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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

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

(This review of a 2007 vintage --- on sale at Byron's in OKC for around $6/six-pack)

Whoa.... this is quite a beer. An unlike many Barley Wines I've had in the past, this one is perfectly balanced and not syrupy or cloying at all.

The beer is the color of strong iced tea with a generous head. Delightfully smooth mouthfeel. The aroma is definitely dominated by alcohol and malt but there are some floral hops too.

The flavor is rich and complex. There's lots of hops (floral and bitter), toasted maple-ly malts and plenty of alcoholic warmth. I can pick up a little bit of pine and maybe a bit of a strong grapefruit aftertaste.

Very well balanced and matched with the smooth mouthfeel it is an exquisite beer to slowly sip and savor. Definitely improves as it warms.

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

Poured from the bottle a dark reddish amber with a slight creamy head.

The malts dominate with the alcohol and the hops following.

The taste was similar to the smell. Very malty with the alcohol presence becoming more apparent as the beer warms. The hops are still there but secondary. This is one sharp and bitter brew.

Slick to the tongue with a very light carbonation.

This is a big beer and to me, an acquired taste. Not loving it the first day, but by the time I drank my third bottle, I was hooked.

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

2007 vintage - I have come to the conclusion that many American barleywines, especially Bigfoot, do not benefit from long aging. This is a style that emphasize both hops and malt, and if you age it too long, the hops will fade too much.

Pours a deep burnished copper color with a big thick head leaving much lace on the glass.

Citrus, pine, lemony, almost spicy hops, with a sweetish caramel-toffee aroma backing it up. Hops dominate, but malt is well represented. Alcohol evident.

Intense resiny hops up front along with a big blast of intense maltiness - kettle caramelization, perhaps...Very piney hoppiness. Ethanol flavor comes in and makes its presence known as it all melds together for a intensely bittersweet hop-flavored finish. Leaves an aftertaste of powerful American C-hops.

Mouthfeel: medium-full with medium carbonation. Creamy with a slick feel on the tongue.

Drinkability - I like barleywine. This one is a drinkin' barleywine - well balanced.

I have really come to love this beer, and I now always look forward to picking up a case or two when it comes out every year. If Sierra Nevada asked me to pick a single beer for them to brew year round, this would be it - the best of both worlds, intensely malty and hoppy at the same time.

Photo of FuzzyGuy84
4.85/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Clear, red/copped color. Caramel colored, thick and rich head that lingers nicely.

S - Strong honey and raisin aroma. A little floralness as well. Very complex and continues to develop as it spends more time out of the bottle.

T - First inpression is very sweet, then as it moves through the mouth it ramps up with a serious amount of bitterness. A nice balance of hop and malt flavors - not overly malty as some BWines I've experienced. Strong but wonderfully balanced.

MF/D - This is a challenging, big beer, but not so brutal you feel like you just got kicked in the groin. Paired with a strong cheese, or even a really good pizza pie, I think this is one of the best barleywines out there.

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

12 oz 2006 into rapscallion snifter

Pours a hazy orange / reddish brown with fluffy cream colored head which falls fast and leaves only a little haphazard lacing.

Scent is a fresh hoppy grapefruit, brown sugar and brandy aroma.

Taste is grapefruit hops and bitterness, brown sugar, orange, caramel, cream, and something strong and tasty on the backend which I can't identify. Hops are somewhat aggressive but not overwhelming. There is a definite alcohol warming in the throat but considering the abv its not overt. Spicey dry finish.

Mouthfeel is a rich and chewey mouthcoating medium.

Drinkability for the abv is reasonable.

This is an excellent american barleywine though I still prefer my favorite (Berkshire Holidale). I'm also cellaring some of this to revisit in 6 months and 1 year.

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

This is the 2007 version.

Appearance: On the orange side of garnet in color, good retention and promising looking lacing.

Smell: Distinctly grapefruity hops, sweet malts... much less of the dark fruit and fig flavors I recall tasting last year. Some alcohol.

Taste: Caramel on the tip of the tongue, then grapefruity hops, sweet middle, finish is dry and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Body just on the full side of medium, good carbonation.

Drinkability: Good way to top off the night. Only drawback is the high alcohol. Not sure how much of the difference from my previous review is due to recipe changes, and how much is just differences in my beer-reviewing vocabulary...

Photo of cbl2
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

3/20/2007 $8.99 6 pack 9.60% No best by date.


Pours a clear deep brown suffused with claret and topped by just a wisp of off-white head.


Loads of sweet malt tempered by tons of fresh pressed red grapefruit juice.


Man, this is a hop-bomb, more along the lines of a DIPA than a barleywine. Fresh grapefruit dominates the palate, scorching the tastebuds with its bitterness. Sweet jammy malts make their presence known by midsip, but it’s the hops that shine here. Finish is intensely bitter with hints of dark ripe fruit sweetness creeping in.

Sierra Nevada went a different way this year with their Bigfoot, throwing in more hops than you can shake a stick at. This is a DIPA in my opinion, and not quite a barley wine.

Photo of beeroclock
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

6 pack for $11 at World Market. Nice bottle and 9.6% ABV, gotta try it.

A - Poured down the center of the glass, expected a big fat head, but not much at all. Reddish color with some bubbles of carbonation.

S - The smell is good, some caramel and spices with some alcohol coming through.

T - Tastes of hops and caramel, some faint cereal malt and a little bitterness. The alcohol is not overbearing so it goes down much better than expected.

M - Some carbonation. Aftertaste lasts a long time, I like the aftertaste some spicy aftertaste that seems to last forever.

D - Not a beer you want to have all the time, but definitely a good example of this style. Very easy to drink for this amount of ABV and the aftertaste is worth it's price. Enjoy

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

Pours rich reddish amber with a nice, dense beige head supported by streaming carbonation.

Aroma reflects a nice balance, with a strong hop push initially, plenty of pine and a sort of potpourri spice (from alcohol?). Keep your nose in there, though, and some toasty grains and nice beery malts come through. Lovely. In the mouth, the hops again come through strong, providing a bitter-herb note initially. Floral stuff. A little pine-sap in there, with a layer of toast in there somewhere. Alcohol burn definitely present. Mouthfeel is lightened by the carbonation, but slick with hops, a bit sticky after. Kind of numbing.

Maybe just a bit fresher than it needs to be... I feel like I want those hops to mellow a bit before I really enjoy this one properly. Maybe I'm not enough of a hophead to enjoy this as it's meant to be. Still a very solid beer, a good sipper for somewhere outdoors, but more aggressive than rich to my palate.

Photo of biking4beer
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

04 Vintage on Tap at the Falling Rock

Right off the bat, this beer looks oily. I can tell it's going to be good. Very slight head with a few small bubbles. Beer is a deep orange to red. Decent lacing.

First thing I notice in the aroma department is a slight woody smell. I've detected this in some other older beers at the Falling Rock. Oxidization? That is followed up by some floral hops and caramel.

The caramel is the first thing to hit the tongue. It has a nice nutty undertone to it. The hop profile isn't very complex. Mostly just bitter, but it is nicely balanced with the malt.

Mouthfeel is very oily and creamy with a surprising level of carbonation to clean things up. I only had a 8 oz of this beauty, but I could have easily downed a pint or two. Age did it well, but I can't wait to taste the fresh stuff I have in the fridge.

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

Session notes from March 15, 2007:

Vigorously decanted a 12oz. 2007 bottle into a tankard.

A: Pours a semi-cloudy orangish-brown with a thick white head. Looks good.

S: Citrus with strong cascade hops.

T and M: Fairly smooth and light-bodied. Moderate carbonation combined with a massive dose of bittering hops keeps the big ABV in check. Finishes clean and hoppy.

D: Moderately drinkable. A nice nightcap.


Photo of xymyl
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I rarely drink these fresh, but I thought I'd try a brand new 2007 for a change. It's still good, but I've gotten so used to the aged ones that I was totally shocked by what I found.

Color is a vibrant deep amber/copper, thick lacey light tan head.

Aroma is a shower of hops - bright, spicy and bitter, along with sweet malt - caramel, cherry, berry, and chocolate notes. Everything rides the alcohol fumes.

Taste is sweet with alcohol, then bitter and dry. It really has more hop than I remember. That's why I need to drink a fresh one from time to time.

Body is pretty rich and full, but not too sweet by any means. I know I have a 2003 somewhere, I'll have to dig that one out soon.

Following is a brand new review of a very old bottle:
Reviewd January 2nd 2008

1995 bottle a friend found five of them at a garage sale. He drank all but one. I was happy he decided to share it with me.

Surprisingly well carbonated for a 12 year old twist off, the creamy off white head dropped very quickly to a thin film leaving spots of lace. Color was a very hazy dark amber.

Nose was gigantic ester and hop spices, caramel molasses and citrus.

Taste was grapefruit, orange, cherries, and a whole basket of fruit, peppermint gum, clove, cinnamon, back pepper, a slight banana note, a little oxidation (far less than expected), and a very slight winey sourness.

Overall, past its prime, but fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. The hops and alcohol were fully integrated into the mix.

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

Most recently rated from the 2007 bottle ... Bright and shiny red, with any color only evident with a bright light. Thin, but solid head. Big hoppy aroma, like an American Imperial IPA; the supersweet burn of the alcohol overpowers the potentially wonderfull flavors underneath ... butterscotch, caramel, big American hops. Big beer, big buzz.

Photo of ndekke39
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A friend brought over a six-pack of the 2007 stock. Poured into a pint glass. It's a clear caramel red color with a small tan head. Decent retention. Smell is dominated by a piny hops, with notes of the alcohol, sweet caramel, and the malt. Taste is much of the same; features the piny character, but with definite elements of the caramel. This is helped by a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel. High alcohol presence, so sip this one slowly. Overall, a fine example of a Barleywine - nice complexity, fun to drink.

Photo of haz77
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A – 2007. Pours a bright, clear chestnut, with an inch of creamy light tan head. This falls to a fluffy finger-thick cap. Medium carbonation.

S – Pine, citrus, tropical fruit, peppery phenols.

T – Sweetness fills the mouth, with the tropical fruit emerging initially. Peppery spice pushes through and the first alcohol notes move forward. Finish is herbal, with the alcohol warmth increasing. Long, lingering, citrusy, bitter aftertaste.

M – Rich, coating mouthfeel. Very smooth and creamy. Soft carbonation works well.

D – Lovely easy sipper. Alcohol is there, but not unpleasantly so. Highly recommended.

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

2007 Bigfoot. Still a great beer. Dark amber color, nice off-white/tan head, huge lacing and great taste remain the same as 2005 and 2006. The aroma did not appear to be quite as pronounced as previous. I thought this years batch was a bit sweeter and more malty than 2005 / 2006. Still a huge citrus and pine taste but I wouldn't describe it as much as a hops blast as previously. Noticed a slightly oily aftertaste and mouthfeel. The mouthfeel is still incredibly rich. Two of these would render me as operating at less than half speed, but I would still have to give it high marks for drinkability.

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

Appearance - Pours a ruby orange-brown with a nice light tan head. Talk about lacing there isn't an inch of glass not covered.

Smells - Hops, orange rind, grapefruit, and caramel malts.

Taste - The caramel sneaks in at the beginning but the grapefruit/oranges and then the piney hops take control and dominate your palate. This is wonderfully balanced.

Mouthfeel - Dry and crisp due to the hopiness and carbonation but also substantial.

Drinkability - This is definitely one of my favorite barley wines. Delicious!

Photo of fank2788
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass
2007 vintage
I was finally able to find some bigfoot and I'm really excited about giving this a try so here it goes.
This beer pours out a deep red/brown copper color, a moderate pour yields a nice foamy head about two fingers thick that will dissipate slowly and lace a bit on the way down. The smell is all hops up front. A lot of grassy and resinous hop aroma is experienced, the hop aroma is so thick you can almost taste it. The taste itself is also very full of hops. The copious hop flavors hit first along with a strong bitterness. Then a touch of sweetness comes through followed by a bit of alcohol and the warmth associated with the alcohol. For a beer with a bitterness this high it is surprisingly well balanced. The mouthfeel is very full this beer tastes thick and coats the mouth well. Like many big beers drinkability is only good you need to take it slow with this one or the bitterness will just tear your mouth apart. I'm probably more a fan of English style barleywines but this isn't bad I'd definitely like to see how this one ages if my willpower proves strong enough to let a few sit for a while.

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

As barleywines go, this is just about as good as it gets. For me it's something of a mood thing; sometimes I prefer the sweeter style, sometimes the hoppier style. This is decidedly the latter and is just fabulous. This was listed at Max's as the 2006, which I would assume means that it is now one year old. No matter, this beer was very fresh tasting with a faulous hop profile. I find this beer to be very complex with all kinds of things going on. The first thing you notice is the sweetness, followed almost immediately by the blast of hops. Then you start to notice the alcohol and sweetness again, but the flavor profile finishes with a blast of hops. Incredible. This could almost be an imperial IPA it's so hoppy, but it's got the kind of maltiness and sweetness you just don't encounter in most DIPA's. The beer is a beautiful copper color, I don't believe I've seen anything else quite like it. The beer pours with a perfect creamy head that dissipates slowly. A beer to sip and enjoy. A consistent winner from Sierra Nevada.

Note: Recently had occasion to try two aged versions of this beer. On 5/9/09 I was fortunate enough to sample the 2002 and 1999 at Max's. Both versions had held up superbly well, with 2002 showing a bit more hoppy bitterness, coupled with ablack, bittersweet chocolate flavor. The 1999 was nearly still, with more of a soft, creamy milk chocolate flavor, but still with some noticeable hoppy bitterness on the finish. Both bottles were absolutely superb!

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

A- Hazy amber with a generous creamy head that slowly dissipated.
S- Spicy, grass-like hop notes initially hit your nose, earthy to the point of almost having a skunky edge (note I said almost); as hop notes fade an underlying honey-like sweetness sets in.
T- Sweet up front, with hints of honey, brown sugar, slight caramel. Low esters; slight alcohol burn. Sweetness gives way to slight grassy/herbal notes, which further give way to citrus zest. Finishes with an assertive bitterness that lingers in the back of your mouth.
M- Full but not heavy; appropriate for style.
D- It's a big beer and it drinks like one.

Overall: good example of American barleywine style, but not exceptional. I had a chance to sample 2001 vintage recently which had more well-rounded character. The '07 may benefit from cellaring as well.

Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 Vintage

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with a modest head that leaves good lacing

Smell: Spruce pine aroma with a bit of wood and alcohol esters

Taste: Starts out with a toasty caramel flavor that is quickly stepped on by the piney hops; after the swallow, the bitter pine flavors overwhelm everything else and cruise to the finish , where it is joined by a touch of sweetness on the tip of the tongue

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with modest carbonation

Drinkability: Like all Bigfoots, this is a bit raw when young; give it a few years to mellow out

Photo of xav33
4.77/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
12 oz bottle
Released 2007, demystified 02/07
Medium pour in an English pint.

Poured a clear amber red with a large off-white or beige mostly lasting head with good lacing.

Smelt of strong to harsh tangy grapefruit and pineapple with light toasted bread, spruce and caramel.

Taste was upfront strong sweet barley sugar candy and caramel with moderate bitter roasted grain and spruce hops followed by a strong to harsh spruce bitterness and moderate caramel sweetness and dried autumn leaves on a long bitter finish.

Palate was softly carbonated, medium bodied, oily to creamy, strongly astringent and lightly alcoholic.

Overall, as a young barleywine style ale, it is very meticulously crafted, with an excellent balance of sweet and bitter barley taste on the palate. Still has a young feel to it, but nonetheless the paragon of a barleywine style ale.

Photo of jwc215
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


Pours deep ruby with a one-finger head creamy head. Decent head retention for the style.

The smell is a fragrant bouquet. Caramel, citrus, peppery spice.

The taste is of rich caramelish sweetness with underlying citrus and pine. The citric/piney hops soon catch up to, and edge over, the malt. Very hoppy for the style. Assertive, slightly raw, though not necessarily sharp, alcohol is present that will probably mellow with aging.

The body is full, rich and creamy.

A nice slow-sipper. A nice malt profile supported by a stong hop character. A unique, tasty, barleywine!

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

This review is for the 2007 Bigfoot.

The beer was poured a slightly reddish brown with an off white head. The head was thin, a little less than a 1/4 inch thick but stayed that way almost the entire beer with great lacing. The aroma was a sweet malty smell with a hint of cherries and a nice floral hop smell.

The taste was a sweetly bitter flavor with a good amount of hops on the back end. You could taste cherries, a sweet malt flavor, a little hint of spice, and possibly a very slight hint of orange. The mouthfeel was good, with the beer being very thick. My only slight complaint would be that the CO2 was a little too strong.

Another great edition of bigfoot, if you get a chance to have this on tap I very highly suggest you give it a try. You won't be disappointed.

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

2007 Bigfoot. I've had this one before, so I gave it a rather aggressive pour into my pint glass. This yielded a slight head that was rather coarse. The ale itself is a dark amber, approaching brown, with very little carbonation, evidenced by just a few small bubbles slowly rising to the surface. The aroma is sharp and uniformly hoppy. The malt shines through only minimally. On the first taste and all subsequent, this beer tastes very much like a double IPA. The malt character is certainly there, but it's huge counterbalance of hops takes it away from the sweetish thick maltiness that I've come to expect from barleywines. Still, it's quite good. Heavy body, but not so heavy as to force it into the "one pint per session" category.

Overall, Bigfoot is a barleywine that I appreciate. In the days of beer that pushes the limits toward thicker, heavier, and more alcoholic flavors, this remains drinkable and an entirely reasonable barleywine. I will drink this again. In fact, I'm going out to get a six pack.

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