Big Worse | Mikkeller ApS

Big WorseBig Worse
416 Ratings
Big WorseBig Worse

Brewed by:
Mikkeller ApS

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed at De Proefbrouwerij.

Ingredients: Water, malt (pils and caramunich), candy sugar, hops (nugget, cascade and centennial) and ale yeast.

Added by Viggo on 11-25-2007

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 416 |  Reviews: 249
Photo of kingcrowing
2.9/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

375ml corked & caged bottle poured into an Allagsh tulip.

Pours a dark muddy brown with no head at all - I'm really hoping this isn't flat. Nose is Very booze and sweet/malty. Slight raisin and toffee.

Has a very light carbonation, slightly watery on the finish but still a decent body. It's quite sharp and boozy with a noticeable warming sensation. Taste is a bit unpleasant, more like a wine or something than most barleywines. It's ok but I wouldn't seek it out.

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Photo of bobsy
4.11/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage shared by Eric at our big barleywine tasting. After this one everything goes a bit blank, but considering the amount we got through that's not much of a surprise!

The pour is a bit ho-hum, presenting a slightly muddy oaken liquid with a faint tan film hugging the surface. Fortunately everything improves from here on out. The nose has a large dried fruit and sherry component, which it marries to some peppery spicing and warm alcohol. Decent balance in the flavour, with some nice sweet caramel and dark fruit malts having the upper hand over herbal hops. Some old ale and brown ale not2s are also present in the form of cocoa powder and nuts. While the alcohol was present in the nose, I don't notice it so much in the flavour. Smooth body works really well for what's going on here.

I imagine this is about at its peak - drink em up!

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.94/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12.7oz corked and caged, silver foil wrapped, 2006 vintage - brought over to Rob's barleywine tasting by viggo - thanks man!

Pours a murky mud brown with no head, not even on the swirl. Here's to hoping this is what it should look like....

Nose picks up nice raisin and toffee notes, light ethanol and some heavy spicing for a barleywine.

Toasty malts, toffee and caramel, nice earthiness, spices, light herbal/grassy hopping, cocoa powder. Nice dry finish. Feels smooth though with the age and lack of any substantial carbonation, sumptuous. Light drying in the finish. Still tasty though a little odd/scary when you first see it out of the bottle! A unique take on a barleywine.

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Photo of vancurly
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Consumed this with 4 friends; this is a group review, although weighted towards my scores.
a) Murkey chestnut brown; thin head that kicks up some spritzy bubbling when swirled.
s) Chocolate was a common description; also so christmas cake fruits and some distinctive spicy notes from hops
f) Rich, warm & rewarding. There was some debate about the hop profile, with spice, greeen fruits, herb leaf thrown into the mix.
m) A light syrup, with alcohol warmth
d) Having only had a little, I would say "yes give me more"; perhaps a single bottle would suffice.
"Cough syrupy" came one reply. "Not as good as Hardy's" came another. For mine, it is a good interpretation of style, if not understated...could have been more bitter and hop-driven.

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Photo of flannelman808
4.29/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deeep murky brown, total swamp scum color. Wow and I can smell it already it smells amazing. It reminds me of cider though, large bubbles and very little head. excellent lacing and though the head is not thick it does stick around for some time.

S: from a 2 feet away I get Spice and macintosh apple.... up close Caramel milky caramel. I also get roasted apple and pie spices.

T: caramelized macintosh apple (or maybe golden and delicious) cinnamon and allspice... a little nutmeg perhaps. spice tartness and sweet flavors overwhelm one another and the result is a very potent full flavored Balanced beer! Wow this is a barley-wine and it just so happens to be fall but this might be the best autumn beer ever! Not a fine head but it does stick around for a while. Deep rich complex flavors wow its so good!

M: tacky to the palate, it sticks to everything. It has an oily consistency, and definitely has a resinous hop quality.

D: Its so freaking good that despite the intensity I find it very drinkable (because of the balance I think).

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Photo of adamette
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Live review. Poured from the 12.7 oz. corked, caged and silver foil wrapped bottle that I found in the basement of HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI while on a brief tour there. I subsequently purchased the bottle but I do not recall how much I paid. The cork looks synthetic and has a date written on it: 02/07/12, presumably the "best by" date. Poured into my Westvleteren silver rimmed trappist style goblet.

A Pours a dark brown, kind of a dark caramel body with what is at first virtually no head but then, from the depths comes a thin 0.5 cm head that then proceeds to dissipate to a few bubbles on the top of the beer. The head was (it nearly has gone away in the time that I typed these lines) a very light brown. Interesting look. 4.0

S Dark fruits, some alcohol. Reminds me of something that could be related to a Thomas Hardy to my nose. Interesting, inviting. 4.0

T/M Well, sure enough the dark fruits (dates, raisins) comes straight through into the taste and the feel matches with a nice, thick syrupy feel. I do taste the alcohol, the burn of which lingers into the aftertaste but that is accompanied by a pleasing dark fruit lingering taste. This is not a very carbonated beer, tending toward the feel of a Thomas Hardy Ale. 4.0

D Not that great. I will have no trouble finishing the last half of the bottle but this is a sipper and appropriately so. There is certainly enough interest here to enjoy the entire 12.7 oz. 3.5

Notes: Another interesting beer from this brewer. This is a weak cousin of Thomas Hardy but fans of Thomas Hardy would likely enjoy it none the less.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.47/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The cork popped out with almost no carbonation pop, and a vigorous pour got no foam at all--is this supposed to be flat? The color is very murky brown, with a slick oily surface. The nose is big and very malty: powdery cocoa, lots of caramel, and an underlying fruitiness. At taste, this is indeed hardly carbonated at all. Dense caramel malt dominates, with a lot of dry bitterness but not much hop flavor. Alcohol is quite apparent, sharp and peppery. Neither pleasant nor interesting; this is a rough barleywine without any subtlety.

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Photo of jdklks
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours an extremely dark rustic brown. backlighting reveals orange edges and an obscene amount of sediment. very, very dark for a barleywine. the head is almost non-existent. not a lot of carbonation in this one. what there is of it is a dark tan. the smell is pure maltiness. sweet dark fruits. prunes. maybe some caramel. not overpowering, and not all that great.

wow. this might be the oddest beer ive ever tried. it actually tastes and smells a lot like prune juice, with figs added. lots of figs. there is also a lot of roastiness that resembles burnt brown sugar. i would like to give this a higher score, but i dont really know what to think of it.

the beer is hardly carbonated, which doesn't kill the taste as it does a lot of the time with other beers (cough, angel's share, cough), but it doesn't hold back the mouthfeel, and even the drinkability. other than that, its a thick and full-bodied barleywine, the way they're supposed to be.


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Photo of IPAcraig
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big Worse, a great name for a beer in a nice package.

Upon removing the foil and popping the cork to only the slightest hiss of carbonation this beer pours a very dark ruby color with a not surprisingly small tan head.

Ripe malty musk. Old ale-ish.

Hot alcohol gives way to a burst of dense leather sweetness with a bit of plum. The hops are only noticeable in the finish, bitter slight bit of citrus.

Low carbonation but still somewhat lighter than expected.

A good beer. I would peg it as more of an big English barleywine than an American.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.57/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Nose is acidic and deeply malty-syrupy; lots of chocolate, lots of sour cherry-like fruit, some vinegar, some vanilla-sweetness. Amazingly complex and beautiful nose. Smells absolutely wonderful.

Pours dirty brown, almost opaque, mild head. Looks pretty good, good for 12%.

Smooth and surprisingly sweet from the nose. Some raw leafy hops. Nice alcoholic notions. Soft chocolate and toasty malt. More raw young flavors. Very soft spiciness. Impressively thick and syrupy. Moderate to heavy bitterness, mildly tea-like. Tastes kind of wort-like, like it needs some more age on it. I bet it would be good in a few years; until then it's a nicely hopped sweet malt beverage (with 12% abv??). Tastes pretty good. Feels good. Okay drinkability.

Needs time, too young... Cork date barley legible... I think 07/12; that makes sense, it tastes like it's just under half-way ready. If I come across another bottle I would definitely consider putting it down until 2012 or later. But for today, I paid $10+ for a bottle of hightly alcoholic wort. I've had better from Mikkeller and expect better in the future. Cheers and brew-on!

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Courtesy of some dude on RB, thanks. Pours clear copper with tan head. The aroma is grainy, alcohol, pale fruity esters and a bit uninspired. It isn't rich and inviting as a lot of barleywines tend to be. The flavor is herbal, hoppy, alcohol and some mild sweet malts. The hops are pine and grass. There's pale malts followed by a decent dose of an alcohol tingle near the finish. I will re-rate this beer with several years of age.

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Photo of drpimento
3.03/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Got this bottle at Sam's in Chicago a few months ago. Pours with no head and so no lace. Color is a very cloudy brown with amber highlights. Aroma is dark ripe fruits and vanilla, a little oak, and caramel. Flavor is about the same. Body is decent except it's almost flat. Only ever had one still beer I liked: Sam Adams Utopias. Finishi is shorter than I woulda thought. Not a session beer.

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Photo of jnezda
3.04/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This was one of the few barley wines that I have tried and also only my second Mikkeller. I was not overly impressed but did enjoy the drink but perhaps not for the price. 12.7oz corked bottle opened with almost no discernible pop. I shared with a girlfriend who has a lessor appreciation of beer than me so I may not have taken good enough notes but did notice this beer was very murky dark brown and poured with almost no head. For such a small amount of there was a touch of lacing. The smell was sort of similar to a dubbel with some tone of sugar and fruit and a certain background of alcohol. The barley wine made no effort to hide the high ABV and the lack of carbonation was apparent. The taste was surprisingly mild despite the alcohol and the fruit and sweet tones came out. There is certainly a time and paring for this beer and I look forward to trying it again pared well with dinner.

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Photo of TheEremite
4.06/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is great in all the wrong places for BA rating. It pours a murky brown with almost no carbonation and no head. It's really kind of ugly if you ask me. But, the aroma is good, but would be better if it were a little more carbonated. It tastes good, like a barleywine should. It's malty, slightly fruity, roasty and sweet, but not overly so. It has a very nice mouthfeel, not too thick and very drinkable for the dangerous 12% as the bottle states. I'll be happy to try this one again, but I'm in no rush to do so. I have another one in the closet. I think I'll sit on it a while and see how it is in a few months.

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Photo of Stavage
4.02/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a thin fizzy head which dissipates in no time. Dark murky brown colour with ruby hues on the edges. Nice and deep looking.

Smells of dried vine fruits, sweet sugary malts, a touch of pine, obvious alcohol (not too obvious). Quite a bit of spiciness all up, a rich scent.

Taste is as big as the smell but not quite as complex. Sweet rich ripe fruit and a fairly strong hop bitterness come together united with a boozy warmness. Theres a bit of caramel, definitely some spice. A find the balance here a lot better than with their Black Hole. The sweetness is a lot more complex and full of fruit characters which makes it gel with the bitterness rather than clash.

Fullbodied but could have been fullerbodied. Surprisingly I'd have liked a little more carbonation just to round it off a bit. At first I found it nice and sticky but it soon got rather a little too sticky for me.

Can't say much about the drinkability. It's definitely a sipper. My first barleywine, so not sure entirely what to contrast it with. Overall it had full rich flavours and enough complexity but it seemed a little bit all over the place with these. I did enjoy this as a sipper.

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Photo of Hullabaloo2
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma - Grape like esters. Malt sweetness. No perceived hop aroma. Slight note of alcohol.

Appearance - Deep amber. Beautiful color. Poured almost no head. Low visible carbonation.

Flavor - Nice malt flavor. A little off balance. Somewhat cloying. The alcohol is very well hidden for the ABV. Nice caramel flavor. Slight metalic flavor in the aftertaste.

Mouth Feel - Medium-heavy body. Very low carbonation.

Overall Impression - Very good beer. Surprisingly drinkable for a 12% ABV Barleywine.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle bought online from The Cracked Kettle, Amsterdam...

Poured a deep burgundy amber colour. Light mocha head poured small but quite thick then faded quickly to light covering with a thin ring around the edge... no carbonation... random light lacing...

Aroma - Rich deep alcohol soaked fruits (raisins, figs, oranges, prunes), molasses sugar, burnt toffee and caramel, some slightly off putting rotten veg notes mixed with a light rubberiness, hints of brandy and port, lots of piney hops, peppery and spicy, some tobacco smokiness, roasted nuts, marzipan, cola traces..

Taste - Lots of rich sweet toffee and caramel maltiness followed by tons of warming alcohol, treacle, definite brandy hints, some marsala, light cigar smokiness, rich dark fruits (raisins, prunes, figs), some bitter marmalade hints, light piney hop traces, light anise, peppery, burnt brown sugar, slight mustiness...

Feel - Rich, smooth and slightly oily... medium / full bodied... Drinkability is pretty decent even for a beer of 12% although it might become too sweet after more than bottle...

Overall - An excellent take on a barleywine. Recommended...

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Photo of erz316
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12.7floz corked bottle into old spec pint glass

A - as I pour I notice a distinct lack of head, ive never had a barleywine before so I'm guessing that is normal from the other reviewers. the brew pous a completely turbid brown liquid, murky and completely opaque in a mid-dark brown with red hue. head is tiny, only a thin 1mm layer on the top.

S - the nose is quite alive, smells like a dubbel that has the agressive nose of a tripel. fruits blend with the alcohol in the foreground, and there is a distinct citrus backing. also there is some brown sugar type of note, probably coupling inbetween the back and front notes, its there either way.

T - the taste definitely packs a punch, maybe a bit much for a breakfast beer (just got up, this is breakfast). initial notes are booze, hops, booze, malts. yeah thats about right; booze is very nice and warming. the finish has the alcohol become burning with a good backing of sweet malt flavour and fruit. the finish is a bit burning, a bit sweet, sweet is malt and b-shug.

MF&D - the body is fine for all I can tell, bu the pervasiveness of the alcohol might make me think twice about having more than one of these guys.

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Photo of bort11
3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12.7 oz corked and caged green bottle. Poured into a Boulevard Smokestack chalice. The cork popped with a thin pop. Thinnest flash of tan head which leaves a few spots of filmy lace around the edges and surface. Color is a murky reddish brown. Really not much to look at.

Smell is a lot more interesting. Deep malty character, dark sugars and burnt raisins. Tastes adds an interesting mint twist to the sweetness. A little bit of alcohol harshness.

Mouthfeel is thinner than a lot of barleywines, but not to the point of being a distraction. Carbonation is light and smooth. I was a little afraid it would be flat. Good but not the greatest.

Blipped "Things get Bad to Worse" by The Ethiopians

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Photo of ricke
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Murky brown with ruby hues. Basically no head, just a minimal layer of off-white foam that disappears immediately. Minimal lacings.

S: A rich smell with vinous fruity aromas (cherries, plums) up front. Plenty of malts and notes of chocolate, coffee, caramel, rye bread and alcohol. Gentle floral notes.

T: A Powerful taste with lots pf vinous fruits and a massive flavor of sweet malts. Chocolate, fudge, plenty of caramel, dusty cellar and raisins. Some bready notes. Has a slight Madeira-like quality to it. The finish is somewhat bitter and has lots of warming alcohol in it. Some chestnuts, juicy malts and notes of spicy hops. The alcohol is really noticeable and leaves a rather boozy sensation in the mouth.

M: Rather full body, very smooth. Very, very low levels of carbonation. After a while, it gets slightly sticky.

D: A good and powerful beer. Very malt-forward with the hops playing a minor role. I enjoyed it but I think the alcohol was just a little too prominent in it. Definitely a sipper.

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Photo of champ103
1.77/5  rDev -53.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

A: Pours a murky brown color. No head, and no lace.
S: Very sweet malt in the nose. Smoke and moldy dry wood and ash aromas. Vinegar and alcohol. Unimpressive.
T: Cloyingly sweet malt. Some dry dark fruits. Moldy wood, rubber, and ask. Lots of vinegar and alcohol again.
M/D: A medium body with a dead a lifeless carbonation. The sweetness, lack of carbonation, and alcohol makes this very hard to drink.

Avoid. I did not enjoy this. Very unpleasant. I have had this twice (I bought it only once). Both times have been drain pours.

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Photo of Grabbin2nd
3.58/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From Notes: 3/26/09
Big Worse B-wine
12% Abv.
12.7 oz. bottle into NB Snifter

Appearance= Pours a 1 1/2 finger tan head. A little murky brown. Nice lacing around the glass. I like the color!

Smell= A little sweetness on the nose. Smells like a really creamy, sweet B-wine.

Taste= First off, a little sweet. Second of all, it has a good flavor. At first I was turned off by the creamy sweetness, now I'm coming around. Better as it warms up. Alcohol is completely hidden.

Mouthfeel= Creamy mouthfeel as I expected. It does finish thin though...Good mouthfeel, lingers...

Drinkability= A sipper, not a quaffer. Even though the alcohol is hidden, you feel it as the beer goes down. Good B-wine, a little creamy and sweet for me.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: From the bottle poured a medium caramel apple, in the glass appeared dark cherry-plum. A soft cushy 1 finger sandstone head sits atop with amazing retention. Beneath the deep coloring lied a nice turbidity of suspend yeasty matter creating a murky atmosphere. A spongey coating trickles the glass wall on the way down.

S: ripe, dark fruit, alcohol and some sugary, dry grapefruit peels. A good maltiness backs things out, moderate in strength.

T: For flavor dark ripe fruit with a alcohol warming starts things off. Sugary plums, deep caramelized malt and dry apples combined with a bittering hoppiness of grapefruit and pine come through midway through the palate. Cola, and black licorice are also noted here before a zinger of spicy alcohol spices and heats things up for a finish. Afterthoughts of wet coffee grinds gently linger behind after the swallow providing for a nice fade. The mouthful was full, malty and smooth with an flat carbonation adding to the fullness.

M: The mouthful as well as the flavor were the 2 strongest points here, elevating the overall status of this drink. A pleasure to taste, as well to behold and savor.

D: Initially it came off boozy after the first sip, after a few more you just wont be able to put this one down while you marvel at the eloquent flavor and texture it has to offer. Excellent example per style, a beautifully downer in spite of its 12.0%abv, which would make your wish you could drink more then you really should.

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Photo of brokenleadedcask
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra in a trade with Bosse. Thank you! Written from notes.

Since this bottle came from the other side of the pond, it has no English. When sampling this beer it doesn't present the 12% ABV in the mouth. The alcohol hit me in the belly like a fine Scotch or Bourbon. The color of the body is a touch darker than some other Barleywines but had the usual minimal head. Smells sweet, with notes of port, hops and orange. It has a beautiful taste balance of bitter hops and a sense of old ale. Highly sweet but not sticky or syrupy with a buttery character. Upon first trying it the alcohol is very present but fades to smooth caramel. This sucker is too hot, I mean it's on FIRE!! I should have sat on this one for 2 to 4 years. It reminds me of DFH 120 min. Too hot to drink fresh.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war."

--Ernest Hemingway

Seriously murky caramel brown with flashes of coral red and juicy orange when backlit with sunshine. The lid is small in size and golden ecru in color. It looks better once it settles, and is gracing the glass with a short, ragged collar of lace.

Not that it matters much, but the nose is more English than American. Then again, the beer is from a Danish brewery and is brewed in Belgium, so where does that leave us? Each sniff delivers an acceptably powerful blast of medium-dark fruit swimming in dark caramel sauce and citrus zest. Here's hoping the alcohol is as well-hidden on the palate.

This is an English barleywine all the way, no matter what hops were used. I had second thoughts about pulling the cork once the foil was removed and the date (14/08/11) came into view. I probably should have aged this bad boy another year at least. Even though it's a teensy bit rough right now, it isn't hot. It's still good beer that will probably be even better this time next year.

The malt profile is more brown than golden or amber, thanks to what must be a significant amount of CaraMunich. It gives the beer a heavily toasted and earthy character that is reminiscent of a good, rich doppelbock. Ripe figs are present as well. The American hops are still kickin with authority, adding flavors of candied orange and lemon peel, along with loads of finishing bitterness.

Actually, two years of rest would probably have been perfect. It tastes like there's some hidden complexity that is being frustrated by too much of an alcohol presence. $9.99 is a bit much for 375 ml of beer, but I just might pick up another bottle to see what aging can accomplish. Drinkability (at the moment) suffers a little.

Mikkeller's stated aim was to brew a 'simple yet heavy' beer. Even though they failed to achieve the latter, the mouthfeel is right about where most English barleywines live. At least those that aren't ultra sappy and sticky. It's still a fraction too light, with just the right amount of subtle carbonation.

Big Worse is big in some respects and not so big in others. It isn't the best barleywine that I've ever had, but it's far from the worst. Bottom line: this is an enjoyable Danish-Belgian sipper that is probably optimal at whatever date is printed on the cork.

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Big Worse from Mikkeller ApS
Beer rating: 3.78 out of 5 with 416 ratings
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