Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 5, 2011

Beer: Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, Sierra Nevada Brewing

While still technically a microbrewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing is the 6th-largest brewery in the United States and the 2nd-best selling craft beer behind Samuel Adams. Just because they are big, however, doesn't mean they don't make some tasty brew.

I had Bigfoot a couple of weeks ago and decided I needed to post about it now. As I mentioned in a previous post, most stouts and barleywines can be aged. Aging a beer doesn't make it better, just different. Time allows different flavors to rise up and others to die back, which is why it is generally recommended to buy two bottles of whatever you're going to age. If you don't try one first, how are you going to know how aging changed it?

Now, despite the name, a barleywine is NOT a wine. BeerAdvocate, one of the leading websites on beer rankings and education, has this to say about barleywines:

"Despite its name, a Barleywine (or Barley Wine) is very much a beer, albeit a very strong and often intense beer! In fact, it's one of the strongest of the beer styles. Lively and fruity, sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet, but always alcoholic. A brew of this strength and complexity can be a challenge to the palate. Expect anything from an amber to dark brown colored beer, with aromas ranging from intense fruits to intense hops. Body is typically thick, alcohol will definitely be perceived, and flavors can range from dominant fruits to palate smacking, resiny hops.

English varieties are quite different from the American efforts, what sets them apart is usually the American versions are insanely hopped to make for a more bitter and hop flavored brew, typically using American high alpha oil hops. English versions tend to be more rounded and balanced between malt and hops, with a slightly lower alcohol content, though this is not always the case.

Most Barleywines can be cellared for years and typically age like wine."

Based on that review, it may be easy to ascertain that barleywines are polarizing. There are just as many people who hate them as those who love them. My first barleywine experience was a different brew that will be reviewed later. Bigfoot was my 2nd.

Bigfoot poured a deep amber with a hint of red, and featured a thick and lasting head and lots of lacing. The aroma was very piney, fruity and sweet. The taste was very fresh for a 9.6% alcohol beer, and although I generally don't like bitter hops, it was incredibly smooth. The alcohol is noticeable later on, and it really warms you up. I drank this one with dinner and have another aging. I might have to buy more of this mythical beast because it's a seasonal, relatively cheap, and delicious. I recommend!


Newcomer Adele has become a sensation with her most recent album, especially the song "Rolling In The Deep." I'm definitely a fan of the power and emotion in the song, but her version isn't even my favorite. R&B mastermind John Legend quickly made a cover sans instruments. The combination of voices and his soul make it feel almost like a spiritual. The first video posted is the original Adele version, followed by the fabulous John Legend version.


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