1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

6,777 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,777
Reviews: 2,912
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 335
Gots: 1,387 | FT: 57
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
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 6,777 | Reviews: 2,912
Photo of 6stringfunk
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark amber - orange light brown. One finger head with good lacing.

S - Aroma is hops and some alcohol. got malt aromas as beer warmed. The nose on this beer lets you know this is a big beer.

T - flavor is hop and bitterness with a good malt backbone. Citrousy. Grapefruit.

M - Good carbonation and solid body but not syrupy at all.

D - this is a big beer in everyway. Big on hops. Not one I could drink a lot of, but considering the abv that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Photo of cvfish
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - poured a cloudy brown color that produced a fluffy white head that disappeared and left a modest lacing around the glass

S - some hops and tart citrus tastes

D - good malts tastes to it, and a hoppy mix to it, some pine nut and grassy taste

M - thick bodied, almost like syrup with some carbonation

D - although this is not the best barleywine i have had, it is pretty good

Photo of jpiper
3.3/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle at below cellar temperature.

A dirty, unclear brown pour with a modest head which quickly dissipates to a swirly lace.

The aroma is a bit subdued - perhaps too cold. Dried fruits as expected: raisins, cherries. A bit of medicinal smell - somewhat like a cherry cough syrup: not the best mental association.

Wow - the flavor is too much - way too much. Not at all balanced or integrated. There's malt, fruit, bitter hops - but too much bitter, not enough fruit, and way too much alcohol for the ABV. Wow, second sip comes right back with the intense bitter hops. The malt is still there, but I just don't like how it all comes together. It does get better with more sips. And it does least a pretty nice aftertaste after about a minute or so.

Tough to get past the unbalanced taste when getting to the mouthfeel, but independently, it's pretty nice. Thick, but not cloying.

Drinkability is pretty low here. A sipper, and it'll be tough to get through the entire bottle of this.

People say this cellars like a champ. I can see the possibility. I think I may pick up a handful of these and let them site. We're talking at least 3 years, though. Maybe I'll get 12 and try them every 2 years. For the next 2, it won't be tough to keep my hands off them!

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

2008 Edition, one year later.

Into a goblet, this barleywine sports a far more impressive head than I would have guessed. The caramel-colored body is clear as crystal and the lacing is sticky and generous.

Holy Hell, is that a hoppy barleywine! Big grapefruit up front with deeper tones of dried apricots and rum.

Just a huge malty body here and it had better be; the hops are even more aggressive. Citrus-y to an extent but more pine-driven than anything with rich caramel sweetness hidden below. Raisin undercurrents and spice surface before being buried beneath a closing avalanche of grapefruit pith hop bitterness. Yum.

Carbonation is contained but not to the extent where this becomes a listless, syrupy mess like so many others. The finish is understandably resiny, given all the hops. I'd almost like to dock it points due its deviation from the traditional English barleywine, but I guess this is the one that established the American style as a separate category. Worth the wait.

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

Tastes nothing like other Sierra Nevada brews. Dark ruby pour with an oily ring for a head. Dense aroma of alcohol with hops and caramel. Viscous, oily mouthfeel. Pine, wood, and resin with alcohol and some malt in the taste. Good barleywine-style beer, almost up to Stone's Old Guardian and AleSmith's Old Numbskull.

Photo of WakeandBake
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes 9/7/08
2008.Medium brown in color,small head that faded quite quickly and left a slight laceing on the side of the glass.Hoppy aroma with a slight wine like nose as well.The taste was intense with an abundance of flavors coming through,the main flavor being floral hops,and sweet malt,rasins,brown sugar. A nice balance of sweet and bitter.Kind of a long drawn out finish. Very drinkable,even if it did kick my ass.

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

2008 vintage poured into a Duvel glass.

A: Cloudy dark amber in color with a tight tan colored head that sticks around.

S: Sweet malty notes are dominant on the nose. Dark fruits and doughy aromas as well.

T: Sweet maltiness hits the palate at first. A bitter hop bite and some hot alcohol hits during and after the swallow. A bitterness lingers on the tongue.

M: Pretty sturdy. Almost chewy. Gets smoother as it warms and turns into a very enjoyable brew.

D: One is plenty, as with most barleywines. At least IMO. This is a fine example and I will definitely try again.

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

Big Foot pours a deep amber/hazy copper color. It has a fairly small head but it hold the head for a long time. The aroma is some fruitiness, caramel, chocolatey, toffee types. It has a very rich, caramel malt background. It has a nice piney hop flavour and bitterness to it and it definitely has some booze taste to it as well. The mouthfeel is very thick and it goes down slick. It is dangerously drinkable.

Photo of russpowell
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained from Trinity BP, bours orange/amber with a finger of sand colored head. Good head retention & insane lacing

S: Doughyness & piney hops

T: Piney & herbal hops, dryness, plus booze smack & whisper of caramel up front. Cakeyness, resiny hops, & pineyness as this warms. finishes with a bit of boozey tangerine, apricot, pine sap, grapefruit & dryness

MF: Chewy, moderate carbonation, skews hoppy, true to style. Stickyness & warming booze show as this warms

Drinks alright, if you don't like a hop smack, stay way, otherwise I'm good for a few points before getting sleepy.. I believe I prefer the bottled version, but would never say no to this hairy beast!

Photo of bheilman
3.92/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I love the color of this beer. It also tastes good. I just had a green flash barley wine and that set the new standard for me. This is nice and I have been very satisfied with Sierra Nevada, but it didn't live up to that standard. It has a good maltiness, but the hops hits a bit hard. Maybe the combination isn't quite right for me. It leaves a little too much of a sour flavor in my mouth. The alcohol doesn't really stand out, so that's nice, and in general it's definitely a solid beer.

Just drank another one forgetting that I already reviewed this beer and my opinion is about the same, read if you'd like:

This beer tastes very fresh. I'm aging it a bit hoping it will mellow. The appearance is a nice dark golden color, but the head was a bit thinner than I would like. It does have a very nice hoppish smell. The taste is too bitter for me. Almost like sucking on a lemon and that is why I mentioned I hope it mellows a bit. It's definitely a unique flavor and probably the hoppiest barleywine I have ever had. I just want the malt to show some backbone. The aftertaste is ok and the flavor does stir around for a while. It's not so drinkable given the extreme bite and the high alcohol. Definitely a unique barleywine, but not my favorite. I like the label.
Had another one from the same batch.

This beer has been in my "cellar" for at least 10 months. I am comparing it directly to a Stone Old Guardian. It is darker, but fairly clear and a nice whisky colored ruby brown. The smell is great with a sweet hoppy scent stronger on the hops. The taste is good, but definiteyly hop intense. I thought that would relax after months, but it is still the initial flavor that hits you. The after taste is good becuase the hops finally starts to drop and you get the smooth sweetness of the barley to shine through. The beer isn't entirely that drinkable. It is too hoppy. I like a hoppy beer, but given the intense hops and the high alcohol, I can't handle more than one.

Photo of PhxHorn
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This was a 2007 version, aged for a year and then given to me in a trade. The color is an orange-brown, cloudy, with a quarter-inch of tan head. Smells of caramel, figs, malt. Tastes of all those, plus some berries I can't quite place, some Xmas candy-type flavors, a trace of hops, grapes, maybe some apple and pear, too. Lots of flavor going on. Not real intense, but complex and enjoyable. Carbonation was just right. Not a beer you can drink quickly--this took me an hour to sip my way through it. But a damn fine beer, to be sure.

Photo of sprucetip
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

25th Anniversary Expedition, 2007

Bottle into Midnight Sun goblet

Medium amber, very clear. Modest tan head with some retention and lacing.

Sweet, malty, and hoppy scents blend delightfully and in balance. the booze is noticeable.

Deep, rich blend of alcohol, malt and hops. Very well balanced.

Low carbonation, some modest warming, full bodied, creamy texture with bitter, dry finish.

This big, bold, winter ale is quite smooth. It has a very nice hop element that balances the malt. This is clearly not a session beer, rather one to sip, savor and share.

This is a great beer. I especially like the hop contribution to the style.

Photo of BWH3
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep copper with a medium to large off white head which contains just a glimmer of orange. The beer has a fair amount of gas flowing on the pour. The head lasts and finally settles as a juicy ring. Only deductions for lack of clarity with its chill haze. This was overridden by the depth and majesty of the copper color. Furthermore, a swift swirl of the glass reveals the viscosity and the legs in this ale.

S: As you would expect from the Chico brewing company, big big citrus hops wallop the nose in this bouquet. As the beer warms and with some agitation the other resinous hops aromatics arise. The caramel malts are palpable but not as prominent as the hops. Bold and simple but all the elements are properly represented. The hops could show more elements to earn higher marks.

T: The tasting begins with a mild creamy caramel sweetness to set the palate up for the bitterness to follow. The bitterness begins as a earthy and mineral dull bitterness that slowly sharpens and mutates into the citrus and resin flavors so prominent in the nose. The alcohol warms the belly. The flavors are not as big as the aroma, nor do they have a complexity deserving the highest rankings. None the less very good.

M: Creamy, good head retention, a touch on the gassy side for style. Full bodied and exceptional texture on the palate.

D: Perhaps the best beer from Sierra Nevada. Overall, a widely available and very good example of the barleywine style. Cheers.

Photo of hoppheadIPA
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is my first barleywine so I really have nothing to compare it to but let me tell you, I'll be trying a whole lot more after having this. Pours a golden amber with a nice head that dissapated quickly leaving some lacing. Has very strong smell of hops, some malt, and citrus in the backround. Tastes very strong but alcohol is hidden by the bitterness balanced with malt and hops. Nice and thick in the mouth with good carbonatin. Excellent beer but don't have more than 1 or 2 givin the strong alcohal content.

Photo of kels
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 edition poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Great variation in the opaque coloring from reddish brown to honey gold with a tight 1 1/2-finger head in a frothy toast color. Head dissipates quickly, but leaves giant rings of lacing behind as I drink.

Smell: The first thing I note is the heavy, chewy maltiness in the smell. It is sweet caramel with toasty graininess that suggests a thicker, richer taste. Brightening notes from the hops and a really fruity presence - citrus, and a berry-like note - add to a definitely complexity that I can't claim to fully decipher.

Taste/Mouthfeel: The alcohol is humongous in this beer - more so than in some other really well-rated barleywines I've tried. It is a little overwhelming to the rest of the tastes, so much that I have trouble separating them from the alcohol's sharp dryness. The clear taste is a big bitter hop presence - citrusy and bitter grapefruit and orange peel taste with some sappy, dry pine in the aftertaste. The previously noted smells of the caramel malts are barely detectable in the taste in comparison to the hops, but do provide a syrupy baseline to the overall taste. The mouth is a heavy medium with a very sticky finish and moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: Phew, I'm not even halfway through, and I can already feel my cheeks getting red and my body relaxing:) I definitely couldn't do more than one of these every once in a while. The stickiness and uber-present alcohol would keep me from coming back to this one too often.

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

Found a half-decent liquor store called The Red Top down in Herrin here, thanks to a buddy of mine: Hap, here's to you. Not a big selection of craft singles (sic lol) but definitely a NICE selection of 4 and 6 packs. Picked up a 6pack of the Bigfoot 25th Expedition and was fairly impressed.

A: Great appearance. Pours a deep reddish-brown amber color. Great head and superb lacing. Head left a lead too soon, but was a nice khaki color and very fluffy.

S: Interesting and complex. Floral hoppy scent.

T: Comes on sweet and leaves strong and malty. Strong aftertaste that is a little harsh for my palette.

M: Medium bodied. A little thick. Decent carbonation.

D: Enjoyable. My first barleywine so I don't have too much to say about the drinkability. I have 4 more of these left in the pack and am sure me and my roomie will enjoy them thoroughly!

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage sampled April 23, 2006. Thick light tan head deep clear copper color. Aroma is on the light side with malts, spice, alcohol and hops showing up in that order. First sip is a thick syrupy flow of fluid into my mouth. Malt flavor attacks the entire tongue. This beer is full body and full flavor that you can sink your teeth into. Some bitterness and warm alcohol finish. Doesn't seem as good as '05 or '04 versions.

Bottle from 2004 consumed July 24th, 2006. Murky amber color with off white to tan-ish head. Strong fruity aroma with hints of malt and a bit of alcohol. Excellent lacing. Yum, thick rich mouthfeel. The caramel flavor really jumps out at you. The fruitiness has faded away over time. I'm left with a very nice toffee after taste. Wow, real smooth with faint alcohol taste hidden away. The remaining hops are tough to make out as they've really mellowed from what they once were. Very good. I'll certainly have to cellar more of this stuff.

Photo of tadowdaddy
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 version on tap into a pint glass

A: Poured a darker amber with 2 fingers of head. This left a ton of lacing on the side of the glass.

S: Very floral with a ton of hops! This beer had a limited amount of malt background. What malt existed was very carmel like malt.

T: Begins with a malt flavor, although mild. Finishes with a huge floral hops. Honestly, my first barley wine. It's making me want to start to add barley wine to my IPA fetish. Taste the alcohol when swallowing the beer.

M: Solid carbonation although not too thick.
Leaves a tremendous hop aftertaste in my mouth.

D: Could drink more than one due to the addictive taste. Couldn't however drink more than 2. Gotta be careful with this one.

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

Was at Big City in Allston on Saturday night to catch some college football, and to grab some food and beers. After dinner, I saw one of their specials was Bigfoot draft for $5.99. Came served in a tulip glass. Thin head, not a lot of carbonation, dark caramel color. Smell was a bit piney. Taste was a bit sweeter than some of the barleywines I've had recently. Got a lot a notes of seeded fruits like fig in the flavor. This sweetness seemed to help with the drinkability of this beer. Though you could definitely tell this beer was high in alcohol content, I found it surprising easy to drink. After a long time away from Bigfoot while I tried other barleywines, it was nice to come back to one of the founding fathers of the style and enjoy it.

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.77/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

My first barleywine. I'm intimidated and humbled. This beer is so crazy I don't know what to do with it. 2007 expedition.

Big Foot smells like brandy with tropical candy fruit in it. Maybe some biscuit? Poured a muddy caramel color with a small, quickly evaporating head.

The taste is not subtle. Thick, heavy hops, Grande Marnier orange sweetness, caramel and butterscotch immediately up front. This is balanced by a raisen, toasted malt, and dark chocolate-like bitterness. An alcohol taste is omnipresent but never suppresses the sweet and bitter balance of Big Foot. Fittingly low carbonation.

Dude, there's a picture on the bottom of the bottle cap. That's awesome.

It took me 2 hours to drink this and it actually got better as it got warmer. I'm not sure I like Big Foot, but I respect it.

Photo of Douglas88
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong but well balanced taste. Needed to be aged a bit perhaps, but waiting is the hardest part. Overall a great beer with quite a punch. The bittersweet quality makes this an excellent choice.

Re-rate: Had a 2001 thanks to Eric. All of the things I didn't like about this beer, such as the burn, have dissapated. So smooth, after 7 years a ton of citrus and bitter hops. Only a hint of warmth. My rating before was off for sure.

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

This is a favourite american barley wine.

Pours a red/brown color with a large foamy head! Very nice too look at.

Smell is packed with hops! Grapefruit, citrus, elder and other nice things. Notes of some malt, caramel and syrup is also found.

Taste is very bitter and hoppy. You can definitely feel this is 90 IBU. Lots of nice elderflowers, citrus and grapefruit in the taste. Nice malty, caramely notes behind all this makes a good balance to this beer, even though they are not that easy to note. Maybe will come through with some age? I have one bottle left, so...

Very fullbodied mouthfeel, quite thick, bitter.

A good beer, I must say!

Photo of prsguitarsr4me
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Good beer - pours a nice dark brown/maroon. Taste is not too strong - its pleasant and very tasty. Lots of barley and hops. Nice carbonation. I don't think I'd drink more than one in one sitting, but its hard to tell as I've had a ton to drink tonight. I enjoyed this a lot - I like the Stone barleywine more, but that's Stone. If there was more of this at the store I'd buy more.

Photo of plaid75
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

Poured a deep mahogany hue with a two finger frothy white head. There was very good lacing and excellent retention.

The smell featured dark fruits, earthy and citrus hops and a robust caramel malt.

The taste was heavy with apricot, pineapple, grapefruit and raisins. Piney and earthy hops were permeated from start to finish. Sweet robust malts delight the senses.

The mouthfeel was full and balmy.

Overall a superior ale. Simply excellent.

Photo of simonjohansson
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bigfoot 2008.

Smell: nice smell, I have to say - malty and sweet with caramell, raisins, some sherry (or/and other dessert wine types), and hoppy with some grape as well.

Taste: very bitter! Too bitter for me, it almost kills the other flavors - toffee, dried fruits, caramell. I would like to have it a bit more sweet, as well. Now its too much focus on the hops.

Overall: well, quality beer, but it lacks balance.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,777 ratings.