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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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6,699 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,699
Reviews: 2,890
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 322
Gots: 1,328 | FT: 56
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: 6,699 | Reviews: 2,890 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PiecefulToker
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 Batch. I have had this bottle for 5-6 months.

A: Pours a very hazy dark amber, brownish color with a very thick 2-finger head, almost of nitro consistency. Head sustains a thick layer for a long time, leaving a thick layer of sticky lace.

S: Lots of hops with a very heavy, caramel malt backbone.

T&M: This is a barleywine, and I mean that in an emphatic way. This beer is exaggerated, but also in a good way. Very strong bitterness and hop flavor shocks my tongue, as a syrupy thick maltiness coats the inside of my mouth. Very strong resiny pine flavors and grapefruit/citrus pith. Carbonation is low, but enough to satisfy. This is a very complex brew, and VERY bitter. Definitely for my fellow hopheads and not for the faint of heart.

D: Low. This stuff is thick, syrupy, bitter, sweet, etc. It is very good to sip and enjoy, but definitely at the beginning or end of a night. Not a session brew, but delicious nonetheless.

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

2009 Review

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into my Sam Adams turbulator. Transparent, darker amber color with orange and red hues. Nice thick 2 finger off white head, looks like sea foam. Receeding to a thick white colar and very thick and sticky webs of lace.

Aroma of pine and grapefruity hops with a touch of sweet orange peel. Caramel maltyness and an almost maple brown sugar aroma.

A good doseage of smooth creamy carbonation up front, becoming a bit more prickly at the swallow.
This is somwhat thick and chewy with loads of malt and hops, well balanced for the amount of hops. This is much hoppier then I remember it being last year.
Sweet malty brown sugar and carmel roll buttery flavors. At the swallow the pine and grapefruit really pick up, now dominateing the taste and lingering bitter for a long period.

Very good as always.


2008 batch

Purchased from Heritage Liquore in St. Paul.

I dont know what it is, but I've been having really good luck with great brews latly, this is another of my fav's.

Poured a 12 ounce stubbed brown bottle into a 16 ounce mug.
3 Finger white foamy head. Huge thick laceing all around the glass. Color is a redish semi tranparent amber.

Smell's of sweet malt and piney hops. The smell is pretty mellow and misleading. As this brew is packing a punch.

Taste is absolutly outstanding!

Upfront is a diceptivly sweet malty grain flavor all through the middle. Then at the swallow, alchahol warming and BLAMO! Hop abbundance. There is a nutty coffe like flavor in there after the swallow as well about 4 seconds in, that quickly dissapers into hop linger.

Finish is dry and hoppy, pine, grapfruit, some hop oil.
This is a massively hoped beer. But its balanced well with the sweet malty beginning.
Mouthfeel is well medium creamieness with moderate carbonation.

Excellent beer.


1998, the year I graduated highschool. Although I did not drink beer then, it is sure nice to revisit this year with a beer brewed at that same time.

So, I found a $3 bottle of 1998 bigfoot, here goes...

Poured from a brown stuby bottle into a snifter. The rigerous pour has produced really no head, just some random bubbles. A rigerous swirl bring back an inch of foamy white head.
The color is a dark brown, not at all transparent. small spots of lace and a now colar of retention.

Aroma is all malt, hops are gone. Its sweet and smells of dark fruit, prunes, figs and rasins. Brown sugar is a big part of the aroma here. Its very sweet and malty, still a good amount of fresh cereal grain aroma. Candy sugar too.

The mouthfeel is pretty thick with an oily creamyness. Carbonation does not tickly put does give a bit of a snap to the flavors.
HOPS DO LIVE! Wow, hops are still present in the taste, amazing!
It starts out thin, becoming increasingly creamy and full. It also starts out with little flavor, suddenly awaking in my mouth from 11 years of hibernation.
Caremelly sweetness, brown sugar, more roasty now with some darker roasty grain flavors. Hops wake up and bit just before the swallow. The are super bitter now, almost boiled down to one pungeant smack, then fall away after the swallow. There is hemp, pine and like a boiled down hydroponick grapefruit hop flavor. For about 5 to 10 seconds I'm in hop heaven. Then it mellows again. Malt and semi sweet brown sugar come around, balance it out. Bittering hops linger, alongside a buttery sweet maple brown sugar malt flavor.

This is the oldest beer I've ever drank and by far one of the most fun reviews I've done. Its means so much more to me to do one in a year that was extra special. This brew is very fine indeed and only gets better with age, as I've now learned.
Sierra Nevada, you guys make some damn fine past date beers!!!

Photo of johnnieoz
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

25th Edition of the Bigfoot Expedition: 2008 bottle.

A: Nice pour, leaving a big off-white head. One finger remains for quite some time. The reddish-brown hue lets just enough light through to show off its brilliance.

S: Green raisins, ripe plums and dried apricots.

T: Intense and brief sweetness hits the tip of the tongue. This maltiness is then complemented by creeping, potent and lingering hops. Still, the taste is sensationally balanced and leaves the palate abuzz.

M: This ale feels fantastic in the mouth - it's just heavy enough, there are some hop oils but they don't dominate. As the juicy ale swishes about, all kinds of flavors announce their presence.

D: How DO you rate the drinkability of a barleywine? Well, this one is eminently drinkable. Far from a session beer, you can still manage two in one sitting. Not bad for a 9.6% abv...then again, that's a lot less than some of Bigfoot's compadres out there.

The Bigfoot still rules the roost and Pacific Northwest.

Pairing note: this combined really well with Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue Cheese (Oregon). It's pungent blue cheese sharpness is balanced by caramel sweetness, which is the result of smoking over hazelnut shells. Perfect mate for the Bigfoot.

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

Poured a tan brown color? Oh eff... who's kidding I'm drunk and I had this more than an hour ago. But here goes, it had a chewy mouthfeel, quite caramelly but matched by the bitterness of the hops. This stuff was out of season and not aged (2008). Guy next to me said it was good to age it so that the maltiness could come through. I could see that because there was a thick mouthfeel provided by the dark malts and the oiliness of the hops. Its basically just... an upper of everything both malts and hops, but couldn't detect the alcohol. But don't let it scare you. My first barleywine and a good experience.

Photo of aubuc1
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 12 oz bottle poured in to a goblet. Pours a clear brown with a light tan head that appears to be holding surpisingly well. Hoppy, citrusy, bitter, somewhat herbal smell. Malty, sweet, then bitter taste. The alcohol is an echo in the background, but doesn't overpower. Full mouthfeel as to be expected with such a large beer. the true flagship of the sierra nevada line.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, 2008 "25th Expedition" offering. Served in a pint glass, the Bigfoot pours a copper/red color with a 2 inch off-white head (after a hard pour). Head retention and lacing are both excellent. Aroma is mainly grassy and citrusy hops, with some caramel malt in there too. Taste is similar to the aroma, with citrusy and grassy hops, caramel and bready malt, raisins, and a bit of spice. There's also a nice bitter hoppy aftertaste. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, with average carbonation. It's also creamy and a bit oily. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and goes down easy. The 9.6% ABV isn't very noticable at all. Overall I think this is a good beer, definitely recommended.

Photo of allergictomacros
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

25th expedition 2008 version.

A - Pours out a clear ruby red with a big clingy, rocky foam.

S - Somewhat grassy, and very fruity - orange, grapefruit, apple, pineapple and assorted other sweet tropical fruits.

T - Malty up front with tons of sweet fruity flavour, some roastiness and a long, bitter, slightly astringent finish. Man is this bitter. Very malty as well with lots of caramel and molasses. Booziness is unavoidable, and here in spades as well.

M - Big, heavy and finely carbonated. Chewy even.

D - Overall, quite good. Obviously a lot of everything in this, and somewhat challenging to the palate.

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

2008 offering 25th expedition, somewhat fitting for my 25th review

Pours deep ruby brown color. Very big head and very big lacing.

Aroma has fair amount of both malt and hops noted. Subtle fruitiness noted.

I am slightly surprised by the upfront hoppiness. It is complimented while by a sweet maltiness and definite fruitiness.
Spiciness also there, slightly warming

Mouth feel is full but smooth. Bordering on a slight oily feel.

Wonderfully drinkable specially with the abv.
Would like to try a vintage offering for comparison. Will re-review at such time.

Photo of wiseguy142
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I think this is a great example of an affordable, not so radical commercial Barleywine because of the great balance between hops, malt, and alcohol content. I had it on draft in a snifter for a very affordable price- I believe under $5. The color was very clear and orangey-amber with little visible carbonation. Smelled of whispy cascade hops. The taste was also of cascade, crystal malt, and alcohol, but not in an extreme sense like "i'm drinking straight vodka mixed into a normal beer." It was very well balanced with the alcohol content matching the overall "strong" character of the beer in all respects. Towards the end the alcohol started getting to me in terms of drinkability but I suppose that is natural.

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

Poured from the bottle with a mildly foamy head..stong lacing presence, practically frozen to the sides of the glass.

A clouded, dark coppery color. A bit of sweet fruitiness in the scent. The hops are clearly captured in the aroma as well.

First sip, strong alcohol flavor. Packs a potent punch. Highly hopped, leaving a dry, floral aftertaste. The sweetness is there as well, balanced with the hops which seems to tingle on the tongue with each additional sip.

Once your mouth gets conditioned to the hoppiness, you can further enjoy the fruity essence in this barleywine. Overall, not for the faint of heart...good stuff, but strong on the hops.

Photo of chimaybier
4.63/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is one of my favorite Barley Wines. I just had Lagunitas' Gnarly Wine 2 days ago, and it is hoppier than that one. I always look forward to the Spring when Sierra Nevada puts out its latest batch of Bigfoot. One minor complaint- they should have stayed with the old cartoonish label. I loved that! Very drinkable...



Photo of daythree16
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. Pours a ruby/brown with good head that fades but leaves a foamy lace down the sides of the glass as you drink the beer.

Powerful aromas of caramel and raisins and other dark fruit. Also some hoppy citrus. Wow, the taste takes a couple sips just to mull over the complexity of the thing. Sweet malty and fruity notes with a hop bitterness that really packs a punch at the end. Despite the high alcohol content, it just brings some warmth and not a lot of burn.

The mouthfeel is very smooth and silky, not quite oily, but getting there.

For my first experience with the style, I wasn't sure what to expect. Very complex. Although it mellows very nicely as it warms, it's definitely a sipper, and I would probably just have the one.

Photo of ejquin
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage thrown in as an extra in a trade with brewandbbq

A: Deep deep brown, almost black with the thinnest white bullbles just around the edges of the glass

S: Por wine and figs with hefty dose of maple syrup. A musty sweetness with some grape jelly and rasins.

T: The first thing that hit me was the hoppiness of the beer. It still felt pretty hoppy, extremely so for a 10 year old beer. Taste like a tawny port with a nice maple syrup rasiny taste. Big malt kick. That fades right to a big hop spiciness and alcohol and a long finish of warmth and bitterness.

M: mouthfeel wasn;t as syrupy and heavy as I expected. Still a good bit of carbonation. Though it wasn't light feeling by any means.

Ovr: First of all, big thanks to brewandbbq for a 10 year old bigfoot as an extra in a trade. It was ag reat great beer. I got the farmiliar fig/port taste of a good aged barly wine, but the amount of hop bite still left in this was unbeliveable. There are plenty of fresh IPA's that don't pack that punch

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

Mmmm...why is this beer kicking my ass...I just wanted sometihing simple to go with a snack of crackers and cheese...oh, it's 9.6, I guess it's ok to feel a little buzz...still have that nice, bitter taste in my mouth..went down so smooth...what a drinkable, dangerous beer. In my day, we cellared this beer for years on end to mellow it out...effing east coasters thought it was too hoppy to drink right away...it certainly ages well but drinking it full blown like this...that works, too.

Photo of coopd3ville
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

25th anniversary bigfoot '08 served in a pint glass

A. Pours a dark amber with a hint of red. 1/4 inch of off white head that settles sticking to the glass.

S. Smell of floral hops with a hint of malt.

T. Hops inundate the palate with bitterness balanced with just the right amount of malt.

M. Very nice mouthfeel, quite smooth.

D. This is very drinkable...well sippable with the 9.60 abv.

I enjoyed this years Barleywine and look forward to next years.

Photo of Thanby
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear Amber-honey with two fingers of creamy tan head that dies slowly and leaves a ton of thick lacing.

Smells primarily of northern hops, citrus, malt, and some spices. Hard to pick out anything subtle because of the intense hops.

First taste is very potent hops, some grapefruit, possibly cloves, a bit of malt, and not a whole lot else.

Spicy carbonation, severely bitter hops (typical of SN), fairly smooth but extremely potent, medium body, hoppy and syrupy finish. This doesn't taste so much like a barleywine as it does a malty IPA. In that respect it would be pleasing (except for the estery finish), but I'm not convinced it fits the style enough. Still an interesting and enjoyable brew.

Photo of osi
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Poured dark orange brown. Not too much head. Bubbly lace followed the glass all the way down.

S - Strong dank hops, Sweet strawberry like and very very subtle alcohol.

T - Barley and hops definitely with a bitter finish that lingers in the mouth. This beer has a wild grain taste to me. Don't really know how else I can describe it. Very unique yet very tasty.

M - Medium bodied that finishes very smooth.

D - Very good beer. I have come to expect nothing less from Sierra Nevada. I had the 25'th expedition bottle brewed in 2008. This one will surely go in the stock pile When I come across it again.

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

Glassware: Snifter

Appearance: Pours reddish amber with a yellowy head. A creamy head remains for several seconds and then falls, sticking to the sides of the glass. The beer is clear and inviting with the contrast of a yellowy head atop the reddish body.

Smell: The smell is sweet, very herbal (resiny & floral as well). Smells intensely of hops!

Taste: Bitter. Hops fill the palate and fade as a warming slowly builds. A sweet maltyness lingers.

Mouthfeel: Full! My first taste felt thick/syrupy but as I continued to drink a lighter side pulled through.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. If it wasn't for the slight burn (reminder of the alcohol content) I could have several in one sitting.

Photo of Donnie2112
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 25th anniversary bigfoot

appearance: very little head, translucent redish brown color

smell: very light on the nose, light citrusy, floral hop smell, very light, sweet malt

taste: very sweet in a dinner roll kind of way, and a seemingly out of place bitter hop finish. a bit of alcohol burnI'll admit that I often associate very light hops and a nice big malt bomb.

mouthfeel: lots of carbonation, slightly astringent a bit oily as well

drinkability: very crisp fo a barley wine, finishes fairly clean.

I feel like drinking this beer at this age isn't fair to the beer. It's almost like drinking a cab sauv too young. I really think this beer should kick ass and would with a vit of time in the cellar. I want to revisit this vintage in a couple years.

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

Small amount of chill haze to an otherwise clear dark amber liquid. The head is impressive with far more lace than I ever expect from this style of beer.

Surprising amount of floral hop in the aroma. Still, the main smell is a lightly sweet malt.

Oily and rich, the greatest flavor is the powerful amount of fresh hop. The malt base is potent with a touch of malt sugar. Lots of warming alcohol. The body has the consistency of skim milk and the carbonation is quite low.

This is a pleasant beer to be slowly enjoyed. It's too powerful to quaff down but it is flavorful and complex enough to evaluate with appreciation.

Photo of shohog
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Opened a bottle a couple hours after dinner and what a spectacular appearance right before my eyes. When held up to light it was similiar to trying to describe a beautiful sunset. Is it more red or orange? Clear with a thick 2 finger head and although dissipating was retained through the end.

Detected a hint of pine, some citrus like tones and floral. One of the better smelling beers I have tasted.

This was my first barleywine style ale and it was very shocking how a beer can be so sweet, syrupy and bitter all at once. It was an even battle between sweet or bitter. A perfect match to taste the malt flavor and hops.

This beer will really warm your esophagus down to your tummy. All the times sneaking up on you with a suprising high alcohol content. I could not drink more than a couple of these before it was becoming too over whelming with the strong taste. I will buy again but this sixer I bought is going to last me several days. A must try for all beer drinkers!

I'll be bock for another purchase of this one!

Photo of TheEremite
3.38/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

What a beautiful beer. Served in a 6 oz glass filled to the brim with an off white head spilling out the top. The beer is a gorgeous ruby red and crystal clear. Stunning. The aroma is a little disappointing though. I couldn't get much except some floral hops. It tastes very crisp for the style. It's not sweet, but fairly ballanced. It gets to be a bit much after a little ways through the glass. This isn't an extreme california beer, just a good barleywine.

Photo of QuentinCompson
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into pint glass

A - Nice tall head, easing into a good malty film, malty thick continental lacing; pretty brown brew

S - Strawberry, grapefruit, raspberry, hops, bubble gum, chocolate

T-M - Malty intro, serious hops with an orange tasting explosion to the buds, potpourri, tangy, almost too much after a few sips; big alcohol aftertaste

D - Enjoyable, but like other Sierra Nevada brews I've had, I probably couldnt drink more than two of these in a row due to the overwhelming flavor

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

12oz bottle, 2008 edition, purchased from Bauer Wines in Boston. Pours a ruby gold with big head. Strong hop aroma. The first sip is big and bold. A lot of sensations at once. Starts with a tiny bit of sweetness, with maltiness in the middle, followed by a strong hop and malt aftertaste. The aftertaste is heavy and warms the throat. Flavourful stuff that makes you take notice. Different from what I think is a typical barleywine. I'm enjoying this more and more, the more I have it.

Photo of DoubleJ
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I really like strong beers, but the irony here is I've had limited experience with barleywines. Here's a mainstream one which seems highly respected. Poured into an Old Guardian glass, on to the beer:

Deep reddish copper with a compact frothy head on top. Some clumps of yeast splash into the beer during the pour, but I'm not surprised. Big hop aroma with some burnt sugar and caramel notes. The taste is exploding with hops, but the balance is pretty good for what it is. Citric and piney at first, dextrin and fruity esters then take over the ride, then a burst of passionfruit and pine bury the palate in the aftertaste. Thick and smooth like syrup.

Great success. Here's to the last day of April 2008!

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,699 ratings.