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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.

6,803 Ratings

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Ratings: 6,803
Reviews: 2,916
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.33%
Wants: 342
Gots: 1,398 | 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: 6,803 | Reviews: 2,916
Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
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!

Photo of womencantsail
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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 ChainGangGuy
4.15/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of biboergosum
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of emerge077
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of zeff80
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
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'.

Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
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.

Photo of oline73
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of nickfl
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2006 Expedition poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: The beer is a reddish amber color with a very slight haze to it. It creates a foamy off-white head that takes its time to fade and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: Rich hoppy aroma backed up with citrus along with some caramel malt note.

T: Nice hops bite that remains prevalent from start to finish. There’s some citrus and malt sweetness to balance it out a little bit and you can taste the alcohol just a little bit. It leaves a slight citrus hops flavor in the after-taste, but it’s not as strong as I expected given the intensity of the hops that you taste until you swallow.

M: Very crisp and very smooth. Medium body and medium carbonation. Finishes quite cleanly.

D: Although you can taste the alcohol a bit, you certainly don’t taste 9.60% worth. If you take that into account along with the smoothness and the fact that it’s not too filling, I could go with this beer for quite a while, until the ABV catches up with me.

Photo of mendvicdog
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Jason
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown stubby with a vintage date of 2004 on the cap. A small amount of sediment stay still during the pouring. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Thick pancake like head with a webby trail of lace all over the glass. Clear brownish garnet color is brilliant against the light.

Smell: Enthralling aroma of fresh hops hits the nose with a stiff punch of grapefruit and mild pine. Light fruity esters and a caramel like malt are in the back.

Taste: Pungent right from the beginning, not astringent just really bitter from the hops. Then lays in the malt base which is a stable foundation of caramel and toasted sweetness. Some fruity esters jump into the mix as well as a clean yeast in the back ground. Towards the end things dry out with a faint fusel alcohol tagging along for the ride.

Notes: Perhaps a bit green though still damn tasty, drink it now for a good whack to the taste buds or let it sit a year or so to mellow it out. Either way Bigfoot a sure thing.

Bottled 2003 batch.

Appearance: The head is perfection, the lace is thick and sticky with a web like trail down the glass. Deep and dark amber color with a tawny reddish hues.

Smell: Perfumy hop resin aroma with a sweetish oily floral back ground, pungent in light grapefruit and vague piney scents. Esters throw a whiff of alcohol in. Some caramel in the nose within the blanket of malt sweetness that can’t seem to cover the hops.

Taste: The body is big, strong and unwavering. Well textured moderate carbonation. Flat out the hops show who is boss, bitterness is hard but with little astringency. Oily hops make for a slick and smooth mouth feel. As the hops roll over the taste buds the flavor becomes more rustic with a bit of earthy leafy hop flavor. Lots more to go around with the hops with citric and piney flavors. Maltiness may not be the dominant one though it still gives a good sweet push on the palate. Caramel and a toasted malt sweetness swirl around the hops and seem semi melded with each other. Alcohol is certainly not to be ignored either with a slow yet steady warmth, mild esters and a fruity character of ripe figs and prunes.

Notes: A bit more balanced than previous years with that same trademark hardcore hop character. This is the Big Mamma of hoppy barleywines and you have to love the stuff. This is a well aged beer if you have the willpower.

Photo of Kegatron
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
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!

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage. Sampled 1-16-15. Thick and chewy malts on this one. Pinch of sweetness going on. Only mildly rough around the edges. Could use a bit more time, I think. Still a nice, classic brew. Will go pick up some more to lay down.

2005. Sampled 9-23-2007. I believe it has been in cold storage all this time. I also have three more now that will lay for a while.

Pours a clouded brown with reddish hues. Raisin nose. Touch of alcohol. Still going strong on the nose. Flavor is hoppy, with raisins, minor alcohol, and...prunes? That is what I want to say. But I can't say I am a regular prune consumer. Feel has a smooth carbonation to it and the liquid is good too. Overall very drinkable still. I am sure this could have aged in a better fashion, but it is still going strong as if it never missed a beat. I will probably go back to the store I found this and buy the other bottles. (posted scores reflect this vintage)

2008. Sampled 3-9-2008. What? No more camping Bigfoot under the cap anymore? Lame. Pours beautifully. Nice darker amber with a thick creme head leaving a lot of lace. Nose is strong piney hops. Later on I get very noticeable grass that has a distinct minty edge. Flavor is smooth with a nice bitter bite to it. Robust and full. Feel has a great carbonation to it and the liquid is nice. Very, very nice. This is extremely good. I really doubt I could have the patience to let this age. Why bother anyways when it is this nice. Overall score - 4.5

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.15/5  rDev 0%

Photo of XmnwildX12
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 Version:

Deep amber brown mahogany with a huge caramel colored tan head. I poured this one into a 20 oz. Gulden Draak glass, and I couldn't do anything but sit stare and smell it for like five minutes. The aroma was simply amazing, I could literally sit here all day and enjoy the aroma. It's full of deep invigorating piney hops wrapped in maple syrup that are acting like pheromones, making me fall in love with this beer. The taste is one huge assault of malts and hops. The hop resins send shots of bitterness across my palate and the wave of malty sweetness of figs, raisin, and syrup sweep through finishing the flavor. Mouthfeel is syrupy fullness one full bodied west coast hop monster presenting the oily resins in the mouthfeel very nice. The drinkability of a beer this high in alcohol is so dangerous, but this is one beer to be enjoyed slowly it's an experience. In fact it's one that I would like to have again, I will tango with this classic west coast barley wine anytime.

Photo of Slatetank
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage

Presentation - Poured from a 12oz bottle with 6007 imprinted above barcode into a medium sized snifter.

A - Beautiful deep amber/copper ale pours with sufficient carbonation to produce a generous beige head with compact bubbles.

S - Fruits and wood make an immediate impression along w/ grapeskin and stone fruit odors. Hickory and boozy scents mingle with toffee and green apple aromas. Citrus hops do not hesitate to assert their aromatic presence.

M - Warm and boozy, sweet + sticky with mild to medium acidity and a blossoming effervesence.

T - Solid malt sweetness says HELLO! with an in your face hoppiness. The two join together in a sentimental marriage that frolics with alcoholic equilibrium. A great toffee sweet and woody dry essence is blended with grapefruity hop bitterness. Blends of multiple flavors such as tart and spicy are experienced. Candied pecans and sugar cookies come to mind as a malty spotlight shift occurs amid warming ale tasting temps.
A great balance is achieved with a 1-alcohol, 2-hop, 3-malt punch.

D - Great drinkability for a potent brew. Hops are showcased as well as an effervescent mouthfeel. Would be one that may benefit from aging. I might put one aside for a year to compare.

2009 Version Poured from the 12oz stubby bottle chilled into a snifter.

A - Dark copper/bronze w/ lots of visible carbonation rising to a sand colored cap of approx 3/4 inch. Appears almost like ruby colored w/ thick rings of lace clinging to the snifter

S - Crisp pine scent, lots of caramel and woody aromas like smoked hickory w/ a sweet cherry-like fruit ester

M - Mildly bitter w/ sweet feel moderate carbonation and bitter feel lingers w/ a semi sweet finish

T - The flavor is acidic w/ hoppy piney and sweet candy taste w/ alcohol flavor and mild citrus w/ sweet citrus zest. Ruby red graperfruit taste and light biscuit taste is noted in the last taste w/ gentle pepper flavor

D - A strong beer but one that is really tasty and practically begs to be drank, but slowly. A hoppy intense barleywine-Classic.

Photo of russpowell
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained from Trinity BP, bours orange/amber with a finger of sand colored head. Good head retention & insane lacing

S: Doughyness & piney hops

T: Piney & herbal hops, dryness, plus booze smack & whisper of caramel up front. Cakeyness, resiny hops, & pineyness as this warms. finishes with a bit of boozey tangerine, apricot, pine sap, grapefruit & dryness

MF: Chewy, moderate carbonation, skews hoppy, true to style. Stickyness & warming booze show as this warms

Drinks alright, if you don't like a hop smack, stay way, otherwise I'm good for a few points before getting sleepy.. I believe I prefer the bottled version, but would never say no to this hairy beast!

Photo of MarkyMOD
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of DrunkinYogi
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,803 ratings.