Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 6,226 | Reviews: 2,808 | Display Reviews Only:
4.15/5 rDev 0%
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!
03-13-2007 01:00:39 | More by jwc215
4.45/5 rDev +7.2%
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.
03-08-2004 01:05:44 | More by Gueuzedude
4.2/5 rDev +1.2%
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.
05-05-2008 01:58:15 | More by smcolw
4.78/5 rDev +15.2%
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.
01-29-2008 00:21:37 | More by Halcyondays
4.33/5 rDev +4.3%
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.
10-14-2003 15:46:03 | More by Gavage
3.23/5 rDev -22.2%
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.
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.
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.
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.
01-23-2012 06:16:23 | More by kojevergas
4.75/5 rDev +14.5%
01/25/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in Sacramento, CA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
01-25-2005 22:53:56 | More by GClarkage
4.2/5 rDev +1.2%
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.
10-05-2008 21:27:49 | More by oriolesfan4
4.5/5 rDev +8.4%
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.
07-01-2009 08:16:16 | More by lacqueredmouse
4.18/5 rDev +0.7%
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.
05-08-2007 05:30:50 | More by tempest
3/5 rDev -27.7%
Poured a deep and hazy ruby red, chunky with light visible carbonation. Head is rather big. Nose is alcohol, caramel and sugar, maybe some toffee and dried fruit, plenty of bitter hops. Flavor is full-bodied, and hoppier than expected and more bitter than I expected, somewhat obnoxious on the taste. As it warms, the finish takes on some licorice flavors. Mouthfeel is thick, bitter, off balance, tingly with alcohol and warming. That bitterness leaves it off balance to me. This thing need some age to mellow out and kill that hop bitterness. I know that American Bwines are hopped to Hell but sometimes you have to find common ground. To bitter and unpleasant to drink. I like SN but not giving it an A just because of the name or label. Sorry, average Bwine at best.
07-29-2008 02:06:19 | More by barleywinefiend
United Kingdom (England)
4.6/5 rDev +10.8%
2008 Vintage/25th Expedition! BB 25/01/09, served cool in Tripel Karmeliet's long-stemmed, flower-bulb shaped sniffer.
A: the colour comes dark ruby, with a decent but not fierce input of carbonation and a lovely, thick and creamy dark beige froth that lasts extremely well, leaving even lacing as it slowly retreats.
S: superb, like a DIPA, the aroma bursts with Cascade's bouquet of sweet citrus and overripe lychee fruits, syrupy+creamy caramely malts, really dense honey-ish notes, and random inputs of dates, fat (preserved) cherries and figs. A swirl gives rise to a very mild edge of fruit esters as of ripened pears, but not quite assertive as a traditional English Barley Wine, due to the heavy presence of US hops on the balance. The overall aroma is intensely perfumy and hoppy, yet balanced and complex at the same time.
T: a lubricating slurp of marvelously flowery, piney and lychee-ish juicy hops plus rich caramely malts precedes a rather soothing edge of tangy+tannic bitterness, as of dried citrus/grapefruits and stems of semi-fermented teas; as the bitter palate prevails, the rich yet belated fruitiness consisting of longan-fruits, nectar and rum-soaked sultanas manages to chime in. In the finish, aromatic Chinese tea-leaves, hop oil and perfume linger with the 3D grapefruit bitterness and an herbal "bite", in an assertive but still elegant manner.
M&D: softly carbonated, full-bodied yet ever so easy to drink due to the attenuated alcoholic feel, this beer is uncompromisingly hoppy, bold, bitter, and tannic-dry, actually much more in line with the style of a DIPA (or "Triple" IPA?). I can't see the point of branding any ale "American-(something)" if only it is extra- or over-hopped with American hop varieties, which hardly merits a new beer category IMO, but the experiment in this bottle is truly sublime all the same. I haven't forgotten the initial shock and eventual, extreme joy when I first tasted the 2005 Vintage - my first ever experience with an American Barley Wine, while the performance of this bottle connects me to that fond memory just seamlessly and ever so vividly! To me, this is a world-class heavy ale.
* Tasting Date: 16/11/2005
Got this beer at the UTOBEER beer stall in the Borough Market, London. On the cap it says "Bigfoot 2005 expedition", so that's Vintage 2005 I believe. Apart from that there's no freshness info. on the bottle.
4.5 A: served in a goblet, it comes with a slightly hazy, ruby hue; I manage to pour an extremely thick and fluffy off-white head which "egg-shell cracks" ever so slowly, leaving different layers of fine lacing; pretty static body, as far as my eye-sight could manage. Looking nearly perfect, like a glass of port if without the foam.
4.5 S: as wildly malty as incredibly hoppy--hallmark of oily, fat hops (Cascade?) reminiscent of the heavier American IPA/DIPA even...; after swirling, a flow of intoxicating, intense and mixed aroma comes through, with intense aroma of caramel (liquid form), sharp pine-wood smell, preserved prunes, dried longan-fruits, over-ripened lychees, a dash of orange syrup, and (maybe) a sprinkle of cinnamon or other spices. Overall, the aroma, despite its thick, even syrupy texture, shows great complexity and depth.
4.5 T&4.5 M: thick, syrupy and oily texture of fruity malts pours in, almost immediately bringing on board a wave of powerful bitterness so tannic and herbal it transforms the impression of the nose in no time! Lots of dried fruits as identified in the aroma, all wrapped between the mighty oily hops and underlying bitter taste. The tannic bitterness lingers too well, like the kind of mouthfeel you get whilst wrongly crushing grapeseeds b/w your teeth; but this one goes even deeper down the throat, well balancing the undesirable sugary and alcoholic aftertaste. 120%-bodied and fuller-than-full-flavoured barley wine it is, with a thick mouthfeel supported by tiny bubbly texture of carbonation--just about right.
5 D: this is my first-ever bottle of American barley wine, and it's incredibly delicious as well as surprisingly balanced. It's so different from those English barley wines I've tried which tend to taste "older" and mellower. In a sense, it bears much resemblance to other types of American ales maybe thanks to the bulk of strongly-scented hops used in this ale, even reminding me of some fantastic characters of SN's own Celebration Ale, but of course this one is of different type. Overall, this is a good digestif to replace a vintage port for me this winter. Though it's not something to savour for more than one bottle, I think the "drinkability"--overall performance, satisfaction vis-a-vis expectation--is sublime. I shall buy some more bottles for ageing and see if it indeed improves with age like a port~~
07-27-2009 19:55:04 | More by wl0307
4.6/5 rDev +10.8%
2007 served in a chalice. Pours a dark, slightly cloudy orange with a short head that mostly fades quickly but leaves some nice lacing. The smell is a little bit fainter than I'd like, but there is still a wonderful nose of fresh piney hops. The taste is amazing- this beer is definitely best fresh and unaged. An explosion of fresh and piney hops with a backnote of grapefruit and a solid dry malt background. There are also notes of bitter orange and an undefinable meaty taste as well. Delicious. The mouthfeel is substantial without being grainy or sweet. The hop levelof this barley wine keeps it dry and powerful- flirting with dipa style. Perilously drinkable!
02-08-2007 01:25:12 | More by Georgiabeer
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,226 ratings.