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Great - Alpine Beer Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

149 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 149
Hads: 570
Avg: 4.42
pDev: 9.28%
Wants: 1,375
Gots: 64 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  14.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 03-01-2005

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".
View: Beers (46) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 149 | Hads: 570
Photo of DogFood11
2.94/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

No head to speak of and lacing is minimal. Dark brown with some reddish hue around the edges. Carbonation is very subdued.

Huge alcohol aroma combined with a bold oak and slightly smoked aroma.

This will put hair on your back. Whooooaaa this is like drinking a watered down bourbon whiskey. Add some oak barrel taste and you've got the great. mouthfeel was full and loaded with stinging alcohol. I love a good strong brew but this was a whiskey bomb at best.

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Photo of jamex
2.96/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served on draft at the brewery. This was "Great '05."

Wow. I ordered a 5oz taster of this and thank God I did. Alpine made no attempt to hide the alcohol in this big guy.

S - Scotch, bourbon and whiskey. You pick up a bit of oak but the alcohol is overpowering.

T - This is a strong barleywine. At 14% you really taste it. Tastes of bourbon, whiskey, oak and mild spice.

M - Buttery and whiskey-like.

D - There is no way I would be able to put back a 12oz. Not impressed with this. That being said, the rest of the Alpine arsenal is delicious.

EDIT, 2011: Though for some reason this beer keeps popping in my head. Perhaps I was too "new" to the style and reviewed it low die to my inexperience. Must try on my next visit to the brewery (if I can find it).

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Photo of jrallen34
3.35/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Steve for this... Pours an ugly murky dark brown, a light tan watery head forms a ring, but that’s it... really wonderful dr pepper malts, reminds me of a Kuhnhenn bbbw... taste is not as successful as the nose, lots of dark fruits, raisins, but it finishes with lots of bourbon but its too hot and the bourbon tastes cheap... the feel is a touch to thin and little hot... wanted to love this but its a bit overrated

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Photo of OlieIPA
3.61/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased from the source and shared with the very lovely Aimstatus; poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Bruery tulip glass at 52 degrees.

A: An opaque brown body that exhibited absolutely no head or lace-like qualities. I contribute this to the high alcohol by volume, but still, not quite what I had anticipated for this beer.

S: Tons of bourbon/whiskey, brown sugar, and molasses seem to be the main components along with a strong alcohol presence. In many ways, the barrel aroma coming off this beer reminded of Lost Abbey's Bourbon Angel Share.

T: Bourbon sweetness, brown sugar, molasses, and perhaps some vanilla from the barrel. The beer also comes off as being a bit "green"; hints of green apple/acetaldehyde characteristics. The alcohol is hidden very well.

M: You can feel some of the sugars sit on the palate, which I guess in some ways adds some body...but overall...a bit dry and thin throughout most parts.

D: Even though I enjoyed the many flavors this beer possessed, I found myself only able to finish my 6-8 oz. pour.

Overall: If cellared correctly, this beer could age beautifully. A try it beer. Cheers!

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Photo of dmsohyea
3.67/5  rDev -17%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle kindly shared at O'Brien's.

A super hard pour comes out almost completely flat. A super thin amount of head around the rim. The color is almost a pinkish brown. Very interesting coloring, but the flat pour kills it for me.

Smells pretty good. Bourbon is the main scent with a good amount of brown sugar and little chocolate lingering.

Tastes like chocolate and whiskey with a strong brown sugar backbone. A touch of fruity sourness comes in somewhere in the back. Maybe cherries or grapes, can't quite nail down the flavor. Finishes with a good alcohol kick, but for 14% this is not super boozy.

Mouthfeel isn't too great considering it has almost zero carbonation and is moderately alcoholic. The body is surprisingly light for such a big beer. I would have been pretty impressed if it was more carbonated.

Overall, about 4 oz of this beer is plenty enough for me. For a barleywine I was impressed, even flat. Probably won't put too much effort to find this again unless it's on tap.

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Photo of mrkun
3.78/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the brewery.

A: Dark brown without head or lacing. Looks more like a barrel aged liquor than a beer.

S: The smell is of overwhelming maple syrup and soy sauce.

T: The taste follows the nose with lots of maple syrup and soy sauce with wood notes additionally.

M: Chewy and silky with minimal carbonation, very thick.

O: A very interesting barleywine. I highly recommend it if you're a fan of this style.

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Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.79/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage 12 oz. bottle served in a snifter.

L - clouded reddish brown liquid with no head at all.

S - bourbon, brown sugar, vanilla, and a hint of alcohol.

T - toffee and vanilla upfront with vanilla and bourbon on the finish.

F - medium bodied with a slick feel.

O - a decent example of the style but maybe a bit too much abv.

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Photo of OStrungT
3.8/5  rDev -14%
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.

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Photo of Crosling
3.8/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

From the bottle at Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn, New York. Light bronze color. Unfortunately, it has a very mild nose overall, but it does show some barrel contribution (coconut, toasted oak, vanilla), very mild, piney aroma hops and a caramel laden malty aspect. Extremely well hidden alcohol, shockingly hidden beyond belief, quite honestly, yet it isn’t quite as rich as I had hoped. Nice blending of butter toffeeish malt, with the barrel contribution quite profound, with toasted oak and vanilla flavors. Creamy, big full body, yet lacking in texture in a way. Still pretty delicious overall, although I did expect a bit more.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.84/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Thanks to mikedashg for this one. 12 oz. bottle, 2010 vintage (I think).

3.5 A: A ruddy dark brown color. One eighth inch frothy head falls almost as soon as it is poured and leaves no lacing. Not really that surprising given the beastly ABV.

4.5 S: Rich caramel and toffee dominate. The bourbon and associated components aren't even close to the magnitude of the malts, which makes sense given the amount of malt packed into this bottle, and that's just the way I like it. Anyway, you can pick up moderate amounts of bourbon, leather, and oak. Some vanilla in there as well. Prune and raisin fruitiness with a port-like vinous component. A touch of herbal hops. Booze is pretty well hidden, but is still somewhat noticeable.

3.5 T: The caramel and toffee are still pretty strong, but not as much so as the nose suggested. Prune, raisin, fig, nuts, oak, molasses, and vanilla are next. The bourbon character is bittersweet in the taste. Bourbon, leather, and vanilla work well, but there is definitely a noticeable tannic astringency.

3.5 M: Heavier medium body. I was expecting (and looking forward to) a heavy ass body. Still, it's thick enough. This could use a bit more carbonation and could be creamier as well. Otherwise, smooth.

4.0 D: This is a good beer, but it isn't nearly as good as the average score suggests. This doesn't hold a handle to 08 BA Old Ruffian or any vintage of CWBBBW. I'll put it on a similar level to Weyerbacher Insanity in terms of quality, with this being a hell of a lot bigger. I gave this a 4.0 to elevate the overall score a bit since I think the taste is right on the 3.5/4.0 border.

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Photo of Bobbydigi
3.84/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle via Brian, thanks bud!

A - Very dark brown/deep red with a small half in white head that disappears very quick leaving no lacing

S - Lot of bourbon up front but there is some complexity going on. Vanilla, caramel, and some dark fruits all come into play.

T - Bourbon and booze up front but just like the smell it has the underlying fruit and vanilla.

M - Pretty thick but silky smooth. Unfortunately its flat but that doesn't really ruin a beer like this but it would have been a much better beer with some bubbles.

D - I am glad I have another bottle to try in a year or so, hopefully the booze mellows a bit.

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Photo of tarheels86
3.84/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

355mL at Woodshop 7. Pours a flat, muddy, lighter amber. Low to zero carbonation. Nose is savory with soy, truffle, shitake; sugared carrot, smoke, salt. Taste is salted caramel, honey, truffle oil, dense toffee. Palate has some heavy tannic structure to near paper. A little too thinned out and over oaked. 7/23/2012 8/3/8/3/16=3.8

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Photo of brother_kenneth
3.88/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

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Photo of steadydose
3.92/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured this one into a tumbler. Beer pours with no head. Liquid looks like a cola brown with red highlights. Shows minimal carbonation.

This beer smells sweet. Lots of brown sugar, maple syrup, and bourbon.

This beer starts off with rich toffee,caramel, brown sugar and finishes w/ a kick of bourbon heat and lingering bitterness. I'm enjoying the taste, but I am already wondering what a year or two will do for this bottle.

Good mouthfeel, but felt a little thin, would of liked a little more body on this one, understandable though due to the high ABV.

I enjoyed this BA barleywine. The 14 % definitly limits how much I of this I would drink, but this is one of the more enjoyable barleywine I have had. Will try another bottle of great in a year or two.

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Photo of davod23
3.93/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a Bruery tulip. Thanks, Jason.

As the liquid rushes from the bottle, it appears to be a deep, clear mahogany. A very thin beige cap forms but disappears nearly instantly. 14%, you say? Holding it to the light, it's apparent that the beer is not just brown, but closer to a slightly murky, deep reddish brown. The beer sticks to the inside of the glass when I swirl it. Impressive legs. I wish the head could have stuck around a while longer, and I wish the beer had a bit more clarity. Overall good though.

Smell. The booze stings the nostrils. Bourbon, oak, and vanilla straight up front, with a caramel and sweet malt backing. This smells very sweet - I've had three flies try to divebomb the beer. Very nice, but would be improved with moderation of the booze.

The taste is nice. Boozy, to be sure. This thing could stand to sit a while. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, toffee, and caramel are all present in a sweet conglomeration - honestly, this drinks pretty good, but if it were any sweeter I would have a major problem with it.

Mouthfeel is appropriate. Low level of carbonation, smooth and creamy up front, with a very tannic finish. The finish is actually somewhat bracing.

Drinkability is decent for the style and for the alcohol content. This is a sipping beer, treat it with respect.

I've had this beer on three different occasions. The first was at Stone Oakquinox from a jockey box, and I thought it was the best thing there - I was bowled over by it. The second was both 2005 and 2009 versions at the brewpub, and I was let down - I recall there being a weird smell akin to cat food in the 2005, and the 2009 needed some time to round into form. I'd rate this most recent experience to be in between those prior ones. This is a good beer, but there are a number of other barrel-aged barleywines that are better, IMO. If you can get two bottles of Great, do it, and sit on one of them for about 10 years and see what happens to it.

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Photo of SDDanC
3.95/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes, back in late June. On tap at brewery into 6oz tulip. No head whatsoever, but has a creamy egg-shell ring. Medium brown color with a grapefruit pink hue. Very refreshing on the nose with a 'great' amount of caramel malt, sweet and salty candies (butterscotch?), with a nice alcohol presence. Taste is very similar, alcohol didn't burn me that much, the caramel and grapefruit came out more. Mouthfeel was decent, a tad too much carbonation for my tastes, as I have always enjoyed smoother barleywines. Still, ABC comes through once again with another magnificent brew.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.97/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1166th Review on BA
Bottle to Triple Karmelit
12 oz

Thanks to BdubleEdubleRUN for this one.

Shared with GuruDel, JazzPatel, MrHirschybar & BdubleEdubleRUN

App- A medium caramel brown with some soft ambers and brown and maybe a touch of sliding bubbles. Zero cling as well.

Smell- It's a pretty good BW note. Its aromatic with soft vanilla, malts and some booze presence. The whiskey notes get lost to me.

Taste- A good and malty caramel citrus flavor. A bit prickly but I didnt get most of the barrel notes. A well layered beer with nice vanilla beside it.

Mouth- A lighter medium with a light creamy medium carbonation level. Nice caramel and oak flavors.

Drink- A very good BW, but just not up to par with some of the heavy hitters we busted out last night.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a murky brown color with a small tan cap that fades quickly

S: Caramelized brown sugar, toffee, faded hops, bourbon and some booze

T: Bourbon, maple syrup, caramelized sugar, toffee, faded citrus hops, dark fruits and some wood Earthiness

M: Big body, lower carbonation

O: Unsure which vintage I sampled but I felt this beer was falling off and peaking already

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Photo of emmasdad
4.02/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle (with great anticipation) a deep garnet hue, with ruby highlights and absolutely no head. An absolutely huge and wonderful nose on this one, with the expected bourbon, along with vanilla, brown sugar and molasses. Flavors of bourbon, toffee, caramel, vanilla alcohol. Very syrupy and hot, with a somewhat cloying mouthfeel and a huge bourbon presence. A very good beer, one that could take some time in the bottle.

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Photo of BearsOnAcid
4.03/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'09 tick (Grade: A-/A)

My '09 review will be more of a short description and difference between the '05.

Huge amount of toffee. Syrupy. Heavy oak on the nose. JD barrels are less apparent (or maybe weren't used in this vintage?). Great depth of dark and milk chocolate flavor mixed together. Not much heat because the heavy sweetness cuts through it all. Nice thick body.

This was much better than the '05 I had. A lot less of that nasty JD whiskey and it had just the right amount of barrel presence. Lots of toffee and chocolate. I'm bumping my score +0.5 in taste, mouthfeel, and overall to average out my 2 reviews.

'05 tick (Grade: B-/B)

Reddish brown color, not much head.

Huge molasses and chocolate nose. Evolves into a cocoa butter/toffee aroma as it warms. Subsequent whiskey and slight oxidization from the barreling.

Taste was slightly unapologetic. Soy sauce soaked toffee upfront that rounds out into a nutty white chocolate. That must be where that cocoa butter smell came from. Very sweet and syrupy but not extremely viscous.

This beer had way too much of a buttery toffee thing going on to be anything "great." Finish it off with a cheap whiskey barrel and this is what you get.

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Photo of stakem
4.05/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle I acquired as an extra in a trade quite a long time ago. My apologies to the generous person deserving of the mention. Shared with friends and poured into mini snifters. This brew appears a clear amber color with some faint bubbles and a ruby to orange coloring around the edges. Leggings of alcohol slowly creep down the wall of the glass after a swirl.

The smell is almost candied with sweet hints of toffee and vanilla. Some oak is evident that brings out a tannic woody quality that lasts inside the nose and mixes with some herbal indications thy minorly form into something that is medicinal.

The taste is sweet with toffee-like maltiness. Boozy with alcohol that blends well into a toasty grain flavor that gets contrasted with an herbal quality and woody notes from the barrel aging. This brew is drying on the tongue despite the initial residual sweetness. The drying effect leves a bit of oxidative quality lingerin in the mouth. A light bitterness and herbal flavoring turns to wood and back to toasty sweet grain in the finish.

This is a bold brew with a solid inclusion of alcohol. It is full bodied with a light level of carbonation. Super easy drinking for a big bold brew that isn't hiding it's abv level. It was well put together and enjoyable. I wouldnt mind having it again for comparison purposes with others in the style. It really isn't totally fair to make this comparison but considering the lack of availability and inflated asking price of this brew nowadays I'd much rather take some gratitude.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.05/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks again to jzeilinger for opening this one with me. This poured out as a nice hazy brown color. The head comes and goes rather quickly. No real retention or lacing on this one. The beer smells sweet like caramel with a bit of barrel aging on the nose. The hops are a bit hidden on this. The taste of the beer is also sweet with a subtle bitterness in the finish, flavors of caramel and toffee in there with a minimal bitterness. I was hoping to get more of the JD barrel flavors from this but wasn't able too. The mouthfeel is smooth, very dangerous because it's easy to drink. Overall it's a good brew, really happy I got to try it.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.06/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of IrishColonial
4.07/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage

A: very dark brown, almost black like molasses or dark maple syrup; slight creamy head
S: mostly toffee, maple, brown sugar; slight vanilla and bourbon; a bit of raisin and fig; when cold, slight vinegar smell but disappears as it warms; a bit of oxidation underlies everything
T: very sweet and malty; brown sugar and caramel dominate mixed with figs and raisins; not much bourbon flavor but a bit of heat on the back end
M: soft creamy carbonation; decent mouthfeel but a bit thin
O: not sure why this is classified as an American barleywine, seems like an English style through and through; good flavor profile and well balanced but the sweetness is a bit overpowering; starting to oxidize and the bourbon was much less than I expected. A good offering and worth trying but not in my top echelon of King Henry, Cognac Church on a Hill, Sucaba, and Mother of All Storms

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Photo of pwoods
4.09/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

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Great from Alpine Beer Company
97 out of 100 based on 149 ratings.