I'm slowly working my way through the Sierra Nevada range, and this is another new style for me: a Barleywine style beer.
Well, it definitely looks good with its dark copper and ruby colour, topped off with a thick, soapy head that sticks to the glass. The nose is intense with a healthy amount of orange zest and pineapple. A touch of tropical fruit is evident, but the winner is the toasted malt mixes brilliantly with the alcohol to give a rich, sweet, malty aroma.
The taste is just as vibrant and aggressive, but in a good way! Thick, chewy malt base of toffee, toasted grains with lashings of booze soaked cherries and prunes. The hop flavour then kicks in to give grapefruit and pineapple, before a wonderful finish of spicy grass, fruity tartness, some citrus pith and a good helping of resinous hop flavour that lingers forever.
This is at the top end of what one might consider full bodied. The mouthfeel is thick, rich, boozy, sweet, chewy and a bunch of other adjectives which I can't be bothered to type. The carbonation is spot on, and the balance of malt and hops is brilliant. Perhaps the ABV is a tad on the strong side, and it is ever-present on the palate, but it seems intentional as it fires the flavours up to 11.
Brilliant, it's just a shame that I probably won't get to have this again... Booooo!