Old Knucklehead Barleywine | BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

very good
98 Reviews
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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 98 | Ratings: 222
Photo of CRJMellor
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red hue with a slightly off-white one-finger head with tons of lace on the glass.
Aroma deep dark fruits, hint of caramel candy apple and some grain alcohol.
Flavor is somewhat nutty, with caramel and fruit flavors. Some biscuity hits and a spicy, peppery alcohol note.
Mouthfeel is very full and dense with a grainy and somewhat phenolic hit
Drinkability is fairly high. Far some reason this beer didn't work fully for me, the transitions wern't quite right an didn't find the balance between sweet and bitter that appealing. That being said it is still a very good beer.

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Photo of mcallister
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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 Dwreck
4/5  rDev +0.5%

#14. Pours amber to ruby red. Nice oak smell with a vanilla hint. Taste loads of vanilla. Very pleasant. Not as much cherry as i expected. Low carbonation makes the taste and mouthfeel feel well rounded. Head dissipated to a thin line around edge of glass. Overall a nice beer. Just odd for a barleywine to have so little cherry to me. But still a nice take. Especially with the oak and vanilla

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Photo of JDV
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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 woemad
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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 barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +0.5%
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 hoppymcgee
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
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 oberon
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours 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.Very fruity aroma not much hop presence very juicy and effervescent,maybe a touch of brown sugar.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.Big and bold very flavorful the beer has a prickly feeling in the mouth and it warms the insides.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle " No 011" Fred Eckhardt on the label 2003 edition. Lovelly malty aroma mixed with a rather resinous alcohol scent.Prunes and figs come to mind for some reason. Dark amber, almost chesut in apprearance, small white head that dissapears fast..leaving small amount of lace. Taste is chocolate, creamy toffee,rum like, bitter near the end, alcohol is pronounced. Nice on the tongue quite warming going down. I liked this ale..one dimensional maybe but its a bloody good dimension!!

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Photo of GreenCard
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
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 arizcards
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber in early February from Total WIne for $5.99. From No. 013 bottling.

Beer poured reddish-brown with a nice white head that has some pretty good hang time.

Nose is toffee and caramel with some dark fruits.

Taste is well balanced, dark fruits and caramel dominating up front with a nice citrus hop punch finishing things nicely.

Mouthfeel is medium to heavy and pretty smooth.

Overall a tasty barleywine that is not to far off from being an excellent brew.

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Photo of ADR
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
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 Muddybuddy
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is a bottle of 2003 (No.11) bottling that I found at my local bottle shop (beer mail me if you want to know where) and was not kept refrigerated.

Appearance is somthing like a smoky amber with hints of rust. It's like looking through a reddish hued slab of smoky quartz. Pouing out of the bottle very slowly into the center of the glass and either raising the bottle or increasing the tilt allowed me to pour a dense two fingered head with slightly brownish tinges to a cream colored body. This was persistent and left some nice lacework.

Raisins that have been left out in a malty mixture and warmed up slightly with a sharp hops aroma hiding in the background create the main body of the nose on this one. There is a slight sweetness to the smell as well. This could be Old Crusty's cousin!

The taste is heavily malty and will probably be more mellow in a few more years, but hey... I had to try it. There is some definite sweetness to it that makes me want it for desert for some reason. The hops do make an appearance, but a mild one that reminds you of how hops degrade over time. I wonder how hoppy this was when it was bottled. Overall, I like the taste and wish I wasn't spending my time typing this instead of drinking it!

Mouthfeel is very acidic and somewhat dense. I do detect an overall alcohol warming, but it is very slow to set in and is very mild compared to some beers that I have tried lately.

Drinkability: Better than average. Though this beer may not be one I want to drink in quantity due to the heavy body, it is one that I will choose to drink again and want to share with my friends.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Maudite snifter. Pours a medium to dark red-orange amber. Thin light tan head dissipates to ta ring around the glass with light lacing. Nice oaky aroma of sweet caramel malt and dark fruit. Flavor is a flat sweet malt and slight dark fruit that is oddly dry, but finishes with pleasant oak and dried fruit (dates and figs rather than the plum flavors more common in barleywines) with slight hop bitterness. An unusually flavored barleywine that lacked some malt and dark fruit depth. Medium bodied. An interesting take on an American barleywine that I will revisit, but suspect does not have enough depth to age well.

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Photo of meathookjones
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a deep caramel color with a good sized off white head. The head has good staying power for such a strong beer and leaves clumps and sheets of lace around the glass. Aroma is a huge bomb of malt sweetness and dark fruits. A little too much sweetness going on without much else to balance it out. Taste starts off with a sweet fruitiness over a touch of alcohol. Some molasses and caramel are mingling about as well. Ends with a nice fruity alcohol bite. Pretty thick and creamy feel to it that leaves flavor coating your mouth. Good drinkability as well. Goes down pretty easy and is smooth. I could definitely have a few of these if given the chance. Bottled in 2003 with a bottle number 011.

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Photo of ccrida
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
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 WesWes
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a dark ruby red color with a thick frothy off-white head. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that dry and bitter. The taste is good. It a rich malty flavor that warms on the way down and finishes dry, yet creamy. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a decent barleywine. It has a warm, malty flavor and good aroma; a fine sessions beer.

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Photo of pianoguy
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

(17th edition)

22 oz bottle. No bottling info

Pours a dark amber/mahogany body that was slightly hazy. A light tan head dissipated after a few minutes. Some thin lacing

Smells sweet and malty at first pour. This settles down to a health whiff of funky yeast, along with a little oak. Interestingly I'm not getting much scent of the (9.20) alcohol

Taste follows the smell with these exceptions; The oak and the alcohol are much more pronounced.

Medium, almost full feel

Overall. Not bad ! Somewhere between a lighter barleywine and a boozy winter warmer.

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Photo of Jeffsta1
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice, dark amber color. Pale tan head with distinct goldenrod tinge.
Mild nose. Sweet malt, slightly funky.
Taste is a nice balance of malt, sweetness, and some bitterness. More balanced and old-school than many newer barleywines that aim to be loud and over the top.
Mouthfeel is moderately rich, viscous. Perhaps just a tiny bit more carbonation than I'd prefer. But, nice.
On the whole, this is a nicely integrated beer, many good qualities, that I just don't love. Maybe better with food - this is almost surely more food-friendly than many bigger barleywines.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.87/5  rDev -2.8%
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 -4%
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 genaro
3.82/5  rDev -4%
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 grynder33
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
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 beerguy101
3.78/5  rDev -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 GClarkage
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

04/26/06- Purchased at Bottleowrks in Seattle, WA.

Presentation- Aged 2003 version. 12oz bottle with a vintage date on the front label. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Cherry-mahagoney colored pour. 1/2 inch head at pour. Light rim staying power as it warms. Light lacing left behind.

Smell- Tons of dark fruits. Raisins, dates and figs mainly. Deep sweet caramel malt as well. Very nice scent.

Taste- Not picking up even close to the amount of fruits in the taste. Caramel isn't as strong either. Has a light figgy taste with a deeper roasted malt background. Light amounts of dark chocolate as well.

Mouthfeel- Too high of a carbonation for a barleywine. Somewhat cola-like. Lightly bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability- Had higher hopes for this one. Not bad, but just a bit above average.

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Old Knucklehead Barleywine from BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
3.98 out of 5 based on 222 ratings.
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