Old Knucklehead No.12 (Bourbon Barrel-Aged) | BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub

very good
68 Ratings
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Old Knucklehead No.12 (Bourbon Barrel-Aged)Old Knucklehead No.12 (Bourbon Barrel-Aged)

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
IBU's: 60
ABV: 10.0%
Color: Dark Amber, Toffee
Ingredients: English and American hops, blended with three types of pale and roasted malts.
Description: A barley wine style ale that is aged in American Oak Bourbon barrels, creating notes of vanilla, toffee and sherry.

Added by msubulldog25 on 02-21-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 68 |  Reviews: 63
Photo of genog
4.43/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a trade from Tayner, big thank you my friend.

poured a perfect burnt orange/reddish color with a slight white cloudy head that dies away to just leave tracings of what used to be.

Smell is very similar to a strong west coast IPA with lots of malt and earthy hops. Promising syrupy molases sits around as well.

Taste is candy like sweetness with strong cascade hops followed by some nice citrus flavors. Woody oak and vanilla notes hit the back of the taste buds as it washes away the IPA taste.

Texture is very smooth balancing out a strong barleywine/ipa. This one played very well with the Dark Lord weekend beer lineup.

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Photo of lackenhauser
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coppery, burnt orange in color. Malty and caramel sweet aroma. Plenty of floral hops but the caramel sweetness really dominates. Soft, malty flavor. Heavy hop bitterness. Very mellow bourbon flavor to it. Quite subdued compared to some other beers I have had. Decent mouthfeel-traces of alcohol but not too much. Rather dry when it finishes. Overall a good US barleywine. Not a lot of the bourbon aged notes going on, perhaps it has aged out of it. Special thanks to tayner for this great sample during her offer of "free beer"!

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz picked up at the Coop late last week for about $4.. poured into my New Belgium snifter.

3 finger head drops fairly quickly atop a deep amber brew.. only spotty lacing.

Aroma is complex but seemingly out of whack ... big caramel and toffee with bunchs of C-Hops going on... Woodiness for sure, but it isn't typical .. a little fruitiness and floral moving through the nose.

Flavor strikes me as a young BW with a ton of potential .. big everything .. but not huge. Caramel and toasted malts combine for a fairly thick maltiness.. The barrel aging strikes me in the palate as more of a dry tannic quality .. Citrus and Floral hop flavors.. big bitter backbone.. Some mild cherry fruitiness mixes well .. sorta like a toned-down kirsch essence.. I am getting very little "bourbon" .. a little vanilla as it warms significantly .. For the style ... mouthfeel is definitely on the shy side of medium.. carbonation is still a little prickly... although light... alcohol is still fairly heavy.. but that will go away with 6 months in the cellar.

I have no idea what to make of this brew.. I really like it right now.. but I know it is going to age like a champ.. Needs some time to meld for sure... It seems to have the hoppiness of an American BW.. but none of the bigger viscosity that is expected. Sorta reminds me of a wood aged DIPA.

Best thing about the Knucklehead #12 (in my Boise mind) .... it took 2-4 months of bitching and moaning ... and we somehow got it in Boise. Big thanks to Wildaho and reinheitsgematt for helping make a ruckus to get brews into Boise that we deserve.

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Photo of ElGordo
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the 22oz bottle into a Maudite snifter. Body is a deep brown/dark reddish hue depending on the light, topped by a small, creamy off-white head that fades rather quickly. Aroma of rich, sweet malt, a touch of mocha, hints of vanilla bean and bourbon, and a substantial whiff of alcohol. Palate is sweet malt up front, with a hint of fruity hops. The bourbon character emerges mid-palate, leading to a warm finish with a lingering alcohol presence. Body is full but not too thick or sticky. A thoroughly enjoyable offering from Bridgeport - I'm happy to have the opportunity to try a bourbon barrel-aged version of this beer, which has been a personal favorite for years now.

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Photo of deepsouth
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this beer poured a brown color with a nice tan head and a few rocky bubbles. lacing all the way down the glass as i drank it. the smell is sweet like caramel and the bourbon aging is apparent as well. the taste is assertively bitter at the start, but finishing sweet. i also taste some citrusy hops. there seems to be no attempt to hide the alcohol. the mouthfeel is full and syrupy, nice for a barleywine. overall, i think this beer is going to age well and i'm glad i have a couple more for that specific purpose. a nice barleywine.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.11/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours a reddish, hazy caramel color, lots of bubbles to this one. Two fingers or more, rising up above the top of the Sam Adams glass. Recedes very slowly and is well-supported by a steady bead from underneath. A foamy cappucino-like top, very creamy and resilient, leaving plenty of lace coating behind.

Aroma - a distant grain that is hard to place, but a very orangey, citrusy bit that is easy to pick up. Some piney bits in the background, too.

Taste - predictably sweet and grainy. Also predictably hot. A nice bit of oak and whiskey have enough strenght to get through the abv veil. They are tasted more right after the swallow along with some piny hops. The finish is hoppy, dry, boozy, and whiskey, all combined, with the piny hops having the most persistence. Ends with a breath of roasted grain, perhaps even a bit of chocolate but it's hard to tell. A little rough with alcohol heat but certainly the best time to appreciate the full hoppiness of the brew.

Mouthfeel - very smooth and slick, a touch heavy. The carbonation is actually more spritely than the heaviness portrays. The head retention is so good yet the smoothness tamps it down some.

Drinkability - an enjoyable beer, though awfully strong. Definitely will be laying a few down for a couple years.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is my first experience with the knucklehead, and needless to say, I was excited when the bottle came in the mail. I let this one warm up a tad above cellar temperature before pouring into a snifter. A beautifully hazy orange tinted ruby color then appeared before me. Very interesting color on this one, bright and subdued at the same time. A small head of white foam then graced the top, but hung on only for a moment before retreating to the sides of the glass and leaving its trace all along as it went down. No visible carbonation and a good amount of cloudiness to it.

The aroma was very hoppy, and I was a bit surprised by this. It had that nice fresh floral hoppiness mixed in with strong notes of alcohol. I could tell right from the start that this one was going to need about six more months to reach its full potential, but never the less we push on to see how it will unfold. A very nice sweetness starts to come though when it got to its peak temperature around sixty degrees. Very interesting blend of wood aromas and hops in here. The flavor was still a bit young as well, with strong notes of fresh alcohol and astringent hops coming through almost immediately. A good bit of sweet candy like malt in the background, that you knew it was going to take some time for that to really shine through. A nice woody flavor, though I really picked up no bourbon aroma or taste in this one. The finish was long and dry, and very bitter, reminiscent of the strongest and hoppiest of double IPA's. A nice smooth medium bodied ale, not overly carbonated, but not syrup like either. This was definitely a big barley wine, and in fact tasted somewhat bigger then it actually was. I finished the bottle, but it did take a while.

Overall I thought this was very nice, though it really needs some time to settle down to let some of the alcohol fade and allow the hops to tone down to try and bring out some of those bourbon barrel flavors that are getting squashed right now. Still though I think this has a lot of potential, and is certainly drinkable now, especially for the hophead. A really good call and it should definitely be sought out.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - rich clear amber / orange color with a light tan head that lasts the entire bottle.

S - sweet malts, caramel, citrus and grassy hops, cocoa and a noticable abv presence.

T - a very assertive bitter effect dominates, not quite astringent but it's strong. Caramel / toffee, some citric / grassy hops, herbal hops. There is a bare hint of bourbon and oak but if I didn't see it noted on the label I'm not sure I'd look for it so hard.

M - full bodied, nicely carbonated, boozy, sweet and bitter with a lingering bite.

D - One was enough for me.

This beer seemed to be a jekyl and hyde beer for me. One sip was overly bitter, one sip was sweeter and another had a trace note of bourbon. It's a bit rough for me to call it a 4 for an american barleywine but the price point is such that I'd take a flyer and put 4 in the cellar to see if time sets this beer to rights.

If you're looking for a good bourbon barrel aged brew I'd try some others. If you like hoppy beers and want to try a very reasonably priced barleywine this is worth a shot.

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Photo of DIM
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a clear ruby red with copper highlights. It pored with a smallish light tan head that faded fairly quckly.

s: Fresh, sweet dark fruit aromas come on strongly without being cloying. Plums in particular stand out. The hops are present to a lesser degree. They are citric and smell mostly of oranges. These aromas all blend extremely well with mild bourbon notes. This is barrel aging done right.

t: Here again the fruit flavors from the hops and the malts compliment one another very well. Super fresh orange and grapefruit hops and semi-sweet plums are both gently blanketed by faint bourbon flavors. The finish brings a much stronger bourbon flavor along with some oaky vanilla. Bridgeport has achieved an outstanding balance with this one.

m: The carbonation is gentle and long lasting. The body is silky and a bit creamy.

d: I absolutely loved this, one of the best barleywines I've had. If you get the chance, grab some of these.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.08/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a reddish-brown body with a full, frothy, off-white head.

Smell: Weak aroma with just some tired, musty pale malts, a pinch of white pepper, and a handful of sawdust.

Taste: Pale maltiness with vague tastes of caramel and cinnamon spice. A few wooden popsicle sticks. Earthy bitterness. Light, nominal boubron characteristics are all insignificant. If it didn't say "bourbon" on the label, you could easily miss it. Astringent, peppery finish.

Mouthfeel: A bit beyond medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: No thanks. Hardly even average. I dare say the barrel aging didn't pay off one bit.

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Photo of tpd975
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one on a preorder from Liquid Solutions.

A: Pours a wonderful brownish red hue with a nice big thick bubbly head. The head dies down but nice thick patches of lace are left behind.

S: Nice malty aromas with definite woody notes. Very high octane bourbon can be noted as can hints of sweet brown sugar.

T: The taste is rather subtle. The wood is definitely there as is the booze. It is nice and woody with a hint of smoke and vanilla. The sweetness is rather nice and this one is definitely heavier on the malt than hops.

M: Nice and smooth full bodied brew.

D: Fairly drinkable for a Barleywine.

Overall: I enjoyed it. It is no where near the best barleywine in the world, but it is a tasty gem, that should be sought out and given a try.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a gorgeous burnt ruby color with a minimal but defiant head that tries hard not to turn into a crown. It does, but this is a big ol' barlewine...it'll do that. Looks almost exotic sitting there in the snifter.

Aroma is surprisingly reminiscent of an IPA or Double IPA. Very much focused on the hops, which are not even blaring, but certainly prominent and ready to slap the tastebuds a little. The slightest molasses/syrup sweetness comes in and reminds you this is a barleywine.

Candy-like syrupy sweetness and sour, pungent hops create a strong impression from the first sip. Orange comes on nicely as it gets even warmer (I started at cellar temp). Its intensity is heightened by generous warmth from the alcohol. New wood adds an earthy, green tone to the finish, and some vanilla adds more character, although I don't think the bourbon is all that strong. I expected it to be more prevalent, but it tastes more like the barrel itself than the bourbon that was apparently once inside it. It's only there as a trace flavor, and that's fine, as bourbon isn't really my thing.

Texture isn't too thick, hanging relatively in the mouth, but also comes with a layer of stickiness that isn't at all overdone or cloying.

Nice job...the malty side of this barleywine would probably be felt stronger given some age, which I think this could use, but if you like the hoppy barleywines, this sucker is ready for you right now. If only I could be enjoying this with Bridgeport's amazing pizza, which I was lucky enough to have tried last year. Oh yeah.

Mucho thankso to msubulldog25 for sending this and quite a few other barleywines.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After having six vintages in a row all the way back to 1992, I'm really looking forward to this one.

Pours perfectly clear, dark amber with crimson hues. A dense, beige head of an inch or so leaves some fair lacework of ropes and dots.
Aromatics are malty, fruity, and boozy.
Malt-forward as with all the Knuckleheads, in a very juicy way. Ripe fruit aplenty, followed by some pine notes and plenty of vanilla. Bourbon is there from start to finish.
The mouthfeel is medium, creamy, and sticky.
Slightly crisp while being quite tacky.
The pallet is malt-laden and fruity. Bourbon-soaked oranges intermingles with caramel and doughy two-row.
The bourbon is substantial, but not overbearing. Plenty of vanilla and a hint of oaky dryness, especially on the exhale.
Faint spruce bark and stone fruit lend an earthy quality.
Finishes with a lightly building heat on the throat, with a firm bitterness that reaches for dryness but is overuled by residuals.

Wowza. I would be tempted to drink this bottle in two parts, but it's just too damn tasty.

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Photo of pwoods
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. brown bomber, purchased from Liquid Solutions, poured into a snifter. '08 batch.

A: Pours a deep bronzed ruby that's nearly opaque. A bit over 1 finger of lightly tinted head forms with good retention. A decent lacing.

S: Very crisp, citrus fruity esters but... not on the acidic side? Haha. Slightly white pepper alcohol zing in the middle of very robust, fat, chewy malts.

T/M: The white pepper I was smelling is more like a very dry, maybe lightly smoked oak flavor that is lacking the strong vanilla notes. Initial hop bitterness is controlled but becomes rebellious about midway and really starts to rip things apart going into the finish. The bourbon really stands apart from the wood and adds the most natural essence of bourbon that I've yet tasted in a beer... and it compliments the hops rather nicely. Following even more in line with the hops, the bourbon really starts to bite about midway and adds a punch to the back of the throat. Malts are very sweet and contain that added touch of bourbon.

D: 10% and it shows. Half way through the first snifter and I'm starting to feel it. Definitely a sipper but I keep going back for more.

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Photo of John_M
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've always been a big fan of the Old Knucklehead and was excited to hear about this latest bourbon barrel aged batch. I didn't have time to make it over to the main brewery on the NW side, but figured the Alehouse on Hawthorne would probably be carrying it was well. Thankfully, they did.

The beer pours an amber brown color, having almost a tawny toffee look about it. Head retention and lacing were fair, and the beer smells big and malty (as expected), but with a hint of underlying hoppy bitterness. The flavors on the palate pretty much replicate the nose. The beer is very malty and sweet, but there's a good dose of hops in this beer, giving it a dryish, somewhat bitter finish. The bourbon barrel aging is very noticeable on the nose and on the palate, imparting a pronounced vanilla and sherry note to the beer. While the beer is not too heavy or tiring to drink, one does notice the 10% abv., and that along with the vanilla makes the beer just a bit cloying. Frankly, I think this beer could really use some aging in the cellar to smooth out some of the rough edges.

This is a good solid Barleywine from Bridgeport. With luck I'll hopefully be able to try this beer again sometime down the road after it has some age on it. It is a very good beer now, but has the potential to be outstanding I think.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.7/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle courtesy of msubulldog25 and I am surprised that the label doesn't feature the current knucklehead's image. This is a decent looking specimen of a barleywine, ruby red with a huge off-white head that quickly becomes a smattering of bubbles. The first whiff from the bottle suggested juicy fruit gum but it is quickly gone. The aromas from my glass are straight alcohol fumes and a very subtle orange-rind smell with some notes of wood. Whoa, very bitter flavor at first that bites my tongue, then some oakiness but not quite bourbon with a prickly feeling from the alcohol. The more I sip the more I taste wood and then some fruity gum flavors pop up. It has an astringent yet interesting mouthfeel. This is a very good deal for $4.50 considering it is barrel-aged and not widely distributed. I actually think this may improve with about six months, hopefully taming the fumes and astringency but I don't see anything about bottle conditioning on the label. I love breweries like Bridgeport and Full sail that put out bombers of barleywine for less than $4. Oh yeah, if you read this far, make sure you let the beer warm up a bit before drinking it.

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Photo of tayner
4.28/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz brown bottle.

Poured a shoe-leather brown with a creamy, off white head about 1 inch that settled to a thick ring and skim coat with some decent lacing for a beer of 10% abv.

Smells of wood and earthy hop notes. not alot of alcohol in the nose.

Taste is malted wood up front, followed a hint of jack daniels bourbon and some peppery hops at the end. This is definitely on the sweet side, English side. The hops are present and stand up to be noticed, but not until the finish to help dry the palate.

The mouthfeel is medium to thick, sweet and coating, but enough hops and alcohol to have a dry finish.

This one is super drinkable. The 10% is VERY well hidden and will easily sneak up on you if you are not careful. This is one of my favorite barleywines to date, malty with just a hint of bourbon and wood along with earthy, peppery hops to balance it out.

This one is quite drinkable now, but i plan on putting a few away and see how they age and mellow the hop profile. At under $5 a bomber this is a must try for any english barleywine fan, or any fan of bourbon aged ales.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Released in February 2008 in 22 oz. bottles (only 75 barrels/1,100 cases produced). I debated whether or not this was worthy to add as a new entry and ultimately decided that a tweaked recipe/ABV (10%) and partial barrel-aging (10% of the batch held in used Jack Daniels' barrels), not to mention the new 'Bridgeport Big Brews' bottling, were reasons enough to add it...poured from the bottle to a standard pint glass.

From notes found on 'Guest on Tap' blog:
"BridgePort's Old Knucklehead Barley Wine Style Ale, No. 12
IBU's: 60
ABV: 10.0%
Color: Dark Amber, Toffee
Ingredients: English and American hops, blended with three types of pale and roasted malts.
Description: A barley wine style ale that is aged in American Oak Bourbon barrels, creating notes of vanilla, toffee and sherry."

This is dedicated to the newest 'knucklehead', John De Benedetti of Portland's F.H. Steinbart (homebrewer supply shop).

A: Fairly clear auburn/chestnut orange color capped with about 1-finger of light tan/yellow creamy head. Good rising carbonation, steady and evenly spaced. The head drops rather quickly to a thin film, tighter and clingy at the edges. In general, one of the lighter colored barley wines I've seen, but still a pretty color

S: Wow, sweet! Toasted malt that smells strongly of caramel/toffee, sweet fruit/citrus (tangerines, pink grapefruit), a little syrupy booze and a fading vinous, grape-like aroma. Does have a decidedly vanilla and cocoa aroma, too; even flagrant dashes of spice.

T: The elevated (60) IBU level is only apparent as a lasting bittering. The upfront flavors are toasted wheat, juicy sweet orange and herbal/grassy hops, with some ill-defined cocoa powder. Vanilla and oak are repressed and found towards the finish; they provide a nice sweet/tart conclusion to an otherwise malty, more English-feeling barley wine.

M: Exceedingly smooth; for a beer with double digit alcohol this has only a subtle heat. Smooth & mellow with just a faint grassy bittering and latent fusel heat; otherwise, it's nearly perfectly balanced, medium-bodied.

D: Drink right now, no need to age. The subtle heat, fine malt/hop balance, and traces of barrel/wood combine to create a soft, smooth sipper. Alcohol is hidden well but could creep up if you're not careful. Regardless, a nice one to seek out, and an absolute bargain at $4.50/22 oz. bottle.

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Old Knucklehead No.12 (Bourbon Barrel-Aged) from BridgePort Brewing Co. / Brewpub
3.91 out of 5 based on 68 ratings.
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