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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

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6,578 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,578
Reviews: 2,850
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 312
Gots: 1,241 | FT: 51
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: 6,578 | Reviews: 2,850 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of guild337
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I've been wanting to try this beer for a while, and was finally able to get myself a 6 pack this weekend. I think I got what I expected. A hoppy punch in the mouth, in a good way.

A - Deep amber coloring, and a nice thick head.

S - I can already sense here what I am in for. Full floral, and citrus tones.

T - Hoppy spiciness (is that a thing?) and lovely citrus notes. Very bitter in the back of the mouth, but not unexpected.

M - Nice even carbonation. Not too thick or syrupy, as I might have expected.

D - One and done. A beer to savor over a long period of time. I took about 20 minutes to get through this one. It mellowed as it warmed as well.

I like this beer, but I think I will hang on to a couple to age and see if it gets better. I have confidence that it will.

Photo of beveritt
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage.

Presentation: Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a large snifter. Label is updated for this year, with slightly different colors, but essential the same layout and theme. I have had many of these before, and have them in my cellar back to 2006, but am just now reviewing one. No freshness date.

Appearance: Pours with 2 1/2 fingers of light tan head. This settles slowly, eventually dropping to a full puffy islands of foam here and there, and leaving behind thick, sticky lacing. The beer itself is a brilliant copper color and perfectly clear, with a steady stream of bubbles rising from the nucleation site. No sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Piney hop aromas with a slightly bready malt backbone.

Taste: Strong bitter hops upfront, with a slight caramel sweetness near the end, blends nicely into a thick and almost sugary malt backbone. Hop bitterness lingers well past the finish. Slight alcohol warming in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is excellent.

Drinkability: A great evening sipper, with just the slightest alcohol bite. i look forward to seeing this beer progress over a few years in the cellar.

Photo of gonzo46and2
3.06/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a 2009 vintage consumed at the peak of freshness.

Pours a ruby copper color with a pillowy tan head. Big head on this one. Pour carefully.

Aroma is very hoppy with a slight balance of caramel. Full of grapefruit tones, lemon rind, brown sugar, not finding much malt.

Taste is pretty bitter and harsh. Drinks much like a double IPA at this stage. I'd like to get some age on this one and try it after a year when the hops have mellowed.

Mouthfeel is bitter and dry.

Drinkability: Not really for me.

Photo of jnn4v
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a review of a fresh bottle of the 2009 Bigfoot. Not to be confused with any Bigfoot with age on it.

A: mahogany and cherry hues. A deep reddish brown barley wine color. Appears to be moderately carbonated with a small to medium sized light foamy head.

S: When cold. alcohol dominated the scent. As it warmed, several different malt elements began to rise to the surface including molasses, vanilla, caramel and a woody scent.

T: Hops, warm coppery malt, and a rush of sugar toward the end of the first wave of flavor. Followed by a drier bitterness from the lingering hops. Possibly some cedar or a spicy woodiness.

M: Thick, but not syrupy. More carbonation than expected.
Not bad, but not spectacular. I'm looking forward to the mouthfeel a few years from now.

D: Perhaps Sierra Nevada was prepping this for long cellaring by overhopping and overcarbonating it in advance. It's still drinkable now, but tastes more like a high-hop DIPA than a barleywine.

Photo of acelin
4.56/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This beer is colossal. I was impressed with the big taste, smoothness, the malt, the hops...

Served in a bottle poured into a pint glass.

Smelled like a thicker IPA...

Tasted.. like god. A really great brew, very hoppy, malty, with some nutty taste throughout, bitter at first sweet to end it with.

Very thick mouth feel, so good, not too much carbonation.

Not that drinkable, but decent. I loved it.

Photo of blaje
3.49/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a long awaited drink for me...

Pourred from a bottle in a pint glass. Served chilled.
It revealed itself as a reddish, deep amber color without haziness. Little head over it, < 1cm and white that was gone in a few minutes.

Nose: Nose is a bit disapointing. I was expecting something great, but in fact, it was faint. no pine nor citrus scent as expected. Floral smell is present.

Mouth: Good carbonation for a barleywine, I was surprise. The taste... well I guess everything is in the tatse for me. The nose wasn't revealing much, but this beer really reveals itself in the mouth. Bitterness is well present (around 100 IBU I guess). Bitterness with a twist, bittersweet? A slight caramel taste from the efty quantity of malt is present. LONG bitter aftertaste

Ageing?: yes, it will age well. Will mellow down the bitterness and aftertast for a more caramelized taste...

Overall, a good barleywine, but would have hope for something better since that I heard so much about it. will buy again, but not on my priority list.

Photo of wheatyweiss
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 12 ounce shorty bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a mahogany hue, ruddy red with a small off white head that recedes quickly.

Aroma is full blown fruity hops. Slightly floral and hinting at a fresh grapefruit. Caramel malts come through barely, but they are there.

Flavor is hops upfront, the flavor belies the aroma as the hops are peppery and biting. Alcohol follows with a chewy malt backing that barely balances the hop. Hops in the middle are resinous and piney. I would almost guess Simcoe, but the site says Chinook. Alcohol sneaks back in on the finish as well as the cracked black pepper flavor of the hops.

Mouthfeel is lush and oily, perfect carbonation.

Very nice brew, the bitterness would be helped by a little more malt backing, but overall very good.

(2010 batch)

This year is way more balanced than last. The alcohol is hidden way better than the last batch. Very smooth and drinkable. Be careful!

Photo of JohnWaynes44
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: 2009 pours beautiful reddish brown in a chalice. Golden hue on the edge in the light. Thick half finger tan head. I can never get a proper head in this type of glass.

Smell: Sweet malts, caramels, and alcohol on the nose.

Taste is bold, robust slam of hops and charcoal. Sweetness shows at first but fades into a bitter, ester, alcohol taste. Malts and caramels are almost there but are lost and overpowered by hops and alcohol. Leaves a charcoal, bitter taste in mouth

Mouth: Smooth in the front, warm medium body, dry and bitter finish.

Overall drinkability: I think this one needs to rest for at least a year to mellow. It is a bit harsh in the end. I love the upfront hops and sugar, but I don't care for the harsh, charcoal, alcohol finish. It does though, like most high abv brews, get a little more drinkable towards the bottom of the glass. Probably should be served a little warmer than my beer fridge setpoint. Can't wait to try this one next year. Maybe one from this sleeve a year is in order.

Photo of sevopie
3.61/5  rDev -13%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Brilliant amber/ruby color with a beautifully rocky off-white/tan head. One of the most beautiful looking beers ever.

Smell - Some sweet citrusy hops are clearly evident, with a small dose of caramel malts hiding in there as well.

Taste - This one is hoppier than the beast that is celebration. Celebration walks the fine line of beauty, this one crosses it. There's also a lot of candy sweetness in here as well, with the caramel malt not hiding at all. Overall, I think things were a little too overpowering to be perfect, with that slight hint of alcohol greeting you under the bitter/sweet blend. Then again, it is a 10% barleywine.

Mouthfeel - This one just about gets about it right. Creamy, oily smooth, with a good blend of carbonation.

Drinkability - The alcohol becomes more prevalent as it warms, and the overwhelming nature of the flavors detract some from overall drinkability. As a whole though, its a very solid brew, and a damn bargain at $11 for a sixer.

Photo of washburnkid
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 bigfoot.

A: Over a finger of creamy beige head; body is a reddish-brown and amber mixture with copper tones along the edges. Beautiful head retention that refuses to leave me. I've been nursing this beer for an hour and the head is still sticking at the very top of the glass. So incredible.
S: Heavy herbal aromas with the pine that is reminiscent of Torpedo. Florals deeper in the aroma though not as strong as the other scents. Some hints of malts on the nose.
T: At first, the flavors include incredibly hoppy and bitter notes, including florals that just dominate my palate. The bitter flavor is someone charred or burnt at different points in the sip. There's a malty backbone that, in the beginning, provides an intense syrupy sweetness that balances the hop and bitter presence. Eventually this sugar shop sweetness just dominates, leaving the hops to cry for attention.
M: Heavy, syrupy body that is carbonated just right and leaves a ton of malty residue in my mouth.
D: This beer is tricky. It starts out so hoppy but the sweetness just completely takes over, making this beer wonderful for dessert. Next time, I'll split a bottle for after dinner--mostly because of the immense sweetness that pulls through. I'd love to know what this beer tastes like after a couple of years. Get it while you can!

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.3/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 2/5/2008 (bottle):

Pours a red colored body, non-cloudy, with a small white head, diminishing. Has a very hoppy, sweet, bitter, sickly piney aroma. Alcoholy. Sweet, with some candy taste. Hops, some pine, malty. Drinkable. Less alcohol as it warms.

Photo of StrangeBrewer76
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

With many hundreds of reviews of this beer there is nothing but my personal experience with it that could be informative at all. Even my personal story is likely repeated here a few times chances are.

I bought a case thinking I would review one, drink a few and cellar the rest for next year knowing how well they age. As you may have guessed, that was not the case. I drank the first 23 in less than two weeks while also drinking other stuff. I went out of my way to buy really good beers so I would forget about the bigfoot. This also did not work. I tried keeping them warm (room temp) so I would be less tempted, but I found myself throwing 'just one' into the freezer but when I went to drink it, I determined it to be 'too cold' and instead of waiting for it to warm up, I had the genius idea of mixing it with a warm one.

This is the first beer that I have been addicted to in a literal sense. The only solution is to review this last one and wait until next year.

Photo of Duhast500
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a deep amber with a nice foamy white head. Has some nice lacing.

The smell of citrus hops, some caramel notes, and a hint of malt.

The taste is really nice. A good barely taste with some citrus hops feel, also has a bit of a suagry sweet taste with a bit of a bitterness in the background.

The best barleywine I have had. It will be touch to surpass this. Sierra Nevada has made a really great beer and continues to impress me.

Photo of Bigfatbino
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A = Extra-dark deep amber color, very tight bubble structure in the head. head from a 2 bottle pour into a 22oz glass beer mug produced a 3/4 inch head, which lasted for a very long time. Beautiful lacing in the glass.

S = Spicy Hoppy scent. smells like it tastes as far as bitterness is concerned. for the %ABV, there wasn't much raw alcohol smell. Aroma is almost flowery. I'd wear this as aftershave...

T = bitterness grips the side of my tongue and lingers a good 30 seconds or more. Flowery, spicy and intensely hoppy blend of flavors. a verry small astringency from the alcohol is detected, but the bitterness almost drowns it.

M = Damned near creamy in the first few sips with the nice head on top. heavy bodied. Once the head is mostly gone (it never really seems to fully dissipate), the mouthfeel is very full. Just a sip at a time thoroughly coats every taste bud.

D = Lookout! It is tempting to sip sip sip. It does taste good, but like cheesecake, for me it was very filling.

General Comments: Possibly the best smelling beer I've come across, with a taste and mouthfeel to nearly match. The %ABV is a drawback I feel since it is so powerful it can't really be enjoyed in great quantities except for Irish or Italian people! .... Wait.... I'm Irish-Italian...Pour me another! This brew would be best enjoyed alongside a sophisticated meal requiring a palate-cleanser. Possibly Duck, Oysters on the half shell, or perhaps a Beef Wellington. Food pairings aside, for tobacco aficionados, try enjoy with your fullest flavor cigar or a very strong aromatic pipe tobacco. This beer is an excellent palate cleanser. Given a choice...I would have a hard time choosing between this brew and my holiday party faithful choice of Chimay.

Photo of Clydesdale
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: A deep brownish-orange with a tall, dense, foamy and creamy light tan head. Retention is impressive, and lacing is solid.

S: Some sweet caramel malt up front. Citric hop notes, mostly orange and grapefruit. A moderate alcoholic nose as well. I get some apple peel hints too.

T: Grapefruit and orange rind up front, giving a bitter start. A nice dose of sweet, sugary caramel malts throughout the body. Rather aggressive alcohol flavor towards the finish, along with another dose of pithy, citrus rind bitterness. Some piny flavors accompany the hops as well.

M: A touch light for the style. Rather crisp, given the carbonation and the aggressive hops and alcohol. A riding, biting dry bitterness into the finish.

D: Very tasty and extremely hoppy for the style. This drinks like a hybrid between a barleywine and a robust double IPA. A real sipper, given the relatively unmasked alcoholic nature.

Photo of ToddT
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Deep amber color with a huge off white head. Head is long lasting and leaves lots of lacing on the glass.

S- Noticeable aroma of grapefruit, hops and alcohol. Subtle notes of fruit, apple, and caramel that is pretty well hidden behind the hops.

T- Hop bitterness right away then some sweetness from caramel and malt balance this out. The bitterness carries through to the finish, which is dry slightly and astringent with alcohol esters and a second burst of the grapefruit hop bitterness.

M- Light in the mouth for a barley wine, medium carbonation. Somewhat viscous but no heavy aftertaste finishes dry and clean.

D- For a barley wine this is easy to drink. The 9.6% ABV is well hidden, but you will feel it's warmth after about three sips. Due to the strength you will probably not want more than one or two in a sitting.

Review is for the 2009 vintage. For a fairly fresh barley wine this is well done. I can't wait to see what this tastes like in a couple of months or a year or two. Buy a case and put some away for the future. In this economy it could be your best investment.

Photo of nc41
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have to admit my Barley Wine experience in very minimal so I'm hesitant to pass judgment. But this is a big Ale, massive in every respect with respect to flavor. I find it un balanced, and too sweet in the middle, could use more hop bitterness to round out the sweetness. I'm not sure what the IBU's are and I really don't care this one needs a little more bitterness, and a touch more effervescence, mouth feel for me is tricky, but this one is a little viscous because of the heavy malt. Very decent in most respects, but the possibilities... just missed a HR.

The above was for the 2009 Bigfoot. IMO the 2010 is much better. Bigger hop presence, nicely bitter, massive head that held to the very end. Smooth finish for such a big beer. This one a I really love, easily a solid A type brew.

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

I poured this one from a 12oz stubby brown bottle into a shaker pint glass. This was the 2009 vintage.

A= With an aggressive pour, this ale appeared a very clear dark copper color with a 2" fluffy white head. The head dropped to a 1/8" cap that retained all the way down and left loads of sticky sheet lace.

S= This ale was all fresh citrus hops in the nose. Some pine notes as well as a biscuity malt aroma in there too. Modest alcohol presence.

T= This one had a load of hop bitterness right from the start. Sticky pine and grapefruit ruled the roost for sure. Despite all those hops, there was a caramel and biscuit malt backbone always hovering underneath the hops. The end was quite dry with a touch of alcohol.

MF= Medium bodied with a prickly carbonation feel.

D= This is a very good beer, but I think its a bit young still. The hops are at a DIPA bitterness and aroma level now, and the alcohol is a bit over the top. I think that some age will mellow those hops and soften the alcohol a bit. Even so, this beer will be good at any stage of its life.

Photo of surfer4life
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tumber from a 12oz bottle.

A - Golden brown with a small head, although dark still has some transparency. Average Lacing.

S - Sweet caramel and apples, cloves and raisins. Wonderful malt aromas!

T - Small sweet taste in the front, which I expected to be a little sweeter as is the case with most barleywines. Some hoppy bitterness though, a lot more than I am used to with this style. A lot of the bitterness is similiar to grapefruit rinds. None the less it's spiciness and bitterness makes it complex and tasty!

M - Fairly heavy with a thick body. Higher carbonation that expected. Still syrupy though, coats the pallet nicely.

D - Very drinkable. I could have the a few more times, curious as to what it's like on tap or aged.

Photo of paco1029384756
4.41/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle reviewed.

Pours a beautiful deep clear mahogany color with two fingers of white head.

Scent of caramel, dark fruits, sugars, hops, a hint of earth, and some alcohol. Nice and balanced with well hidden alcohol.

Taste of caramel, spices, piny hops, and sugars. Finishes dry with sugars and a hint of earth. A very good example of the American Barleywine style, and the best it's tasted of the vintages I have had to this point.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with pretty strong carbonation.

Photo of Yetiman420
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

10 oz pour into a plan tulip glass. Served too cold.

First barleywine review from me. I've been aging a bunch in my cellar and am excited about experiencing this style.

A wonderful copper color that became spectacular when held against bar lights.

Some let down with the lack of aroma. Even as it warmed and I swirled, I couldn't pull much out. I was expecting more hop aroma.

Flavor was very smooth and balanced. I'm not sure if it was the bar aroma (non smoking) but it came out like the aroma. Nothing jumping out at you - just very smooth and well balanced.

It's probably not fair to make this comparison, but I had a Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearlthly on draft the night before. It may be the age of imperial IPA's have passed up barleywines for impressive punch (9% bigfoot to ~11% ST).

Overall a very nice entry point for me into the world of Barleywines. I'm very excited to cellar and experiment with these over time.

Photo of Shaw
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I inadvertently erased my first Bigfoot review with a review of an aged bottle. So I'm giving it another go!

Pours a deep copper in color with a sticky off-white head that leaves chunks of lace in my glass.

It's got that barleywine smell: Citrus hops mix with toffee and caramel notes and a hint of alcohol. Nice.

The taste is perfect. And I give very, very few 5's. This is what I think of when I think barleywine. It's bitter and malty with lots of hop flavors and a nice warming finish. It is not just a bitter beer: This has depth.

The body is thick and smooth and almost chewy with its heft.

This is one of my most favorite beers. I could drink nothing but this for the rest of my life.


(Previous review from 2/22/07 follows)

I bought a bottle of the 2006 vintage in Feb. 2007 at Beer World in Largo, Fla. I've never had an aged Bigfoot before. Let's see how it is.

Pours a very cloudy mahogany with a nice head that reduces but leaves nice lacing in my glass. (4.0)

It still has that great, complex barleywine aroma of hops, malt, caramel, biscuit, alcohol and more things I can't identify. (4.0)

Time has done little to this beer's taste. If anything, it's even more bitter and tannic than when it's young. Alcohol flavors compete with the sharp bitterness, overriding biscuit and caramel flavors from the malt. (4.0)

Like Rogue's barley wine, this beer is better young. It is by no means bad. But I find the fresher beer is even better. (3.5)

Photo of Spikester
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 version. Very little aroma most likely due to age. Pours very dark amber with a two finger light tan head. Lacings are plentiful. Taste is sweet roasted malts with a very full earthy hop bitterness. A hint of dark cocoa from the malts. Mouthfeel is very nice with moderate carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden by the full body. Very drinkable for the style. Will probably update or edit this review when I try the 2009 version in my beer fridge.

Photo of MickeyHops
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

3/1/09 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass (only clean glassware available...)

Deep amber appearance, one finger of off-white head.

Hoppy and sweet smell.

Wow, what a taste. Somewhat syrupy but hoppy, sweet, and delicious! To be sipped and savored.

Fairly heavy mouthfeel, yet still somehow refreshing. It demands attention and but is not completely overwhelming.

Overall, very drinkable, especially for a nearly 10% barleywine. This year's version seems slightly more balanced than previous years. Gotta be careful with this stuff, though, considering the ABV.

Be sure to check out the artwork on the bottle and 6 pack, pretty cool.

This is definitely worth a try for any fans of DIPAs.

Photo of gabe23
3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a deep ruby red color with a billowy off-white head. Nice retention and lacing all over the place.

S - A slight malty sweetness, but mainly it's piney/citrus hops and alcohol. Definitely has the signature Sierra Nevada aroma.

T - I'm not an expert on barleywines by any means, but I've never had one this bitter. The hops assault the tongue immediately, then the alcohol kicks in and heats things up. I can't really detect much in the way of malt sweetness, except perhaps a bit at the finish. This seems more like a boozy DIPA to me.

M - Very heavy, thick body. The bitterness and heat from the alcohol really does a number on your taste buds.

D - I can't imagine drinking more than one of these. Just too unbalanced and boozy to make this a regular drinker for me. Glad I tried it, but also glad I didn't buy a sixer.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,578 ratings.