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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Reviews: 435 | Ratings: 813
Photo of NightINgale
4.58/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle poured into my Sierra Nevada XXX glass (the time has come for it to be used for one of the beers it was made for)

A - This looks beautiful! Dark brown body, with a mahogany glow to it. Very rich, creamy tan-coloured head. Marvellous head retention and impressive lacing.

S - Lots of roasted malts on the nose, with hints of caramel, dark fruit and chocolate. Hints of cherry, grapes, and vanilla. The beer still smells fairly hoppy despite the ageing and has some grapefruit in the aroma.

T - At first, I'm tasting a very solid maltiness with a nice roastiness to it (bitter chocolate, toffee, maybe a hint of coffee), then come the hops (with a surprisingly solid bite, even after 1.5 years of ageing). I also get a little bit of vanilla. After this, the taste transforms even more, giving out some fruity notes (red grapes, raisins, cherries). There is also a slight spiciness and a hint of alcohol in the taste, which doesn't make it any less exciting and even adds a port wine-like quality to the beer.

The after-taste brings some bitter grapefruit and sweet chocolate taste, which lingers on for a while. After the beer warms up, you begin tasting more dark fruits (raisins, prunes, dates) and chocolate, while the hops shift to the background.

M - Medium bodied, medium level of carbonation. Slightly boozy, especially after it warms up. Very smooth, though a little spicy.

O - This probably is one of the most complex beers I've ever had! Brewed by 2 great brewmasters, this beer is a wonderful combination of English-style barleywines and truly American-style creativity. If you can still find this beer, get it! You won't regret it. Free yourself an evening and enjoy this marvellous big beer thoroughly!

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Photo of Retail1LO
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750mL C&C bottle into a Surly Darkness tulip. Pours a lovely dark, mahogany shade with an absolutely huge head. The tulip was only half full before the crown touched the lip of the glass. The nose is awesome. For an American style BW, this takes on more of an English style nose, with sweetness and malt as opposed to hops. Dark fruits pervade throughout. The taste is fabulous. It's on the sweeter side which I enjoy. Lots of caramel, brown sugar, a touch of clove or cardamom....yeah...this is the shit. The mouthfeel is awesome too. Seriously, this is so slick. Smooth and silky, with a slightly boozy finish and little to no lingering aftertaste. Unreal. Drink this. By whatever means necessary.

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Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
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 dbrauneis
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Mugs Alehouse in Brooklyn, NY

A: Pours a dark brown to black in color with some slight reddish hints when held up to the light. The beer has a thin beige head that reduces to a ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing is observed.

S: A very light aroma of dark malts and a hint of citrus hops.

T: Dark malts that are surprisingly different for the style (seems almost like it is a combination of a black IPA with a barleywine). There is a very nice bitterness that lingers well after the finish of the beer.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly chewy.

O: Very interesting example of the style, not typical and not exactly what I was expecting though I was pleasantly surprised. Really good flavors, complexity, and aroma. I would happily sip this one again on some other afternoon.

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Photo of mactrail
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep, dark, and savory strong ale. Looks nice in the snifter, with decent head and dark red-brown color. Sensual mouthfeel, creamy carbonation mixed with the sweet and hot flavors. Big aroma of floral hops with a caramel, fudge note.

This makes me think of the annual barleywine, but this is less bitter and more smooth. Huge dark caramel flavor with an edge of hops. Lots of hoppy aromatics and just a huge spiciness that is what gives this such pleasing complexity. Malty but not overly sweet, with a sharp tang to the aftertaste.

One of the best Barleywines I've had. I can't think of a better one for a late-night sip.

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Photo of AgentMunky
4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a brandy snifter. Bottled August 2010?

A: A nice finger and a half of head tops a dark-dark beer. At first I thought this "black barleywine" was actually black -- and it mostly is -- but in direct lighting, it glints reddish, but is still opaque. Great lacing.

S: Fruit and flattish hops. A bit of booze. Not particularly compelling.

T: Interesting...licorice and molasses are the most obvious initial flavors. The beer is strong, rich, and heavily hopped, though the heavy malt provides a sweet counterpoint. In short, it's everything I think a barleywine should be along with a little bit of fruit thrown in for good measure. The aftertaste is just barely dry and leaves a lasting (hoppy?) bitterness.

M: Heavy and smooth, with little to no carbonation. A substantial, yet easy-drinking beer.

O: I liked it a lot, but I'm wondering if it's bit past its prime. Still, I'd have another. Recommended. A fruity-malty-hoppy big beer.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
3.98/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle share by my buddy Jason with Alucard4

Look: Black and opaque with a 1/2 inch tan head and very good retention

Smell: Copious amounts of malt with some dark fruits plum and raisin especially and a touch of vanilla

Taste: Very similar to the nose. Starts out with some dark fruits and the backend carries some roasted coffee and chocolate a very unique flavor profile for a barleywine yet still very nice

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with mild carbonation and a bit chalky

Overall: Pretty good beer highly recommended

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Photo of TCHopCraver
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review is from notes on 9-7-11.

The beer pours into a large snifter with a big, fluffy khaki head atop a muddy-brown, blackish body, with a little of a ruby tint. The carbonation bubbles are fast-flowing and the lacing is globby and sticky.

The smell yields pure milk chocolate at first. Some caramel, brown sugar, and molasses creep in next. When agitated, a sharp roastiness emerges.

The taste reveals roasty cocoa, with a bit of caramel and brown sugar. There is just a faint hint of piney hops in the vein of the typical Sierra Nevada hop profile. There is a bit of mustiness as well and the finish is bittersweet and slightly chalky.

The mouthfeel is very full and creamy with a definite roasty and hoppy twinge. It is medium-full bodied.

Overall, this is a solid aged black barleywine. It is chocolate-y, roasty, and quite yummy. Good stuff.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.08/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This barleywine is dark. Ok, call it black. When held to the light it becomes murky with ruby red highlights. The head is big, dense, and creamy and palomino brown, luscious. The Dogfish Head snifter collects a thick coating of lace and a syrupy film.

Rich, roasted malts and alcohol fumes waft up upon opening. Dark coffee and chocolate follows with some cedar. With warmth, vanilla can be perceived and the alcohol fumes become more prominent.

The flavor closely follows the nose, yet reveals layers of dark fruit such as dates and figs. Notes of tea and oak can also be perceived. At times I am reminded of pumpernickel bread. There is a short, powerful finish that is replaced by a lasting, mellow bitterness with lingering vanilla.

Alcohol is prominent and warming in this full-bodied beer with a velvety texture and tingly carbonation.

Sierra Nevada showcases this style well with unfolding layers of complexity as it warms. This barleywine is a great companion when reading, but also works with a bold meal. One can imagine enjoying it with a cigar on a cold afternoon.

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Photo of IKR
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark brown, appears black until the beer is almost gone in the glass with a generous medium beige head that slowly fades. I also saw some good lacing with this one.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, and perhaps a bit of piney hops.

Taste: Following the nose, chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, and perhaps a bit of piney hops. I think I'm getting some mild dark fruit notes as well. The piney hops are what's most prominent in the fairly dry finish.

Mouth-feel: Medium bodied with a good level of carbonation.

Overall: I liked this one when it first came out on tap, and the bottle with some age on it did not disappoint. It does walk the line between Imperial Stout and Barley-wine very well.

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Photo of ElGordo
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 750ml bottle into a snifter. Body is a deep dark brown with tan highlights, topped by a finger's worth of creamy tan head. Aroma of sweet dark malt, brown sugar, and more than a little booze, with notes of candied raisins and prunes.
Palate is rich and complex. Sweet dark malt, dark fruit, and a bit of brown sugar. Finish is strong and boozy. Body is rich and hugely creamy for a barleywine, but very nice for something with such a large dark malt content. This is simply a fantastic beer, and I'm sad that I'll probably never see another bottle of it.

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Photo of TheHoppiest
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my buddy Jason for this one!

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into an oversized snifter. This was corked and caged, letting loose a loud "pop" with a hiss of air when I removed the cork.

Pours a very dark obsidian, with a frothy 1" tan head that is quite uncharacteristic of any barleywine I've ever had before. Then again, this is a "black" barleywine ale, so I suppose that would account for the difference.

Has a yeasty, malty aroma, tons of dark spicy fruit, molasses, brown sugar, alcohol, and vanilla. The more you breathe in, the more you can smell in this. Quite complex and pleasing, this has an excellent aroma.

Taste is similarly excellent. Sweet, spicy, and malty, with a strong alcohol profile, vanilla extract, bitter chocolate, very low yeastiness, and a hopped finish. Frankly, it tastes like a barleywine/RIS mixture. Think black-and-tan, with the black being an imperial stout, and the tan an American barleywine style ale. There's a bit of a smokey finish that wafts back up through the nose that makes you really want to sip it slow.

Full bodied to be sure, with a spiced hoppiness that is enough to get the tongue and gums tingling. The sweetness of this brew leaves the tongue dry and slightly tacky.

Overall this is a phenomenal brew. Looks and smells great, and with a unique taste that, despite its being characterized as a barleywine, really hits you more like a specialized imperial stout. Strong and heavy, this is a very filling ale, so you may want to split it with a friend. Cheers!

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a real firebreather. been aging since the 30th anniversary obviously. pours nearly black with a velvety red hue. impressive off white head for its age. smells like a very hoppy barleywine. a black ipa but stronger and older. ive got licorice in here in the taste, dried dark fruit, brown sugar, freakishly complex. the age must have worked on this one hard. tastes like decadence (as my flatmate wilson says). head holds on at about a quarter inch, and it gets woody and malty as it warms. wow. chocolate bockesque in a sense. mouthfeel is bomb, rich and thick and full bodied, bitterish dry hopped sort of creamy roundness. oh man i like it more and more as i sit here and sip on it. this is much mroe than a barleywine, especially in its aged form. i think 2 more years could pop it off even better. a strong rich hoppy black barleywine. very unconventional and very humbling. i feel blessed to cap a night with this thing. ahhh

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Photo of andrenaline
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes... Props to joemcgrath27 for the generous hook-up! Been saving this one for a special occasion!

A - Pours a dark mahogany, two fingers of head with solid retention and some nice sporadic lacing.

S - A tad boozy, but chocolate, toffee and leafy hops come through nicely.

T - Rich and flavourful, chocolate, coffee notes, burnt almonds, leafy greens, resiny hop flavours, bitter espresso lingers alongside some sweet caramel for a great balance.

M - Lighter bodied and could be interpreted as a tad thin, but given the style its fitting.

O - An incredibly smooth 10%+ ale that goes down dangerously easy. I'm so glad I was able to indulge in this specialty and was pleasantly surprised by the boldness and complexity of this ale.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.77/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml corked and caged bottle poured into a rock art tulip.

Pours a very dark black color that makes me think stout but with a much lighter body. It has a nice small light brown head with a very aromatic nose - pine and dark malts and a bit of roastiness finish it off.

Taste is quite bitter and sharp, fairly high carbonation with a light body. Resionous pine and dark roast coffee beans dominate with a bitter finish.

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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 StaveHooks
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours completely opaque with 2 fingers of dense mocha head that retains extremely well. Leaves behind an almost solid sheet of lacing.

S - Roasted malt, milk chocolate, pine needles, roasted coffee beans, vanilla alcohol.

T - Green hops provide a blast of citrus and pine resin right off the bat. Roasted malt, dark chocolate and caramel, has a woody/peppery bite. Smoked vanilla bean and dark roast coffee. Finishes with an astringent hop and alcohol bite. Hops stick to the tongue long after the finish.

M - Full bodied, low carbonation, viscous, warming.

Aggressive, robust, and well rounded. An interesting take on the style.
Even after aging, the hops are still very strong.
The hops fade off in the middle and come back around on the very finish. Glad I saved this for #400.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Props to XicanoBeerRun for managing to hold on to this bottle for so long!

This pours black—well, a dark, dark burgundy color with an intense amber ruby hue around the edges. Some fizz still hangs around, more than I’d expect with a year’s age. It smells sweet with hints of citrus and candied fruit—candied orange and grapefruit rind—with some booze. Tastes strongly sweet with a mellow hoppiness. Yes, the hops have faded but they left behind a residual pineyness and some chewy heft to balance the roasty malts. Still fizzy enough to say that the effervescence keeps it light bodied for such a big beer. Makes me wish I had notes from last year to compare. Yum.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Black two finger fluffy light tan head.

S-Roasted malt, coffee, alcohol is not really present.

T-Roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, caramel with mild bitterness.

M-Medium bodied, creamy and a little thick.

O-Nice barleywine. Age did it some good as fresh I remember it wasn't the greatest. Alcohol subdued a bit.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%
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 musicforairports
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one's pretty much black. Slight hues of light shine through when I hold it up to the light, but not many. Nice lacing.

Aroma is roasted chocolate, rather stout-like, but there are also some strong caramel, light alcohol and some fig-like notes.

Flavor is much like the nose. Bittersweet chocolate and caramel, some dark fruit. Roasty flavor. Alcohol is noticeable, but not overpowering at all.

Medium-heavy mouthfeel, which is appropriate.

This isn't a bad roasty take on a barleywine at all. Somewhere between a barleywine and an imperial stout, to my tastes. I can't help but wish they had thrown it in some barrels for a while to smooth out the taste a bit.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.32/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Sits a very dark brown in the glass. Cream colored head billows up after a somewhat aggressive pour and holds fast at half an inch throughout the duration. Lacing is sparse and patchy.

S: Rich scents of caramel and toffee, bread and bread pudding, molasses, brown sugar. Piney hop undertones. Bakers chocolate and cocoa. Fruity notes of fig and date. Slight alcohol. A very rich, complex, and inviting nose.

T: Hop tastes on the attack. Flashes of pine, citrus, and oily pith. Decadent malty flavors dominate from there. Blackstrap molasses, toasted bread crust. Roasted malt tastes have a slight smokey/acrid edge. Bakers chocolate and bitter dark chocolate. Muted fruity tastes of fig and raisin. Finishes with crusty, smokey, and chocolatey tastes.

M: Medium bodied. Chewy and viscous with little to no carbonation. Alcohol is pleasant and warming.

O: This is a very well-made American barleywine. The roasted malts are incorporated well and add a layer of complexity and depth. A great sipper.

Notes: I drank this with a nice pork dinner on Christmas, and found it to be a worthy companion to the meal. Robust enough to stand up to a meaty, fatty dish. I will have to buy more, as this beer would be a stalwart in any cellar.

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Photo of MaxSpang
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
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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4.02/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a 10oz snifter for $5.75. Sampled 11/16/10.

A: Served with a finger and a half of light brown creamy head. Retention is excellent. The lacing from the head alone is impeccable. Lacing continues to impress showing the utmost stickiness throughout the entire beer. The body of the beer is middle-of-your-eye black and opaque as expected.

S: The nose favors resiny aromas mixed with light pine. Slightly more hoppy than malty but a pretty tame nose altogether. The roasted chocolatey malts make their way forward about halfway through the glass. A yeasty presence does too in the form of damp earth. The overall aroma is somewhat reminiscent of unsweetened iced tea. The lack of typical barleywine intensity brings the score of the nose down.

T: Despite the restrained aromas, the flavor is rich, very smooth, mellow and deep. Roasted chocolate malts, piney citrusy hop character, rendered caramel and perhaps a touch of smoke. Excellent balance of flavor.

M: More than medium-full body with a thick, chewy texture. Just the right amount of carbonation keeps the sweet malt base from lingering. Aptly bitter with a semi-dry finish.

D: [DRINKABILITY] Very nice to sip on. Excellent drinkability even with the high ABV in mind. What a great take on the style and a wonderful addition to the stellar 30th Anniversary lineup.

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Photo of leansean88
3.91/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Beautiful, dark and a full sized head. Pretty much opaque, which is how I like it. Lacy head sticks pretty well

S - Rich, slightly fruity aroma. Certainly not very powerful.

T - Again, a rich, bold flavor. Aftertaste is similar to dark chocolate, if not slightly. I think it's been a while since I've had a beer this dark.

M - Overtakes the palette, in a good way. Smokey, smooth feeling on the tongue.

O - Very fine beer. I love Sierra Nevada, and this was a fine example of their brewing. I usually have mixed feelings about barleywine, but this was pleasant. I think I'd rather have the Imperial Stout.

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30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 813 ratings.
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