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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.

6,368 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,368
Reviews: 2,817
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 270
Gots: 1,139 | 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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 6,368 | Reviews: 2,817 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ngandhi
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage.

Bigfoot is a full-bodied barleywine with impressive hop character. Though loud and hop-focused, the malts are very supportive with a hint of toffee. Alcohol on the nose and palette, but still to style. And though it meets all the requirements, this does little to set itself apart. That said, I couldn't believe the cap said 2004. This was easy-drinking, lightly warming, and absolutely delicious (albeit standard). Much like the fresh Batch 6000, 2004 Bigfoot Barleywine drinks like it has a year of age on it already and that, alone, is quite impressive.

Relax, relax.

ngandhi, Feb 06, 2004
Photo of kmcnair
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am reviewing the 2004 Vintage... which I have been waiting very impatiently to come back since the 2003 vintage ran out of stock. Shame on me for not buying more of this stuff last year.

Pours a dark rich amber into my glass and a thick creamy tan head rises to the top of my pint glass. Looks really good.

The boquet is very floral and fruity, can really smell those hops in there.

Taste is... ahhh just like I remember it. Intense and hoppy, it is huge. Very complex. Alcohol is there but not overbearing by any means.

Mouthfeel is thick and rich, leaves a warming sensation as it goes down.

This is a very drinkable brew, even at 9.4%! And it's one of my personal faves... as a matter of fact I am going to go get another one!

kmcnair, Feb 05, 2004
Photo of Stingray5
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 release, pours cloudy on the browner side of red. Super fresh cascades in the aroma, deterget-like, almost like that chlorine clean pool smell. Big mouthful gives way to big hop taste, big malt backbone. Fruity, some grape. Then comes the alcohol, confirming it's barleywine status. Stand back, this baby needs a little time to mellow. Dry, sticky hop finish, long, belly warming alcohol warmth.

This is one powerful brew. I think it's a little young at this point, might be more balanced with some time. Still, an incredible tasting brew. Between this and the Celebration Ale, SN has absolutely blown me away.

Stingray5, Feb 05, 2004
Photo of beergeek279
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'04 vintage, served in the 12 oz bottle, into a snifter. The color was a very dark amber, with a wispy head. The smell was a citrusy hop blend. The taste was a very nice citrus hop bitterness over the creamy caramel malt, and the alcohol was quite warming and not harsh and overpowering. Mouthfeel was very thick. As for drinkability, despite the ABV, I could drink tons of these.

When I first had this one last summer, it sent chills down my spine & made me think just how lucky I am to have so many good beers in my time. A fantastic barleywine, and proof that the style doesn't have to be an ABV monster to impress...well-balanced and warming is quite enough. Quite good, and now that it's out for 2004, I'll be having more of this!

beergeek279, Feb 04, 2004
Photo of Ellbert
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Fresh 2004

Appearance is a reddish brown with a slight haze that lingers on the top half of the beer. The head is a slightly cream color and lingers for a while until leaving a very heavy lace with large bubbles.

The smell has a huge malt characteristic to it with some hops noticable. Some say pine which I can detect a hint of. Alcohol is evident in the smell. Vey complex.

The taste is very sweet with a spike of hop flavors. These hops leave you dry and they linger forever. A very pleasant flavor but the lingering hops are a bit annoying. Alcohol is not very evident which is a little disapointing to me.

The mothfeel is very meaty with a perfect amount of carbonation to go along with it.

the drinkability is low for this because of the hop lingering aftertaste and the alcohol.

Ellbert, Jan 31, 2004
Photo of stewart124
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A dark cooper color with a nice off-white head that leaves very pretty lacing along the sides of the glass. A nice looking barleywine. The smell is exaclty what you'd expect from a Sierra Nevada brew, spicey hops and a hint of pine. There is a nice blend of hops and malts that tickle the tastebuds and again I taste a little bit of pine. The alcohol is very well masked by the other flavors. A bittersweet flavor that is very drinkable. I think it is safe to say I fell in love with this beer. A must try for anyone who loves Sierra Nevada's products and I wish this was available more of the year.

stewart124, Jan 28, 2004
Photo of farHillsBrewer
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

[2001 vintage tasted January 2004]
I was pleasantly surprised at the shelf-life for this powerhouse brew. The malt complexity was amazing with fruit, grain, sweet and sour and caramel. The mouthfeel was like pudding. It went down real easy and took me at least 20 minutes to finish. The maltines came throught in the aroma along with a bit of spicy cascade hops. The hop finish had faded from the fresh taste I remember from an earlier tasting. The swallow had it all, a lingering malt sweetness, great mouthfeel and a slow transition to the astringent hoppiness. It didn't taste strong for alchohol but after just one, I had a definite buzz.

farHillsBrewer, Jan 25, 2004
Photo of edchicma
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Whoa...kick me in the butt and have me enjoy it too! Cloudy dark brown appearance with a nice head and great lacing. Smell was dintinctly like grapefruit, with a slight yeasty bouquet. The smell invited me to drink. Taste was a blast of hops that slaps you in the face, says "sip" me you fool, then ends in a dry grapefruit, citrus finish that is damn nice in the winter...Mouthfeel is dry and the strong alcohol presence reminds you that it is a barleywine, so sip! But for the high abv, I thought the drinkability was fine. Only one per night, though!

edchicma, Jan 17, 2004
Photo of HiroProtagonist
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot Expedition 2003...Poured into a Duvel tulip, with a small head and lacing that left the impression of a snowy mountain panorama. The color of the beer was a hazy deep chestnut with an orange hue. The smell was composed of full and sweet maltiness, with some sharp hoppiness poking through. This beer had a large and tasty roasted malt profile, which is quicky smacked down by an excellent zippy bitterness without harshness...a polished effort! The delicious malt and bitter hoppiness lingers on beautifully. Mouthfeel was smooth and full, with a nice level of carbonation. The drinkablity was suprisingly good for a barleywine...big flavors but not overpowering. This has to be one of my favorite examples of the style.

2002 vintage, brought out of storage in Jan 2004...notable differences: more head, less sweetness, and perhaps some subtle fruit esters on the nose.

HiroProtagonist, Jan 15, 2004
Photo of johnrobe
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 edition:
I have been woefully negligent by ignoring this classic in favor of newer brews that have been surrounded by hype. But Bigfoot is clearly cast and mold for the hop accented American Barleywine. SN's founder must've sold his soul, as that can be the only explanation for their continued expansion and maintenance of lofty quality standards.

Bigfoot pours a deep orange / chestnut with a beige head that maintains a cap. The aroma is dominated by piney / citric (orange peel) hops with a strong dark caramel backing. The hops still shine loud n clear in the taste but the sweet malt has emerged nicely after nearly a year of cellaring. Citrus and pine combine with toffee, bitter chocolate and roasted nuts in the flavor. Bitter finish lingers and the belly stays warm. :-)

This brew's bitterness can be overwhelming when young. It's best to cellar it for several months to a year and beyond...if you can keep your greedy hands off of 'em.

johnrobe, Jan 11, 2004
Photo of counselor
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 - poured a deep maduro with a thin head. Smelled of the typical deep sharp SN hops and then a whiff of the alcohol. The tase was right on, slow sippin, thoughtful, world problem solvin' goodness. A moments worth of slightly sweet malt flavor almost like dry maple. Then came the full hop and alcohol assault, sharp, dry cognac like flavors. Big head filling flavors of spice, wood and tobacco. What a well balanced mouthful, really good carbonation balance that lasted the whole glass. A super beer that packs a wollop and is a really good barley wine example.

counselor, Jan 04, 2004
Photo of Jon
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 Vintage.

Dark copper with little visable carbonation and no head. Nose features forward, assertive hops and caramel malt that opens up around mid-glass. Alcohol presence is quite evident, as well. Piney, resinous hops with an almost sugary sweet caramel malt character sticks out more in this aged keg than they do in younger versions. Notes of figs and currants open up, as well. Even in this almost two year old version, the raw hop presence hardly fades, while the malt becomes more complementary and sweet. The alcoholic burn on the finish lingers, but not as much in more youthful versions. Mouthfeel is viscous and oily, yet round and appropriately carbonated for an aged draft offering. Full-bodied and assertive, Bigfoot at this point in its life is still one of the hoppiest barleywines around. Quite drinkable, nonetheless, and worthy of some additional aging. Great stuff.

Jon, Dec 02, 2003
Photo of Stubbie1
3.48/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2003 Bottle,

The appearance is a brown/amber color with a ½ inch off white head. The head fades leaving a very decent lacing.

The aroma is sweet. Hints of raisins, plumbs figs , molasses, caramel, and alcohol are present. Ther is also a faint whisp of Hops present. As I sit and take in more aroma the sweetness of the fruit it is quickly over ran by the alcohol.

The taste is sweet. A dominant malt start followed by a small wave of the fruit notes. Nevertheless, as you enjoy it all you’re slapped in the face with the 9.6% alcohol punch. There is a slight creamy smoothness to this beer and a smooth feeling is left behind on the tounge.

It is an enjoyable beer. One that you would put your feet up and unwind to watch some football on a cold winter day. For me, the punch from the alcohol is a bit too forward. It makes it somewhat hard to enjoy. Therefore, I could not sit and enjoy this beer all day. I will try the other 3 at the 9, 12 and 1 year 3 month mark just to see if there is a change.

Stubbie1, Nov 17, 2003
Photo of byrd
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottle and sampling -
I’m not a big fan of barley wines, but Bigfoot easily gets my vote for best of the bunch (that I’ve tried so far). Nice tight half inch head that reduced so a sticky lace. Great aroma of lots of sweet caramel and fruity malt with a slight hint of alcohol. Only a small touch of spicy hops to the aroma. Color is deep copper-brown and slightly hazy. A large amount of carbonation can be seen rising from the bottom of the glass, yet there’s only light carbonation on the tongue. The palate is similar to the nose with a good deal of caramel and fruity malt sweetness. The alcohol which is quite obvious is in no way awkward in its tendency to stand out. Instead, it melds with the other flavors only adding to the overall experience. Decent hop bitterness picks up toward the end to perfectly balance out the sweetness from the start. There’s a little roastiness to the finish and aftertaste which lingers for quite some time. Easily the best barley wine I’ve had to date, and I’ll certainly be looking for this one again.

byrd, Nov 12, 2003
Photo of waughbrew
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Join me as I revisit the beer that first kicked my ass....

2003: Hazy dark amber with a big glorious egg-nog head that lasts forever. Big aroma of resinous, citrusy hops sting your brain. The hopping starts to resemble spicing - cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg, and cocoa powder. Malt wafts up mostly as light caramels, but also with a little cookie dough. Taste does not try to hide the alcohol - in fact it showcases it. Brown sugar taste in more present than I expected from this brew. Hops prickly on the tongue. Although I would not mind the alcohol and bittering hops knocked down a notch, this is still a wonderful brew.

edit: at one year old, the 2004 diminishes in hop flavor and bitterness, as well as the alcohol flavor. It becomes much smoother, but the finish loses some of its character.

waughbrew, Nov 11, 2003
Photo of pezoids
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 version.

This is one big and bold beer. Poured out a rich ruby amber color with a long lasting and very creamy head. Wonderful lemon citrus hop bouquet intertwined with a heavy malt sweetness. The flavor is extremely rich and full flavored, but not overly sweet. Perfectly balanced. There’s a pleasant bitter grapefruit-like hop tang with some fruitiness. In the forefront are raisins, oranges and plums. Also has some cider and cordial-like qualities. A well rounded and complex ale that will put meat on your bones. This has to be one of the best tasting strong beers that I have had in recent memory.


pezoids, Nov 03, 2003
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

10/23/03, 2003 bottling

This beer is grande! The nose is awesome. Incredible amalgam of scents, both VERY malty and VERY hoppy with some alcohol in there. Really nice blend. The taste is good, but really really hoppy. Even for a really big hoppy beer, I think they could tone it down a touch, but this was a 2003, I've had one a couple years old, I think it was a 2000, and it was definately more mellow. But screw that! I love Bigfoot!


edit 3/3/05, 2005 bottling

If I have a beer that I've already reviewed, but that I gave a poor review of (quality of review not gave the beer a poor score), see above, and I'm in a position to review the beer again...I'm gonna do it.

Very nice looking beer. Deep orange, auburn color. Very appropriate carbonation. Not too much. I am consistently impressed with SN's ability to naturally carbonate their beers and yet maintain such clear beers. This is why I'm skeptical that their bottling strain is the same as their primary ferment strain. And other reasons...but I digress.

gonna have to take the nose rating down 0.5 points. It's nice and big and hoppy...but that's it. I'd like a little more.

Really wonderful flavor. Big big hops just barely held up by the malt backbone of this beer. Nice sweet malt flavor, it's there, but it is overwhelmed by the huge citric bitterness. I like it.

gonna up the mouthfeel in this tasting. It has a very nice mouthfeel. Maybe it's the year, but this year seems much thicker. Nice mouthfeel to have something for those hops to skate around on.

Gonna have to up the drinkability rating 0.5 points as well. Just a really drinkable barley wine. This summer my buddy bought a case and we made 1lb hamburgers and hand cut french fries and drank 8 or 9 bigfeet a piece. Holy crap...we were fucked up!

So overall score stays the same, but I tweaked the individual category scores.

cerevisiaephilus, Oct 23, 2003
Photo of Gavage
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Broke open a bottle from 1998. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes and then poured into a glass. It was a lovely deep auburn / burgandy color with a thin head. The aroma was sweet and alcohol was noticeable. The taste definitely mellowed over the five years, as it was still quite malty, extremely smooth, and a bit of caramel tones were detected.

The hoppiness that is present in current releases is much mellower and tamed from aging, but still is noticeable. The smooth flavors lasts long into the aftertaste, and the alcohol is quite noticeable. Always save a bottle or two for the future. It ages well.

Gavage, Oct 14, 2003
Photo of WaltTrombone
3.03/5  rDev -27%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2003 vintage, served at cellar temps, 50-55F

Dark copper body, with a rocky tan head that subsided quickly, leaving a light wispy lace.Malt, alcohol, caramel and hops aroma.

The taste is bitter, way too much hops for my taste. Small notes of caramel, malt, prunes, cardboard, with an alcohol bite. Nice mouthfeel, a smooth, light creaminess.

The finish is hops, hops, and more hops. Mouth-puckeringly bitter hops. Did I mention hops? Oh, yeah, it's got some hops, too!

I have another bottle of this, and I'm going to put it away for a while. The general wisdom on the forum is that it'll mellow out after about a year, so I'll try it again later. As it stands right now, I'm too afraid of it now, this Bigfoot has big hoppy fangs, and a nasty disposition. We'll see if a stay in the klink improves its attitude...

10/10/03- Even after only 5 months, this beer has mellowed out a bit. That, plus I've been exploring some IPAs this summer, and have recalibrated my palate a bit. It had pretty much the same aroma, taste was about the same, except I noticed a cola flavor. Overall, the hops bitterness got toned down quite a bit in the taste and finish. The moral of the story is: this beer NEEDS to be cellared! If you're one of those impatient types, try to shop at a place that doesn't turn these over so quick, or be warned...

WaltTrombone, Oct 10, 2003
Photo of RoyalT
4.83/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – Gorgeous, monster head that rose brilliantly, went down slow, and actually laced the glass which was impressive considering the high ABV. The body was a beautiful orange/brown color, thick and solid.

Smell – There are some big, floral hops to this one. These things filled the room. The deep, ripe, fruity scents are there as well. This ale has a tremendous bouquet.

Taste – This is monster flavor. It reminds me of The Guardian. Every type of hop flavor is represented here. This one will pucker your cheeks for sure. Then comes the classic barley wine sweetness. There’s also some smoke in there to boot. The only thing that’s missing is a sensation of alcohol from this 9.6 ABV ale.

Mouthfeel – This is the fullest beer that I have tasted to date. Every sip fills the mouth and bloats the cheeks.

Drinkability – This is dinner tonight. You don’t drink Bigfoot Barley wine, you eat it.

Update – I wrote the initial review with a 2003 sample. I enjoy this immensely every year but though I’d offer an update with a fresh 2006 vintage.

The consistency is amazing from year to year. If you get it fresh the ale is so big and explosive it makes you literally shake your head and call a friend. The ABW ages nicely, too, so you can burn the candle by both ends. Just an amazing ale all around.

RoyalT, Sep 26, 2003
Photo of grynder33
3.6/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a chestnut color, small head, slight raisany taste, but with a heavy alcohol backtaste, a little chocolate came in at the end.. The aroma and taste were fine, but there was just to much of an alcohol backkick, and my friends pretty much agreed with me on this. The best strong beers shouldn't be this obvious.

grynder33, Sep 26, 2003
Photo of beerguy101
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 vintage. Medium brown color, large head. Big, bold, maltly and hoppy. Very malty barley wine style ale. Highly hopped, medium bitterness, balance by nice malt sweetness. Mouthfeel is very round and full, nearly chewy. High alcohol (9.6%) not really noticeable. Smooth tatste. Finish is smooth. Aftertaste is malt sweet and bitter

beerguy101, Sep 22, 2003
Photo of Ianhockey91
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not being a huge barleywine fan myself, i was skeptical when i first tried this one. It poured out a deep reddish hugh, wich allowed a little light through but not much. The aroma comes on as some fruit and malt at the beginning and hops and alchohol at the end. The taste is exquisite, with malts dancing on the toung and hops sneeking a shot in at the end, very very tasty, and seems to warm the belly. This would be a great nightcap beer, but beware they can catch up with you.

Ianhockey91, Sep 18, 2003
Photo of dedalus
3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

sampled from a bottle, 2003 vintage.

this beer had a beautiful appearance in the glass. i bought some brandy snifters specifically for barley wines, and poured the bigfoot into one of them. dark red color with a hint of orange-gold when held up to the light. thick, dark-cream colored head that dissipated only slightly, and left a gorgeous lace down the glass.

the aromas were extremely hoppy; mostly piney and sappy, with only a little citrus poking through.

erm, the flavor. i admit with more than a little embarrassment that i drank this beer before i knew there was a difference between british and american barley wines, and before i knew that barley wines are best when aged. i therefore raised the glass expecting hugely complex layers of malt tastes; imagine my surprise when this beer sledgehammered my tongue with enough young hops to tranquilize a rabid rhinocerous! pure pine sap through the start, middle, and the long, long finish, with only a bit of citrus, as in the nose. i finished the bottle with more than a little effort, and then read up on barleywines. next afternoon the rest of the six pack was resting comfortably in my basement, where it will age for about two years.

the mouthfeel was relatively thick, but without reaching syrupy proportions.

i strongly suspect that i will enjoy this beer much more once it has seen two more winters. if you're into lots of hops, go ahead and have this one young. otherwise i recommend aging. but not for too long; from what i've read, anything more than two years of aging and this beer will lose too much of its hop character.



dedalus, Sep 01, 2003
Photo of freed
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Its somewhat sad to report that this beer isn't as good on tap. Well, the version I tried wasn't.

Standard 16 oz. pint glass, deep brown with a hint of currant red. Significant head, nice and creamy brown. Somewhat of a surprise on this beer. Aroma is quite muted, probably due to the head, but still quite limited. Significant smell is of alcohol and apple. Taste is quite nice still, wide variety of malt sensations. Fruity and spicy with enough malt texture to make it a barleywine. Hint of hops which is enough to clean the finish. not as good as I'd hoped, but still quite pleasant.

freed, Aug 15, 2003
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,368 ratings.