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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.

2,972 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,972
Hads: 7,181
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 17.63%
Wants: 390
Gots: 1,639 | FT: 81
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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: 2,972 | Hads: 7,181
Photo of abents
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a beautiful reddish brown with a slight white head. Moderate ammount on carbonation running up the beer. Head sticks to the glass like its hanging on for dear life.

Smell: Smells of citrusy grapefruit and a lot of hops.

Taste: Huge ammount of hops overpowering the taste buds. Yet there is a slight sweetness to it in addition to the bitterness. Evens out quite nice. No doubt about it this is a big beer slight alcohol taste remains, but covered nicely.

Mouthfeel: Coats your mouth like a cough syrup. Huge beer lingers on the tounge long after you take the last sip. It's delicious.

Drinkability: A great barley wine that is the standard in which to be measured.

gonna try to age a bottle or two and see what happens.

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

Mahogany red with a small, creamy tan head. Decent enough lacing, too. The smell is all pine and grapefruit and subtle chamomile. A fruity sweetness attempts to bring some balance but is banished with extreme prejudice by the ruthless hops. The taste? The oral assault, more appropriately. Bitter in a number of ways, first invogorating, then antiseptic, and finally numbing. Pine flavors and grapefruit flavors battle for dominance while a mild spiciness caresses the tongue. Mouthfeel is beyond "chewy"... slick and oily, this brew crawls down your throat. Niiice. Drinkability is the only letdown, but the massive hops cover up the high ABV very well. Yum.

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Photo of jahred
3.33/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2004 bottle, but this is the first time I've tried this beer before (in any vintage). The cap top says "2004 Bigfoot Expedition" ... At 9.6% ABV, I think that any such dangerous expedition should stay away from this stuff.

Pours a beautifully deep brownish red color, with a nicely thick almost-white head. The smell is strong, but pleasant. Esters and pine and malt...

Immediately upon tasting, I'm thinking "Wow" and the first word that comes to mind for the taste, which lasts quite a long, long time in my mouth, is "raw." Deep piney hops and thick malts in a wild combination that I can't quite place. The aftertaste (much later on after the initial sip) is slightly chalky, and reminiscent of a stout. As it warms, much of the malt tastes seem to disappear, and I'm left with that wild hoppy taste. It's overpowering, and I feel like this is more like a crazy double/imperial IPA than any sort of barley wine. The alcohol, which is also quite prevelant in the taste, didn't quite help with how unbalanced this beer is.

The mouthfeel is nice - thick and oily, but I'm focused on the drinkability of this beer, which (probably much like Bigfoot himself) needs time to tame.

I will lay this down for at least a year and see what happens - hopefully some more of the malt characteristics will come through.

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Photo of granger10
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 edition
Color is absolutely beautiful, akin to a mohagony red with highlights. However head is small in size and there seems to be no lacing. Aroma is straight up hops, signature cascade hops from Sierra Nevada. Alcohol is also present in the smell. Taste is too complex for me to describe. More flavors continually come. I can't describe them all. Big flavors. Citric hops upfront. Caramel malt is lean but present. More malt sweetness in the body. Some fussel alcohol hits me towards the finish. Grapefruits become very pronounced in the end. Aftertaste is quite bitter. This was an extroadinary beer. The mixture of flavors is excellent and alcohol fits perfectly. I'm proud to call this one American!

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

Sampled from a spankin' new 2004 bottle.
The beer is a dusky copper, a fairly agressive pour generating a thick ivory froth. The head settles into a broken mist, surrounded by a thick collar which leaves scattered bits of lace on the snifter. Some yeast floaties hang in suspension, adding a bit of haziness.
The aroma is quite pungent, an equal blend of syrupy malt and brawny hops. The malt conveys a caramel sweetness, with a bit of a biscuity chewiness. The hops are very citric, with a bit of coarse earthiness. Some apparent alcohol lends a slight solventy twang, mixing with boatloads of estery goodness. Hints of red apple, plum, fig and raisin soften things up with a mellow fruitiness.
The flavor starts with a huge, chewy maltiness. Loads of toasty caramel and biscuity flavors assault the tastebuds. A bit of grain, with a vaguely mashy feel. The malt rolls forth, impervious to anything in it's way. Sweetish caramel picks up a strong fruitiness, with a pronounced raisin and apple flavor, hinting at some fig. A bit of nectarine into the finish, where the malt is challenged by an equally beefy hop profile. Oily and grapefruit rind-like in it's strength, the hops are more than up to the task of cutting the malty sweetness. Pungently citric, the hop flavor is just bitter enough to avoid being too much, but packs quite a bit of flavor that will keep through some aging. Some herbal flavor, adding a bit of earthiness, washed over with some alcohol astringency in the very end. The hop flavor carries into the aftertaste, providing a coarse, grapefruit skin bitterness. A slick, almost syrupy mouthfeel, barely supported by a mild, small bubbled carbonation. Big ass beer.
I actually like this beer a little better when fresh. It's great for aging, but the grapefruity power to the hops seems to appeal to the closet hophead in me. The beer physically abuses your tastebuds all the way through, I can only do a bottle of this stuff at a time. It gets slightly milder with some age, but I really don't like too much big beer at once. It's really one of the truly great american barleywines, though. A benchmark for the style.

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

12 ounce bottle, 2002 vintage, pours a golden amber.
Hoppy nose, rich, thick mouthfeel, Rum, brandy type flavor notes. Alcohol obviously present, warming. rich malt center, and a wollop of hops! Citrus, resin, pine notes. This one is a whole lot of beer. Malt, hops alcohol, strong flavors, yet it remains in balance. A favorite that deserves the high marks it typically gets.

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Photo of oelergud
4.74/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear ruby brew with low carbonation though more than other barleywines I've seen. Tan head with amazing retention.
Smell is VERY hoppy with some grass and floral qualities.
Taste is very much like the smell only more intense and have a hay-like flavor to it. This is the first beer I've had that has a pronounced sweet aftertaste, it's hoppy and bitter up front and sweet afterwards, up is down, black is white, but it's pretty good.
Cant really taste the high alcohol %.
Good body and mouthfeel, not quite as full as other barleywines though, it does have some creaminess to it.
This is a beer with too much presence to be a session beer as it demands attention with every sip. Not something I would drink with a meal cause the food would be completely overshadowed.


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Photo of Rastacouere
3.69/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

As soon as the bottle is opened, a huge christmas tree aroma burst into the room. Can you say cascade? It then pours clear copper with not much of a head, off-white. Aroma is probably the most potent cascade use I've ever encountered, it's as intense as any other barleywine's nose, big, deep with a ridiculously heavy grapefruit/pine/floral character. The taste is earthy, a coniferous forest in spring with a slight hint at alcohol, nice aftertaste which lasts forever, but is a bit astringent. Medium-bodied. While this is very bitter, it's also pretty sweet and a little sour from overhopping. I'd definitely like to try this aged a bit to complexify the flavors a bit, but young, this is one big hopheads beer, therefore not exactly my bag. Quite citric even for an american barleywine. Similar to Hog Heaven, but displays a better body and more balance

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Photo of AllThingsNinja
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap, but forgot to ask about the vintage. I assume that it was a 2004. The beer was a deep read with a whitish head that left a fair amount of lace in my pint glass. This is a heavily hopped barleywine. The taste and smell are both in your face. I tend to prefer slightly milder barlewyines, but completely understand that Sierra Nevada is going for something different. I really enjoyed the malt complexities that lurked just below the bitter surface. The Bigfoot is an interesting concept, brought to fruitful realization.

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

2004 Expedition. Poured a beautiful firey reddish brown color with a thick head. Huge floral cascade aroma with bready malt underneath. Mouthfeel is full and smooth with a tongue numbing bitter hop sting at the end. The flavor here is sweet and syrupy with a huge amount of bittering hops and notes of grapefruit and peaches. Plenty of malt to hold it all together and this is one angry and intense brew. There's no escaping the bitterness in this young brew. I can't wait to see how it ages.

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

2004 version.

Pours a rich, deep clear copper with an unbelievably retentive, thick tan head. Sticky lace absolutely refused to disperse, leaving a 1/2 inch layer for the duration of the glass.

Aroma is mild; citric hops and alcohol.

Taste is deceiving. A hearty helping of citrus and piney hops mask the true epic nature of this beer. Balance is achieved, however; the hops aren't overwhelming, and give way to nice standard ale malts... but lots of them. Not overly sweet.

Only a mild hint of alcohol is tasted in the finish, along with a more leafy hop presence...slightly medicinal.

Sneaky for its size, "bigfoot" is an apt name.

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Photo of Nytemare
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage. Completely surprised to be able to find this in Oklahoma. Thank you Cellar Wine and Spirits for expanding. Your selection rox like slayer. With that said.
Pours a nice dark reddish orange. Virtually no head, a little lacing, and very little carbonation. Smelled of hops and alcohol with some light malt underneath. Grapefruity and grassy at the same time. Upfront with the flavor was a massive hops assault, but following closely behind was a bready, sugary maltiness. A little grapiness around the edges, just a hint of whats to come. As it warms, alcohol definately takes over, but by the time this happened, I was nice and warm, and didn't let it bother me. Full bodied mouthfeel, oily, but not bad. clingy. Drinkable yes, in large quantities, no. I understand why Foghorn comes in smaller bottles, besides the obvious marketing ploy, 7-8 ounces is really all I need, after that, it just tasted like alcohol anyway. Also, I probably should let this age a while as well. I really think this will be very tasty with some aging. Hops was just a little too dominant right now. Another six months maybe? I have another one set out to drink fresh and the other four are in my "cellar" aging. I'm thinking that each one of those will be sampled six months from the previous sampling. Meaning I'll stretch this out over the next two years.

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

2004 Vintage sampled 2/2004
Aroma: Sweet malt perfume. A heady alcoholic undercurrent wafts the thick brown sugary aroma to you. Some slightly peppery hops come in as well, but far distant second.
Appearance: Clear dark amber/pale brown. Very little head and it died after leaving a modest lace at the top of my glass, but not toward the bottom.
Flavor: The hops really come out in this young vintage. Cascade is most noticeable with a deep grapefruit bite, but the hops just serve to keep all this barley under control. The overall taste is balanced, but disjointed. It’s like a battle between hops and malt, which each side winning battles, but the war being a draw. Malt has a bit of toasted quality, but not smoky. I even get a slight hint of the yeast, or at least something that reminds me of the Celebration Ale. The hops seem the same as well. It’s like they brought the malt up over the amount of hops they use for the Celebration. The alcohol becomes noticeable as it warms.
Mouthfeel: Heavy body with a decent chew. A touch of oil, but overall it goes down very smoothly.
Overall Impression: Drinkability? At first I had some trouble enjoying it, it’s just TOO MUCH, but as my palate warmed (thank you 9.6% alcohol) I started to mellow and just enjoy the exuberance. Toward the end of the glass, I’m thinking I could do another, but the amount of water I’m going to need to avoid dehydration is probably going to make this the only one tonight. I’m looking forward to the next one though, so high marks. I also want to age it a bit so I enjoy the first few sips as much as I’m enjoying the last ones. It is very good stuff, but something to be enjoyed in small quantities. Recommended!

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Photo of Beaver13
3.67/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The Bigfoot poured a hazy reddish-orange with a thin, light brown, creamy head that had good retention. The nose was alcohol and tart fruitiness with some hoppy notes. The taste is sweet malts up front with a strong bitter, acidic finish with some citrus tones. It was a little more bitter than I prefer but not quite as overwhelming as the Celebration. It had a thick, kind of oily mouthfeel.

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

Served cold, in a pint glass.
Appearance: Hazy copper, small head. I think I should have poured this a little more vigorously.
Smell: Big heady piney hops cloud around this beer. Alcohol in there too. Sweet malt is definitely there, but this is mostly a hoppy aroma. Nice!
Taste: Sharp raw hops, piney and a bit citrusy. Hops first, then the malt rolls in with a second wave of hops and some alcohol on the tail. Its hard to call this a balanced beer, but I want to. Sharp and raw, but not rough.
Mouthfeel: Kinda coating in an oily, resiny way. Thick, but not too thick. Some alcohol burn apparent.
Drinkability: For a beer this strong, it is quite drinkable. At this strength, it only gets more drinkable the closer I get to the bottom. One of my favorite barleywines.

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Photo of LuckySevens82
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 edition.
Pours a nice red-amber color with a large, off-white head. Head gives way to a nice lace that sticks to the side of the glass.
Smells very good: Hoppy, floral, and sweet. Not a whiff of alcohol that I can detect.
Not exactly what I would consider a great example of a barley wine, very hoppy and sweet. The hops somewhat overpower an already outstanding brew.
This is one that is very deceptive: the abv is 9.2% and yet definitely does not taste as such. You definitely cannot drink this one all night, but it tastes great and I look forward to keeping this one in the cellar to try and keep trying to see how it ages.

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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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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,972 ratings.