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

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30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Ghenna on 07-27-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 814 |  Reviews: 436
Photo of thelargeone
2/5  rDev -51.5%

Photo of MayorAdamWest
2.24/5  rDev -45.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance - Dark brown with a thick khaki head. Looks good

Smell - When I uncorked the bottle I was hit with an incredible brown sugar smell. I was so excited. But once I poured it into my snifter all pleasant aroma was lost. It was kind of...bland once poured. Low hops for the style.

Taste - Weak. Surprisingly weak for a barleywine. There was some maltiness, some dried fruits, but little hops for the style. Maybe a little caramel and chocolate malts, but it was faint if it was there.

Mouthfeel - Far to thin for the style. A barleywine should be beefy and bold feeling. This was water and wimpy

Drinkability - I won't be revisiting this one if that tells you anything. The best I can say is this is a gateway barleywine...an introduction to the style to a neophyte.

There was no body and the taste just wasn't where it needed to be. This is just another example of a beer getting a good rating based on its brewer and not its merit. I'm so sick of brewers making "craft" beer of low quality. They are hurting the name of American beer just as much as the macros are.

Stay away from this one.


After posting this I went and reviewed some others comments and I have to say...I think this beer is getting a high rating simply on its ability to get you drunk and not its flavor. Sure 10.2 is a respectable ABV, but when you have nothing to back that up where are we felt?

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Photo of champ103
2.44/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: Pours an opaque, jet black color. A two finger beige head forms with good retention. As the rocky foam gently recedes, sticky lace is left behind.
S: Almost nothing but soapy and piny hops with alcohol. I just can't get anything out of the nose.
T: Burnt and charred malt up front. That quickly fades to overly soapy and dish detergent like hops. Lots of burning alcohol.
M/D: A much lighter body than I was expecting. Thin and very watery. Hard to drink. It will be a chore to finish the bomber.

This is a disappointment, and more of a mess than anything. After loving Fritz and Ken's Stout, and really looking forward to the new ones, I have been let down by both. Not something I would recommend.

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Photo of DaveONan
2.5/5  rDev -39.3%

Photo of popery
2.71/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Tap, City Beer Store. Disappointing. This seemed more like a Black DIPA than a barleywine. It pours a very dark brown with a smallish head. The aroma is pine resin, mint, chocolate, roast and caramel. The hops seemed to clash with the roasted malt notes. The chocolate just seemed kinda off. It's not exactly a mess, but I just didn't much care for the combination. The flavor also has a not quite right combination of hops and roasted malt. The taste seemed to go back and forth between somewhat bland, indelicate bitterness and confused roasted malt notes. It's a shame because there's seemed to be some nice caramel backing it all up. It's relatively dry for a 10% abv barleywine - still some sugariness but either too little for the luxury of better barleywines or the other flavors just got in the way. Mouthfeel is rather harsh and pretty thin for a barleywine. To be honest, I didn't even really want to finish my glass, though it's really not as bad as that makes it sound. It's just an intense expression of what I don't like about Black IPAs - flavors that clash more than complement.

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Photo of Doppelbockulus
2.75/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Smells of light sweet malt, maybe too cold to smell.

Looks very dark with low creamy head.

The taste is dry with bitterness from malt and hops, with a hint of alcohol. There is an underlying earthy grain flavor that lingers after the finish.

The mouthfeel is warm with a mild fizziness.

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Photo of largadeer
2.75/5  rDev -33.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
2.75/5  rDev -33.3%

Photo of davod23
2.89/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

So far I have not been impressed with the SN 30th Anniversary Series. I truly did not like the imperial stout, and while the helles was pretty decent, it's not a style that sets my world afire. Let's see what the barleywine brings.

Appearance is quite nice. A medium-thick pour of dark, dark liquid. It looks black at first, but if you hold it to the light you can actually see that it's a deep brown color. Rocky head of bubbles varying in size. Plenty of carbonation in this bad boy.

Smell. Hmm. S'okay, I guess. Roasted, almost burnt grain. Sweet molasses. Lots of piney hops. Not much complexity, not that interesting.

Taste is just okay. Sigh. I had high hopes for this one. I love barleywines, and the idea of a couple of legends in the craft industry brewing a one-off like this was exciting to me. As it stands, this doesn't live up to expectations. A sweetness up front, molasses and caramel perhaps. Grain. Booze. Strongly bitter with dark-roasted coffee and hops. Slightly astringent. Rough, raw. This seems more like an imperial stout/barleywine hybrid than anything, which could be good I think... but this one is a bit jumbled and messy. I think that some time in the corner would be good for this beer.

Mouthfeel is actually quite nice. Full, sticky, ample carbonation. Perhaps the best part of the brew.

It's not a terribly easy drinker, that's for sure. Took a while to get through the bottle, and toward the end was almost a bit of a chore.

I love Sierra Nevada, I really do. I just don't know what's going on in this series. They keep missing the mark, IMHO. Maybe this beer will improve with some time - I think the flavors might meld together better and that it would be good for the beer for the hops to fade out a bit.

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Photo of emalc
3/5  rDev -27.2%

Photo of Whatup14
3/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of n2185
3.03/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with two fingers of tan head which recedes into a thin layer with decent lacing

S: Some caramel and roasted malt notes at first followed by lots of orange and citrusy hops. There are some dark fruits like figs and dates undernearth.

T: Lots of flavors going on here. Sweet, sticky caramel malts up front with a blast of the orange, citrusy hops. There are some dark fruit flavors in the middle, but the finish is bitter and roasted, like burnt coffee. There's a decent alcohol burn on the finish as well. I have to say, these flavors do not meld well and clash quite a bit, leaving a confused palate.

M: Medium-thick body and carbonation, it's pretty creamy and the roasted malts keep it from being too sticky sweet.

O: Overall, I'm not very impressed. There's just too much going on in this beer, like it can't decide if it wants to be an imperial stout or a heavily hopped barleywine and the result is a bit of a mess. I think a "black barleywine" could potentially succeed, but in this case the flavors just clash too much.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.11/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black with a big tan head, some creamy lace, nice look.

S: Mild, some good malty notes, I wish there was more complexity.

T: Tastes a lot more a Double Black IPA (what I imagine it would taste like) than a barleywine. The roasted malt is good, the hop character is very prominent, very green, melon, grapefruit. Just feels a bit out of place with the malt profile here, works great on Bigfoot, not as much here.

M: Smooth, creamy, full-bodied. Feels as a barleywine should, though it is a tad thin and fizzy at points.

D: Not a huge fan fresh, but this is something that could get really interesting when it ages. I'd certainly like to try it a couple years down the line.

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Photo of claspada
3.14/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an almost opaque brown with zero head; however there is nice lacing. Ruby highlights when held to light.

Aromas of are kinda the downfall of this beer. I get some roasted malts, maybe some vanilla, but that's about it. Maybe as it warms it will get better; nah not really. Some sweet malt notes come out, syrupy looking but not in the aroma.

Tastes is pretty solid however. It has a few unique things going on. Starts with some sweeter malt notes which then lend to some piney hops underneath, but very slight, pleasant. Overall this is probably the most bland barleywine I have ever had, which is quire disappointing considering this comes from Sierra.

The mouthfeel is mildly creamy and smooth, full carbonation but nothing overbearing or distracting. Light dry touch on the finish. Drinkability is really, really high actually; quite high for a beer of this ABV, that's definitely a plus I guess.

I'm glad I got to try it, but by far the weakest of the 30th series so far in my opinion.

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Photo of beertunes
3.15/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

The label calls this a " Black Barleywine" OK, isn't a black barleywine an Imperial Stout? Whatever, let's jump in. Poured into 16oz goblet. Poured black with a tall, over 2 inches, medium tan head that had very good retention and moderate lacing.

The aroma had a very noticeable roasted malt scent, with hints of chocolate and coffee in the background. Surprisingly for SN, there wasn't a strong hop scent. The flavors were very similar, nicely crisp roast, the traces of chocolate and coffee and a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Yup, SN brought the hops, but much subtler than is their habit.

The body was far too thin for either a BW or a big Stout. Drinkability was pretty good for a 10% brew, the 22 went down a bit too easily.

Overall, a nice beer that isn't really a true BW, but is certainly worth trying. I'm going to stick 2-3 bottles aside and see if some time helps.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.15/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Color is black with dark cherry around the edge when the glass is low, finger of tan head that is frothy.
Aroma is on the toasted caramel side of things.
Flavors are full with a roasty and toasty and semi charred foods, as if cooked on the grill a min to long. toffee and caramel and maple syrup, if its a viscous syrup you might find notes of it in here. by this point it is getting more balanced with age it seems and is drinking nicely, i have another to check out next winter, i expect it to do fine over time.

I like this, i am digging it. Not mind blowing but solid, i might pick up another bottle or two while i can.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.19/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Large beige head settles into a lumpy mound of retention like a foamy brain emanating from an inky black subconscious and leaves several bands of lacey tendrils plastered to the glass. How's that for a run on sentence? Black as promised.

Aroma is vibrant Yikes Stripes citrus, toffee and maybe a little chocolate. None of the relevant roast aromas that I was anticipating.

Taste is sugary caramel coffee - like those single serving flavored toffee creams that are available at finer gas stations everywhere. Dark bread, not quite pumpernickel but more of a whole grain wheat. More citrus hops lead ample bitter backup. I'm underwhelmed by the malt profile both in strength and intrigue.

I'm not sure how to rate a black barleywine. Am I to take this as an extension of the barleywine style or the DIPA evolution of the new American Black Ale style? My judgment went something like this: Is it alright? Yeah. Is it good? No. Would I buy another bottle? Not really. It's eh.

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Photo of yuriruley
3.19/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Darker brown, with a decent amount of head and lacing. Good head retention.

Smell - Malts, piney hop aroma, mild bready barleywine smell.

Taste - Malty flavor, some chocolate, with a piney bitterness, and hot alcohol. The barleywine flavors I enjoy so much are kind of muted to me. I wasn't a fan of the bitterness on the tail end of this one.

Mouthfeel - kind of creamy, good carbonation, thicker body.

Drink - Not bad, but not great, given the ABV and the bitterness in the flavor I was sipping on it for quite awhile.

Was an okay beer in my mind. Not what I was hoping for, I thought founders nemesis had much better flavor as far as "black barleywines" go. I think this might be great if it had a year on it, but right now it's not something I'd want to drink a ton of. I enjoyed my first glass, but my brother passed me half of his and that was too much.

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Photo of Derranged
3.21/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured this into a SN 30th Anniversary tulip.

A- Dark black, with a small tan head.

S- Very strong hops smell and malt.

T- Once again, for the most part the hops presence was overpowering, followed by malt and coffee. The hops flavor began to fade away as the beer warmed.

M- Surprisingly thin for the style.

D- I shared this with some friends but drank most of the 25.4 ounce bottle by myself. I can't picture myself drinking much of it.

Disappointed with this beer. I got it for a steal at 6.99 a bottle.

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Photo of nhindian
3.22/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

750ml bottle poured into a Troegs Mad Elf chalice.

A - This beer definitely encapsulates the Black Barleywine appearance; perhaps a few bits of brown, but either way it's a lot darker than a typical barleywine. About 1.5-fingers of head arrive to blanket the beer against the rest of the air, with a tan look and decent retention. Lacing is pretty good as well!

S - A very interesting nose to say the least. This is my first foray into the 'black' barleywine character and I can't say it doesn't provide the roast. Even after just popping the cork, I could get a big waft of chocolate, which when smelling the glass, also brings a ton of roast and coffee. Just after this, the typical barleywine aromas come out, with an almost syrupy sweetness, toffee, and big notes of caramel.

T - The taste is an almost carbon-copy of the nose at first, starting at first with a rich, dark chocolate before giving way to absolute waves of coffee roast. Actually, I think the 'black' side of this beer is too overstated compared to the rest of the flavors. By the time the barleywine flavors come through, the roast is still extremely prevalent, so you just get a sweetness following by just a hint of caramel. The finish is incredibly roasty and bitter, making each sip full of that much more coffee than the previous. However, what surprised me was a decently big hop profile in the finish, giving it a nice grapefruit bitterness which complements and cuts the roasty bitterness.

M - Mouthfeel is heavy-bodied with low carbonation. A very full-bodied and at times chewy beer, it will not surprise you that this beer is a heavy hitter. Creamy throughout.

D/O - Drinkability is moderate. I am torn on this beer, as the aroma is awesome, but this taste has much too rosty bitterness for my taste. If this were scaled back a bit, it'd be a great beer, but as of now, it's a hassle to drink after your first few sips.

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Photo of bspain5
3.25/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of Compton25
3.25/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of ajs4bd
3.25/5  rDev -21.1%

Photo of kbutler1
3.26/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. Poured into a tulip glass a dark coffee brown color with a 2 finger fluffy tan head. Malty, some hops, and a slight booze aroma in the nose. Malty sweet flavor moves to a roasted bitter flavor with a lingering bitterness. More of a roast flavor than I thought it would have. Hop bitterness lingers on too long for me. Minimal lace. Might be good with some time on it but to me right now this is just ok.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.28/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: The pour is a very dark brown color with about a finger's worth of tan head on top.

S: Sweet dark malts, toffee, and slightly burnt sugar lead the nose. Some slightly piney hops along with an alcohol note.

T: The flavor is a bit harsh. The hops and burnt character of the malt give a very bitter feel right away. The alcohol is also noticeable, though this seems like less of a problem to me. The sweetness is there, with some toffee and caramel, but certainly overshadowed by the bitterness.

M: The body is excellent (quite full), with a smooth, low carbonation.

D: I hope this one improves as it ages. As it stands, this is not a beer I would drink fresh.

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30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 814 ratings.
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