30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 756 | Reviews: 425 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by jampics2:
4.1/5 rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
Sierra Nevada is a brewery I take for granted. I really shouldn't, because it's easy to argue that craft movement wouldn't be where it is today without their trailblazing thirty years of producing better beers. But too often I pass by their offerings, either in favor of newer, "hipper" styles or just because I feel like I've explored their products as much as I can. But the 30th anniversary series has brought a revived level of excitement with their offerings, and this "black Barleywine " is perhaps the best beer they've released in years. It's certainly the most unique and cutting edge product I can remember coming out of Chico in recent times.
Removed from the fridge at around 50 degrees, the 750ml bottle's cork seemed stuck. After a small tug of war, it popped with a sound so loud I heard one of the kitties in my basement run down the steps in fear that someone was shooting guns upstairs. Into the snifter it goes; a hoppy aroma already fills the air - more on that later. But this beer is a thing of beauty in the glass. Just exceptional. A black, opaque body with no less than 3 fingers of fluffy tan head that sticks to the glass like it's a lifeline to avoid sinking into the depths of the darkness below. A small red halo on the edges makes this heavenly concoction that much more alluring. Just a perfect looking beer in every way.
Smell is luxurious and deep, but falls just a hair or three short of the best American Barleywines I've had. The hops are prominent and expressive, giving some hints of citrus and pine. No surprise there, but what is unique is the roasted malt that gives off hints of coffee and chocolate in lieu of the caramel and toffee that "non-black" Barleywines offer. I find the combination intriguing but I'm also wondering what makes this so different from the black IPA's or hoppy stout's I've had in the past. A touch of booze finishes the smell. Good but suffering from just a bit of a lack of identity.
The taste proves why this is classified as a Barleywine. It's shocking at first, but then really nice once the first harsh sip conditions my palate to expect an overload of flavor. There's a ton of hops dancing around my mouth, leaving their mark with grapefruit bitterness. If the hops are having a hoe-down, the dance floor is the malty base which is easily solid enough to be trampled upon with such ferocity. There are hints of chocolate and maybe even coffee, and their contribution feels expertly dialed in. This manages to avoid becoming burned or too roasted. Finally, a noticeable boozy kick gives a small sting as this slides down my throat. In a year, this will be brilliant when the hoppiness takes a step back and the alcohol becomes less noticeable. In a few years, this could be legendary. My advice, if you can, is to buy a case (or better yet a keg) and cellar it! For a young Barleywine, this shows so much promise.
Mouthfeel is medium-heavy bodied and the carbonation is creamy. The finish lingers with a mixture of booze and hops, and that keeps it from scoring higher, but there's no stickiness in my mouth, just a touch on my lips. Pretty good, just not quite exceptional.
This big, bad-ass beer is drinkable but the strong flavor and booziness makes it hard to imagine enjoying more than one in a setting, and it certainly makes this more of a sipper to enjoy with friends or over an hour or two. But this is certainly a unique, well-crafted, and wonderful beer. We're three beers into the Anniversary series and each one has been a hit (A- for the Stout, B+ for the Bock). But this beer reignites my passion for Sierra Nevada's products more than I thought possible. I won't be passing by their releases in the future if the passion that went into this beer continues.
Serving type: bottle
08-12-2010 18:26:31 | More by jampics2
More User Reviews:
4.28/5 rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Made the mistake of leaving this in the freezer overnight and had to thaw it. Having this at a very warm red wine like temperature and it is fantastic. Deep dark chestnut brown with a tan head that billows forth. Smell is delicious and complex. A healthy alcohol presence and sweetness fused to deep notes of toffee and warm sweet brown bread and touch of fruitcake. Lot of dark fruits, raisins and figs mostly. Flavor is incredible. Sweet rich and alcoholic. Lots of caramel and toffee with a healthy roasted grain char. Finish is dry and nicely hopped. Hoppier than most barleywines I've had. It helps to cleanse the palate of the considerable alcohol and make the beer more drinkable. Carbonation is nice, though no doubt it suffered from its frozen to room temperature journey into my glass. Smooth but just a little under carbonated in my circumstance. Weight is thickish and lightly syrupy. This is a great and highly drinkable beer. I would be sipping it slower but as the carbonation has suffered at my neglect I am going a little faster than I might otherwise. Just a superb brew that drinks like a dry irish stout in spite of the abc. If I had not forgotten and froze this one it might be off the charts.
Serving type: bottle
06-21-2014 02:25:02 | More by scootny
30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 756 ratings.