In celebration of closing a chapter at one job (10-1-10) and starting a new one the following Monday, I decided my choice of beer should be rather celebratory in nature as well. Insert the third of four beers commemorating Sierra Nevada’s 30 years of brewing. This bigger than life barleywine is super tasty and one I’m sure fans of the style will love (not to mention those who like BIPAs).
This beautiful garnet colored beer allows you to witness the bubbles rising out of the 10.2% abv liquid on their way to creating a frothy foamy light beige head. The color was unique as I was envisioning a lighter shade of black with more of the classic barleywine hue close to maple syrup, which was highlighted on the edges of the glass. Alcohol is noticeable on glass when swirled.
When inching my nose towards the snifter all I could muster up where the words “wow, yum, and delicious.” Well balanced through and through with great hop presence and firm, yet savory malts. The aromas were rich and everything blended together perfectly. The abv was noticeable, but mild complimenting the sweeter malt aromas that came through as caramel, leathery, minor licorice, and toffee. The hops were floral and piney with maybe a slight orange citrus quality. Surprisingly, I thought the black color did not translate into a huge lasted flavor (reflecting on this I realized that if it had been strong this would have been a stout).
The roasted grain taste acted as the spark on the palate lighting a dry almost smoked malt sensation that quickly ignited into a dark fruit sweetness. As all this was taking place the hops provided a bitter pop on the front of the tongue that then transitioned into a fruity quality as well pairing well with the malt. The hopping was piney and resinous so much so that it tasted like a Black IPA at points. Prunes, maple syrup, grapes, date, and figs all seemed to combine into a candied texture and flavor. The mouthfeel is full bodied, sticky and the aftertaste is a mixture of every aspect of the beer bookended with a caramel/grape maltiness.