30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale
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American Barleywine
4.16 | pDev: 9.86%
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale
Reviews: 437 | Ratings: 824 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by MaxSpang:
Photo of MaxSpang
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on Christmas day '11. Served in a Troegs Mad Elf Snifter.


This beer pours very dark and viscus. The head grew super slowly, and peaked at a big 3-4 fingers. The head was a khaki color, had tiny bubbles, disappeared quickly, and left a large amount of beautiful lacing. The color is super dark brown, and had almost no light coning through. It could easily be passed off as an Imperial Stout as far as appearance goes.


There is a ton of dark chocolate in this. There's a big malty sweetness, dark fruits, and slight alcohol in the nose. There's a big amount of rum-soaked-raisins and plums. It's almost like a chocolate liqueur mixed with molasses and raisins. The aroma is very complex and very big.


It follows the nose pretty closely. There's isn't as much chocolate on the tongue, but it's definitely present. There is a huge amount of raisins, plums, and other dark fruits. The molasses and rum flavors come out, and some slight alcohol follows. It's pretty sweet, but not cloying and is overall very balanced. It's a very stout-like brew, in both flavor and body. It has aged gracefully, and is wonderfully smooth.


This isn't as thick as expected, but it is still a big brew. Tons of body, and has a slight syrup quality but in a good way. The carbonation is minimal, and the bubbles are nice and foamy which adds to the perceived thickness. There's a nice warmth from the beer, and this beer has a wonderful mouthfeel overall.


This is a really nice beer. I stumbled upon two of these on the shelf a few months ago and I grabbed'em - I'm glad I did! I was saving it for a special occasion, so what better time than Christmas? The alcohol is hidden well, and the beer is a sipper which is exactly what I want to end Christmas night. You gotta hand it to Sierra Nevada, they do things right and they produce some incredible beers like this. I would definitely recommend drinking this soon, it's drinking fantastically.


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More User Reviews:
Photo of wmartin
4.73/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brewed once in 2010? Correct.
Retired listing? Yep.
Bought this at the brewery a year ago and just drank it? That's right!

Why were they selling a 6 year old beer at the brewery? As this was a beer they thought would age well in the bottle, they kept some back and sold some of the fridge-aged version a year ago, thinking it was probably peaking. No doubt they sampled it along the way every few months. It kept getting better as the hops mellowed allowing the maltiness to become more forward, while retaining a strong, bitter after taste. I had some a year ago. Really remarkable. So smooth, so delicious. Its 10% ABV, but the alcohol is pretty far back. Dark sweetness and fruity flavors that are amazing. They probably thought that after 6 years it must be peaking. They were wrong, an additional year of closet storage has improved it still, and that would probably be 2 to 3 years of fridge storage. Certainly one of the best liquids to ever pass my lips!

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a very deep burgundy color that makes the beer look almost brown. Head is very creamy, thick, and consistent.

S - Chocolate cream and dark fruit: figs, raisins. The bottle is six years old and the aroma, though very good, shows some signs of that.

T - The ABV makes itself known right away and sticks around from start to finish. Chocolate, raisins, figs, roasted toffee, and some dry oak woodiness. Finishes with a slightly bitter presence from the chocolate malt that's overpowering and balances things ot.

M - Full bodied, slippery, velvety, light syrup stickiness.

O - This aged very gracefully, totally enjoyed this bottle.

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Photo of July2Nov
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bought from Tamura's Wines & Liquors for $12.99.

Appearance: It's everything I like my beers to look like; Dark (no light comes through at all!) with a with a frothy, rich 1/2 inch of foam resting on top (lasted the entirety of the beer).

Smell: Sweet fruity notes, slight hops....very enticing.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smooth and velvety! Like butter melting in the mouth. For a 10% abv this one is a subtle deceiver. Slightly hoppy upfront, and balanced nicely with a robust maltiness. Pepper notes come through. The taste is great, but I can't get over the mouthfeel of this one....one of the best I've ever tasted. You must experience this one yourself.

Drinkability: So glad I bought three of these, because I'm going to revisit this. This is one of those special beers that need to be savored with friends or for special occasions...though, I would argue that drinking this IS the special occasion. Please do yourself a big favor and find this. It's well worth your trouble. Sierra Nevada does it once again!

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The second "black barleywine" Ive had this year. In my opinion this is just spurred from the black IPA craze that sprung up recently. I guess a black barleywine is the next progression in this trend. Personally, I think its just that, a trend.

A- While its in my snifter it is indeed black. Topped off with a thin, khaki head the body isnt totally opaque. Some light shows you the browns and reds that hide amongst the darkness.

S- Its smelling like a really hoppy imperial stout, which Ive decided that that is really all this is. Some coffee and nice rich cocoa, the sting of the aggressive hops and alcohol combination and some brown sugar/caramel sweetness.

T- Yeah, its really just a super hoppy imperial stout. Lots of spicy hops and roasted malts. Chocolate comes out on the finish which is very welcome and is the most enjoyable part of this beer.

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Photo of afsdan
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color and shows some traces of amber in the corner of the glass when held up to the light. It poured with some lacing on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of dark malts in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of dark malts and a moderate amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is interesting and seems to taste like a hybrid between a Black IPA and an American Barleywine and is a lot more bitter compared to other barleywines. The alcohol is relatively well hidden from the taste.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.45/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Prime 16 into my beloved Weyerbacher tulip. Thanks, Caitlin!

A: In accordance with its name, this pours a fully black body with two fingers of tight light brown foam. Fantastic retention and as much lacing as can possibly be left on a glass. How can this be over 10%?

S: Contrary to my expectations for a SN beer, this aroma is a pure celebration of malt: rich, sweet, luscious caramel plays with a touch of roasted character that grants both depth and complexity. Very big, very sweet, very wonderful.

T: Ok, now I see that there are, indeed, boatloads of hops. The sweetness of the malt is held firmly in check by a combination of roasted malts (lots of chocolate + toast, and even some coffee + smoke) and purely bitter hoppiness. There's definitely some booze on the finish, but hardly an undue amount for such a big beer. Fantastic.

M: Fairly sticky medium-full body with low, but present, carbonation. I could use a bit more life or body, but this isn't that bad.

D: I could easily have another, and that's something I rarely say about a Barleywine.

Notes: What a great beer. I can hardly get over how this one manages to have it so many ways as a barleywine - the appearance of a stout, the aroma of an English b-wine, and the flavor of an American one. I bought a bottle and will lay it down for at least a couple years - I bet it will age beautifully.


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Photo of Dan3279
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I thought I had missed the boat on this but was very lucky to find two bottles with the intent on enjoying one now and putting away the other.

Poured from the bomber into a pint glass and revealed a deep dark dark brown color and a tan colored head. I have not had much experience before with barelywines so its hard for me to really define the taste. The taste seemed complex with a lot going on that I couldn't even pick out everything. Though I thought it was on the heavy side I did enjoy taking my time drinking it. I rally hope I can find one more bottle to sit on because I think this one could really mellow out.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nose is soft and malty - smooth. Smells good.

Pours black, mild head. Looks good.

Flavor follows in smooth maltiness and blossoms with bright floral fruity hops and citrus fruit. Slight candy sweetness. Ripe with dark malts. Solid malty balance. Robust roasty character, highly dry. Finishes dry and malty. Tastes good. Feels good.

Good drinkability. Nicely what I would expect from an imperial porter and barleywine combo. Fun.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At the taphouse. Black BW pours, well, black, although with plenty of brown to it. A rusty black lets say. Great mix of burnt malt and hops in the aroma. Think black ipa here.

Taste, its big, but hoppy and sweet. Slight amount of coffee comes across with the aforementioned roasted malts. It is crisp, doesn't weigh heavy despite the abv. The dryness to this is amazing. I dunno how to classify this, something like 1 part Bigfoot, 1 part Hop in the Dark and something else with the slightest twinge of coffee. You don't get quite the hop crush of fresh Bigfoot, this stuff tastes like they aged it a bit before release, unlike the standard Bigfoot. I plan on laying a bottle down, just to see what happens. Its damn good right now.

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Photo of Bobheed
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured very black and syrup-esque, more like an Imperial stout than a barleywine, about a finger tan head that wasn't goin anywhere

S: A lot like their bigfoot, but with more sweetness/hints of coffee

T: Oh, so so good. This is probably my favorite I've had from SN, and I've had lots of their brews. It has the very very big flavor you'd expect from a barleywine, but considerably sweeter than any barleywine I've had. Kinda had some dark fruits, coffee, and slightly boozy, but the sweetness definitely stayed long after a sip.

M: Nice and warm, kinda think with medium carbonation

This is just an exceptional barleywine and I really hope to see something like this again soon. I have some more that I'm hanging on to, because after having this, I'm really intrigued as to how it will age.

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Photo of drewone
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of davey101
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into a tulip glass. Julian date code puts this at 2/1/2010.

A - Quite dark for a barley wine...granted its a "Black Barley Wine". Kind of a pitch black body with a red tinge. Lets zero light through. Large light tan head forms and settles down a bit. Super thick foam clings to the glass. Looks great, but it also looks like a stout.

S - That unique Sierra Nevada hop profile. Very piney with a touch of bitter grapefruit juice. Chewy and malty with some dark fruit and brown sugar notes.

T - The nose seemed pretty close to Bigfoot. The taste does not. Starts off with bitter citrus and pine which leads into some burnt and roasty malts. Caramel, brown sugar, and a toffee. Theres a really unique dry cocoa powder finish. Tasty, but there is a large alcohol presence.

M - Medium to thin bodied. Plenty of carbonation. Alcohol hurts drinkability.

O - I was curious how this would differ from Bigfoot, seeing as I just had a 2010 vintage recently. It has the same hop profile (even with two and half years of age) but it takes a slightly different route. Its malty with some dark fruit elements, but the cocoa powder I was getting in the flavor made it really unique. Its a shame the alcohol is so present, because this is a really nice take on the American style barleywine.

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Photo of Budinetz
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of largadeer
2.75/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of andrewinski1
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip. The color is dark brown and appears black at first glance. There is a large 3 inch off-white head that leaves some lacing.

The aroma is full of sweet malt and caramel. There is some dark fruit aroma.

The taste has some nice malty, slightly roasty sweet flavor here. There is some coffee flavor here as well. There is just a touch of hoppy flavor somewhere in the finish that seems a bit minty.

The body is medium with some nice carbonation.

I like this one. Good flavors, nothing exceptional though.

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Photo of locckdown
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of DIM
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: As advertised this had an almost black body. It poured with a large, long lasting bone white head.

s: Interesting. The hops are piny and grassy, reminding me of a relatively fresh Bigfoot. There was also a lot of dark roast with notes of coffee and hints of chocolate. Intriguing, but not necessarily some thing I'd be in a hurry to come back to.

t: I might have opened this at kind of an awkward time. The malt base dark, roasty, and very tasty. It kind of tasted like acrid coffee, but in a good way. The bitter finish was kind of flavorless and a little abrasive.

m: A bit light bodied but with lush carbonation.

d: I did enjoy this, but I was hoping for more. This was definitely something different, and I'm always up for something new.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.93/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Popped on New Years while watching the Clipper game. Having a nice day with the family and the mighty Dolphins beat the Jests, so i'm having an awesome day. Life is good!

750ml into a Bruery snifter...

A - Pours a deep brown with a two finger kahki head. There is a good amount of head retention and sticky lacing to be had...

S - Dark fruits, chocolate, caramel, and a touch of alcohol...

T - Caramel, and chocolate up front followed by molasses and figs. Finishes with a mild hoppiness and some lingering chocolate malts. Abv is well hidden...

M - On the higher end of being medium bodied. Carbonation is on the lower end...

O - Nothing world class, but a solid brew by a solid brewery. With that being said, this is still really tasty, and definitely something I would be interested in trying again...


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Photo of Petrofessor
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of aerozeppl
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is black with some brown around the edges when held up to light. The head on this beer is a really bright white with good head retention and some lacing.

S: The nose is of slightly faded hops. Reminds me of a 4-6 month old Bigfoot. A nice toasty malt note is there and it larger than the hop aroma at this point. Little touch of raisins. Smells like a Black IPA. Barleywine love child.

T: The taste is really intense. The hops are right up front. Not quite fresh Bigfoot hoppy but almost there. The malt is right up there. Hints of tobacco and little bit of chocolate without being sweet. Some citrus from the hops. Just a very well made beer with a ton of complexity.

M: Medium body. A touch on the heavier side. Carbonation is spot on. They nailed the bottling conditioning with these beers.

D: Again all these beers are love poems to craft beer. They should make all of them all the time. I am cellaring an Imperial Stout but I like this fresh. This could be amazing in 5 years but I don't think I have the patience. Well done.

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Photo of kwjd
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not sure if I've had a black barleywine before, so this should be interesting. Pours dark brown with very thick pale tan head. Lots of lacing down the glass. Smells of citrus hops, roasted malt, with lots of brown sugar and caramel. This tastes like a black IPA crossed with a barleywine, which is nice. Very sweet flavour, bitterness is more noticeable in the aftertaste. I enjoy this beer.

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Photo of deesfrank
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Slatetank
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at Brass Rail on Thursday Sept 23rd -served in a snifter.

A - Appearance is an opaque slate color, not quite black w/ a light beige cap which is comprised of tiny beads.There is visible carbonation in the ale and the lace clings well

S - Smell is toffee-like and mildly lactic with some roasted grain presence. A slight buttery odor with gentle fruity scent and mild caramel malt aroma, The nose has light cocoa w/ subtle alcohol and hop notes. A nice accent of spice and an anise tinge are there to add complexity

M - The feel is full and moderately carbonated with moderate bitterness up front as well with gentle sweetness and light toasted feel with semi-dry finish

T - The flavor has plenty of malt with lots of grain flavor and mild licorice and roasted notes w/ slight sweet caramel and dark fruit notes. The ale has gentle pepper and hint of cococa taste w/ mild stone fruit elements and gentle spice: there is a mild orange rind note from the hops and light vanilla quality too. A moderate amount of hop flavor and subtle overall especially for an American barleywine but nice toffee -like flavor and mild alcohol throughout

D - This is a delicious beer and how they achieved such grace in a glass is beyond me - very mild alcohol so the 10% is hidden and I could probably handle a few if it weren't for the strength. A totally unique barleywine to me it actually makes me more of a fan of the style. - Another great 30th anniversary brew from Sierra Nevada

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30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 824 ratings