In my book, one of the best beer names.
Tasting: February 27, 2015
Beer #: 706
This weekend, the calendar flips from February to March and in a short time winter will loosen its grip on the thermometer and our snow pack will recede giving way to the daffodils and crocuses of early spring. I can’t say I’ll miss winter but there are a few of things I enjoy about the cold temperatures. I don’t mind fresh snow with a fire in the fireplace or hearty foods like stew. No doubt, I love big boozy warmers like barrel-aged stout and barleywine.
Barleywine is a confusing style to some but easily explained. First, barleywine is a beer. Large amounts of grain are used (barley) to produce massive amounts of fermentable sugars. In turn, yeast turns these sugars into alcohol with levels approaching that of wine (12% – 15%). Hence barleywine or barley wine. There are basically two types of barleywine – English or American. English barleywine delivers flavors of dark fruit (raisins, dates, prunes) and is typically syrupy and sweet. American barleywine adds bittering hops to compliment the sweet syrupy fruit.
The high temperatures this week have struggled to crack twenty. We’ve awakened each morning to readings a few degrees above or below zero. As I pop open this bottle of Old Numbskull, the temperature is nine degrees. This bomber-sized bottle is going to be an all night sipper. AleSmith is a southern California brewer and their beer is not available in New Jersey however, their beer is fairly available in New York and Pennsylvania. I purchased two bottle of this beer last February in New York. The neck of the bottle on this bottle indicate a bottling date of 1/23/14. The other bottle has silver foil but no bottling date indicated. I assume it may be the 2013 vintage.
It’s taken me about 4 hours to finish off this bottle and my thoughts are that Old Numbskull is very complex. Boozy warmth and syrupy mouthfeel are a given. As the rusty colored beer warmed in my oversized cognac glass, the booziness receded or at least my tastebuds became accustomed. Old Numbskull opened up to a wonderful combination of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla. Some raisins tucked in deep along with an interesting hop spice and bitterness. All good. 93 points from this old numbskull.
I’m happy to say that I have a bottle of bourbon-barrel aged Old Numbskull sitting in my cellar.