Sep 21, 2010

Sierra Nevada Jack and Ken’s Ale

Label for Sierra Nevada Jack and Ken's Ale

SierraNeveda’s Jack and Ken’s Ale is the third of the brewery’s four 30th Anniversary releases (the fourth coming in a month or so). As with all the beers in the limited series, this brew is another collaboration. This time Ken Grossman gets together with legendary microbrewer Jack McAuliffe in an attempt to capture the revolutionary beers that were being created at Jack’s New Albion Brewery during the formative years of American craft beer history.

Weighing in at 10.2% ABV, this big beer is billed as a black barleywine and brewed with 100% American Cascade hops. The result of this collaboration is a complex brew with a good roasted character and an aggressive hop presence. I loved the stout that the brewery featured in this series, but this barleywine may well be my favorite so far.


This “black barleywine” certainly fits the moniker Sierra Nevada has given it. It pours a dark, dark brown with ruby highlights when held up to the light. The late forming head was creamy and light tan in color, holding together nicely through the life of the beer.


Roasted, smoky malts are the first thing to fill my nose followed by a good dose of pine and resiny hoppiness. There’s a light sweetness and a roasted coffee character to it, as well. The alcohol is present on the nose, but far from detracting.


First off, this brew has a pretty fully mouthfeel for a barleywine. Given it’s appearance in the glass, the roasty malts and its fullness, this could be mistaken for a light porter. The malts hit quickly up front but are rapidly overtaken by an assertive piny, hop bitterness which lingers for a good while into the semi-dry finish. There’s a bit of residual sweetness that sticks around with the glowing warmth from the higher alcohol content. The coffee notes from the nose are certainly in the mix as this well balanced beer travels over the tongue.


Dark, roasty and full like a porter, but with the more aggressive hop profile of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine, this third anniversary release is a special beer indeed. It’s well balanced for as complex as it is and should prove to age nicely — good thing I have a couple of bottles tucked away.

Rating: 4/5

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