Great | Alpine Beer Company

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Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
The base of this beer was available at a couple of festivals as a barleywine named "Good". The remainder of the batch spent several months aging in fresh Jack Daniels barrels and became "Great".

Added by xlperro on 03-01-2005

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Reviews: 161 | Ratings: 660
Photo of ZX6Chris
5/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 aged in Heaven Hill barrels smapled at the Alpine brewpub.

A-Small head that dissipates quickly. Smooth looking hazy brownish ruby color. Nice lacing. Not too thick.

S-Maple syrup, maple wood, lots of vanilla, oak, bourbon.

T-Sweet, smoky oak bourbon barrel. Lots of vanilla, not too much bourbon. Some heat on the finish that warms your belly.

M-Nice and smooth. Medium to full bodied. Lightly carbonated

D-Nice sipper.

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Photo of fireazzi
5/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had 2013 Great. This is the best barley wine I have ever had. So thick and tasty, with great caramel taste. Great heavy thick smell. This barley wine changed how I felt about barley wines.

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Photo of frizzzle
4.99/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked this up at the brewery on release date.
Poured into a tulip glass, the smell on this is amazing! Smells hot with sweetness.
Pours a nice dark almost deep burgundy color, little to no carbonation.
Taste is amazing, slightly thick texture, very smooth and nice semi sweet taste. I can't taste 14% alcohol. This is very well balanced. The smell and taste compliment each other. I thought about trading some bottles, but after drinking 2 so far, I've decided to keep the rest. This beer is awesome, best barleywine I've had. Alpine beer company, thank you!

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Photo of GoGriz
4.97/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'Twas one of my last great wales but she was harpooned this last Saturday night. Huge thanks to Sean9689 for this 12oz beaut.

The color was a tangerine hued copper meaning that it had a bright sheen to its heavy body and was slightly muddy. Minimal head. The nose was rich and sweet with only a little bourbon in its scent but plenty of vanilla, toffee and brown sugar. Perfect. The flavor is the pinnacle of barrel integration, exactly what barrel aged beers should be with the base beer and the barrel working in perfect harmony instead of coming through on the palate separately. Incredibly sweet but cut by the bourbon so as to provide a backbone to the flavor. No harsh finish to be found. The 14% alcohol was completely hidden. The mouthfeel had moderate to light carbonation which lifted the beer off the palate enough to keep it from feeling sludgy or too viscous but creamy enough to know you are drinking a heavy duty beer. Beers like this can be a burden to slog through even when the first sips are heavenly. Not the case with Great, in fact quite the opposite as I wanted more with every sip.

I will be haunted by this beer the rest of my autumn and winter life.

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Photo of gibgink
4.93/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is truly a "great" experience. I would not classify this as an American Barleywine, but an English one. I've never had the base, but the barrel transforms this into such a smooth and sweet tasting masterpiece. The alcohol is also masterfully hidden. There are no hoppy notes at all.

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Photo of hamilton23
4.92/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours amber with minimal carbonation and little, if any, head.

S: Smells like booze, very strong with hints of caramel, vanilla and dried fruits.

T: Lots of caramel and toffee taste in there with the sweet flavor of an after dinner beverage.

M: Not a ton of carbonation, but who needs it in a beer like this.

O: One of ABC’s best offerings and one of my favorite beers ever! I love this stuff.

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Photo of lilreyreyatomic
4.92/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at Alpine 12-22-2015 on release day.
Not a big fan of Barelywines I like them but would always prefer a stout or IPA, that being said "Great" and "A Deal With The Devil" are the only ones I would hunt.
Great is amazing this year around they found a way to improve a already great barleywine.
bourbon followed by notes of caramel, toffee, raisins and sweet fruit that are velvety smooth and silky.
the nose is just as amazing as the taste.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.89/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle (therefore from '09, I believe), courtesy of millerbuffoon, shared at tasting and poured into a medium-sized Duvel tulip.

A: Clear, brilliant copper body with just a handful of coarse tan bubbles. Great legs, spotty lace. Very nice.

S: Gigantic, amazing and hugely enjoyable aroma of sherry, vanilla, bourbon-soaked raisin, oak, and toasted caramel. Really rich, really complex, and perfectly aged. Wow.

T: Follows the nose - rich malts, dark fruits, sweet toffee, vanilla oak, and some heady leather. As it warms, some delicious sherry oxidation shows up. The finish is bittersweet and warming, with the 14% showing up with some smooth warmth and pleasant tingling. Incredibly delicious - this might be my favorite Barleywine...ever.

M: Full body, moderate, creamy carbonation, and light stickiness. Excellent.

O: This beer's name is an understatement.

Thanks again, Miller!


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Photo of mcallister
4.87/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A fine example of an english barley wine. Murky chestnut color with only a hint of tan fizz that leaves a splotch of foam here and there.

Man noses on beers don't get much better than this. Everything comes through and adds depth and complexity to each other instead of one thing overpowering. Dried fruit character you would expect in fig and date with caramel and toffee undertones. Some red currant that then leads into some woodsy aromas and that sweet bourbon scent. Just a great smelling bw.

Ahhhh why I love English barley wines so much on top of that add bourbon barrel aging and you have one of the best beers I've tried in a long long while. A dessert style beer very sweet with mission fig, rum soaked rasins, caramel, date, currant, bourbon, vanilla, alcohol burn, a perfect tingly mouthfeel from a hint of carbonation that adds to the complexity. Slight oxidation and sherry quality. Christ this is good.

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Photo of nickd717
4.86/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Toronado barleywine fest 2010. This'un'll be my 600th rating here on BA.

Pours a clear dark reddish-brown color with minimal head and lacing.

Aroma is really incredible: vanilla, oak, caramel, and bourbon. Smells really, really good.

The flavor, however, is a whole other level. So much going on there. The base barleywine is amazing, and the -bal aging adds a whole other element to it. Some crazy flavors in this one. Caramel, toffee, rich vanilla bean, oak, bourbon, sweet cake batter, marzipan, almonds...just a lot to it.

Full bodied with soft carbonation and an incredibly smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability is through the roof for a -bal aged beer of this strength. This was definitely best of show for me. Just incredible. Possibly the best barleywine I've ever had. I can't believe this beer isn't in the Top 100.

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Photo of dar482
4.86/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

The beer hits of figs, dark fruit, raisins, dates. Then onto toffee sweetness. There's a touch of hoppiness and woodiness to balance the beer on the back end.

The alcohol is extremely well hidden. Having a '12 and '09 vintage, the fresher bottle was much better. A beer that really does live up to its hype.

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Photo of Rothobinide
4.86/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle. 2015 vintage, day after release.

Smells like caramel apples and english toffee. Smooth! Amazingly smooth. Frosting. Melted caramel frosting. The flavors are not overly sweet and overly woodsy, but definitely there. Perfectly layered like a ganache. This is a sipper, and well worth the wait to try.

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Photo of siege06nd
4.86/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Generously shared by billab914 many moons ago. It wasn't a big bottle, and I appreciate him sharing it with me when he could have just as easily had it himself.

A. Pours a very cloudy, very ruddy light brown, ever so slight copper tinge. Absolutely zero head and lacing. Expected a little bit more punch from such a high class barleywine. I gotta admit, it looks pretty lackluster.

S. Wow, a caramel and vanilla bomb. Thick, warm caramel chews, loads of brown and green raisins dipped in cream, chocolate, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, maple. Unbelievably complex bouquet here. An experience in and of itself. Spec-freakin-tacular.

T. Oh hell sweet yes. Caramel, vanilla, bourbon soaked raisins, chocolate. Alcohol is incredibly well-hidden. I'm also getting a lot of maple syrup. Incredible.

M. A little hot on the back end, but it is decadent and highly complex. Full bodied and chewy. Super rich and absolutely delicious.

O. I'm not the biggest fan of American Barleywines (I much prefer their English brethren). That said, Alpine Great blew me away. This was an absolute treat.

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Photo of largadeer
4.84/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage on tap at Alpine. Caramel coloered with a small head that recedes to a thin crown. Aroma is amazing, rich caramelized malts wrapped in bourbon, oak and vanilla. Wonderfully oxidized, sherry like with a hint of savoriness. The palate is massively malty and rich. Flavors of butterscotch and bourbon are balanced by tannic oak. Oxidation lends notes of sherry and faint soy sauce. Full, almost syrupy body, yet this is surprisingly easy to drink and very balanced. This was very good from the bottle, but it's outstanding on tap. There's virtually no trace of alcohol, and the balance between beer and barrel is impeccable.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.84/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Pours a chestnut brown color without much of a head at all. The few hints of carbonation that pop up quickly disappear.

S: Warm and inviting notes of toffee, caramel and bourbon. Cola, raisin skins, vanilla and some oak as well. There's a touch of booze here, but it's far from overwhelming.

T: Opens with a rich wave of caramel, toasted brown sugar, toffee and light bourbon. Booze soaked raisin, chocolate, light plum and a slight woody dryness. Mouthfeel is slightly oily and slick, never becoming too heavy. Really hard to find much of the 14% here. To me, this is the best barleywine I've ever had. Amazing stuff.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.84/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Notches darker than the norm...pour a deep mahogany amber color with a shallow off white head that fades quickly without leaving much lacing behind. The smell is unique aggressive and amazing! I'm overwhelmed by the complexity...initially comes across with that classic corny butterscotch then an intense maple syrup over Aunt Jemima Eggo waffles or the revelation that an easy way to kick up a pancake batter is to add a dash of vanilla extract follows. Light carbonated, the mouth feel is full bodied with a creamy smooth texture and chewy character...Full flavored, the rich sweet characteristics of the nose are mirrored in taste and enhanced nicely by the body. Maple pancakes with vanilla accents and black licorice, caramel and dark fruit experience. It all lingers quite nicely. The 14% ABV is extremely well integrated. A booziness is present and expected, to some extent in this style. Highly recommended!

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.84/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Lots of thanks to Dunt for bringing this over.

Appearance: The beer is a full brown bronze color with a small off-white head that fades to a thin ring around the edge.

Smell: I have never smelled a barleywine that smelled this good, or that had an aroma that jumped out of the glass like this. Caramel, toasted malt, vanilla, figs, dates, and bourbon simply explode out of the glass.

Taste: Sweet to start out. Vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits blend well together but also retain their individual characteristics. Dates and figs flow into a vanilla and oak bourbon flavor. The end is still sweet, but has a soft bourbon dryness to it.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, with soft creamy carbonation. The truly impressive fact about this beer is that it is 14% with not a hint of boozy taste. It warms my stomach, but that is it. A slight sticky residue is left after each sip.

Overall: So far this is the best barleywine I have had. Enough said.

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Photo of worldsworstextra
4.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Alpine 12/22/2015
An outstanding barleywine. This is a big improvement on good which I have always felt was overly sweet. With great, the sweetness is definitely toned down with the barrel aging. The mixture of caramel, raising, and apricot preserve is very well done. Some bourbon upfront with oak on the back end. This is a very rich barleywine that has a very bold, yet smooth flavor profile. I only wish it had the luscious dark red copper color that the mostra great had, which was also on tap. Other than that, it's hard to find anything I dislike about this beer. Very well done alpine!

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Photo of billab914
4.82/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. It was pretty still with the only traces of a head being some bubbles towards the edges of the glass. It had a great looking, deep, dark caramel color to it though. I loved the color and the stillness of it worked for me given the style and abv of 14%.

The aroma shows a lot of caramel and toffee right off the bat. I get some excellent flavors out of the barrel component with woody oak and vanilla notes really coming out. The bourbon is a little more reserved but gives it some excellent complexity. I started to get a little more dark fruits with a little leather as it warmed. Alcohol is noticeable, but not much for being 14%. Fantastic aroma, everything came together pretty perfectly in it.

The taste has some very good caramel, toffee, brown sugar and dark fruit notes to it throughout. The barrel aging gives it more of the oaky, vanilla flavors with the bourbon being again pretty reserved but also very smooth and flavorful. I get some bitterness in the finish providing some great balance to it. As I drank it I started to get a little chocolate coming out in the finish as well. Some alcohol heat in the finish, but not bad at all for the size of it.

The mouthfeel is pretty heavy and a little slick. Carbonation is very low. The mouthfeel felt pretty perfect for my tastes. At 14% and almost no carbonation it drank a little like a good bourbon.

Overall, I absolutely loved this beer. It definitely lived up to the hype for me. They got such a great balance between the barrel and beer characters and both of them together were just awesome. The low carbonation, high abv combo really worked well for me as well. Extremely flavorful, smooth and relatively balanced beer. At it's size and strength it's definitely a sipping beer, but it lived up to it's name for me. It just may be a new favorite of the style for me.

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Photo of WI-Beer-Man
4.8/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Amazing Barleywine. One of the best beers I've had. Pours a tad flat, but expected for the style and from other reviews.

Hard to describe how GREAT this is. It is the perfect level of sweetness without being too sweet. Light bodied and extremely smooth. The barrel is subdued and works perfectly to balance the sweetness.

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Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.8/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

My other bottle I brought to a tasting event last night. This has been burning a hole in my cellar for the last month and I am so glad I finally get to crack this puppy open.

The only other amazing English Barleywine I have had is King Henry, and it was 2 years old and probably one of my top 5 favorite beers. This beer just vaulted itself into that category.

Holy fuck does this hit you in the aroma. 14% my ass, this smells like liquid raisins soaked in high end whiskey. Figs, Plums, prunes and raisins all mesh together to give this beer such a rich aroma. I could not tear my nose away form the glass. One of the best nose I have ever experienced. Would have loved a little more chocolate or coffee to compliment and offset all the juicy dried fruit, but I am not complaining.

Lol, you have to be kidding me with this flavor. How is a beer this smooth? And when I say smooth, I mean in the sense that it glides over your tongue like a sip of cream. Coats every inch of your palate in rich, syrupy sticky goodness. In my opinion never got too cloying, but definitely rich and viscous.

Honestly, one of the best beer of the year for me and top 10 all time. So damn good. I am very happy I traded for this puppy.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.79/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jesus this was good. I had been wanting to try this one forever, and many thanks for getting it in the white whale BIF. Served chilled and poured into a 6oz snifter, this one was enjoyed on 1/16/2010.

The pour was deep, dark brown, with no light penetrating it at all. Small head forms on top, just thin bubbles really before it settles back down and just lightly rings the outside of the glass throughout the rest of the session.

Aroma is the most intense thing i have come across. Rich butterscotch and toffee notes, huge buttery sweetness just rolling and tumbling through the air. Sublime. Warming brings out nice notes of vanilla and wood that seem to subtly filter through the air. The delicate butterscotch flavor seemed to be neverending. Sweet nectar of the gods here. Smooth, delicous perfection, this is nailed beyond what I could have imagined. simply sublime.

Overall this is better then I could have hoped for. A superb version of a barrel aged barleywine. The vanilla and toffee notes from the barrel are perfect, mellow and subdued are the orginal hops from the beer, instead a sultry, sweet, and superb flavor have come forward. If every barrel aged beer I have is like this I would be a happy man.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.79/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1,000th review!!! consumed on 7/28 at a kicka$$ BA Barleywine tasting (thanks a ton to mike for hosting and dave, dan, and others for your generosity). the 1000th review should be the BA Old Ruffian (and great should be 1001), but frankly Great was the highlight of afternoon for me (above wooden hell) so i'm going a bit out of order since Great deserves this honor.

a - like many of the BA Barleywines tasted today, somewhat lifeless brown with no head.

s - smells...well...GREAT! perfect sweetness with toffee and caramel mixed in.

t - FANTASTIC! wonderful toffee. some booziness but perfect integration and amazing balance. just a perfect match between this beer and the barrel it sat in.

m - full and rich. finish is sublime. full bodied and drinks like a dream.

o - overall, great is GREAT!!! had this one side-by-side with king henry, wooden, hell, BA HiFi batch 2, BA Old Ruffian and this was my clear favorite.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.79/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Can't remember who sent this, but thank you!

Pours a dark, impenetrable yet clear mahogany brown color with a quickly receding, initially two finger thick tan head. Unsurprisingly, the head isn't long for this world and leaves little trace behind. Aroma and flavor are both exceptionally sweet, overly complex and subtly balanced. The nose leads off with a strong boozy whisky and vanilla aroma with softer notes of figs, raisins, plums, brown sugar, caramel and sweet malts. Body is thick and lightly carbonated with a sweet, dry bourbon-y finish. A strong base of caramel, toffee and crisp malts supports the strong oak and woody flavors of the spirits and dark fruits. Incredibly smooth and balanced with surprisingly little alcohol heat throughout, despite the strong booze and spirit presence; this is an exceptional barrel aged beer.

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Photo of BdubleEdubleRUN
4.79/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

09 version

A- Brown with a slight reddish hugh, head forms and vanishes quickly to nothing, leaves clear sticky film on the side of the glass.
S- Caramel, maple, alcohol, molasses, smells fairly sweet.
T- A welcoming bitter chocolate, maple, caramel, just a little bit of alcohol heat.
M- Filling mouthfeel the lingers after it goes down, very little carbonation.
O- This is probably about the 6th or 7th serving I have had at the pub. 2 were 2005 and the rest 09, everytime I thought it would be the last time I had it for a long time and then when I walk in and see that name on the board I get giddy. My favorite barrel aged barleywine.

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Great from Alpine Beer Company
4.43 out of 5 based on 660 ratings.
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