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

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2,917 Reviews

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Reviews: 2,917
Hads: 6,974
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 10.65%
Wants: 361
Gots: 1,520 | FT: 66
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
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Reviews: 2,917 | Hads: 6,974
Photo of Buildscharacter
3.81/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It pours the color of dark caramel. Head doesn't stay long at all. While it's there it's off-white and full of tiny tiny evenly distributed's a beer head, what did you expect? It dissapates into a nice lace.

Smell: Hops. Strong hop aroma. Not much else there. Wasn't particularly impressed by the smell.

Taste: Comes on strong with the hops in the front. Bittering in the middle, leaving with a woody sweet character. Perfume comes to mind but in a good way.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, typical of a barley wine. Thicker than most not as thick as some. Carbonation is strong and really covers your tounge when you take the first sip.

Drinkability: Unless you are a fan of the strong hops flavors found in IPA's I wouldn't suggest this beer. The overwhealming flavor, unlike some other barleywine's is hops. Everything about it from the start to finish leaves you with a mouthfull of that hop flavor. Enjoyable. (942 characters)

Photo of BeerFink
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Edition....

Pours a very attractive ruddy amber color with a smooth off-white head. Aroma is surprinsingly hoppy, lots of crisp citrous in the nose. Also some sweet malty caramel. This is one smooth ass barleywine. And well balanced to boot. Lots of smooth, sweet malty character with caramel notes. Hops are more prevalant than I would have guessed for a barleywine, almost like a double IPA. The incredible balance between hops and malt cover up the alcohol for the most part. Very full mouthfeel drives this brew home. Finish is resinous with hop oils, slightly dry, and sweet at the same time. Devilishly drinkable. (627 characters)

Photo of travolta
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apperance: The lacing is tremendous and all over the place. The head is khaki and foamy. Not rocky, but a nice smooth foam. It looks like something you would spray into your walls to insulate them.

Nose: Fresh green pine, great tart hops. Some vanilla and mild citrus.

Taste: Perfect sweet malt, some tight green hops. A bit of yeast and powdery chemical at the very end. Some apple taste at the end...?

Notes: A great example of what this style can be. The price is great, this is the poorman's barleywine. (517 characters)

Photo of paulyrimz
4.77/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow, I simply love this beer! I usually don't like reviewing beers, because other reviewers have touched on things I'd say, it state it in a more clear manner. But this beer is the exception. I am not usually a fan of barleywines. I have in the past found them too malty. But for me, this barleywine is the perfect balance and in my opinion should be the pinnacle of this style. I had this nice number on tap at Lucky Baldwin's for their barleywine festival. I liked it so much that night, and bought a six-pack of it a few days later. The bottle was just as good as the beer I had on tap, which was amazing!

Appearance: Pours a dark red, with a nice head that dissapates rather quickly. Not much carbonation.

Smell: Smells of wonderful citrusy hops. Hints of pine. Delicious scent.

Taste: I can't explain it, brilliant hop flavor blended with a hint of the usual barleywine malt. Usually in barleywines, I only taste the malts which can sometimes be overbearing. Hints of caramel and cherries.

Mouthfeel: Though not very carbonated, silky, full-bodied appearance, makes it a joy to sample.

Drinkability: It's as if you can taste the high alcohol volume in most barleywines, but this one is totally compensated with hops. I could drink this all night...but only if I'm not driving (9.6% ABV). Incredibly smooth (1,327 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Update
S- The dark pine hops take on a tropical fruit quality as the beer opens up. Followed by some green mango hops in the finish.

T- The big pungent bitten hops have a strong bitterness that really lingers.


( Served in a medium brandy snifter)

A- reddish brown somewhat opaque body with tiny bubble gently rising to the surface. The head is a thin white ring around the edge of the glass.

S-The aroma is malty sweet with a hint of citrus hops.

T- Nice big maltyness with hints of caramel and sweet malts. There is also a nice strong hop bitterness and a floral/citrus hop flavor aswell. It finishes with a nice alcohol warmth.

M-Nice full body but not syrupy. Nice alcohol warmth but not hot.

D- This has a nice depth of hops but the malt is right there standing out. It is well balanced and I think this would stand up to aging aswell. The alcohol is nice but not overpowering in this beer. It has a lot of big flavors but they all work well together. (979 characters)

Photo of gentlebubbles
3.45/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2005 edition

Light toasty brown with vigorous bubbles. No head, of course.

Distinct grapefruit aroma.

Mild toffee sweetness is beaten about the head and shouders by the grapefruit tang, which turns into an astringent rind in the finish.

What could be a nice syrupy body is quickly dispelled by coarse bubbles.

The overall effect is too raw. Maybe a year or two in the cellar would help, but I think it's still overcarbonated. (442 characters)

Photo of maek228
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 bottling

Appearance: Dark murky amber...almost leaning towards a copper brown. Poured with a monstorous two finger head. The head had huge bubbles. The foam clung to the glass like frosted snow on a windsheild.

Smell: Ah...pungent fruit smell? Smelled good but was tough to get the smell.

Taste: Malty with bitter fruits abounding all over the place. Definitly a big fruity taste, but not a sweet fruity taste...kinda the exact opposite, which is fitting for a barley wine. Has an earthy hop kick. The alcohol is quite apparent in this one. Gives you that "gasoline" breath that you get from like drinking a St. Ides 40. Pretty sweet in my opinon.

Mouthfeel: Malty and thick. Chewy as all get out.

Drinkability: For a barleywine ale...good. (760 characters)

Photo of Star80
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2005. Pours a dark reddish amber with a quickly dissipating head. Not much lace in this dishwasher washed beer glass. The smell is pine and citrus hops, some sweet malts and ALCOHOL. Does have a dirty old sock funkyness that doesn't help anything. BUT, one sip crushes those impressions with a big blast of grapefruit and towering northwest hop bitterness followed by some sweet malt. Very rich and full in the mouth. The guy at the beer store remarked this years batch has less a.b.v. than last and I'm not sure if that is true or if it changes anything! (555 characters)

Photo of kegerator
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I just love Bigfoot.
pours out deep bronze/brown color with a big 2 inch head that is sticky and leaves great lace throughout. Smell is a nice caramel.brown sugar malt up front with a huge earthy spicy hop.
Taste was huge hops up front that were countered very nicely with the malt profile. Smoky earthiness in the hops with a finish of caramel malt and an alcohol warmth at the back of the throat. full bodied and finishes off fairly crisp and slightly dry. A Top notch Barley Wine that I buy every year. (507 characters)

Photo of pikemark
4.51/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first review and im psyched about it!

Right away reminded me of a stronger IPA, this just may remian my favorite style of brew. Bought a six pack after reading a bunch of helpful reviews.

Appearance is an orange brown, with tints of red and the mug smells of alcohol (almost too much for me.) I picked up a lot of hops right a way which surprised me, having never had a barleywine before. Definitely doesnt remind me of wine.

Tastes unbelievable, very bitter with hints of citrus, great blend of hops and malt. Again, I really enjoyed the hop flavor in this. Also strong caramel flavor, however very refreshing.

The drinkabilty is incredible, everytime i went to take a whiff I ended up taking a sip. Has that creamy, milky character that all beers should strive for.

An awesome one, got me buzzed. (826 characters)

Photo of sweethome
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Bigfoot

Pours burnt orange with a white head. Big cascade nose. Fantastic mouthfeel - full and sweet but backed by massive amounts of NW hops. The malts provide a carmel flavor. The hops are pine and citrus. Gentle warming from the alcohol.

American barleywine delivered in the typical SIerra Nevada fashion. A standrd setter. (338 characters)

Photo of Shultzerdugen
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

10 oz. in a Maredsous glass at Patton Alley Pub, Springfield, Mo.

Hazed dark copper with off white head.

Serious hops in the nose, of course. Pine and grapefruit. Just a hint of malt, gone as soon as it's noticed.

Hops in your face! Pine and grapefruit, just like the smell. I wonder why they don't call this an imperial IPA? The malt is so hard to nail down. The hops do a nice job of hiding the high ABV, until you finish the glass and realize what you drank. Super astringent.

Compared to the bottle this was substantially cloudier and darker. Aromas, flavors, and mouthfeel seemed toned down just a touch. It didn't seem to have the complete over the top hop vibe going I get from the bottle. That said it was still very effin' good! (750 characters)

Photo of studentofbeer
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


beautifully rich red, with a khaki head that drops away. looking through light, this beer is amazingly clear and a glowing, bright mahogany. looks like my gibson sg all polished up.

aroma has raisins and vanilla with some pine coming through from hops. very ripe fruit, close to overripe. a bit boozy, almost like rum in some ways. as it warms hops really come out, with lots of pine and earthiness.

taste: strong, pungent fruit, very ripe and dark. raisin, but also a spiced fruit, a touch of tropical fruit, leather, and bitter citrus and pine from the hops. some breadiness and biscuit comes through as it warms, as does alcohol.

awesome carbonation for a barleywine, really helps balance things out and not get too syrupy or cloying. incredibly bitter finish where the hops assert themselves and don't let go, lasting almost forever in the mouth. burns a bit when you swallow from the strong hop presence and the alcohol starting to peak through. excellent finish overall. (996 characters)

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. Bigfoot is a deep copper color with a large (very large for a barleywine) head. The head is tan and frothy with nice retention. Citrusy hops have a strong presence in the aroma, light caramel malt smell is also noted. Taste starts off very hoppy in a west coast citrusy sort of way. The hops are soon joined by a slick malty taste which give way to more hops in the finish. Fruity ale flavors also run throughout the sip. This is definently a west coast interpretation of the style, normally I like my barleywines a little less hoppy, but this is a damn fine beer. (578 characters)

Photo of GolgiIPAratus
3.79/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2005 Edition
12 oz Bottle

Sampled: 3.6.05

Poured like thinned caramel, producing a bubble pocked foam head that faded quickly in the wide snifter. Little to no lacing resulted while drinking.

The nose is rich. A satisfying composite of caramel malts, anise, rye and barley. Some hops jump up to mingle with the alcohol. This bottle's aroma is not as sweet as past years' offerings, but I've also enjoyed 2003 & 2004 later in the cycle of their vintage. I consider that to be a significant detail to point out when it comes to commenting on this year's brew. That goes equal in smell and in…

…the taste is (( BITTER )). Whoa. I don't know if when I see this beer referred to as “green” in other reviews (that are specifically sampled early after bottling) that this is what people are talking about, but I assume so, and I concur. Now, with that said, the beer is still delicious. I mean, heck, I LIKE bitter. I've laid down a few from this same six pack, so we'll see in 6mos/1yr/2yrs what may come when the hops mellow and time works its magic. Anyway…the bitterness is rounded off with some sweet malts in the middle of your sip, but the end is bitter again. I think some age will add the complexity I've been used to when drinking this beer so late after brewing. The mouth is well carbonated and coated with hop oil bitterness.

Drinking this beer is warming. Warm belly, warm face. Heaviness slowed me down and I drank two over the course of an hour & a half or so.

I wish I had reviewed bottles I've drunk in the past as they were much more “ready” than this bottle. However, I've made it a mission for myself to never just review something from memory alone, so this beer gets its honest shot from this year's batch in it's current state. That's how it goes...

I will definitely check back in 6 to give a half year review though!



10.25.05 - So, I cracked a bottle from this same 6 pack this past weekend (10.23.05) and man has it mellowed out on the bitterness. MUCH, much better and more to what I expected. I updated the taste rating to reflect this change. I'd have given this a 4.5 if it tasted like this the first time around, so I averaged the previous rating 3.5 and the 4.5, and gave it a 4 since i'm lead to believe aged beers shouldn't really be reviewd. I figure inside a year is enough leeway... (2,371 characters)

Photo of sinistermadman
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The '05 version from Sierra Nevada.

The brew pours a deep copper-brown which emanates a healthy, cakey head. The foams subsides rather quickly, but stays with the pint almost to the end. Leaves a slight lace on the glass. Smell is solid, but not spectacular. Alcohol is very evident in the aroma.

Taste is very good. Bitter intense hop flavor is at forefront. The brew tingles the palate on all sides. You can feel the alcohol warming the body. Good choice for a cold rainy night like tonight.

Althought I wouldn't consider this a session brew, it is still quite drinkable considering the barley wine style. All in all a solid barley wine. If I had a cellar I definitely would age this stuff for a year or so to mellow it our a bit. (741 characters)

Photo of kmpitz2
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

We did a small vertical here a week or so ago. We sampled 03 04 05 versions side by side. Here's what I got:

03 - Brown color with a ring of head over top, kind of dirty looking. The nose was raisiney with a slifht chocolate sweetness as well. The flavor still had some of the hop present. I really enjoyed the maltyness and dark fruit tones that came out from the age of this one. The feel was moderate to thick with a light carbonation. Three years did this beer good. I really enjoyed it.

04 - Poured an ambered brown color with a finger of head that stayed nicely. The nose was crisp, with a nice dose of hop and a slight roasted character alongside some dark fruityness. The flavor was mellowed a bit, but there was a sweet citrusy and a slight piney hop and a deep dark caramel malt. The feel was thick and great. Very good brew. I liked the residual bitter left on my tongue a lot.

5 - Poured a copper color with a 2 finger head that fell to coat the beer. The nose was nice and piney, kind of like being in a pine forest. Very strong and woodsey. The flavor was sweet sweet hop. Very brilliant hops over a deep caramel malt. The feel was thick, slightly syrupy. Great. Overall, I think this was my favorite of the vintages. Everything was in tune with each other.

Ratings will reflect the 05 beer. (1,319 characters)

Photo of mbarn59
4.77/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A very hoppy barley wine...hides the alcohol, well. very sweet on first sip but the aftertaste is to die for. You never want this flavor to leave you mouth.

The aroma is fantastic...floral but not like a flower shop...more forestral.

Just got a case of the 2005 for 32 bucks...a steal considering Old Horizontal is made right around the corner and is 12 bucks a six. Gonna cellar half the case at least and try again next year. (433 characters)

Photo of mynie
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber. So pretty and hazy. Nice head.

Smells like bigtime hops. So much hops, so many hops. Flowers and grains and sunshine. Really one of the most wonderful hop smells I ever hope to come across.

Huge Hop flavor. I meant to capitalize the H in "Hop." Floral and grainy. Too strong at first to really analyze, but after a while you find the floral-ness upfront, followed by a roasted, slightly malty flavor, ending with more sour hops. Wonderful.

What's the most surprising is how easy this beer is to drink. No, It's not like you're able to slam it, but it goes down pretty goddamn smooth for a Barleywine. Really a fantastic example of the style. (664 characters)

Photo of droomyster
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cloudy deep amber, with slow carbonation working its way slowly up toward the the two finger frumpy tan head. Strong smell of cherries and apples, sweet carmel and citrus notes. Chewy taste of cherries, berries and dark fruits and honey. Orange peel hops come out in the end. A lot of alcohol on the finish, and lingering bitterness. Very heavy brew, filling as they come. (372 characters)

Photo of Litterbean
3.72/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Is $13.34 a lot for a six of this? Not that I mind, just seems a little pricey.

Anyways, it pours a really gorgeous deep red, with hints of golden brown around the edges. The head is off-white, fluffy, and leaves a thick trace down the side of my pint glass.

It smells absolutely wonderful. Sweet, malty aromas with a hint of herbal hops. It's hard to tell exactly what odors are present, but the overall smell is powerful and is almost overwhelming.

It's a good tasting beer, I'm not going to lie. It starts off sweet, then the hops kick in and it is rather bitter. So bitter in fact that it burnt my throat. The alcohol in this one is all over. You can't get around it, it is a strong beer. I noticed caramel flavors and oily hops. It left my tongue feeling numb after two.

The fact that this is so high in alcohol, so bitter, and such a pungent beer makes this less than totally drinkable. A good beer to sip on a brisk afternoon, but nothing I'd bring to a get together. It's pretty harsh, but it is rather delicious in small doses. (1,048 characters)

Photo of mgdeth
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - 2005 batch, Deep amber color. Good off-white head, decent head rentention and beer lace. Light to medium carbonation.

Smell - Fruity esters are prominent. There is a pine and citrus aroma present. Malt aroma serves as a background. Hops aroma is subtle. Alcohol smell is also in there, and is easier to detect as the beer warms.

Taste - This one is a taste explosion. Really bitter, so hop heads should enjoy it. Malt/hop balance is pretty good for the American style. Alcoholic heat sits in the background.

Mouthfeel - Thick. The hop bitterness clings for a long time, adding to the overall big empression.

Drinkability - Well, this is a loaded question... It tastes great, but it is so heavy and filling. This might do well with some aging.

Comments - This beer makes me think of SIerra Nevda Pale Ale raised to a higher power. In years past, I was not a big fan of Bigfoot, but 2005 holds a lot of promise. (938 characters)

Photo of Chadbrew
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice tan yellow head that reduces to a fuzzy film across the top that remains there throughout the entire drink. Oh yeah, I'm in such a hurry to taste it I almost forgot to take a look at the color - deep amber hue. I set it down on the counter and took a step back. I like the way this looks, it looks like a meal.
Definitely some alcohol in the smell of this, some grapefruit..? maybe some undertones of banana. Great hoppy smell but not overwhelming to me at all.
The taste is citric, again the grapefruit. Good bitter from the Chinook and Centennial hops. The alcohol sort of slams you at the end. I'm tasting this for a while after I'm done, nice!
Mouthfeel is medium with a crisp feel and a dry finish.
I found this remarkably easy to drink considering the 9.6 ABV. I'm looking forward to re-visiting this again after it cellars for a while, plus at like $9 a sixer the beer/buck ratio is pretty sweet. (918 characters)

Photo of RushLimbmalt
4.77/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I braved the 2005 expedition. And a expedition it is... This barleywine is young, but I braved it anyway. It pours a cloudy amber color and has a nice tan head that leaves thick sticky lace on my glass. The aroma is a wall of hops... so much so that you can barely detect any of the malt and there is definitely a lot of malt in this beer. The taste is a immediate assault of hops on the tongue, backed up by a thick malty body. I can't wait to try it again after it ages a year or two... If I can wait that long. Lastly it is lacking in drinkability simply because it has a high enough ABV to smack you down if you get careless, but then it is so good it is best savored not swilled down like an American piss beer. (716 characters)

Photo of deejaydan
3.41/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Edition 2005.
Hazy appearance that clears as it warms a bit. Nice amber color, unreal head retention and lacing given the ABV. Aroma is all hops. I don't get any malt character showing through on this. Borderline Imperial IPA. Tastes follows aroma, all hops. Resiny citrusy hops. They have their place, just not at this level in a barleywine in my opinion. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, hard to get past the hop bite in this one. (430 characters)

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,917 ratings.