OK, I really like big beers. Belgian Tripels, Imperial Stouts, Old Ales, I enjoy contemplating the complexities of life through the huge flavors, over-the-top hops and higher alcohol content of the brewer’s extreme offerings. ‘Tis the season for the annual release of Sierra Nevada’s Barleywine, “Bigfoot”. I got my hands on a six-pack today and enjoyed one as a reward for grinding the grains with which I am going to brew tomorrow, and another while watching my favorite TV show tonight, “Leverage”. Gotta tell you, I don’t remember as good a vintage as this 2010.
First contact: Gorgeous reddish-amber, crystal clear, and a well-developed off-white head.
Aroma: Hops dominate, but there is a lot of caramel/burnt sugar/general maltiness plus a wave of alcohol. The label says 9.6% abv. I believe it.
Body/mouthfeel: this is a rich beer, full-bodied and smooth. Not syrupy by any means, but definitely more of a mouthful than average. The carbonation levels not only make it “lighter” in body than it could be (and thus more eminently drinkable) but also really help bring out the hop bite. You get fizzy bubbles, but when they burst you get an awesome hop flavor.
Flavor: More hops than malt, but almost as much alcohol as hops. It’s bitter, as it should be but it’s also sweet. And bitter again, and malty and sweet again… Folks, there’s so much going on in this beer you can lose track. Bread, raisins, bitter hops dueling with caramel, molasses, not at all fruity, and seriously bitter… Did I mention that it’s pretty bitter? But in a good way….
Go get yourself some and see what you think.