Monday, January 28, 2013

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (2013)

From Sierra Nevada:

"Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle. Each new release or “expedition” is vintage dated. Collect your own and see the flavors develop and progress."

This is 2013 vintage so there is no age on this bottle.  I am hoping to get more of this to throw in my cellar so I can see how it ages.  I have heard nothing but great things about it with 1-10 years on it.  Even without having the opportunity to have aged bottle I can safely say, like Hopslam, this is also one of my favorite (possibly even my most favorite) seasonal available during the winter months.  Everything from the look to the finish is something I am impressed by with Bigfoot.  All I remember from the 2012 batch is that I drank a ton of it and I enjoyed each bottle more than I did the last so let's see how the 2013 vintage stacks up to what I remember.

Easily one of the best looking beers on the market in my opinion.  It poured out a reddish copper color but in the glass it is deep red with a 2 finger beige head to start.  As the head dissipates it leaves a ring around the sides of the beer like most do but the redness of Bigfoot seems to shine through that little bit of lacing and give it a pinkish hue.  It leaves a nice lace around the glass that crawls back down as it settles .  I could honestly sit here and not take a single sip of this beer and be okay with that because this looks like art in a glass.

Upfront I am smacked with grapefruit and pine notes on the nose which no doubt come from the heavy hop load this beer has.  Deeper into the aroma I get some caramel and toffee and sweet malt and a nice dose of molasses.  Aside from the big, upfront hop aroma to start this reminds me a little bit of Curmudgeons Old Ale from Founders.  I also get a very small amount of dark fruit mixed in there as well and I think even a tiny amount of some cherry which is something I either didn't pick up on last year or just didn't notice.  Very nice smelling beer. Wow!

....well I am sad to say that I have to disturb this beauty of a beer by taking a sip.  I kind of wish I didn't have to do this part but here we go,

On the very tip of the tongue I get the sweetness of the malts and mid palate on back I get a big rush of bitterness that lingers through the finish with a warming quality in the chest as well.  The sweetness I'm getting has a lot of the dark fruit in there, some nice caramel sweetness, as well as a nice note of molasses and and also a nice toasted malt character to it.  More like perfectly toasted bread as opposed to burnt bread or overly toasted bread you might find in a big imperial stout.  The hop presence in this beer doesn't stop at the bitterness, I get some big grapefruit and a dash of pine in the middle of the mouth.  Finish is all bitterness and grapefruit.  The flavor and bitterness from the hops really cut the sweetness you get at the beginning.  I have used this term before but it is such an intense bitterness it honestly feels like a sword crafted of sharpened hop vines and cones fight through that sweetness to finally shine through.  Yes there is a lot going on this beer but everything seems to be in perfect (un)balance.  Imagine a war flick that focuses on some of the earlier wars.  A lot of fighting and strategy and none of the big explosions we are used to now.  I definitely see this turning into a completely different animal years from now but whether it be now or then this will always be great.

I am glad I actually sat down reviewed this unlike last year.  Reviewing changed the way I look at beers because I really try to decipher what is really going on in your mouth when you drink.  I think I may have fallen even more in love with this beer because of the complexity to it.  Is it a perfect beer? Well that is a strong word and not something I am going to throw around easily but this is as close to perfection in the American Barleywine style category as it gets as far as I am concerned.  I am looking forward to 2014 not only because of a fresh vintage of this but because I really want to see how this changes.  I hope you guys are excited too!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

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