It’s time again to break out the Bigfoot. I have been holding onto this bottle for a full year. It was the first beer in my cellar. And it didn’t disappoint. I am super impressed with how well this beer kept in my closet. I have no way of regulating the temperature, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue, yet.
Bigfoot is a massive beer. Fresh it’s all sorts of hops and malts. The scent is angry with notes of pine. The predominant flavor is bitter, but as the beer sits it begins to open up revealing layers of citrus from bitter grapefruit to sweet orange. The malt is both burnt like toast and sweet like caramel. It’s powerful stuff.
I confused the two glasses for a minute, but the sweetness of the aged beer really set it apart. The citrus flavors from the fresh batch are subdued, replaced with bitter herbs and a hint of mint. More caramel from the malt and a hint of anise. I could smell it all day.
I think I’ll keep the rest the four pack for a few years.
But it’s just an IPA. A plain old IPA, nothing special. Sure it’s got some seasonally appropriate pine flavors, but so do hundreds of other beers. It finishes all bitter lemon peel, great. I just don’t get it. It’s fine, but it’s not good or great or mind blowing.
I thought it was my fault, so I even popped another bottle.
Oh, and then I had a pint on tap.
Still just meh.
I decided to pick up some more brown ales last week. Tumbler is a fall seasonal from Sierra Nevada. It’s brown and it smells brown. You know, nuts and molasses. It tastes similar to an oatmeal cookie with hazelnuts. The light, medium body is somehow chewy. I like the taste but there is something off about the feel, something unpleasant.
My bottle of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum is probably old, probably really old. I don’t feel like figuring out the mathematical jargon on the neck, but this beer has probably been on the shelf for a while. It started out like a proper double IPA, juicy and sweet — toffee, orange, and caramel. But this bottle quickly turned barleywine on me. Suddenly, my Hoptimum became a Bigfoot — bitter and dry, earthy and piney. I guess that’s what happens with ten percent beers with a little time. I’m not complaining; it’s still interesting.
I remember Torpedo being better. It started out right — you know, grapefruit and stuff, but it went south. It got all dirty and bitter and burnt. Pine and onion dominated with a bready backbone. Is it the cans?
Bigfoot is the premier west coast American barley wine, and it’s not too hard to find. The Trader Joe’s still has six packs sitting around from February. That might make you think it’s not very good. Bigfoot is good, and Bailey’s taproom was doing a five year vertical tasting last week. I had to get in on that.
The 2012 is still fresh, still hoppy and big. The big bitter hops give way to roasted malt and citrus. The finish is all earthy hops. There is a nice sweetness in the middle, but the feel isn’t to syrupy. The grapefruit is delightful.
The 2011 is smoother. It tastes redder — I have no idea what that means but it does. The citrus is faded, and the sweetness comes stronger, more brown sugar. The finish is still super bitter.
2010 was a good year for Bigfoot apparently. It’s still bubbly, but more subtle. A little less bitter in the mouth, but it will burn your throat a little.
And then we came to 2009. All brown sugar and burnt toast. Just enough bitterness, maybe some fresh fruit. The fruit is new. I don’t know what fruit, but it’s brown.
Lastly, we had a five year old taste of the 2008. Smoothest, mellowest, even Sarah thought it was nice. And then it turned bitter, not overwhelmingly bitter. Just enough bitter to counteract a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I would’ve killed for some ice cream as a companion.
But what do I do with this bottle I squirreled away seven months ago?
I was helping my buddy Carlos move on Saturday. He bought some beers for us, his selfless, hard working friends. I had one of these Sierra Nevada Pale Ales with my pizza. I thought it was really solid. On the way out I liberated a couple of bottles. Carlos wasn’t going to drink them any way. I finished my yard work today with another bottle.
Sierra Nevada has been making their pale ale since the eighties. They know what they’re doing. It’s crisp and refreshing. There is a hint of citrus and some bready, semi sweet malt. The bitterness is light but adds a nice bite and dry finish. I almost want to call it British in nature; it’s so subtle and easy to drink.
I’ve been seeking out barley wines lately because it’s a style I’m unfamiliar with, and Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot is sort of famous as the most widely available barley wine out there. It’s seasonal, but it comes in a six pack. 9.6% is a lot of alcohol for a sixer.
Bigfoot smells pretty boozy. Flavorwise it’s pretty bitter. But this beer is so delightful on my tongue, velvety, tiny bubbles, smooth, and dry. It taste pretty similar to Noggin Floggin without the sweetness.
I’m intrigued by these beers, and I really want to try something more English style or barrel aged.
Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye IPA has a very bold flavor I’ve been missing recently; it attacks the taste buds in a pleasant way. The a tongue coating mouth feel isn’t bad either. The rye flavor isn’t too hidden either. The rye flavor and the bitter hops work together nicely.
LET’S CELEBRATE THE REPEAL OF PROHIBITION WITH A TORPEDO!
Torpedo comes in a big squat bottle. This is not your dad’s bomber. 24oz. of IPA. The bottle says this is an “extra IPA,” but it is definitely not imperial. It’s got the hops, but it’s backed up with some very balanced, refreshing malts. Torpedo is definitely drinkable any time of year, and it’s really fucking cold lately, so I would know.