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

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

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6,573 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,573
Reviews: 2,850
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 312
Gots: 1,236 | FT: 52
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,573 | Reviews: 2,850 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cosmo4u
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

lazy boy saloon 7/23/11 2009 vintage

Appearance: Somewhat hazy deep red body with red laser beam highlights. Two fingers of caramel-tinged head that leaves great lacing.

Aroma: Lots of hops, lots of malt, and lots of booze - just what I expected. Relatively balanced in its massiveness, but the hops take the spotlight. It's a complex mix: perfumey Cascade hops, dark fruit, spices, caramel malt, and alcohol.

Taste: Again, intense and complex. Masses of grapefruity and piney Cascade hops riding on top of a very solid caramel malt base with everything simply dripping with alcohol. Still plenty of dark fruit and spices flavors here. The aftertaste is brilliantly bitter and boozy.

Mouthfeel: So chewy you could chip a tooth with good carbonation. A great dry, boozy finish that segues into a long-lasting hoppy aftertaste.

Drinkability: Very filling and obviously a sipper. One is certainly enough, but a second is always looming!!

Photo of JNewbs
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Deep amber/mahogany. Thick head that sticks around for seemingly ever. Solid lacing.

S - The smell was my first hint that I might not be in for what I expected. Having never had a barleywine, I was thinking we'd be looking at malty, strong flavors. The smell was hops though, plain and simple.

T - Reading the other reviews, it might be because I had this one fresh. But I found the taste to be very raw and abrasive. Hops and bitterness up front, with not much malt to settle it down.

All told it wasn't what I was expecting. In 10 months we'll see how the one in my basement tastes.

Photo of CapitalGains
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured and tasted 7/20/11; 2011 vintage.
12 oz. bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada snifter

Pours an amber, crimson body with moderate transparency with a 2 inch creamy faint tan head. Leaves some aggregated lacing and settles to a nice halo and island effect.
Aroma is very forward caramel malt, diacetyl, grassy hops (Willamette maybe), blackberry (?), residual hints of ethanol which become more apparent as it warms.
Powerful initial hit of butterscotch, caramel, and earthy hops on the bite with a bready, biscuity, and alcoholic finish. Bitterness is present but quite subdued.
Mouthfeel is dense, thick, and a bit chewy especially if it sits on your tongue for awhile. Appropriate level of carbonation.
This single bottle cost $2.09 - hard to beat that price for a solid barleywine. Would definitely like to try this again after some time to see how the profile changes once the hops fade out. Sierra Nevada has done an impressive job producing an enjoyable barleywine in this beer at a very economical cost. The alcohol could be a bit better hidden in a fresh(er) batch but this will likely mellow with some age.

Photo of auroracrisis
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into a pint glass. This is a 2011

Pours a deep chestnut color. Big pillowy head, that stays strong around the top of the brew. Thick lacing as the beverage is drank down.

You are first kicked in the face with big, resiny hops. The smell is similar to pine cones or fresh cut wood from a pine tree. A cedar like aroma rounds out that resin smell, with grass in there too. Behind that, a biscuity malt character comes forward. Toffee and caramel not too far behind that, with some heat as well.

Upon your first sip, you are greeted with strong bittering hops. Flavors similar to pine tree sap and fresh cut grass. After your tongue is done clenching, the savory toasted, biscuit-like malt eases you into a sweeter side of the beer. Toffee, caramel and a pinch of brown sugar come out after the bombardment of hops.

Sticky, thick and low carbonation. A tingle of alcohol burn rounds out and dries out the palate a bit too.

A brew that truly represents a good portion of flavors in the spectrum of taste. Bitter, sweet and a tad bit of earthiness as well. Infinitely complex, ages well, and cheap to boot. This is something I line my cellar walls with while preaching about the value and quality of. Truly, a world class American barleywine.

Photo of StJamesGate
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear burnt amber body with stiff creamy ecru head that leaves soapy cathedral sheets. Intoxicating caramel-dipped orange nose. Werther's Original, brown sugar and papaya attempt to make an appearance but are snuffed by orange, resin, cinnamon oil and pine hops. Cherry cough drop comeback and stinging linger. Medium to full, creamy, chewy, slight burn.

The blueprint of American barleywine. Enough said.

2011, fresh enough. Hot and hoppy.

Photo of ChrisCage
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to BigBry for the trade...this is the 2009 version of the brew....

A- Pours a deep muddy brown color with hues of deep red infused within. The head is eggshell in color, thick and dense, and finally settles down to a whipped cream textured layer over the liquid. Carbonation appears to be mild, as I was hoping for and the lacing is purely excellent, with a dense patchwork of soapy foam sticking intently on my glass.

S- Ahhh, sweet caramel malts dominate, with a lush candied apple backgournd following closely behind...I just cant get over how wonderfully big and bold the malt profile is on this one! The middle is deep with molasses, and dark fruit (plum, raisin) balancing it out, while the finish has a subtly fresh hop cone presence.

T- Wow, the hops hit my palate right up front, which I didn't really expect, and provide a stimulating hit of bitterness right away. This subsides a bit with the malt sweetness kicking in, although it is short lived, and the raisin/dark fruitiness comes forth and takes over. The whole experience up to this point has a toasted quality and is very rich indeed. The finish is dry and bittering, much like the beginning, although by this time the palate has had much to digest and it helps complete the beer....a well balanced beer indeed.

M- Chewy and full bodied for sure, this beer exemplifies the barleywine style! The carbonation is reasonably smooth and although the alcohol is noticeable to a point, it doesn't hinder the overall feel in my mouth. This is a very enjoyable beer that requires careful thought and dare I say borders on a desert brew?

O- Didn't know what to expect originally but this has been quite a nice experience! Full flavors, an aroma profile for the ages, great mouthfeel, nice appearance....this one has it all. I would definitely get this one again to savour, and/or to even cellar for a couple years to let it mellow out and "blend". Not for the faint of heart, this beer really knows how to knock your socks off! The only thing holding this back a bit is it's drinkability factor....I could handle one bottle and that's it in any given sitting!

Photo of JTSbeerislife
4.72/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, vintage 2010, well stored in a temperature controlled environment. Poured into a Dogfish Head Snifter with nucleation etching.

Pours a tremendous two finger head, which settles down rapidly to a lingering ¼” cap. Beautiful, very deep amber color. Has a great “presence” in the glass. Thick lacing hangs on the side of the glass marking every sip. Just beautiful!

Distinct and powerful nose of piney hops when first poured. The hops settle down a little with some time and warming, and allows the rich malt to come out to be enjoyed along with a wonderful ale yeast. That being said the hops dominate this ale from the first sip to the last. Thank you God!

The taste is just a monster rush of piney hops and rich distinct roasted malt, with crisp acidity giving balance. Very full bodied. Long lingering malt in the middle, but it can never shake off the incredible hop component of this ale. The hop oil sticks to the roof of your mouth like glue. Nice carbonation rises from the nucleation etching but it’s not over done, giving this ale a very pleasant mouthfeel.

Long, long lingering finish of piney bitter hops, rich malt, and a touch of yeast. It just goes on forever, like the Energizer Bunny. I may never brush my teeth again.

This ale is just flat out delicious. A great American Style Barleywine. The 9.6% ABV is completely buried by the intensity of the aroma and flavor. If this was not readily available every fall/winter the “Beer Snobs” would be killing themselves to get this, and writing A+ reviews like crazy. I often read in the forums of people asking for a great beer that is easier to find then the ones on the top 10 list, well look no further folks, here it is. I buy a case or two every year and at less than $60 this is a bargain. This is one of my favorite Barleywine Style Ales along with a recent find from Troegs, Flying Mouflan.

Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had the 2004 edition on tap a Buckye Brew Engine, in summer 2011 an it was very nice. It has muted, but was still a very nice beer despite the temperature and it likely up in abv by now over 10%. Orange coloured body, a lace sheet. Taste as if dry hopped. Very smooth and mellow, and a full mouthfeel. An American strong ale, with a citrus character.

Photo of giblet
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured nice and dark brown. light carbonation. very small head. smells of caramel and light alcohol. it was nice when it hit my mouth. light tingle from carbonation, nice chewy caramel and sweetness. nice dry finish with the hops. very yum.

suckem up and movem out!


Photo of TheHoppiest
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had a 2004 vintage on tap at Lakewood's Beer Engine. Poured into a small snifter, and surprisingly was served a little too cold.

Appearance is a remarkable clear amber color with only slight haziness. A 1/2" head reduces to a soapy lid, with excellent retention around the glass as it is drunk down.

Smells of vanilla, molasses, mild alcohol and esthers. Not much yeastiness, which I know has been a feature of later releases of this beer.

Tastes quite hoppy, which again is slightly surprising (and pleasantly so) given it's age. Alcohol, bitters, mild malt, slight honey, and a hint of sweet fruit (grapes, apricots) all are present. To be honest, this is very much on par with a decent Imperial IPA.

Medium bodied, this has a lighter, sweeter start before assaulting the back of your tongue with it's bitterness. Slightly thinner than later releases, yet still enjoyable.

This brew was, and still is, a beast, with high alcohol content and a bitter taste. Yet, that is why I love it so!

Photo of ExplosivoSR
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle to snifter. 2011 vintage.

A – Deep ruby red in color, with 1 finger’s worth of head. Lacing sticks here and there.

S – Holy goodness, did not expect this! A big piney hop profile comes through, with the sweet malts that you’d expect kinda buried in the background. A bit toasty.

T - In your face with hops. They really overpower pretty much everything else here, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since I’ve always thought barleywines are almost always too sweet. Some slight sweetness is present, but only slightly and it never really escapes the grasp of the hops. Alcohol is very well hidden.

M – Nice and crisp because of the hops. Pretty full body as well.

O – I was pretty excited to try this since I’m going to be putting a few bottles away to age. More my style of barleywine: Nice and hoppy, but still having some sweetness to it.

Photo of whatthehull
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bigfoot 2011

Tasted June 3rd 2011 (from notes)

Poured into a la Chouffe tulip

A - blood orange almost opaque, one and a half finger tan head and slight lacing

S - pungent, sweet, sour, boozy, hoppy, sweet yeast, dark fruits, wine barrels, soil, slightly citrus, lots of malt, maybe a wheat note, plums and maybe some tropical fruits

T - alcohol, very sweet and hoppy up front. Such a nice bitter and then sweet. A tad sour in the middle. Dark red fruits, super malty, oak, earth, some citrus, cherries and sweet yeast

M - big, full bodied, chewy, medium to high acidity, very long finish and well balanced

D - if you love boozy, sweet and hoppy and almost 10%, this beer drinks like water. Well balanced and very drinkable

Final thought - expensive, high alcohol, once a year release and being from sierra nevada. You have to have this one and maybe age it!

Photo of Klym
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A translucent red beer that goes into brown shades in its deeper parts. Head is small, off white, and leaves plentiful lacing. Hops and the oh-so familiar raisin, fig, date-ish smells in the nose. The taste is much of what the nose is though more well blended-- while in many beers the dark fruits and hops are simply concurrent, in this beer they are fused together into one taste that is interesting and make both more delicious. Despite the fusion, hops definitely take the forefront with the dark fruits taking the undertone. Mouthfeel has some alcohol burn on the top of the throat, but the bitter sensations in the mouth are pleasant. Solid barleywine overall, but mostly just a more well-crafted version of generic flavors and sensations.

Photo of Sideswipe
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 batch. 12oz bottle

Bigfoot pours a deep red coppery color. A two finger head of off-white foam floats on top for a moment, then recedes leaving a delicate lattice of lacing on the sides of the glass. The nose is hops and sweet malt, emphasis on the hops. Taste starts out with citrusy hop flavors. Exquisite bitterness is momentarily balanced by a very nice malt backbone, then careens back into hoppy goodness. Finish is dry with an excellent lingering bitterness. Feel is thick and viscous with a lower level of carbonation that serves to enhance the bitter character of this big barleywine. Alcohol is masterfully disguised by the interplay of hops and malt rendering an extremely drinkable beer. Overall this a wonderful take on the style by Sierra Nevada, a supremely bitter, satisfyingly malty brew that is a joy to savor. A yearly favorite!

Photo of jamespub
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured at 45* into a newcastle glass

A- Dark amber with a reddish hue. Pours with a creamy, one-finger head that slowly fades and leaves copious lacing. a mesmerizing brew.

S- Pine hops and malt. The smell is nice, but doesn't do the flavor justification.

T- Huge beer. This is one of the most flavor-packed beers I have ever drank. Lots of malt that is smacked down by a huge hop bitterness. There are few beers that rival the bitterness of fresh Bigfoot in my book. Pine hops and a sweet berry-like malt flavor round out the taste. The bitterness lingers.

M- smooth and refreshing. alcohol is faint, hop bite is dry and sticks to the back of the tongue.

O- just a great beer all around. it has become a staple in the fridge (during release times) and can be drank during hot or cold weather, which makes it particularly appealing in the state of Missouri...where you never know what weather will hit you. But keep in mind, this isn't for the faint of heart. If you have never had a barleywine, don't let the name fool you. This beer will kick you in the Fallopian tubes.

Photo of mikul93
2.73/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Poured a dark reddish brown with a healthy head.

S- A lot of hops with hints of caramel.

T- I taste the fruit at the beginning and then the hops just kick your ass. I love hops, but this is a bit overwhelming. I really enjoy the initial flavors I get, but then the hops just leave this bitter taste in your mouth and it lingers.

M- Actually very light with good carbonation. Surprised.

O- Not a fan of this barley wine. Maybe if it was aged for a year or so, the hops would mellow out, but Bigfoot fresh is not for me. I have another one that I will age and review again next year.

Photo of midworken
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 Batch-
Poured a thick, leathery head with good head retention and lacing.
Smelled of citrus, primarily grapefruit. Very bright and vibrant aroma. Faint smell of soapiness.
Taste mirrored the aroma. The first time I take a sip of this brew it always kicks me in the mouth, the flavor profile comes right away. Citrus is at the front, with the piney and woody flavors coming near the end. Flavor retention is dismal, yet still very complex.
Although flavor is bright, the body is thick and malty. Alcohol is very present and astringent.

Photo of juhl31
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

*Stockton reviewers before me...stick some '11's in your cellar for a year or 2 and then open em. it is insane how much better the beer develops. most of the bitterness goes away and the other flavors come out and meld together amazingly

Did a 5 year vert with a couple BA friends ('11-'07). i will review the beer overall and also give some notes to the changes at the end

-a reddish, copper tone to the body with a tall, tight light caramel colored head. the lacing and head retention on this beer is quite spectacular

-fresh, it is mostly piney hops. you can also get some caramel and butterscotch malt notes in there as well

-again, fresh...this beer is chest hair growingly hoppy. what also comes in though is a very nice malt background of caramel, butterscotch and a hint of nuttiness to it. some caramelized sugar in there as well

-i enjoy this beers thickness, especially with some age. this is a type of beer that will make part of your brain hurt in the morning if you drink too much. it is very smooth and rich too. and not very hot considering

-i really enjoy this beer. this beer was the 1st time i realized back when, what the wonders of aging could do to a beer because 1 year or older bigfoot blows my mind. for such an old recipe (28 years worth) it was way ahead of its time

vertical notes - every other year, the beer switched between a darkish brown/crimson color to a lighter caramel color which was interesting. again the aging brings out such pleasant malt notes. vintages i especially enjoyed were the '08 and '10. the warmth started to make its presence felt with the '07

Photo of Devi0us
2.38/5  rDev -42.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2011 vintage

A- Poured a deep copper color with a thick 2 finger off-white head that had a prolonged stay.

S- Massive hop aroma, somewhat piney. Nothing else going on here.

T- This badboy is bitter as fuck. All I can taste is hoppy bitterness with a bitter beer face. Taste more like an IPA  with 300 IBU than a Barley Wine to me.

M- Medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

O- This was hyped up big time by a friend of mine. I should smack him silly. This was a rather unpleasant experience that I wish to NOT ever experience again.

Photo of rowingbrewer
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this beer pours a copper color with a decent off white head. the aroma is very hoppy and floral. the flavor is a little harsh, there is not a lot of malt sweetness, just malt backbone with booze and hops up front. the mouthfeel is fairly full and overall its not bad, just not near the top of the list of barleywines i have had

Photo of fields336
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz. bottle poured into my SN snifter.

reviewed on 6/17/11

A: Dark amber, brown color with creamy one finger head dissipates slowly, leaving rings of lacing.

S: Dark fruits amidst a hoppy blast. Almost DIPA-like. Can smell the alcohol behind it

T: wow, extremely hoppy. West coast style, piney and citrus hops present. Blasted with hops, behind that is a dark fruity almost winey taste including alcoholy undertone.

M:Creamy, almost chewy, then hops and carbonation blast it away, making you forget about anything else.

O: Just an excellent beer. I'm not well versed in barleywines admittedly, but this is one of the best. This is almost DIPA-like, and i love it.

Photo of EnJeiBee
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a coppery brown color with an off white 1-finger head that had great retention and lacing

S - Very piney hop aroma combined with a large caramel malt backbone, neither of the scents seemed to dominate the other

T - Piney citrus flavors alongside toasty caramel malts. The alcohol didn't make it's presence known in my opinion, but I had a few others give it a taste and that was what they noticed right off of the bat

M - It had a much lighter mouthfeel than I would've expected from the style. It was lightly carbonated and finished pretty cleanly

O - I feel like this would be a great beer to introduce people to the barleywine style. The ABV makes it a sipper, but I could definitely spend a night drinking this.

Photo of RodneyX
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a hazy orange brown color with an offwhite head that left some pretty good lace on the sides. It smells of rich and burnt caramel, toasted malts, and a bit of booze. The bottle was from 2009 so I'm guessing it's mellowed a little bit and I like how the booze cuts through the sweetness a little bit. It tastes really good as well, great caramel and hops with a chewy consistency. I highly recommend this as it was a very enjoyable experience for something that is not a super rare whale.

Photo of PhillyStyle
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Carolina Ale House, Greenville, SC, May 2011:

The beer appeared a deep copper color, but clear and with a thin, white head that dissipated too quickly. I would probably lie some of the blame on the bartender who poured the beer. The beer had a big pine hops aroma, with some hints of some citrus and some malt. The taste is rich and heavy on the pine hops, but also with some nice hints of the malts as well. The beer had a heavy feel to it, dense and almost chewy with a heavy bitter aftertaste. Overall, the beer lacks some drinkability due to the high ABV, but that is not to say that the beer is not drinkable. If I was able, I would have had a couple. A very good beer and one that I will most certainly try again.

Photo of beerman21
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Edition Bottle

Pours as deep copper color big carbonation not overly active. Foamy off white head that dissipates to a fairly thin lace. You can tell this is a big high gravity beer just by looking at it.

Smell- Pine, deep sugary grapefruit, has kind of a deep forest pine smell. lil rummy with butterscotch flavor odors peak through the pine scents. Good by not great smelling brew.

T-Brown sugar, pine, grapefruit, hops really come through and have a nice bright bitterness.

M- coats the mouth well has a good balance of sweetness and huge bitter hop bite.

o- love this beer has become a northern Ca classic and one that i look forward to every spring. Highly recommend it to someone who wants a different take on barley wines.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,573 ratings.