Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve run across a few comments in various places which have described an overall negative vibe from many of my posts, particularly the guest beer posts I make. Some have accepted the idea that since it’s my job to search for defects in beer, then that is what I will do and those defects will rise to the top of my descriptions of beers. There is probably some truth to that, however finding defects is certainly not my sole function when I assess a beer. I look for positive aspects of beers as well, but when certain defects are present at certain levels it becomes hard to look past them and it’s not always possible to describe a silver-lining for a bad beer. So, I just wanted to reiterate that I try to be as objective as possible when I taste beer, that I really do search for good qualities in all the beers I try, and if I come across a beer that I really enjoy or find unique in some way I will discuss it here. In fact…
… just yesterday my panel tasted the 2011 Bigfoot Barleywine from Sierra Nevada (blind, as our guest beers are always tasted). I’ve had previous incarnations of this beer before, but it has been awhile. I don’t normally seek out many barley wines when I shop for beer, as I usually look for the more drinkable session beers instead. That doesn’t mean I don’t like barley wines, however, there’s just so much I can take sometimes. It would probably take me close to a week to finish a six-pack of this beer.
So as I mentioned, it’s been a couple years since the last Bigfoot I had, but I don’t recall it being this floral. Alcoholic, caramel, roasted malt flavors, etc, but not much in the way of floral character. The initial “orthonasal” aroma of this beer is very floral. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the floral character blew off and left behind the very malt-oriented flavors associated with a barleywine. Can’t really fault the beer for that, it’s just a fact of life with flavors, particularly these kinds; by their very nature they are volatile and therefore do not necessarily last very long in the beer (some more than others). There was some mild oxidation in the beer, and some panelists mentioned a harsh and lingering bitterness (perhaps bile-like) but I would not consider these to be particularly negative aspects of this beer. Overall, as barley wines go, this one was quite nice. If you like big, chewy beers, go get some of this.