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

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,933 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,933
Hads: 7,045
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 11.35%
Wants: 369
Gots: 1,566 | FT: 71
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale Alström Bros
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Reviews: 2,933 | Hads: 7,045
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had the 2004 edition on tap a Buckye Brew Engine, in summer 2011 an it was very nice. It has muted, but was still a very nice beer despite the temperature and it likely up in abv by now over 10%. Orange coloured body, a lace sheet. Taste as if dry hopped. Very smooth and mellow, and a full mouthfeel. An American strong ale, with a citrus character.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours a murky dark iced tea color with a small 1 inch khaki head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Nice rings of lace lin the glass on the drink down. Smells of biscuits, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and citrus zest. Taste is very similar but in the reverse order of the smells: citrus zest hops, brown sugar/caramel/toffee, with the biscuit like malt coming through at the end. Medium hop bitterness on the palate after each sip. Thick and chewy in the mouth with each sip. Slight alcohol burn in the throat. Overall, this is a good barleywine that packs a hop punch. One of the hoppiest of the style that I have tried.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have tried 06 and 07 Bigfoot both on tap and in the bottle. I heard a lot of people say that its more bitter this year but I can't notice the difference. That may be because it had been a year since I had it last.

The appearance is amazing. Its an awsome red color with a dark head. Hold it up to a light, its really a nice color.

It has an intense malt smell with a considerable hop presence. The only downside is that one can almost smell the bitterness. I am not saying that bitterness is bad, just that when it comes out in the smell it doesnt bode well for the beer.

This beer is remarkably well balanced in sweetness and bitterness. Despite my initial predictions based on the smell it is one of the best flavors ive tasted in a beer. The first sip almost hurts its so bitter but after that its really quite delicious and after 1 or 2 bottles in an evening you wont even notice the bitterness.

Bigfoot is fairly heavy bodied as it should be considering how much unfermented sugar there is in the beer. It has a low-medium carbonation but it doesnt matter because its just as good once it gets flat.

It is drinkable but it must be sipped and enjoyed. The 6 pack challenge has a become a ritual in my group of friends. If you want to "chug" a 6 pack, which still takes a few hours, be prepared to wake up the next morning in a strange place. Otherwise enjoy it with a meal or on tap somewhere.

Overall: a great beer even warm and/or flat. Well worth the cost.

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Photo of GRG1313
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 Bottle. Notes from January 2009 and now review two years later, tasting in January 2011.

Pours a medium dark copper red with white thick head when fresh and very little head after two years.

Citrus hop/lemon nose when fresh that, after two years, goes to a maple whiskey - big maple whiskey character carries through flavor profile and finish.

Mouthfeel is big and rich and well balanced with lots going on. You can't help but want to put more in your mouth.

I was not a fan until I again tried it after it spent two years in my cellar; I'm a fan. Complex orange peel lemon/lime hop flavors when fresh that, again, goes to a maple whiskey flavor profile; lots of burnt toast and bitter burnt orange; very complex overall; lots of hops; long hop finish that, after some age, retains complexity and goes to a bitter burnt orange/burnt toast bitter maple whiskey. This is something that I will continue to try, both fresh and with some age.

A nice experience with a beer that I aged for two years. It was worth it.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: 2 finger head, nice and thick with a decent lacing. Copper/amber color.

S: Fruit, very piney and hoppy. Expected a sour, wine odor and was caught off guard. Liked it.

T: Very strong on the front end, especially the first sip. Malts, caramel, tons of hops, bitter fruit,

M: Thick, oily, full bodied and moderate carbonation.

Overall: Drinkability is the downside. I see many people say this is drinkable and for a heavy beer and they may be right but this is still a tough one at the beginning.

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Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a light to moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of piney hops in the nose along with notes of alcohol and hints of caramel malts and citrus hops.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and finishes with a moderate amount of bitterness from the hops. There are some hints of malty sweetness in the initial taste.
M: It feels full-bodied and a bit sticky on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. The finish has a bit of dryness and warming sensations from the alcohol.
O: This beer is a good sipper. It's a bit easier to drink compared to other barleywines because it has a moderate amount of bitterness (instead of stickiness and sweetness).

Note: 2011 vintage

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

another colossal beer from sierra nevada. pours an absolutely magnificent glowing dark amber color with a 1.5 inch rusty tan colored head. smells is a kick in the face of booze and hops. smells all of its 9.6% abv. flavor is malty and sturdy without being sweet, it moves toward a hoppy finish with an alcohol burn. its a nice pine hop flavor which works really well here. perfect for this time of year. feel is a little heavy, and its not a beer you can do a sixpack of, thats for sure. a lovely sipper on a weeknight in mid february as the sun starts to hang around just a little longer with each passing day...

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 01.07.09. Tasted on 03.01.09.

G: Oversized snifer.

A: Pours a very dark amber with a single-finger thick and creamy head. Lacing on the glass as it goes down. Not very transparent.

S: Strong, sweet malt with a hint of alcohol. Mild fruity smells.

T: Initial malt presence with the hops coming on shortly thereafter. The flavor comes out much more as it warms up. Not as complex as some other barleywines I've had, but still a very solid offering.

M: Medium-bodied and creamy. Alcohol hits the tip of the tongue and the beer is smooth as it goes down.

D: A nice drink that I'll definitely enjoy each year, but not one I'll plan on really stocking up on--maybe one to grab a few bottles of each year to see how it changes.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is pretty freaking intense, Had a new bottle of this back in 2008 and it was really potent to me. The appearance of the beer was a muddy golden color with some brown in there. The head was white and had some good retention. The aroma of the beer was really hoppy for a barley wine. The other aromas if any where difficult to pick out. The flavor was big and bitey. There was a lot of complexity in here there were hops and malts colliding, there was some dark fruits in the aftertaste lingering around it was pretty different from anything I had tried prior to this. It's an impressive brew, wish I would have aged one from years ago to see if it mellows out over time.

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Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 Vintage

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with a modest head that leaves good lacing

Smell: Spruce pine aroma with a bit of wood and alcohol esters

Taste: Starts out with a toasty caramel flavor that is quickly stepped on by the piney hops; after the swallow, the bitter pine flavors overwhelm everything else and cruise to the finish , where they are joined by a touch of sweetness on the tip of the tongue

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with modest carbonation

Drinkability: Like all Bigfoots, this is a bit raw when young; give it a few years to mellow out

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

With the release of this annual Barleywine, I am aways taken back to the firt time tasting this massive beverage. With extremes of hops colide with extremes of malt, you don't see the finess of balance comming....

This godfather of the American Barleyine style jumps out of the bottle and lands with a masculine viscocity that's caught somewhere between viscous and crisp. Deep bronze in color, the beer is quite clear for such a hop-forward flavor. Froathy off-white foam blankets the surface of the beer and much of the glass, making it difficult to know where the head character ends and the lacing begins. It's to be expected of a richly malted beer with a generous hop contingency.

Molasass and toffee malt aromas reach the nose, along with an abundance of pine and grapefruit scented hops. Esters of cherry, plumb, and currant help to bridge the hop-malt divide, and to give a sense of meldedness to the nose.

Malt dominance is evidence with the very first sip; with the strong sweetness of black strap molasass, barley sugars, and sturdy malt taste. But the hops provide an attack of white grapefruit, citrus piths, pine resin, and a smooth pang of bitterness... Nether allowing any ground to the other- somewhat combative in taste, but strikingly harmoneous in balance. (Kinda like tango with Fred and Ginger).... Meanwile, back at the ranch- The strong brandy-strength esters of cherry, berry, plumb, grape, and dates begin to sew the flavors together for an intense dichotomy in the mouth.

Strong and matly early, but with the dryness of hop and alcohol late tells the tale of two halves: malty rich and velvety smooth to mid palate then turns IPA-ish with malty-dry textures and alcoholic warmth leading to a strong and dense beer that's way more drinkable than it should be.

A long, dry linger of barley and hops continues to develop in aftertaste making this beer as drinkable as you want it to be, and as savory as you want it to be. That's the beauty in this classy ale!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a light dark beer with a huge head with excellent retention. Aroma is comprised of sweet plums and some nice malt. Taste is quite wonderful with again the plums/raisins sweetness being noticeable. It ends with a wonderful warm feeling. Overall, this is a very good barley wine and would like to taste this again on a warm winter night.

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a fresh '08 bottle - the 25th anniversary Bigfoot release.

Appearance - Dark reddish-amber, not quite opaque but close to it. The creamy tan-colored head retains surprisingly well for a beer this big, leaving behind sheets of lace as the glass empties.

Smell - Caramel and toffee, fresh resiny hops and plainly noticeable alcohol.

Taste/mouthfeel - Flavors of caramel, biscuit, lemon peel and pine are most prevalent. Very balanced; the rich, syrupy malts are kept in check by an equally massive hop character. Bitter hops and bitter alcohol in the finish; somewhat rough. Warming as it settles in your stomach. Good stuff, and surprisingly easy to drink.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, not exactly common on this side of the 49th...

This beer pours a clear dark burnt orange colour, with a large amount of densely foamy, rocky light beige head, which leaves a mess of chunky lace around the glass upon its leisurely retreats. It smells strongly of citrus hops and caramel malt, then a bit of spruce pine, and a mild, but threatening booze edge. The taste is citrus and pine hop oils, a solid caramel/toffee malt offset, with a buzzing booziness in the background. The carbonation is nice and reserved, the body smooth, thick and viscous, and it finishes clean - sweet, yet still fairly hoppy for a barleywine.

A drinkable American barleywine, if you're into that sort of palate-abusing sort of thing. Well balanced, yes, but among all the extreme flavour elements.

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Photo of emerge077
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 batch just arrived, this deserves a new review.

High clarity ruby color, it just glows. Poofy soufflé head, raised in the middle with striated sheets clinging to the sides.

Pungent pine and herbals in the aroma, also a rich and sweet toffee malt element. Looks and smells the part of a good barleywine.

Smooth with a dry bitter edge, this is very balanced but hop-forward. It's big all around, but the sum of it's parts fit well together. Sticky toffee and caramel laced with pine and resinous hops. Rich and not too boozy. Probably not for the hop-novice, but i've come to appreciate it more as a full fledged hop head.

I'm liking this more fresh I think, based on the previous review, and drinking last years batch.

A- / 4.15
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4

A blustery winter night calls for a monster Barleywine...

2006 bottle, pours a deep ruby brown, with a ton of offwhite foam, leaving a halo crown of intricate lacing. As the foam settles, there's a perfect island of bubbles in the center. Nice overall retention too.

Rich aroma with very herbal hops, subdued nutty caramel.

Velvety smooth across the palate. Hops are ever present, somewhat mellowed, still leafy and bitter. Some citrus rind, spicy with clean heat, and sprucey touches at the end. Long finish of herbal hops that coats the throat. Not the full-on palate spanker I was anticipating, but it still packs a big punch. Alcohol is pretty well hidden for the style.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. Hazy tawny that is a wonderful, multi-hued melange of orange, red, caramel and copper. The pale caramel cap is a thing of beauty as well. Creamystiff and tacky at once, its rugged surface is slowly deflating in sections and thick gobs of lace are beginning to stick to the glass. A real looker, this one.

The nose is hugely powerful and smells like generously spiced fruit brandy. Sweet caramel candy bass notes hold down the bottom end while barely disguised ethanol and floral-citric hops rampage on the top end. The slight rubbing alcohol scent keeps it from greatness.

Sweet, syrupy, bitter, chewy, malty, hoppy... Bigfoot BSA covers all the bases. Repeated mouthfuls fail to isolate a dominant presence on the palate; all of the various elements of the flavor profile are combined seamlessly. Unfortunately, that includes alcohol. I know that it's difficult to hide the alcohol in what is, essentially, a 20-proof beverage, but it seems to me that it could have been done with a bit more success.

I've been hearing for years about how hoppy Bigfoot is, especially when young, but it doesn't seem overly bitter or hoppy to me. Perhaps my 'mouthful of hop cones' expectations were misplaced or perhaps the gargantuan amount of malt and the high ABV do an effective job of smoothing out and blunting the hop flavor.

As noted in the description of the nose, melted caramel blends with brandy-macerated orchard fruit and citric hops to form a wonderfully viscous, mouthcoating, sweet sipper of a beer. The finish is seemingly infinitely long and features diminishing echoes of caramel-drizzled hops. Warming and satisfying.

Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale is good beer. It isn't as hoppy as I had hoped and it doesn't surpass Old Foghorn as far as I'm concerned, but its reputation is well deserved. I plan to pick up at least a sixer every year to see how each vintage changes from year to year and how each changes with cellaring.

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Photo of zeff80
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 edition

A - Poured out a clear, amber color with a small, tan, one-finger head. Left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of Cascade hops. Also, some citrusy notes. A good dose of malt aromas, too.

T - It tasted of spices. A nice sweet caramel maltiness. Some fruit flavors, too.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A heavy-bodied beer with a warm alcohol presence.

D - This is a very good barley wine. But it is very strong and requires some slow sippin'.

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Photo of oberon
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006...Poured a rich hazy caramel color, with a thin head. Smell was Hop with a caramel, coffee under it with a hint of alcohol. Taste was much more complex. Caramel and rosted malts, followed by a very dry hoppy finish. Alcohol was very very well hidden. Superb taste and mouthfell make this very drinkable indeed. This was my favorite barleywine to date!

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Photo of womencantsail
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage Tasted on 6/24/09

A: Dark amber in color with lots of red highlights and minimal head.

S: Lots of sweet malt, with still a fair bit of hops/bitterness despite being two years old. Dark fruits are very present in the nose as well.

T: Like any barleywine, the sweet caramel and toffee are the stars. But again, a very noticeable bitterness is still present.

M: Full bodied, smooth, and moderate carbonation.

D: Sort of the quintessential barleywine. This stuff seems to have an infinite shelf-life, and I'm glad I've got several vintages of this sitting around.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage (on-tap, no less).

Appearance: Pours a hazy, dark red body with a small, dense white head.

Smell: Sweetish, malty aroma with a bit of citurs and a marked woody character that grows more piney along the way.

Taste: Dark caramel with a syrupy sweetness. Touch of citrus. As with the aroma, it starts vaguely wooden, but adopts a distinct pine flavor as it warms. Medium bitterness. Drying finish with a lil' alcohol heat to it.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Fairly easy drinking for 9.6%. For me, it's the finest member of Sierra Nevada's beer line-up.

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Photo of nickfl
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - The beer fills the glass and forms a half a finger of off-white foam on top of the very clear, light brown body. The head settles out quite quickly and leaves just a film of lace on the glass in its wake.

S - The classic American barleywine aroma of spicy hops and earthy caramel malt. Notes of pepper, mustard, and pine.

T - Spicy hops and thick toffee malt up front with some distinct pine notes. More pine hops in the middle with sweet, sugary elements of brown sugar and caramel. Things finish up with more mustardy, spicy hop flavors and strong, somewhat harsh hop bitterness to balance the rich malt profile.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a fairly dry finish.

D - This is a tough beer to review, it is such an achetypical classic of its particular style that it is hard to give it an objective examination. Still, like a Beatles album, there is a reason it has become a classic that is a standard bearer for all that followed. The spicy hop character is brimming with pine and more subtle, darker character that is both influenced by and harmonizes with the deep, sugary malt. This is a timeless and complex beer that is all the more notable in that it doesn't require extensive aging to become drinkable the way that some other classic American barleywines do.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Thanks to Crabbicuss for this bottle!

2011 Vintage. I can't believe it's taken me this long to try the classic T-Bird of barleywines. It pours an ever-so-slightly hazy amber-garnet topped by a finger or so of off-white foam. The nose comprises grapefruit, toffee, orange peel, light pine, very light mint, and a touch of cantaloupe. The taste is as though a mountain of citrusy hops (grapefruit, pineapple, cantaloupe, and then some pine as well) was thoroughly drizzled with thick, sweet caramel. A nice balance, with a sizable, though not o'erwhelming, amount of booziness. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a lightly creamy feel. Overall, a very nice b-wine, one that is more than deserving of its status.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 10 year old cellared bottle (1995). As I work my way through my cellared beers I find alot of disappointments, and this one might just be the worst. I've had 30 and 50 year old beers that were better. This is like a bad homebrew. Or, perhaps, maybe I'm just missing that big assult of hop and malt that the Bigfoot offers? Nah, this has just gone to hell in a handbasket...

Oxidation has clearly taken full effect, and although it enhances the caramelish aspect of the maltiness to some extent, there's a sherry note in the finish that combines with the alcohol, and perhaps a bit of piney hops, to leaves a rather unpleasant aftertaste.

The sherry appears in the nose as well, along with alcohol, but it doesn't really detract there. It lends an almond note, and there's also some coconut that's quite nice as well.

It pours an absolutely crystal clear ruby brown, but it has lost carbonation, and there's not really a head to it, just a big bubbled but thin collar.

The body is somewhat thinned, and it's clear that there's a touch more alcohol. Some sublime phenols (or are they higher alcohols?) seem to be present as well.

Overall, most of the bitterness, and some of the piney hops remain, but without the malty sweetness to back it up. I'd have thought the hops would soften more, but what I got is just a shriveled corpse of the beautiful fresh hop vibrance that once was.

Perhaps this one bottle didn't hold up and there are others that are OK; but I'd say, as I've always said, Bigfoot isn't really for aging.... it just holds well. I'll take mine fresh (or within 3 years, thanks!).

That said, my score for this bottle when calculated was a pathetic 3.0; but that's not fair as it's an aged bottle, and so I've included my original scores from the bottle I had back in '02.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a snifter. 2010 release.

Pours a beautiful looking deep clear amber, with 2+ foamy fingers of foamy off-white head. Retention is great here, with this putting up a big frothy flareup of lacing that hangs in thick swathes down the sides of the glass. The aroma mainly consists of fresh American hops that literally blow up in the nose, being full of pine and spice and a deep smelling fresh herbal tanginess. A thick malty graininess fills the back of the nose, with most of the sweetness here appearing to come for the fruitiness and earthy nature of the hops.

Resins and spice from those fresh hops just rip the mouth, while a combo of earthy dankness and bitter citrus flavor creeps along in the background. Much like the aroma, there isn't a whole lot of sweetness present (but there's just enough), with a stiff backbone of toasted gaininess holding steady across the back of the palate. Finishes with a ton of lingering dryness, spice, and some leftover herbal tang. The mouthfeel is full and chewy with a good bit of thickness to the feel; but the overall creaminess of the carbonation helps keep this smooth in the mouth for such a big beer. Even at room temp, I'm happy to report that the alcohol here is kept in check, with only some gentle warmth in the chest and throat showing itself after each sip. Well done.

A classic any way you cut it, not only because of it's great availabilty and price each year but also because this is just a damn fine American Barleywine. I personally prefer this fresh each year but aged isn't shabby either. So loosen up thee ole' belt and enjoy one of these calorie-bombs!

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,933 ratings.