Feb 24, 2014

The Beer Czar's Vertical Bigfoot Tasting

For those of you that pay attention to this blog, you know I recently hosted a vertical tasting of one of my favorite beers, Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot barelywine. For those of you that do not know what a vertical tasting is, its basically a tasting of the same beer, over a period of different years, or "vintages". For this tasting, I had saved samples of Bigfoot from years ranging from 2009 to present. Six years of bigfoot! This was the first vertical tasting I ever hosted, and I learned a few things.....

One of the things I learned, that seems obvious, keep it small. I've hosted a number of tastings and beer parties of various sizes. While they are all fun, to me, the small, more personal and intimate settings are what works the best, for "serious" tastings. We hosted a summer beer tasting that was a TOTAL blast, sampling some 20+ beers, with upwards of 50 people. It was a great time, but a lot of work, and planning. At the bigfoot tasting, we had just 9 people total. Small enough for all of us to be able to sit around a couple of tables, in our living room, and all talk and discuss the beers we were enjoying without the need to yell across the house.

Second, know a lot about what you are serving, or do what I did and invite someone that does! One of those in attendance was
Ben VanderMeer. For those in the "community" know that Ben is our local rep for Sierra Nevada. I will also say, having an expert there in not only the beer we were having, but the company that makes it was just awesome. Not only was he able to tell us much about the beer, and the brewing process, he was also telling us tid bits like Sierra Nevada's founder Ken Grossman's own preference on how, and when is the best time to drink Bigfoot! Not only was Ben an amazing resource of information about Bigfoot, Sierra Nevada, and the Arizona beer scene in general, he also brought a few unexpected treats to the party, mainly, a bottle of 2010 Barrel Aged Bigfoot (aged in Whiskey barrels!) which was nothing short of amazing! He also brought a few goodies for the tasting attendees (Sierra Nevada glasses) and even some d├ęcor for the party! Thank you SO much Ben, it was great to finally meet you, and I would like you to know you are welcome here anytime!

The thing I learned the most from this tasting, and to me, is the reason why you do this sort of thing is  if you want to enjoy Bigfoot barelywine at its absolute best, let it sit for at least 2 years! This was the first time I ever had an aged bigfoot. Normally, I buy it, and drink it (with the exception to the six I set aside every year). I heard it ages well, and decided I would start cellaring it, until I had a complete "vertical six pack". Once that happened, I knew I wanted to host a tasting party.

Like I said previously, this was a small event (just 9 people) mostly due to the limited space we had, and the limited amount of beer I had set aside (maybe I should set aside a 12 pack from now on??). So, myself, my wife, and a few of our close friends (all fans of beer, and trying new beers) and Ben all gathered around the table, settled in and enjoyed 6 years worth of this amazing beer. Just looking at the six sample glasses in front of me you could just SEE the difference. It seemed the older the vintage, the darker the beer got. All while maintaining that slightly yellow, almost manila colored hear. An aroma seemed to sweeten as well as the years go by. The big hoppy nose sort of steps aside, giving way to a more balanced, caramely sweet smell. The flavor follows suit as well. While the big, in your face hoppy character maintains throughout the years, it does mellow a bit, and balances out nicely letting in more of that malty character. My favorite years were the 2012, and the 2010. Both were just a smooth, sweet, cup full of hoppy sweet goodness!

We finished off the evening with a small glass of whiskey barrel aged bigfoot that Ben provided. This beer was nothing short of amazing to me! You could smell the huge woody aroma wafting from this beer! You could taste the whiskey the very moment it touched your lips. What I loved most about it was the fact it left that warm tingly feeling in your mouth, the same one you get when you take a sip of fine whiskey or bourbon. Truly spectacular beer, again, thank you SO much Ben for brining that to the table!

So, again, my advice to you, when you buy bigfoot, try setting some aside for a year, or 2, or 4. You will be amazed at the subtle, yet very perceptible changes that take place in this beer. I know it takes an amazing amount of while power, but it is worth it, trust me!

I want to thank every one that was there, Daniell, Bobby, Chris, Julie, Nate, Sabrina and Ben, and especially my wife, Mrs. Czar for making this such a fun, and educational and stress free evening. I can't thank you all enough, and I can't wait to do it again, maybe next year???

You can see a complete set of photos from the event on our Facebook page here (like us while you are there if you haven't already!)

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar




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