Alesmith: Old Numbskull (USA: Barley Wine: 11% ABV)

Visual: Cherry red. Large slightly rouged lace leaving head of impressive density.

Nose: Glacier cherries. Light fruitcake and some cinnamon. Strawberry. Custard and crushed digestives.

Body: Thick and syrupy. Strawberry. Solid malt loaf that moves into liquorice. Easy frothing up in feel. Bitter chocolate rises if you hold the beer on your tongue for a while and also allows exploration of some pineapple hops. Fruitcake.

Finish: Liquorice and bitterness. Very bitter unsweetened chocolate. Pineapple hops. Slightly oaken.

Conclusion: On what unexpected twists this weaves. Initially very sweet, fruity and rich in the nose. Very well defined and yet still promises a grace of character. Combined with the rich red colour of the body it makes for quite and impression on that first bite by eye and second by nose.

The main body initially seems to follow the same path with bright strawberry sweetness and a syrupy texture. It is here however that this mystery of a beer brings its first twist. Mid body a liquorice element grows at the back , and carries through into the finish. This twists again turning into a deep bitter chocolate, a mix of high quality and uncompromising bitterness.

So the first sip has been taken, and the beer has had its measure taken. Or has it? As it turns out. No. You see, that bitter chocolate character hangs around and the second gulp is filtered through that lens, leading to a Belgium chocolate and fruitcake air to the whole proceedings.  It’s like drinking a melted box of fruit centred chocolates. This builds up with each sip to give remarkable depth of character.

There are even addition little flairs of character past that, with pineapple hops flaring up every now and then to give a fresh tone. Some times the bitter chocolate can seem to get too heavy, but just as I’m about to go off it, it relaxes the assault and lets the fruitiness come through again.

This is the beer where I get why Alesmith have such a great reputation. A fine beer above and beyond call of duty.
Background: Alesmith, a reputation looking for a beer to match it.  Ok, maybe a bit harsh, I have enjoyed all the beers I’ve tried from them, but so far none so much to match the squeeing I hear from it’s fans. Maybe this one will change that.  Picked up from Brewdogs Guest beer section and shared with neighbours. There’s also a bottle of Speedway Stout in the cupboard which I’m saving to drink after Doctor Who’s mid year break episode. Should be a nice night.