Thursday, January 24, 2008

Beer: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine

I have to admit, I'm not very good at writing a beer review. I don't typically take notes and I don't look for nuance as much as I probably should. Beer reviewing is often a digital experience for me: do I like this or do I not like this?

Last night, however, I was at BadaBoomz and ordered a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine (2000), their "January Feature." This is the first time I've ever ordered the monthly feature, but I think the idea is that owner Mike Deweese pulls out a vintage beer from his stash and offers it for one month. After one sip, I felt compelled to write down notes. This is one of the most complex beers I've ever had, certainly the most complex since I first had a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Here's what I managed to scribble on the Bell's coaster I had under the beer:

For those that can't decipher my chicken scratch, that translates to a truly awesome beer. I've only had a couple barleywines and I haven't been particularly crazy about them. In most cases, they're much too sweet for my taste. This beer has its fair share of sweetness, but I don't think it's overdone. It's what's behind the sweetness that makes this a great beer.

The waiter brought the beer out to me with a tulip glass. BadaBoomz does pretty well with their selection of glassware and I like that the waiter left the bottle and glass for me to pour (some may think this bad service, but I like the opportunity to pour my own beer). I did a mildly aggressive pour and ended up with just a hint of head that disappeared almost immediately, leaving just a trace around the edge of the glass. It smells strongly of raisins.

The flavor starts with a strong taste of raisins and dark fruit, very similar to the smell. Then you hit some roasted barley mixed with a strong kick of hops. It finishes with an almost smokey flavor and a hint of chocolate. A little warming alcohol is there at 9.6% but it's pretty well hidden. This is a wonderful sipping beer.

If you like barleywine, get thee to BadaBoomz before the end of the month and Mike moves the leftovers (if there are any) back into storage! I can't recommend this beer enough.

In closing, here's a quote by Michael Jackson from the back of the BadaBoomz menu:

"...Bigfoot captures the imagination, and its character is as big as the name implies, with a huge hoppiness in its earthy aroma, a chewy palate, and a great depth of flavor."

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