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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
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Reviews: 149 | Hads: 570
Photo of unseenbyyou
4.2/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Made a pilgrimage to Alpine Brewery during the holiday season...bought a bottle of great and two growlers (irish red and exponential hoppiness...)

Drank the great from a tulip glass (shared the 12 oz with my bro in law)

Appearance: deep brown, not much head, very little carbonation

Smell: like a decent whiskey. It smells like you are about to drink hard liquor. Not offensive

Taste: the smell creates the expectation of hard liquor, but the taste is only a suggestion...has the complexity and subtlety of a quad, but minus the spiceness or subtle sweetness (at least the belgian quads I have drank have those 2 qualities).

Mouthfeel: packs a wallop in the mouth, only 6 oz left a lasting impression..

Drinkability: only one can be drunk at a time...

Overall: it is worth a taste, but would not be a star beer if you were planning a beer party. It, however, rivals angel's share

Perhaps a cigar and a taster of this beer is in order!

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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 Lothore
4.09/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep mahogany hue with little to no head.

S- Very sweet, lots of brown sugar, fig, nice bourbon aroma.

T- Extremely sweet all the way through, as in the nose there is a ton of brown sugar, dark fruits, smokiness, that leads to a slight hop bitterness / alcohol bite. The barrel characteristics are fairly subdued but it works out good for this beer.

M- Thick with medium carbonation.

D- This was a decadent desert beer. I split the 12 oz and loved it but dont think I could drink much more than that.

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Photo of d0ggnate
4.14/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After much anticipation, I've finally got the opportunity to try this offering from Alpine, due to their recent release.

After time to warm to room temp, Great poured to my glass a brown/reddish hue with nearly no head. With my glass held to light, this beer appears deep, almost ruby, red.

At first nose, I notice a very noticeable, but not overwhelming bourbon aroma. Other notes of molasses and rich malt abound. Sweet, sugary smells arise from the glass, as well. Complex smell profile keeps my nose in the glass throughout my trial of Great.

At taste, I find a bit of crushed red grapes, with more bourbon familiarity. Heavy, but balanced malt tastes last from beginning to end. Finishes on my palate with a sugary bite.

Decent consistency at mouthfeel. A bit watery for my taste, but still nice. Very well balanced flavors and body, with a great alcohol warming effect without being overtaken by this 14% beast. I was very impressed with this beer and would love to put this side by side with other barrel-aged barleywines. Something tells me time will improve this "great" beer, too.

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Photo of radshoesbro
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Bruery snifter.

Pours a redish brown with almost no head, due to the high alcohol content. Intense swirling yields next to no effect, some head does form but there is absolutely zero lace. Upon further swirling it lends nothing at all.

Smells of sweet bourbon with very mild hops present. There's a nice butterscotch sweetness which combines with the pungent smell of bourbon and somewhat masks the smell of the malts.

Tastes strongly of bourbon with notes of butterscotch and toffee. It's smooth and has subtle bitter notes . Sweetness is evident, but not overpowering. There's a mild head present from the alcohol and you can feel it throughout the mouth.

This feels like it could benefit from a few years and I am very excited to see how it matures!

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Photo of Floydster
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

375 ml bottle with gold foil courtesy of KingG, thanks again Joey for this treat, 2007 vintage, poured into my Rader snifter tonight, dark brownish red, 3/4 inch creamy light tan head, retention was around ten minutes which was suprising for a two year old barrel aged beer, some lacing at the top of the glass too, aroma consists of bourbon first, sweet malts including toffee and caramel, brown sugar, alcohol, prunes, biscuit, mild citrus, and oak, flavor starts off with a semi sweet vanilla flavor, sweetness along with some almost toasted malts in the middle that were much like the biscuit I could smell, some mild alcohol flavors in the finish but nothing like you would expect from a beer of this strength, also some oak and vanilla lingers in the aftertaste, more whiskey comes out as it warms, it tastes very Jack Daniel's like too, warms up with more malts coming to the surface but never really gets cloying or hot, sweet, warming, and malty mouthfeel, medium to full bodied, low to medium carbonation, taste lingers a long time, this beer is very smooth but almost syrupy, alcohol is hidden well for fourteen percent, it is a bit filling though, drank most of this bottle tonight and did not want anything else, I have wanted to try this beer for years and glad I finally got the chance, it certainly lived up to expectations and I am interested in seeing what the higher alcohol version batch two tastes like in the future, recommended

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Photo of tpd975
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge Huge thanks goes out to ibrew2or3 for this one. As soon as he mentioned this one was in his cellar I have been onto him to give me a taste.

A: Pours a nice amber hue with tones of gold showing through. The small is very small yet exhibits GREAT retention. Nice big chunks of lace left behind.

S: Huge barrel aromas on this one. Fresh cut oak mingles with vanilla. Hints of caramel malt, molasses, and sweet brown sugar.

T: WOW I ♥ this beer. You would think with the age the barrel qualites would have died down but this one smacks you in the face in such a good way. Bold barrel qualities with tons of oak and vanilla right up front. Very light bourbon notes peek thru giving just a hint at the ABV. The finish is nice and sweet with layers of brown sugar, gooey toffee, and a light pine bite.

M: Full in body, very smooth. I really grabs the mouth which really lets you enjoy the GREATness.

D: It's well....GREAT. One of the most complex and tasty beers I have ever tried. The barrel qualities while being bold yet balanced. Quite possibly the best use of a barrel when it comes to beer.

Thanks Dave you my friend are in fact GREAT... same goes for the beer.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.35/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle at 53 degrees. A New Years eve prelude to the evenings festivities.

Pours clear dark copper with an inch-plus head of beige. Retention is decent with the head falling slowly to reveal a solid skim coat on the surface. Chubby dots of smeared lacework cling to the tulip glass.

Aromatics lead off with bourbon-spiked doughy malt and ripe fruit.
Heavy on the Jack Daniels with a substantial malt backbone to keep things in check. Peppery fusels and proofed dough with a grapefruit spritz.

On the thick side of medium bodied. Quite chewy and thick, with a pillowy, lush mouthfeel.

A tart vineousity starts the palate, followed by ripe malt, boozy whiskey heat, and some puckering grapefruit.
Hints of red wine, vanilla, oaky tannins, and dusty boards follow through. Bitterness is firm, but lies somewhere between English and American Barleywine territory.

Finishes with a lingering wine-like tartness, fading dough, and a building, peppery heat.

The vinousity in this beer is a real treat, and adds a complexity that I love. The doughy malt adds a great freshness to the mix, even though the bottle is almost two years old.
The Whiskey character is quite full, and you can tell this is all barrel-aged.

Similar to my all-time favorite Barelywine (Arctic Devil), but more complex with the vineousity.

Yum..And thanks to Joey for the hook up..SD style.

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Photo of gford217
4.28/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

375mL bottle courtesy of the ever-generous hoppymeal poured into a snifter.

An aggressive pour produces a short-lived fizzy head that dissipates almost immediately to remnants of a ring over a bright, cloudy caramel orange body. No lacing to speak of.

Big smells of the barrel-aging with oak and vanilla up front. There is a bit of caramel and fruit sweetness in the background, prunes and raisins, and lots of booze as well.

The taste has the sweet caramel malts and raisins up front before giving way to the oak and bourbon which leave a tingly finish on the tongue.

The mouthfeel is slick with little carbonation and coats the mouth in rich dessert-like decadence.

This is one for sipping all evening long, though the alcohol is fairly well-hidden given the ABV. A big, complex and damn tasty beer. Thanks again to Derek for this rarity.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.43/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased at the brewery 10/06 consumed Feb. 9th, 2007. After pulling the foil off I noticed this puppy was filled to within a quarter inch of the cap so 0.375L+(that's good for me, eh). Pours slightly hazy brown with orange highlights. The tan head dissipated in under a minute. The aroma is pretty strong with caramel, alcohol, dark fruitiness, molasses, wood planks and just a hint of whiskey. Wow, I was expecting a more aggressive taste from this big beer. It starts off with a nice Barleywine date and cherry dark fruitiness mix with sweet caramel and toffee. About midway the whiskey, vanilla and oak notes surface. There's also light hints of alcohol and grape tartness. From midway on this beer gives a nice warming feeling that seems comforting. Great sipping beer.

Re-rate on 10/29/07. Pours a clear copper to brown color with lasting thin tan head. The aroma is up in your face big and bold with the aroma of a oak paneled shed followed by sweet creamy caramel candy and some chocolate malts. It also has a sizable load of fruity esters with prunes, dates and a bucket of raisins. The alcohol is not all that well hidden for a 10% beer. But for this beers big ABV it isn't too bad. The flavor is just as bold as the aroma with a whack in the face by a freshly milled oak plank followed quickly by red wine grapes, red wine tannins mixed with rich caramel candy. The alcohol is there too. Nice. Another decade of age could see this good beer turn truly great.

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cola brown to amber in color, clear, with a small cream head that quickly recedes to a ring. Aromas are strong of the barrel ageing. Salty, a deep leatheriness, woodiness, and a good booziness are most prominent. There are sweet pruny malts in the background, more subdued under the effects of the barrel. Agitation reveals more of the deep leather, oak, and bourbon notes, you can almost smell the inside of a barrel. Taste is a flash of rich maltiness up front followed by the booziness, leather and grapes/raisins, and finishing oaky and dry, a boozy bite warms the back of the throat. Mouthfeel is medium, low carbonation keeps it somewhat slick, dry on the tongue in the aftertaste and warming. This is one of those beers for me where from the first smell I am taken in, my pen is writing furiously rather than searching for aromas and flavors. I'd love to try the good, i am sure it is an outstanding barleywine based on this sample. I hope that alpine produces this again in the future, outstanding beer.

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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 LongBeachHopHead
4.47/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Alpine Barrel Aged Great: 14% ABV, 375mL foil wrapped bottle. $7.50 limited to something like 40 cases.

Appearance: Clear Dark Amber, not much head nor carbonation. Looks like a glass of fine bourbon.

Smell: Holy Fire Cheifs. This smells like a Jack on the rocks. There are layers of sweet bourbon, burnt cherries, and a large presence of alcohol.

Taste: Barrel Aged Barleywine should be illegal. This stuff is beer?? I thoroughly enjoy the compexities of the oak aging, there are overtones of dark ripe cherries and sweet caramel. This beer took everything good out of the barrel.

Mouthfeel: Very viscous and decadent. I get the impression that I need a fine cigar or a chocolate truffle to compete. Amazing beer.

Drinkability: A beer to be sipped and savored. You will need about an hour to really enjoy this beer to its fullest. As it warms, there are huge sweet oaking perfections coming out.

I should have bought a case. This beer will be amazing in a few more years. A work of art and Pat McIlhenney deserves all the thanks. Given the time involved in making this $7.50 is a bargin. More!!

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Photo of scottoale
4.52/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this on tap a few times last month and thought I'd try the bottled version. Poured from a 375 ml. green glass bottle into a Chimay snifter is apricot to murky brown with 1/4" of ivory foam. The foam settles quickly, although the carbonation is adequate for this barrel-aged beauty.

Very sweet and booze laden to the nose, dark ripe fruits, apricot, rockmelon, honeysuckle and bourbon come through strong. What you smell, is what you taste here...thick and somewhat chewy with big body and large ABV that doesn't seem as big and warming as it actually is. A very mellow and well aged brew here, not to mention very tasty.

If you want to try a big sipper with some complexity, look no further, this is very big and very well done. My kind of beer!

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Photo of bigbelcher
4.67/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great is a perfect name for this beer. Oak barrel aged, notes of vanilla and bourbon come through in this barleywine. It is deep, dark with some red hues. Clear, no head. It is still available at the brewery so I don't know why it is retired but it soon will be since they said they didn't have much left. Very yummy beer.

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Photo of stoner420
4.1/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, sparkly carbonation. Aroma is fruity, alchohol, bourbon, sweet, malty. Huge bourbon flavors took me by surprise, I was not expecting so much whiskey flavor. Followed by cereal malt flavor, and a strange vegetable kind of aftertaste, I couldn't place it. This beer is like drinking bourbon but without the alhoholic sting. A heavy powerful brew, syrupy and sweet. Very glad I shared the bottle with someone. Take your time and enjoy this one.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.37/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Rootbeer color with amber kicks when the light hits it, hazy and unfiltered. Medium sized carbonation with greyish ring a simple cloud on top.

S: Intensely aggresive. Loads of bourbon, vanilla, over ripe strawberries, oak and red apple

T: Reminds me a lot of pumpernickle. Begins insanely port like with deep rum raisin, bakied prunes and candied walnuts. Thick vanilla bourbon resin coats the tongue. Butterscotch alcohol esters very present. Finishes fruity; peach, dried dark fruits and passionfruit. Ends sweet and honey cloying.

M: Thick, syrupy.

D: Probably should have split this bad dog with someone. Becomes a bit cloying by the end of the bottle.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer poured a clear, red-amber color with thin, tan colored foam. The smell was light bourbon with vanilla, caramel, and molasses, and some malt. The taste was malty with flavors of caramel, molasses, bourbon, vanilla, and a touch of alcohol. Very nice, rich flavors. The mouthfeel was dry and smooth with medium-full body and low carbonation. The finish and aftertaste were filled with flavors of wood, malt, and alcohol. This was an excellent and quite enjoyable brew!

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Photo of paterlodie
4.37/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Tom Nickel for giving me this! Good presentation with no head at all due to almost no carbon dioxide so only a nice orange colored beer. Nose is lots of oak, burnt, alcoholic and bourbon like that overpowers most of the malts.
Taste is also very boubon like but with nice and smooth bitterness but high dosed. Overall well balanced but all tastecomponents double and extra; great beer to sip but be aware of the 14% as it still is quiet drinkable.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.12/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Muddied auburn. Thin light beige head that clings well to the glass as I drink. Has a kind of glow about it. Inviting.

Aroma: Bourbon, grassy hops, vanilla and oak. Great combo on the nose.

Taste: Melons soaked in alcohol come to mind. Sweet bourbon. Vanilla. Cedar. Resinous hops. Toffee like malts.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: For 14%, it's not that alcoholic in the mouth. Medium bodied. Lightly carbonated. This one has a good "Returnability" factor to it. Something I'd return to without hesitation.

I give a GREAT bighuge thanks to the GREAT Darren of LongBeach for the GREAT beer.

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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 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 SteveO1231
4.1/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle a month or two ago from the brewery while on a trip out to Alpine.

Poures a bight reddish orange with yellow highlights. Nice froathy tan head bubbly lacing. Quite a bit of carbonation.

Very strong malt smell and aroma like red wine. I can smell the bouron.

Very sweet thick maltness on the palate. Fruity, grapes, raisins, grapefruit. Nice spice to it. Very strong dry whiskey bitter finish almost burns going down. I can feel the warmth of the ABV pretty quick. Numbs the tongue.

Very nice, a little too drinkable for the ABV but still a sipper I won't be having more than 2-4 oz. at a time.


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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.44/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: A gorgeously decadent thick gold colored dimpled foil covers the upper slopes of the 375ml dark green bottle. Sealed with a large shiny crown cap of the size often found on larger 750ml bottles, in fact when I examine the whole bottle; it seems like a miniaturized 75cl in so many ways, including the dimpled base.

The normal colorful Alpine label has been shrunk inside an upside down droopy curve for this offering. The rest of the label has a brown background featuring as assortment of white oak barrels. Labeled simply as “We Call It GREAT” and described as a ‘Barrel Aged Barley wine’. The right hand side of the label is set aside for the promotional blurb; “Freshly emptied oak barrels from a famous Tennessee distillery were used to carefully age this strong “Alpine Style” Barley wine. So…Drink Alpine or Go To Bed!”. Claims to clock in at a whopping 14% Alc. By Vol.

If you ever got the Pizza Port Carlsbad Strong Ale Festival in 2004...it is worthy to note that this is the Alpine 'Good' that was on sale, but aged in Jack Daniels Casks, interestingly the 'Good' at the PP-SAF was listed at 17% !

Appearance: Slow thick pour fails to wake the sleepy carbonation from its long hibernation. Thick viscous dark amber body has a low grade scorched orange shimmering torso. Light wispy tan head soon breaks, to say it gives in quickly is an understatement - the head disappears faster than a French surrender. Extremely low levels of conditioning, but who cares!? This baby is to all intents and purposes liquor and I for one don’t mind if it resembles one.

Nose: Immensely pungent, rising vanilla beans leap out of the glass like hot Volcanic larva being projected skyward. It runs through an explosive 18 year old Single Malt whisky. Rich and deep this one is a real sexy snifter.

Taste: Lots of fresh woody oak threads through a warming scotch whiskey entrance. The sour mash starts to take the edge off the alcohol which never gets rowdy, but the ending is soothing, light caramel and a spicy pepper like malt laden dark fruitiness. Ooh this is luxurious. How can I describe this…well its like being in a 400 year old London Gentlemen’s Club sinking into a high backed old leather chair with a top end Brandy warming in its Goblet as you gently swirl it in the open palm of your left hand, you listen to the crackling open coal fire whilst basking in its warming glow, all the time feasting of the calming blue smoke odors of an expensive Cigar which accompany the riveting reminiscing stories of shooting Tigers with your Old Etonian Chums and the Viceroy of India back in the good old days….. Jolly Good Show Old Chap!!...You know it’s an out of date concept, a guilty pleasure, but fuck it, because if you had the chance you know you would, damn if it isn’t great, pardon the pun, to have the privilege to do so at least once.

Mouthfeel: More body than an East German female Shot-putter. Yet given its high end strength and barrel aging, I find this to be very smooth, the warming only starts in the latter third, whilst the real bite to this one is delayed well into the swallow, and even then, like a quality Tequila, it is one of those nice late kick in the balls that you don’t really mind. Warming in a snuggly way.

Drinkability: 14%...!!! This is a very, very, very dangerous Barley wine that is smooth, silky, soothing and seriously easy to sink.

Overall: Nicely put together and a fine libation. Next time I’m down that way I will be picking up some more Growlers of the fine Alpine brews and maybe, just maybe, if there are any bottles of these babies left, or some of the new batch, I’m getting some more. You know this one will cellar well.

The 'Good' is now "Great", but it's not Bad and definitely ain't Ugly!!!

A seriously big "MAHALO" to AleOha for this guilty treat.

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