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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.

6,368 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,368
Reviews: 2,817
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 270
Gots: 1,139 | FT: 48
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,368 | Reviews: 2,817 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Knapp85
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is pretty freaking intense, Had a new bottle of this back in 2008 and it was really potent to me. The appearance of the beer was a muddy golden color with some brown in there. The head was white and had some good retention. The aroma of the beer was really hoppy for a barley wine. The other aromas if any where difficult to pick out. The flavor was big and bitey. There was a lot of complexity in here there were hops and malts colliding, there was some dark fruits in the aftertaste lingering around it was pretty different from anything I had tried prior to this. It's an impressive brew, wish I would have aged one from years ago to see if it mellows out over time.

Knapp85, Apr 18, 2011
Photo of jethrodium
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. 2011 version. Pours a dark reddish amber with a two finger white head that has very good retention and decent lacing. Aroma is caramel malt, a strong breadiness, and some pine hops as well as a little bit of orange. The initial taste is sweet with caramel that goes into some light pine and a bit of breadiness. The finish is pretty bitter with some alcohol heat. Medium body. Medium-low carbonation. An enjoyable beer, but I wasn't blown away by it.

jethrodium, Apr 17, 2011
Photo of TheCommonwealth
3.15/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I picked this barleywine up not expecting a drinkable beer. I had heard from some friends that it was the "King of Hops." But, when I saw it at my local beer store, I decided to try it anyways.

I purchased a single bottle and poured it into a tulip glass. Man, what a beautiful color it is. It pours a beautiful deep amberish color. For what it's worth, it maintained a nice 1.5 finger head but I suspect some of that is due to the tulip glass I poured it in.

It smelled like the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company had gathered several bushels of hops and somehow, in defiance of the laws of gravity, packed them into a 12 ounce bottle. Honestly, it has one of the strongest hop aromas I've ever encountered in a beer.

Luckily, it doesn't taste nearly as strong as it smells. In fact, compared to some IPAs I've had, it's relatively mild. Obviously, the overwhelming flavor is a a nice hop note, but there are other flavors present as well. Chiefly, I picked up a rather strong grapefruit taste and a more subtle, but still present, caramel flavor. This is a very, very complex beer. There are numerous other flavors that you can pick up. These other flavors, as in most beers, become easier to detect as the beer warms.

The most unfortunate aspect of this beer, and the main reason for the 3/5 rating, is the aftertaste. Wow. I drank this beer at ~9pm before I went to sleep, and I still had the aftertaste when I woke up the next morning.

Overall, I think that this beer has caught a bad reputation for being a "hop bomb." Really, once you get past the aroma, it isn't all that hoppy. It isn't a great beer, but it can be enjoyable. I wouldn't mind trying another, if only to investigate what other subtle flavors are present. Of course, I'll make sure to have a bottle of water ready to rid my mouth of the aftertaste.

TheCommonwealth, Apr 17, 2011
Photo of JayS2629
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks like this one has lots of fans, but I have to be honest and not follow the crowd. I don't think the big flavors integrated well together. There was a lot going on in many directions and it seemed muddled up. the beer was almost amber with great clarity, a small tan head, fast fading retention and little lace. The smell was amazing! Tons of hops! Citrus, pine, floral and grassy, lemon and grapefruit, pear and green apple, with a nice sweet caramel and honey in the back. The taste just didn't come together right for me. It was hard to finish. The alcohol was well hidden behind the hop bomb, but the hops was all over the place. Bitter grapefruit with lemon notes, resiny pine and green apple were fighting. Hints of pear, caramel and honey just didn't make a smooth mix. Hints of butterscotch, and a slight burn of alcohol. Light fruity characters. Just too much going on. Oily and slick. Overall, was hard to finish for me. Too over the top for my taste buds.

JayS2629, Apr 17, 2011
Photo of CASK1
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 batch, poured into a tulip glass. Nice medium amber color with very good clarity for a beer of this strength and bitterness. Fluffy light tan head fades fairly quickly.

Aroma is hops, hops, and more hops. Citrusy and piney, with some floral notes thrown in for good measure. There is a light, sweet, caramelly malt aroma that just balances the hops, and becomes more prominent as the beer warms. There are some yeast esters that show as a light fruitiness, but specifics are difficult to define through all the hops.

Intense flavor! Tons of hops, as both flavor and bitterness. High bitterness, supported by a substantial malty sweetness. Very well balanced when considering the style. High hop flavor shows as citrus, pine, woody, and floral. Lots of fruity esters add to the complexity.

Medium-high body is perhaps a little lower than expected, and makes this a dangerously drinkable beer. Medium carbonation. Surprisingly dry finish thanks to the hops.

This beer sets the standard for American barley wines.

CASK1, Apr 17, 2011
Photo of foogerd
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark amber not quite clear body with a caramel colored head.

S- Hops are right upfront, piny, sharp and citrusy. Malts backbone appear in a bready caramel form.

T- Very strong bitter grapefruit hops dominate the palette. There are caramel brown sugared malts here, but the hops just make a palette assault and beat down the malts to the point of them not being able to do much here.

M- Oily slick feel.

O- This beer is hopped to the point I cant seem to make a differentiation between a DIPA and an American Barleywine. Notwithstanding that fact it still makes a great powerful brew that will knock you out.

foogerd, Apr 15, 2011
Photo of pmarlowe
3.23/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 vintage (reviewed about 4 months after release). Sprecher tasting glass.

A: Pours a light amber with several fingers of head, which dissipates to a still-solid cap of foam. Lots of nice lacing.

S: Slight citrus and green apple, honey, some caramely sweetness and breadiness.

T: Caramel and breadiness, but not much complexity. Some spice (cinnamon?). Lots of hop bitterness on the finish which lingers considerably.

M: Medium bodied with medium-low carbonation.

D: This one doesn't really come together very well. Some of the flavors are nice but not particularly well integrated, and I think the hops are a little overpowering.
2007 vintage (5 years old at time of review, 03/27/12). Thanks to seeswo for this gem. Tulip glass.

Pours with very little head or lacing, appearing cloudy and kind of like dark apple cider. Smell is a lot of red and dark dried fruit and rich caramel. Taste is mostly caramel and decadent toffee; surprisingly, there's still a dose of bitterness which sits strong on the back of the tongue. Finishes incredibly dry which accentuates the bitterness... and I think that is one of the main things I don't like about Bigfoot. Overall, this is a big improvement (IMHO) over fresh or year-old Bigfoot, but still only an average barleywine.

pmarlowe, Apr 14, 2011
Photo of BelgiumBill
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured the 2011 vintage into a tulip glass. Poured a translucent amber caramel colored extra thick foamy beige head.

Smelled of a malty barley with some spice.

First sip was hops up front and some caramel sweetness and spices. After it warmed, the last few sips had some more buttery, butterscotch notes trying to poke though the hops. I'd guess about 65 IBUs?

The alcohol at 9.6% was concealed well but produced a little warmth in the back of the throat. Drinkable and pleasant in the mouth.

BelgiumBill, Apr 13, 2011
Photo of output01x
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 20 oz. bottle (2010 vintage) into a pint glass.

A strong pour yields a 2 finger creammy off-white head that withers slowly leaving massive clumps of foam clinging to the sides of the glass. The body is a translucent reddish amber color. Thick lacing covers the glass in gravity-defying sheets.

Spicy hops and sweet grainy malts assault the nostrils. It almost smells like cinammon rye toast. A slight booze smell is also detected.

Smooth, mellow roasted malt starts the journey, followed by spicy hops, a light lingering bitterness, and a low alcohol warmth. Every sip is like taking a journey through this beer. Coffee, caramel, toffee, burnt oak, dry resiny hops, and a bit of booze all join you on your trek.

Heavy bodied with moderate carbonation allows Bigfoot to coat your mouth and stick around.

While not exactly refreshing, this beers complexity and excellent flavors keep me reaching for the glass. I keep wanting to investigate it further, but each sip is too enjoyable for scrutiny. Allowing this beer to warm allows the flavors to become more bold.

As this beer ages, it mellows nicely. Its robust flavors round out and flow together. While certainly a great beer fresh, a year or two does wonders.

output01x, Apr 11, 2011
Photo of cbros
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 edition poured into a snifter glass.

I have several years of this particular beer but I decided to finally review the newest edition. Pours a very respectable deep amber with a nice one finger white lacing. The longer you let the beer warm up the better it becomes. After 20+ minutes the beer has settled into a nice rhythm. The balance of the malts and hops give a very balanced beer, especially for it being the newest edition. The taste is a parallel of the smell with a nice smooth balance of flavors that ends in smoothly with a hint of sharp alcohol flavoring. If the beer tastes this good as a newcomer I can't wait to taste it in a few years!!

cbros, Apr 09, 2011
Photo of PintOHops
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass - Snifter

2011 Edition

A - Amber/red color with decent clarity. It produced a 1-finger head that held okay. It fell to a sticky looking ring atop my beer. No lacing was left but there was a couple spots here and there.

S - It smells pretty fresh to me. I get a nice balance of malts and hops, with the malts slightly dominating. With a good swirl I get lots of burnt sugary notes like molasses, toast, caramel, brown sugar, roasted nuts and hints of cocoa. I also get leafy and herbal hop characters. Pretty inviting aroma.

T - Upfront I get some alcohol and bitterness, and as it clears I get really nice malt characters: brown sugar, nuts, cocoa, caramel and toffee, just really tasty. Towards the finish I start getting a pretty strong leafy hop character, pretty strong bitterness that lingers and lots of alcohol. You know your drinking a higher ABV brew, but it works pretty well.

M - Silky smooth texture with soft crispness and a relatively full body.

O - This is a beer that your gonna wanna sit back, sip and let warm. I think this is a pretty darn good Barleywine, drinkable for what it is but not something I would drink more than one of because it would probably get to warm and sweet tasting, which I don't like. A great beer I would definitely have again sometime. Definitely pick it up if your into Barleywines and sipping brews. Cheers!

PintOHops, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of JosiahS
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

glass: snifter
vintage: 2011

Poured an impressive clear dark cherry wood color with a beautiful 1-finger tan, soapy head. Hop forward at first on the nose but then quickly bleeds into bright apple from the alcohol and a rich caramel and sugary base.

This barleywine comes at you on all fronts; rich chocolate and caramel malts, intense flowery, bitter hops and tart but not too harsh alcohol presence. A well-balanced, pallete crushing beer. It's thick in the mouth with enough carbonation to live on past more than a dozen or so swirls in the glass.

A young bigfoot that leaves it's mark, not only on your pallete but in your head. Great beer.

JosiahS, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of DoctorDog
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle into a nonic. 2011 Vintage.

A- Copper and clear. 3 fingers of creamy tan head, which fades gradually into a thin cap. Tons of sticky lacing.

S- Strong wallop of citrus and pine hop upon pouring. After a few minutes, the caramel malts, and an earthy hop note.

T- Big caramel maltiness, quickly followed by a solid citrus and pine bitterness attack that balances the sweetness. A fair boozy kick on the finish.

M- Moderate carbonation. A nice, full body... Nice alcohol warming presence. Very, very good here...

D- Good. Tasty, great feel, and an "easy drinker" for it's ~10% ABV .

Future outlook: Seems like a bargain beer in relative terms, and one that might stand the test of time quite well to boot. Time to grab some more of these to stow away for a few years.

DoctorDog, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of chcfan
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage. Heading towards three months old at this time. It took way too long to get to Philly this year.

Amber in color with a head that was bursting out of the Sam Adams Perfect glass.

Lots of piney aromatics in what I would imagine are all American hops.

They pack a punch in the taste as well along with that distinctive barleywine taste that I'm still trying to put my finger on.

I have a local brougham who is going to do a 10 year vertical of Bigfoot and I'm really looking forward to it. Fresh, it's great. At one year, it's still hoppy, but noticeably different. I'm hoping I enjoy it aged as much as everyone else seems to.

chcfan, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of dcloeren
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured from a brown stubby bottle

A: Poured a very crisp copper brown (Like a new penny) with a creamy 2 fingers of taupe head. Minimal lacing

S: Getting a lot of sweet caramel malt up front with a very strong piney hop backbone. Nice citrusy orange peel notes make up the background

T: Piney hops smack you across the face at first sip, hops through the middle and a drying hop aftertaste. Faint grapefruit... not getting a lot from the malt (not as much as I was hoping for from the smell). Maybe some sort of dried dark fruit(raisons?)

M: Medium to full body with a syrupy and somewhat sticky mouthfeel. Carbonation is prickly on the tongue.

O: Overall this is a good beer, no doubt. I was pretty disappointed with the taste just being a hop bomb when the smell was so good/complex. Maybe it needs a little more time to age...? I will give it another shot in a few months and edit if necessary.

dcloeren, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of BeerLover99
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: amber/brown shimmer, 1 finger head, good lacing

S: muted barley, malt, spices

T: sweet malt, solid barley middle, hint of spicy finish

M: med body, mild sticky/oily mouth

O: Interesting, perhaps mine was not best batch. Heard that
aging this would make it truly mind-blowing. I'm just thrilled
to have another barley wine.
I enjoyed it and found it to go down with ease (crazy no).
Big sipper, no doubt. Wish the nose was stronger.
I really love this style; was expecting world class flavor
per the hype.


BeerLover99, Apr 07, 2011
Photo of theboozecruise
3.4/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2011 version, poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Homer Brewing goblet.

It's a reddish orange color, like a bright sunset with a small white head. Good retention and creamy pooling on top of the beer.

The aroma is pretty weak, mostly faint hops with a little spice to it.

The taste is mostly hoppy, befitting a Sierra Nevada brew. It's primarily piney but there is a subtle sweet floral hint to it. The malts are pretty faint but there. Barely.

The mouthfeel is about as expected, with a bitter hoppy aftertaste.

I like it, but it's too hoppy for my kind of barleywine. I'm excited to save a few for aging and see how the hop-forward brew ages.

theboozecruise, Apr 07, 2011
Photo of rundocrun
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a 1/2-inch off-white head that sticks around forever. Nice lacing on the glass. Deep brown/amber color with some orange highlights.

S - Smells sweet and malty with hints of piney hops. Some dark fruity smells waft up too.

T - Sweet and caramel-y up front with a raisin-like richness. Downside is the bitterness. Given, this is a 2011 Bigfoot, so all the flavors haven't had time to mellow, but the bitterness as it stands overshadows any other flavors I am trying to perceive in the finish. Almost a puckering, drying finish.

M - Thick, slightly syrupy with light carbonation. Nearly perfect for what I look for in a barleywine.

rundocrun, Apr 06, 2011
Photo of BranfordBound
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz stubby bottle dated as bottled on December 31st, 2010 at 2:46 PM. Kept refrigerated. Poured into a DFH shaped pint.

So it's finally time to tackle this mythical beast. After over a year of drinking craft brews, I think I've assembled enough experience to track down the intimidating and formidable Bigfoot. Let's just hope it's enough drinking experience to tame this wild beast of a barleywine, my first of the style.

Pours dark copper with a large and rocky off-white head of almost three fingers. Large head does not equate with a lot of carbonation, though. Lacing very present.

Aroma is very deceptive, smells like a bold Sierra Nevada DIPA. Big hop aromas of pine and grassiness with a little citrus. Sweet caramel malt is actually concealed in the back.

Certainly a big, bold beer. Super strong malty sweetness in the beginning, bready, fruity, and almost brandy/rum like. The hops take over a bit in the back end, although not as much as the aroma alluded to. The hops are similar in flavor, though, very "Sierra Nevada"; heavy on the pine, little bit of citrus, and noticeably bitter. Tiny bit of alcohol on the back end warms you up, but I imagine with a year or two of age this would subside.

Surprisingly smooth, albeit heavy mouthfeel. On the wet side.

Well, it is drinkable! Heavy bodied and heavy flavors for a 9.6% beer, but that is a positive in this case. Worthy of aging, although you won't find me buying a whole case of it every year. A deserving treat and a great break from the stouts that dominate the winter. While the real bigfoot has yet to be captured, his mystical nature and popularity have been captured by this beer, well done SN, well done! Much like the elusive nature of bigfoot himself, this one is worthy of "hiding" in your cellar for years to come.

BranfordBound, Apr 06, 2011
Photo of boudreaux
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Always wanted to try this one. Finally found it in Tuscaloosa this year! Poured into my goblet/chalice.

A: Pours a deep ruby/amber, slightly hazy, with a little yeast sediment and carbonated bubbles sticking to the bottom and sides of the glass; head is a slightly brownish/yellow, about 2-2.5 fingers thick; reduces to a think layer of lacing, spotted somewhat on the beer's surface

S: Surprising array of smells; extremely hoppy, floral, and citrus; also a touch of caramel; aged alcohol aromas also are present

T: More crisp and refreshing than I would expect, but in a good way, with bitter grapefruit and citrus notes combining with hops and floral notes; great dried raisins and caramel flavors play on the tongue

M: crisp clean, and fresh up front; not what I expected; as beer warms, becomes more smooth and spicy, with a medium, sticky mouthfeel and body

O: A great barleywine by Sierra Nevada!

boudreaux, Apr 06, 2011
Photo of jmdrpi
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a fresh 2011 bottle.

pours a dark amber color with nice 1/2" head, a bit frothy. fades fairly quickly. big hop aroma, mostly piney.

taste is definitely dominated by a boatload of hops. can barely taste the malt. dry bitter finish. body is a bit thinner than expected. medium carbonation.

after just drinking a Lagunita's Olde Gnarlywine, this is actually a bit disappointing.

the other 5 bottles from the six pack are going in the cellar to age.

jmdrpi, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of birderbeerer
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep copper beer with a solid, three-finger, white head. Caking not lacing. Very nice.

Nice hop scent on top of the sugary malts. Caramel malt squared.

Good dryness from the hops to balance the sweet malts. That sweet, sweet barley making a sugary goodness but before it gets too sweet, the piney hops cut it off.

Sticky feel afterward from the hops and the sugar.

birderbeerer, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of goblue3509
2.95/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an amber color with a two finger head. The aroma is of piney and earthy hops, it is a big hop smell almost like a double ipa. There is a little sweetness to the smell. The taste is much like the smell, a big earthy hop presence up front, no taste of alcohol at all. At the end you get a little malt taste but not very much. The mouthfeel was medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Overall it is solid, but I felt it was more along the line of a double ipa than a barleywine. You really had to search for any type of balance from the malt. One was a good drink, but I couldn't go two.

goblue3509, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of Pardishcreel
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle the color was a perfect amber red color with a head that was white and had good retention.

The smell was that of aromatic hops and flowers, the smell is just a precursor to the taste of hops you are about to receive.

The taste was of hops and more hops. You started with bitterness the the floral hops took over. After the hops you could taste the complex grain build of the barley wine that finished with a nice alcohol burn that left you warm.

The mouthfeel was good but I did have my pallet ruined from the hops for like an hour after trying it.

Overall it's a great beer, but I would plan on drinking a few because other beer won't taste right after this beast.

Pardishcreel, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of ksmi116
3.55/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 on the cap.

A - Deep red on the pour, light tan head.

S - Dark fruits, malt, and alcohol burn on the smell.

T - Tastes much riper than the smell, like it could do with a bit of aging. Alot of sourness after the swallow, and barely any fruit taste. Mellows out a bit after warming to about 50.

M - Good amount of carbonation, and not too watery or thick. Good balance here.

O - Wish this tasted like it smells, and that I had the capacity to cellar this for a couple of years. I know it has potential, it's just not there when fresh

ksmi116, Apr 03, 2011
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,368 ratings.