Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Avery Maharaja, At Least Someone Agrees With Me

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Mar. 20, 2012

Back in April of last year we here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights were right in the middle of our DIPA Project - our quest to drink and review the 20 Most Reviewed Double IPAs on Beer Advocate.  It was time to review a personal favorite of mine and a classic, the Avery Maharaja.  The Maha, in my opinion, proved to beat Russian River's Pliny the Elder, a point that many have disagreed with me on since.  However, this afternoon I came across a YouTube review of Maharaja and found that at least one other person agrees with me, so I thought you all might like to check it out.  Here, from the San Diego Beer Vlog; Avery's Maharaja:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Barleywine Review #7 - Green Flash Barleywine Style Ale

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Mar. 9, 2012

I tracked down the Green Flash Barleywine Style Ale a couple of weeks ago in Denver at Seventeenth Street Liquors.  As a Boulder resident I don’t get to Denver as much as I would like, but Mountain Sun’s Vine Street Pub was calling me with Pliny the Younger.  Yes, I finally managed to track down some of Russian River’s super-hyped-up-but-probably-worth-it Double (or Triple) IPA.  That story is for another time, however.  The point here is that since I had driven an hour for one beer, I was going to check out the local selection and try to bring something back with me.  So…I found Seventeenth Street.  The selection was limited, but decent and the prices were pretty good. 

I ended up snagging two bombers of Green Flash beer; the Imperial IPA, which I have had before and thoroughly enjoyed and the Barleywine Style Ale.  As you can see above, I thoroughly enjoyed it again this past week (along with a hop flavored cigar) when we had a gorgeous 73-degree day here in Boulder earlier in the week.  As for the Barleywine, well, that was saved for a quiet night at home when I could split it with Emily. 

So, last night I finally cracked it open, poured a glass for each of us and wrote this review.  Here’s what I found:

Location: Seventeenth Street Liquor, Denver, Colorado
Cost: $6.99 for a 22 oz. bomber
ABV: 10.9%
IBUs: 85
Brewery Location: San Diego, California
Style: American Barleywine
Average Beer Advocate Rating: B+/3.85 – Very Good
My Beer Advocate Rating: A/4.38 - Outstanding
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate/Rank in Top 20: 357/14th
Bottled On: 2011 Vintage

APPEARANCE:  (4 out of 5) Deep mahogany, typical Barleywine color with a very light brown, half-inch head that stuck around for about 90 seconds or so.  Once the head settled a thick layer of multi-sized bubbles hid most of the reddish surface of the actual beer. 

SMELL:  (4 out of 5) The Green Flash is spicy, fruity and very bready.  There is a ton going on in the nose of this one.  The spice is cider-like and accented with some caramel and toffee notes.  Of course, apple is part of the fruity smell, but so are banana and a touch of citrus.  The breadiness is distinctly wheat.  Overall, this is a great smelling beer.  I would give it a higher rating, but it is of only a moderate intensity and I wish it were stronger.

TASTE:  (4.5 out of 5) This is one of the more interesting Barleywines I have experienced during The Barleywine Project.  It is solidly bitter all the way through the sip, but unlike Avery’s Hog Heaven, this isn’t really a slightly mislabeled Triple IPA, it still has a boat load of malty richness along with a lot of spicy and fruity flavors.  Banana, caramel, toffee, pine, tart apple and fall-like spices all make appearances in each sip, but a subdued grapefruit and orange along with a hoppy bitterness carry this beer from start to finish.  Speaking of the finish, the Barleywine Style Ale ends on an enormous note of wheat bread.  I’ve tasted bready beer before, but this is a bready monster and the aftertaste might as well be the crust from some wheat toast.  I thought it was odd about 15 minutes ago when Emily said “You know what would be great with this?  Some toast with cheese melted on it.”  Now, it makes perfect sense, and oddly, I’d recommend some cheesy wheat toast with this one – never thought I’d write that on this blog, but there you go.

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out 5) Rich and very full-bodied.  The carbonation is moderate (more than I expected for the flavor) and a nice tickle along with the dry, bitter finish helps cleanse the palate following the slightly sweeter mid-sip.

OVERALL:  (4.5 out of 5) My experience with Green Flash so far has been very positive and this is no exception.  However, most of the other beers of theirs I’ve had have been great due to their accuracy in style.  The Barleywine is certainly an exception to that rule.  While drinking this beer I am reminded of Founders Devil Dancer in the respect that it never breaks out of the style, but it pushes the envelope and uses all available space within the style’s parameters. 

In light of my last review, one of the things that really stands out to me about this Barleywine is how wonderfully it works fresh.  The hoppy bitterness is certainly part of that reason and even once that fades I’m sure the beer will still taste great, but I really wish I had a second bottle to split at the moment.  I will be purchasing this again in the near future.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Barleywine Review #6 - Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau

Mar. 7, 2012

The problem with working on a project like The Barleywine Project here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights is that in order to be fair to each beer on The List they need to be reviewed in their current (or at least most widely available) state.  Barleywines age exceptionally well, but if I were to take a Bigfoot from 2007, a fresh Old Ruffian and a two year old Doggie Claws it would be tough to compare them on equal grounds.  That said, beers like Founders Nemesis are no longer being made, and therefore will have to be reviewed with some age on them.

The point is, that I strongly believe the beer I am reviewing today, the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale would do much better if it were of an older vintage, but in my effort to keep the playing field as level as possible I will be reviewing the 2012 vintage.  So, now that my little disclaimer is out of the way, here’s my review:

Location: Boulder Liquor Mart
Cost: $2.39 for 12oz. bottle
Glassware: Funkwerks Tulip Glass
ABV: 9.6%
IBUs: 90
Brewery Location: Chico, California
Style: American Barleywine
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A/4.42 – Outstanding
My Beer Advocate Rating: 3.65/B - Good
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate/Current Rank: 2,430/1st
Bottled On: NA

APPEARANCE:  (4.5 out of 5) The Bigfoot pours a deep, dark reddish brown that lets very little light through.  A foamy, white head rests on top with moderate retention before it settles down to a nice coaster-sized cap.  The lacing is very nice and covers the majority of the back side of the glass.

SMELL:  (3.5 out of 5) A nice dose of malt hits the nose first with a helping of brown sugar and a mild roastiness.  A faint hint of grassiness also lies underneath a backbone of clove and other spices.

TASTE:  (3.5 out of 5) The fresh Bigfoot has a lot more of a bite than I expected with some bitter and citrusy hops smacking the palate up front and then returning to round out the end of each sip.  In between is a wave of sugary malt that highlights caramel, brown sugar and clove.  The 9.6% ABV is also apparent and when the hops return to close it out, they leave an intense grapefruit bitterness on the tongue that last until another sip is taken.

MOUTHFEEL:  (4.5 out of 5) This is a very well carbonated beer.  While it is rich and sweet, it also has some of the palate-cleansing properties more typical of a big, citrusy IPA.  Each sip starts out on the creamy side and builds throughout until a pleasant, dry and bitter finish takes over and clears the palate for the next sweet sip.

OVERALL:  (3.5 out of 5) As the name should suggest, Bigfoot doesn’t do nuance.  Instead, this is a big, bold, smack-you-in-the-face type of beer.  The hops hit with the right, then the malt connects with the left and finally the bitter, citrusy hops complete the combo with another right.  Do not ever use this beer to try to turn your fizzy yellow drinking friends into craft enthusiasts.  In fact, don’t use it to turn anyone on to Barleywines unless that person is a seasoned IPA drinker already.  Of course, all of that is said about a fresh pour of this beer.  Once it ages a few years it will be a completely different story.