Craft beer pioneer Sierra Nevada has teamed with Buffalo Trace on the brewery’s latest Bigfoot Barleywine Ale, unveiling an E.H. Taylor barrel influenced product with a solid 15% ABV punch.
The new Colonel E.H. Taylor Bourbon Barrel-Aged Bigfoot, according to those behind it, was initially aged six years in some other barrel before finishing its last year in former E.H. Taylor, Jr. small batch bourbon barrels provided by Buffalo Trace. It is said this is not only this E.H. Taylor’s first nationwide beer collaboration, but also Sierra Nevada’s strongest beer ever.
As to how this collaboration came to be, early in 2021 a representative from the Buffalo Trace Distillery team reached out to Sierra Nevada. He had a respect for Sierra Nevada, it is said, and mutual feelings on the part of the distillery became “the real catalyst for the eventual collaboration.” The desire to create a truly premium, high-end product came about, and thus this release was born.
“There’s so much flavor from the barrel. It reminds me of fresh caramel,” said Sierra Nevada Innovation Brewer Nick Ison in a prepared statement. “If it’s not the best barrel-aged beer we’ve made, it’s the most unique.”
“Both Sierra Nevada and Buffalo Trace Distillery are pioneers in innovation amongst their categories,” added Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace master distiller. “Collaborating on a project like this is quite special. Both companies have made a massive impact on pushing the boundaries of craft beer and American whiskey, leading the foray into premium-izing the industry.”
Wheatley noted of the barrel influence as well that “the barrel certainly contributes to the overall flavor by extracting some residual compounds of the bourbon from the wood and blending it with the beer. I think it will add to the beer’s complexity and allow the Bigfoot brand to showcase a special, unique beer.”
Each Colonel E.H. Taylor Bourbon Barrel-Aged Bigfoot bottle, which is presented in a bourbon-style canister, will cost $25 and will only be available in select markets and in limited quantities through Sierra Nevada’s online shop. Limited official tasting notes suggest that it has “rich flavors of molasses, caramel, and burnt sugar balanced by whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops found in Sierra Nevada’s cult-classic Bigfoot Ale. A seven-year soak in spirit barrels unleashes a world of flavor, and the distinctive flavor of Colonel E.H. Taylor Bourbon shines through.”