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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.

2,925 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,925
Hads: 7,017
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 6.76%
Wants: 363
Gots: 1,545 | FT: 68
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
Reviews: 2,925 | Hads: 7,017
Photo of CRJMellor
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 version

Pours a maroon and copper color with a bright white billowy head that settles quickly but leaves a ring of uneven lace. Lots of carbonation bubbles jumping around make carbonation clearly evident.
Aroma of sweet malt balanced by exploding floral and citric hops.
Flavor of recih toffee and malt follwed by a very acidic and citric surprisngly bitter finish. Alcohol is hidden very well.
Mouthfeel is very solid with a slightly burning finish, very interesting.
Drainkability is good but faily acidic finish is tough to take over extended period without some grub. (583 characters)

Photo of gnaussea
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not as dark as a normal barleywine, a bigger head than a normal barleywine. Smell is of sweet malt and some spice, but, for the style, has the volume turned down. The flavor is less disappointing, but still, it is lacking the nerve of its superiors. This has very traditional barleywine flavors, but it not as bold as normal. I hate to think of it as simply a strong-ale for the masses, but I can't hlp myself. That being said, its not a bad beer. It has been well brewed; alot of effort has been put here, but unfortunately, it has been put to making the beer well accepted. I just prefer a barleywine that doesn't accomodate to you, rather, one that makes you accomodate to it. ie....north coast or stone-double bastard ( if you want to call the latter a barleywine, which i dont like to.) I love this style of beer, so I may be picky, but if other strong ales did not exist, i would be reviewing this beer highly, but in context, i must give it moderate marks (962 characters)

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

2004 bottle, it's just a baby! ;)

Pours a slightly cloudy deep orange/brown.

Smells sharply hoppy, and a bit malty, subtle fruity smells here too.

Prominent hops taste but not enough to call it a hop monster, slightly sweet and fruity too. This has lots of complex tastes in the background but it isn't yet really ready. Too bad they don't cellar this for a year or two before they release it.

Mouthfeel is almost to thick, Big beer here.

Drinkability is OK this REALLY needs a few years of aging. I will locate a more mature bottle and re-review this. (567 characters)

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

2004 bottle.

Pours a hazy dark amber with a big fluffy light reddish-tan head. Lacy head. Smell of very hoppy. Surprisingly so. Very floral with some underlying bitterness.

Taste is big maltiness (of course) but quickly the hoppy bitterness muscles in there. Floral and fruity hops flavors. As it warms, there is more underlying caramel and alcohol flavors present, especially in the finish. Bitter hops finish and a sticky, malty and bitter floral aftertaste. A bit of alcohol burn lingers. Much hoppier than I remembered but I haven't had this since 1997 or so. Very smooth, good sippin' brew. Nice! (607 characters)

Photo of PartyHatjo
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: In the glass, it was ruby it color, with a slight brown tendency. The head was minimal, but cream-colored. It didn't so much lace down the start of the glass as it did leave a white head film down it.

Smell: Deliciously hoppy, much more hop aroma than any other barleywine I've had. Malts are present in the background, and do sometimes peak through the hops.

Taste: Sweet and hoppy. The malts are prevalent in the palate, and are balanced well with the hoppiness. The bitterness provides the perfect foil to the malty sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth...borderline syrupy, but not as much as other barleywines I've had. Carbonation is enough to bring out any hidden flavors.

Drinkability: Unbelievable for a barleywine (although it does have lower alcohol than all other barleywines I've had). The alcohol flavor isn't perceptible at all. (858 characters)

Photo of yankeeheel
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage

Pours a candy apple red with a small eggshell colored head. Very nice looking in the glass. Almost looks like brandy with a head. Head recedes in to a beautifully swirled sheet of lace.

Smells quite hoppy with a bit of malty sweetness in the background.

Taste wise this is alittle subdued for a brleywine but I'm also keeping in mind that it's young. It doesn't overwhelm you with a ton of flavor like a lot of young barleywines will. Quite a bit of candy like sweetness up front with a heck of a hop twang in the back. Bits of wheat like flavor drift in and out.

Mouthfeel is quite syrupy and full. Carbonation is minimal.

Drinkability is right up there. This thing is going to rock once the hops settle in. (738 characters)

Photo of RedBaron
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This, the 2004 version, made for a great respite after a long hike in a snow-covered forest.

This outstanding, if young, brew poured nicely from the start, with just the right amount of carbonation (which lessened, but remained throughout). The color was a deep dark bronze. I believe this ale is filtered, which somewhat dismayed me, but not too much (I kinda like my barleywines a bit cloudy).

The initial smell was of a very hoppy and 'green' beer--it's still too young to fully enjoy, as the hops overwhelmed the nose. However, given another 6 months to a year, I'm sure it will mellow nicely.

The taste was a great blend of bittering hops and a biscuity malt, kinda like the buttery biscuit flavor you'd get from Popeye's. It was incredible, to say the least. However, I still think this beer needs to mellow out a bit. I'll probably drink one or two more bottles this season, but I've already socked three away for years to come.

This truly is a world classic, but one needs to be patient as it matures. (1,024 characters)

Photo of Hefe
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tasted at RFD on 1/17/04

Appearance: Dark amber with a lasting tan head.

Smell: Wow! Big citrusy, piney hops with floral overtones.

Taste: Big malt, Big hops, big sweetness, big bitterness, just damn big. The big surprise here is how well balanced this bad boy is, complex too. Toffee, grape, and citrus, with pine and more citrus on the dry alcoholic finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick and heavy, not so much creamy as unctous, but balanced by the alcohol and a touch of acidity.

Drinkability: For savoring on cold winter nights. (535 characters)

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

2004 vintage.

Bigfoot is a full-bodied barleywine with impressive hop character. Though loud and hop-focused, the malts are very supportive with a hint of toffee. Alcohol on the nose and palette, but still to style. And though it meets all the requirements, this does little to set itself apart. That said, I couldn't believe the cap said 2004. This was easy-drinking, lightly warming, and absolutely delicious (albeit standard). Much like the fresh Batch 6000, 2004 Bigfoot Barleywine drinks like it has a year of age on it already and that, alone, is quite impressive.

Relax, relax.
ng (594 characters)

Photo of kmcnair
4.73/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am reviewing the 2004 Vintage... which I have been waiting very impatiently to come back since the 2003 vintage ran out of stock. Shame on me for not buying more of this stuff last year.

Pours a dark rich amber into my glass and a thick creamy tan head rises to the top of my pint glass. Looks really good.

The boquet is very floral and fruity, can really smell those hops in there.

Taste is... ahhh just like I remember it. Intense and hoppy, it is huge. Very complex. Alcohol is there but not overbearing by any means.

Mouthfeel is thick and rich, leaves a warming sensation as it goes down.

This is a very drinkable brew, even at 9.4%! And it's one of my personal faves... as a matter of fact I am going to go get another one! (746 characters)

Photo of Stingray5
4.82/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 release, pours cloudy on the browner side of red. Super fresh cascades in the aroma, deterget-like, almost like that chlorine clean pool smell. Big mouthful gives way to big hop taste, big malt backbone. Fruity, some grape. Then comes the alcohol, confirming it's barleywine status. Stand back, this baby needs a little time to mellow. Dry, sticky hop finish, long, belly warming alcohol warmth.

This is one powerful brew. I think it's a little young at this point, might be more balanced with some time. Still, an incredible tasting brew. Between this and the Celebration Ale, SN has absolutely blown me away. (618 characters)

Photo of beergeek279
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'04 vintage, served in the 12 oz bottle, into a snifter. The color was a very dark amber, with a wispy head. The smell was a citrusy hop blend. The taste was a very nice citrus hop bitterness over the creamy caramel malt, and the alcohol was quite warming and not harsh and overpowering. Mouthfeel was very thick. As for drinkability, despite the ABV, I could drink tons of these.

When I first had this one last summer, it sent chills down my spine & made me think just how lucky I am to have so many good beers in my time. A fantastic barleywine, and proof that the style doesn't have to be an ABV monster to impress...well-balanced and warming is quite enough. Quite good, and now that it's out for 2004, I'll be having more of this! (738 characters)

Photo of Ellbert
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh 2004

Appearance is a reddish brown with a slight haze that lingers on the top half of the beer. The head is a slightly cream color and lingers for a while until leaving a very heavy lace with large bubbles.

The smell has a huge malt characteristic to it with some hops noticable. Some say pine which I can detect a hint of. Alcohol is evident in the smell. Vey complex.

The taste is very sweet with a spike of hop flavors. These hops leave you dry and they linger forever. A very pleasant flavor but the lingering hops are a bit annoying. Alcohol is not very evident which is a little disapointing to me.

The mothfeel is very meaty with a perfect amount of carbonation to go along with it.

the drinkability is low for this because of the hop lingering aftertaste and the alcohol. (802 characters)

Photo of stewart124
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A dark cooper color with a nice off-white head that leaves very pretty lacing along the sides of the glass. A nice looking barleywine. The smell is exaclty what you'd expect from a Sierra Nevada brew, spicey hops and a hint of pine. There is a nice blend of hops and malts that tickle the tastebuds and again I taste a little bit of pine. The alcohol is very well masked by the other flavors. A bittersweet flavor that is very drinkable. I think it is safe to say I fell in love with this beer. A must try for anyone who loves Sierra Nevada's products and I wish this was available more of the year. (599 characters)

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

[2001 vintage tasted January 2004]
I was pleasantly surprised at the shelf-life for this powerhouse brew. The malt complexity was amazing with fruit, grain, sweet and sour and caramel. The mouthfeel was like pudding. It went down real easy and took me at least 20 minutes to finish. The maltines came throught in the aroma along with a bit of spicy cascade hops. The hop finish had faded from the fresh taste I remember from an earlier tasting. The swallow had it all, a lingering malt sweetness, great mouthfeel and a slow transition to the astringent hoppiness. It didn't taste strong for alchohol but after just one, I had a definite buzz. (643 characters)

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

Whoa...kick me in the butt and have me enjoy it too! Cloudy dark brown appearance with a nice head and great lacing. Smell was dintinctly like grapefruit, with a slight yeasty bouquet. The smell invited me to drink. Taste was a blast of hops that slaps you in the face, says "sip" me you fool, then ends in a dry grapefruit, citrus finish that is damn nice in the winter...Mouthfeel is dry and the strong alcohol presence reminds you that it is a barleywine, so sip! But for the high abv, I thought the drinkability was fine. Only one per night, though! (553 characters)

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

Bigfoot Expedition 2003...Poured into a Duvel tulip, with a small head and lacing that left the impression of a snowy mountain panorama. The color of the beer was a hazy deep chestnut with an orange hue. The smell was composed of full and sweet maltiness, with some sharp hoppiness poking through. This beer had a large and tasty roasted malt profile, which is quicky smacked down by an excellent zippy bitterness without harshness...a polished effort! The delicious malt and bitter hoppiness lingers on beautifully. Mouthfeel was smooth and full, with a nice level of carbonation. The drinkablity was suprisingly good for a barleywine...big flavors but not overpowering. This has to be one of my favorite examples of the style.

2002 vintage, brought out of storage in Jan 2004...notable differences: more head, less sweetness, and perhaps some subtle fruit esters on the nose. (880 characters)

Photo of johnrobe
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 edition:
I have been woefully negligent by ignoring this classic in favor of newer brews that have been surrounded by hype. But Bigfoot is clearly cast and mold for the hop accented American Barleywine. SN's founder must've sold his soul, as that can be the only explanation for their continued expansion and maintenance of lofty quality standards.

Bigfoot pours a deep orange / chestnut with a beige head that maintains a cap. The aroma is dominated by piney / citric (orange peel) hops with a strong dark caramel backing. The hops still shine loud n clear in the taste but the sweet malt has emerged nicely after nearly a year of cellaring. Citrus and pine combine with toffee, bitter chocolate and roasted nuts in the flavor. Bitter finish lingers and the belly stays warm. :-)

This brew's bitterness can be overwhelming when young. It's best to cellar it for several months to a year and beyond...if you can keep your greedy hands off of 'em. (959 characters)

Photo of counselor
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 - poured a deep maduro with a thin head. Smelled of the typical deep sharp SN hops and then a whiff of the alcohol. The tase was right on, slow sippin, thoughtful, world problem solvin' goodness. A moments worth of slightly sweet malt flavor almost like dry maple. Then came the full hop and alcohol assault, sharp, dry cognac like flavors. Big head filling flavors of spice, wood and tobacco. What a well balanced mouthful, really good carbonation balance that lasted the whole glass. A super beer that packs a wollop and is a really good barley wine example. (565 characters)

Photo of Jon
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 Vintage.

Dark copper with little visable carbonation and no head. Nose features forward, assertive hops and caramel malt that opens up around mid-glass. Alcohol presence is quite evident, as well. Piney, resinous hops with an almost sugary sweet caramel malt character sticks out more in this aged keg than they do in younger versions. Notes of figs and currants open up, as well. Even in this almost two year old version, the raw hop presence hardly fades, while the malt becomes more complementary and sweet. The alcoholic burn on the finish lingers, but not as much in more youthful versions. Mouthfeel is viscous and oily, yet round and appropriately carbonated for an aged draft offering. Full-bodied and assertive, Bigfoot at this point in its life is still one of the hoppiest barleywines around. Quite drinkable, nonetheless, and worthy of some additional aging. Great stuff. (892 characters)

Photo of Stubbie1
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 Bottle,

The appearance is a brown/amber color with a ½ inch off white head. The head fades leaving a very decent lacing.

The aroma is sweet. Hints of raisins, plumbs figs , molasses, caramel, and alcohol are present. Ther is also a faint whisp of Hops present. As I sit and take in more aroma the sweetness of the fruit it is quickly over ran by the alcohol.

The taste is sweet. A dominant malt start followed by a small wave of the fruit notes. Nevertheless, as you enjoy it all you’re slapped in the face with the 9.6% alcohol punch. There is a slight creamy smoothness to this beer and a smooth feeling is left behind on the tounge.

It is an enjoyable beer. One that you would put your feet up and unwind to watch some football on a cold winter day. For me, the punch from the alcohol is a bit too forward. It makes it somewhat hard to enjoy. Therefore, I could not sit and enjoy this beer all day. I will try the other 3 at the 9, 12 and 1 year 3 month mark just to see if there is a change. (1,014 characters)

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

2003 bottle and sampling -
I’m not a big fan of barley wines, but Bigfoot easily gets my vote for best of the bunch (that I’ve tried so far). Nice tight half inch head that reduced so a sticky lace. Great aroma of lots of sweet caramel and fruity malt with a slight hint of alcohol. Only a small touch of spicy hops to the aroma. Color is deep copper-brown and slightly hazy. A large amount of carbonation can be seen rising from the bottom of the glass, yet there’s only light carbonation on the tongue. The palate is similar to the nose with a good deal of caramel and fruity malt sweetness. The alcohol which is quite obvious is in no way awkward in its tendency to stand out. Instead, it melds with the other flavors only adding to the overall experience. Decent hop bitterness picks up toward the end to perfectly balance out the sweetness from the start. There’s a little roastiness to the finish and aftertaste which lingers for quite some time. Easily the best barley wine I’ve had to date, and I’ll certainly be looking for this one again. (1,056 characters)

Photo of waughbrew
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Join me as I revisit the beer that first kicked my ass....

2003: Hazy dark amber with a big glorious egg-nog head that lasts forever. Big aroma of resinous, citrusy hops sting your brain. The hopping starts to resemble spicing - cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg, and cocoa powder. Malt wafts up mostly as light caramels, but also with a little cookie dough. Taste does not try to hide the alcohol - in fact it showcases it. Brown sugar taste in more present than I expected from this brew. Hops prickly on the tongue. Although I would not mind the alcohol and bittering hops knocked down a notch, this is still a wonderful brew.

edit: at one year old, the 2004 diminishes in hop flavor and bitterness, as well as the alcohol flavor. It becomes much smoother, but the finish loses some of its character. (801 characters)

Photo of pezoids
4.82/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 version.

This is one big and bold beer. Poured out a rich ruby amber color with a long lasting and very creamy head. Wonderful lemon citrus hop bouquet intertwined with a heavy malt sweetness. The flavor is extremely rich and full flavored, but not overly sweet. Perfectly balanced. There’s a pleasant bitter grapefruit-like hop tang with some fruitiness. In the forefront are raisins, oranges and plums. Also has some cider and cordial-like qualities. A well rounded and complex ale that will put meat on your bones. This has to be one of the best tasting strong beers that I have had in recent memory.

Excellent. (626 characters)

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

10/23/03, 2003 bottling

This beer is grande! The nose is awesome. Incredible amalgam of scents, both VERY malty and VERY hoppy with some alcohol in there. Really nice blend. The taste is good, but really really hoppy. Even for a really big hoppy beer, I think they could tone it down a touch, but this was a 2003, I've had one a couple years old, I think it was a 2000, and it was definately more mellow. But screw that! I love Bigfoot!


edit 3/3/05, 2005 bottling

If I have a beer that I've already reviewed, but that I gave a poor review of (quality of review not gave the beer a poor score), see above, and I'm in a position to review the beer again...I'm gonna do it.

Very nice looking beer. Deep orange, auburn color. Very appropriate carbonation. Not too much. I am consistently impressed with SN's ability to naturally carbonate their beers and yet maintain such clear beers. This is why I'm skeptical that their bottling strain is the same as their primary ferment strain. And other reasons...but I digress.

gonna have to take the nose rating down 0.5 points. It's nice and big and hoppy...but that's it. I'd like a little more.

Really wonderful flavor. Big big hops just barely held up by the malt backbone of this beer. Nice sweet malt flavor, it's there, but it is overwhelmed by the huge citric bitterness. I like it.

gonna up the mouthfeel in this tasting. It has a very nice mouthfeel. Maybe it's the year, but this year seems much thicker. Nice mouthfeel to have something for those hops to skate around on.

Gonna have to up the drinkability rating 0.5 points as well. Just a really drinkable barley wine. This summer my buddy bought a case and we made 1lb hamburgers and hand cut french fries and drank 8 or 9 bigfeet a piece. Holy crap...we were fucked up!

So overall score stays the same, but I tweaked the individual category scores. (1,903 characters)

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,925 ratings.