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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

6,290 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,290
Reviews: 2,814
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 265
Gots: 1,109 | FT: 40
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  9.60% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: kbub6f on 02-06-1998)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,290 | Reviews: 2,814 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of twiggamortis420
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well, over 1K reviews and I have not reviewed Bigfoot?! I cant believe it and am ashamed almost. Decided to go with a fresh 2011 for this one. Pours a brilliantly clear, medium copper color. Dense tan head lasts awhile and leaves some decent lacing.

Nose is NW piney-citric hops with a nice balancing caramel malt aroma. Clean and fresh smelling beer with a hefty dose of alcohol.

Hop leaning, but well balanced with tons of sweet caramel, toffee and toasty malts. Such a big, full flavored beer that is oh-so smooth. After having many of these aged, I actually think I like it fresh the best. It took me 8 years of drinking Bigfoot to realize that, but I really like the fresh hop profile and supremely balanced malt without any oxidation taking hold. An American original, for sure...but some other barleywines have perfected what SN started since then. Rambling, I know...just reflecting on the crazy growth of craft beer over the past decade. Still a great beer that I will continue to buy 1 or 2 sixers of every year.

twiggamortis420, Apr 01, 2011
Photo of nezelrac
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

got to taste '09, '10, and '11 side by side - 4oz each served in tumblers

tasted in succession, there is, not surprisingly, much more in common than differences; tasting '11 then going back to '09 highlights the aging best

notes below are about 'the beer' in general, with differences noted

A - pale mahogany with a scant but persistent off white head; little lacing; the '09 shows a slightly duller/browner hue

S - big malty nose showing dried fruits and toasty/roasty notes; plenty of hops up front as well - citrus and lightly floral; the hops are embedded in an earthy maltiness but still manage to stand out; not surprisingly, the hops are more progressively more assertive in the younger examples, but their impression is of a piece

T - richly malty and earthy with layers of malt; firm hop presence from start to finish; the palate is echoing the nose; the '09 is mellower on the palate than the '10 and '11 (which are quite similar - apparently the first year doesn't have a significant impact) showing a greater breadth of flavors

M - rich and chewy but not expansive - the hops keep it in line; the younger expressions are brighter and edgier

O - simply put, a classic American barleywine; it would be interesting to taste three or four examples side by side with more years between them as one year doesn't show lots of evolution

nezelrac, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of zeledonia
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage, bottled 14 December 2010. The one bottle from my six-pack that I'm drinking now; the rest are going in the cellar.

Pours a very clear deep coppery amber with a buoyant off-white (slightly tan) head that leaves a TON of lacing. A few streams of bubbles coming up.

Smell is surprisingly weak for a barleywine. It's rather clean, thin, and crisp. I get some light hops, a bit of malt, and some booze, but not much else. The smell definitely does not pull me in like it does with some barleywines. In fact, if smelling this blind, I might think it was a lager rather than a barleywine.

Taste is so incredibly different from the smell. And to my taste buds, pretty unique. The malts and the hops are both pretty potent, and they see-saw back and forth, first one asserting themselves, then the other. The malts have a good mix of sweet and rich. The hops bring some bitter balance, though IMO they don't bring that much else to the flavor. They do leave some lingering bitterness. In general, the beer feels a bit jagged, like it could use some time to smooth out. The flavors are all just too potent, and they kinda fight with each other. But it is still quite tasty.

Mouthfeel is medium, as expected. Nothing remarkable, decent carbonation. Clings to the mouth a bit, which lets the bitterness of the hops hold on.

Decent, but not great. Not surprisingly, it really feels like it needs some time to develop and let the flavors come into balance. Looking forward to trying it over the next couple years.

EDIT: I like this beer a whole lot better with a year or two of age. As the hops fade, I like it a whole lot more.

zeledonia, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of SirSketch
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Deep copper to red in color. Tightly packed brownish head.

S - Fruity, lemony, hop forward aroma with toasted bread and boozy alcohol, too.

T - Sweet, bready malt flavor and tropical fruits, as well as some darker fruits, like raisins. Then comes the bitterness that plows through the maltier flavors and leaves you with a pleasant, warming alcohol.

M - Medium-full body, a sticky mouth and long lasting bitter and sweet aftertaste (I can't tell which is more aggressive).

O - Really nice beer. I'm glad I got a sixer so I can age the rest for some time.

SirSketch, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of DesMoinesMike
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 edition

Pours a reddish brown with a slight haze from the sediment and has a thick finger of very airy foam. The nose is heavy with sweet malt and a touch of plumb and pear. Give your first gulp a few seconds and you feel the alcohol sliding down the gullet. The taste and body are nice and thick. I can see why this brew gets some of the accolades it does.

DesMoinesMike, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of CJfromPhilly
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from the stubby 12 oz bottle a dark coppery-reddish color with a thick, slightly off white one finger head that settles into a heavy collar and leaving thick lacing on the sides of the glass as it subsides. Carbonation is mild. Aroma is of sweet clean malt mixed with a nice balance of citrus hops. 1st sip brings a tart, dry blast of citrus & pine soaked hops. As the beer lingers on the tongue there is a slight hint of sweet caramel, bit the hops push it WAY into the background. There is a good amount of alcohol on the swallow. The mouthfeel is solid, with a slight carbonation sparkle. Drinkability is limited, due to the alcohol burn. I'm reviewing this freshly bought, a few months (or couple years) of aging would have an interesting effect I believe, so i'm gonna save one or two of these to sample in 2012 or 2013 and see if they mellow some. Overall, a beer that lives up to its legendary hype.

CJfromPhilly, Mar 31, 2011
Photo of neilgavigan
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bigfoot Ale poured into a pint glass from 12 oz bottle

A - Great copper color, clear and luminescent when help up to the light. Thick, rocky tan head that really sticks

S - Floral and spicy hops not too powerful and let the sweet malt smells come through. A little biscuit as well

T - Spicy up front with the hops and alcohol balanced nicely. Complex malts with sweet, bitter and some biscuit flavor. Nice medium finish is not too dry considering the alcohol

M - Medium body with lots of tingling both from the carbonation and the alcohol and hops. Very fun for the tongue

O - Drank this with a friend and we both couldn't shut up about how great it is. Definitely holds up to previous years and it's a powerhouse of flavor and booze that's great for a cool spring evening. Save it for the end of the session.

neilgavigan, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of OddNotion
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had Bigfoot a few times now and have a few from 2010 in my "cellar". I will do a side by side or a vertical eventually. This review is of the 2011.

Appearance: Poured into my DFH Signature Glass. Pours a dark transparent red/orange with about a 1 finger white head.

Smell: A little boozy, can smell the bitterness of the hops, not too much going on here. This surprises me because I remember this to be much more vibrant in the 2010.

Taste: Nice and bitter with a HUGE malt backbone. Bit of a bite from the alcohol. Once you get past the bitterness and alcohol there is a nice sweetness that I can only imagine gets more prevalent over time.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation and not thin by any means. Does have a nice creamy feel and provides some warmth as it goes down.

Overall: Not my favorite barleywine, but certainly a must have every year. I would definitely recomment this to anyone looking to get into the style. I will revisit and enjoy each one.

OddNotion, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of kaips1
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, 12oz bottle poured into a anderson valley snifter/tulip

a-dark amber/dark red, nice thick head at least a finger or two
s- slight citrus, slightly congested from sinuses
t-kinda like a dipa, lotta hop bitter up front. slight citrus after the hops and a bitter but wet finish at the end, it gets spicier as it warms almost a pepperish taste at the end
m-not as lively as i was expecting nor as hot as i thought it was gonna be, still wet finish,i wonder if it changes over time, the heat comes through as it warms
o/d- i could pound a couple of these fresh easily but i think i would like to age some of these for a year or two since ive heard good things from other verticals

this review is dedicated to michael miller, the person that introduced me to craft and to bigfoot

kaips1, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of Erish
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a large wine glass. Dated "2011."

A: clear reddish amber color, thick, luxurious head slowly falls into a thick, luxurious cap, with long, luxurious lacing. This is a beer porn star!

S: orange, grapefruit, pine, lemon, sweetbread, a twinge of grass, with a bit of a fruity/earthy backstop. Nearly perfect.

T: all of that citrus and malt hit nicely up front, the middle has a hard candy note, along with a pine/herbal hop note, the finish is earthy, grassy, floral, and a bit chalky at the very end. The footprint of this beer is indeed big! I gave this beer a 5 for taste because I tried to imaging how I would improve it, and I came up empty handed. It is such a mouth-coating, tongue-tingling experience, it cannot be improved upon.

M: full-bodied, silky smooth texture, moderate carbonation, and the finish is astringently bitter, but still maintains its pleasant floral/citrus character.

D: I drank this beer at about 60 degrees F. I recommend you try the same. This beer needs some warmth to really open up. It is a phenomenal beer, and reminds of why Sierra Nevada is such a great brewery. I will age some of the remainders and see how this beer evolves over the years.

Erish, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of Davidpgibbons
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

opened a bottle of 2011
I love this beer, poured with very nice lacing wrapping the sides of glass with a good carb light amber color, and hints of piney hops. Not as winey as usual barleywines but still amazing. Overall great balance between hops and malts, i have 6 left gonna let 3 age and see how they change. Pretty exciting

Davidpgibbons, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of CZeman
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

There is a lot of hype about this beer. As far as I'm concerned this is a good beer, but not exactly what I expect a barley wine to be. The appearance was a good medium or dark amber with subtle ruby highlights, the smell was almost over powered with hops, which seemed out of place for the style. The body and mouth feel were very nice but once again the taste was almost over powered by hops, again a bit out of place for the style, in my opinion. That aside this beer if labeled differently, say maybe an imperial IPA or a specialty IPA, is a repeat drink. I do love the flavor and aroma of hops, but for them to be this present in a barley wine just seems to be odd.

CZeman, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a light to moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of piney hops in the nose along with notes of alcohol and hints of caramel malts and citrus hops.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and finishes with a moderate amount of bitterness from the hops. There are some hints of malty sweetness in the initial taste.
M: It feels full-bodied and a bit sticky on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. The finish has a bit of dryness and warming sensations from the alcohol.
O: This beer is a good sipper. It's a bit easier to drink compared to other barleywines because it has a moderate amount of bitterness (instead of stickiness and sweetness).

Note: 2011 vintage

metter98, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of Marty30
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle poured into my Harpoon 100 barrel series type snifter.Around 50 degrees.

A. Nice ruby red clear body with good carbonation coming of the bottom of the glass,two finger off white fluffy head.Leaves good lacing behind as I work my way through the glass.

S. Lots of hops I get first and foremost,some pineapple and pine, as i keep smelling it I start to get caramel and some grainy bread,get some typical sweet sugar smell also.I get some alchohol in the nose also.

T. Very hoppy,the hoppiest barlywine i've had to date.First off I get that earthy bitter pine taste,I'll say that the hops pretty much dominates this one.Also some caramel and sweet sugar,like I said before hops take away alot of underlying tastes.Hoppy after taste.

M. Mouth is very nice medium heavy feel.Very smooth and creamy.

Overall I liked this beer ,I'm thinking I definately would like it better with some age on it.A bit to hoppy for a Barleywine for me,but I still really liked this Craft beer classic.

Marty30, Mar 29, 2011
Photo of TIAAN
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured the 2011 Bigfoot into a snifter glass and a not too thick white head stayed for several minutes and then retracted to just the sides of my glass where it stayed for the rest of the beer. Nose of this beer is big with lots of caramel malt, toffee, but also a little bit of pine needles.

Mouthfeel and taste is really good, starts off big and full. It seems really thick and viscous. The carbonation is very fine, like champagne mousse, but at a very good level that really helps to build the beer. Bitterness sits on the edges of the big taste all the way to the very intense finish. BIG BITTER FINISH! Good beer, I look forward to trying older vintages in the future.

TIAAN, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of uwharrieguy
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

nice walnut color
actually i did a good poor in pint glass which gave me a good head-nice lacing on glass....gave a swirl repeated 3/8s head 1/2 way through
nice aroma...warming from alcohol,nice on cool day here in n.c.
this is a goood ale,not sold in my town but i will drive the 26 miles to get more..people that drink girl friend beer want like this ale.

uwharrieguy, Mar 28, 2011
Photo of Glibber
3.25/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A dreat looking beer, with a nice clear amber with some red tones. Nice big head that laced the glass a bit. I thought the carbination was a little too much, and was not expecting so much hoppiness. I had heard about this beer, and had only a few other barleywines to compare it against- but this was not as complex as the offering I had from Lagunitas.

Glibber, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of nicnut45
2.17/5  rDev -47.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12 oz bottle poured into Chimay chalice/2011

A- Deep red brown color, slightly hazy with sediment swirling around. Superfine off white head.

S- Smell is very muted upon a vigourours pour, perhaps it needs to warm up a bit. Upon warming up there is very little scent to this beer. What is there, smells like fruitiness from the yeast with a slight rubbing alcohol scent.

T&MF- This is just plain bitter without the finer qualities of hops. Malts are underwhelming and over attuenated resulting in hot rubbing alcohol flavors. This overly overly dry in my opinion. There is a faint glimmer of sweetness to this beer and it reminds me of burnt sugar but it is soon overpowered by alcohol and bitter hops.

O- I will be laying down at least one of these bottles in hopes that it gets better with age. The others will go to enemies.

nicnut45, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of mikeyv35
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Date: 03/07/2011
Type: 12oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2007
Glassware: DFH Tulip

Poured a light brown mahoghany in color w/ a skim coat white head that left nice sticky lacing. Aromas of caramel, toffee, dark fruits, tobacco, and subtle pine. The flavors were of rich caramel and toffee up front, w/ a touch of dark fruits and slight tobacco, and a finish of mild hop bite. Amazing that a touch of hop bite is still remaining after 4 years of aging. Medium bodied and somewhat dry. Pretty good stuff, you know the booze is there, but well hidden.

Gotta say I am an English BW type of guy that is all about the malts, so needless to say I don't care for Bigfoot fresh. However, w/ 4 years of age this brew is starting to become pretty enjoyable. I bet my 1993 bottle will be sublime. ISO: pre 2007 Bigfoot.

mikeyv35, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of perrymarcus
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served ina snifter.
2011 vintage.

pours a beautiful, translucent deep amber/copper hue with orange highlights; yields just shy of 1" creamy beige head. (expected) middling retention - lapses into a thin cap, collar around the glass - but nice walls of lacing. overall an excellent presentation.

my first impression of the nose is that this is going to be one heck of a hoppy barleywine, even for the american style (this is my first experience with bigfoot, incidentally). very heavy floral/cirtus presence of hops. also notes of sweet malt.

one sip confirms the nose. big bitter hoppiness out front, *almost* reminiscent of a DIPA, but as it warms the maltiness seems to open up and the beer becomes much more complex and flavorful. still, hands down one of the more heavy hopped barleywines i've had.

really nice mouthfeel: luscious, medium-full bodied with average carbonation.

overall this is an excellent barleywine. as noted, a bit too hop-forward for my personal taste, but i can see where a little age would take this beer to another level. i intend to test that theory.

perrymarcus, Mar 27, 2011
Photo of ramseye4
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage.
A=Pours a dark amber color with a huge 2 finger head with awesome retention, huge clumps of lacing down the sides of the glass. Great looking beer.
S=Decent balance of malt and hops, however neither is pronounced.
T=Fairly hoppy up front, with lots of malt sweetness and a bit of boozy heat in the finish.
M=Sticky, sweet, and medium body. Syrupy, but in a good way.
O=Not bad, definitely needs some age. I'm storing another for a year and we will see how it goes.

ramseye4, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of ehammond1
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2011)

Holiday Wine Cellar
Escondido, CA

This beer started gushing on me as soon as I cracked the top. Strange, because I've probably had this beer 1xx times and that's never happened....only on the one I finally choose to review! That being said, this beer is as gorgeous as ever! It's damn near majestic!
The darkest ruby almost eats up all the light trying to pass through it. The head is a monster, especially for a beer of this ABV, and it doesn't have any intentions of going anywhere soon! With big, soapy bubbles, it's got quite the legs to stand on, and stand on, and stand on...
Sticky sheets and rings of lacing run down the glass as I sip.

The aroma is a varied bundle and changes as the beer warms. The first thing I notice is the candied sweetness and the fruity elements in the nose. There's a bit of brandy-soaked cherries in the nose along with a nice punch of floral and citrus hops. The alcohol is certainly present and, unfortunately, just the least bit unpleasant. All in all though, a nose I love returning to.

Another cornucopia in the mouth, similar to the nose. The first thing that always strikes me about Bigfoot, especially when fresh, is the blinding bitterness and strong pungency of the hops. This is one hopped up barleywine. While the hops are certainly there, they don't quite get too far in the way of the sweet cherry, sweet caramel malts, a hint of woodiness and earthiness, and a certain presence of warming alcohol. When aged, I think this beer is very close to perfect, but fresh, it's just a touch too raw and blindingly bitter to truly appreciate the other complexities that are there but just hiding underneath.

The mouthfeel is one of my favorite aspects of this beer. It's thick and chewy and a touch oily but all that simply drinks so well with this flavor-first barleywine.

A wonderful barleywine. It's consistently flavorful, available, and always affordable. It's better with age on it, but a wonderful beast to battle when fresh.

A very special beer to me personally. As a CSU, Chico student, I remember waiting anxiously for this release every year. It opened my eyes to what very good beer could be, and I make sure to pick up at least a 6er every winter.


ehammond1, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of industrialswill
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got a 6 pack at Trader Joes
Nice dark complexion and a very strong head
Aroma is what you should expect from a Sierra Nevada beer...floral hoppyness balanced out with rich malt.
Tastes like beer should. Malt combined with enough citrus / pine hops and a pretty high ABV punch.
This beer would score higher points with me if not for my silent protest about how appearance carries too much weight in our scores.
In my opinion, all beer looks "GOOD", unless it is infected

industrialswill, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of engagechad
3.45/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage - fresh
This beer was purchased fresh as a single from Total Wine in Richmond, VA - poured into a DFH snifter

Pours fantastic, gargantuan head.. like.. huge head.. I wasn't expecting that at all. Beautiful ruby color with a blonde leather looking head. Looks like the head on a root beer float, lots of protein in there and the foam is smooth and palatable almost like whipped topping. If i could give the appearance a 6 I would.

Smells awesome, very hoppy while also maintaining a minty presence and malt backbone. Reminds me slightly of 3rd coast from Bells but a bit hoppier.

Taste is great, but I feel that it's a bit harsh when fresh. Alcohol burn is hard to get past as it kind of disrupts the rest of the tasting experience. Great hops and acidic flavors with decent smoothness from the malt.

Overall I think this beer is great but I intend on purchasing another 2011 and put a year on it to review again

engagechad, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of bbb099
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear, dark amber color with a thick and foamy light brown colored head.

S - Some pale malt aroma and floral hops. Not a lot.

T - Unsurprisingly, this one is packed with strong flavors. Bitter piny hops up front followed with a more mellow floral hops as it goes down. Maybe a small hint of alcohol bitterness, but the hops cover it up pretty well.

M - Full bodied and moderate amount of carbonation. Pretty much what you expect out of the style.

D - Very strong bitter flavors, but not in a bad way. It's quite drinkable though the color threw me off a little bit as I was expecting something darker.

bbb099, Mar 24, 2011
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,290 ratings.