Dismiss Notice
Get FREE shipping on all US orders of $25 or more from the BeerAdvocate Store.

No promo code required. Offer valid through 4/30.

Ready to gear up? Start shopping →

Great | Alpine Beer Company

156 Reviews
no score
Send samples
For Trade:

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

View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 156 | Ratings: 611
Photo of MasterSki
4.39/5  rDev -0.9%
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.

 1,225 characters

Photo of GoGriz
4.97/5  rDev +12.2%
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.

 1,178 characters

Photo of jethrodium
4.51/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

 647 characters

Photo of SDDanC
3.95/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

 588 characters

Photo of hamilton23
4.92/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours amber with minimal carbonation and little, if any, head.

S: Smells like booze, very strong with hints of caramel, vanilla and dried fruits.

T: Lots of caramel and toffee taste in there with the sweet flavor of an after dinner beverage.

M: Not a ton of carbonation, but who needs it in a beer like this.

O: One of ABC’s best offerings and one of my favorite beers ever! I love this stuff.

 404 characters

Photo of DearthVader
4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

5oz pour into a tulip at the brewpub.

Pours a glowing copper with no trace of a head. Zero signs of lacing as well and the body is quite translucent.

Smells of bourbon, vanilla, toffee, caramel, oak, deliciousness. I sat and smelled this beast for a good 5 minutes. Outstanding.

Taste follows the smell with the vanilla upfront leading to the oaked bourbon finish. Was expecting more bourbon on this one, but still very nice.

Silky smooth mouthfeel will definite traces of the alcohol, but that's what is expected.

Very happy I got to try this. Made a trip out today with the girlfriend just to get away from home and am pleasantly surprised to find they tapped a keg today.

 681 characters

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.44/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle generously shared by normyk at a Jackie O's tasting in May (thanks Rob!). Luckily there weren't too many of us, so everyone got a nice pour of this high ABV treasure.

It pours a light copper color, translucent nearly to the point of transparency, with the most minimal of heads. Very nice aroma, candy sweet and bourbony, like sweet liquor soaked fruits.

Toffee and caramel malts are strong in the flavor, along with lasting bourbon notes and a little bit of oak. This is actually even better than I expected, and I expected it to be good. The hops aren't very strong, kind of funny for a brewery known (at least to me) for their hoppy creations.

Highly recommended, and worth seeking out. This is what Kuhnhenn BBBW wants to be.

 745 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.59/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Second big Want from Alpine I'm knocking off this week; good stuff. Been wanting to try this one for a long time. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter.

a - Pours a hazy deep mahogany color with a slight dark red tint, one inch of very light tan head and light carbonation evident. Looks pretty good.

s - Smells of bourbon, vanilla, caramel malts, toffee, oak, sweet fruity malts, molasses, and raisins. Lots of bourbon and vanilla mixing with toffee/caramel, as well as sweetness. This is an amazing smelling barrel aged barleywine; gotta be up as one of the best I've smelt.

t - Tastes of bourbon, sweet dark fruits, wood/oak, alcohol, molasses, raisins, light chocolate, caramel malts, and toffee. Again, this is an outstanding tasting barleywine. Lots of bourbon and sweetness to it, which I loved. More wood or oak than the nose, and a little bit of chocolate. A slight step down from the nose, but still a great taste; the nose was just perfect.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy and not a ton of alcohol warmth; some, but not as much as I would have thought for 14% ABV.

o - Overall I thought this was an outstanding barrel aged barleywine; definitely up there as one of the best I've had. Amazing nose; up there with MoaS as one of my favorite barrel aged barleywines, and I'd love to get another bottle of it.

 1,366 characters

Photo of dmsohyea
3.67/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

 1,016 characters

Photo of BdubleEdubleRUN
4.79/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

09 version

A- Brown with a slight reddish hugh, head forms and vanishes quickly to nothing, leaves clear sticky film on the side of the glass.
S- Caramel, maple, alcohol, molasses, smells fairly sweet.
T- A welcoming bitter chocolate, maple, caramel, just a little bit of alcohol heat.
M- Filling mouthfeel the lingers after it goes down, very little carbonation.
O- This is probably about the 6th or 7th serving I have had at the pub. 2 were 2005 and the rest 09, everytime I thought it would be the last time I had it for a long time and then when I walk in and see that name on the board I get giddy. My favorite barrel aged barleywine.

 640 characters

Photo of mrkun
3.78/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

 427 characters

Photo of jrallen34
3.35/5  rDev -24.4%
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

 428 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
4.72/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to DSC for bringing the Alpine Great, mucho gracias.

Color looks like almond in hue, a light brown that is rather opaque.
The aroma affirms that this has time in the bottle as the 14% is hardly believable to be true, it's perceptably there but hard to believe it's a 14% powerhouse. It is instead blanketed over with the notion that the flavors are going to have some sweet and creamy flavors, and the nose turns true.
So much rounded out and integrated flavors of butterscotch, toffee, caramel, and toasted nuts mixed and incorperated into one another on an oak canvas, this is a delight to drink.

This is one bottle i'd really love to get a chance to try again.

 673 characters

Photo of MADhombrewer
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was part of a 7 bottle BA Barleywine tasting. Hopsbreath was very kind to bring this even though I knew nothing about it. Shared with Hopsbreath, Tulipsnifter, and witchsbrew. This was a 2009 vintage.

Appearance- A muddy sun tea color. Small off white head. Low lacing. 3.5/5

Smell- Vanilla and maple. Oatmeal comes out after it warms. 4/5

Taste- Fruity vanilla and sweet maple. Some alcohol but not much.
Mouthfeel- This is where the beer shines in my opinion. I am a sucker for a good mouthfeel. For this particular beer I like the mouthfeel so much that I want to have another sip right away. It is a medium bodied beer that tends to be on the thicker side of medium. 5/5

Overall- This is a very good beer. It is a bit of a sipper, but that is just fine by me. Every sip seems to get better as you go down the bottle. Too bad that Alpine doesn't distribute in this area. I have a feeling I may not get a chance to have another one. But I will be seeking this out. Thanks, Jason!! 4.5/5

 1,004 characters

Photo of hopsbreath
4.69/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had a little barrel aged barleywine tasting at MADhombrewer and Witchsbrew's residence last night. Filet mignon's were provided by our host's for TulipSnifter and I. Thanks guys!

In the lineup were Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Hellshire I, BA Hi-Fi Rye, BA Old Ruffian, Abacus, and Alpine Great. Our intention was to also open up Perfect Storm '09, Mother of all Storms '10, Kuhnhenn BBBW, and Arctic Devil but we agreed it best to hold off on those beers for another day due to palate fatigue. Small two ounce samples of the six beers from last night were first tasted and notes were taken before returning to the bottles for more tastes and refined notes.

Thanks to SteelersX for providing a couple of bottles of the ’09 batch.

A: Murky-brown with yellow edges. Very tiny wisp ring with a thick glass coating layer. 3.5/5

S: Maple, tart cherries (not in an infected sense), and warming alcohol soaked wood. It’s pungent and saliva-inducing. 4.5/5

T: Very well integrated. Toffee, some butterscotch, day-old red wine, sherry, and pomegranate with a touch of acid. Arguably the best flavor profile of the night. 5/5

M: Thick, coating, and tongue numbing. Very low carbonation is fine by me. 5/5

O: My personal favorite of the night. A fantastic barleywine that should be able to stand up to any and all competition. I still have a bottle I’ll be looking at opening up next to the other BA barleywine’s I still have to taste. I expect it will look forward to the challenge. 4.5/5

 1,506 characters

Photo of Urbancaver
4.47/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks normyk for this treat

Pours a fairly pretty light brown. Almost no he on this one. Smells super bourbon heavy. Tons of heavy oak and vanilla on the nose. Tastes thick and sweet. A touch of hops on the back. Lots of sweet maltiness with a nice oak on the tongue. The vanilla on the tongue is solid as well. Overall one of the best American barley wines aged in bourbon barrels I've ever had

 397 characters

Photo of brew3crew
4.47/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Par of the epic tasting at jackie o's with brad and crew

A-light purplish color with no head
S-very sweet bourbon smell. Little bit of hops
T-just like it smells. Sweet and delicious
M-medium body and smooth
O-this beer is nothing short of its namesake

 253 characters

Photo of Florida9
4.54/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Flat clear brown - whiskey colored. Absolutely no head.

S: Quite the unique aroma of: Butterscotch! Just a nose full of creamy candied popcorny butterness. Kettle corn. Sugary-good. I've simply never come across a beer that smells like this and it smells so tasty.

T: Starts dry and the alcohol is hot as hell, but some more of the butterscotch comes through. Some light vanilla, toffee, sweet caramel. Almost candy-like.

M: Full bodied and hot with absolutely no carbonation. This is the weak point for this beer, but the texture works for the amount of heat this one is throwing off.

O: A rather unique beer. Lots of complexity, yet still candy-like. I thoroughly enjoyed tasting this beer and hope to come across it again one day.

 743 characters

Photo of homebrew311
4.32/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to Hannydawg for sharing this at a recent tasting.

A: deep amber, good clarity, no head. Thick appearance with some definite legs.

S: the nose features big notes of bourbon along with notes of butterscotch. Notes of raw oak in the background with new aromas coming to the surface with each sniff. Notes of maple, grape, and raisins all join the show with a hint of sherry.

T: this brew is bursting at the seams in flavor with a big notes of maple syrup along with vanilla and oak. This one is pretty hot, but that is to be expected at 14% abv. Not as much bourbon on the palate as the nose suggested.

MF: huge viscous body, this one is almost like sipping on a spirit

O: This brew has a ton of flavor and a ton of complexity. My only complaint is that it is a little heavy on the boozy quality.

 811 characters

Photo of Vdubb86
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter

Thanks to hannydawg for getting this beer from parts unknown/California

I was excited that this beer might have some JD qualities too it, but not in that cheesy way like Friday's. The appearance of this beer is a touch hazy but maintains a nice amber color and actually for the first time in awhile is one of the BA barleywines that has a head on it. The aromatics of this particular beer are heavy with oak and vanilla, but rather mild on the bourbon aspects. This allows for the butterscotch and caramel which reign supreme on the palate of this beer, to come through in the nose as well. There is a background flavor that I actually love when I detect it in higher abv beers. Toasted marshmallow, some have said almond, but I'm sticking with my guns on this one. It really wraps up the flavor on this smooth drinking beer. Overall, this beer might get lost in a giant tasting like this one, but I guarantee, if you have a bottle all to yourself, you are truly not going to want to share it.

 1,015 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

Big thanks to hannydawg for sharing this bottle!

Don'tcha just love the modest beers? This one pours a very lightly murky ruby-amber topped by a half-finger of dirty off-white foam. The nose comprises toffee, graham crackers, light walnut, butterscotch, and a vague sense of alcohol. The taste brings in more of the tasty same, though the butterscotch and alcohol come through a bit more pronounced than before. The body is a stolid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a syrupy feel. Overall, a very nice, very tasty b-wine. My only real criticism was that the barrels really didn't impart as much bourbon character as I'd hoped. Despite this, though, this comes through as one damn fine barleywine, straight up.

 754 characters

Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From notes: I've had this at quite a few fests over the years and it keeps getting better and better.

A: Dark copper rust brown, a small barely noticeable head usually forms on the pour. The head isn't white. It's mocha.

S: Big time JD in the nose. Oak and Vanilla as well. The multi layered malt complexity shines as well

T: big up JD bourbon and vanilla. Hot booze, biscuit and butter malts. It's all there....

M: Thick, chewy, and hugely rewarding

O: One of the best American barleywines available.

 506 characters

Photo of ChrisPro
4.59/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage tasted on 3/26/11.

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Virtually no head. Translucent ruby-brown with hints of gold in the light.

Big bourbon on the nose. Solid brown sugar, vanilla, and maybe some nuttiness? There is some hot alcohol on the nose that somewhat stings the nostrils and detracts from the otherwise perfect aroma.

Deep rich vanilla and a big big toffee finish. There's some very slight roastiness from a complex grain bill. Subtle vanilla/bourbon on the finish.

Little carbonation, full-body, as sweet as it is, there's still a slight tannic dryness from the barrel aging on the finish.

Overall, the most drinkable beer at this ABV. Alpine is one of my favorite breweries, and they killed it with this beer. After having it on tap last year, I had high hopes for the bottle and it delivered.

 825 characters

Photo of BearsOnAcid
4.03/5  rDev -9%
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.

 1,205 characters

Photo of RodneyX
4.72/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The beer pours a rusty brown color into my Westvleteren chalice. There is a small head that rises up and fades to a ring. A lot of caramel notes with some toffee and oak that is nice. Quite a full body with carbonation that you can feel easily. For the high amount of alcohol it drinks quite easily and I would recommend this again.

 332 characters

Great from Alpine Beer Company
97 out of 100 based on 156 ratings.