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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.

6,501 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,501
Reviews: 2,823
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 293
Gots: 1,183 | 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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,501 | Reviews: 2,823 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of PhiloPsych
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011: Updated the numerical ratings above. The head is very puffy, the color is barleywine. This year I notice a few new wrinkles in the taste: more molasses, some oatmeal and some dark-roasted malt. The hops is in the background, rather subdued compared to past years. The hops profile is grassy, I'd say. As always a great beer; glad it varies from year to year.

2009: Lasting foamy head, clear red-orange color in the glass. Smell is dominated by hops. Typical resiny mouthfeel that I love in this brew. The taste might be a little less sweet than I remember from previous years--a little more skewed toward the hops, thus a little less balanced and little more one-dimensional. Though the color is barleywine, the taste is rather IPA-ish this year. Still delicious, but not as outstanding as last year's.

2008: The head rose up big and foamy and left a nice mousse lacing in the glass. The color was a beautiful deep red. The big hops are balanced wonderfully with big maltiness. I love the sticky finish of this beer! Maybe because it was fresher when I had it, I liked this a lot better than the 2007 brew--and I liked the 2007 brew a lot! This is definitely my favorite beer from Sierra Nevada, my favorite barleywine, and one of my favorite beers full stop.

2007: The color is dark amber as it pours from the bottle and a slightly hazy red-brown in the glass with very little head. The smell is very sweet and malty, but the hops is more pronounced in the taste. Very nice balance of malt and hops! The mouthfeel is slightly syrupy with low carbonation and the finish it quite sticky. This might be the best beer I have had from Sierra Nevada and is definitely one of the best barleywines I have had. It is very drinkable, too. Two or three bottles of this with a nice meal and a rich dessert would make for a great night.

Photo of wobblymailman
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Seemed like a good night to open up a 2001 bottle. Poured into a large snifter at apprx. 55 degrees. This one looks great, albsolutely no head. Dark brown in color. I never cease to get a kick out of this stuff. The nose has alot of sherry notes with undertones of currant Most of the hop notes have faded and the malt nose has taken over The taste boast a good amount of rich sweet maltiness. The raw alcahol nose has long since faded. First bigfoot i have had since last March now I remember why I buy five cases of this every year.

Photo of shadow1961
3.45/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Sierra Nevada's 2007 Barleywine Ale pours a big stiff head
over a slightly cloudy deep amber brew. There isn't a lot of
carbonation, and the nose is dominated by bright citrus/pine
hop aromas. The flavor is big, round, and malty up front, with
brown sugar and caramel notes, with a massive hop finish.
Mouthfeel is full and would be quite sweet were it not for the
massive hop additions, with sort of an astringent, medicial
quality. The aftertaste is more hops, but very firm, grassy, and
long lasting. In my opinion, this brew is weighted a bit more
toward the hops than I like- it seems unbalanced. On the other
hand, at 9.6% alcohol by volume, it should age well, in which
time a lot of that hop will moderate. Young, it's a brew for the
true hophead- if that's you, go for it!

Photo of ksbrainard
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Cloudy dark orange, but brown in the middle. A thin head forms and dissipates before too long, leaving a ring around the edge where the glass meets the beer.

Smell: First whiff is a combination of plums and raisins with a hint of alcohol. There's a background of piney hops, with green apple undertones. It has that whole dark-ale-Barley-Wine malty thing going on.

Taste: This is deeply bitter, and this is accentuated by the increased alcohol. It just numbs the tongue, but in a good way. The malts also manage to stand up well to the hops. Oh wait, this is a Barley Wine. The hops are earthy and piney, and I don't get the big grapefruit I might have expected. Gotta love the unexpected. I can get caramel flavors if I focus, but the overarching concept is on awesome hopness (is that a word? - who am I kidding - no it isn't!) The alcohol flavor plays a role at first, but lets the hops take over as the show moves on to the later acts.

Mouthfeel: This has a nice, full mouthfeel. Now I am not one for a big sticky mouthfeel, so I am glad that the hops (and to a lesser extent the alcohol) dry this one out as it finishes. It sticks around a while, and reminds you of a robust IPA, but for the warmth eminating from within.

Drinkability: First impressions are good, and by the time you reach the bottom of the glass, you are just convinced that you could go for another one or two of these. It is quite a feat for a big beer like this to make you want to reach for another of the same thing, but the boys from Chico do it with this one. It also makes a fine accompaniment to Maytag Blue Cheese (or really any blue-cheese-family offering). But the Maytag's smooth creamy feel is a good balancing effort to the hugeness of the Bigfoot.

I must conclude with a bit of a reminisce. I can remember getting this stuff in college (probably around 1998 - I wish I saved a bottle or two from then) and liking it, even though in those days, I was a "Sam Adams is great" guy. Now I can see how I felt that way. This beer is so accessible but yet so awesome still now. Just awesome.

Photo of redmagik99
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 version. As an honest but perhaps foolish beer advocate i have to say the 3 out of 4 times ive had this beer ive drank it from the bottle so i cant say much about the appearance, though i would imagine i wouldnt have much to say about it anyway. probably not a lot of head. this beer smells ballin. damn good. tastes friggen awesome too. its definitely one of the hoppier of the prominent barleywines around. Mad hops. i dont care if cascades taste like grapefruit juice, its amazing. this particular sample had a fairly strong alcohol bite to it. i imagine a year of aging might do it good, but not more than that lest the hop flavor will diminish. bigfoot is another strong brew from sierra nevada and a quintessential barelywine for hopheads everywhere.

PS wtf is the deal with that guy with the donkey on the bottle? Is that a human?

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

note: Reviewing the 07 in anticipation of the 08

a: A cloudy dark coppery orange color. Pours with a perfect long lasting white billowy head. Huge amounts of lace left behind.

s: Subtle chocolate sweet malts upfront. Still has a nice piney hop aroma. Brown sugar and a hint of alcohol.

t: Bigfoot seems to peak at around a year old. Big robust and perfectly balanced here. Sweet brown sugar malts tinged with cherries upfront. A hint of chocolate before the rough piny finish. When fresh Bigfoot can come on too strong, seeming almost hostile. What a difference a year makes.

m: Leaves a long lasting hop tingle. Thick and well carbonated.

d: I'll buy some every year. I can't wait for oh eight.

Photo of Tilley4
4.65/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 bottle. I wonder if the low reviews come from those who don't let this one mature for a while.This is one damn fine beer. I wasn't sure what to expect with this one since I've never had a barley wine before but this was the perfect blend of malt and hops. It was a beautiful brown, amber color with a little fluffy head. It smelled very hoppy with an underlying note of malt and something dark and rich.

I was extremely happy with this beer. The first drink was very hoppy with a bitter aftertaste that lingered FOREVER afterwards. As the beer warmed, it got maltier and maltier and very rich.

This rates right up there tastewise with the Ayinger Celebrator and the Dogfish Head 90 Minute which I think are both excellent beers. The store I bought this from had 5 more left and they have my name written all over them. I'm on the way to grab these!

Photo of zerofear13
3.68/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was really excited to try out the Bigfoot, since someone always mentions Bigfoot whenever Sierra Nevada is mentioned. I've never had a barleywine style ale. Poured out a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Smelled of sweet malts and strong hops and a fruity wine scent. The taste was good. But not amazing. The sweet malts and hops were great, but that wine flavor behind the initial taste was a bit too much for me. I'm not a huge fan of wine, so this may be the reason, but for me, it wasn't pleasant. Overall, I'd say this were tolerable and a "good" beer, but probably not my favorite out of the SN lineup, which I am a huge fan of.

Photo of bushbeer75
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle 2007 edition - poured into a snifter and served at 50 degrees

Sierra Nevada BIGFOOT Barley Wine Ale poured a deep reddish brown in color with a large 2-finger tan head that held well and produced good lacing. Smell is of fruit with a little smoke. Bigfoot delivers a rich FULL malty flavor that is balanced. The maltiness shows up at the beginning with a bittersweet and alcohol warming bite at the end. Mouth feel is creamy, chewy, and slick on the tongue [oily].

This is my first venture into the Barley Wine style of Ale. Bigfoot is a BIG ale that makes a good sipper/night cap. More aging should help tame this strong ale.

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

12oz. brown stubby, purchased at Party Source, poured into a pint. 2007 vintage.

A: Pours deep apricot with minimal visibility. Actually looks like a pint of apricots. 1/2 - 1 finger of white head with some staying power. Nice lace rings after each draw.

S: Very complex. Dried fruits with undertones of bread and yeast. A dab of sweetness almost like honey. Hops add a floral note but mostly subtle.

T/M: Very robust. Malt dominance with just enough hops to add a bit of balance. Hops are mostly spicy/peppery. Malts are toasted grains and burnt honey. The finish shows the alcohol and a very tasty oak flavor. Body is nearly heavy with a nice creaminess.

D: Very tasty but limited to probably one. I have 5 to lay down and might get more.

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

12 oz bottle From Notes

A: Thick 2 finger head. Dark amber color. Nice intricate lacing.

S: Barley and malt. Some sweetness in there as well.

T: I could almost describe the taste as thick. Tons of malt with a bitter hop aftertaste. The alcohol is there as well.

M: Med body. Almost thin for the style. Low amount of carbonation but it works well.

D: Easy going for a barley wine. I drank this as my 4th beer of the night but it should have been first. Very enjoyable sipper.

Photo of Absumaster
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A brown, copper beer with a thin, creamy head that leaves a good amount of lacing.

Smell is very malty with nice Cascade, citric and raw hoppy.

Taste is malty and bitter, great balance. The malt is sweet and has a bit husky taste. The alcohol is pretty warming and tends to get a bit sharp and hot. The hop is definatelly Cascade and is citric with grapefruit and pineapple. A very full-bodied beer that has a great balance.

Photo of graveRacker
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Just some "laying down" advice:
Had the extreme plesure of six-year bottle conditioning tasteing, in which years 4-5 were exceptionally good. Year 3 was quite good, with anything under that seemingly "young" tasting. After year 5 the qualities that make it a stellar barley wine were fading.

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

2007 version, a twist-off 12 oz bottle poured into a Stone Old Guardian glass. Off white head built up quite well, and sat there as a nice foamy and frothy 2 finger cap for a while. The liquid was a dark orange, some brown. Can't see through the glass because it's murky. The smell has a big floral hoppiness to it. Lots of sweet malt down there with it as well, which is more apparent the warmer it gets. The taste starts out with a malty coating which turns into a quick floral hoppiness in the finish which *lingers* as a tingly bitterness. After about half the glass I start to get much more floral hop oil type of taste right at the beginning of the sip, which stays hoppy all the way through. Not much of an alcohol burn but it might combine with the hops at the very end to augment the bitterness.

Mouthfeel is about medium, which seems like a pretty good area for it. I've had double IPA's that are more syrupy than this.

Strong in every sense. This is a beer to really relax with in the cold weather and enjoy the heaviness of the flavor.

2004 Bigfoot on draft at Lucky Baldwins. ~4 years old.

Poured a hazy reddish brown. A lot of the hop bitterness has faded and you get a really nice maltiness out of it, although it does have some bite to it still.

A 2000 (8 years old) was also on tap and that had mellowed even more but had still kept a really nice maltiness to it. Interestingly this poured a clear reddish brown, no haze. It seemed to be a touch fruitier than the '04 and definitely an '08.

Photo of fitzy84
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Moan and Dove. This drink had a murky, amber appearance with a medium-heavy head. A sharp, malty aroma flew into your nose when sniffing it. The taste was very balanced: a perpetual see-saw between sweet and sour in the mouth. With the low carbonation, drinking this beverage was very smooth. Overall, a balanced, smooth beer.

Photo of rye726
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 bottle, about a year old now. Poured at 45F into a goblet.

Hazy but glowing ruby brown color. Nice thick tan head.

The aroma is of sweet honey and bitter citrus hops. It remind me of a field of wild flowers on a cool spring day.

This is a very unique barley wine. It has a complex sweetness accompanied by floral and spicey hops. There is also a presence of ripe fruits and caramel and some sophisticated alcohol tones.

A medium body gives it a nice thick, but not syrupy mouthfeel. Well balance and very drinkable for such a powerfull ale.

Note: I am always amazed at how well this stuff matures. It is one of the best beers in the world after a few years of cellaring.

Other Vintages:




Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Back to an old favorite. This is from the '07 batch. Into the Orval goblet...

A - Dark amber body with a bit of head that almost completely disappeared in minutes...

S - Nice collection of aromas here. I noted esters, cherry, grass, vanilla, and of course alcohol. Good.

T - I first noted the alcohol, with lots of standard Bubble-Gum like fruitiness. At midpalate, I notes some more complex fruit and esters, while the finish was all hops and alcohol. Hot bad, but I expect so much from this style...

M - Not the fullest bodied of Barleywines...

D - It's good to drink now, I'm sure it will be even better in the future. Yay for my beer cellar!

Photo of jbwrb
3.05/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was my first experiance with this style of beer and I was not impressed at first taste. Being someone who will almost never pour a beer out I continued to drink until the glass was gone. As the beer warmed I was able to get over the high hop and alcohal flavor

I may have this beer again on a cold day, but the high alcohal content is something I tend to stay away from in my beer.

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

2007 batch, cellered for approximately one year.

Pretty appearance with a rich auburn color and a decent-sized, off-white head. Head faded fairly quickly to a spotty cap. Fairly low carbonation.

Interesting aroma of malts and spicy, herbal hops. A bit of alcohol heat and spice as it warms as well.

Taste starts out malty and caramelly and is quickly follow by a big, woody, earthy, pine hop bitterness that mellows to a nice finish. Still fairly bitter at the end, though. I've had this once on tap, and I believe the year of aging did well to balance the flavors.

Mouthfeel is fairly thick, low carbonation and a tiny bit creamy.

Pretty drinkable for the style. The bitterness is pretty pronounced, but it hides the alcohol well and is reasonably balanced.

Photo of genog
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage:

Pours a murky and cloudy amber color with a rocky particle off white heead. Smell is a roasty caramel malt scent with a grape, wine like aroma. Taste is smooth and creamy with a good deal of hops that have obviously mellowed in the almost two years of aging. Heavy on the alcohol with a nice warming presence. Felt nice and toasty after this one.

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

2006, poured into a snifter. This is from the same case I reviewed one year ago, and it is changing.
Good looking reddish brown, with a thin tan head but nice lacing.
Interestingly, I smell more hops than before, and taste less than before.
Smell is hoppy, and hoppier, but it has some burnt sugar, chocolate, dark fruits.
It is still warm on the palate, alcoholic and hoppy, but the hoppiness is tamed down a notch from last year, and the malt sweetness is now much more obvious and pleasant, with some sugary, toffeeish and fruity notes.
Improving from last year, better balanced, and I believe still has room to go.

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

2003 vintage. Poured into a goblet.

A- 1 1/2 finger of off white head, embedded with bb sized and smaller bubbles, fades to a thin creamy top. beautiful lace. Dark ruby/brown color, nice carbonation.

S- Caramel and raisin, alcohol, with barely noticeable hops.

T- Sweet and malty at the first, then a nice bitterness takes over with a mix of warming alcohol.

M- just right carbonation, big body, a little heavy on back of the tongue.

D- Not being a big fan of aged beers, I was not expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did. It went well as an after dinner treat on a cold night. The warmth of the alcohol was just right. looking forward to my 2002 and 2004.

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

Got it thanks to a win in the powerbeer BIF. Woo hoo!

Ah. 10%, you say? Well.

Cracked open a 2005 vintage the other night... Good stuff. Deep amber and all with a smallish tight head. Smells grassy and citrusy, maybe with some earthy tones (ha! That's dirt!) in there... Tastes... Well, interesting. I guess I compare all barleywines to what I remember the smutty as being... So, compared to that the hop profile is a bit more, well, shallow. As in, there are two peaks - one in citrus and one in bitter - but nothing between them. And, I guess, if I say it that way then I'm probably faulting it in some way, too. Well, it's not that. It's definitely a good beer. I just remember liking the smutty a bit more. That is just a question of personal taste so I obviously can't fault it for that! 'Cause it's a fine beer and I was very fortunate to obtain a bottle... Ooh... And to drink it! Woo hoo!

Photo of thisisbigrob
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2007 Edition 12 oz. bottle poured into a standard pint glass.

A: A hazy orange-red hue. Poured vigorously to create about a finger of dense white head which has quickly settled to a thin creamy layer with lacing up the sides of the glass.

S: Very tangy and hoppy, with a little sweetness underneath.

T: Tastes just like it smells... until it fills your mouth at which point the taste is amplified tenfold. The hops just explode on my tastebuds, but are balanced well with sweet malt. As the beer warms towards room temperature the alcohol starts to rear it's head, which can be hard to take. The first time I had a Bigfoot I had to stick my half-full glass back in the fridge for a while before finishing it. I've since grown to tolerate the alcohol, which is good because I love the taste of this beer.

M: Rich and full from the malt. Carbonation is light and a perfect level for this beer.

D: The alcohol kick that shows up as the beer warms hurts the slow sipping enjoyment that I feel this beer deserves. I want to sit back and enjoy it but I find myself rushing to drink it while it's still cold from the fridge. The high ABV has never allowed me to drink more than one of these in a session.

Photo of EStreet20
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well I fully admit I was a violator (unknowingly) of BA policy for a while and would post new reviews for new vintages of the same beer. Figure I'll start all over with Bigfoot, one of my favorites, and review a fresh '08 then work my way back to the other vintages I have by editing my reviews (aka doing it the right way)

12 ounce bottle of the '08, trying it fresh. Poured into a 16 ounce snifter glass.

A - The usual Bigfoot color of deep red that glows with a purplish tint when held in the light. A hair short of a finger of ooff white head rests atop. A beautiful sight.

S - Nose comes at you with hops, some sweet hints, and a bit of up front alcohol.

T - As always, Bigfoot does not disapoint. Some nice hop up front, followed by a sweet cnadylike fruity kick. The brew finishes with some more hop flavor. One thing that I'm percieving is a bit of tobacco flavor, which I usually detect after some aging, but not in fresh Bigfoot. Either way a nice American barleywine.

M - A nice full coating mouthfeel, fairly low on carbonation.

D - Give it to me. Nice flavors. A big hop flavor, Bigfoot is simply a great sipper. Let it warm a little and the flavors come out huge.

Notes: Another nice year for Bigfoot. I've read some posts about the hops being toned down and there does seem to be something a little different this year but still very nice. This one taste like a good aging candidate as well.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,501 ratings.