Sierra Nevada-Style Ale – 9.6% ABV
Sierra Nevada is a major player in the craft brew industry. This fine brewery from Chico, CA continues to serve up quality beers that people enjoy drinking. Since I can remember, it has touted that its beers are made with the purest ingredients. I want to put that to the test every chance I get. I’ll take quality over quantity any day. I’ve had several of their varieties, and I can’t think of one that really let me down. This time I was happy to get my hands on the 2011 edition of their Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale.
The first thing that came to mind was that this one gave me all sorts of fresh flavors when I sipped on it. But first, before we get into all that, let’s look at it. The color is a dark ruby red, almost brown. Holding it in the light gives you a bright red hue, fairly hazy. A good head forms after pouring, but upon drinking, a little lacing remains floating around the edge of the glass.
Getting back to those flavors I mentioned before, I get the taste of dark fruits, like cherries and plums mixed with some caramel and malty goodness, plus the alcohol burn generally associated with a beer that’s almost 10%. There is plenty of citrus hoppiness and grapefruit bitterness at the end, which drowns out most of everything else. This is a good beer, although it would take some getting used to by the average Joe beer drinker. That’s because it’s different, it’s very bold in flavor and it’s nice and strong.
It went down with a medium to heavy mouthfeel, but it wasn’t too overbearing. The alcohol burn and the piney hop bite meet, rising to a crescendo at the very end. This beer was good now, but I can’t wait to taste it if I stowed a couple away for an extended period of time. Put ’em in a cellar and let them mature a little more. I’m sure the dynamic will be just as thrilling then and the flavors likely much more smoothly mixed. Very nice barleywine.