Great | Alpine Beer Company

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Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

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".

Added by xlperro on 03-01-2005

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Reviews: 156 | Ratings: 614
Photo of vacax
4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great poured into my glass a dark brown color with almost no visible carbonation until I stopped pouring and a few strands of head formed before disappearing within the next minute or so. I don't expect a large creamy head from something in this alcohol range, but I expect more than this.

The aroma emanates maple, bourbon, booze, caramelized sugars, and a tad of peaty dryness. Pretty far out. Tastes of toffee, but not as sweet, peaty, slightly earthy. Finish has a full bitterness to it with a lingering bourbon and maple character. Yes, this one is big and boozy, but it is oh so good. Full in body, but maybe lighter than expected. Despite the lack of visible carbonation, there are plenty of tiny prickly bubbles to enhance the flavor. Very high quality example of the style. High drinkability for what it is, not quite perfect, but high. Good good stuff.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by largadeer (Chris), courtesy of ArthurPendragon. Thanks guys.

A: Pours a murky, ruddy amber, with almost no head. Scattered bubbles on top with a VERY thin collar. Translucent honey edges. IMO it's too carbonated to be a proper English barleywine, but it looks inviting.

S: Butterscotch, toffee, peanut brittle, a bit of soy-like oxidation, caramel, toast. There's something darkly savory that reminds me of that tamarind chutney commonly paired with samosas.

T: Lots of butterscotch, toffee, peanut brittle, and caramel. It's pretty attenuated and doesn't leave a lot of lingering sweetness; there is a leathery savoriness (again, calling to mind tamarind chutney) throughout that helps balance the sugars. A hint of dry oxidation in the finish that works very well for this beer. There isn't much bourbon or wood at all, but vanilla does appear from time to time. As it warms, it gets more tannic and astringent.

M: Chewy, warm, smooth. Viscous. Very restrained, with a mild and mellow heat (nowhere near 14%).

D: This is really, really good. The barrel-aging is VERY subtle, and it hits the zone for me when it's at the upper range of the "recommended" drinking temperature. Lovely. I want more. It's pricey as hell at $11 a 12oz, but this may be one of the few beers where I think it's actually worth it, like a Hair of the Dog special release. [EDIT: I have been informed that this was $8 / 12oz at the release. That is well worth it, IMO.]

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Photo of mcallister
4.87/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A fine example of an english barley wine. Murky chestnut color with only a hint of tan fizz that leaves a splotch of foam here and there.

Man noses on beers don't get much better than this. Everything comes through and adds depth and complexity to each other instead of one thing overpowering. Dried fruit character you would expect in fig and date with caramel and toffee undertones. Some red currant that then leads into some woodsy aromas and that sweet bourbon scent. Just a great smelling bw.

Ahhhh why I love English barley wines so much on top of that add bourbon barrel aging and you have one of the best beers I've tried in a long long while. A dessert style beer very sweet with mission fig, rum soaked rasins, caramel, date, currant, bourbon, vanilla, alcohol burn, a perfect tingly mouthfeel from a hint of carbonation that adds to the complexity. Slight oxidation and sherry quality. Christ this is good.

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Photo of waltonc
4.13/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to JessetheHutt for throwing in this great brew as an extra in our trade. Awesome.

I am to bourbon barrel barleywines what Nelly is to cornrows - a sucker.

Pours hazy garnet/brown in color with ample tan carbonation. Smells of bourbon, raisins, brown sugar, vanilla, and lots of toffee, among others. I like it, but the buttery toffee component is a little too much for my taste - reminds me a bit of Olde Bluehair's smell. Taste is outstanding - those same toffee, bourbon, raisin and brown sugar qualities are all quite strong, and blend together well. Not hoppy at all, this sits on the line where barleywines end and old ales begin. Mouthfeel is thick, sticky, coating, and well-supported by ample carbonation. At 14%, I was expecting to have difficulty drinking this, but those concerns proved unfounded.

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Photo of mikey711
4.14/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown, with some light able to seep through. Mild head forms with a hard pour that is gone befoe i could even blink and no lacing to speak of at all

S: RIch caramel notes upfront along with some biscuits, also a nice coconut and almost note is present and very enjoyable, maybe a little maple syrup as well. can definitely smell the wood and some vanilla and bourbon

T:It starts off very vanilla tasting with hints of oak and then caramel. A big load of biscuits is noticable. As it sits in my mouth I can also detect some toasted nuts. What is strange is some of the sips though are just straight booze which is a bit unpleasant

M: Some heat is present on this one and it could surely use a bit of time in the cellar, there is also a syrupy quality to it

D: I look forward to trying this one again in a year. I split the bottle with someone else and that was fine by me

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Photo of srandycarter
4.22/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Not much head, not much lace. Prune juice appearance. Brown and opaque.

S - Prune juice smell. And booze.

T - Prune juice taste. Raisins, booze, etc.

M - Kinda harsh. Out of whack. Big beer. Probably would benefit from a year in the cellar. Pretty good now, though.

D - Oh, no, one is more than enough.

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Photo of OlieIPA
3.61/5  rDev -18.5%
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 unseenbyyou
4.2/5  rDev -5.2%
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 -11.5%
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 -7.7%
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 -6.5%
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 -1.8%
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 -0.2%
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 +7.2%
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 -1.8%
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 -3.4%
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%
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 -0.2%
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 -14.2%
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 +0.9%
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%
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 +5.4%
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 -7.4%
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 -1.4%
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 -0.2%
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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Great from Alpine Beer Company
97 out of 100 based on 156 ratings.