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 UCLABrewN84
4.27/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour at Woodshop 8 held at The Hermosillo in Los Angeles, CA.

2013 vintage.

Pours a hazy dark brown with a foamy beige head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, bourbon, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel and toffee syrup and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a really smooth bourbon presence in the flavor that makes this one very easy to drink.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.05/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks again to jzeilinger for opening this one with me. This poured out as a nice hazy brown color. The head comes and goes rather quickly. No real retention or lacing on this one. The beer smells sweet like caramel with a bit of barrel aging on the nose. The hops are a bit hidden on this. The taste of the beer is also sweet with a subtle bitterness in the finish, flavors of caramel and toffee in there with a minimal bitterness. I was hoping to get more of the JD barrel flavors from this but wasn't able too. The mouthfeel is smooth, very dangerous because it's easy to drink. Overall it's a good brew, really happy I got to try it.

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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 Thorpe429
4.69/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Azurelimits for breaking this out at a recent tasting.

A: Pours a fairly-bright dirty copper with a tiny whisp of a tan head.

S: Very rich bourbon alongside some caramel, toffee, sweet malts, and alcohol (although not nearly as much as would be expected from a brew of this alcohol level).

T: Lots going on with the bourbon beautifully complementing the sweet maltiness of the base beer. Some nice woodiness as well as loads of caramel.

M: Medium body with a low level of carbonation and moderate booziness.

D: Very delicious. Not extremely complex, but just done so incredibly well.

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Photo of mothman
4.59/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into old guardian snifter.

Pours hardly any head. However there is a ring of foam. Very slight lace. Color is a mahogany brown copper.

Aroma: Massive bourbon oak. Vanilla with a very nice fall flavored spice. The oak is dead on. Tons of malt; caramel and toffee flavors. Burnt sugar. Very solid.

Taste: Rich and malty. Toffee and caramel. Bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Very warm. Burnt sugar with some sweet notes. This beer has a very slight amount of alcohol showing for the high abv. Tons of malt with little hop showing. Great bourbon flavors blending this beer together.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and rich. The carbonation is a little lower, but it really works well with this beer. It has a fairly large body. It is ends sweet and malty, relatively clean. After discussion with my homie Pete dog, I notice the bitterness of the hops. I am glad he picked up on that as it is an American Bwine.

Overall, a very solid bwine. It is big, smooth, and drinkable. Lots of flavor and the bourbon barrels really tied the beer together to make it complex, yet drinkable. I am glad I had a chance to try this one. Very solid.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a snifter. Big thanks to srandycarter for a bottle of this in trade.

Pours a deep amber/near brown color, with a finger of light tan foamy head. This fizzles down pretty readily, with just a thin looking retention around the edges, but this still leaves a decent little amount of spotty lace down the sides of the glass. Yeah, I would say that the Bourbon and Barleywine have married each other quite nicely in the aroma. I'm getting caramel, butterscotch, burnt molasses, a little bit of plum and fig, and sweet, sweet, notes of vanilla. This is mostly sticky sweet in the nose but I'm also picking up some underlying roast, smoke, and even a touch of char from the barrel. Some lighter but still bright smelling green tannic character hangs on the edges of this, actually helping balance out some of the sweeter tones. There is some beefy warmth present as well but it mostly serves to add some thickness to the flavors.

The taste is pretty much on the same page as the aroma. Notes of caramel, toffee, smoky molasses, some dark cherries and plums (which REALLY emerges as this warms), and an underpinning of char and roast all at the forefront here. Some hops do tickle the rear of the profile but what absolutely makes this; is the silky sweet flush of butterscotch and vanilla flavors across the backend, where in mingles with some deep woody dryness. The mouthfeel is full, thick, chewy, and viscous, just coating the tongue and lips with warm sticky liquid. Speaking of the warmth, that is exactly the way that this stays. Warm but never overly hot, which is very hard to believe with a 14% ABV on this. Pretty spectacular feel, with this coming off much more like it's in the 10% range.

This was some pretty impressive stuff. Wonderful melding of flavors here between the beer & barrel; and the feel and drinkibility on this were pretty awesome for the size. I'd love to tuck a few more of these away for cellaring, as this is one that's only going to get even better with time.

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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 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 womencantsail
4.42/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes

A: The pour is a deep, dark amber color with some nice ruby highlights and no head.

S: An amazing nose to this beer: plenty of vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, and whiskey. All the things you'd expect from some quality -bal aging.

T: The flavor is just as enjoyable as the aroma. Lots of sweetness in the form of caramel and brown sugar with a hint of butterscotch and molasses. The vanilla and whiskey come through nicely here, providing a bit of warmth as well.

M: The body is quite full with very low carbonation and a definite warming sensation.

D: This beer has indeed earned it's name. Quite a *great* beer that I'd love to have again. Yes, I know it was an awful joke.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.59/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Second big Want from Alpine I'm knocking off this week; good stuff. Been wanting to try this one for a long time. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter.

a - Pours a hazy deep mahogany color with a slight dark red tint, one inch of very light tan head and light carbonation evident. Looks pretty good.

s - Smells of bourbon, vanilla, caramel malts, toffee, oak, sweet fruity malts, molasses, and raisins. Lots of bourbon and vanilla mixing with toffee/caramel, as well as sweetness. This is an amazing smelling barrel aged barleywine; gotta be up as one of the best I've smelt.

t - Tastes of bourbon, sweet dark fruits, wood/oak, alcohol, molasses, raisins, light chocolate, caramel malts, and toffee. Again, this is an outstanding tasting barleywine. Lots of bourbon and sweetness to it, which I loved. More wood or oak than the nose, and a little bit of chocolate. A slight step down from the nose, but still a great taste; the nose was just perfect.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy and not a ton of alcohol warmth; some, but not as much as I would have thought for 14% ABV.

o - Overall I thought this was an outstanding barrel aged barleywine; definitely up there as one of the best I've had. Amazing nose; up there with MoaS as one of my favorite barrel aged barleywines, and I'd love to get another bottle of it.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

Big thanks to hannydawg for sharing this bottle!

Don'tcha just love the modest beers? This one pours a very lightly murky ruby-amber topped by a half-finger of dirty off-white foam. The nose comprises toffee, graham crackers, light walnut, butterscotch, and a vague sense of alcohol. The taste brings in more of the tasty same, though the butterscotch and alcohol come through a bit more pronounced than before. The body is a stolid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a syrupy feel. Overall, a very nice, very tasty b-wine. My only real criticism was that the barrels really didn't impart as much bourbon character as I'd hoped. Despite this, though, this comes through as one damn fine barleywine, straight up.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.37/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429 and Amyliz4. Thanks Mike and Amy!

Served in a blind taste test with Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barleywine and Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine.

A: This beer appears copper / orange in color. The liquid is slightly hazy and still. The beer has virtually no head, but does leave a bit of lacing on the tulip. A respectable appearance, given the style and massive alcohol content.

S: The aroma is very nice, with scents of toffee, caramels, sweet malt, and bourbon.

T: Much like the aroma, this beer tastes "Great". The beer is sweet and definitely has an alcohol / bourbon presence, but neither of these aspects are overpowering or become cloying in any way.

M: Medium in body, with fairly low carbonation. Alcohol content hidden very well. I had no idea that this weighed in at 14%!

D: My favorite of the three bourbon barrel-aged barleywines (I realized after the fact), I would definitely recommend this beer.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.12/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Murky brown amber. Small khaki head. Not much going on after a bit.

Smell - Brown sugars. Fruity specialty malts. Bourbon. Raisiny. A hint of hops, maybe?

Taste - Bourbon much stronger. Still very sweet. Brown sugar. Sweet and raisiny. Oaky in the back end.

Mouthfeel - Heavy and sweet. Medium low carbonation.

Overall - Reminds me of JW Lees. Not a ton of bourbon, but it does allow the base beer to shine.

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Photo of stakem
4.05/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle I acquired as an extra in a trade quite a long time ago. My apologies to the generous person deserving of the mention. Shared with friends and poured into mini snifters. This brew appears a clear amber color with some faint bubbles and a ruby to orange coloring around the edges. Leggings of alcohol slowly creep down the wall of the glass after a swirl.

The smell is almost candied with sweet hints of toffee and vanilla. Some oak is evident that brings out a tannic woody quality that lasts inside the nose and mixes with some herbal indications thy minorly form into something that is medicinal.

The taste is sweet with toffee-like maltiness. Boozy with alcohol that blends well into a toasty grain flavor that gets contrasted with an herbal quality and woody notes from the barrel aging. This brew is drying on the tongue despite the initial residual sweetness. The drying effect leves a bit of oxidative quality lingerin in the mouth. A light bitterness and herbal flavoring turns to wood and back to toasty sweet grain in the finish.

This is a bold brew with a solid inclusion of alcohol. It is full bodied with a light level of carbonation. Super easy drinking for a big bold brew that isn't hiding it's abv level. It was well put together and enjoyable. I wouldnt mind having it again for comparison purposes with others in the style. It really isn't totally fair to make this comparison but considering the lack of availability and inflated asking price of this brew nowadays I'd much rather take some gratitude.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.39/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Chris (Spycow) for sharing this one. Served in a Bruery tulip. This was the more recent batch in 12oz bottles.

A - Thin, quick-dissolving off-white foam settles to a thin collar and not much else - minimal lace and no cap, wisps, etc. Murky dark orange-brown body.

S - This is a very fruity barleywine, with lots of cherry and other dark fruits. Caramels, treacle, toffee, tobacco, and plenty of oak and bourbon character. Mild complimentary oxidation that adds fruity port-like flavors. I don't think this batch was aged in Jack Daniels, was it?

T - Again, the taste is heavy with traditional barleywine flavors and only a moderate bourbon influence. Caramel, treacle, brown sugar, toffee, cherries, mild oxidation.

M - Medium bodied, with minimal alcohol warmth. Drinks like a lighter beer than 14% - I could have stood for a bit more viscosity and stickiness. Carbonation is unsurprisingly low. Not particularly oaky - very neutral here.

D - A very good barrel-aged barleywine that doesn't quite crack the top tier for me. I'll revisit this when I drink my own bottle (generously sent by ArthurPendragon before his untimely demise). Alcohol is shockingly well-hidden, which makes this a very dangerous brew.

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Photo of dvmin98
4.6/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at NC Rare 1/28/17. Caramel color. Smell was caramel, dark fruit, malts. Tasted more like an English barleywine. No hops at all. Mostly caramel, dates, raisin, mild barrel. Overall, this was a fantastic beer. The barrel was not overdone like a lot of BA barleywines.

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Photo of IrishColonial
4.07/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage

A: very dark brown, almost black like molasses or dark maple syrup; slight creamy head
S: mostly toffee, maple, brown sugar; slight vanilla and bourbon; a bit of raisin and fig; when cold, slight vinegar smell but disappears as it warms; a bit of oxidation underlies everything
T: very sweet and malty; brown sugar and caramel dominate mixed with figs and raisins; not much bourbon flavor but a bit of heat on the back end
M: soft creamy carbonation; decent mouthfeel but a bit thin
O: not sure why this is classified as an American barleywine, seems like an English style through and through; good flavor profile and well balanced but the sweetness is a bit overpowering; starting to oxidize and the bourbon was much less than I expected. A good offering and worth trying but not in my top echelon of King Henry, Cognac Church on a Hill, Sucaba, and Mother of All Storms

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Photo of drabmuh
4.47/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle provided by Thorpe's for a blind taste test. Thanks.

Beer is copper with almost no head, but some how leaves some lacing behind. There is a haze to it as well. Looks OK.

This beer has an awesome aroma, it's bourbony but it's not overwhelming, it's mostly sweet and like golden raisins and toffee. Yum.

The lead off for this beer is a medium body of malt sweetness and some bourbon comes into the picture in the early midpalate region. There is a nice caramel / toffee flavors that come from the bourbon and malt complementing each other and the finish is good with a moderate oakiness. The carbonation on the palate is low and the feel of the beer is creamy with a nice finish.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.63/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Curran last night.

Pours a hazy russet brown color, with no real head, or lacing. Looks really nice.

Smells like toasted malt, caramel, toffee, and breadiness. Smells delicious.

There's a nice dark Belgian chocolate and roastiness to this barleywine that's unexpected, on top of the classic toffee and caramel flavors in perfect unison. There's a bit of bourbon, not a whole lot, and some oak and vanilla. Absolutely delicious.

This barleywine has a body of medium thickness, with a low amount of carbonation. It's a little bit syrupy, not a whole lot, keeping it still very drinkable.

This one seems to fly under the radar a bit, it's amazing, but not a whole lot of people talk about. People should talk about it more.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

375ml bottle shared at woodshop 5.1

Poured a deep dark brown with maroon highlights and a thin head that left good sticky lacing on the glass. The nose was very nice with big caramel and whiskey aromas from the oak. There were hints of vanilla, brown sugar, and booze that was not dominating the nose which was well hidden. Up front the taste was big on caramel and whiskey flavors with vanilla, toffee, and slight booze accetns. The beer was full bodied with a fair amount of carbonation that had a thick sweet syrupy and faint boozy finish. Apline came through with an exceptional barleywine style brew that was really drinkable and made me want to serve up more in my glass every time it was empty.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kaiser81 for sending me this beer.

Pours murky brown with no head. The aroma is caramel, brown sugar, some alcohol, oak and bourbon. It is very sweet. The flavor is vanilla, maple, alcohol and brown sugar. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation.

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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 JohnGalt1
4.4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Footbalm pulled this one out of his cellar to share with the Boise Peeps a while back... I couldn't tell with a cursory once over, but Eric says this is the first bottled batch... very cool!! The first batch was a whale of mine for a long time and may have to step back up into those shoes.

I got one of the first pours and it shows deep reddish orange... very clear.. nice tan head.

nose is amazing and only shows hints of EtOH on the finish.. plently of caramel... maple... vanilla prior.. very rich.

flavor has a good oaky tannic aspect that adds a nice drying quality amidst all the malts... vanilla bean with some almonds and toffee.... plummy dark fruits.. maybe some hints of oxidation that mesh well with the overall product....

big body for sure... carbonation seemed restrained as it should be... a very slow sipper.... SAS said this bottle was his favorite after the Veritas.

Seems like a blown out of the water English BW.

Thanks a bunch Eric... I appreciate that you remember after all this time to bring this up to share.... pretty badass.


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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 mrn1ceguy
4.75/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

When a bourbon aged Barleywine is done right, with a lot of bourbon and some heartiness from the barleywine, you get this beer. Great was truly GREAT, with a perfect heartwarming finish.

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