30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 738 | Reviews: 424 | Show All Ratings:
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:
4.39/5 rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
A - Pitch black with a huge fluffy and brown / khaki head. Nice lace and stick.
S - Toasted malts, caramel, hops, chocolate, vanilla.
T - Rich and robust chocolate, malts. Some hops present in the back end. The velvety smooth and creamy mouth feel coats and lingers on the palate. I enjoyed each sip more and more and the alcohol was present as it warmed.
O - This was literally a once in a life time brew. I have another one sitting in the cellar that I will save for a special occasion. This was simply phenomenal in every way.
Serving type: bottle
01-23-2014 00:43:24 | More by andrewjraab
4.03/5 rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Pours black as night with a tall caramel colored head.
Smells of resinous hops, caramel, sugar cookie, and earthy undertones.
Taste is hoppy up front with bitter pine and resin notes followed by some dark fruit notes fig, raisin. It has a very chewy, malt backbone with sugar cookie notes. It has a full rounded finish slightly dry with oak & earth undertones. A deep dark rich complex brew this.
Serving type: bottle
01-05-2014 02:36:54 | More by Chickenhawk9932
4.46/5 rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Had one fresh a few years ago and this one three years later. Major carbonation "pop" once the cork was pulled. Good to hear.
Pours a dark brown color with a billowing beige head that sits atop the brew like cream. Slowly dissolves to a nice layer. Consistent throughout the session. Big lacing.
The aroma is a big blend of malt and dark fruits. Light rubber, brown sugar, tree sap and molasses.
The taste still has a nice subdued hop presence. Dark fruits and malt also dominate the taste here. A touch of sweetness with a dose of bitterness on the swallow. Light salivation on the buds after the sip. Very pleasant tasting which I did not get the first time I tried this in 2010. The blend has mellowed and is gelling nicely.
Mouthfeel is solid. Big bodied ale with silky feel.
Overall I really enjoyed this. I admit I wasn't overly impressed when I drank this fresh, but my opinion has definitely changed. The years have done remarkable work to this intriguing BW. Solid carbonation after many years and the taste is perfectly blended at this point. I think this might be peaking about now and am glad I drank it when I did. Three years is probably the max wait for a BW (IMO) and this was no exception. Awesome work Jack and Ken!! [Double exclamation point worthy]
Serving type: bottle
12-22-2013 18:24:48 | More by kaseydad
4.49/5 rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
750 ML bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada 30th anniversary snifter. Liquid pours out a nice brown sugar toffee brown and a dark brown as it collects in the glass. When you hold it up to the light you can see all all the it's dark brown and mahogany highlights the whole way through. Nice tan colored head with all sorts of different sized bubbles, some very nice lacing and glass retention on this one.
Smell is good. Lots of dark roasted malts with hints of dark fruits, maybe hints of figs and raisins, with an afterthought of brown sugar and toffee. Hops have held up quite nicely on this, has the nice pine and citrus hops that tickle your nose on a finish at the end. Really good smelling beer, my only knock on it is that it's not overly strong.
Taste is great and it's potency makes up for the lack of strength in the smell. Starts off a little earthy bitter, gets gradually sweet and ends bitter again. There's a nice pine flavor and again some hints of bitterness from dehydrated dark fruits. It's followed by a nice sweetness of brown sugar, toffee and even some caramel. Then there is a generous amount of citrus hoppiness to balance it off. I can't express enough how awesome it is that the hops have held up so well.
Mouthfeel is really good, probably the best part. As mentioned before, bitter, sweet, then bitter again. Flavor lasts and lasts on the pallet, it's full bodied. Excellent carbonation level and super smooth. Alcohol is warming but doesn't bite at you. The smoothness covers some of that with a clean, dry, bitter feel at the end to cap it off. Crazy drinkable, I wish I had another bottle to open right now. Great for a cold night like tonight, but could easily be a year round brew. Nice job Jack and Ken!
Serving type: bottle
11-30-2013 02:45:08 | More by AndyAvalanche
30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 738 ratings.