Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Goes Year-Round with Barrel-aged Narwhal

SNBANarwhalSierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) has officially announced that it will add the once-elusive Barrel-aged Narwhal Imperial Stout to its Year-Round portfolio in late January 2020.

Previously only available as an occasionally released rarity, Barrel-aged Narwhal takes Sierra Nevada’s fan-favorite Narwhal Imperial Stout and ages it for nearly a year in bourbon barrels.  Once its rest is completed, Barrel-aged Narwhal “emerges anew: rich with notes of oak, vanilla and coconut layered onto the Stout’s malt flavors of dark chocolate and espresso.”  Weighing in at a massive 11.9& ABV, Barrel-aged Narwhal is truly a “beast of a beer.”

Barrel-aged Narwhal officially achieved Year-Round status in late January 2020.  You can expect to find this tasty brew available in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s nationwide distribution network.  Prost!

Vital Information for Barrel-aged Narwhal from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Release – Year-Round; late January 2020
Style – Imperial Stout
ABV – 11.9%
IBUs – 50
Malts – Two-row Pale, Caramelized malts, Chocolate, Carafa III, Honey & Roasted Barley
Hops – Challenger & Magnum
Treatment – Aged for nearly a year in Bourbon barrels
Availability – 4-packs of 16 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder –

Barrel-aged Narwhal from Sierra Nevada on Vimeo.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Celebrates Anniversary with Release of 40 Years IPA

40th-Anniversary-Ale_tapinsert-600x600Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) has officially announced that it will recognize four decades of craft brewing with the Seasonal Release of 40 Years Anniversary IPA at the start of the 2020 calendar year.

Here to celebrate the fact that Sierra Nevada has been brewing world-class, hop-forward beers since 1980 (a risky move considering those beers were not at all popular at that time), 40 Years Anniversary IPA “showcases the bold flavors and aromas of a classic West Coast IPA: intense pine and citrus with a deep gold color and slight caramel sweetness.”  Clocking in at 6% ABV and 65 IBUs, 40 Years Anniversary IPA serves as proof that “[Sierra Nevada is] still brewing what [they] love.”

40 Years Anniversary IPA is available now at Sierra Nevada’s Chico, Mills River and Berkeley Tap Rooms and will enter full distribution in January 2020.  You can expect to find this Seasonal Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 24-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s nationwide distribution area.  Prost!

Vital Information for 40 Years Anniversary IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Release – Seasonal/Limited; January – March 2020
Style – American India Pale Ale
ABV – 6%
IBUs – 65
Hops – Cluster, Cascade & Centennial
Malts – Two-row Pale, Caramelized malts, Acidulated & Oats
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 24-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder –

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Revives Oktoberfest Wedding Tradition with Vow & Braus Giveaway

sierranevadabanner.jpgSierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) has officially announced that it is actively taking submissions for Vows and Braus: Craft Beer’s Royal Wedding, a promotion that will give one lucky couple the opportunity to get married in front of thousands of guests at the brewery’s 2019 Oktoberfest celebration on September 27 in Chico, California.

It is safe to assume that the majority of beer lovers are familiar with Oktoberfest, but many may not be aware that the original Oktoberfest was thrown in 1810 to celebrate the royal wedding between Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig – who went on to become King Ludwig I – and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The event was such a blast that it returned each year and eventually became the beer-filled holiday that we all know and love today.

Now in 2019, Sierra Nevada is looking to put the wedding tradition back in Oktoberfest with Vows and Braus: Craft Beer’s Royal Wedding.  To pull this off, Sierra Nevada is holding a contest to track down an engaged couple – comprised of two not-so-common commoners who love beer as much as they love each other – that is willing to help the brewery kick off this year’s Oktoberfest with the “biggest, loudest, most over-the-top wedding in centuries.” Sierra Nevada will handle all the planning. The winning couple just has to show up in Chico, tie the knot on September 27, and enjoy the party.

Interested in entering the Vows and Braus giveaway? Here are all the entry requirements and contest details:

The winning couple will be treated to the following prize package:

  • Two round trip plane tickets to Chico, California
  • Transportation from the airport
  • A honeymoon suite before and after the wedding
  • 50 tickets for family and friends to attend Sierra Nevada’s 2019 Oktoberfest Royal Wedding (21+)
  • VIP access to Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest offerings
  • An unforgettable wedding ceremony onstage during Oktoberfest
  • Dinner, drinks, flowers and decorations, wedding cake, live music and entertainment
  • Photos capturing your memorable event

If you are at all interested in having your wedding be the most memorable one of the year, you need to get your fiancé on board (this should be an easy sell), film your Vows and Braus submission video ASAP, and get it uploaded by August 8. Good luck to all you crazy kids.  Prost!

Sierra Nevada Collaborates with Germany’s Bitburger Brewery on 2019 Oktoberfest Beer

Oktoberfest_bottleSierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) has officially announced that it has partnered with Bitburger Brewery (Bitburg, Germany) to brew the 2019 edition of its Oktoberfest, an annually released German-American collaboration beer.

Continuing Sierra Nevada’s mission to better understand, appreciate and celebrate Germany’s many different takes on the Oktoberfest Bier style, the 2019 release of Oktoberfest is an incredibly special Festbier “brewed with Bitburger’s famed Siegelhopfen (meaning “sealed hops”)—a classified hop blend that has never been shared outside the German brewery walls. The beer will also feature Bitburger’s custom yeast, another house ingredient gifted for the first time ever.”  Coming in at 6% ABV and 20 IBUs, the 2019 Oktoberfest “will feature a rich amber color, smooth malty flavor and balanced hop character sure to turn backyards into beer gardens.”

“Our breweries’ shared commitment to quality and family ownership made this an obvious fit,” said Sierra Nevada founder and owner Ken Grossman. “Together, our families have shared great times telling stories, enjoying food and drinking beer—the perfect conditions for a great Oktoberfest.”


“We are thrilled to be brewing together with our friends from the iconic Sierra Nevada Brewery,” said Jan Niewodniczanski, Managing Director of Bitburger representing the seventh Generation of the family business. “Not only are we united by our passion for exceptional beer and truly unique hop flavors, we also share a long history of transatlantic exchange, leading to this exciting collaboration.”

2019 Oktoberfest will officially release in late July and is scheduled to hang around throughout the Oktoberfest season.  You can expect to find this Seasonal Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s nationwide distribution footprint.  Prost!

Vital Information for 2019 Oktoberfest from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. & Bitburger Brewery

Release – Seasonal; launching late July 2019
Style – Oktoberfest/Festbier
ABV – 6%
IBUs – 20
Malts – Caramelized malts, Munich & Pilsner
Hops – Bitburger Siegelhopfen, German Magnum & Loral
Yeast – Bitburger’s Custom Lager Yeast
Fun Fact – On Bitburger Brewery: “Founded in 1817, Bitburger has been family-owned for seven generations. The brewery is famous for its ‘perfect pilsner’ and its commitment to quality in brewing.”
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles & draft
Beer Finder –


Highland Brewing Company Brews 25th Anniversary Rustic IPA with Sierra Nevada

HBC_16oz_CanMockupHighland Brewing Company (Asheville, North Carolina) officially announced that it is brewing a new collaboration brew – Rustic IPA – today alongside Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, California | Mills River, North Carolina) and independent, family-owned hop and malt suppliers including Riverbend Malthouse, Briess Malting, Crosby Hop Farms, Roy Farms, and CLS Farms.

Brewed by Highland Brewing and Sierra Nevada – two multi-generational, independent craft breweries – with malt and hops exclusively sourced from independent, family-owned suppliers, Highland’s Rustic IPA 25th Anniversary Ale is a Hazy India Pale Ale featuring “experimental hops like Motueka, Zappa, Azacca, and Strata that lend notes of tropical fruit and lemongrass to the brew.”  A “hazy malt bill featuring flaked oats, rye, pilsner malt, and wheat” rounds out the recipe and further accentuates the beer’s “fruity hop character.”  Coming in at 5.8% ABV and 45 IBUs, Rustic IPA promises to be “a balanced showcase for the best of innovation and tradition from each of the collaborators.”

Brian Grossman, Family-Owner and Second-Generation Brewer for Sierra Nevada in Mills River, said, “When Sierra Nevada chose to build our second brewery in Asheville, Highland welcomed us with open arms. Being multigenerational, family-owned companies, we share similar values and experiences. We were proud to collaborate with our friends to brew a special beer to celebrate their 25th anniversary. “


“Good businesses are built on relationships and we genuinely enjoy and are proud of our relationships with Sierra Nevada and these suppliers,” said Family-Owner and President of Highland Brewing, Leah Ashburn. “Brian and I are in a small group of second-generation family leaders in craft beer and we intend to build a sustainable future for both our breweries. This collaboration beer celebrates that future.”

Rustic IPA will debut at Highland Brewing Company’s two-day anniversary festivities on May 3-4 and limited distribution is scheduled to follow the on-site release.  You can expect to find this special collaboration available in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina.  Prost!

Vital Information for Rustic IPA from Highland Brewing Company & Sierra Nevada 

Release – Limited, May 2019
Style – Hazy India Pale Ale
ABV – 5.8%
IBUs – 45
Hops – Motueka, Zappa, Azacca & Strata
Grains – Flaked Oats, Rye, Pilsner Malt & Wheat
Featured Malt & Hop Suppliers – Riverbend Malthouse, Briess Malting, Crosby Hop Farms, Roy Farms & CLS Farms
Availability – 4-packs of 16 oz. cans & draft
Distribution – Limited; North Carolina, Tennessee & South Carolina only

On the morning on March 19, representatives from Highland Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Riverbend Malthouse, Briess Malting, Crosby Hop Farms, Roy Farms, and CLS Farms gathered at Highland Brewing Company to mash in the brewery’s 25th Anniversary Ale – Rustic IPA.  Photo Credit: Highland Brewing

Tasting Notes: Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada & Weihenstephan

SNOFest2018PourThis year’s Oktoberfest celebration in Munich may have already come to a close, but we are doing our best to keep the party going by turning the focus of this week’s Tasting Notes to Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California) and Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (Freising, Germany).

Back in 2015, Sierra Nevada initiated a new approach to its seasonally released Oktoberfest offering by having its brewers explore the style’s various traditions through collaborations with some of the most respected breweries in Germany (2015 – Brauhaus Riegele; 2016 – Mahrs Bräu; 2017 –  Brauhaus Miltenberger).  For the 2018 release, Sierra Nevada teamed up with the world’s oldest brewery, Bavaria’s Weihenstephan, to create an “American take on the classic German Oktoberfest.”  What they came up with is a “crisp, clean, and drinkable crowd-pleaser” featuring a “malt backbone . . . balanced by subtle hop character.” Oktoberfest (2018) comes in at 6% ABV and 20 IBUs.

Although the 2018 run of Oktoberfest may be nearing its end, it will most assuredly still be pouring at the countless Oktoberfest celebrations that have yet to take place in the U.S. (this includes the one scheduled for October 13 at Sierra Nevada’s Mills River, North Carolina location).  You can also expect to find this Seasonal Release to be available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s nationwide distribution area.

Alright, that’s about enough with the particulars and background data.  It is definitely time to for us to lift some steins, destroy some pretzels and brats, and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. & Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan

Appearance: This Festbier is somewhere between amber and copper in color and is topped with right at a finger of wispy off-white foam.  When held to direct light, the color intensifies to become more of a rich golden to light copper.  The beer is perfectly clear, displaying the numerous streams of carbonation casually going about their business within.  Head retention is strong, slowly falling to a nearly complete top cap that leaves sporadic streaks of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma: The aromatics lead with comforting notes of bready malt, a touch of honey, and toasty grains.  A reserved and well-behaved mix of spicy, earthy and grassy hops then saunters in to lend some support and balance.  The aromas are beautifully simple and exactly what one might expect to get when putting his/her nose into a stein filled with Märzen.

Taste: Almost mirroring the nose, the flavor profile opens with a pronounced, yet somehow still mild malt character filled with bready notes, light caramel, a dollop of honey, and sweetly toasted cereal grains.  These malts come across as mild because they are expertly balanced by an incredibly nuanced hop presence featuring floral, spicy, grassy and herbal tones.  Incredibly clean and well-integrated, the lager yeast makes its presence known by pretty much not making its presence known (in other words, there are no off flavors or fruity notes).

Mouthfeel:  Medium in body with a slightly softer carbonation level than expected, this Festbier is easy-drinking but is comfortable taking its time when it comes to drying out.  The level of balance here is damn near perfection, riding that line between malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness with ease.  Leaving behind no trace of warmth/heat, the ABV feels much lighter than 6% and further adds to this beer’s overall drinkability. The aftertaste is just a slight amount of earthiness and bready malt.

Final Thoughts: When it comes to making Oktoberfests/Märzens, the goal is to end up with a malt-driven lager that has a level of drinkability suitable for long-haul-level sessions of consumption.  The flavors and aromatics should be malt forward, but they must not be overly sweet or cloying.  As far as the hops go, they should act as more of a delicate accompaniment that equips the beer with balance and that earthy, floral character that just makes you think of autumn.  If all of that falls into place properly, you are left with a beer that can be enjoyed stein after stein during the hours/days you spend celebrating Oktoberfest.

This Oktoberfest (2018) from Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephan exemplifies all the characteristics mentioned in the above paragraph.  It ticks each and every box an Oktoberfest/Märzen should, making it exactly what you would expect to get from two breweries of this caliber.  It is a spot-on representation of the style, and exceptional is a word that just barely scratches the surface when it comes to describing this beer.  Oktoberfest (2018) is absolutely something you need to get your hands on before its limited run is completed, so be sure to make that happen before it is too late.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Braupakt from Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada

braupaktpourThis installment of Tasting Notes has us closing out the week with an in-depth look at Braupakt, the highly-anticipated collaboration beer from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (Freising, Germany) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California).

When Weihenstephan – the World’s Oldest Brewery – and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – one of America’s pioneering craft brewers – come together to work on a collaboration project, it kind of goes without saying that the beer community is going to take notice.  The resulting beer that everyone is talking about is Braupakt (literally translates to mean “Brewery Pact” but is also a play on “America’s ‘bro pact’ vernacular for fraternal allegiances”), a Hefeweizen that introduces a style that is rich in German tradition – Weihenstephan’s area of expertise – to a carefully selected hop bill comprised of juicy American hops – Sierra Nevada’s playground –  that can both complement and accentuate the style’s classic flavors and aromatics.  When all is said and done, Braupakt promises to be a unique take on a classic style that will effortlessly reinforce both breweries’ reputations for “establishing brewing standards for their respective styles and . . . renowned . . . contributions to contemporary brewing techniques.”

Braupakt is currently available in the US and will hang around as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Limited Edition beer available in 6-packs of 11.2 oz. bottles (suggested retail price of $10.99) at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Weihenstephan’s nationwide distribution network.

Now that we are all up to speed on the particulars behind Braupakt, let’s break out the Weizen glasses and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Braupakt from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Appearance: Braupakt presents itself as a burnt orange in color that holds a darker amber tone at the core of the glass’s bulb.  When held to direct light, that amber core holds as vibrant orange and bright gold hues burst outward from the center.  The beer is appropriately cloudy for the style, but you can still see a dutiful carbonation presence rising up to feed the 3+ fingers of cream-colored head sitting above.  Head retention is extraordinary, gradually falling to a lasting, rocky finger that effortlessly coats the glass with gobs of lace throughout the experience.

Aroma:  The hops turn up first with a nice grapefruit presence that takes on notes of ripe to over ripe peach and melon.  Clove then works its way through and brings with it banana and bubblegum notes to establish a very pronounced Hefeweizen character. The aromatics close out with just a bit of honey-laced wheat and caramel.

Taste:  Although similar to the aroma, this beer’s flavors mix it up a bit by leading with those beautiful, trademark Hefeweizen notes of banana, bubblegum and clove.  The hops work their way out of the clove and fully engulf the palate with tones of peach, melon, apricot, lemon zest and grapefruit.  A touch of pine and black pepper slips in just before the beer finishes with some gently sweet notes of wheat and caramel.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium to medium-high carbonation level, this beer has a beautifully creamy texture that allows you to fully explore every aspect of each sip.  The hops supply a bit more bite than you would normally expect from a Hefeweizen, but they are held in check and gorgeously balanced by the sweeter banana notes from the yeast and caramel from the malts.  The ABV is tame at 6%, but it does allow for a touch of warmth in the throat.  The aftertaste is a welcomed, lingering presence of clove and peach.

Final Thoughts:  Braupakt delivers exactly what you hope would come from a brew day led by the master brewers at Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada.  They wrapped that legendary Hefeweizen base around some juicy American hops to offer just the right amount of invigorating brightness (citrus fruit and pine) while a stone fruit character (peach and apricot) actually accentuates and highlights the style’s more expected clove, banana and bubblegum tones. It is the best of both worlds meeting on middle ground.  Its Hefeweizen character is absolutely stunning and is not at all bullied by those American hops . . . but those juicy hops still find their moments to shine brilliantly through those Hefeweizen notes and elevate the overall experience.  These brewers were clearly looking for a sweet spot between the two, and they certainly found it in this artful composition.  Braupakt is not your everyday collaboration project and it certainly should not be missed.  Be sure to check it out before this Limited Release runs its course and disappears for good.  Prost!

Craft Brewers Nationwide Collaborate on Epic Bottle Auction For ‘We Are Stoneman Douglas’ Charity Event

50 vintage and rare signed bottles from over two dozen breweries will auction online to raise funds for victims’ families and survivors of the tragic Parkland, FL shooting.


OAKLAND PARK, FL (April 5, 2018) – Following the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida this past February, brewers from across the country are coming together to offer assistance and support to those affected most. Over two dozen brewers nationwide have donated rare and vintage bottles of beer — many of which are signed by owners, founders, and head brewers from companies such as Stone Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and more — in what has become an epic and unique lot of craft beer for the ages.

This lot is being auctioned online via the We Are Stoneman Douglas site (, click “Auction Items” on menu) with proceeds benefiting the Broward Education Foundation’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas fund. One hundred percent of all funds generated by this project will directly benefit the families of victims, survivors, and those affected by this tragedy. A second lot of signed barrel-aged and vintage beers from Funky Buddha Brewery, and a private dinner for 30, will also be auctioned.

This online auction (with over 50 other incredible auction items) is being organized by the Parkland Golf & Country Club located in Parkland, FL with assistance from Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, Florida. Individuals can bid on the online auctions through Sunday, April 8th. Due to regulations, these bottle lots will be available for local pickup only.

“This has been an amazing show of support and solidarity from brewers around the country, most of whom signed on and contributed unbelievable beers within minutes,” says Ryan Sentz, co-founder of Funky Buddha Brewery and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate. “Although this tragedy was horrific beyond words, we can take heart in the incredible response from the community and others that shows we have the strength and bravery to rise above it and make a true difference in people’s lives.”
Bottles include (pictured above):
Funky Buddha Lot:

**Editor’s Note: The writers at Mashing In typically prefer to write their own content, but we all decided it was best to immediately post this press release verbatim due to its important subject matter and the timely nature of this auction.**

Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada Collaborate To Create Braupakt

BraupaktBavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (Freising, Germany) has officially announced plans to introduce U.S. beer drinkers to Braupakt, a limited edition Hefeweissbier brewed in collaboration with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California), in April 2018.

In what is being referred to as a “dream-team partnership”, representatives from Weihenstephan and Sierra Nevada “spent the better part of 2017 on recipe development” so that the highly-anticipated Braupakt would properly represent both breweries’ reputations for “establishing brewing standards for their respective styles and . . . renowned . . . contributions to contemporary brewing techniques.”  They achieved this by creating a “fruity-hoppy” Hefeweizen “brewed with the Hallertauer Tradition hop and refined with American West Coast Amarillo and Chinook hops.”  New and old-world traditions unite to yield a Braupakt (6% ABV) that is “naturally cloudy . . . and smells of peach, apricot and citrus fruits with a fine banana yeast note as well as a refreshing grapefruit note from the Chinook hops.” Those aromas carry over into the flavor and showcase “the fruity peach and apricot taste of the Amarillo hops . . . complemented by the mild sweetness of the used caramel malt.”

“This is the first time Sierra Nevada chose to partner with a long-established brewery,” noted Tobias Zollo, brewmaster at Weihenstephan. “Both breweries had something to glean and gain from the other. We came in with high standards for the Hefeweissbier style. Sierra Nevada, who is world-renowned for the Pale Ale style, came in with the discerning palettes for fruity and aromatic-bodied beers. With Braupakt, we were able to exceed the expectations of both breweries.”

The U.S. release of Braupakt will officially begin in April.  You can expect to find this Limited Edition beer available in 6-packs of 0.33l (or 11.2 oz.) bottles at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Weihenstephan’s nationwide distribution network. Prost!

Vital Information for Braupakt from Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan & Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Release – Limited/Collaboration, April 2018
Style – Hefeweizen 
ABV – 6%
IBUs – 35
Malts – Wheat, Light and Dark Barley, & Caramel 
Hops – Hallertauer Tradition, Amarillo & Chinook 
Suggested Food Pairings – “Fits exotic and spicy-hot dishes with fish, meat and seafood.”
Fun Fact – On the beer’s name: “Braupakt (literally translated; Brewery Pact) merges “old world” purity standards and brewing methodologies with “new world” innovation and hop flavors. The name plays on America’s “bro pact” vernacular for fraternal allegiances and the label features the imperial Bavarian bear sporting a “hang loose” gesture.”
Availability – 6-packs of 0.33l bottles 
Beer Finder –


Tasting Notes – The Classics: Bigfoot (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Bigfootpour1000This week’s installment of Tasting Notes has us revisiting an old favorite as we get into a pour of the iconic Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California).

The legend of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot started in 1983 and has since grown to establish this beastly Barleywine as a cult classic in the American craft beer community.  This strong and robust American-style Barleywine reached this status by showcasing “bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops.”  Since it weighs in at an imposing 9.6% ABV and possesses a substantial hop bill, Bigfoot can either be enjoyed fresh or it can age “like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle.”

Although we are stepping back a year in time for these Tasting Notes, the 2018 vintage of Bigfoot is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s expansive distribution area.

Now that we have covered the history of this classic, let’s grab a glass and sit down to some Tasting Notes with the Bigfoot.

Tasting Notes for Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Appearance:  Bigfoot fills the glass as a dark caramel-colored brew that has a reddish undertone to it.  When held to direct light, that caramel tone softens a bit and its red hue shifts to become more of a vibrant copper.  The beer is pristine in clarity and shows a good amount of tiny bubbles streaming skyward.  The pour produced just over a finger of tight, sandy-colored foam that has fantastic retention and thoroughly coats the glass with chunky gobs of lace.

Aroma:  The aromatics on this beer are gorgeously distinct and aggressively storm the nose as soon as its cap is removed.  There is a firm earthy layer up front that is both floral and piney.  Those notes are then followed by sweet tones of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee.  A touch of dark fruit and a bright burst of citrus character smooth it all out to close the profile.

Taste:  Resinous pine strikes the palate first with a hoppy bite that is then quickly tempered by a sweet and sturdy malt backbone of toffee and caramel.  Dark fruits – mostly reading as sticky, caramelized dates – then emerge and bring with them some more earthy and floral characteristics from the hops.  Gaining a second wind, the hops assert themselves once again by saturating the finish with a parting dose of grapefruit-laced pine.  Absolutely delicious.

Mouthfeel:  Full-bodied with a mild carbonation, Bigfoot has a hefty weight to it and sticks a bit on the palate. Even after a year, the hops still have a good amount of bite to them, but an underlying sweetness is there to do what it can in providing some balance.  As expected, that 9.6% ABV brings with it a building heat that settles in the throat and radiates down to the belly.  The aftertaste is a long lingering note of pine.

Final Thoughts:  There is a lengthy list of reasons for why Bigfoot is so respected and beloved, but its unwavering degree of consistency must be near the top of that list.  Year in and year out, fans of this American-style Barleywine just know that it is going to be aggressively and deliciously hop-laden when fresh but still has the potential to turn into a balanced, sweet sipper over time.  Those of us who cellar beer rest easy knowing that there will be no surprises with this brew as we stash a sixer or case of each vintage away for years on end.  It is just a given that our Bigfoot cache will effortlessly evolve into a steady progression of captivating flavors and aromas as the years tick by, and I think many of us take the beauty of that for granted at times.  Sierra Nevada has achieved an artful level of craftsmanship with Bigfoot that unquestionably holds its own against time, and – for that reason – it has inspired countless brewers to create their own American Barleywines over the last 35 years.  Bigfoot truly is a standard for its style and the craft of American brewing in general, and that is why it deserves our attention, appreciation and praise with each year’s release.  That is why it is a classic.  Prost!