Great - Alpine Beer Company

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GreatGreat

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

547 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 547
Reviews: 153
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.83%
Wants: 1,346
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".
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 547 | Reviews: 153
Photo of notchucknorris
4.84/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours a chestnut brown color without much of a head at all. The few hints of carbonation that pop up quickly disappear.

S: Warm and inviting notes of toffee, caramel and bourbon. Cola, raisin skins, vanilla and some oak as well. There's a touch of booze here, but it's far from overwhelming.

T: Opens with a rich wave of caramel, toasted brown sugar, toffee and light bourbon. Booze soaked raisin, chocolate, light plum and a slight woody dryness. Mouthfeel is slightly oily and slick, never becoming too heavy. Really hard to find much of the 14% here. To me, this is the best barleywine I've ever had. Amazing stuff.

Photo of frizzzle
4.99/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked this up at the brewery on release date.
Poured into a tulip glass, the smell on this is amazing! Smells hot with sweetness.
Pours a nice dark almost deep burgundy color, little to no carbonation.
Taste is amazing, slightly thick texture, very smooth and nice semi sweet taste. I can't taste 14% alcohol. This is very well balanced. The smell and taste compliment each other. I thought about trading some bottles, but after drinking 2 so far, I've decided to keep the rest. This beer is awesome, best barleywine I've had. Alpine beer company, thank you!

Photo of EliotRosewater
4.72/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Purchased directly from the brewery today (10/9) and consumed same day. When I got home one of the bottles had some foam around the cap. So I drank that bottle. Take that for whatever it's worth.

A - almost no head during pour. Very little lacing. Beautiful dark brown to almost black.

S - first thing that hits you is the bourbon character along with strong vanilla, oak, caramel and molasses.

T - excellent caramel to almost burnt sugar. Mild alcohol presence. Vanilla. Bourbon. A bit of dark chocolate-like, pleasant bitterness towards the end. Initially comes off pretty sweet but is balanced by the bitterness and alcohol. Very complex.

M - very nice, thick, somewhat viscous mouthfeel with minimal carbonation but just enough. Aftertaste is lingering and amazing. Mouthfeel has never been a major factor in a beer for me before but this is off this charts.

O - what an amazing beer. I keep going back to smell the beer but the actual taste and mouthfeel on this sucker is unreal. This thing doesn't need any age on it at all, it's ready to drink now. So smooth and layered.

Photo of Knapp85
4.05/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

Photo of tarheels86
3.84/5  rDev -15.2%
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

Photo of cosmicevan
4.79/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1,000th review!!! consumed on 7/28 at a kicka$$ BA Barleywine tasting (thanks a ton to mike for hosting and dave, dan, and others for your generosity). the 1000th review should be the BA Old Ruffian (and great should be 1001), but frankly Great was the highlight of afternoon for me (above wooden hell) so i'm going a bit out of order since Great deserves this honor.

a - like many of the BA Barleywines tasted today, somewhat lifeless brown with no head.

s - smells...well...GREAT! perfect sweetness with toffee and caramel mixed in.

t - FANTASTIC! wonderful toffee. some booziness but perfect integration and amazing balance. just a perfect match between this beer and the barrel it sat in.

m - full and rich. finish is sublime. full bodied and drinks like a dream.

o - overall, great is GREAT!!! had this one side-by-side with king henry, wooden, hell, BA HiFi batch 2, BA Old Ruffian and this was my clear favorite.

Photo of siege06nd
4.86/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Generously shared by billab914 many moons ago. It wasn't a big bottle, and I appreciate him sharing it with me when he could have just as easily had it himself.

A. Pours a very cloudy, very ruddy light brown, ever so slight copper tinge. Absolutely zero head and lacing. Expected a little bit more punch from such a high class barleywine. I gotta admit, it looks pretty lackluster.

S. Wow, a caramel and vanilla bomb. Thick, warm caramel chews, loads of brown and green raisins dipped in cream, chocolate, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, maple. Unbelievably complex bouquet here. An experience in and of itself. Spec-freakin-tacular.

T. Oh hell sweet yes. Caramel, vanilla, bourbon soaked raisins, chocolate. Alcohol is incredibly well-hidden. I'm also getting a lot of maple syrup. Incredible.

M. A little hot on the back end, but it is decadent and highly complex. Full bodied and chewy. Super rich and absolutely delicious.

O. I'm not the biggest fan of American Barleywines (I much prefer their English brethren). That said, Alpine Great blew me away. This was an absolute treat.

Photo of Reagan1984
4.17/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Alex (Masterski) for providing this in trade. Served in my Portsmouth Brewery Snifter.

Literally no head, no foam and no lace on the beer. A brown amber deep color.

Aroma is sweet of brown sugar, some bourbon and caramel. Not as much vanilla as some. The ABV is present and some alcohol is noted.

The flavor has many of the same components. Brown sugar really comes to mind along with some honey and yes bourbon. There is a sweet caramel that works nicely with the heat of the alcohol. Not too “HOT” which I don’t like, but more warning and inviting.

Pretty bold body, but not syrupy. Very subtle carbonation. It’s there, but barely.

Very, very good beer. Not among the elite of the bourbon barrel barleywines but certainly a treat to enjoy.

As always, thank so much Alex.

Photo of FosterJM
3.97/5  rDev -12.4%
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.

Photo of woosterbill
4.89/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle (therefore from '09, I believe), courtesy of millerbuffoon, shared at tasting and poured into a medium-sized Duvel tulip.

A: Clear, brilliant copper body with just a handful of coarse tan bubbles. Great legs, spotty lace. Very nice.

S: Gigantic, amazing and hugely enjoyable aroma of sherry, vanilla, bourbon-soaked raisin, oak, and toasted caramel. Really rich, really complex, and perfectly aged. Wow.

T: Follows the nose - rich malts, dark fruits, sweet toffee, vanilla oak, and some heady leather. As it warms, some delicious sherry oxidation shows up. The finish is bittersweet and warming, with the 14% showing up with some smooth warmth and pleasant tingling. Incredibly delicious - this might be my favorite Barleywine...ever.

M: Full body, moderate, creamy carbonation, and light stickiness. Excellent.

O: This beer's name is an understatement.

Thanks again, Miller!

Cheers!

Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -11.7%
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

Photo of BarrytheBear
4.74/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Courtesy of the generous jpmclaug..thanks friend!

12 oz bottle shared with madtowndmb1.

A murky rusty brown into a tulip.

Uncannily, the smell of this beer is the essence of southern style pecan pie. It's as if the good folks at Alpine bottled Thanksgiving dessert. Really a great smelling beer.

Taste deviates quite a bit from the smell. Light vanilla segues into a boatload of toffee and caramelized sugars. The barrel is very light and shows up as coconut and wood on the finish.

Overall, this is a really nice barleywine that carries barrel aging that way I like it. The base beer is truly the showcase here. In my opinion, all too often, the barrel overwhelms and swallows the base beer in a bb barleywine. In this case, the base is the star and the barrel lays a gentle subtle layer the melds wonderfully. Not big, brash, or boozy. In fact, if this beer truly clocks in at 14%, it's a gem. Subtlety and grace, thy name is Great.

Photo of stakem
4.05/5  rDev -10.6%
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.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.06/5  rDev -10.4%
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 billab914
4.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. It was pretty still with the only traces of a head being some bubbles towards the edges of the glass. It had a great looking, deep, dark caramel color to it though. I loved the color and the stillness of it worked for me given the style and abv of 14%.

The aroma shows a lot of caramel and toffee right off the bat. I get some excellent flavors out of the barrel component with woody oak and vanilla notes really coming out. The bourbon is a little more reserved but gives it some excellent complexity. I started to get a little more dark fruits with a little leather as it warmed. Alcohol is noticeable, but not much for being 14%. Fantastic aroma, everything came together pretty perfectly in it.

The taste has some very good caramel, toffee, brown sugar and dark fruit notes to it throughout. The barrel aging gives it more of the oaky, vanilla flavors with the bourbon being again pretty reserved but also very smooth and flavorful. I get some bitterness in the finish providing some great balance to it. As I drank it I started to get a little chocolate coming out in the finish as well. Some alcohol heat in the finish, but not bad at all for the size of it.

The mouthfeel is pretty heavy and a little slick. Carbonation is very low. The mouthfeel felt pretty perfect for my tastes. At 14% and almost no carbonation it drank a little like a good bourbon.

Overall, I absolutely loved this beer. It definitely lived up to the hype for me. They got such a great balance between the barrel and beer characters and both of them together were just awesome. The low carbonation, high abv combo really worked well for me as well. Extremely flavorful, smooth and relatively balanced beer. At it's size and strength it's definitely a sipping beer, but it lived up to it's name for me. It just may be a new favorite of the style for me.

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.79/5  rDev -16.3%
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.

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.84/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Lots of thanks to Dunt for bringing this over.

Appearance: The beer is a full brown bronze color with a small off-white head that fades to a thin ring around the edge.

Smell: I have never smelled a barleywine that smelled this good, or that had an aroma that jumped out of the glass like this. Caramel, toasted malt, vanilla, figs, dates, and bourbon simply explode out of the glass.

Taste: Sweet to start out. Vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits blend well together but also retain their individual characteristics. Dates and figs flow into a vanilla and oak bourbon flavor. The end is still sweet, but has a soft bourbon dryness to it.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, with soft creamy carbonation. The truly impressive fact about this beer is that it is 14% with not a hint of boozy taste. It warms my stomach, but that is it. A slight sticky residue is left after each sip.

Overall: So far this is the best barleywine I have had. Enough said.

Photo of jzeilinger
4.29/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Alpine during SDBW:

A - Pours a dark, opaque, chestnut color with a nice layer of creamy foam that eventually subsides to a thin cream colored lacing.

S - Dark molasses, brown sugar, brandy and bourbon, raisins, figs, dates and slightly boozy, vanilla. Nice complexity. A little chocolate.

T - Raisins, rum, chocolate, vanilla, maple sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and ever so slight pine bitterness that's constantly buried beneath the complex and thick malt body. For a barley wine, the alcohol effervescence in very nicely hidden and what's left leaves very mild alcohol burn on the way down. Partially lingers on the pallate and with a rum, brown sugar, and molasses flavor. Toasted caramel and toffee malt.

M - Thick, heavy, viscous, sticky on the lips.

O - Mellow and complex.

Photo of scottfrie
4.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into Portsmouth snifter. Thanks to shawnm213 for this one!

A: Pours a murky raisin brown with a very short lived thin dark tan head that quickly bubbled away into a faint collar that left no lace.
S: Rich notes of sweet dark fruits, a touch of vanilla and toffee, and a bit of basement must.
T: Follows the nose and tastes a lot like an old ale. I get a slight bit of oxidation as well. Flavors consist of raisins, plums, dates and other dark fruits combined with sweet caramel, toffee, butterscotch, leather and spicy whisky barrel. The whisky and alcohol are very well integrated. The finish is sweet and almost berry-like, and the aftertaste is spicy, warming, oxidized and full of vanilla, cocoa and light tobacco notes.
M: Full bodied, thick viscous and slick mouthfeel , and very low carbonation that is tingly on my palate. The double digit alcohol is hidden extremely well.
O: A very rich and potent barleywine. The low carbonation works very well with the strong flavors. Aside from the slight oxidation this beer would be near perfect. Thanks again Shawn!

Photo of pmarlowe
4.47/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage. On tap at Alpine during 2011 San Diego Beer Week. Tulip glass.

A: Pours a mostly clear deep reddish amber with light stone foamy head, which recedes quickly to a ring that retains quite well.

S: Dried red fruit and well integrated bourbon, toffee/caramel, oak and spice, and just a whiff of strawberry as it warms.

T: Nice bourbon, caramel and brown sugar, and citrus flavor, finishing with some winter spices and oak. Alcohol is somewhat noticeable as it warms, but pretty well hidden otherwise and admirable considering the ABV.

M: Medium body and carbonation. Smooth.

O: Really drinkable, awesome flavors, balanced, and nicely integrated barrel. More barrel characteristics than some of the recent Alpine -bal releases (like BA Token), if you were wondering. Probably one of my favorite barleywines of the year.

Photo of AgentZero
4.27/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Chris for sharing this longtim want of mine.

A - Orangish brown colored beer that's fairly opaque. Off-white head didn't stay for long and left some pretty minor stuff on the sides.

S - Caramel, burnt sugar, a bit of vanilla. There's a lot of sweet fruit in here, particularly cherries. Alcohol is dangerously hidden.

T - Really nice. Has a great barleywine base that is complimented by the bourbon and barrel aging. Some sweeter fruit notes as well.

M - Medium bodied with lower carbonation.

O - Really nice beer, wish it came in bigger bottles. No complaints on this one.

Photo of Sean9689
4.42/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Chris (spycow) for this one. Excellent tick!

A - Pours a copper color, light tan head, no cap, thin collar.

S - Sweet caramel, burnt sugars, brown sugar, touch of vanilla, and it's amazing how well-hidden the alcohol is. Very sweet, rich, and such smooth booze. Wow!

T - Like the nose, very sweet and rich. Caramel, burnt sugars, vanilla, brown sugar, oak. Where's the 14%? I don't think I've ever had a beer where the alcohol is so well-hidden. Excellent. I could see this one being too sweet for some, but I guess I like 'em sweet.

M - Medium, syrupy, rich, creamy finish.

O - A stunner from Alpine that I really enjoyed sipping on. The alcohol is nonexistent on the nose and palate, which boggles my mind. An excellent barley wine from the one of the best Hop-producing breweries out there...that says a lot. A must-try.

Photo of MasterSki
4.39/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Chris (Spycow) for sharing this one. Served in a Bruery tulip. This was the more recent batch in 12oz bottles.

A - Thin, quick-dissolving off-white foam settles to a thin collar and not much else - minimal lace and no cap, wisps, etc. Murky dark orange-brown body.

S - This is a very fruity barleywine, with lots of cherry and other dark fruits. Caramels, treacle, toffee, tobacco, and plenty of oak and bourbon character. Mild complimentary oxidation that adds fruity port-like flavors. I don't think this batch was aged in Jack Daniels, was it?

T - Again, the taste is heavy with traditional barleywine flavors and only a moderate bourbon influence. Caramel, treacle, brown sugar, toffee, cherries, mild oxidation.

M - Medium bodied, with minimal alcohol warmth. Drinks like a lighter beer than 14% - I could have stood for a bit more viscosity and stickiness. Carbonation is unsurprisingly low. Not particularly oaky - very neutral here.

D - A very good barrel-aged barleywine that doesn't quite crack the top tier for me. I'll revisit this when I drink my own bottle (generously sent by ArthurPendragon before his untimely demise). Alcohol is shockingly well-hidden, which makes this a very dangerous brew.

Photo of GoGriz
4.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'Twas one of my last great wales but she was harpooned this last Saturday night. Huge thanks to Sean9689 for this 12oz beaut.

The color was a tangerine hued copper meaning that it had a bright sheen to its heavy body and was slightly muddy. Minimal head. The nose was rich and sweet with only a little bourbon in its scent but plenty of vanilla, toffee and brown sugar. Perfect. The flavor is the pinnacle of barrel integration, exactly what barrel aged beers should be with the base beer and the barrel working in perfect harmony instead of coming through on the palate separately. Incredibly sweet but cut by the bourbon so as to provide a backbone to the flavor. No harsh finish to be found. The 14% alcohol was completely hidden. The mouthfeel had moderate to light carbonation which lifted the beer off the palate enough to keep it from feeling sludgy or too viscous but creamy enough to know you are drinking a heavy duty beer. Beers like this can be a burden to slog through even when the first sips are heavenly. Not the case with Great, in fact quite the opposite as I wanted more with every sip.

I will be haunted by this beer the rest of my autumn and winter life.

Photo of jethrodium
4.51/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle generously shared by colonelforbin. Thanks Mike. Pours a golden reddish amber with no head and no lacing on the glass. The smell is glorious. The aroma is bursting with vanilla, coconut, caramel, some light alcohol, marshmallow as well as some bourbon. The initial taste is some sweet caramel followed by some oaky bourbon, marshmallow, toffee, and vanilla. All the flavors come together quite nicely. The finish has a slight alcohol burn, but nothing unexpected given the ABV. Medium-full body. No carbonation. It could use slightly more carbonation, but it is certainly amazing the way it is. Easily one of the best barley wines have had.

Great from Alpine Beer Company
100 out of 100 based on 547 ratings.