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Feb 18, 2000 11:25 AM

The Bigfoot is Back!!!!

  • m

It tastes very similar to prior years product.
With 2 cases of the MONSTER from the Brooklyn Brewery resting in my cellar, too little too late?

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  1. Mr. W is talking favorite style of beer. Everything's "turned up to 11", as they said in Spinal Tap. EXTREMELY strong, extremely bitter, extremely sweet, extremely complex, extremely heavy. The sweetness doesn't cloy because there's so much mitigating hop bitterness. It's beer, not wine, but at 11% in alcohol, the effect's more similar to wine.

    if anyone would like to have an EXCELLENT education in the style (just promise me you won't try to drive home), check out this GREAT event (several of the beers listed are holy grails; all are rare):


    march 11, 2000
    No cover

    mug's ale house
    125 Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn

    america's favorite barleywine gathering
    is invading new york city

    jim anderson returns to the big apple with an amazing
    selection of 8 barleywines, loosely interpreted, from
    near and far

    all draft, all skullsplitting

    the lineup
    brooklyn monster 1998
    new york

    victory old horizontal, cask-conditioned

    smuttynose barleywine
    new hampshire

    sierra nevada bigfoot 1998

    j.w. lee's harvest ale 1997, cask-conditioned in wood

    savage belgian-style grand cru

    weyerbacher blithering idiot

    longshore leviathan 1998, cask-conditioned
    new york

    16 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Big Dog said: 'The sweetness doesn't cloy because there's so much mitigating hop bitterness.'

      This is true of many American barley wines, but the classic British barley wines are much more malt-accented, and aren't to my taste because of it. I think the Americans made a great contribution with hoppy west-coast barley wines like Bigfoot and Old Crustacean. The only problem is that the hopping makes them waaayyyy too drinkable. And Bardo used to serve them like all their other beers -- in a pint glass.

      1. re: Jim Dorsch

        Jim, while of course you're right that American barley wines are more bitter than the British ones (easy rule of thumb to determine where your barley wine is from: American tastes like grapefruit, British like Tootsie Rolls), I don't find the British variety cloying.

        The Brits don't have the bitter tang to balance the residual sugar that Americans do, but there is a deeper complexity that does a fine job (to my taste) of providing context for the sweetness (and the alcoholic wallop) so it doesn't come off as overly simple and sort of hollowly "sweet".

        I love both styles, even though they're quite different. But I will concede this: with the possible exception of Sierra Nevada's revisionist version of British pale ale, America's twist on the barley wine formula is the most important contribution this country has made to brewing.

        (sorry folks...just two beer geeks talking here...feel free to move on to the next thread if you wanna...)


        1. re: Jim Leff

          I was fortunate to put aside 2 cases of the MONSTER, from Brooklyn Brewery (s) contract brewer... Brewed up in UTICA, NY. Yeah, I know, that same brewery makes UTICA CLUB beer.. a long way in style from Brooklyn's other offerings... The MONSTER is showing some mellowing (!) Not quite as HOPPY as when it was fresh.
          The BIGFOOT is super hoppy, almost GREEN in flavor.
          A must try on draft.
          Great in the bottle.

          1. re: Mr. W

            I thought the monster was made in Brooklyn and only the lager and brown ale were made in Utica...???

            1. re: Jim Leff

              looking at the label, it clearly reads Utica New York.

              1. re: Mr. W.

                that's so strange...they usually brew their limited edition stuff in brooklyn....and I know that this beer is the one closest to the brewmaster's heart. Wonder why he's having it contract brewed (that's Matt's brewery in Utica, fwiw)?

                Jim Dorsch, you know about this?

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  I'm not sure which Brooklyn beers are done in Utica. I expect that anything done in a reasonable quantity would be done there, as the Black Chocolate Stout is. For that matter, do they have a bottling line in Brooklyn?

                  We could check with Garrett Oliver on this.

                  Speaking of barley wines, here in the DC area, Old Dominion does their Millennium (named for their thousandth brew, not the overhyped, year-too-early millennium), a barley wine made with a bit of honey and plenty of hops. The honey lightens the body and tones down the barley wine flavors. I personally like Bigfoot better, but there are plenty of devotees of Millennium, and rightfully so.

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    ah, that's right, thanks, Jim. I forgot (been concentrating on food for too long; am forgetting my beer facts) that the brooklyn brewery is for kegs and casks, not for bottles (which are done upstate).

                    ;...which is one reason why the Black Chocolate Stout and Monster taste so different on tap than in bottle.

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      Interesting about the keg/vs. bottle stuff.
                      BTW, I spent a lovely afternoon at the "MONKS" Cafe in Philadelphia on Monday. If you haven't been, do a name search on Yahoo for Monks Cafe. Read the facinating Beer Bible.. All on line.
                      They have more Belgian Beers than most places in the USA, and so close to NYC!
                      Plus, NO BUD, BUDLITE, or COORS!!

          2. re: Jim Leff

            I don't know how I missed your reply for two days ... anyhow, yes, you're right that the British barley wines aren't cloyingly sweet, not necessarily, anyway. And I like the grapefruit/tootsie roll comparison! I suppose that especially when an American-style b-wine is young, one could certainly claim the British one was more profound.

            Naturally, to this one-dimensional hophead, the American barley wine is preferable.

            BTW, Jim, if you haven't already done so, try Arrogant Bastard ale from San Diego's Stone Brewing Co. It's the most Dremoish beer I've had from a bottle.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              "I suppose that especially when an American-style b-wine is young..."

              as they unfortunately usually are!

              " could certainly claim the British one was more profound"

              It's ironic that the Americans have evolved this great new wrinkle on barleywines, but that it requires several years of aging to make it work...and everything about the American beer biz discourages this kind of aging!

              Yeah, Jim, you're such a hop-head that I'm always expecting you to up and move to the Pacific Northwest!


              1. re: Jim Leff

                'It's ironic that the Americans have evolved this great new wrinkle on barleywines, but that it requires several years of aging to make it work...and everything about the American beer biz discourages this kind of aging!'

                Steve Harrison at Sierra Nevada says the brewery folks like Bigfoot when it's so young that the hop oils stick to the lips. I have no problem with that, of course!

                By coincidence, the Toronado in SF just ran their annual barley wine festival. Our friend Tom Dalldorf writes in BeerWeek that Anderson Valley's Horn of the Beer took first place.

        2. re: Jim Leff

          wow! this sounds *amazing*. big dog (or anyone), can you recommend a good source for info on beer tastings/events such as this one (esp. in the nyc area)?


          1. re: felicia


            I've toyed with the idea of providing more beer info here on chowhound, but I think it's best not to to try to broaden the scope too far...I kind of like it narrow and focused.

            you can try the NYC Beer page at, but they don't update much. There's also Ale STreet News, a pretty horrible newspaper about beer that nontheless has lots of useful ads and schedules for events.

            Sorry I can't be more helpful. Really, the best thing to do is hang out at a serious beer bar (DBA, Waterfront Ale House, Blind Tiger) and ask the serious guys at the bar what's coming up.

            the main thing not to miss: several times per year, good beer bars, as a loss-leader, import casks from england. Results are amazing.


            1. re: Jim Leff

              I see that some gravity-fed kegs of Reissdorf Koelsch will arrive in late April. I've rarely had Koelsch myself, and I've never had it dispensed in this way, which apparently is the norm in Koeln's Koelsch houses. I imagine some of this will show up at dba. I wonder if they'll serve it in those cylindrical 20cl glasses.

              1. re: Jim Leff
                Josh Mittleman

                It's true that isn't too active these days,
                but the one thing that does get updated regularly is
                the upcoming events list. The barleywine tasting
                is posted there, and every other relevent event we hear about.

          2. Age-ing rather nicely now... The bigfoot from 2 years ago, a little softer and less hoppy, but still a GIGANTIC carmel nose and hot with alcohol.. Last years version is still very young, I'll drink some at the end of the summer.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mr. W.

              The folks at the brewery claim they like their Bigfoot young, when the hop oils coat the lips. I have to say I like it young myself, but certainly there are lots of folks who lay it down like you do.