No-Li Brewhouse was started in 1993 by Mark Irvin under the name Northern Lights Brewing Co.
Evidently, someone else had staked a claim to the use of the name Northern Lights forcing Mark to change the name to the shortened No-Li. Which I assume is supposed to be pronounced as “no-lie.”
No-Li’s Big Bang Barleywine falls under their Expo Series of offerings, a rotating set of seasonal beers, with the barleywine being released in the January to April slot.
The malt grist for Big Bang is simple enough listing two-row, extra special, and crystal sixty with Chinook and cascade making up the hop bill. International bitterness units are stated to be 42, which is below the lower limit of the scale for the American barleywine style as identified by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).
Big Bang pours with a clear body the color of red clay or sienna brown. It’s certainly a good-looking beer topped with a beige tinged head fizzing off at an audible rate. The amount of carbonation is spot on. Diving in, scents of sweet caramel and toffee dominate rounded out by dates and a hint at the 10.5 percent alcohol content.
The beer is promising up until the point of actually drinking it. Peppery phenols give way to astringency not unlike tea that is way over extracted or has steeped for far too long. That palate drying astringency overwhelms any malt sweetness making for a rather harsh gulp. All of those great aromas were just an obfuscation to the true nature of Big Bang Barleywine. The mouthfeel is thin, watery and the alcoholic heat only further hurts an already unpleasant example of a barleywine.