightly thick.
I am definitely enjoying this one so far!
Flavor is very similar to the aroma. Plums and raisins lead the beer into my mouthand carry through the middle. But the finish is a little of a surprise, a nice piney hop bitterness comes in out of no where and leaves me wondering where they came from.
The finish is also slightly dry.
A very nice example of the style. I wonder if this one varies from vintage to vintage??
Thanks for a great brew weefisheads!!!

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Photo of BeerResearcher
3.55/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2003 Vintage.
It poured an orange-hued dark amber/brown with a thin off-white head.
An earthy barn-like aroma (not in a bad way) houses smells of sweet malt, citrus and alcohol.
The malt has a caramel and candy sugar sweetness mix with a hint of chocolate.
The hops have a peppery spiciness and white grapefruit edge, along with lemon and orange zest bitterness. An unrelenting astringent medicinal taste and white grapefruit rind tang is a bit much and a bit hard to swallow.

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Photo of genaro
3.82/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Old Knucklehead (2003) pours out to a brown/copper color. The head is alright and there is decent lace.There was not too much aroma, just some muted fruit and caramel.The taste was interesting- citrusy with hints of apple, figs, orange peels, caramel, and alcohol, of course. The mouthfeel was smooth and a little oily. The finish was dry and a little fruity. A pretty good winter beer to mellow out with.

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Photo of jtfest
4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11th bottling -- clear but dark reddish amber, small tan head -- big malt aroma. Mouthfeel so full it's almost chewy! Really smooth without a bit of alcohol bite. This is one tasty and dangerously drinkable barley wine! The funny thing is that it has a hint of a taste that’s familiar, but I just can’t place it -- almost a candy, I think -- but not sweet. Not very helpful, I know, but the point is that this is a great barley wine. Highly recommended.

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

11th bottling (2003). This year's knucklehead is Fred Eckhardt, a "craft brewing pioneer." Poured a dark reddish amber color, with a big beige head that eventually simmered down to a foamy collar.

Smell is of sweet, sugary malts. But its not cloying, as there are also elements of caramel, cherries, raisins, dates, etc.

This is a very tasty barleywine. Up front is a caramely, sweet candy taste, but it is balanced by the dark fruit flavors. There is a very slight hoppiness at the end, but it is really just along for the ride. Also a slight warming alcohol lurking in the background.

This beer has a nice mouthfeel, I had no thinness issues with it.
Drinkability was quite good, although it would be a bad idea to make this a session beer due to the 9.1%abv.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.42/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazed shade of burgandy. Thin and tight off white head. Lace comes in rings. Aroma is quite nice. Sweet and exotic. Passion fruits and pineapple. Ripe melon. And some piney hop notes as well. The ripe fruit flavors hit the palate first. Pineapple and orange rind. Melon. Then comes a wave of alcohol. But it's definitely not a tidal wave. Malts seem to be caramel and toffee based. But they aren't overbearing. Overall, a nice blend of malt and hops in this BW. Nicely carbonated full bodied beer. This one is a keeper.

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

2003 edition, with jovial, beret-bedecked Fred Eckhardt raising a glass to us from the label.Appearance: in the light a clear, perfectly rich, bright garnet out, out of the glare, it approaches plum, with a terrifically plush, creamy, eggnog-colored head.
Aroma: potent and sweet, complex, awash with associations of dark fruits, cherries, grapes, but with a wicked, roasted kick. Deep, dark, divine.
Taste: fierce, but friendly, hops, big, matched well with lush, solid malt, mmm, tasty. Full-bodied, long, happy finish, with the alcohol not asserting itself immediately, but ringing in by 1/3 of the way through. Although, at "mere" 9.1%, it doesn't rope-a-dope you like certain bodacious barleywines, Victory Old Horizontal, just of the top of my head...and that's a good thing, for certain. A full-flavored, warmly textured, utterly delicious bw that caresses it's way into your heart, rather than blundgeoning into your braincase.

Thanks to vitriola for this bottle!

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Photo of Realale
4.47/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful clear deep burnished cherry wood color. Fine 1/2" beige head settles to a thin incomplete cap.

Nose is rich toffee and caramel. Lots of dark candied fruits as well - raisin, prune, cherry. Touch of vanilla and allspice as well. Manages all this without being cloying, and, in fact, has a refreshing lightness to it.

Thick and rich in the mouth. Base is toffee/treacle but with a good underlying bready maltiness. Lots of fruit. Hop is firmly in the background, but becomes evident on the finish . Bit of chalkiness as well. Very well-balanced, and very long. No alcohol taste at all, a plus in my book.

Mouthfeel is very good, adding just a touch of lightness to the full body of the beer. Exceptionally drinkable for what it is. A top-notch barleywine. Big thanks to MJR for bringing this one back from his vacation for me!

2003 edition (11th) 12 oz bottle.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – A decent barley wine head atop a deep, brown body with a tinge of orange.

Smell – This one has a nice bouquet of deep, ripe fruits rolled in molasses and balanced with sharp hops. The toasted malt lays the groundwork for some strong smells of smashed dates and apricots soaked in alcohol.

Taste – Boy, this is big. The sweetness comes out in force here. There seems to be more sugars than in the nose – brown sugar, table sugar, and molasses again. The overly ripe brown pineapple flavor soaks well in the dark rum. The hop and malt profiles battle to a standstill. This one is complex and fun.

Mouthfeel – Flat and refreshing and definitely full-bodied. You can almost roll this one into a ball.

Drinkability – I doubt that the stern alcohol warning of this ale will slow many. This is one for the ages.

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Photo of ADR
3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2003 bottling, No. 011 run...

Orangey brown appearance, finely carbonated head of an 1/8 of an inch. Long glass ringing lace with drips every 1/2 inch or so. Aroma is on the light side, slight molasses with a far away asphalt hop sense. Fruity pear liquor flavors, low on the carbonation side produces a smoothness and a light hop sense. One of the few times I could use a little more carbonation. This is maltier than than the already malty Avery I just tried and may lean too far in the sweet and fruity direction. As much heat from the alcohol as from a resious pine sense that's mostly a feature of the aroma. I'd drink this if it was available locally, could be spicier...

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Photo of freed
4.82/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Horse Brass Pub has this firkin in an oak cask. Got it for the 2003 Oregon Brewers Festival. Well then I'll have to try it!

Deep cherry and currant color with no head but a few bubbles, it shows a slight change of color when lifted to light. Even over the ambient smoke in the room, the rich malt, fruit, and spice aromas are obvious. A taste reveals flavors along the same line, rich sweet malts, tart apple, smooth melon, and bright spice notes. Rich and warm in the mouth, it swallows much easier than it should, but the small glass is just the right size for desert. Thanks to the waitress for bringing this one out.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.78/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark amber color, medium head. Richly malted and intensely hoppy, Well aged barley wine style ale. This is the 1999 version, tasted in May 2001; aging has not harmed this beer. Complex subtle flavors, mix of malt and hops nearly resinous in taste. Aging has done some interesting things with the malt sugars in this beer; there are many layers of taste and interaction. Mouthfeel is full and round. Very smooth. Finish is crisp. Aftertaste is hoppy and malty, a little bitter. No noticeable alcohol bite, despite the 9.1% alcohol. Very nice beer.

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Photo of GreenCard
3.96/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The "Fred Eckhardt" bottling (2003?)...

Appearance: a beautiful deep reddish brown, great clarity and quite an impressive creamy head for a barleywine, great head retention and lacing

Aroma: big hit of fruity esters (pears & strawberries) and a bit of clove, woodsy hops, alcohol, a hint of sherry

Flavor: upfront minty hop flavor and a respectable bitterness, the malty backbone is no wimp either (coming in strong just before the semi-sweet finish), the tasty hop bitterness in the aftertaste makes sure the beer doesn't get cloying, some sherry in the background

Mouthfeel: lusciously full-bodied and smooth, nice warming alcohol hit without burning, just enough carbonation

Overall: Another great barleywine. I'm pretty picky with this style of beer because there are so many that just clobber you with bitterness or cloying sweetness. This one is really well balanced and supremely delicious, but it packs quite a punch!

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Photo of Quaffer
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11th bottling, 2003

Appearance: This beer poured a dark brown that actually showed its true, deep ruby color when held up to a light. A light tan head rose up to one finger in the goblet and then settled back into a thin layer of foam that capped the brew for most of the drink. There was not much lace to speak of.

Smell: The main components of the smell were a typical sweet maltiness combined with dark fruit. These were combined with more subtle aromas of bread and yeast. The 9.1% alcohol also started to reveal itself as the beer really started to warm up.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied and very creamy smooth. Occasionally there was a tingle on the tongue from the alcohol

Taste: Upfront, there were flavors of sweet malt (but not too sweet) and cherries. In the middle rose a very vinous flavor that was followed up by a light bitterness on the finish. An alcohol flavor was also present on the finish, but it was not overpowering at all.

A very nice, mellow barley wine. The flavors were good, but this brew was not even close to being a powerhouse barley wine. Long-term aging might not benifit this brew much.

Oh, yeah. My cat liked it, too.

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Photo of marc77
4.31/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Brilliantly clear garnet hue. Topped by an almond white, thick, creamy, pitted head that leaves Belgian lace. The aroma is a melange of butterscotch, figgy esters, mild sherryish notes of oxidation along with earthy hops. As the beer breathes, dark caramel malt sweetness with a roasted tinge couples with the woody hop nose lending a sweet, fresh tobacco impression. Nutty, brittle esque sweetness is perceived upfront in flavor, then yields to a combination of moderate hop bitterness and burnt toffee. Diacetyl emerges mid palate along with a resurgence of sweetness in the form of darkly fruity, fructose laden dates. Permeating notes of woody oak meld with the buttery undertone, forming a agreeable suggestion of rich carob late. A touch lightly bodied and shy of residual dextrins, but that's perhaps due to the moderate starting gravity for style. Finishes with a snap of bubblegum esters ensued by a mild, tannic bitterness and fading toasted malt. Old Knucklehead is a delicious, complex barleywine that packs excellent depth of character into a package both light on the palate and in alcohol, when compared to ubiquitous, overly assertive examples. Stately and very tasty.

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Photo of Gusler
4.27/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I must say that there is little experience better than chasing an 8% ABV Beer with a 9.1% ABV beer, to make you realize, that we are all “Mortal”! But then I do have a 13% ABV beer waiting to chase these two?

A luminous deep ruby color on the pour, the head majestic in size, bubbly in texture, and light beige in color and the residual lace clings lovingly to the glass. A light hit of fusel alcohol, bubble bum, maybe a sweet over ripe pineapple tone, a great sniffer to be sure, start sweet and nicely malt laden, top is middling in feel. Acidic bite at the finish, the hops pounces on your palate, spicy and persistent, quite dry aftertaste that is long lasting and a great representative to the style.

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Photo of Jason
4.44/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12oz Euro-style brown bottle with loads of information about the beer and brewing company -- too much for this forum. Bottling date clearly marked.

Appearance: Hazy brown with amber hues and a wispy off-white ring lace.

Smell: In the proper chalice, this smells of ripe fruit bathing in alcohol with notes of grain.

Taste: Dense mouth-feel, mouthful of grain with nutty, toasty and fruity flavours. More than enough hops to balance this big malt profile, also letting through some leaf. The sharp prickly alcohol is dominant, reddening the cheeks and warming the innards.

Notes: This is a beautiful barley wine, very flavourful and boasting 9.1% abv. The only problem with this brew was the dregs that did not settle, they wandered into the glass even with gentle decanting.

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