Soccer and beer are certainly not odd bedfellows. There always seems to be some cross-pollination going on between these two realms. Whenever I go to tailgate parties at soccer matches (yes, we soccer lovers do tailgate), I unfailingly see soccer fanaticos drinking high quality brew. And when I go to craft beer events, it's not unusual for me to see some beer geek sporting a soccer jersey. I've never been able to figure out the precise reason why there are so many hybrid beer/soccer geeks. Perhaps the reason is that, in this country, it takes a certain measure of independent thinking to love soccer. I find that to be true with craft beer lovers as well.
During our most recent roundtable, which we strategically planned at BadaBoomz so we could watch our national soccer team take on the Mexican National Team in an exhibition match (in hi-def on a big screen, thanks to ESPN2 and the ever classy Mike DeWeese), the beer geek in the soccer jersey was Mike, decked out in the shirt of Fulham FC striker and American international Clint Dempsey, with whom Kelly appears to be smitten. While the match ended in a 2-2 draw, the game was entertaining, as USA v. Mexico matches often are.
We reviewed the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale. We sampled the 2000 edition of this beer, which has garnered loads of praise from other beer reviewers. The Bigfoot poured with a medium off-white head and a ruby color. The nose was heavy with toasted malt notes accompanied by a prevalent graham cracker character. Medium in mouthfeel, the beer's flavor followed the nose with a cookie-like taste. While this barleywine had been cellar-aged for nearly eight years, this aging had not mellowed the alcohol presence in the beer because I clearly tasted the alcohol. Maybe the alcohol taste came through so clearly due to the beer's style since barleywines (at least, in my experience) tend to show their alcohol character prevalently.
Though I was impressed with the Bigfoot, I was not blown away. Perhaps this was so because I think the serving temperature was initially too cold. The character of the beer, however, improved by the time I was down to the last 1/4 of the glass. I've got to admit that my rating is also colored by the fact that I'm not a big fan of the barleywine style. Still, a very good beer that I would definitely give another shot. 3.275 mugs.
We read our readers' blogs, and from time to time it rubs off, either consciously or unconsciously. So after we'd found out our first choice (Kasteel Rouge) wasn't available, we tossed the menus around until something stuck. I don't know who suggested it, but it was probably me, and we ended up drinking the vintage 2000 Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barleywine.
If anything, it's quite obvious that the brewers behind Bigfoot learned a valuable lesson from 1987's greatest film, Harry and the Hendersons. Like the film's main character, Bigfoot starts out untamed and ferocious, with a nose that jumps right out of the glass and tears up your house. But behind that tough front are hints of a sweet sugary nose. Like Harry, the beer can't help but be a little wild and punchy, but there's also a sweetness, with smooth molasses and toffee notes. After you get past the tough exterior, you realize that Sierra Nevada got it right. And Bigfoot's cloudy caramel color matches Harry's face - thus proving that Sierra Nevada always had him in mind.
If you recall the movie, in the end the Henderson's decide that the best thing for Harry is to return him to the wild, where we find out there's an entire army of Harrys, ready for the snatching. If you head to PartyPak, they're sitting there waiting - I brought a 2008 edition home this past weekend. 3.75 Mugs.
Watching the National Team play is always entertaining and it's nice to know that there are places in the city that offer the opportunity to do so while enjoying good beer. This is especially true whenever they are taking on Mexico, even if the game ends in a tie.
I must say I was a little disappointed that the keg of Kasteel Rouge was gone. I have been enamored with it since I tried it a few months ago. Fortunately, Party Pak served me well once again, and I now have some in my fridge. But I digress...
As the Bigfoot Barleywine Ale arrived and we started pouring, I was completely overwhelmed with the heavy alcohol smell. On average, my initial feeling with these styles of beers is dread, as the overly alcoholic nose and the often sickly-sweet taste make the beer rather difficult to finish. I was very pleased to learn that this just simply wasn't the case with this aged Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot. Despite the ever-present alcohol nose, the flavor was more mellow than I would have thought, which I suspect is due to the 7+ years of aging this particular beer went through. I was pleased with this and I am anxious to see how much difference there is with something more recent. 3.25 Mugs.
This is my favorite cryptozoologically themed alcoholic beverage. I've tried Chupacabra brand malt liquor and Jersey Devil's Reserve Scotch, but I found both to be bottles of hyped-up novelty, with little flavor or conferral of supernatural powers. That said, I'm still among the unconverted when it comes to barleywines. Being a beer geek has given me the opportunity to acquire the taste for IPAs and Belgian beers, which I had eschewed in the past. I haven't had enough of a range of barleywines to appreciate the differences within the style.
I found it to be an agreeable beverage, although a whole bottle is a bit much, since I ended up drinking most of Kelly's half of the bottle we split. It poured out dark brown, and cloudy. The nose bloomed out of the glass and revealed a lot of alcohol. I also detected chocolate, which was also reflected by a sweet somewhat cake-y taste. I was pleasantly surprised by a hoppy finish. I think Leonard Nimoy should bring back "In Search Of…" and drink a few of these before telling us the tale of the Philadelphia Experiment. I give this a 3.5, and look forward to becoming better acquainted with this style.