Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2006
So this storm came through and messed up a bunch of stuff on the East coast. We decided to have a party of sorts in preparation for the destruction. I pulled a few semi-old bottles from the closet for the occasion. Over the last year or so I've collected a handful of vintage Sierra Nevada Bigfoots. Since I've now got doubles of some years I figure its ok to start opening some. This one is from 2006 (bottled and distributed late 2005?). By my calculations that puts this one well over five years old.
I really enjoy this beer fresh. It's a very hoppy American barleywine. It's somewhat of a booze bomb too at close to 10% alcohol by volume. I figure that both of these characters would mellow out a bit over time. I tend to enjoy the less hoppy English barleywines more. I've got a nice relationship going with the 2002 JW Lees Harvest Ale. Just like the Lees, though, Bigfoot changes year to year.
It pours cloudy caramel brown with a solid one finger head. This is retained at the edges through the end of the tasting. Carbonation streams are strong at first and disappear a few minutes after the pour. The aroma is of caramel, toffee, toasted bread with a slight dark citrus tinge.
The flavors up front are lovely. Deep caramel, toffee and a very strong hoppy bitter presence. Five years later and it holds some sharp hop flavors, that's Sierra Nevada's calling card. As it opens up the toffee sweetness deepens and the aggressive hops give way to sweet candied citrus. The finish is sweet like chocolate and caramel. It feels quite viscous, as it should. It's a rich, rich beer. The alcohol warmth is not as obvious as in the fresh vintage.
Just like most barleywines, Bigfoot is very enjoyable as a sipper. Some of the very aggressive flavors have mellowed a bit. I've not even taken in to account the slight difference of this brew year to year. I think five years rest is great for a barleywine. Or, is it this specific 2006 batch? I didn't have this fresh when it was first distributed. The oldest I have in my collection is this batch. I'd love to get my hands on some 2005, or older. This makes me want to buy a few cases of this every year.
What's the oldest Bigfoot you've had? Thoughts?