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Brew Review: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

2010 April 14

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico, CA

Style: Barley Wine

ABV: 9.6%

Served: Pint glass from 12 oz. bottle. Purchased at Julio’s for $2.25/bottle.

A good friend of mine who is a central California native asked me when I was going to review some west coast beers. I have been remiss in not tipping my cap to the ales of more Pacific persuasion. I still think the best beer in the world is made on I-95 between D.C. and Portland, ME, and I’m not at all biased. That said, I will be featuring exclusively west coast brew for the next week or so. Sierra Nevada is a close 2nd to Sam Adams when it comes to balancing availability with integrity. Their year-round beers are more than respectable, let alone their seasonal and specialty offerings.

The Bigfoot is a dark honey amber in the glass, with a few bubbles, and a dense persistent off-white crown one finger thick. The aroma is amazing. Full and well-rounded, with an aggressive hop presence followed by pine, melon, pastry, and earth. Complex and powerful. The first taste is a blitzkrieg of big brown sugar sweetness and cantaloupe. This is quickly is taken over by big-time hop bitterness. The sensation is not unlike a grapefruit, sweet and bitter in turns. The bitterness sticks to the palette and is hard to shake. Tasting hoppy beers is tricky, because you can’t go back for a second taste with a clean slate. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, and smoother than I might expect for such an overpowering bitterness

Hop-heads might guffaw at my medium tolerance for hop presence. I certainly wish I had a better appreciation for Double IPAs and aggressive barley wines. But I’ve heard it opined from more than one source that making extreme beer is easy. Crafting a balanced, subtle ale takes skill. This is a good beer, but I didn’t get the balance I have had with others in this style. This is probably my most subjective review to date; I have seen too many glowing reflections on this beer to believe I’m the normal one. That said…C+

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