30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale

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791 Ratings
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Ratings: 791
Reviews: 432
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.86%
Wants: 34
Gots: 222 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Ghenna on 07-27-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 791 | Reviews: 432
Reviews by Aiptasia:
Photo of Aiptasia
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've generally loved most of the other offerings produced by Sierra Nevada. I decided to pick this one up and give it a try, despite the price. I'm also not typically a fan of stouts and darks, but I figured how far wrong could I go.

A: Pours a dark ruby red, like a very long aged burgundy wine. Serious head, a good three fingers deep with a careful pour. Lacing is good, sticking to the sides of the glass a good 1/4 inch up.

S: Grassy, alcohol, toffee, pine. The aromas are bold and up front.

T: Surprisingly balanced. Plenty of toasty malt flavor tempered gingerly by grape flavored hops. The alcohol content is masked well. Some aspirin bitter on the back end but not bad.

M: Full bodied but not overly heavy hitting. Carbonation is light. Not super-dense, clean tasting on the aftertaste.

D: Very drinkable for a dark beer lover. You might have to keep an eye on your consumption as it goes down easy. Will pair well with pork, sausages, beans, chili, beef dishes.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured nearly pitch black except for some deep reddish highlights when held straight to the light,a creamy-like one and a half finger tannish colored head atop that settled into a frothy mass.A good mix of bitter chocolate and piney hop in the nose,there is some dark fruit and roast as well.A big hopped up dark barleywine here,bitter chocolate and French roast coffee flavors really hit hard upfront,there is some dark fruit as well as some sweet alcohol to give the beer sweetness,a heavy dose of resiny/piney hop cuts thru any sweetness in the finish.A great beer here,it has so much going on,I liked it alot.

Photo of TCHopCraver
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review is from notes on 9-7-11.

The beer pours into a large snifter with a big, fluffy khaki head atop a muddy-brown, blackish body, with a little of a ruby tint. The carbonation bubbles are fast-flowing and the lacing is globby and sticky.

The smell yields pure milk chocolate at first. Some caramel, brown sugar, and molasses creep in next. When agitated, a sharp roastiness emerges.

The taste reveals roasty cocoa, with a bit of caramel and brown sugar. There is just a faint hint of piney hops in the vein of the typical Sierra Nevada hop profile. There is a bit of mustiness as well and the finish is bittersweet and slightly chalky.

The mouthfeel is very full and creamy with a definite roasty and hoppy twinge. It is medium-full bodied.

Overall, this is a solid aged black barleywine. It is chocolate-y, roasty, and quite yummy. Good stuff.

Photo of MadScientist
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A beautiful beer to look at that is very dark brown and deep garnet with good clarity, without a flash light it looks black. The persistent, light brown head is made of compact mousse-like bubbles

S: The alcohol seems to have mellowed and unsurprisingly the hops have died down over the year. A moderately-light citrus hops aroma that quickly fade giving way to bittersweet chocolate and a rich malt aroma backed by a light, floral alcohol aroma and light dark cherry aroma.

T: The initial impression is flavors of bakers chocolate flavor with a firm hops bitterness and a sweet alcohol. There is light dark stone fruit flavor, mainly dark cherries. The balance is fairly bitter, having only a light malt sweetness against a moderately-strong hops bitterness. The finish is medium and the aftertaste is of hops bitterness and chocolate.

M: A medium-full bodied beer with moderate carbonation and a light alcohol warmth.

O: I loved this bee when it was you and fresh for the rich malt, firm hops bitterness and strong hops flavor. A year or so later and this it's still a great beer, a little mellowed and with the aroma and flavor hops substantially muted. I've got another bottle I check on in a year or two and if I find a magic lamp I wish that this beer be brewed on annually.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big pop when the cork comes out...this one pours into my glass a deep black with an easy two fingers of creamy tan foam that sticks around and leaves some nice lacing. Aromas start with a good mix of roast and caramel sweetness bathed in a forward citrus/pine hop mix. Toffee and dark fruits with a little coffee undertone. Quite nice and I like the hop forward aspect of it!

First sip brings a nice malty mix of roast and sweet caramel upfront quickly followed by vibrant citric and pine hop flavors that roll across the tongue. Toffee and dark fruits mix in with a touch of cocoa and coffee. Flows down with solid hop bitterness on the finish. Yum!

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with spot on carbonation. Not overly heavy by any means. Quite drinkable for a barleywine of this size. Another tasty brew in the 30th Anniversary series, I wouldn't mind seeing more black barleywines! Cheers to Sierra Nevada, easily one of my favorite breweries of all time.

Photo of nickadams2
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A_Black with reddish brown hue. Thick , fluffy khaki colored head with lots of lacing.

S_Sweet caramel malt,citric hops.

T_Dark fruits,hints of cocoa and espresso. Rich roasted malt with a dry hoppy finish. Very nice. Very balanced.

M_Thick and creamy. Moderately carbonated.

D_Very delicious and well balanced overall. One bomber should do the trick.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.85/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In a snifter this beer was a nearly black color with a thick light brown head.
Roasted grain aroma, dark fruit. Alcohol noticeable.
Espresso taste, still some dark fruit, late hops. The alcohol was still pretty apparent.
I thought this beer was a little on the hot side. Nice beer, but I liked the other 30th anniversary beers better.

Photo of NWer
4.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.
Thick rich abundant head in spite of a careful pour that retained extremely well.
Full aroma. Taste even more so. Rich chocolate malt presence alcohol well hidden.
Aftertaste the hops take over leaving a mild sense of dryness.
Very drinkable and would definitely have another except for the high alcohol content.

Photo of Beaver13
3.63/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle. Pours a dark brown black with a huge creamy light tan head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is roasted chocolate malts, some piney hops and some grapefruit.

The flavor is lots of burnt roasted malts with a lot of residual sweetness and some fruits and a huge roasted piney bitter bang in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and kind of watery with low carbonation.

Overall, an interesting beer. Not quite well balanced - there's a lot of sweetness fighting with a lot of hops now. Reminds me a bit of some Black IPAs (esp the bigger hoppier ones).

Photo of BeerIsland
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Still drinking beautifully. Everything is in place and the balance is excellent. As smooth as silk and tons of flavor. I enjoyed the hell of of this one while watching PSU take it to Michigan tonight. One more in the cellar, likely will be gone at the next decent snowfall!

Photo of merlin48
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Corked and caged bottle. Cork easily twists off, releasing a lot of gunsmoke from the big bottle. Clear mahogany body is topped by a large beige head that insists on staying for the party. Creamy lace patches the glass.

Bold aroma has dark chocolate, raw pine, and grapefruit rind. Hops burn the nose from three feet away.

Mouthfeel is creamy and about full bodied. Carbonation is ample but moderate.

Taste is dominated by malty bitter chocolate and dark roast notes of coffee. Hops are more than up to the task and serve up an in your face bitterness of pine and grapefruit. Alcohol is hidden very well but you know it's there. Finsishes with a flourish of grapefruit bitterness.

Not at all complex, just a bold and powerful tour de force of west coast hops. Like a Black IPA on steroids.

Photo of Billolick
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A treat to enjoy a few 12 ounce pours into a Belgian style tulip glass at the Birdsall House in Peekskill, NY.

Pours near black, under a frothed up darker mocha head. Leaves thick sheeting and windowpane lacing all over the glass.

Dark malts, vanilla, mocha, molasses, and light smoke in the nose.

Full flavor, intrepid and quite tasty offering from one of the godfathers of American craft brewing. Waves of dark malts, licorice, more molasses, smoke, rum, raisins, and all things barley wine come to mind. Solid hop jolt weaves its way to join the fun.
Quality craftsmanship on display. Go get some, enjoy, then put some away to enjoy in a few more years.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to hudsonphotog for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with red highlights and a tan head. The aroma is roasted malt, chocolate and pine. The beer smells more like a hoppy stout that a barleywine.

The flavor is roasted and burnt malt, chocolate, pine and alcohol. I get quite a bit of bitterness from the hops and from the heavily roasted malt.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of Hamsteroceros
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled in a tulip glass.

For better or worse, this beer definitely hit on a few characteristics outside its style.

Deep, dark brown color with a slight ruby tinge to it. Nice thick light brown head.

Smelled alcoholic. Faint hop notes behind a rich coffee aroma.

Coffee and chocolate dominate up front. Very reminiscent of a stout. There was a nice bready flavor that complemented a sweet maltiness, as well. Tiny bit of pine. For whatever reason, I expected it to be a bit sweeter.

Very rich and velvety in the mouth. Huge beer mouthfeel-wise - maybe too big. It almost felt grainy.

Overall a very drinkable beer with many redeeming qualities, but I just couldn't help but feel that something was lacking somehow. It felt like SN had made a barleywine that wanted to be a stout and somewhere along the way managed to lose the best characteristics of both. It almost seemed like an "average" of the two styles.

Photo of bsp77
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Extremely dark mahogany (looks black if not back-lit) with very thick brown head that leaves lacing circles behind.

Smell: Citrus and pine upfront, with deep roasted barley, coffee, caramel and alcohol underneath.

Taste: Smooth roasted barley with an emphasis on coffee and chocolate. Toffee notes underneath supply the expected Barleywine touch. Nice counterbalance of citrus and pine that carries through the finish, but the bitterness remains restrained.

Feel: Ultra smooth and thick with a dry warming finish. This really is about as smooth as a beer gets.

Drinkability: This is a smooth and fantastic beer, and I was unable to stop drinking the 750ml bottle despite my initial plan of drinking it over two days.

Besides the touch of toffee, I am not really sure this is a Barleywine, as it resides in that limbo land of Imperial Stout, Barleywine and Double Black IPA. Other beers with a similar profile would say Imperial Stout, while others go the Black IPA route. Whatever the style is, I like it, but hope that not too many more brewers attempt it, as this should stay a limited, niche "style".

Photo of kingcrowing
3.77/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml corked and caged bottle poured into a rock art tulip.

Pours a very dark black color that makes me think stout but with a much lighter body. It has a nice small light brown head with a very aromatic nose - pine and dark malts and a bit of roastiness finish it off.

Taste is quite bitter and sharp, fairly high carbonation with a light body. Resionous pine and dark roast coffee beans dominate with a bitter finish.

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my SN30 glass, this beer pours a deep black with a generous tan head. A black Barley wine....hmmm.

S: The aroma is definitely Barley Wine. Hoppy sweetness. There is a slight fruity and floral hop profile, with a sturdy roasted background.

T: The flavor is excellent. Hoppy bitterness is tamed by a roasted background. Despite it's appearance, there is nothing "stout" about this brew. The roasted malt leaves a good flavor of earthy nuttyness.

Mf/D: The mouthfeel is creamy and full. Carbonation is excellent. Drinkability can improve over time as this brew ages and oxidizes a bit.

Overall, what a twist on a style this brew is. SN is doing something great with these XXX anniversary beers. This one was another pleasure to have.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At the taphouse. Black BW pours, well, black, although with plenty of brown to it. A rusty black lets say. Great mix of burnt malt and hops in the aroma. Think black ipa here.

Taste, its big, but hoppy and sweet. Slight amount of coffee comes across with the aforementioned roasted malts. It is crisp, doesn't weigh heavy despite the abv. The dryness to this is amazing. I dunno how to classify this, something like 1 part Bigfoot, 1 part Hop in the Dark and something else with the slightest twinge of coffee. You don't get quite the hop crush of fresh Bigfoot, this stuff tastes like they aged it a bit before release, unlike the standard Bigfoot. I plan on laying a bottle down, just to see what happens. Its damn good right now.

Photo of whoneeds8
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Ommegang chalice deep black with a one finger thick froathy white head. Good head retention and lacing. Recent rise in allergens this week causes me to not be able to smell much of anything. I can faintly find a scent of sugary malts. The flavor is very dark for the style, making it very interesting. It's the same malts from a black IPA with out the hops. There isn't much of a carmel flavor that would be normal for a barleywine, just a dark flavor I can't put a name to. It has the perfect body for the style, but the alcohol does cause a bit of a burn. This is a very interesting turn from the norm of the style that actually works very well.

Photo of mondegreen
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with an attractive frothy head. Big roast meets big hops in the nose, who would have thought chocolate and citrus could match so well?

The bitter roasted notes play in perfect harmony with the huge bitter citrus hops. Finishes with a dry roasted note and a lingering bitterness. The mouth is rich, medium full. Excellent.

This is a bight drinkable take on the American Barleywine Style. It could as easily be called an Imperial American Black Ale. Either way, it's a very good beer.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big bottled presentation works for these 30th Anniversary releases add to the fact that it's corked and caged and you have an experience. When I decorked it had a great loud pop, that has been absent from many recent corked and caged micros, I was thoroughly impressed by their quality control.

Pours into an official 30th Anniversary chalice, pitch black body no light is allowed through this stuff, dark tan fine bubbled head carbonation keeps it mellow. Large chunky patterned bands of lacing stuck to the sides of my glass.

Aroma has deep roasted barley malt tones with hints of dark fruit soaked in alcohol, rush of underlying hops coming up with pine/earthy/citric notes through the dark roasted malt layers.

Flavor has wrapping layer of dark nearly burnt sugar flavors a mix of molasses and brown sugar caramelization with hops and alcohol adding a rough backing edge to the malts. Hops are very citric earthy and abrasive on the palate, this stuff is big bold black barleywine. Deep fruit over ripened plum/raisin soaked in booze notes.

Mouthfeel is dry with a rough bitterness alcohol and hops are fighting in this dark brewed barleywine, it's so abrasive untamed and hot thus far. Either let it age or mellow or take on the assault this full bodied dark brash barleywine has to offer. Hop burps are deep and make you whole mind think whole coned hops and dark barleywine is a job.

Drinkability overall like I stated the concept it better than any of the components of the whole, who doesn't love dark beer. Who doesn't love barleywine, who doesn't like really hopp beers...I don't love really dark hoppy barleywines except for the new Founders Nemesis Ale of 2010. That one works this one is competing with it's own components.

Photo of chinchill
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark mahogany; slightly hazy; squat off-white head has decent retention.

Smell: Spicy hops and roasted malt dominates. High ABV evident but not objectionable.

Taste: Quite smooth and tame (in terms of bite) for a barleywine; some extra aging in effect here, I believe. A nice palette of hops, malt, caramel, and spice flavors also helps mask the alcohol. More hops than usual for style, but not so much as to overpower the nice complex interplay of other flavors.

Mouthfeel: Medium body; light carbonation; slight warming from alcohol.

Overall: Probably my 1st black barleywine, so I can't judge it for style. Certainly quite enjoyable for a beer with this kind of ABV, and better than most barleywines of any variety in my limited experience. Excellent choice if you like a black IPA.

Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Marlay House in Atlanta.

Pours one shade from black with a one-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of sticky caramel malts with large amounts of bright citrus hops. Also present, and more prevalent as the beer warms, are lightly roasted malt aromas.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Smooth and deep caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by slight roasted flavors. Joining in shortly thereafter are solid amounts of citrus hop flavors. Midway through the sip hints of pine flavors work their way into things along with hints of anise. The anise quickly fades, leaving citrus and pine hop flavors to carry through to a solidly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with solid carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. I finished my glass without any problems and could have another.

Overall I wasn't the biggest fan of this beer - the hop profile didn't seem to fit the unconventional grain bill. Still, it's an interesting beer that's worth a shot.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.81/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a snifter)
A- With a few twist of the cork, it shots out of my hand like a rocket. Then the beer pours a jet black body with a thick tan head that last and last. There are strands of tiny bubbles that slide up the side of the glass.
S- This beer has a light coffee roasted malt note and a bigger roasted black malt aroma. There are some very light toffee notes that have a faint butter quality to it. The black roasted note grows but otherwise the aroma is very clean. T- This beer has a soft roasted bitter black malt flavor and a dry finish with the bitterness being soft but growing as the beer opens. There is a faint sweetness of caramel underneath that comes through as it warms.
M- The medium-full mouthfeel has a creamy texture and a light fusel heat hits in the back of the throat.
D- This beer might have a barleywine in there but it is pretty overpowered by the roasted malt bitterness. There is not a lot of other depth or character even though the black malt is really not that strong.

Photo of curtiswvu
4.9/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Extremely dark mahogany with a deep brown light around the edge. Thick brown head with tight bubles that leaves ;ight lacing circles behind.

Smell: Coffe grounds, chocolate, light pine, leather and a touch of oak.

Taste: What a barleywine. WOW, I am just set back by this beer, I never knew Barelywine could rival a great imperial stout. This beer is so smooth but full of hops and chocolate with a real coffee after taste. The carbination is high but it really works well in the beer. Alcohol becomes more noticable as it warm to almost a light irish whiskey finish. Amazing stuff.

Feel: Smooth with a godo amount of carbination. Hides the alcohol heat well. Medium to thick body.

Drinkability: This is a smooth as an off the shelf barley wine will ever be and just a couple steps away from a Guinness/Dragons Milk smoothness. One bottle is plenty for me and I'm a big boy.

Once I can drive again tomorrow (I feel tosty after one bottle of this) I am buying a couple cases, one for the cellar and one for the upstairs fridge. This is a true achievement, really brings me back 10 years to when I first discovered Sierra and craft beer. Welcome back old friend, you've never looked better.

Serving type: bottle

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30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 791 ratings.