Oct. 23, 2011
The Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary – Jack & Ken’s Ale was pretty easy to find. In fact, I believe that Liquor Mart in Boulder still has a couple cases left. I had tried this bottle once in the past, shortly after it was released, but I never reviewed it. I do remember it tasting a little maltier and sweeter last time I had it, but this time here is what I found:
Location: Boulder Liquor Mart
IBUs: 60-70? (speculated, but not confirmed - if you can confirm or correct let me know)
Brewery Location: Chico, California
Style: American Barleywine
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.08 - Excellent
My Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.93 – Very Good
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate/Rank in the Top 20: 362/14th
Brewery Description: NA
Bottled On: Summer of 2010
|Photo Courtesy of Legal Beer|
APPEARANCE: Dark as night. There is no light penetrating this beer whatsoever. The head, no matter how softly it is poured swells up into a nice, homogenous group of tiny bubbles that forms a finger and a half of off-white head. The dissipation is rather quick, but a ring of lace and a wispy thin layer of foam cap the beer after it has settled.
SMELL: The nose is medium to strong and dominated almost entirely by a sweet, milk chocolate smell. Some coffee is present and a tiny touch of hop aroma creeps in, but this nose belongs to the cocoa.
TASTE: The big, sweet, chocolate aroma blends into the first sip, but about halfway through the hops take over in a big way. The 30th Anniversary is a much stronger and much hoppier Barleywine than I am used to. Citrus and dank bitterness flavors steal the show from the chocolate mid-sip. The chocolate returns for a big finish, but the sweeter chocolate flavor has turned into a bitterer, darker chocolate. As the beer opens up it mellows and while it remains a bitterer, hoppier Barleywine than most, it does begin to resemble the style a little more closely with a boatload of roasted malt and sweeter flavors beginning to expose themselves.
MOUTHFEEL: The mouthfeel is fantastic and spot on for a Barleywine. It is nice and oily, but has enough fizz to let the palate know that it is still a beer. The only deviation from the standard Barleywine is that it is much more dry than most, but that is not a bad thing.
OVERALL: I think I would classify this beer as more of an enormous and malty Black IPA than a Barleywine, but that does not change the fact that it is a solid beer. If you find yourself with a bomber or two share it with your friends who love IPAs and dry porters, die-hard Barleywine fans may be let down. Also, do not introduce anyone to the style with the 30th Anniversary, it’s more of a riff on a Barleywine than a traditional American Barleywine.