Sierra Nevada Jack & Ken’s Ale

Then it was time for number three from Sierra Nevada. I just grabbed this bottle from Alvey at The Four Firkins yesterday and after hearing his praise on top of my overall excitement for the beer I can’t wait to get into it. This time around it is a Barleywine and a tribute to Jack McAuliffe who is credited for creating the first US microbrewery; New Albion in 1977 which operated until 1982. For which he more recently received a Recognition award from the Brewers Association (the trade organization that represents American craft brewers) in 2007. If this brew manages to be anywhere near as good as their well known Big Foot Barleywine I will be a happy man.

Pours a very dark, almost pitch black hue that is completely opaque. Over four fingers of tight creamy off white, almost tan head are produced and don’t dissipate for quite some time. As it slowly dissipates a good deal of lacing stays around the entire glass leaving a few millimeters of perpetual carbonation on the surface of this ale. Aroma is massive and fantastic. Notes of chocolate, molassas, toffee and modest bitterness contrast with solid malty sweetness and roasted grain esters. Flavor consists of deliciously rich coffee, butterscotch, caramel and a fantastic play of bitter roasted malt notes and bitter and citrus hop esters. As it warms plum and other dark pitted fruits become more prevalent and bring in some expected flavors of the style. Body is medium and the mouthfeel is smooth and slightly creamy. At 10.2% ABV this is certainly a slow drinker but it is in no way overwhelming or hot. For those accustomed to Sierra Nevada’s classic Big Foot, this beer is quite a bit richer with a great deal of sweet malt esters such as caramel & butterscotch, much stronger coffee notes and a distinctive plum character as it warms. The hops also play quite differently with the citrus notes being more notable and the bitterness still similarly intense though contrasting differently with the variety of sweet malt esters present. If you enjoy well crafted Barleywines done in an American style and aren’t afraid of some contrasting bitterness this might just be right up your alley. Give it a shot and ride your bike.

Sierra Nevada Jack & Ken's Ale

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