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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

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6,587 Ratings

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Ratings: 6,587
Reviews: 2,853
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 11.57%
Wants: 312
Gots: 1,243 | FT: 52
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: 6,587 | Reviews: 2,853 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of twiggamortis420
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Well, over 1K reviews and I have not reviewed Bigfoot?! I cant believe it and am ashamed almost. Decided to go with a fresh 2011 for this one. Pours a brilliantly clear, medium copper color. Dense tan head lasts awhile and leaves some decent lacing.

Nose is NW piney-citric hops with a nice balancing caramel malt aroma. Clean and fresh smelling beer with a hefty dose of alcohol.

Hop leaning, but well balanced with tons of sweet caramel, toffee and toasty malts. Such a big, full flavored beer that is oh-so smooth. After having many of these aged, I actually think I like it fresh the best. It took me 8 years of drinking Bigfoot to realize that, but I really like the fresh hop profile and supremely balanced malt without any oxidation taking hold. An American original, for sure...but some other barleywines have perfected what SN started since then. Rambling, I know...just reflecting on the crazy growth of craft beer over the past decade. Still a great beer that I will continue to buy 1 or 2 sixers of every year.

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

A - Very deep tawny red color. Giant, thick, creamy, smooth, meringue-like, slightly off-white head. Great retention on such a full, thick head. Finally it decided to settle into a nice layer of lace.

S - Sweet toasted bread and caramel. Quite malty in the aroma. Hops also make a nice showing with citrus and pine with a touch of floral aroma. Faint alcohol aroma.

T - Strong mix of sweet malt, bitterness and alcohol. Sweet, thick caramel malt flavor provides a backbone for the bitter hops. Some hoppy flavors of floral, pine, and some citrus. Not as strong as the aroma hinted, but provides a strong bitterness. Alcohol is definitely present.

M - Full, thick feel with a good amount of carbonation. Thick and syrupy. Warming finish.

D - Definitely a slow sipper. Strong bitterness and alcohol flavor hinders drinking much of this.

Notes: Vintage 2011. Strong flavors with tons of malty sweetness, bitterness, and alcohol all battling each other. I enjoyed it as a strong, warm sipper, but not something I would want regularly. Nice treat and I am excited to see how it ages.

Photo of zoso1967
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 Bigfoot pours a stunning ruby tinged deep amber. It is surprisingly clear as I watch the bubbles trail up to the light tan head. The foam lingers on top of the liquid almost indefinitely and it leaves sheaths of lace on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is a wondrous blend of sweet malts, citrusy hops and a slight earthy pepperyness. The malt seems to be predominantly caramel like with some toffee and is given a slight fruitiness by the citrusy hops.

The fruity character of this beer is even more evident as I take the first sip. The hops are definitely present in the flavor and lend a significant amount of bitterness. Caramel, toffee and cherry flavors dance on my tongue along with grapefruit and dried apricot. The bitter end of the flavor is pretty harsh, but it also keeps things from getting too sweet. In fact, the closer I get to the end of this glass, the more I wish it was a bit sweeter.

The mouthfeel is on the fuller side of medium with a smooth quality to it. It must be noted that the smoothness disappears in the finish which is very bitter. It leaves some hoppy flavors on my tongue after swallowing.

I would say that this is a decently drinkable barleywine due to the dryness, but it is not exactly my favorite. Whilst I am all about the nice hoppy character and how it accentuates the malt, this is just a bit too bitter for me in comparison to style. Still, this is a well crafted beer and one that I will make it a point to pick up a bottle of every year.

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

One of those beers that i've had numerous times over the years but never got around to reviewing, so here it goes....Pours a pleasant caramel color with a slight white head into a tulip. Strong lacing and carbonation. A nice, inviting looking beer.

Smell is slight sweetness and dark fruit. A bit of an earthy, hoppy armona lingers.

Taste is fruit up front, followed by notes of toffee and then sticky, somewhat citrusy hops. A very full and complex taste that doesn't finish overly bitter.

Mouthfeel is the right combination of smoothness and crispness for the style. Despite the relative hoppiness, it doesn't feel particularly resinous.

Overall this is one of my favorite examples of this style, even if it may be a little over hopped for the style (there in may be the reason i like it as much as i do). Almost more of a hybrid of a malty dipa and a hoppy barleywine. Give it a shot if you are at all curious about either style.

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

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

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

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

Photo of IBUnit63
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage from 12 oz. bottle into BMS mug. Good 3-finger head dissipates a little quickly. Nice light red-brick color. Enticing stuff.

Very strong floral hop aroma is a little soapy at first blush but otherwise very powerful and pleasant.

Deep hop backbone - more like a DIPA than a barley wine in a way. Malt and alcohol are in the background. Very very hoppy for a BW but well-balanced.

After a while the malt opens up nicely, but this is a "pucker" on the mouth from the big hop profile.

The extra-abundant hop presence makes this a bit for drinkable for a barley wine. Solid stuff.

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.

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

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle with no "bottled on" or "best by" date; $8.99/6 pack from the Wine House in West LA; 2003 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a vibrant amber; slightly hazy; fine, 1/4", off-white head; gentle ring lacing; not much head retention.

Aroma: More Cascade hops than I could ever imagine a barleywine having; caramel malts struggle not to get pushed around.

Taste: Are you kidding me? A thick, bready, malt sweetness has had its way with my mouth; I almost feel violated; pronounced, rolling hop-bitterness in the finish; floral, piney notes abound; slight alcohol burn to be discerned; traces of grapefruit, plum and fig. Smooth, almost oily, mouthfeel.

Notes: Bigfoot probably takes a year or two to come into his own; drink him young and you may be disappointed; I have no doubt his 2003 incarnation will mature into something stellar.

Photo of Wrex68
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%

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

Appearance - Pours a golden to amber/copper. Good head retention and a very nice lace in the glass.

Smell - Smells of citrus and hops with a lingering honey smell in the back.

Taste - Starts bitter, very hop forward and citrusy followed by a delicious sweet malty finish. The finish is a light malt tasting similar to cereal.

Mouthfeel - Slightly creamy, nice light carbonation.

Overall - Very impressed. Nice and hoppy with a delicious malty finish. Exactly what a barlywine should be.

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

2010 version--as of october, drinking well, the hops are not too abrasive but the brew still comes together well. getting back on the bandwagon and wishing i'd bought more than 12.

after just a few months in the fridge i'm finding the 09 bigfeet have seemed to have lost some carbonation. very odd, but bottle after bottle seems to confirm it. and despite the constant refrigeration, the hops are falling pretty flat too. (overall this is now down to about a 4.0 rating beer) maybe significant age will bring out other charms, but for now i'm thinking drink these right away.

bigfoot 09
nearly through a case so time to review.
4.5 (from 5) beautiful deep amber with hints of ruby. sticky head leaves lace everywhere. viscous enough to entertain you as it coats the glass when swirled.
4.5 potent citrus, pine, and catnip (chinook) hops and biscuity malt, now the hops again. as it warms there's a boozy stage where alcohol takes front and center, then the sweet maltiness starts to take over.
4-4.5 three beers in one. i drink the first 1/3 cold for the delicious hop bite, aroma, and heavy vibrance. the chinooks are key here. the next third plays tag, dodgeball, and a few other playground games with your palate as various traits emerge and recede. the alcohol is fighting to take over, but ultimately loses to the malt and hop flavor--the third phase has begun. sip slowly at this point, and bow silently when the glass is finally emptied.
4.5 the viscosity is just right, the carbonation ideal as well so long as you don't pour aggressively.
4 (down from 5) not just a beer i'm willing to have again. a beer that makes me sad when i realize the supply is other than infinite.
a lot of people claim bigfoot is best aged, but damnit fresh is where it's at!
inspired live rock concert vs. neutered elevator soundtrack instrumentals.

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

Aged 6 months from December 2011

A - Aggressive pour yields a huge, creamy, cream-colored head that sticks around a long time and winds up as a little puffy island like ice cream on a root beer float. I want to eat it with a spoon. Nice reddish chestnut. Loads of lacing.

S - Smells like dinner somehow. Moderate toasty malt. Hint of sweet.

T/M - Pulls so thick and nice. It's got such body, yet somehow comes across as fresh too. Not at all what I was expecting. The bitterness doesn't quite reach bitter initially, stopping just short and just leaving a cool refreshing sensation that gives way to a nice caramelly maltiness that's somewhat sweet but not too much. The bitter shows up a little in the aftertaste. And what nice gentle buzz off of 12 ounces.

O - I was actually a little worried about this beer from what some had said. I was expecting this boozy, messy, out-of-balance thing and instead it was really nice. Maybe the age did it - I never tried one fresh. Sierra Nevada delivers again. I like this a lot and want more.

Photo of Reaper16
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage served on-tap at Mellow Mushroom, Tuscaloosa, AL

How is this beer still on-tap in September? I was worried about the tap lines but I had a sample and everything was OK, so I ordered this twice.

Pours a luscious rufous color, like liquid rust. Dark enough that you can't see through it but it is not cloudy in the slightest bit. A dense two fingers of buff leather colored head sits like a heavy crown. Add to it spindly lacing and you have an impressive looking draught beer.

Pungent, toasted sourdough bread and some caramel provide the initial aromas. This is mostly malt, which is expected given the nine months of age on this keg. Raisin, drunken fig, maybe a small trace of Werther's Original candy. The hops provide a astringent quality to the nose; the citrus fruit is pretty much missing at this point. This is still good though it will get even better.

The taste mostly follows the nose. Lots of bready flavors. The hops are felt more prominently on the tongue; pine and a touch of tangerine are well-integrated into the malty body. Dark fruits and toffee. Booze for sure. A smidge of diacetyl, unfortunately; I taste a bit of butterscotch here and there.

This pour of Bigfoot was pleasantly toothsome in terms of mouthfeel but not so viscous that you couldn't drink the thing. The alcohol makes this a sipper, especially on your second glass that you shouldn't have but get anyway. No less drinkable than what the style calls for though.

Bigfoot is in its awkward in-between stage - some of you who have long hair will remember the awkward in-between stage of short and long when you were growing your hair - where the hops have started lose their fresh impact but the malt character hasn't developed enough to compensate. This stage occurs between 7 months and 14 months old in my experience. It's Bigfoot though - it is always going to be good. I was just stoked to see it on-tap here in AL.

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

Deep amber colours flourish from the pour. Modest numbers of carbonation bubbles dance to the surface without overcrowding the view. Bubbles noted up to the bitter end. Nice one finger head of a creamy white to pale tan colour. Holds briefly to be enjoyed before dissipating into a very nice contiguous lacing. Looks appealing indeed.

The smell is likewise very pleasing. Definite floral hop bouquet. Large malt presence. Citrusy hop notes pin ball through the olfactory foramina. Smiles abound. Maybe a hint of cherry sweetness there. I cannot detect alcohol.

The mouthfeel has a nice and oily slickness like these heavy percentage concoctions normally seem to possess. Somewhat syrupy. The taste throws off bitters from the jump. The oily finish layers the bitters over with just a touch of sweet. Pine like aftertaste dries out the final throws of flavor. Very nice. There is an almost apple skin like after-aftertaste remnant. Alcohol is only evident in the warm finish for about the first two thirds of a bottle. The bottom seems to taste a bit more strong on the alcohol. Not a problem for me. This baby is still smoove. A toasty ending to a delicious creation.

This is a very solid brew. I might have to agree with those that say this is more like a double IPA. It is a Sierra Nevada interpretation of barley wine at any rate. Damn good

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

Bigfoot appears as a russet hue in my glass with a very thin head. My bottle has been aged a bit I believe, but less than a year. There is still carbonation. The aroma is dominated by very sweet caramel, malts and figs. When sipping there is a multi-layered mouth feel which has a fruity, flowery impact at first, giving way to a very bitter and dry, hop finish. Slightly piny. I suspect that the hops have faded slightly going by other reviewers stating that it seems to have DIPA qualities. Ultimately, it's heavy every step of the way. Great brew for the winter!

Photo of claminat420
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 on cap

A- poured a light brown almost yellowish head with a medium to heavy lacing behind.

S- caramel malt blended nicely with some light citrus. alcohol is hidden nicely.

T- same as smell.

M- medium to heavy bodied. nice carbonation.

D- three out of the six and you're good!

Overall- for being a hophead this american style barleywine is a thumbs up. my definition of a lumberjack's sort of brew. if you come across this definitely pick it up. the best thing to come out of sierra nevada since their anniversary ale.

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


Nice, thick head for such a high alcohol beer.

Aroma is a very powerful American hop type. Little bit of toasty malt in the background

Very powerful, hop forward flavor and bitterness. Hop flavor is piney and citrus. The hops dominate this beer so much that it is hard to pick up the malt, but there is some toastiness and caramel. Bitterness lasts quite a bit thru the finish.

Slick in the mouth and medium-heavy body. Medium carbonation.

I really liked the bitterness at first, but it wore on me as I continued to drink it. Wish there was a bit more malt flavor to this.

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

This sample is a 2001. I find the newer samples, i.e. not cellared, a little too sharp. I prefer the aged ones.
Aroma is a nice mix of rich matl with fruity undertones, and surrounded by hops.
Pours with a large firm head that becomes rocky. Dark amber in color (reds to brown). Some setiment. Looks good.
Initial taste notes the cloyness of the malt. This is intense and flavorful. Hops first present in the dryness at the finish and with bitterness. Fruitiness from the malt finishes with a sourness and a dryness. Alcohol hidden well.
Feel has a rich softness despite the cloyness. I like that. Very good ale smoothness.
If a guy can tolerate the intensity this is quite nice. The older I get the more I enjoy these.

Photo of br3wmeister
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Good head that is very sticky. good retention and great lacing. The beer is a dark red color that looks very pretty when held up to a light.

S- Lots of sweetness up front, caramel and honey, also some roasted almonds. Good citrus hops some grapefruit and lemons. Also some alcohol meets the nose.

T- Lots of dry piney hops, that hit your tongue first. This beer starts out very bitter but then has some good malty balance. Lots of sweet and malty notes. Some honey, caramel and ginger meet the tongue. In the end you are left with a dry bitterness.

M- Full bodied that ends up being a little oily. This is a mouth coating beer, with great balance and good hoppiness.

Overall- Though this is not the best barley wine I have ever had, it is a great one. Great complexity and good flavor.

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

penultimate stop on the night's tour at the lizard

nice brownish ruby color with an also nice rocky head sitting above

aromas of dark fruit...very fruity
dark fruit flavors, too, with dark cherry rounding out each mouthful. caramel as well. very little of the typical malt flavors...mostly fruit and hop character (of which there is plenty)

strong bitterness and my burps taste like citrus

yum yum. the huge estery profile didn't appeal to me so much, but a fine brew

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

Appearance: Minor chill haze on a dark, deep copper colored beer. Head is an incredibly light khaki, creamy, and starts off massive. Some nice retention leaves a smallish cap. Big sheets of lacing.

Smell: Malts. Biscuit, caramel, touches of toffee. Some nice brushes of citrus layered over big sweet malts. Chewy, bready, but in no way overbearing. Some minor pine. Minor bite of alcohol coupled with some pithy rind. Grapefruit and pine.

Taste: Sharp, sweet pine. Pith, grapefruit oil and rind. Big sweet malts. Caramel, extremely cooked malts, some roasted notes as well. Pushes toward toffee at times. Biscuity as can be. Bread and citrus. Big alcohol on the back. Sweet and bitter, distinctly so. More bitter than the malts should allow it to be.

Mouthfeel: Chewy, full body. Some alcohol and bitter dryness. Sticky, hot, and delicious.

Overall: Wait, Sierra Nevada set a benchmark? That's impossible!

Delicious fresh, if a bit harsh. Age makes this truly shine. I've been lucky enough to try several vintages, and it's delicious for years and years.

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

Bottle poured into a pint glass. The color is a dark amber with tints of red and is topped by a 11/2 finger tan head. The head is very frothy and leaves heavy rings of lacing. The aroma is pretty strong citrus oil that is both flowery and fruity. The taste is pretty heavy alcohol, and has a good amount of hoppiness and malt flavors that are way up there. The mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied and very tangy. This is a good one.

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

"2003" on 8/8/03
Powerful, boiling syrup-look to the bubbles which emerge from the brown liquid to create a crusty, tan-colored head.
It smells like cannabis... sticky, green, raw. Also there's a warm, blackish-brown brioche element that begins to outflank the herb.
I take a drink. This is an exercise in grade-B maple syrup flavor and boot-polish bitterness. It is a bitterness that coils around the tongue and gradually flexes until it leaves the generous sweetness rasping in a hollow, dry panic. There is sugar here without a doubt...and a lot of it. It's just that it is only enough to ease the outrageously bitter hop medicine. No flaws. Too young to drink. Wait 4 more years.

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

2010 Vintage bottle poured into snifter glass. I am also aging 2008 and 2009 vintage and will be reviewing those soon as well.

A: Glowing rich amber coloring with off tan head surprisingly large for barleywine. Lacing quite heavy. Really nice looking brew.

S: Caramel and toffee notes with slight alcohol notes apparent. Pungent fruity hop notes.

T & M: For a barleywine a little lighter bodied than expected but still relatively full bodied. A little creaminess in mouthful. Tones from nose come through up front with clean, dry hop tones in the finish. This is a barleywine that is not ridiculously overbearing, aging will be nice but isn't absolutely needed in my opinion.

D: One of the more drinkable barleywines I have encountered and one of my absolute favorites. I can't wait to try the 2008 and 2009 vintages that I have been aging.

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

A - Dark hazy amber to red with a thick dark cream colored head and lacing all the way down.

S - Big grapefruit nose with a strong malt sweetness backing it up.

T/M - If the malt backbone wasn't so strong it would easily get smothered by the grapefuit rind hop flavor. Thick juicy mouthfeel compliments the hops nicely. On the aftertaste you get a slight malt chalkiness alond with some residual grapefruit flavor.

D - Very tasty, but this is a big beer and I wouldn't drink more than 1 a night.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 6,587 ratings.