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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

6,370 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,370
Reviews: 2,817
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 270
Gots: 1,140 | FT: 48
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 02-06-1998)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,370 | Reviews: 2,817 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MarkyMOD
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

MarkyMOD, Jul 01, 2012
Photo of beernads
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

beernads, May 18, 2013
Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. This bottle may be off since the beer was only filled up to the top of the label. It didn't taste oxidized or flat, so I am reviewing it.

Pours a reddish-amber color with a white head. The aroma is brown sugar, alcohol and caramel malt. Pretty basic barleywine aroma. The flavor is brown sugar, toffee and piney and citrus hops. Even with the big hop flavor, the bitterness is not too high. The alcohol is definitely detectable and is front and center in the flavor. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation

Mora2000, May 19, 2010
Photo of jwc215
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007

Pours deep ruby with a one-finger head creamy head. Decent head retention for the style.

The smell is a fragrant bouquet. Caramel, citrus, peppery spice.

The taste is of rich caramelish sweetness with underlying citrus and pine. The citric/piney hops soon catch up to, and edge over, the malt. Very hoppy for the style. Assertive, slightly raw, though not necessarily sharp, alcohol is present that will probably mellow with aging.

The body is full, rich and creamy.

A nice slow-sipper. A nice malt profile supported by a stong hop character. A unique, tasty, barleywine!

jwc215, Mar 13, 2007
Photo of DrunkinYogi
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

DrunkinYogi, Feb 15, 2014
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of smcolw
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Small amount of chill haze to an otherwise clear dark amber liquid. The head is impressive with far more lace than I ever expect from this style of beer.

Surprising amount of floral hop in the aroma. Still, the main smell is a lightly sweet malt.

Oily and rich, the greatest flavor is the powerful amount of fresh hop. The malt base is potent with a touch of malt sugar. Lots of warming alcohol. The body has the consistency of skim milk and the carbonation is quite low.

This is a pleasant beer to be slowly enjoyed. It's too powerful to quaff down but it is flavorful and complex enough to evaluate with appreciation.

smcolw, May 05, 2008
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Vintage, Sampled March 2004
Pours a clear, amber-ruby color when held up to the light. A thick tan head rests atop this beer. Thick aromas of malt and hops waft from my glass as I pour. The hops dominate the aroma, Citrus, dark fruit, pine, alcohol, and a nectar like quality are all in the nose. Thick bodied, with a slightly syruppy consistency. The taste is sweet with American hops bursting forth all over the place. A strong malt character (caramel, biscuit) is here, but it is definitely subservient to the hops in this fresh example. The malt only serves as a vehicle to allow the hops to express themselves to the fullest. This is a brew that suggests what it would be like to suckle from a flower fat with Lupulin glands.

Gueuzedude, Mar 08, 2004
Photo of kojevergas
3.23/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

01/23/12

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Disney thistle glass. Reviewed live in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California.

A: Pours a three finger head of nice cream and thickness, and great retention - especially for the high ABV. Colour is a caramel auburn. Nontransparent.

Sm: Quite malty, with some yeast and cream. The toasted malts are nice. Some moderately strong hop notes are present as well. A mild to moderate strength aroma.

T: Actually quite hoppy. I'm surprised. Some toasted malt aids the foundation. It's simple and strange for the style - to its detriment. Boring and bland, but not without redeeming characteristics. Candied sugar fills out the body without adding much flavour. It's too sugary overall, actually.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but too thick and heavy on the palate.

Dr: Decently drinkable. Okay for the style, but in major need of work. The hoppy approach just feels wrong. I wouldn't have it again. Another disappointment from Sierra Nevada.

I initially asserted this wouldn't age well in contrast to most other barleywines due to its reliance on the hoppy flavours, but GoodBeerFan2006 wrote in to let me know it does indeed age quite well. I hadn't considered that potential hop death/hop flavour demulsification would actually round out the balance better. It's a valid point; thanks GoodBeerFan2006! Consider cellaring it if you desire the best experience possible with this beer.

C+

---
12/10/12

I decided to revisit an aged version of this after questioning my initial (fresh review). 1995 vintage Bigfoot served into a New Belgium stem-goblet. Expectations are above average. Cost was ~$8.00 at a vintage bottle shop. Cap reads "Bigfoot Expedition 1995". Label is quaint and reminds me of craft beer history; so this is what Sierra Nevada looked like when Pearl Jam was popular.

Poured with substantial vigor because undercarbonation is anticipated.

A: Pours a weak tan floater. No head at all. Body colour is a dark brown. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Heavy caramel, fermented dark fruit including plum and fig, oxidation notes, malty sweetness, and dominant raisin. Not as musty as expected, but it certainly isn't fresh. No hops are detectable in the aroma. An assertive, moderate strength aroma. Not a particularly appealing one either.

T: Raisin, caramel, dates, plum, and malty sweetness on the finish. Oxidation notes ruin the balance and distract. No hops whatsoever. Rich and surprisingly full-bodied. Lacks complexity or subtlety. Not a great flavour; it's definitely past its prime by a long shot. Still, it's not vinegary - quite an achievement at 17 years old.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and weak. Sugary. Cloying, even a bit astringent. Lacks good present. Age has taken its toll.

Dr: Hard to drink on account of its poor quality. Boy, I'm not going to enjoy finishing this glass. The ABV is decently hidden, but this beer has long passed prime. Maybe this would be better about 7 years younger.

D+

I might have overshot the whole aging bigfoot thing; fresh it seems was too young and 17 years was too old. I'll revisit at different vintages in-between as my budget allows. My current score reflects the fresh review.

---

02/20/13

Final revisit. 2008 vintage (25th expedition/anniversary). It's five years old; this should be peak. Review below will be truncated. 9.6%. Heard a crack upon opening; still carbonated.

A: Pours a half finger khaki head of nice cream/thickness and above average (~2 minute) retention for the high ABV. Body colour is a murky nontransparent opaque dark caramel. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Fruity and evocative. Rich appealing biscuity malts. No hops. The malts are quite refined; age has done this well. Port-like richness and sweetness. Caramel. Toffee. Bread. Candi sugar. Quite nice, actually. Maybe I've finally found what Bigfoot is cracked up to be. A pretty strong aroma. Right on the money for a barleywine.

T: Okay. Caramelized malts with a light port-like sweetness. Refined biscuit malts. No hoppy character or yeast. Definite fruitiness; perhaps over-fermented (think depleted) fig. Plum on the finish. Licorice. Raisin. It's sweeter than anticipated, with lots of malty sugars. Balanced but simple. This is definitely better than fresh or 17 year old Bigfoot, but it's still not great. Solid for a barleywine, if a bit underwhelming.

Mf: Good coarseness. Wet. Good carbonation. Suits the flavour well.

Dr: I do like this. 3-5 years definitely seems to be the sweet spot for Bigfoot, but I'll give up the ghost after this review. I kept wanting it to be as good as I'd heard it was, but it just isn't. Bigfoot just isn't a great barleywine, but you can't say I didn't try. I'd try it again at three years, but I've lost hope that this will satisfy the hype. My current review reflects the score I gave it fresh.

High B-

kojevergas, Jan 23, 2012
Photo of XmnwildX12
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

XmnwildX12, Dec 13, 2013
Photo of oriolesfan4
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a top notch barleywine. Very hoppy, tastes almost like a double IPA to me. Definitely a sipper as there's some alcohol kick but definitely not as harsh as Brooklyn's Monster Ale. I liked this beer a lot and will be trying it again the future.

oriolesfan4, Oct 05, 2008
Photo of Halcyondays
4.78/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Hollingshead's in Orange, CA, 2007 edition, aged for about a year,

A: Pours a very dark amber out of the tap, with a small white head, but leaves nice, thick, sticky lacing down the glass.

S: Thick brunt of hop character, very piney.

T: At the first taste, you can feel it's more subdued in character than the '07 fresh, which I truly enjoyed, the maltiness comes out in a toasted biscuit and caramel/toffee character, but later on I felt the hops had regained their stronghold, a thick, resin filled pine came through, even at it's power, I felt it complemented the malt perfectly, it didn't go crazy into an unappetizing bitterness, like many ABA's can do. Restrained at times, but still a hop bomb, absolutely delicious.

M: Thick and resiny, with a full carbonation that conveys that image to every corner of your mouth, the aftertaste will stay with you forever, if you want it to.

D: An absolutely dynamite barleywine, possibly my favourite made in America, I can't wait for the '08 to come to town, definitely Sierra Nevada's finest creation.

Halcyondays, Jan 29, 2008
Photo of Gavage
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Broke open a bottle from 1998. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes and then poured into a glass. It was a lovely deep auburn / burgandy color with a thin head. The aroma was sweet and alcohol was noticeable. The taste definitely mellowed over the five years, as it was still quite malty, extremely smooth, and a bit of caramel tones were detected.

The hoppiness that is present in current releases is much mellower and tamed from aging, but still is noticeable. The smooth flavors lasts long into the aftertaste, and the alcohol is quite noticeable. Always save a bottle or two for the future. It ages well.

Gavage, Oct 14, 2003
Photo of GClarkage
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

01/25/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in Sacramento, CA

2005 Edition

Presentation- 12 oz bottle with no bottling or expiration date. Poured into my Duvel glass.

Appearance- About an inch creamy white head, excellent lacing and a brown-amber colored elixer. It even had those small ufo circles that you sometimes (if you are lucky) find in your belgiun or higher abv beers.

Smell- Very sweet and frutiy. Lots of hops (pine, grapefruit and maybe some melon) and a decent amount of malts. A pleasure to smell.

Taste- I have never tasted this many hops in a beer with this high of an abv or actually in a barleywine. Bitter grapefruit hops in your face with a nice warming 9.6 abv feeling in my tummy. Sweet malts polish off this beer.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation, a bit higher than expected. Chewy and resiney.

Drinkability- ABV is the only thing holding me back from having more than three of these (yeah, I'm a lightweight). An excelent beer to have on a day just like this (cold and rainy). Looks like I will be getting a few more six packs of these. Another score for Sierra Nevada.

Version 2006....

Appearance exactly the same. Smells a touch hoppier and a bit less malt. As for the taste....needs some time in the cellar. Very light in the malt department with a huge hop bite and a very long lasting bitter hop aftertaste. Still a great beer, but needs some time to mellow, unlike the 2005, which was incredible a week after production.

Version 2007-

This version IMO will mask the 2005 in maybe a years or less time. Much more mellow out of the gate than the 2006 (which still needs plenty of time before it's great). Hops are fairly intense, but the malt plays much more of a role in the '07.

Version 2008-

Same appearance as always. The scent has changed to a more caramel malt dominant one than hops (even though they are still there). This vintage has a very bold caramel malt base that is actually equal to the hops! IMO this is very drinkable right now. I actually like balanced barleywines much better than the hop bombs that everyone is producing these days. Probably the most drinkable Bigfoot yet, at least right off the production line...gets some competition from 2005 though.

Version 2009-

The scent is the least in your face out of all the vintages. Hops seem a touch lighter and maybe just not as much flavor overall. Smoother than most years. Definitely not harsh. Drinkable right now.

GClarkage, Jan 25, 2005
Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

imperialking, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of InspectorBob
4/5  rDev -3.6%

InspectorBob, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of yourefragile
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

yourefragile, Jan 18, 2013
Photo of corby112
4/5  rDev -3.6%

corby112, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of orangesol
4/5  rDev -3.6%

orangesol, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of weeare138
4/5  rDev -3.6%

weeare138, Nov 18, 2013
Photo of stakem
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Review from notes taken on 4/22/10.

Vintage 2004 on tap at the Buckeye beer engine in Cleveland, Oh. Served initially way too cold in a snifter. Pours a clear amber color with a creamy finger of tanned head. Solid retension and a wall of lace clings to the glass. Nose is a great malty monster which includes a combo of sweetness from the malt and floral hops. Taste is quite bitter from the hops with an oily resine-like feel. Body of this beer is medium with a very mild level of carbonation. The alcohol becomes quite pronounced as it warms. Malty sweetness provides a solid backing but doesn't overtake the oily hop bitterness that lingers in the mouth. Some dark carmelized sugars, a bit like molasses, are left combating the alcohol and hops. Overall well done.

I've had this brew a number of times and ways ranging from as fresh as only a couple of weeks in the bottle to a vintage on draft that was 16 years old. This is a remarkable beer that can really stand up to aging and seemingly the older it is the better it gets. A wonderful display of how malt character can develope and hops can fade. This vintage being reviewed was surprisingly still hoppy and could have easily be kept good for several more years.

stakem, May 24, 2010
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A rather splendid burnished copper colour, with a thick and frothy head of yellow-beige bubbles. Lacing is phenomenal. Clarity is excellent. This is a damn hell yes looking beer. Just gorgeous.

Oh my and goodness. What a truly lovely American-hopped nose. Full of citrus, fruit and pine, delicious with resin and deliciously good. Oh, this smell always takes me back to San Francisco, a very pleasant place to be, surrounded by delicious beer. If I'm being picky, it's probably not as sharp or pungent as the best highly-hopped American ales, but it does have a pleasant sweetness sitting around that adds some character. Still - this is very, very nice indeed.

Creamy and silky on the mouth, a very fine and slick feel is noticeable from the first sip. Amazingly, it's not as bitter as I would have imagined from the aroma - and for a barleywine, that's excellent. There's a rich sweetness lolling over the tongue, feeling rich, heavy and gorgeous, and the hoppy notes just dance around over the top, never proclaiming their dominance. The beuatiful coupling of the flecks of bitterness and the creamy, sweet backbone make this a really, really excellent beer.

This is an exceptionally good barleywine, in my opinion. The hops remind you of its origin, but the palate is so full, rich and heavy with malt sweetness that you can't mistake this for a DIPA, which is how I feel a lot of barleywines end up. Extremely drinkable, and thoroughly enjoyable. Sierra Nevada, I take my hat off.

lacqueredmouse, Jul 01, 2009
Photo of dbrauneis
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

A: Pours a crystal clear copper color. The beer has a finger tall beige head that reduces rather quickly to a thick patch and a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Significant lacing is observed.

S: This beer has a really nice aroma, starting with some sweet caramel malt notes. After that the hops take over, first with the intense pine and then followed by some lighter tropical fruit notes.

T: The taste really follows the flavor... there is a light caramel malt sweetness up front that is followed by lots of hops. There is definitely a dominant presence of pine hops that have a real lot of lingering bitterness (and quite a bit of bitterness as well). Some subtle hints of tropical fruit hops. Some alcohol taste is present in the finish as the beer warms.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky/resiny.

O: A little surprising that there is so much hoppiness in a barleywine. There is a light presence of the alcohol in the finish of the taste and a slight amount of alcohol heat left in your mouth after drinking. Not the easiest drinking beer but still enjoyable. This beer is meant for sipping and probably only one in an evening. Definitely nice complexity to the smell and taste.

dbrauneis, Apr 03, 2012
Photo of Billolick
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, 2002 vintage, pours a golden amber.
Hoppy nose, rich, thick mouthfeel, Rum, brandy type flavor notes. Alcohol obviously present, warming. rich malt center, and a wollop of hops! Citrus, resin, pine notes. This one is a whole lot of beer. Malt, hops alcohol, strong flavors, yet it remains in balance. A favorite that deserves the high marks it typically gets.

Billolick, Feb 24, 2004
Photo of tempest
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Damn, this beer still knocks my socks off. Big estery malts with big citrus hops, rolled into an explosive barleywine. The balance aspect of this brew falters a bit from the kick making a little tough to drink. It's almost like the flavor is too big. I'm going to have to stow some bottles away in a cellar/closet and see what they can do after a couple years.

tempest, May 08, 2007
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,370 ratings.