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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.

2,924 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,924
Hads: 7,014
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 10.63%
Wants: 363
Gots: 1,546 | 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: 2,924 | Hads: 7,014
Photo of WaltTrombone
3.04/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2003 vintage, served at cellar temps, 50-55F

Dark copper body, with a rocky tan head that subsided quickly, leaving a light wispy lace.Malt, alcohol, caramel and hops aroma.

The taste is bitter, way too much hops for my taste. Small notes of caramel, malt, prunes, cardboard, with an alcohol bite. Nice mouthfeel, a smooth, light creaminess.

The finish is hops, hops, and more hops. Mouth-puckeringly bitter hops. Did I mention hops? Oh, yeah, it's got some hops, too!

I have another bottle of this, and I'm going to put it away for a while. The general wisdom on the forum is that it'll mellow out after about a year, so I'll try it again later. As it stands right now, I'm too afraid of it now, this Bigfoot has big hoppy fangs, and a nasty disposition. We'll see if a stay in the klink improves its attitude...

10/10/03- Even after only 5 months, this beer has mellowed out a bit. That, plus I've been exploring some IPAs this summer, and have recalibrated my palate a bit. It had pretty much the same aroma, taste was about the same, except I noticed a cola flavor. Overall, the hops bitterness got toned down quite a bit in the taste and finish. The moral of the story is: this beer NEEDS to be cellared! If you're one of those impatient types, try to shop at a place that doesn't turn these over so quick, or be warned... (1,342 characters)

Photo of RoyalT
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – Gorgeous, monster head that rose brilliantly, went down slow, and actually laced the glass which was impressive considering the high ABV. The body was a beautiful orange/brown color, thick and solid.

Smell – There are some big, floral hops to this one. These things filled the room. The deep, ripe, fruity scents are there as well. This ale has a tremendous bouquet.

Taste – This is monster flavor. It reminds me of The Guardian. Every type of hop flavor is represented here. This one will pucker your cheeks for sure. Then comes the classic barley wine sweetness. There’s also some smoke in there to boot. The only thing that’s missing is a sensation of alcohol from this 9.6 ABV ale.

Mouthfeel – This is the fullest beer that I have tasted to date. Every sip fills the mouth and bloats the cheeks.

Drinkability – This is dinner tonight. You don’t drink Bigfoot Barley wine, you eat it.

Update – I wrote the initial review with a 2003 sample. I enjoy this immensely every year but though I’d offer an update with a fresh 2006 vintage.

The consistency is amazing from year to year. If you get it fresh the ale is so big and explosive it makes you literally shake your head and call a friend. The ABW ages nicely, too, so you can burn the candle by both ends. Just an amazing ale all around. (1,331 characters)

Photo of grynder33
3.62/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a chestnut color, small head, slight raisany taste, but with a heavy alcohol backtaste, a little chocolate came in at the end.. The aroma and taste were fine, but there was just to much of an alcohol backkick, and my friends pretty much agreed with me on this. The best strong beers shouldn't be this obvious. (316 characters)

Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 vintage. Medium brown color, large head. Big, bold, maltly and hoppy. Very malty barley wine style ale. Highly hopped, medium bitterness, balance by nice malt sweetness. Mouthfeel is very round and full, nearly chewy. High alcohol (9.6%) not really noticeable. Smooth tatste. Finish is smooth. Aftertaste is malt sweet and bitter (334 characters)

Photo of Ianhockey91
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not being a huge barleywine fan myself, i was skeptical when i first tried this one. It poured out a deep reddish hugh, wich allowed a little light through but not much. The aroma comes on as some fruit and malt at the beginning and hops and alchohol at the end. The taste is exquisite, with malts dancing on the toung and hops sneeking a shot in at the end, very very tasty, and seems to warm the belly. This would be a great nightcap beer, but beware they can catch up with you. (480 characters)

Photo of dedalus
3.38/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

sampled from a bottle, 2003 vintage.

this beer had a beautiful appearance in the glass. i bought some brandy snifters specifically for barley wines, and poured the bigfoot into one of them. dark red color with a hint of orange-gold when held up to the light. thick, dark-cream colored head that dissipated only slightly, and left a gorgeous lace down the glass.

the aromas were extremely hoppy; mostly piney and sappy, with only a little citrus poking through.

erm, the flavor. i admit with more than a little embarrassment that i drank this beer before i knew there was a difference between british and american barley wines, and before i knew that barley wines are best when aged. i therefore raised the glass expecting hugely complex layers of malt tastes; imagine my surprise when this beer sledgehammered my tongue with enough young hops to tranquilize a rabid rhinocerous! pure pine sap through the start, middle, and the long, long finish, with only a bit of citrus, as in the nose. i finished the bottle with more than a little effort, and then read up on barleywines. next afternoon the rest of the six pack was resting comfortably in my basement, where it will age for about two years.

the mouthfeel was relatively thick, but without reaching syrupy proportions.

i strongly suspect that i will enjoy this beer much more once it has seen two more winters. if you're into lots of hops, go ahead and have this one young. otherwise i recommend aging. but not for too long; from what i've read, anything more than two years of aging and this beer will lose too much of its hop character.


s.d. (1,629 characters)

Photo of freed
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Its somewhat sad to report that this beer isn't as good on tap. Well, the version I tried wasn't.

Standard 16 oz. pint glass, deep brown with a hint of currant red. Significant head, nice and creamy brown. Somewhat of a surprise on this beer. Aroma is quite muted, probably due to the head, but still quite limited. Significant smell is of alcohol and apple. Taste is quite nice still, wide variety of malt sensations. Fruity and spicy with enough malt texture to make it a barleywine. Hint of hops which is enough to clean the finish. not as good as I'd hoped, but still quite pleasant. (590 characters)

Photo of Rumrunner
3.45/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz.bottle 2003

A great dusky deep brown hue. Nice starter head and decent lacing. Scents are pungent with alcohol and hops. Heavy barley and grass scents as well.

Flavors are deep caramel and grain. A bread flavor with raisins follows up this barley wine. A heavy alcohol flavor also dominate this brew.

A very heavy bite and alcohol flavor sets the tone for the mouthfeel. Not the greatest. This one is a bit all over the place. (443 characters)

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

"2003" on 8/8/03
Powerful, boiling syrup-look to the bubbles which emerge from the brown liquid to create a crusty, tan-colored head.
It smells like cannabis... sticky, green, raw. Also there's a warm, blackish-brown brioche element that begins to outflank the herb.
I take a drink. This is an exercise in grade-B maple syrup flavor and boot-polish bitterness. It is a bitterness that coils around the tongue and gradually flexes until it leaves the generous sweetness rasping in a hollow, dry panic. There is sugar here without a doubt...and a lot of it. It's just that it is only enough to ease the outrageously bitter hop medicine. No flaws. Too young to drink. Wait 4 more years. (687 characters)

Photo of Mustard
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle with no "bottled on" or "best by" date; $8.99/6 pack from the Wine House in West LA; 2003 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a vibrant amber; slightly hazy; fine, 1/4", off-white head; gentle ring lacing; not much head retention.

Aroma: More Cascade hops than I could ever imagine a barleywine having; caramel malts struggle not to get pushed around.

Taste: Are you kidding me? A thick, bready, malt sweetness has had its way with my mouth; I almost feel violated; pronounced, rolling hop-bitterness in the finish; floral, piney notes abound; slight alcohol burn to be discerned; traces of grapefruit, plum and fig. Smooth, almost oily, mouthfeel.

Notes: Bigfoot probably takes a year or two to come into his own; drink him young and you may be disappointed; I have no doubt his 2003 incarnation will mature into something stellar. (868 characters)

Photo of Boilermaker88
3.16/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 vintage sampled on-tap at Heroe's in La Verne. Served in pint glass.

Appearance: deep brown color with a creamy tan head. Head faded slowly and left nice lacing on glass.

Smell: sweet/spicy aroma initially before hoppy pine scent comes out.

Taste: starts off slightly fruity - raisins, plums - and then hops assert themselves. Piney taste dominates and has a long bitter finish. Alcohol content is well hidden.

Feel: smooth, rich, and slick feel.

Drinkability: decent drinkability. %ABV a bit of a detracter and imbalance in favor of bitter hops also reduces drinkability, IMO. Overall, not too bad but not meeting all my expectations either. (662 characters)

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

Heavely carbonated to give a big head. A dark amber brown color. Smell is highly hoped and spicy with a touch of sweetness. Big and malty flavor with a great hop and spice finish. The hops are strong and take over the taste towards the end of the drink. It leaves the mouth dry but licking the sweetness off of the lips. Overall a great big barleywine. (352 characters)

Photo of bierman2000
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark hoppy barleywine from the West Coast giant.. Dark mahoghany color with floral and fruity overtones.. it gets better as the ale warms and he flavors of raisins, licorice, and hops make thei way through the high alcohol content.A gret ale to sip and enjoy as the final one of the night. (289 characters)

Photo of SheepNutz
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 vintage. 12oz. bottle poured into a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep ruby red with one finger of off-white head. There is a tad bit of lacing left on the glass. The smell is very hoppy with some spices, possibly clove or nutmeg. The taste packs a mighty hops punch with the right amount of spicy malt to help balance. The mouthfeel is heavy and rich. The drinkability is ever fair for this winter warmer. (411 characters)

Photo of jcalabre
3.4/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 26 October 2002. I am writing this review from my notes. Bigfoot is a very good example of a barleywine. Nice malty flavor etc etc. However, I was underwhelmed by it. After reading all the kudos for this brew on the web & in newsgroups, I was expecting to have my socks knocked off. They weren't. It's a good barleywine, but nothing more. (360 characters)

Photo of taez555
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle, 2003 vintage, tasted june 2003

This beer poured a very firm 1 inch dark white/tan head. The body was a ruby red/brown color.

The nose was in your face. A sharp citrus peel hop smell. Some black pepper and even pine needles. But overall an impressive tight in your face hop smell.

The taste was very full bodied and thick. Extremely bitter going down with that intence citrus peel/slight black pepper hop attack. The malt flavors are hidden a bit by the hops but are still there with a sweet malt flavor. It's as if this beer is pale ale concentrate.
It finishes about the same, very hoppy and bitter, lingering for quite a while.

Overall this is a great beer. Not for all occasions or something to be drunk in mass quanities, but... a must try.

2008 note.

I've been buying cases of this beer for the past couple years and aging it. Fresh this beer is stellar, aged a year or more this beer is heavenly. The malt and hops all blend together perfectly. The more I drink it the more I'm convinced this is THE greatest beer being brewed. Period. (1,062 characters)

Photo of steelreign
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is as close as it gets to perfection for me - classic barleywine style, high ABV, great drinkability that you never tire of....it's all there. And what a presentation right out of the bottle! A dark, heavy brown, with a noseful of wonderful notes consisting of pine, fruit, roasted grain, alcohol, raisins, malt...mmmmm!

First sip, I was in love. No, make that lust. I will scour the ends of the earth for this one, and after tasting it, you will know firsthand just why that is if you are a fan of this style. Supreme body and bursting with flavor, hops, malt, and alcohol; all the things that make the barleywine style not for the faint of heart. Rather, one that is uplifting and almost spiritual in its own right! I have yet to find another example of this style that has the flavor, ABV and drinkability of this fine crafted brew. Do NOT pass this one by if you see it. If you find it, try it, then find that you don't like it, email me and I may just buy the remainder of it from you! :) (1,001 characters)

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

smells of hops, malts and fruit, pours a deep thick red with a small creamy head that leaves a wonderful lace. big hops upfront, piney, sweet molasses, light fruit...warming alcohol all on a big malt backbone. nice rich mouthfeel that coats the mouth and goes down nicely. an intense beer that i just love. the high abv is nice and warming and the drinkability is pretty high for such a strong brew, its so balanced that the big flavors dont become to much. i found this one ages nicely as well, one year seems to be perfect for my taste buds. a heavy duty barley wine.

$6.99 a sixer. (587 characters)

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

appearance = coppertoned brew, tan 'sticky' head

Nose - hops, fruit, alcohol

Taste - hops + malt = the embodiment of the word 'bittersweet'. Powerful hops, 3 tons of malt. Molasses, fruit. A delicious sipping beer. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Mouthfeel - thick, smooth.

Notes. Wonderful, powerful barley wine. It may be 'lawnmowing beer' season now, but I can't wait til the cold wind blows again. A good book, a warm fire and a bottle of Bigfoot. (447 characters)

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

Notes: 2003 Edition. This beer pours a glowing, red-amber colour with a very whispy, small head. The aromas are of alcohol, heavy hops and heavy malts. This is a sweet beer with a bitter edge to it and a great warming alcohol flavor as well. The mouthfeel is thick, but not 'chewy' or 'syrupy'. The drinkability is very good for such a high ABV brew. This is really *the* classic example of a northwestern, American barleywine. Simply awesome!

-F (458 characters)

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2002 vintage.

Held to the light, a strong almost-blood red body, with a tremendous stream of carbonation up the middle. Topped by a big bubbly biege head which rocked above the rim. Good looking lace. Aroma features some earthy floral and herbal hops, some caramel, and a wisp of alcohol. Taste and mouthfeel is of thick warm caramel melting across tongue, surrounded by a thick layer of hops to curb the sweetness, and pull it across the line to the bitter side of town. Not far, but across the line. Alcohol nips along at the heels, not a punch, just a warm glow. This is still one of the barleywines that all others must be judged by. The old man has still got it. (670 characters)

Photo of Mark
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber - copper, with a tannish head. Aroma of sharp hops and alcohol. Hop attack on the palate but goes down fairly smoothly. Thick mouthfeel is nice. Compliments of a co-worker or I might never have tried this. Drinkability is O.K. at 9% plus this is not my usual preference. Good beer for when in the mood for this style. (328 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 Version:

Deep amber brown mahogany with a huge caramel colored tan head. I poured this one into a 20 oz. Gulden Draak glass, and I couldn't do anything but sit stare and smell it for like five minutes. The aroma was simply amazing, I could literally sit here all day and enjoy the aroma. It's full of deep invigorating piney hops wrapped in maple syrup that are acting like pheromones, making me fall in love with this beer. The taste is one huge assault of malts and hops. The hop resins send shots of bitterness across my palate and the wave of malty sweetness of figs, raisin, and syrup sweep through finishing the flavor. Mouthfeel is syrupy fullness one full bodied west coast hop monster presenting the oily resins in the mouthfeel very nice. The drinkability of a beer this high in alcohol is so dangerous, but this is one beer to be enjoyed slowly it's an experience. In fact it's one that I would like to have again, I will tango with this classic west coast barley wine anytime. (996 characters)

Photo of far333
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2003 batch: Hazy, dark iced tea color with a big, beige, foamy head. The head laces the glass as I drink. Smell is malty, with some fruit flavors that I can't really define. Mouthfeel is creamy at first, but leaves the mouth a bit tingly in the finish. Flavor is fruity, strong malt, and a mellow hop bitter, but the alcohol makes its presence known. A good barleywine, but not as smooth or full of character as I expected. (423 characters)

Photo of nomad
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003 vintage, drank in 2003...

Its color was a deep amber but equally oranged, like a deeply stained antique piece with faded edges and seams. Had a very steady almond-colored head and left some stain on my barleywine mini-tumbler.

Nose was of rosy malt and exploding raspberry and grapefruit and salty hops. Had a wicked roasted tone to both the malt and the hops - hops I would describe as newly harvested hops fermented in funk (in a good way).

Tasted of big hops and alcohol - exploding flavors of hops, grapefruit, and a twisted bittered raspberry. Had a good toasted malt background, but moreover a strong as hell bitterness, a real kick in the pants that feels good and healthy with time. After a long course of sipping a woody tone emerged underneath the hops. Also, after warming up, occassionally the first flavor that hit me through a newly kicked up head of foam was a straight shot of fruity sugar - it was a perfect way to start the plunge into the vat of lupulins. So, of course an extremely drying finish, yet not that thinned or dried of a mouthfeel, as it still held a nascently wet slide to it.

This barleywine takes the same strands and ratios of hops found in their classic Pale Ale and balloons their presence, yet it is still unmistakeably fruity and barley hearty. In other words, it does a great job even though it is on a far extreme of the style (i.e. the hoppier end). For me, an aged bottle would undoubtedly score much higher in flavor. I'm so glad such a good barley is so available and so cheap. (1,542 characters)

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,924 ratings.