Tasting: May 19, 2011
Style: American Barleywine
I wrote commentary on Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary a couple of weeks ago. It’s an ale comprised of a blend of their Pale Ale, Celebration Ale and Bigfoot Barleywine. I gave that brew a 93 — but it made me think that I haven’t had a Bigfoot in a while and it put me in the mood to pick some up.
Barleywine is an odd name for a style of beer — it’s made from grains (hence – “barley”) and is typically high in alcohol — to be comparable to the alcohol content of “wine”, Its roots are in England — so, you know the anglophile in me already has a positive prejudice for this style. I don’t see any OG on this label (typical of high ABV brews) – but I do see an ABV of 9.6%. To me, that says one per night please or you’ll be passed out on the couch. Another thing you don’t see on the label…330 calories…yikes.
Pours a ruby copper color with a great big pillow of head. It smells wonderfully sweet like caramel. I get an interesting swirl of “bready” yeast, alcohol, earthy oak and piney hops over a subtle malt base. The hops definitely take over this beer. The alcohol is certainly evident, but not surprising. The bitter hop lingers in the front of my mouth and it leaves a fair share of stickiness.
This one is the 2011 “vintage”. I wonder what it would be like in a couple of years — unfortunately, it’s so enjoyable now, I couldn’t see it lasting long enough to find out. If you haven’t had one — get one. 91 points.