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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,002 Reviews
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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 02-06-1998

User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,002 | Ratings: 7,305
Photo of DaveGood
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have had the previous 2 years issue of this beer and absolutely loved them so I was definitely looking forward to this year's edition.

This beer poured a beautiful copper/amber color with a nice bubbly tan head that dissapated rather quickly. The aroma was dominated by fine west-coast hops and a hint of caramel-like malt.
There was also a nice fruit scent present. As the ale hit the tastebuds, I could taste raisins, figs, grapes, and apples as well as the chocolate and molasses tasting malts. The mouthfeel is very smooth as the carbonation is right on. Overall, this is a great beer that is remarkably smooth for a barleywine. I could definitely sit back and drink several of these.

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

Presentation: 12 oz brown stubby with a vintage date of 2004 on the cap. A small amount of sediment stay still during the pouring. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Thick pancake like head with a webby trail of lace all over the glass. Clear brownish garnet color is brilliant against the light.

Smell: Enthralling aroma of fresh hops hits the nose with a stiff punch of grapefruit and mild pine. Light fruity esters and a caramel like malt are in the back.

Taste: Pungent right from the beginning, not astringent just really bitter from the hops. Then lays in the malt base which is a stable foundation of caramel and toasted sweetness. Some fruity esters jump into the mix as well as a clean yeast in the back ground. Towards the end things dry out with a faint fusel alcohol tagging along for the ride.

Notes: Perhaps a bit green though still damn tasty, drink it now for a good whack to the taste buds or let it sit a year or so to mellow it out. Either way Bigfoot a sure thing.

Bottled 2003 batch.

Appearance: The head is perfection, the lace is thick and sticky with a web like trail down the glass. Deep and dark amber color with a tawny reddish hues.

Smell: Perfumy hop resin aroma with a sweetish oily floral back ground, pungent in light grapefruit and vague piney scents. Esters throw a whiff of alcohol in. Some caramel in the nose within the blanket of malt sweetness that can’t seem to cover the hops.

Taste: The body is big, strong and unwavering. Well textured moderate carbonation. Flat out the hops show who is boss, bitterness is hard but with little astringency. Oily hops make for a slick and smooth mouth feel. As the hops roll over the taste buds the flavor becomes more rustic with a bit of earthy leafy hop flavor. Lots more to go around with the hops with citric and piney flavors. Maltiness may not be the dominant one though it still gives a good sweet push on the palate. Caramel and a toasted malt sweetness swirl around the hops and seem semi melded with each other. Alcohol is certainly not to be ignored either with a slow yet steady warmth, mild esters and a fruity character of ripe figs and prunes.

Notes: A bit more balanced than previous years with that same trademark hardcore hop character. This is the Big Mamma of hoppy barleywines and you have to love the stuff. This is a well aged beer if you have the willpower.

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

I've had this before, and I thought I had already reviewed it. Oh well, I'll do it now. Pours a dark brown, with a foamy head. Some sticky lacing and head retention. Aroma of grapefruit and malt leaps out of the bottle. Strong, bitter and "green" tasting (reminds me of home grown!). As strong tasting a beer (this side of WW2002) as you'll find, right up there with Old Crusty in that regard. A blast for the tastebuds. Also, a boot in the arse (alcohol doesn't dominate the taste, but it's in there!). I'll have to grab a few more to keep around for when the mood strikes me. You gotta love this brewery for consistent quality.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

deep coppery red color with a tan head. fresh hops anda berries dominate the smell, there is also cocoa and a little bit of alcohol. i taste raspberries, a little pear, caramel, a dry chocolate flavor, something buttery, brown sugar, and some piney hops kick towards the end, but are present throughout with a lingering bitterness. not syrupy thick like some barleywines, with a good amount of carbonation, i realy can't ask for anything more from a mouthfeel when coupled with the taste of it. sierra nevada does it again.

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Photo of BittRnessabounds
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 edition. Hey guess what? It's a Sierra Nevada brew, and there are lots of hops. But anyway, this is actually a pretty well balanced beer. I was expecting to be blown away by hoppiness, especially for a barleywine, but that was simply not the case. Sure there were strong hop characters to this barleywine, but it is also nicely malty. Bigfoot pours a nice dark slightly cloudy reddish brown with a very nice head with good lace. The smell is equal parts hop and malt with just a touch of alcohol to tickle the nose. As the ale hits your tongue the warming and molasses like malt flavors dominate and then there is a hint of the alcohol sweetness only to be followed up by the hop bitterness and citric flavors. Good full body and carbonation also enhance this beer. All in all a very good barleywine, especially for one so young. I look forward to aging another and giving another go of this in the future.

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Photo of jonnylieberman
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A beutiful beer to behold. Poured from a 12 oz TWIST OFF (who would of think...barleywine in a twist off!) bottle into a pint glass. Gorgeous, archetypal amber/copper color. Looks like a beer is supposed to look. Killer head filled with tiny bubbles.

The smell is excellent. Malt, alcohol and hops. A little citrus, a little honey, some sugar... almost maple-like. Hops give off a nectarine scent.

The taste is world class. Totally delicious with hops all over the tongue. Alcohol shows up only at the end. Raisins, prunes, figs, grapes, cocoa and a slight roasted flavor are all present.

Mouthfeel is even better. Big, smooth, luscious. Very fruity, plum and pear, even apple flavors abound. The hop kick at then end is sublime.

I could drink several of these. I have several in my beer cave waiting to be drank. The alcohol will probably get you in the end, but so what? A phenomenal beer.

Notes: 2004 edition. For a barleywine to taste this good this early is a testament to how excellent the brewery is. To me, this is nearly the perfect beer. Don't be scared off by the high alcohol content. More beers should be just like this. I love it!

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Photo of Trentonator
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer leaves a wonderful lace and has a great head. The smell of this beer is nothing short of amazing. Taste is fantastic, color is a rusty, bubbly and quite dazzling array of sheer beer goodness (or perhaps godliness). Mouthfeel is understated at first, then sneaks up on you with a vengeance, leaving you with a slight bitterness and hoppy aftertaste. I drink this beer and think of Benjamin Franklin's statement that "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy".

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Photo of merlin48
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a mildly hazy, copper color, with a one finger ivory head that leaves massive patches of lace down the glass.
Caramel malt hits the nose first, but is immediately supplanted by a bigtime assault of westcoast hops. Pine and grapefruit notes are immense, and a vinous character is noted in the background.
Mouthfeel is full of hops and dazzling carbonation.
Taste has a vinous alcohol presence at first, then the citrusy hops kick into full gear. Spruce pine provides a bitter hops backbone most of the way, but plenty of citrus grapefruit, lemon, and orange make things interesting. Caramel malt retains a minor, background presence. Longlasting, bitter pine aftertaste.
I'm still a novice to the barleywine style, and if I were tasting this blind, I would think I was sipping a nice imperial IPA. Certainly, Bigfoot was an enjoyable and very drinkable ale, regardless of its nomenclature.

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

2004 batch. Served in a brandy snifter. The appearance was good. Dark orange with a small head of dense small bubbles that left quick. It also left a nice curtain of lacing. Very clear for the style IMO. Not a bit of yeast floating around in there, very unlike some others, such as DFH's Olde school barley wine. The smell was excellent, piney, hoppy and solvent alcohol. All enhanced by the fact that I was drinking it from a snifter I suppose. The taste was excellent as well. Much more hoppy than I expected. Big oily bitter hops no less, right upfront. Balanced by the piney flavor and equally big sweet malt backbone. Very well balanced. More so than Victory's Old Horizontal. The finish was warming alcohol that seemed to evaporate out of your nostrils. The mouthfeel was nice too. Velvety smooth, although more carbonated than I expected, and a tad filling. The filling feeling is the only reason I didn't give it a 4.5 on drinkability. The taste is there, but as with all big beers, I would probably not session with this brew. All in all an excellent example of this style. In fact, my favorite.

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Photo of Onceeven
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 batch. Had the will-power to keep this one a whole two months before I popped this one open. I know, pretty weak.

Poured a dark hazy sienna with smallish head, but thats my fault. Spotty lacing, but overall a nice looking beer. Wonderful aroma, overwhemling scents of pine, roasted malts, and oily hops. There's something else there too that I can't put my finger on, but it's pleasant. This on has a big chewy mouthfeel with the aroma still stealing the scene. Taste.. this is one big tasting brew. More pine and malt sweetness with a big hop follow up to match. A superbly balanced beer, with a nice warming alcohol finish. A must try!

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

Dark red with a thin tan head, left thin webs of lace.
Smells like a pine tree, pepper, dark fruit, malt, citrus.
Tastes like a spicy pine tree, alcohol tingles the lips and adds a pepper note. Sweet malt, cherry, plums and caramel. The robust taste lingers in the mouth and the citrus (grapefruit) note grows with warming.
Medium-full body, great drinkability for a barleywine.

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Photo of GuinnessSmurf
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a very strange and wonderful treat for me. I got excited just to dig into this barleywine, but I was skeptical. I had to test Sierra Nevada with two bottles of this. Was it worth it?

A Big Foot entered my glass...the foot was a beautiful brownish, red color (with copper glow in the light). The head is short lived, but is not unusual (or breathtaking either). I guess you can't have both a big foot and a big head. BUT a big foot does not infact herald a stinky foot. This beer was super "smell-icious". This is probably the only beer I have given a 5 to, and its in the smell departement. Don't believe me? Pour one of these bad boys and get ready. Its a complicated affair - can be best described using non-smell terms such as: invigorating, exciting, inviting, flirty.

How could I resist? I took the foot into my mouth. As any foot that enters your mouth, it comes at you pretty aggressively. This is ok, nothing to hide in a barley wine. So at first the mouth enjoys a bitter flavor and an alcohol flavor. This is then balanced out in the finish with some of the sweetness that is advertized in the smell.

Good beer - nice for multiple beers, and a great introductory barleywine (style) beer for those just getting aquainted with beer tasting.

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Photo of Tballz420
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 bottle, drank in Mar. 2004

This beer pours out a dark brown color, cloudy body, with a tan head on top. Huge malt aroma, some hops, plum. The taste is a blast of hops. Malts are pretty smooth. Alcohol spicyness.

This is one hell of a big beer, I am impressed at its strength of flavors this long after it was brewed. Excellent beer.

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

What can I say? Excellent beer. Went down well, even at room temperature. It took be 3 hours to polish off 3 of these as I was savouring every sip. I expected overbearing hop bitterness after checking IBU's from SN's website, but it was too evenly balanced to notice.

Definately worth 11 bones a sixer.

Well deserving of my rating; 4.5 out of 5 swills.

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Photo of kwalters
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2004 Vintage.

First off, let's get the trivial things out the way. The name and label of this beer are fantastic. There's nothing more fitting for a big seasonal brew from Sierra Nevada. Well done.

Bigfoot pours a deep brownish-amber color with a very sizable head by barleywine standards. It looked every bit the 4.5 that I gave it as I stared at the snifter. The smell was strong with a notable hop presence. I immediately began thinking Imperial Celebration.

The taste was indeed recognizable as the big brother of SN's Pale Ale and Celebration Ale, but it definately has it's own character too. There's a very slight hint of sweet maltiness with the first drop that hits the tongue. That's immediately washed away by hops, bitterness, and alcohol. As I allowed this brew to warm up over about a 45 minute period while I drank it, the taste became a bit more balanced. The finish had less bite and the alcohol tried to hide. But unfortunately, like a 250lbs kid trying to hide behind an oak sappling, it's never quite out of sight.

I've got a few of these put away for a special occasion. I'll be drinking those at about one year from bottling. Maybe things will mellow out by then.

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Photo of jtfest
3.37/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. The brew poured somewhat thin and a dark amber color with a small mustard-tan head. Appearance-wise, it looked more like an amber ale than a Barleywine. The aroma was a bit hoppy, with pepper-like hints. The mouthfeel was thin but coating, with a bit of a carbonated bite. The aftertaste was bitter with a tinge of alcohol. The flavor hard to grasp -- some woody hints, some hop indications, a bit of malt sweetness -- but overall the experience was more like an IPA than a Barleywine to me. That makes it pretty drinkable, but maybe it needs a lot more time before it impresses me like it seems to impress so many others.

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Photo of ecoboy
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You want to know what I think? There is such a thing as too much. This is too much.

That said, I guess some beer had to be "it." Completely impressive in intensity, this is death metal, this is Grand Guignol, this is wasabi. But when is it applicable to enjoyment? Ruby notes in the amber color. Big bubble head which surrenders quickly. Dry start followed by wallop of hops and alcohol, with a big round syrupy mouthfeel. Sharpness of carbonation appropriate for amplification of every single element of the brew.

I sit in a cold Maine winter and know I have been vanquished by a beer. I don't think I ever asked for that.

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4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pouring the beer, i could see the carbonation go to the bottom of the glass and gradually make its way to the top to form the 1/2" head that was thick and lingering. The color is sort of a murky brown-amber. You can see that it's got plenty of body by the way the carbonation moves through the fluid.
The taste is spectacular, almost overwhelming. The hops are very prevalent, and there is an intense sweetness that goes right along with it. Different flavors reveal themselves...prune/raisin, orange peel, hops. You have to try to pick out the tastes, because after it's swallowed, it's hops all the way. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The alcohol flavor is not as prevalent as one might expect at 9.6%, but it is there and warming.
There was more carbonation throughout the beer than anticipated. It actually nips at your tongue. The feel is neither oily nor dry. It just plain goes down well.
I don't know what to say about the drinkability of a barleywine. I loved every sip. But i'm going to wait until tomorrow to have another.
Next time I drink one of these I will try it a bit warmer to see how the flavor changes or intensifies. This one was enjoyed at around 42 degrees farenheit.
I wouldn't advise driving after having one of these. I wouldn't advise standing up if you have three.

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

2004 vintage

Appearance: Very Good. Burnt orange. Good head. Nice lacing.

Smell: HOPS!!! Citrus. Floral. Caramel.

Taste: Very good. Sweet malt balanced by strong hops. Hops should mellow with cellaring.

Mouthfeel: Awesome. Thick and lingering

Drinkability: Good. Enjoyable beer.

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Photo of Gasp100
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh man, this is nice! Poured a deep, dark red with the perfect head and major lacing down the glass. The smell was of big, ripe dark fruits and hops a pleanty. The taste was bold and beautiful, strong alchohol presence, perfectly carbonated, sweet and syrupy but the hops brightened things up nicely. I did not find this to be overly hoppy like some others noted ---- I felt the hops livened things up a lot and made it seem a tad lighter than other barley wines I've had. I have cellared a six of this with a 12 of Old Horizontal for a couple months to see how these age. This is not for the faint of heart and although very drinkable for a Barleywine, at 9% or higher.... watch out!

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Photo of blitheringidiot
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I went in search of the elusive Bigfoot BWA tonite. [ FYI: This review also was done comparing 2004 12 oz. SN Big Foot to a 12 oz.Victory Old Ho’. Please see both reviews to compare & contrast, like in high school, except this is about beer…Yeah!] A nearly perfect, -strike that- PERFECT pour started out this adventure. An enticing, murky orange, evenly textured, hazy, dark, ominous slightly cloudy pour tore loose thru the woods of my goblet, with a light head sauntering off to a clingy circular band, sliding clean down the sides. I even up’ed my rating to 5/5. This is golden! This is an appearance that doesn't get any better. Can I swig it yet?

Aroma was a roasted walnut with peppery scents but not really a strong aroma at first. As I chased this Yeti thru the woods, some piney esters and hops were invoked. She poured at a slightly cooled temp, but warmed up to introduce the mature alcohol esters and Isopropyl like effluvia. A port nose pronounced, underlined nicely with hops.

Bigfoot sips, yes...sips with dark caramel, Vermont maple syrup, sweet, thick, full in the ole kisser. Hershey’s dark chocolate peeks out. Easy carbonation slides by. Flavor lasts while sinking back in the mouth to a pleasant rye toast. If left on the tongue to sit, it reminds me a twinge of Stone, Ruination IPA, but in a more vinous flavor, and less in attack mode. Other nuances? A dry walnut bite, with a lingering, lip-smackin’ coriander, finishing with a stand up strong and proud, bold aftertaste.

Last swigs: I set the trap, but she got away! Perfect, pleasant pour, hoppy Port nose and mature 'malt & hops' balanced flavor, to whisk this down while being less aggressive on me tongue than Victory Old Ho’. IMHO, tantamount to any Brandy for an all night cozy sipper. There is no end to this sip-ability [did I just invent another word?] rating. Stay tuned for updates on capturing this 9.6% ABV monster at 6 & 12 months. C’mon September!!! Price? Usually you can snare a case in your beartrap wallet inYuengling-ville for $38 but this was a trade from car pool co-worker’s home brewin’ husband! Thanks Tim! I hear that this is a more hoppy SN BF than previous years, but I can't attest.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a lovely sun burnt orange amber with a smallish but fairly long-lasting beige head.
Potent floral hop aromas burst out of the glass while pouring. A smell of spruce, malt and alcohol blend in.
Caramel and candy sugar sweetness are easily noticed. Doughy bread, rum-soaked raisins and a light taste of herbs begin to emerge, though settled in the background.
Sharp grapefruit, lemon zest and a bit of a metallic bite provide quite a bite. The piney esters of whole fresh hops and the big alcohol kick remain quite separate from the other tastes, which begin to mingle halfway through the glass. Bigfoot is an original Northwest American-style Barleywine. I hope that just because something else more extreme flavor-wise, or more potent in the ABV department comes along, doesn't relegate this wonderful brew to the back shelf. Long live the legend of Bigfoot!

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.44/5  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.

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Photo of pio
3.72/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

hazy walnut and amber colored liquid with next to no activity. somehow it has been a differing head size for me, seems to depend on the temp. at best it's a two fingered head that stays and leaves pretty nice lace, at it's worst it's been snap, crapple, pop of a fizzy head. i dunno, it's usually been pretty nice, no biggy.
the nose is heavy with malt and honey. what i've come to think of as the signature sn hops profile (though they do seem to vary this from style to style i usually find alot of similarity in them) comes shining through. some very nice spice notes help and the warming alcohol is tantalizing.
a roasty malty start on the palate is nicely bitter and sweet with a honey note. hints of clove and perhaps nutmeg work through a twang of maple and honey. the good old sn hops dry the palate accutely and abides with an herbal lingering that has a tendency, too, towards the bitter and toasty.
the effervescance seem a bit much for the style but probably helps the body from being too sticky, though it is a little just the same. heavily bodied.
there is alot of competition for bigfoot doing so many nice things for this style, it's difficult not to move on if there are others available.
thanks for reading my review.

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Photo of jsolack
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep brown and cloudy. Head is tan and is very lofty... sticks around for quite some time... lots of lacing.

Licorice and grain. Smells strong with sweet notes.

Strong and thick flavor. Has a strong sweet taste with a rather bitter aftertaste. Grassy finish. Overall everything blends together nicely.

Very thick and heavy in the mouth. Compliments the flavor.

Very great tasting beer. It's strong and has a high alchohol content so I don't know if it's a great idea to slam these but they are definitly a great drink!

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,002 ratings.