The Call of the Foghorn

A couple weeks ago I posted tasting notes for Sierra Nevada’s outstanding 2010 release of their Bigfoot Barleywine-style ale. Yesterday I got a chance to compare it with Anchor’s entry in the same category, Old Foghorn.

Two differences jumped out before I even opened it. 1) The stated abv on the bottle was significantly less – whereas Bigfoot weighed in at 9.6%, the Old Foghorn is only a “mere” 8.8%.  In the grand scheme of things, not an unforgivable flaw, but nevertheless… 2) Bigfoot was priced at $12.99 per six-pack, Old Foghorn a whopping $17.99. I could do the math out, but you can see that that .8% abv missing from Anchor’s beer flies in the face of the $5 a rack difference…

Anchor’s label proclaims it to be an all-malt beer (one would hope so!) and dry-hopped (most ales of the style are, frankly). Pouring it out, I noticed it was nowhere near as dark as the Bigfoot – merely a medium amber color, ever-so-slightly hazy, with a modest beige head. A huge waft of malt sweetness hit me, sort of a sweet pretzel/cracker aroma. There were some hops in the bouquet, but they were hiding behind the malt. The flavor continued sweet, leaning towards Graham crackers or ‘Nilla wafers – perhaps even too sweet, as there just didn’t seem to be enough bitterness to balance. Just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything, I took a big mouthful and held it at the back of my mouth and breathed through my nose – not much, a bit of alcoholic warmth, some hoppiness but too restrained for my taste. This is just not as complex a beer as Bigfoot, I’m afraid, although it is certainly drinkable.

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