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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2,931 Reviews

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Reviews: 2,931
Hads: 7,038
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 11.35%
Wants: 367
Gots: 1,564 | FT: 71
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: 2,931 | Hads: 7,038
Photo of RedDiamond
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot breathes with a delightfully complex aroma that is sweet, malty, floral, and hints at vanilla and bubblegum. (Bubblegum aroma good.) Dark brandy-brown and semi-clouded, Bigfoot comes close to biting the middle palate, swerves towards the sweet, then finishes with an herbal balance of blended hops. The taste is plush and luxurious, yet does not specifically replicate the notes suggested in the aroma. (Bubblegum taste bad.) The flavor is a devilish mix of acidic tannins with hints of syrup and perhaps nutmeg. The brew leaves a slight sugary stickiness at the lip and possesses a vivid sweetness that will actually attract fruit flies. The net result is a mellow strong-ale with a smooth complexion.

Bigfoot possesses enough complexity to keep you guessing, and enough drinkability to keep you coming back for more. It is balance and regal. Even the alcohol at this early state has rounded contours.

In my notes I have written, “a rose of leather, with thorns of silk.” Strange brew indeed, but I’ll have another.
In my notes I have written, “a rose of leather, with thorns of silk.” Strange brew indeed, but I’ll have another.

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Photo of faernt
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I buy a case of this stuff every year and save two (bottles). Hey! I drink alot of Bigfoot in February. It's great! Bigfoot is a session barleywine. It sports a beautiful clear copper color and a great irregular lace which I see each time I open one because it's half gone before I look at the glass. It's hoppy but balanced and that shows up during the session. Spending time with this beer releases all its flavors. I've been told it doesn't age well. It changes over the years....I now have a six year vertical if anyone wants to get together I'll bring mine. But it really doesn't make any difference. It is an American experience. It is very drinkable. I urge you to make it a session beer once when you have a designated driver. It is a biggie, remember. Thank you Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of chilidog
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The 2004 lot. I heard alot about this limited released brew. The amber color with a large off-white head made for a nice appearance. I waited for the head to settle, sticky ring lace settles on the glass and laces all brew long. Very nice. The aroma is a slight sweet malt with stong floral hop overtone while a vapor of alcohol hits the nose. The taste is close to the same while the alcohol is more concealed. A good but strong balance of the hop and malt. The hop coats the mouthfeel (perhaps hop oil) as it lingers on awhile. Drinkability is smooth but with a respectful bite. I've put some away to age and look forward to see how they mature.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Boston's. Time to have one as winter is almost ending, spring is approaching. Dark copper to ruby color with a foamy white head. This beer left some incredible lace in the glass. What a smell, hops, hops, and malt, malt. What a big beer this is! The taste, is a roasted, sweet malt, with a bitter, bitter amount of hops. Wow, this beer is intense. I rewally could not finish an enitre pint. Not because it wasn't good, but man this is a big beer. This is a beer to sip in front of the fire when you are snowed in. Love the hops! Medium to full mouthfeel. As far as drinkability, one is enough. Great beer experience.

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Photo of watermelonman
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a great barleywine. It wasn't as "big" as I expected it to be, but it has an excellent flavor and it won't scare away the kids or neighbors.

It does a good job of blending the alcohol content without completely masking it. Very enjoyable overall.

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Photo of filabrazilia
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A beautiful clear dark amber with a thin tan head. Great lacing adorns the glass in sheets.

There is a floral hop presence in the nose that is balanced with a gentle malt sweetness. This is a smell I expect from a good barleywine and the 2004 Bigfoot does not disappoint.

The flavor is wonderfully balanced and smooth. The hops and malts are prominent and complementary. There is a rich maple and carmel sweetness that is cut with a strong hoppiness. Nirvana in a glass as far as I'm concerned. The thing that is so wonderful about the taste is that it seems close to perfection in its balance. There is no hint of alcohol in the flavor.

This is a creamy smooth beer that has a bitter dry finish. It is full bodied without being chewy or syrupy.

Another great beer from SN and a nice addition to my basement. I can't wait to try this against 2003 and find out which one I like better. I think this is an exceptionally drinkable beer that can be enjoyed anytime.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,931 ratings.