Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Drinking, again! If it's January, it's ...

What is...
  • 12,400 gallons of wort.

  • 1,216 pounds of whole cone hops.

  • 1,000 pounds of top-fermenting ale yeast.

  • 6 days of primary fermentation, in open fermenters.

    • Beginning Gravity: 23 °Plato
    • Ending Gravity: 6.0 °Plato
    • Alcohol: 9.6% by volume
    • Bittering: 90 IBUs
    • Malts: Two-row Barley Malt, English Caramel Malt, Dextrin Malt
    • Bittering Hops: Chinook
    • Finishing Hops: Cascade, Centennial
    • Dry Hops: Centennial, Cascade, Chinook

It's Bigfoot Barley Wine, which, since 1983, Sierra Nevada Brewing (Chico, California) has released once a year, every year, in January. It was 'Imperial' before Imperial was a thing.

And, being a barley wine —not a wine, but a beer approaching wine strength— Bigfoot can be cellared, stashed away for a rainy day, and enjoyed, evolved, several years later.

Cellared beers
What many consider to be the quintessential American barley wine, Bigfoot pairs an intense amount of hops with a significant malty richness and high ABV. [...]

Founders Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi didn't intend for Bigfoot to be aged, but enjoyed fresh to capture it's extreme hop character. It wasn't long, though, until curious beer cellarers began stashing away a bottle or two from their six-packs. And what was discovered that this beer undergoes a remarkable transformation.[...]

The dried fruit and toffee flavors so omnipresent in many aged English barley wines never amount to much in this beer. [...] However it does something that the English barley wines never pull off, and that is to combine quality aged malt flavors (sherry) and an extraordinary hop presence [...] along with relatively minimal cardboard flavor. [...]

This American barley wine is best at five years old.
—Patrick Dawson, Vintage Beer.

If the past thirty-one iterations of Bigfoot are any indication, 2015's will be good, nay, extraordinary. And in reviewing it, I'm given the occasion to gleefully write, with proper grammar ... Bigfoots.

  • The music under the video is Edvard Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King, from his Peer Gynt Suite, composed in 1876. Watch on YouTube: here.
  • The other bottle in the photo is Thomas Hardy's Ale, a no-longer-brewed English barley wine. In contrast to Bigfoot, more fruity and vinous, less hoppy. (Notice the 'cellar' dust.)
  • Drinking , Again is a series of occasional reviews of beer (and wine and spirits). No scores; only descriptions.
  • Graphic created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

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