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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.

6,508 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 6,508
Reviews: 2,825
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 294
Gots: 1,193 | FT: 49
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
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Ratings: 6,508 | Reviews: 2,825 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of gimmehead
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich, dark mahogony with a thin off white head. First smell is floral and citric hops, very earthy, and slightly alcoholic. Not as malty/ sweet as I had expected. Taste is also initially zesty citric hops, sweet nutty backing. Becoming more sugary sweet and alcoholic as it warms. Mouthfeel is thick and oily. Set aside two for the cellar. Will review at a later date.

Photo of scriabin
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Barleywine is one of my favorite styles, yet it is so hard to find. I was excited about this one, even though it is not quite a true barleywine technically speaking. But close enough for me. It has a nice dark amber color with a thin foam that laces the inside of the glass. The taste has lots of flavors such as coffe, a little caramel, and a good dose of hops. It is a nice blend that isn't too heavy and is complex enough that it bears a few quaffs (don't plan on driving home though). Good stuff.

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

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

I let the beer sit for about 10 minutes after taking it out of the fridge. 12 oz short brown bottle and served in a brandy snifter.

Pours a copper color with some light brown highlights. A thin brown lacing covers the glass. Scattered sticky lacings.

Rubbing alcohol, prunes, pines and citrus in the nose. Major hop profile.

Super hop bitterness, juicy malts and fruity esters all engulfed in an alcohol sharpness. Fresh grapefruit juice citrus explosion and juicy caramel malts take over your palate.

This beer will only get better with some aging to mellow. If anything, I am having this beer mighty ripe, but I was very glad to see it at the store. The 9.6% ABV must be discussed when reviewing this beer. This is one beer that deserves some respect. It's one of the hoppier Barleywines that I have had. An excellent West-coast Barleywine with some balls.

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

2003. served at 54 degrees F.

looks really dark. nice and deep mahogany. nothing of a head.

aroma is like a giant mammalian creature trompsing through the woods plowing down smaller creatures and plants in it's path. big malty caramel.

taste is awesome. oh yes, caramel chewy goodness. thick and just, wow. piney in a way, everything perfectly balanced.. wow. this beer was not this good 2 years ago.

mouthfeel is huge and great. thick but just right.

sure am glad i put this away. mmmm, what a good birthday treat for me.

Photo of carln26
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bright copper to amber color, very clear, with a thick, creamy white head. This is a snowdrift of a head that lazes casually against the side of the glass. All hops in the nose with a complex layer of hop flower, pine and grapefruit hitting you. The taste has more of a grassy character, followed by the pine. Malt comes through more in the form of caramel. This is followed by an immediate alcohol warming. Very nice rich mouth feel, slightly slick. The alcohol would keep it from being a session beer, but it’s surprisingly drinkable.
Like many people Bigfoot was the 1st Barleywine I had the opportunity to try. I still hold it as a standard to measure others against, and enjoy this beer year after year.

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

2005 12oz. bottle...
What a great appearance...a dark brown w/ an almost ruby tint when the light passes through. A full finger of tan head w/ lace that clings to the glass for most of this brew. The head disappears after a couple minutes.
Aromas of cherries, vanilla and fruity hops...smell is fantastic.
Taste is real nice...thick and quite hoppy for a Barleywine style, but it has the sweetness that I expect.
Real refreshing w/ just a bit of bitter aftertaste. I thought I caught a wiff of alcohol at first, but I am definitely not tasting it.
I am grateful for all of you who took to time to review this beer...it is the only reason I picked it up. I am glad I did...just hope I can still find a 6 pack before it goes bye bye.

Photo of swamiswamu
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Is this really a barleywine? Well, the hops are there. The problem lies in the balance. When I think barleywine I think Young's Old Nick or even Schlafly's was far closer. Judged as an DIPA this one would be near the top. In fact I'de give it the edge over Double Bastard and its like, but that's not the style it has chosen to be judged in. Have our BA palates been so altered as to forget that beer is more than hops alone? One can be sure that if you're looking for a hop fix one need not look further than this, but if one wants to find hops and malt in glorious balance and union, this ain't it.

Photo of whartontallboy
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 edition.

Looks really great; dark amber pour with a big soft pillowy head that gradually dissipates leaving insane amounts of foam. I'm getting excited!
Smell is hoppy as all get out, but cut through with some grapefruit and pine scents as well. There is a detectable note of malt in the nose, but it's minimal.
Very tasty as well! Lots of hop bitterness, but there's also a big caramel character in there as well to balance things out a little more than I expected. There's a peppery bite to go with some other spices as well. Alcohol is present, but doesn't dominate.
Overall: I'd like to try this one again with some age on it, but it's pretty tasty as is. It's big and strong, but not quite as out-of-control and tough-to-drink as Insanity and a few others in the style. Yummy and extremely drinkable for a barleywine.

Photo of KoG
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh 2005 bottling.

Looks just as good as ever. Nice clarity through the orangish brown liquid that fills the glass. Sticky head leaves tracks bigfoot would be envious of down the side of my glass.

Smell is hoppy with ripe fruit and a slight malt hint coming through at the end.

Taste is strong, but no alcohol can be found. Hops dominate but pair well with the rich dark fruit flavors and caramely malt profile. Very tasty but will get even better and more complex with aging.

Comparing this to the bigfoot i had on tap last August (which was horrendously astringent) and the 03 I had in October, I can honestly say the mellowed hop flavor is better.

Photo of clvand0
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 edition. 12oz bottle. Pours a copper color with a medium head that falls fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma is very hoppy with a slight caramel malt in the background - almost all hops. The flavor is very similar to the aroma. Lots of hops - citrus, pine - just tons of hops for a barley wine. Drinkability isn't as great as some because of the high IBU and high alcohol. I'd like this one to be a little more balanced.

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

2005 is the bottle i am reviewing right now (the glass is half full so i must like it), i have been drinking this beer every year for around 10 years now. this beer is a great cellar beer, it ages very nice, it taste very strong right now but in a couple of years it mellows and becomes more malty.
last year i had the privelage of tasting 2001, 2002, and a 2003. the oldest being the smoothest, but a year on this beer does it some wounder.

well back to 2005. intense hop arome with malt. the flavor is sweet with a good malt and a wounderful hop bitterness. it pours a very rich copper with a light head. if you like cascade hops try this beer.

i bought a 12 for $18 (a steal in michigan) so i'm hoping i can hold on to a few for a few years.

Photo of MuddyFeet
2.93/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The guy at the beer store said that if I had an inkling for a barley wine I should try a Bigfoot. It had a 2005 date on the bottle cap. While my barley wine experiences have been brief, this was definitely different than all the other barley wines drank until now. It poured copper in color without any significant head, but there was a thin film on top of the beer. The aroma is purely of malts and hops. The flavor made me think of crab grass, ery sour with a spicy bite. But not sweet spices like other barley wines I have partaken of, but pepper and cumin. More spicey spices. A lot of really good cooking recipes (or so I think at least) come to mind as I drank this beer. The mouthfeel was fairly crisp but there was a very present alcohol burn. The sourness was a bit of a turnoff and I am not sure I will want another any time soon. I may throw the four remaining bottles into the beer closet to see if it improves with time.

Photo of jlervine
3.63/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2005 vintage reviewed 2/9/2005. Poured a lovely mahogany brown with a creamy off-white head. Lace forms on the surface, with colonies of the lovely foam at the edges of the glass. Sweet earthy malts are of caramel and honey. The hop aroma smacks you in the face like a pimp with strong grassy and citrus notes. The alcohol notes carry it up your nose and pound your brain. On the first sip, the tongue is scalded by hops, finished by alcohol, and then the hops rape and pillage what's left. Strong citrus/raw grass tones dominate. As the beer warms, and as your pallate slowly recovers, the malt complexity comes through in distant hints of caramel and a charred wood character. The mouthfeel is very drying, thanks to the freshness of the hops amplified by the alcohol. This brew is intriguing and begs to be sipped to completion. This is really a beer to be aged, and I find myself convinced to buy a case or four for such an experiment. Wow! I can hardly wait to taste how my 2003 vintage has progressed this year!

2003 vintage reviewed 1/14/2004. Poured an amber/chestnut color, slight bit of an off-white head tries to form, but sinks quickly back into Belgian lace. Smell is predominantly grassy and citrus hops with a tinge of alcohol, but it has a strong undertone of caramel and chocolate. Malt flavors explode across your mouth. Thick caramel, chocolate notes. Numbs the tip of the tongue before the hops blast you to oblivion. Grapefruity finish, leaves the mouth a bit dry and begging for the next sip. Seems a bit unbalanced still, but that's what next year is for.

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

--- 2005 Release ---

Deep copper with a solid finger of foam that simply refused to go away. Lacing on this beer runs well over the 90% level. The nose is hoppy and strangely similar to that of an over-malted DIPA.

Always considered to be a 'stick to the ribs' brew, this pint packs a wallop with massive hops blazing the way. Taste is complex, with seemingly more layers than an onion. Huge malt goodness is complimented by a layer of licorice in the midtaste. The finish is punctuated with an absolutely sweet lip-licking homage to the brewers in Chico.

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

Pours a dark amber in my tasting chalice with a nice off-white head which slowly dissapates. A great belly warming experience, smooth malts and hoppiness makes me wonder if this is not a winter attempt at an IPA. Very smooth for the ABV% of 9.6, but does not seem to be a true Barleywine in taste. Maybe a few months will sort this one out, but overall....very enjoyable, with the alcohol well hidden. I definetely recommend it!

Photo of soper2000
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brand new 2005 vintage.
Poured a beautiful deep burnt amber with a thin head that quickly retreats to ring the side of the glass. Smell is wonderfully balanced. Big heavy malts invade the nose gently giving way to crisp citrus hops with a resiny finish. Taste was still a tad bid hot with a smell malt presence in the start which is quickly cut with an intense hop bite, which morphes between piney/resiny to citrus fruit. Finally alcohol and a subtle sweetness pair up with the hops to create a nice finish. While this is currently a decent beer, I'm aging some as I can now imagine how this one gained it's fame among those who cellar.

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

Haven't had this vintage in over a year. When I first had it, it was very new, too hoppy for my palate back then. But now that I've crossed over to the "hop side", I'd like to go back and taste my first ones again.
Cellar temperature. Poured the Bigfoot into a barleywine glass and just watched the head reach for the rim. Nice THICK cream color head sitting on a slightly hazy mahogany beer. Loved the contrast. Head died out a bit, but even at the end of the beer, some was still there. Lace stayed around even after the beer was gone.
Big, soft mouthfeel. Like drinking a velvet milkshake. Little carbonation. Loved the way it clung to my tongue long after the beer was down my throat.
Nice hoppy nose with some floral and orange peel. Caramel and pine also make guest appearances. Definate alcohol presence.
Hops have mellowed out in the past 2 year on this one, but they are still the dominating palate. This has rounded out nicely though, letting the malt come out and play. A little dry, still at the end, but not too bad. This one will be with me for a while.
I don't want this one to end. Sitting here looking at the last 3 ounces and waiting until the 2005's hit my area. Cannot wait to see what the other 2003's will be like in years to come.
Top notch finish. Bitter and malty, smoothness with a little bite. Loved this beer. I have 6 more '03's downstairs screaming "DRINK ME". In time, my friends, in time.

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

man, i've been waiting for this to hit Jersey for quite some time now. The last shipment from SN to our liquor store didn't carry it due to the shipment being sent out prior to the release date, and it took until today to get my hands on it. Well, so long as it finally arrived i'm a happy man. Purchased from my place of employment for $8.99 a six pack, making it a downright steal in the barley wine market.

appearance- Pours a dark copper with a nice one finger sized head that establishes and maintains itself well. Solid lacing on the sides of the snifter and stays throughout the entire experience. Initial pour brings forth a few bubbles of carbonation that dissappear once the beer has been given a moment to settle.

Smell- HOPS! Piney, citrusy, and every other adjective you'd associate with Celebration Ale that ever-so-slowly back away into a nut/caramel blend that are as rich as they are subtle. Alcohol bite comes up in the hop blast, then backs away with the rest of the hops as the malt character steps in. Caramel covered grapefruit, if you will.

Taste- Reversing what was noted in the nose, the malts come forth first and the hops do their business afterwards. Scratch that; in all reality, the hops and malts come together first, then the hops take over the palate once the nutty character has backed off. A hop beast, but not in the out-of-control style that Old Crusty is. More of that pine and citrus with almost an oaky tone to it come together attacking the palate; even my nose is flaring up drinking this baby. Definetly could clear up the sinuses if you down it quick enough. Warms you up, but at the same time doesn't tell any secrets about the alcohol sitting within.

mouthfeel- Oily, sits in your mouth much longer than you'd expect it to. And yet, at the same time doesn't try to out stay it's welcome in your mouth. Hell, this beer is always welcome.

drinkability- well, it tastes great, but there's always that overwhelming hop factor and high alcohol content to take into account. Still, i'd gladly make a session beer out of this, provided i drank them slowly enough.

I always like to compare this brew to Old Horizontal, of which it shares many similarities, and it comes down to a basic question when evaluating which one is for you; do you like more hops or more malt? Bigfoot seems to have the hop market cornered here, while Old Horizontal (while no slouch on the hops itself) definitely takes the maltier, less intense path. As for me, i'm gonna be buying a twelve of both tomorrow; there is no winner or loser in my mind, just two extraordinary brews. The Pale Ale may get all the attention, but this and Celebration are, without a doubt, Sierra Nevada's pride and joy.

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

2003 edition, I believe. I got the opportunity to have a glass of this, and it was aged two-years. The aging didn't diminish much of its hop character. Still very hoppy and well preserved. Poured with a head which just wouldn't go away. Still sizeable after everything but the foam was consumed. Very drinkable for such a big beer. The hops dominated the malt character, which prevents this from being perfect in the taste category. But excellent none the less. I would even let this age a couple more years.

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

Pours a lovely amber colour with a minimal head. Smell is rich and malty with some nice spicy floral hops. Taste is great. So well balanced even though it is hoppy. Strong malt uptick with a blast of hops at the end that more than dry it out. Some people say the change in recipe has just made this a malted up hopped up SNCA. I dont see it. It still retains its barleywine character where as the Celebration is well a Celebration of scathing hops. Mouthfeel is good even though it isnt that strongly carbonated. Drinkability is dangerously good. The near 10% doesnt stand out and this is actually a quaffable barleywine..=-- Scary good

Photo of proc
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Edition: Yet another nice beer from Sierra Nevada. This one pours out to a murky brownish in the glass with a medium-sized head. The aroma is that of citrus and pine and malt. The taste is reminiscent of the Pale Ale and Celebration, containing the signature SN hop profile, however, it does have some malt in here which helps to round it out and mellow it out just a bit on the swallow. The ABV is well hidden. This really didn' t seem like a barleywine to me. It seemed more in the vein of an IPA.

Photo of pentathlete
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 version

Poured a deep ruby brown. Quarter inch head, thinned but never disappeared, left foam on the glass.

Hops and pine assault the nose. This baby beer is going to be all hops.

And sure enough it is all hops. Completely unbalanced, but Bigfoot has a reputation and I'm not about to buck it. A sixer is going to cool in garage for a few months so these monsters can shed their youthful bitterness and mellow a bit.

Loved the mouthfeel. Full and nutty, hints of walnut or bitter almond. It is only diminished when the bitterness finds those taste buds in the back of the tongue; at that point all balance is lost.

If you like hops and bitterness, drink it now. But, for me, barley wine is about deep maltiness with a bitter mix. My expectation is that this needs some time, maybe three months, maybe six. At that point I'll revisit a bottle. I'm looking forward to it.

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

2004 edition (brewed late 2003). Pours a deep cherry color. Thin head leaves a ring of lace at the top of the glass, but that's it. Smells of booze and dark fruits, especially raisin. Taste is nice, with a nice bit of raisiny malt, as well as some brighter fruitiness, as well as some hops (I've never tasted a fresh Bigfoot, so I have no idea how this has mellowed at all over the last year).

Overall, this is a nice barleywine. I'm really beginning to like the style, and this is among the better ones I've had (I've only had one "bad" one, and that one was just raw). Great way to warm up on a blustery winter night.

Photo of blitz134
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fresh 2005 edition…my first Bigfoot…thank you new Georgia beer laws.

Pours an attractive caramel color with a decent off-white head on top. The smell on this brew is amazing. Its loaded down with hops, fruit and pine totally dominate. There is a bit of malt sweetness in the background. Both compliment each other extremely well. Taste is again dominated by hops with a pretty dry tasting finish, very unbalanced, but for me this isn’t a huge deal but I would like to see a little more balance. Hops are mostly pine and resin with sweet citrus in the background making this beer a little sweet. Many people compare this to Celebration, but the hop profile is definitely different. The flavor is much sweeter than its resin dominated counterpart. I don’t pick up much else from this in the malt area. No alcohol flavor to speak of, but it does warm as it goes down. Mouthfeel is full and oily while drinkablity is a thing of beauty. These could get you in trouble.

For a hop lover this is a good beer, even if it doesn't follow the typical style profile of most barleywines. Very typical Sierra Nevada.

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

2005 expedition.

Came in a 12 oz. bottle; served in a pint glass.

Pours a brownish amber color with an off-white, one-finger head. Leaves little lace. Smells herbal, hoppy, and slightly piney. Tastes like it smells. Has such a full-bodied mouthfeel, and is mighty/dangerously drinkable.

Oh, Bigfoot--good stuffs, indeed. Still great even though Sierra Nevada changed the hops around. From what I remember from last year's batch, this year has almost more of a dark [Sierra Nevada] Celebration Ale taste mixed in. 2 parts Pale Ale, 1 part Celebration Ale. In a good way. Still an awesome brew this year around.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,508 ratings.