Big Worse | Mikkeller ApS

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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

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Reviews: 249 | Ratings: 414
Photo of jnezda
3.04/5  rDev -18.9%
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 mjd83goblue
3.04/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Sampled from a bottle. Can't remember what I paid, but I'm guessing at least 7-8 bucks for the 12+ ozs.

Pours a murky and cloudy brown. Kind of looks like sewer water.

Smell is booze at the forefront. Can tell this is going to be sweet and malty already.

Quite fruity, with berries, raisins, and the like. Sweet and malty. Warming from the booze. Hops are certainly not overpowering like some American style BW's. Not overly complex though.

Mouthful is full but not cloying at all. Perhaps the best attribute of this beer.

Overall, decent but nothing special. Borders on being a boozy mess, but doesn't quite sink that far. So far, not seeing what the Mikeller hype is all about, especially at the prices they charge.

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Photo of CruisaC
3.09/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked this up on sale for ~$4 a bottle. Figured I'd give it a try.

Pours dead, no head, no carbonation. Uh-oh. Still as night in the glass. Dark brown

Smells like raisins, chalky vitamins, malt extract.

Taste very clean initially but soon a raisin meets astringent tastes follows. Not great. Not much good going on here.

Pretty thin, not helped by the fact at there's no carbonation. That may be ok for the occasional HOTD release (bourbon Fred), but this falls into Lost Abbey territory and not in a good way

I won't be finishing this. Pretty disappointing. I've got another bottle but I'm not too excited to give it another shot.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.1/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

375 mL bottle poured into a CBS snifter. No bottle date. Capped, not cork and caged.

Appearance - Hazy and downright chunky burnt amber body. Transparent until the huge chunks of sediment start flowing into the glass. I stopped when it got to be too much and I still had over an inch of beer in the bottle. Ridiculous.

Smell - Toffee, caramel, and huge hop aromas. Pine and a touch of grapefruit. Fair bit of booze.

Taste - Abrasive taste, but the flavors aren't bad. Hop bitterness akin to the aroma with toffee and caramel. A vinous quality to it that leads to a harsh and somewhat dry finish. Extremely boozy in the flavor.

Mouthfeel - Rough drinker. Boozy and tannic. Not undrinkable, but slow and a bit unpleasant. Dry and rough in the finish. Leaves me smacking my lips looking for the flavor of the beer to wash away the feeling.

Overall - Inexcusable amounts of sediment. Am I supposed to pour it in? Or save it for a hideous second glass? At $10 a bottle, it's a travesty to have to leave 15% behind. That said, the beer itself isn't awful, but I'm not about to buy it or drink it again.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.1/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Corked and caged with a date of 14/13/11 stamped on the cork. 12.7 oz green bottle.

Dispensed into a small pint glass. Appears a cloudy, hazy, burnt amber color with a tiny white head with a good bit of lacing.

Aroma is quite hoppy and sweet smelling as well. Closer in aroma to an Englsih BW instead of an American version as the hops are earthy and slightly fruity. Nice caramel aromas and plenty of biscuity smells as well.

Sweet up front but also a nice hop smack as well. Sweetness makes way for a bitter hop bite that creates a nice sensation on the tongue. Quite alcoholic as well. Lots and lots of maltiness. Plenty of hop bitterness but the hop flavor was pretty subdued. This one was almost over the top malty for the style. More sweetness in the finish.

I wasnt too hot on this one. I would call this more of an English BW and it fits that style well. However, for an american version, it seems to be too sweet. ABV is very warming. Very sweet overall. Not my cup of tea, but not bad overall I suppose. I have on of these cellared so I really hope it improves and mellows out a bit of the sweetness.

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Photo of Jsenay
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from non corked bottle (regular cap) into a brandy snifter

A - Pours a deep amber color. Has light carbonation and a head that dissipates within a minute. No sediment left at the bottom from bottle.

S - Smells of rich malt. Dark fruit, mainly plums and apricot. Slight smell of molasses and raisins with a very rich hint of dark brown sugar.

T - Tastes like plums and raisins soaked in alcohol. As it warms the alcohol becomes very intense as well as the hops.

M - Filmy. Hops are on the heavy side so it dries out the mouth almost immediately, all while leaving a sticky molasses/honey feel behind.

O - OK. But, won't be going out of my way to buy again. I will be aging a bottle for a year and will report back the differences. However, if you're looking for something delicious right out of the glass, Mikkeller has many more great offerings available.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12.7 fl oz green glass bottle with standard pressure cap acquired at Wades Wines in Westlake Village, California. Cost was $11.49 plus tax. ABV 12.00%. Listed as a Barley-Wine Style Ale. Served into an EKU 28 stem-snifter in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are extraordinarily high; Mikkeller is me favourite brewery in the world (if we can call it one) and I adore barleywines. I am a bit perturbed by the green glass, Mikkel must surely know better. I'm tempted to blame De Proef. I also wonder why a standard pressure cap was chosen rather than a cork, though I harbour no suspicions of quality reduction as a result of the production choice.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of slight cream, dark white (yes, dark white...) colour as near to tan as it can get without brown hues, good thickness, great lacing, and one minute retention - altogether impressive for its 12.00% ABV. After the head recedes, the laced ring about the edges of the glass maintains for some time. Colour is a chestnut caramel amber; quasitransparent with some translucence. No floating yeast particles are visible, but I'm on the top half of the bottle still. The colour is vibrant and appealing. No bubble show is present, though no beer in the style has yet to produce one in my experience.

Sm: Cherry fruit esters, a fair amount of unexpected fruity hops with some hints of light bitterness but rather mild floral character, clean well layered malts, cream, a fresh pine hop note, back-end hints of some sort of darker fruit - perhaps fig or plum or thereabouts (more likely fig), and no caramel. Yeast is notably absent. No alcohol comes through. A mild to moderate aroma all around, and certainly a pleasant one. Refined, clean, and inviting. I'm excited to try it, though I'm wary of the hop content as I don't generally approve of hoppiness in barleywines (such beers tend to beg to be aged merely to tame the hops inexplicably).

T: Cherry, heavy hop content with altogether more of a bitter bite than I would like, clean well layered malts, slight hints of pine, and lilac. No yeast or alcohol comes through. Overly hoppy for my tastes. Complex, but of limited subtlety. Enjoyable. Pretty decently balanced and built. I just don't understand hoppy barleywines, but that said it's much better than something like Sierra Nevada's offerings. Too bitter.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with some pleasant underlying cream. Suits the flavours nicely. Adequate thickness and carbonation. A bit of a slight chewy character that works for it. Some dryness and coarseness from the hops helps round out the mouthfeel, though the finish is entirely too coarse.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, but far from the quality I expect from Mikkeller. I find it far too hoppy for a barleywine, and consequently I wouldn't get it again unless it was very well aged. Pricey for what it is, but I liked it. Hides its ABV very well.


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Photo of TruePerception
3.18/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Two and a half fingers of pancake batter colored head. Light sheeting. Thin, yet multi layered lacing. Orange-brown in the glass. Murky yellow-orange in the dimple.

S: Caramel, bread dough, a touch of licorice. Slight earth. Nutmeg, tree sap. Pumpkin. Dirt.

T/MF: A bit over hopped. Hops and tree sap dominate. Slight pumpkin and nutmeg. Faint ash, char, and licorice. Perfume along the olfactory areas in the back of the throat. Disappointing, to say the least.

Poured from a 375ml bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of SShelly
3.19/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of the least appealing pours ive ever seen from a comercial b-wine, cloudy, chunky, no head, no lacing, moderate brown color.

Aroma is a big burst of sweet malt, zero hops, a little bit of alcohol.

Flavor is giant sweet malt with a subtle balancing bitterness, really waited to strong to the malt for an A. B-wine IMO.

Lots of warming, full mouthfeel, I actually rated this well in drinkability because its not a bad beer, it just is way off the mark for the style and is visually unappealing.

ADD- oh and WTF is with the super extra long

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Photo of Sean9689
3.23/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2007 vintage, thanks Cory. Shared at Perennial.

A - Pours a reddish/caramel-color, off-white head, thin collar.

S - Booze is smooth from the cellaring, dark fruits, burnt sugars. There's a decent amount of oxidization coming off the nose, and I think this one is past its prime.

T - Yep, lots of oxidization and harsh medicinal notes. It's not undrinkable, but was probably over-the-hill about 1.5 years ago (or so). Dark fruits, burnt sugars, oak, caramel. Booze is really well-hidden from the age. Finish is sweet and slightly harsh.

M - Medium to full body, good carbonation, creamy finish.

O - I could imagine a 2009 bottle being really good at this point, but the 2007 vintage is well past its prime. Cool to try, but wouldn't have it again. I suggest you open anything from 2009/2008/2007 ASAP.

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Photo of i4ourgot
3.23/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

To start off this was a beer that was aged in a plastic keg for a year. I had to ask the bartender if it was the barrel aged or the normal big worse. Very boozy not smooth at all lots of hot alcohol in it. I would like to try this beer out of the bottle maybe sitting in plastic for a year was not a good idea. The boozy whiskey like flavor kinda drowned out everything in this beer. The head was non existent and the only aroma I could get was alcohol notes. This beer definitely needs a second try for me.

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Photo of Trappissed
3.26/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Like others have said, this isn't going to win any beauty contests. No head and no lacing, and looks like a cross between cola and a brown ale, and possibly dark diarrhea. Unfortunately it also lacks in most areas, although there are some improvements compared to the appearance. Smells boozy, with brown sugar and prunes.

Taste is very malty, with the same characteristics I was getting in the smell. Also toffee and some peppery spice. Mouthfeel is appropriate for the style. A little syrupy, with an acceptable amount of carbonation. Despite the negativity, the drinkability actually doesn't suffer that much. It's a decent sipper and an obviously unique Barleywine.

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Photo of BMoney575
3.27/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sampled on 4-8-10
Best before 8-14-11

Pours dark brown, extremely cloudy and viscous, with no head whatsoever. Very intense.

Smell is very aged, spicy hops and alcohol. If you look harder, notes of clove, burnt sugar, and toffee are in there too. Enjoyable, but not a pungent as I'd hoped.

Taste is all booze, sharp bitterness, and not much else. At the very end is a slight toffee aftertaste, but it still can't compete. Disappointing to say the least.

Mouthfeel is only decent, a good thickness but almost completely flat.

Drinkability is also not very good, the mouthfeel is hard to cope with and the bitterness becomes tiring.

Overall, maybe I waited too long, but I won't be buying this again.

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Photo of Etan
3.28/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12.7oz bottle, synthetic cork, into a tulip. Not sure when this is from.

A: Very ugly beer. Murky cola brown, no head.

S: Plenty of dark fruits, raisiny oxidation, sugary caramel.

T: Dark fruits, light roasted grain, prune, spice a bit of smokiness to it, caramel. A bit oxidized.

M: Flat, syrupy.

O: Not quite as bad as I expected from the pour, but not very good.

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Photo of ToddT
3.28/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

L- Hazy medium brown with lots of sediment floating in it and no head at all. There is no lace left on the glass as I drink this one.

S- Dark candied fruit, cherries, raisin, fig, molasses, and a slightly sour background note.

T- Candied fruit and a giant wash of astringent alcohol, wow that was not pleasant at all. Not sure I'm going to like this one. It does improve as it warms but that first sip was a bit brutal. Not near as alcoholic or astringent now that I'm halfway through.

M- Medium in body and no applicable carbonation. The finish is a mix of alcohol heat and sour fruit.

O- It gets better as I finish it, not sure if the taste is improving or the 12.0% ABV has kicked in.

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Photo of TheBlackMallard
3.29/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours copper with a small tan head.

Smell is grassy, herbal, fruity, and belgian-like. Not the belgian smell I like either.

Taste: It leads with typical barleywine flavors, crystal malts, dark fruits, and finishes with alcohol. Thin and grainy, I'm not very impressed.

Big Worse: Worse than most barleywines that cost a lot less. I don't think this is bad but it's not worth the $8.99 I paid for it.

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Photo of biegaman
3.29/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Apparently I needn't worry about pouring any yeast slop into my glass - at some point over the last few years while laying perfectly still and undisturbed in my cold cellar the yeast somehow consummately fused itself into the beer. Or maybe I made that conjugation happen when struggling to extract the (abnormally long, synthetic and stubborn) cork. Whatever the case, this brownish liquid is sludgy, flat and butt ugly.

It took one whiff for me to realize what I had just gotten myself into. To those who like to have their palate smacked around by brute bitterness and senseless alcohol, this should be a real treat. For me, I'm slightly put-off. Stiff alcohol vapors blend none too favorably with the (now briny and musty) scent of piny, tropically fruity hops. The malts smell utterly debilitated and stink like rotted pear and fig compote. Looks like it's go big or go home!

...or maybe not. The beer isn't nearly as obnoxious as I first thought. Only narrowly chilled it confesses little of the stated 12% ABV listed on its label. The malts, while sapped and overworked due to the constraints of a heavy hop bill and double-digit alcohol, keep their dignity with a fig-y/prune-y/jam-y flavour and buttery, molasses-like sweetness. The hops too seem a little worse for wear, but haven't lost all their tropical, zesty qualities.

I couldn't remember exactly how long ago I bought this bottle but the date printed on the cork (that my hand all but rubbed off when wrestling to get it out) had mid-August 2011 as the best before date, which confirms that this has a few good years of age under its belt. Initial reviews were unfavorable so I opted to wait in hopes that it would improve. Which it has in some ways. Mind you, it has also degraded in other ways.

Oxidation and a soy sauce-like element at some point made their home in this green glass bottle. The hops, as mention earlier, have also seen better days. That said, aging this beer was as much a choice as it was a necessity - in hindsight I prefer the more aggressive, more severe Big Worse to this more passive, devitalized version. Then again, in hindsight, I probably wouldn't have forked out the $10+ dollars for a 375ml bottle of either!

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Photo of Schreibeers
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown, with some dark red tint. No head

S: Booze is the most prevalent at the nose, with some sweet maltiness. Smells smooth and nice. Smells nicer after a couple of sips.

T: Nice, I really like this beer. At first you get a little booziness, but it is not your typical "hot". The booziness is accompanied by a nice sweet roasted maltiness almost a toffee like flavor. There is some distant bitterness, but the alcohol and sweet sugars seem to keep this beer in balance. There is not much of a finish in this beer. I like a barley wine to have some staying power, but this seems a little thin.

M: Sooth, medium body. As you drink the beer really sticks to your mouth but seems to disapear quite quickly.

D: Overall, I do like this beer, but seems a little thin for a barley wine. The toffee sweetness makes this beer drinkable for the style.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.31/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12.7 oz bottle, caged and corked. Pours a murky dark tea color with a thin off white head that quickly diminishes to a thin film and small collar.

The aroma is sweet candy-like caramel, melon and spicy alcohol
The flavor is sweet sugary caramel and dark fruits/melon with a big burnt bitter alcoholic burn at the finish. The mouthfeel is medium and slightly watery with low carbonation.

Overall, a big bitter barley wine. It's not very balanced at all and too alcoholic for me.

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Photo of russpowell
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a reddish caramel with 1+ finger of tan head. Very good head retention & above average lacing, with loads of viscosity

S: Piney hops & caramel, some booze after it warms.

Leaf& grapefruitty hops & alcohol up front. More boozey warmth as this warms, some citrussy hops, plus piney hops & dryness. Finishes with a little fruttyness, more dryness, bunches of leafy hops & honey notes, plus caramel

MF: Slick with low carbonation, thin for the ABV, although the alcohol let's you know what's going on, very warming if you can deal with the heat!

Drinks just average, too damn hot alcohol-wise. sit on this at least 2 years or you just have a crude OTT American Barley wine

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 375mL bottle into a Koningshoeven chalice. Stamped 02/07/12. Bottled 7 February 2012? Best before that date?

A: No head whatsoever. A dull, rich brown. Mahogany, but translucent.

S: Smells like a barleywine. Sticky sweet malts, toffee, English hops, mild citrus, and moderate alcohol.

T/M/O: Meh. It's pretty decent. Thick-sweet, and very flat, with no carbonation whatsoever. Rich grape juice and trace caramel. Not very satisfying. A pretty damn boring barleywine, all told. Not one of Mikkeller's greater beers. Sweet and flat, with very little depth of flavour or mouthfeel.

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Photo of biga7346
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an oversized Duvel tulip.

A: Poured flat, brownish, crimson, very flat and still, red ruby hues

N: Pie cherries, pie crust, crescent rolls, sugary fruits like kiwi, very ripe banana, some pineapple; juicy savory like aromas, some vinegar, metallic all covered in some serious booziness.

T/M: Very smooth, oily mouthfeel; brandy, cooking sherry, big caramel and toffee notes but not cloying. I don't think this has stood up very well to the test of time, it has aged in my cellar for probably two years. Some fig, caramelized sugar, irony, mineral water. The finish is an interesting mix of semi-sweet chocolate chips, powdered sugar, some smoke and charred oak.

D: Mikkeller beers can be hit or miss in my experience, this kinda falls in between, interesting take on an American barleywine.

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Photo of lovelyallen
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Interesting beer...

Served in a snifter from a 12oz bottle.

A: Pours a murky swamp brown. 0 head, 0 lacing. Its a pretty ugly beer.

S: Threw me for a loop. This thing smells phenomenal. Up front is figs, dates, rich wood, and a nice sugary smell that really makes me want to dive into it.

T: Okay, bizarre. Its got some of the dark fruit notes that can be found in the nose, but they never really punch you in the face. The flavors are there, I just wish they were more prominent.

M: Extremely thin w/zero carbonation. I think I may have gotten an under carbonated bottle. Quite a let down in this department.

Overall: I wish this tasted like it smelled. End of story.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I finally bought a bottle of this, and am drinking the whole thing alone while playing video games online with Drewba. Best way to hangout with other BAs and not share your beer. All 12oz for me.

The pour is flat, totally still, which makes it look murky and not like beer. Color is dark amber.
The nose has alcohol and fig notes. Dark date like fruits is the picture.
I can not really talk about the flavors with out noting the mouthfeel and how still it is, as that really makes the flavors pop less and more rounded. once again alcohol soaked dates and figs, this drinks just "like a fine red wine" (gasp). I do not find much hops at all, and wondering how this comes off as "american" in style.
Mouth feel is coating and drawn out on the finish, a long evening sipper.

I sipped this for about 3 hours, yes, 12oz for 3 hours. i enjoyed drinking it at that pace, it was enjoyable and i would savor an evening with it again, but it is a bit expensive for what it really is.

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Photo of Dope
3.37/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: A ruddy, brownish-red pour. Like the color of rust. Big tan head that fades slowly, leaving just the lightest bits of lacing here and there. Extreme amount of sediment. To the point that I actually poured this through a strainer and a coffee filter (maybe the second time I've ever done this). It was horrible, one of the worst I've seen.

S: Big caramel malt with pungent raisin and apples. Hints of molasses and brown sugar. Boozy.

T: Raisiny throughout. Lots of bread, just a little toasty. Toffee, brown sugar and some resinous bitterness in the finish. A bit dry in the finish, oddly enough.

M: Heavy and thick for sure.

O: A simple and strong barleywine. Honestly I liked Big Worst better, it was better balanced and tastier in general, despite being flat. This one is pretty "meh".

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Big Worse from Mikkeller ApS
3.75 out of 5 based on 414 ratings.
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