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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

6,777 Ratings

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Ratings: 6,777
Reviews: 2,912
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 335
Gots: 1,388 | FT: 57
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: kbub6f on 02-06-1998

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,777 | Reviews: 2,912
Reviews by jhawth:
Photo of jhawth
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured into a snifter. Pours a deep orange-red with a one finger head of fine foam.

Aroma: Big piney hops, rich candied fruits, slight vanilla.

Taste: Hopp bitterness up front, gives way to sweet, fruity malt notes, finishes slightly sweet with vanilla overtones.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, lively carbonation. Perhaps a bit too carbonated for my preferences; I prefer my barleywines smooth and almost viscous.

Overall: Delicious, excellent, a standard, etc. Very much looking forward to seeing how this ages.

More User Reviews:
Photo of MunsonRoyE
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

We did a 2009-2015 vertical. Each vintage was delicious, yet slightly different.

The 2009-2012 had quite a biscuity flavor that the 2013-2015 didn't have.

The 2009-2011 had a hint of caramel along with the biscuity flavor.

Each year got a little hazier the older it was.

Each year still had plenty of carbonation.

Photo of CandleGoat
1/5  rDev -75.9%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Tempestuous of late has been the climate, as has been my mood and palette. Subsequently, I approached this brew with a great deal of trepidation. Indeed, my caution was warranted. Removing the cap, I was met wish a noisome aroma of an intoxicating and noxious potion that would be best served to sate the throat of the damned. The putrid, caustic color belies a serum of the most unholy and wicked disposition. I cannot fathom for the life of me why anyone would want to consume something which so closely resembles the embodiment of pure, black evil. Waxing philosophical, one can only think of the bleakest nihilism while attempting to toss back a bottle of this repugnant liquid. For it is when we are out our lowest that we can shine our brightest, so to does a beer like this remind us of why we are alive, and that we should avoid this type of masochistic debauchery.

Photo of DaverCS
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage.

Beautiful mahogany color with 1/2 inch off-colored head.

Aroma boasts sweet malt, huge citrus, and pine.

Taste is big, strong, and forward. Big malty-sweetness up front, then a huge hit of citrusy-hop bitterness. I get a real strong bitter grapefruit taste near the middle of the palate. Carbonation carries these flavors into the finish that consists of mouth-coating sweetness and hoppiness. Finishes with a present alcohol heat and bite.

The beer is good don't get me wrong, but this isn't something one person should drink. This would ideally be split between two people, not because of the ABV, but because of thickness. It has TONS of flavor, but drinking an entire bottle can be a bit tiring on the palate. I would pair this with a spicy beef chili. It gets a 87/100

Photo of do_ob
4.71/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 12/18/2014. Sampled and reviewed on March 2, 2015.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams "Perfect Pint" glass. Pours a dark amber/hazy ruby color with lots of bubbles. 2 finger off-white head of sticky foam. Smells of malt, raisins, grapefruit, honey, with a slight hoppiness. Mouthfeel is quite dense, almost like a stout. Taste is bitter hops, caramel, and grapes. I should add that as this beer warmed up, it became much more malt-forward when it hit my tongue. Very interesting evolution in a short amount of time. I get citrus and malt on the back end with a doughy aftertaste.

This is probably once of the most balanced beers I've had so far. It's incredibly smooth and easy to drink for 9.6%. Hell, I'm on my second one and I just finished my dinner. I've always been a fan of Sierra Nevada, but this is my first go at their seasonal releases. I bought 1 four-pack. Now the only choice is to finish this glass and cellar the other two, or finish it off and cellar another 4 pack. Outstanding beer.

Photo of ch196h
4.71/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

In my opinion this is the beer that should serve as part of the new standard for an American Barleywine style ale. The hop profile on this is simply divine whether you are drinking a fresh batch beer or one that has aged in the cellar for 2-3 years. If does have minor variation for each vintage year, my favorite so far being circa 2012, but it is consistently excellent. While these are no longer sold in 6-packs and they are a bit pricey, it is certainly worth the cost to buy a couple of 4-packs. Drink 2-3 now and cellar the rest to see how they develop with age.

Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, 2014 expedition bottled on 1/09/2014 and poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a ruby-amber with a slight haze and 1 finger of head

Smell: Toffee, raison, and dark fruit with with baked bread

Taste: Malt flavors of the nose combined with an earthy hop flavor that crescendos into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and slightly sticky in the finish

Overall: Such a easily attainable world class Barleywine. I really appreciate how hop-forward it is and leads to great changes with age.

Photo of neurobot01
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 12oz into an IPA glass.

Look: beautiful amber caramel with a decent head.

Smell: pine, caramel, something almost lime-like.

Taste: wowza. Big, sweet malts reminiscent of an amped up marzen or something, but with a huge splash of juicy piney hops. Alcohol is present, but I think it adds rather than detracts.

Feel: fluffy, medium-thick, and dry. Quite good.

Overall: had this for the first time last year and didn't know quite what to make of it. Suffice to say, my palate has developed, and I think this is a damn fine brew. I'd put it alongside Lukcy Basartd in sheer kickassery, though this is a bit tamer.

Photo of oberon
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Expedition,pours a deep rich amber with a slightly off white one finger head that leaves a light amount of laces behind as it settled,aromas of brown sugar and pine and I mean big on the pine like whole hop cones just beautiful.Very nice medium to full mouthfeel wich is still slick and easy sliding down,this is one of the defining American barley wines at least this years full and sweet up front with brown sugar and dark fruit but a big resiny/piney hop note takes over midway and in to the finish.This is comparable to my personal favorite Old Ruffian in its big hop character,it dont get much better than a big American barley wine in my opinion.

Photo of don1481
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage poured into Mr. Pint.

Appearance: Beautiful, beautiful dark orangish color. Head is slow to dissipate. Leaves a little lacing on the glass as it dies down.

Smell: I could smell this bad boy the moment I poured it from the bottle. WOW. That is a stong, sweet nose. Raisins, for sure. Not really any hops to be detected. Complex.

Taste: That's... interesting. It's softer than last year, but definitely with a hop-forward taste that quickly goes bitter. Weird. It's not as sweet as I was hoping.

Mouthfeel: That bitterness sits around here for a bit.

Overall: I think it needs a little more aging - it's like it's in transition to something spectacular.

Photo of Popsinc
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very nice looking dark amber pour with a small, off-white head. Semi-cloudy appearance.

The nose is sweet and malty. Hints of honey and raw sugars as well as caramel and a touch of dark, over-ripened fruit.

The taste is big and very upfront with dense caramel-fudge sweetness. Hints of maple are very prominent beneath all the over-the-top malts. Towards the finish there is a small trace of orange & lemon peel which adds a kick of bitterness and dryness on the tongue. Big hoppiness beneath all the clutter. The sweetness and itterness maintain throughout the experience and linger nice and long with a numbing effect on the tongue and a warming effect on the mind. Huge alcohol kick to this one.

The mouthfeel is both very rich and full. A drying out taste towards the finish. Sugary bitterness stays at the back of my mouth the giving this beer great staying power.

Quite an overwhelming beer. Not big on drinkability but great for the right occassion...winter warmer, apertif, dessert beer.

Photo of RoyalT
4.8/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – Gorgeous, monster head that rose brilliantly, went down slow, and actually laced the glass which was impressive considering the high ABV. The body was a beautiful orange/brown color, thick and solid.

Smell – There are some big, floral hops to this one. These things filled the room. The deep, ripe, fruity scents are there as well. This ale has a tremendous bouquet.

Taste – This is monster flavor. It reminds me of The Guardian. Every type of hop flavor is represented here. This one will pucker your cheeks for sure. Then comes the classic barley wine sweetness. There’s also some smoke in there to boot. The only thing that’s missing is a sensation of alcohol from this 9.6 ABV ale.

Mouthfeel – This is the fullest beer that I have tasted to date. Every sip fills the mouth and bloats the cheeks.

Drinkability – This is dinner tonight. You don’t drink Bigfoot Barley wine, you eat it.

Update – I wrote the initial review with a 2003 sample. I enjoy this immensely every year but though I’d offer an update with a fresh 2006 vintage.

The consistency is amazing from year to year. If you get it fresh the ale is so big and explosive it makes you literally shake your head and call a friend. The ABW ages nicely, too, so you can burn the candle by both ends. Just an amazing ale all around.

Photo of aszatk01
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Simultaneous tasting of 2000, 2003, and 2006 vintages in midwinter of 2006.

Appearance: The 06 and 03 are fairly equal in terms of carbonation and head. 00 is lacking. All three are semi-cloudy, light orange/ruby brown. 00 lacks some life in color and body.

Aroma: The 06 reminds me more of an IPA than a Barley Wine. I’m still getting used to American Barley Wines so this is a learning experience as much as anything. Pine sap is oozing out of the 06. I think I could smell it clear across the room…just checked…I could. Strong alcoholic caramel notes are also present but really covered by the hops. Citrus and floral spice are strong as well. Everything hops are supposed to be and more can be found within these confines. As expected, the 03 is less blistering but still heavily hopped – actually to a degree considerably greater than I would have expected. One can tell that SN really loads the hops into this one. After three years, a lot of hop oils must have broken down yet the 03 barley wine still ranks with the hoppier of American Barley Wines that I’ve tasted. It’s pretty cool. Also as expected, the 00 has really lost most of its hops. This isn’t exactly a bad thing. I prefer English Barley Wine and I find the 00 to be just delicious. The caramel is a alive as ever. It’s deeply earthy and subtle dark fruit flavors that go entirely missed in the younger vintages are present here. I think I pick up cherries and plums.

Taste: Following aroma, the 06 is largely hops with some minimal caramel content. Hop lingering in the finish is up there with perhaps the 5 hoppiest beers I’ve had. One sip leaves a hop oil residue for a good two minutes. Intensity is exceptional. The 03 is a step down but once again surprises with some pretty discombobulating hops. Caramel flavors are more pronounced but only slightly. Some wood and sweet grains are present. The 00 vintage on the other hand is loaded with sweet caramel, earth, dates, and Japanese plum wine.

Mouthfeel: Obviously, the 06 is dry as Antarctica and blisteringly bitter. Beyond that the sweet alcohol plays a large roll as does lively biting carbonation. 03 compares as in the aroma and flavor – same as the 06 but smaller, although bitterness in the finish is considerably lessened here. The 00, despite its many fine qualities, has lost a lot of its zing here. Carbonation levels are below where they should be. A lot of the bite is gone. All that remains is a burn from the alcohol but even that seems mellow in comparison to the ass kicking tongue attack of the 06 and 03. Body is too flat and lifeless compared to following years.

Drinkability: The combination of high ABV and crazy hops in the younger vintages is a problem for me when it comes to drinkability. My taste buds simply aren’t that mature (read old and dead) yet, maybe if I started smoking… At any rate, it’s not a knock on the beer, just personal preferences coming into play. The 00 would be more drinkable for me because of the hop mellowing but the lack of vitality in the body becomes a problem.

Overall: Impressive beer that ages well and changes drastically, although not necessarily for the worse, over time. I am pleased by all three vintages and curious to try others. Peak seems to be sometime before the beer hits three years.

Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of tectactoe
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, copper-amber color with a light tan head; recedes pretty quickly and leaves very small amount of lacing here and there along the glass. Aroma is full of deep, sweet fruits; dates, figs, and plums, some light boozy notes on the nose, maybe some woodiness in the background.

Taste is full of what you'd expect in an American barleywine, and it follows the nose quite nicely; booze-soaked, dark fruits, dates, figs, plums, raisins. Ripe, juicy, and sweet; brown sugar, burnt caramel, light toffee. Some fairly heavy, floral hop notes travel up and down the palate to bring a fighting edge to the sweetness. The brew gets slightly bitter for a second, but remains a primarily sweet beer from the heaviness of the malt. Definitely hopped up quite a bit, though.

The booze is heavy, not quite hot, but slightly more than just "warming" - almost bourbon-like in character with a slight vanilla and butterscotch undertone. Thick, mildly syrupy, and just a little sticky on the palate, a bit on the lower side of the carbonation scale.

This is a nice take on the American barleywine style, and it's relatively cheap for a six pack. I plan on aging some of these to see how they pan out. My guess it that the hops will fade a bit and the brew will get a little sweeter, and hopefully a touch more mellow.

Photo of ricke
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving date: 2009-04-10. Vintage 2008. Cellared for about 1 year.

A: Hazy dark amber with a quite big pale beige head that slowly settles into some lacings.

S: Rich aromas of both malts and hops. Pleasant fruity aromas (gooseberries, red grapefruit, lemon peel) blend with a large amount of sweet chocolate. Hints of raisin and vanilla. A very sturdy malty backbone. All in all, the smell is very powerful, rich and dense. Very complex and very pleasant.

T: Big caramel flavor, sweet fudge and chocolate. Sweet and ripe fruit - citric notes, grapefruit, cherries. Notes of almonds. Vanilla and licorice in the middle. The finish is very bitter with notes of grassy hops and raisins. A well integrated taste of alcohol delivers a spicy layer on top of the sweetness. Very nice!

M: Full bodied, smooth and soft mouthfeel with a slightly chewy finish. Medium carbonation.

D: A very good beer. Complex and well balanced. One year of cellaring is really suitable for this one.


2005 vintage. Serving date: 2009-04-10. Cellared for about 4 years, parallel tasted with the 2008 vintage.

A: Much darker than the 2008 vintage, and with a smaller head that dissipates faster.

S: Not as impressive as the 2008 vintage, but still good. Not as powerful and not as complex. A similar fruitiness, but with a slightly tart edge and it is harder to pinpoint exact components. A big malty backbone, but not as sturdy as the 2008 vintage. Still plenty of chocolate and raisins. One of two funky notes and a prominent aged character.

T: A prominent taste of dusty cellar, somewhat sweet but mostly funky - not unpleasantly funky though. Sweet fruits (currants, grapefruit and some cherries). Hints of wood. The flavors have in general a very mature character. More sweetness in the form of chocolate and some vanilla. The finish is not as bitter as the 2008 vintage. The hops have faded significantly. The alcohol is not as prominent as in the 2008 vintage, and it is very well integrated. All in all, the flavors in the 2005 vintage are a little edgier than in the 2008, and it is not as complex. The 2005 vintage has some notes resembling sherry, and I did not pick that out in the 2008 vintage.

M: Basically the same as the 2008 vintage.

D: This is still a very good beer, but I think the 2008 vintage was better on almost all accounts (except for the well integrated alcohol and some of the mature notes in the 2005 vintage).

Grades: A: 4, S: 4, T: 4, M: 4,5, D: 4, Total: 4,05 (A-).


2009 vintage. Serving date: 2009-08-04. Cellared about 7 months.

A: Reddish amber, slightly hazy. Pale beige head that leaves some lacings.

S: Lots of grapefruit and hop resins. Notes of pine-needles. A hint of vanilla. The malty caramel background is noticeable, but muted by the powerful hops. Compared to the cellared 08 vintage, this one is clearly more hoppy and not as balanced.

T: Lots of grapefruit and tropical fruits. Hints of vanilla and toffee. Juicy caramel malts in the background, but clearly overpowered by the hops. Rather sweet. The finish is massively bitter, really aggressive, with lots of piny and spicy hops and sweet and spicy alcohol.

M: Same as the other vintages.

D: A bottle this young is much more hop forward than older ones. The beer is quite different when it's young compared to when it's cellared. The sweet and chewy vinous character of a barleywine is considerably held back in favor of the hoppy flavors. Not as well-balanced as especially the cellared 08 vintage. I enjoyed the latter more than this one.

Grades: A: 4, S: 4, T: 3,5, M: 4, D: 4, Total: 3,8 (B+).

Photo of t2grogan
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

Photo of boston2bburg
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Found a 2008 and 2006 version at local beer stores today so figured I'd try them both.

2006: Pours over a finger of creamy tan head with a deep dark brownish red body. Head winds up as a thin layer, not covering the glass. Trace amounts of lacing on the sides of my snifter.

Wow what a thick aroma. Caramel and chocolate blended well with earthy, woody hops. Butterscotch also pulls through.

Taste is of sweet caramel and butter with citrus hops at the back of the throat on the finish. Hops have obviously mellowed with age. Alcohol certainly hasn't, and gives my nasal passage a nice cleansing with each sip.

Very smooth, chewy, silky mouthfeel. Very drinkable for a barleywine. Now on to the '08.

2008: Label has a brief description of the beer and mentions the "25th Expedition" of Bigfoot Barelywine. Also shows Bigfoot sitting around with two woodsmen sharing a brew. Nice. Twist-off replaced with a pop-off as with their other beers.

Color is very similar to 06 but pours with more head and lacing. Wow! Smell is almost all hops with this one, nothing like the 06. Clean fruit and flowers.

Smell translates to the taste, with more citrus hop bitterness up front but still very pleasant. It's hard to review such different beers at once, but I'll take the best qualities of each.

Mouthfeel is still very silky, maybe a bit thinner than the 06. Alcohol not quite as noticable but maybe I'm getting used to it.

Very impressive and easily the best Sierra Nevada has to offer. Also very reasonably priced, but I wish they'd produce some 22 oz. bombers.

Photo of haygood
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of TCHopCraver
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. Any beer that has Sasquatch on the label has to be good, right? Time to find out.

A: Poured into an oversized wine glass. Really pretty ruby-brown that, when held to the light, has a very jewel-like quality to it. About a finger head. The lacing is sinewy and sticky.

S: Mmmmm, piney hops. That is the overriding kick to the nostrils in this one. I can smell the malt hiding in the background, though. A slight caramel aroma is also present. Not really complex, but I do like the dry hop character.

T: Definitely more of a balance between the malt and hop flavor in the taste than in the smell. I was expecting more of a hop-bomb based on the bouquet. The piney-hop dryness is present throughout the sip, but the malt sweetness is there until the very end to complement the hop flavor. Some really dry citrus flavors and a little breadiness are also in there.

M: A nice, full, puckering feel. Pretty dry at the end. It's not a full-out party in the mouth, but it's enjoyable. Good carbonation to support the taste.

D: I enjoyed drinking this brew thoroughly, but the dry hop flavor really affects my palate and I wouldn't want more than one, or maybe two in a sitting.

Photo of OhioBobcat
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of MadScientist
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of Zakk
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of brownbeer
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage poured into a new belgium snifter.

Appearance- deep ruby with a substantial dirty white head.

Nose- Burnt carmel, piney hops, a touch of oak, and a whiff of alcohol.

Mouthfeel- reveals a slighty syrupy medium body.

Taste- Up front is a malt bomb all the way with toffee and citrus showing. The finish ends dry with aggressive hops(a little more than I was hoping for considering three years age) and a touch of warming alcohol.

Overall, this beer needs more time to develop into what I want from an aged bigfoot but shows great change and I can't wait to revisit in about three more years.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,777 ratings.