tbookman (618) - Ephrata, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 19, 2003
4.5 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
2002: Deep amber/red color, thinly laced head, and HOPS HOPS HOPS! Needs to age some before it's at it's peak - the first few sips are acidic and almost unpleasantly bitter. Settles down a bit after that, though and is terrific. This beer give you a lot to chew on. Very nicely done Sierra!
urbnhautebourg (997) - Annapolis, Maryland, USA - FEB 18, 2003
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
UPDATED: MAY 25, 2003 Fresh sample exhibits overpowering bitterness--the most bitter beer I've ever had. Tremendous, lovely fresh hop character and big sweet burly malt. Historically one of my favorite beers, but with the advent of Old Horizontal, Dogfishhead, and others that exhibit all the flavor without the over-the-top bitterness, this one suffers. Obviously, this will age nicely, when the bitterness softens it will be great.
desurfer (1244) - Melbourne, Florida, USA - FEB 15, 2003
4.4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: FEB 19, 2006 2006: Seems to me less hoppy and more alcoholic than previous vintages. Thereís lots of rich, syrupy maltiness with a smoky character which completely overwhelms whatever hops are present. Still great. 2005: A perennial hop monster! Iíve finally put a bottle away so I can see how well it ages. 2004: This years version has toned down the hop attack tremendously. I think it is a much better beer now due to this. 2003: Wow. Poured a deep caramel red with a small tan head. Rich fruity aroma, a complete hops explosion in flavor, with a bitter aftertaste and some malt sweetness. Alcohol content is very well masked.
bubslang (438) - Kentwood, Michigan, USA - FEB 15, 2003
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
2003: poured a dark amber with a medium sized tan head. strong floral hop aroma with a hint of sweet malt. taste is of hops, some caramel malt sweetness, and fruit. alcohol is well hidden. a very tasty brew that should only get better with age
apoptosis (1317) - Denver, Colorado, USA - FEB 15, 2003
4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
2003: Very hoppy and only fraction of the sweetness I usually find in Barley Wines. Aroma is highly alcoholic, fruity and full of caramel. The combination of the hops and the fruits works well, I think, although it takes a little getting used to. Dark amber body, lush, frothy white head. Decent, but I am looking forward to aging this a little bit more.
dorkasaurus (15) - Madison, Wisconsin, USA - FEB 14, 2003
4.1 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
wow...I shouldn't even be rating this now but its killer. I'm talking about the 2003 but all bottlings back to my first in 1995 have been similar. Huge, hoppy and robust. Full of flavor with a long finish and no complaints. This beer is steady. At 9.6 it should burn but it doesn't its just lucious.
notalush (5159) - Denver, Colorado, USA - FEB 13, 2003
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: FEB 15, 2003 OK, I love hops and all, but does Seirra Nevada have to put so many into ALL of their beers, regardless of style? The hop character is great in their pale ale and celebration ale, but it ruined the stout for me, and it pretty much ruins this one for me, too. It has a fruity, almost vinous aroma, with hints of alcohol. The flavor has some malty, sticky sweetness, with some fruity esters, but the hops kick the crap out them, steal their lunch money, and force them to hide in the background. I think this will be great with some age, if the hop character mellows out, but my young sample isn't all that great. [re-rate, original: 3.4] Alright, after some consideration, and several additional tasting, I must appraciate this beer for what it is, and not penalize it for what it is not. I am quite the hop head, and this has hops out the wazoo, and it has enough malt to satisfy the malt lover as well, so it is really the best of both worlds. I need to pick up SEVERAL more six packs, some for drinking, some for aging, because I know this will be great for years to come.
robertjm (781) - Albany, California, USA - FEB 11, 2003
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: JAN 31, 2007 I really love this stuff, but have to warn you if you donít like hops, DONíT buy this beer. Thereís malt in there too. Dark carmely color. Wonderful aromatic head. UPDATE: Tonight I broke into my beer vault and opened a six year old bottle (vintage 2000) to see how it aged. Wow!! Carbonattion was that of a fresh bottle. In fact thereís still foam there several minutes later. Whatís really interesting is the pronounced hop bitterness has really mellowed out and the pronounced flavor is that of chocolate and roasted malts instead. Much more raisiny. Reminds me of Old Nick, one of my other favorite barleywines!!
UPDATE: Tonight I tasted a bottle of 1998 vintage I had stowed away. Hops are mostly there in the aftertaste with a wonderful malty taste to begin with. This stuff just keeps getting better with age!!
Zach Diesel (906) - Sisters, Oregon, USA - FEB 11, 2003
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
strong hoppy aroma, looks awesome, sticky and super hoppy with some lasting bitters and a nice masking job on the 9.6%
pint4pint (4) - USA - FEB 8, 2003 does not count
4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
A lateral tasting of six years - 2003, 2003, 2003, 2003, 2003, & 2003. Found the 2003 to have a nice floral aroma from the Centennial & Cascade hops. While some may find this to lack balance, I enjoy the malt sweetness that lies just beneath the wall of hop bitterness that creates a symphony for me. I roll a bit across my tongue and get a slightly salty note, followed by an ever changing bitter evolution. Some grapefruit, but some nuts and plum. Acidic, but in a way that begs me to just kep sipping. You like lacing? This will stand right up there with any Belgian. Some disagree with the barleywine nomenclature. I know that it certainly isn't like any of the English that I've sampled, but being that I tried this prior to sampling any other - I am left thinking this must be the place. And on to the next 2003 - After one I notice that this seems all the smoother. The bitterness has subsided a tad and I detect a bit more fruityness. Much easier to quaff and he glass grows from half full to half empty and I don't feel the least bit pessamistic. Now for the 2003 - This is really good stuff! I could grow to like this. The movie I'm watching is suddenly eimbued with a meaning I never suspected. A glow comes from the screen and the world feels right. Think I'll try that bottle of 2003. The neighbors better mind their own fucking business. I can listen at any fucking volume I damn well please. Yeh, time to try that bottle of 2003 that I've been waiting for. Why is this glass so goddamn sticky? pOuR thE sHiT in My lAp if I feEL likE iT. I sAid this was gOod, DO you HEAR mE? Gunna try that last bottle Of 2003 that I've cellared alL of a week. Cops betTer stOp bAngiNg. I'll show WhO"s GeTtiNg TheiR AsS KicKeD. I caN't FucKing driNk wiTh cuFfs on AssholE! You SpILL Y gODDAmN bEeR AND iT's all oVeR.....