Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2013)

Hi, beer drinkers and aficionados! It's been a hot minute since I've gotten to do a beer review, mostly because all the beer I drank in the past couple weeks has been to keep me sane under the pressure of graduating college. But now that that's done, it's time to settle down with a nice snifter full of ale. And not just any ale, but Sierra Nevada's self-proclaimed "beast of a barleywine," Bigfoot.

Bigfoot is somewhat of a collector's item because barleywines are kind of like the wines of the beer world. The brewing company makes a batch of this good stuff annually. You can drink it right away or save a few bottles to cellar them and let them age and become something completely different. Me? Well, this is my first time trying it so I'll probably get another 4-pack in the near future to cellar a couple bottles; these puppies I'm drinking now.

Bigfoot is a pretty crazy ale with an ABV of 9.6%. It's brewed with caramel and two-row pale malts as well as whole-cone Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook hops. Some of my favorite hops are in this thing, huzzah! So, let's break this bad boy down...

Appearance: 4/5
Bigfoot pours a very rich red color, nearly reminiscent of red wine, but not quite that blood-red. It's a very nice color as I do tend to like red ales very, very much. The read is pretty good, but nothing extravagant. It does leave a bit of lacing, which is a nice touch.

Nose: 4/5
All the hoppy goodness of this ale can be sensed when nosing it. I get a strong floral scent from Bigfoot that leaves me salivating and dying to try it. Some of the spicy malt notes come through in the nose as well, but not as prominently.

Taste: 5/5
Bigfoot has some nice spice and bitterness to it. The spice and hoppy bitterness balance each other out to create a nicely-crafted taste. There are some sweet caramel notes too, which round out the flavor a bit so it's not too overpoweringly bitter or spicy. Quite nice indeed.

Mouthfeel: 5/5
Bigfoot is quite strong. It has a very rounded medium-to-dark body.

Finish: 5/5
Here's where the hops really shine. A nice citrusy, bitter aftertaste lingers for a good long while after a sip of Bigfoot. It's quite nice to be able to mull over the taste of the great hops they used in this ale after each sip. The beer goes down well, but not so easily as to be forgotten.

Total Score: 94/100

This is one of Sierra Nevada's greatest achievements, if you ask me. Next to their legendary Torpedo Extra IPA, this is one delicious and interesting brew. While Sierra Nevada has released a Summerfest beer (a light pilsner that's very sessionable), this is probably the go-to summer beer from them. It's strong, flavorful, and interesting. Do yourself a favor and grab a 4-pack while they're available. Your taste buds will thank you.

Until next time, cheers!


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Dogfish Head's Theobroma

I know, I know, I review a lot of Dogfish Head beers. But can you blame me? They're easily at the top of the craft beer game and just have so many unique and interesting brews under their belt. There's a whole fucking section just for their beers at my local beverage store.

Anyway, I picked up a bottle of another beer from their ancient ale series: Theobroma. Theobroma is based on a chemical analysis of ancient pottery from Honduras that revealed a very early chocolate-based alcoholic beverage. So what did Dogfish Head do? They recreated the ancient beer in a modern way, much like they did with Chateau Jiahu (which is delicious). So let's take a look at what Thobroma is all about!

Appearance: 4/5
Theobroma looks quite delectable. It's a nice golden amber in color, but pours with not a huge amount of head. The weird - or possible coolest - part of Theobroma is the amount of yellowish flakes floating around in it. I'm not sure which ingredient they come from, but they're very present and make me very curious about this beer.

Nose: 1/5
For boasting such a wide range of flavors and ingredients (cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, chilies, and annatto), Theobroma has a very neutral aroma. I can kind of pick up some notes of either chilies or chocolate, but nothing more.

Taste: 4.5/5
Despite its amber color, Theobroma tastes a lot like chocolate-infused ale. The chocolate notes are most present, but from my experience with beers using chilies I can definitely pick out the spice from them in the overall taste. It's very complex and tasty.

Mouthfeel: 4.5/5
Theobroma sports a full body and interestingly dark beer for its color.

Finish: 4.5/5
Theobroma goes down quite smooth, leaving behind a sweet, full aftertaste. I feel this beer's presence long after I've taken a sip. It's definitelt full-bodied and has sweet and lightly spicey notes that make you want to go back for more. In fact, I'd say the chilies and annatto come through most prominently in the finish.

Total Score: 72/100

Not all of Dogfish Head's odd brews are winners. Theobroma looks nice and tastes pretty good, but it's not perfect. It has little to no aroma and isn't mind-blowingly original. It is nice, though, and I would recommend it for the interesting blend of honey, cocoa, and spices. Just don't expect a shocking, earth-shaking experience.

Until next time, cheers!