AleSmith Old Numbskull (2013)

Old Numbskull (2013)  11% ABVAleSmith Old Numbskull
Barley Wine Ale
AleSmith Brewing Company

With some melancholy I move on from my deep dive into Schlafly beers, tours, and tastings.  Don’t worry I bought another 6 pack of Schlafly Coffee Stout yesterday, and will be picking up another Imperial Topaz IPA soon.  Schlafly will always hold a special place in my heart, but there are so many other good beers left to try.  So now I move from the Gateway to the West all the way out to the West Coast, San Diego to be specific.

I take delight in peeling away the blue foil from the silver bottle cap and cracking open this Old Numbskull that was bottled on 12/18/13.  When I bought this bottle I didn’t have much exposure to AleSmith, I had only tried their X Extra Pale Ale, which was really nice.  I bought this bottle and a bottle of the AleSmith Speedway Stout based on hearsay reputation.  Then back in August at BBC14 I was able to listen to the founder of AleSmith during a panel discussion.  What a learning experience for a novice beer connoisseur, such as myself.  I was exceedingly grateful that I had a couple of bottles made by his brewery, aging in my closet.  I can’t wait for BBC15.

When it comes to aging beers, I find that I generally end up aging bottles longer than I expected because I can never find the right excuse to justify my opening of the brew.  Then I stumbled upon one of my better ideas in a while, my current Countdown to 500 unique beer check-ins on Untappd.

What better excuse to drink fantastic beers and raid my “Poor man’s beer cellar1” than to review my final 10 beers in route to  “Legendary Badge” status on Untappd.  So here we are at beer 497.

After pouring the beer into my goblet glass, which is specifically recommended on the back label “Serve in a goblet,” I hold the glass to my nose and pick up on the old familiar sweet Barley Wine aroma.  I move quickly to tasting the beer.  There is a slight bitterness which I wasn’t expecting, although considering it’s an AleSmith beer and it states clearly on the back label “…intense American hops, and an aggressive bitterness” I should have.

While bitter, I wouldn’t say aggressively bitter, but I believe that is due to the aging.  As far as I can surmise the bitterness has truly mellowed out.  This is making me question my schathing review of the Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine.  I’m guessing that beer’s bitterness mellows with time also, which prompts me to want to purchase one and age it, giving it another trial.  If you are a fan of more bitter and hoppy Barley Wines, I highly recommend drinking a fresh Stone Old Guardian and also a fresh Old Numbskull.  For those like myself, who prefer a more mellow, malty and sweet Barley Wine, buy one of each of these and age them.  Don’t you love the nuances of craft beers and the way they change with age?

Old Numbskull foam clinging to the glassNow for a stab at the mouth-feel of this beer.  It is light for a Barley Wine, and frothy.  The foam lingers in your mouth just as it does on the sides of the glass.  This is not a negative just a unique experience for me with a Barley Wine.  I’m use to a more hearty mouth feel.

All in all, I rather enjoyed this beer.  In my opinion it is nowhere near as good as the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine, but I believe I will go many a year before I find a barley wine on the same level as that brew.

Well that does it for me this week.  If you are a fan of Russian Imperial Stouts, be sure to check out 365 Brew next week.  We are having a whole week devoted to various Russian Imperial Stouts.  Have a great weekend and make sure to drink some great Craft Beers.


  1. Which is my basement bedroom closet. 

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