Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale Black Barleywine Ale

30th Anniversary - Jack & Ken's Ale
Black Barleywine Ale

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chino, California, USA

American Barleywine

10.20% ABV

Commercial Description:
ack McAuliffe was the first American "micro" brewer. His tiny New Albion Brewery in Sonoma, California inspired countless dreamers to start small-scale breweries of their own. Jack agreed to guest brew this very special ale with us in honor of our 30th anniversary. This Black Barleywine Ale is a nod to the legendary ales New Albion served at their legendary summer solstice parties. Rich with bittersweet and roasted malt flavors, balanced with whole-cone American hops, this robust ale should age gracefully for years.

General Pricing:
750ml bottles: ~$12.00 each

This was a left over from my all Sierra Nevada Thanksgiving Beer Dinner. It has been sitting in my beer fridge since Thanksgiving just waiting for me to review it. So let’s get this show on the road.

The beer pours a dark brown completely opaque with no light getting through at all. The beer produced a very rich tan to chocolate milk colored head.

The nose is exquisite with dark roasted malt aromas. Then with a gentle swirl of the snifter the most pleasant aromas of caramel malts and complex hops are released. This smells a little intense but on a chilly spring knight this may be just what I’m looking for.

WOW! This is intense but also rich smooth and very complex. This is another one of those high end beers that I know I won’t be able to due justice to.

The experience starts out with sweet dark malts up front on the tip of the tongue. That is quickly replaced by an interesting malt and hop bitterness. This bitterness intensifies throughout the middle of the sip. By the time you get to the top of the swallow you know this is no lightweight. There is that clinching in the back of the jaw that reminds you “this is a sipping beer”. There is an intensification of rich malt and hop flavors from the top of the swallow into the finish. This continues into the finish and I can only describe that as an explosion of flavors. There are deep rich malt flavors; toasted, smoky and roasted flavors with notes of chocolate, and hint’s of coffee and oak. There is also an intense hop finish to this beer but it is not overly bitter. There is a great balance but this beer is also very intense. The finish also has that classic Barleywine kick to it. I have described that as harshness before but it is just that intense high alcohol kick that comes with this style of ale. I know that I’m not doing this justice. This is one fantastic beer.

This is a unique twist to the classic Barleywine. It’s the rich, almost stout like malt flavors that set this beer aside from all the other Barleywines that I have had in the past. Hence the name; Black Barleywine!

The beer also has the most pleasant warming effect.

Oh my, there is also a nice creaminess to it as well. I just noticed that with the second glass. The extra creaminess is coming from that rich foamy head that was just created when pouring the second glass.

Man O Man is this good. And it seems to be getting smoother and richer as it warms and opens up a little bit.

The creamy head has dissipated to a nice protective layer over the top of the beer. The lacing is excellent even in this snifter.

Well, there’s probably not much more to say about this beer. I’ll continue to nurse the rest of the 750 ml bottle

The end of this bottle at almost room temperature and it was just exquisite; smooth, rich malty goodness to the end.

This is an A+ for me. I have had many barleywines but there is has a unique dark roasted quality that set it apart from the rest. It’s a shame this in a one time only brew. I could buy this every winter.

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