Great - Alpine Beer Company

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498 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 498
Reviews: 144
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 9.05%
Wants: 1,254
Gots: 66 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  14.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
The base of this beer was available at a couple of festivals as a barleywine named "Good". The remainder of the batch spent several months aging in fresh Jack Daniels barrels and became "Great".
Available in limited release at the brewery only

(Beer added by: xlperro on 03-01-2005)
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Ratings: 498 | Reviews: 144 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by portia99:
Photo of portia99
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle received in trade with srandycarter. Thanks! Poured into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A - Pours with an ever so slight yeast murkiness in a gorgeous dark amber brown color with reddish tinges to it in the right light. No head forms at all, but a nice thick collar of tan color and a steady stream of bubbles rising up off of the laser etching in the bottom of the glass. This is tempting me to take that first sip.

S - Yeasty and very bread dough-like in aroma...smells like fresh dough before going into the oven. Some malty, caramel, molasses aromas, sweet bourbon in a sorta heavy way...almost like a bourbon reduction sauce. Alcohol is also quite noticeable in the aroma too which isn't surprising given the 14% level here. Overall, a heavy, almost syrupy impression from the aroma.

T - Taste is quite sweet overall. Up front is caramelized sugar, toffee, molasses in a mixture together that blends with the bourbon. Bourbon doesn't have heat to it, just nice flavor added, some vanilla and alcohol flavors. Bready malt and yeast flavors kick in to round things out. Hops do not add any flavor character, just a touch of bitternes, although I think the bourbon edge does more to balance this than the hops do. Good flavors, somewhat unique...a bit heavier, deeper than others of the style. I want to say that there is a smokiness to this, maybe a bit of the char off the barrels.

M - Very thick and syrupy in nature. Mouthfeel is extremely full with only a light carbonation to liven things up. Flavors here are heavy and the body complements this. Smooth, sticky, mouth coating and extremely viscous. Overall heavy but a really nice sipper all around.

D - Hmm, tough call. Alcohol is quite high at 14%, which is a real impediment to drinkability, but the alcohol seems to only add flavor and character without the heat that I would expect (a definite plus). Mouthfeel is rich and full - pretty much a thin syrup. A sipper all the way, and I appreciate the decision to put this in 12oz bottles...this is absolutely the perfect serving. Trying to put down a bomber of this would be enjoyable, but hard work.

This would really be a quite expensive (and debatably a waste of this beer) marinade, but I think reducing this down a bit and using this as a marinade and/or barbecue glaze would on beef, steak tips especially, maybe chicken too would be absolutely amazing.

More User Reviews:
Photo of brother_kenneth
3.89/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2013 vintage bottle, poured into a snifter glass. The beer pours a typical dark brown with little to no head at all. In fact, it is almost still. Nose is predominantly bourbon, with some nice dark dried fruit and caramel. Not quite as impressive on the aroma as I had expected. Taste is a follow-through on the nose. Had high hopes for this one, and it is good, but not King Henry good. The mouth feel is essentially flat and thin. Fairly standard, if mild, flavors for the style - bourbon, wood, caramel, figs, etc. Super sweet, with some hints of oxidation. Ultimately, it is lacking all the way around when compared to some of it's peers. Don't get me wrong, I like this beer, but considering the hype, there are far better examples of the style out there (King Henry, Blendiculous, etc). Drink 'em if you got 'em, because this one probably won't age well.

Photo of Axnjxn
4.64/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle into a teku glass.

dark red pour with a slight head. smell of slight bourbon and dark fruits...quite appealing! taste is smooth as silk with the dark fruits and slight bourbon finish. body isnt even that thick honestly...its really creamy and so smooth. damn tasty. probably the best barrel aged barleywine in existence... definitely worth the hype. so greaT! worth the hype. trade for it NOW!

Photo of tectactoe
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of Callmecoon
3.75/5  rDev -17.2%

Photo of Mora2000
4.22/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kaiser81 for sending me this beer.

Pours murky brown with no head. The aroma is caramel, brown sugar, some alcohol, oak and bourbon. It is very sweet. The flavor is vanilla, maple, alcohol and brown sugar. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation.

Photo of olradetbalder
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of kingcrowing
4.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a sampler.

Pours a hazy amber golden color with n head at all. Nose is sweet and malty, a bit oxidized but not too bad.

Taste is a bit oxidized but still sweet and malty. Some diacetyl as well. Slight bitterness and a crisp finish, its quite tasty but a bit good.

Photo of bpfrush
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of obiwan_k3n00bi
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of rudylaw
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of OStrungT
3.8/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a redish orange color. The minimal head is light, almost white. It fades quickly leaving minimal laces.

It has a very strong malty, caramel like aroma. The alcohol content is very present in the aroma. Not much in the way of hops. Just a big malty alcoholic aroma.

This beer has a very sweet taste. The alcohol content is very present in the flavor. It warms on the way down. It has a slight fruity taste to it. It has slight wine like flavors. Also, it tastes ever so slightly like bourbon.

This beer is quite thick. It is not very carbonated. It is full bodied. It leaves a stroms alcoholic, sweet aftertaste.

This beer would make a poor session beer. It is way too high in alcohol to drink all night. Also, it is very aggressive. It would wear thin very quickly. As far as a single glass, this beer lives up to its name. It was great.

Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of pwoods
4.1/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Thanks to Fred at Beverages4Less. I hope this bottle was taken better care of than the Nelson and Expo Hop that you sold me.

12oz. brown bottle poured into a GLBC Christmas Ale snifter.

A: Pours a murky brown with orangish amber tinting in the light. Pours kind of thin. A rough pour gets about a 1/4 inch of spritzy head that dies immediately... I'd assume this spent plenty of time in the barrel. No lacing but some oily streaks.

S: Healthy dose of bourbon but even more massive is the huge dank barrel presence. Lots of earthy, dank oak. Some vanilla and molasses sweetness, maybe some pure maple syrup notes. Very woody. Listed as an American BW but I get great aged English Barleywine notes. The bourbon becomes even more potent as it warms.

T/M: Yow. Lots going on here. Plenty of bourbon along with some stronger alcohol complexity and a very satisfying warmth. More of the light molasses and maple flavors, some vanilla sweetness, caramel, toffee, dark fruits etc. Some faded hops, but I still don't know about American BW. I get loads of rich, alcohol soaked dark fruits as I swallow. I also get a sharp sweetness after I swallow, which is a minor flaw that is somewhat covered up by everything else that is going on. Body is actually pretty thin, which is my biggest complaint. It's only about medium light, which seems pretty far off the mark. Carbonation is light, which fits the style well, but doesn't do a hole lot with the lighter body. It actually reminds me of sipping a bourbon or scotch.

D: Massive ABV and a bit of a mouthfeel issue. Pretty damn tasty, though. If you're looking for a 'kick you in the teeth' beer, then this fits the bill very nicely. If you're looking for something complex and subtle... well this could still be for you because there is plenty to find, but the mouthfeel issues really hurt what they were trying to do and turn this from what could have been an absolutely stunning beer to a, still respectable, tasty treat.

Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -17.2%

Photo of JasonFromLA
4/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of Reappropriated
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of UWBadgerFan4Life
4.63/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Dawkins
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of jh1982
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of DJButters
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.28/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery. 09 vintage poured into a snifter.

A: Served with a light layer of fine white head with poor retention. Beer is a semi-cloudy deep brown. Very spotty and sparse lacing with no stick.

S: Nose is very deep and aromatic. Notes of chocolate, booze, brown sugar, caramel, and toffee. Also some light prunes and crushed raisin in the back. Rich, warming, and delicious.

T: Opens vanilla, prune, brown sugar, caramel, and nuttiness. Booze is apparent in the back. Toffee with a slight rich tartness towards the middle. Caramel comes in smooth at the end. Slight hop resin at the end with a sweet, brown sugar finish that sticks to the palate.

M: Medium bodied. Medium carbonation, slightly abrasive, and rather hot overall. Oily and smooth in the mouth and warming going down. Messy finish with a sticky aftertaste.

D: Again, I'm still not a huge fan of barleywines but this, along with a couple of others are helping me to turn the corner. Infinitely rich and complex with a very enticing nose and feel. A very good representation of the style.

Photo of leschkie
3/5  rDev -33.8%

Photo of blabaer
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of prototypic
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to JessetheHutt for the bottle.

Great pours a darker, caramel brown color. It's quite hazy, and looks dark copper with backlighting. Carbonation looks to be very light, and produces a head that barely covers the surface. It disappears nearly as fast as it appeared. Lacing was very, very light. The 14% abv obviously killed it.

The nose is damn impressive. Initially, it has a strong dark fruit scent. Raisin, plum, and fig are present in abundance. They're complemented extremely well with a moderately strong whiskey (bourbon?) scent. Smells delicious. The secondary level introduces vanilla, oak, leather, caramel, and even a little tobacco. It's extremely complex and deep. Alcohol is certainly there. At 14%, that should come as no surprise. Go big or go home.

The flavor is every bit as tremendous as the nose! It kicks off with a very nice caramel/toffee flavor. The malt base is strong and sturdy. Dark fruit flavors of raisin, fig, and plum flood the palate and feature a tangy twist. The barrel aging imparts a very nice whiskey or bourbon flavor. It's an extremely nice complement to the dark fruit and caramel malt flavors. Oak, vanilla, tobacco, leather, and even a slight hint of herbal hops take up the secondary level. Alcohol is there and is a little warm. It finishes tangy with a twist of whiskey.

Great has a medium to full body. It feels more substantial with warming. Nice and chewy. Carbonation is very light and restrained. Very creamy and smooth? Yes, it is. Drinkability is good. For a big, barrel aged barleywine, this is quite drinkable. Nonetheless, it is 14% abv. That's damn strong. A 12 oz. bottle is more than plenty.

Great is one hell of a nice beer from Alpine Beer Company. As far as barrel-aged barleywines go, it's among the best. The chinks in its armor are so small that they aren't worth discussing at length. This is a damn fine beer that you should seek out.

As an aside, I saw that this was aged in Jack Daniels barrels, and the label plainly styles this as a bourbon barrel barleywine. I've always been fascinated by the debate about Jack Daniels being Tennessee Whiskey, not bourbon. I digress....

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Great from Alpine Beer Company
100 out of 100 based on 498 ratings.