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Beer – #1032 – AleSmith – Old Numbskull

Stepping it up with some  Barley Wine, a style that I’d hold above all others as the ultimate, or pinnacle of brewing. For no reason than in my head it sounds right.

I realise that I gave the local (NZ)  Kereru Paloma Barley Wine a rare 10 on the Pdubyah-o-meter which leaves me little wriggle room with this, but I’m not daunted.

can be enjoyed now

AleSmith Old Numbskull is 750ml big, with 11% ABV, and 96 IBU things, making this around the 330 calories a serve size. In NZ this is 6.5 Standard drink units.

AleSmith Old Numbskull is a 750ml bottle of  a beer in the style of a barley wine Barley Wine / Wheat Wine brewed by AleSmith Brewing Company who are in San Diego, California

More a Salty Sea Dog

Bottle conditioned. Caramel and toffee notes abound in this deep copper-colored American Barleywine-style ale alongside toasted malt and a hint of ripe dark fruits.

Old Numbskull showcases malt sweetness, intense American hops, and an aggressive bitterness.

Extremely well-balanced, the full-bodied mouthfeel and assertive hop profile leads into a deceptively smooth finish.

A West Coast style barleywine. A huge malt profile and a very aggressive dose of premium domestic hops give Old Numbskull a tantalizing complexity, from the aroma to the aftertaste

Old Numbskull can be enjoyed now or laid down for years to come.

So, What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a lovely presentation, the dark purple foil top hides a plain cap and not a cork and cage.

There’s a huge aroma on this, steeped fruits, sugary things all the good things at once.  Ale brown pour with a am off white head that is half a finger on top full of itself and firm. The aroma carries nicely to the glass too. And then it wasn’t. Beer Head a fickle thing at the best of times

It is quite a rich beer, but there is quite an aggressive tang from the alcohol on this that initially is stopping over the softer notes and sweetness that you might be expecting to get on the sup.

What you get too that came as a bit of a surprise is that it’s quite warm right at the very back and end, surprising and interesting and not unwelcome really. It’s nice being surprised by a beer, even in odd ways .  

I wanted it to have more fullness and mouthfeel, to go with that outstanding aroma and lovely looks. However the underlying alcohol tang made it less enjoyable, not hugely but.

Did enjoy that warmness though at the very end and back of the sup and I liked it the more it warmed up, which was in parallel with the amount I drank 🙂

As it warms and with the glass I’m using the aroma just puddles in there and it’s really pleasing on the nose, but even as it warms there is a mismatch between that aroma and the tastes you get, the sweetness and softness, those rich fruits and caramel things, they’re still not really there.

I like Barleywine beer there’s no mistaking that, and although this doesn’t, for me, deliver a match with the aroma and taste it is overall a thoroughly nice bit of beer. It’s shame that the alcohol tang just seems to be one notch higher than the good stuff.

The pdubyah-o-meter rates this as 9 of its things from the thing. The trouble with a hard stop numbering system is that I’m not going to start with the fractions. This is closer to a 9 than an 8 really an is quite a nice beer, I probably should have had it before the Paloma, but I’ve a feeling that I’d still be in the same quandary where I really like Barleywine beer but this isn’t quite what I wanted. It’s probably me.

The double dip review

  • Where did I get it? The local Liquorland to me had a couple and who can go past a Barleywine?
  • Am I enjoying it? of course, I love a Barleywine
  • Would I have another? There are other versions of this I’d like to go to
  • Would I share with a friend on a porch and set the world to rights? Yes, this would be really nice at the end of an evening (despite my early start) with a desert because it deserves company and conversation.

Music for this:  This Is The Lumineers – a playlist on Spotify



A Barley Wine is a strong, top-fermenting ale, with an alcohol contents of at least 9% and up to 13% (or more) by volume. Hops may be hardly noticeable at all or very noticeable. Sip them out of the special glass, that will concentrate the aroma. They are excellent with cigars or with dessert.


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