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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-Aged | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-AgedSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-Aged

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Callenak on 12-05-2006

User Reviews
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Reviews: 236 | Ratings: 1,237
Photo of BMMillsy
3.41/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Way harsh, a bit thin. Not really any finesse here. Burns on the way down and little to none when it comes to mellow vanilla and oak bourbon notes. Rather poorly done but relatively tasty I guess...just as long as you can get past the burning.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

750ml bottle into a teku.

Appearance: Pours a dark copper color. The head is a finger high and off-white in shade. Retention isn't particularly special, but it's 12%. At least a lot of lacing sticks to the glass (just like regular Bigfoot!) (3.5)

Smell: The barrel aging have tempered the hops well (but not entirely!), replacing them with a nice oak character. And of course, the candied malts appear in full force. It's also slightly boozy. A good aroma, but I'm not sure that the barrel aging fully coalesces with the big brutishness of Bigfoot. (3.5)

Taste: Just like the nose suggested, the hoppiness is nowhere near as prevalent as they are in fresh, non-barreled Bigfoot. It starts off with some oak barrel and malty sweetness, before transitioning into notes of oak and hop bitterness. Even taking what I said into consideration earlier, it's still fairly hoppy. I really pick up a nice lingering grassiness (at times, it reminds me of a pilsner!) in particular. So why not a higher score? Because it's harsh. Very harsh, indeed. The alcohol and oak bites the palate in conjunction with the hop profile, and it actually manages to conceal some of the complexity instead of nuancing it. A shame. (3.25)

Mouthfeel: Though it has a moderate alcoholic/oaky bite, this is light and easy to drink for the style. When I don't concentrate on how much this is biting, that is. Carbonation is expectedly low. (3.25)

Overall: This is one of those beers that need a year (or two) in the cellar to age out some of its harshness. It's drinking decently right now, but it could still stand to be a little smoother regardless. Personally, I'd prefer to drink fresh Bigfoot over this right now. (3.25)

3.33/5: Way too young right now

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Photo of MacMalt
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter. The color is a nice deep red with a generous off-white head; a nice looking glass of beer. The smell is very complex: malt, spice, some hops. When sipped, the first sensation is some whiskey and bitterness and pine, but followed up with a tasty vanilla and some very slight dark fruitiness. This is a medium body brew and well crafted. Overall, I really enjoyed it but echo a previous reviewer that I prefer the barrel-aged Narwal

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

2013 bottle. Rich burnt-orange with a half finger of creamy thick khaki head. Vanilla and caramel, whiskey, and faint hops. Nice caramel, wood and whiskey, some citrus and a nice bitter finish. Not very hot but not as full a mouthfeel as I would like ...a minor complaint

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Photo of deford
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 750 into a Firestone Walker Snifter.

L-Looks like Coke after the ice has melted. Nice thick head that lasts for a minute or two.

S- Definite Whiskey, hoppy pine thing going on. Maybe a sense of impending sweetness even...kinda cool...

T- Sweet vanilla to start. Bitter oaky whiskey to finish...

F- Medium to full with little carbonation feel.

0- Not as good as I'd hoped, pretty nice but not worth the cost of admission just yet...maybe some time would help??? The bitterness really attacks the back of the tongue as it warms...I wouldn't mind something just a bit smoother and sweeter....maybe I just need to open up a Stickee Monkee....

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Really digging this 2013 vintage. I know many people think the 2015 is a boozy mess, but time seems to have done it well. Huge toffee, vanilla, caramelized sugars. The hop presence lingers, but clearly muted in comparison to fresh Bigfoot. The finish is a bit strange with an herbal quality. A true sipper and a perfect desert beer. Buy up ur 2015 and stash away for a couple years.

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Photo of gr0g
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle dated "012115." Mahogany color with a less persistent head than your standard SN Bigfoot. Smells pretty much like what you'd expect in a bourbon-infused Bigfoot. The usual bold hoppiness is turned down a couple notches, but there's still a noticeable citric character from American hops. It's not an aroma that I find blends very well with what you get from barrel-aging, but here, everything comes together nicely. Really nice woody, oaky notes. Light on fusel alcohol booziness.

Flavor profile is smooth, sweet at first, with bitterness increasing toward the finish. Increased sweetness and reduced hop bite vs. regular Bigfoot. It's kind of a like you took a year+ old Bigfoot and dialed up the malty sweetness a tick. Oak, vanilla, and bourbon notes present on the finish. Bourbon barrel character isn't overwhelming - no super-boozy finish here. Mouthfeel is damn near silky without being undercarbed.

Not as good overall as barrel-aged Narwhal, but this is still pretty much what I'd hoped for in a barrel-aged Bigfoot. Will definitely buy again.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Barrel-aged Bigfoot Barleywine-style Ale, Ale aged in Whiskey Barrels. Alc. 11.9% by Vol.

Appearance: Clear, bright and beautiful crimson coloring, lush, creamy off-white head, lazily leaving lace. Just about perfect.

Aroma: Caramel and vanilla caress the nose….no, that's not right, but I didn't want to say "assault" either. What's right? It's a passionate flowering, how about that? A gentle invasion of whiskey flavors flooding the senses. Deep and powerful, the barrel affects are pounding on the gates, and letting loose, with the proper Bigfoot Barley-wine lagging a little behind.

Taste, now: In the mouth, the bourbon blares on through once more, the caramel, vanilla, char and oak associations sound off the loudest on the tongue. And now the Bigfoot comes crawling from his cave, here comes all the flavors we've known all the rich malt, the brandy notes, the toffee and the dried fruit and the leather. And as we go on, it's growing and showing it's full flower. Increasing intensity. While Remaining mellow.

This ale moves back and forth. Now, the heat increases, now the alcohol rises. The barley-wine flavor peeks through, then the whiskey tones return. It's a complicated thing, this. Cool and hot, incredibly complex. Now, it's showing rich fruit, with high alcohol presence. Then, caramel malt resurfaces….the flavor is as full as it gets, the finish is ever-lasting.

This one goes beyond what I like to pay for a bottle of beer ($20), but it's worth every penny. It even feels cheap for quality of this magnitude. In fact, it seems necessary to buy more just to keep and cellar.

The more I drink it in, the more ridiculously drinkable it is, despite the richness, despite the high ABV. It's just damned well-done is what it is.

Time to read the bottle: "2015 Expedition. Our Bigfoot Barley-wine-style ale is a craft beer legend. Each winter, this beast of a beer appears to ambush unsuspecting palates with it's intense bittersweet flavors. We matured this special barrel-aged version in oak Kentucky bourbon casks for nearly a year before unleashing it into the wild. The result is an incredibly complex version of the classic beer. Bigfoot's notorious assault of resinous hops has mellowed and the wood's influence shifts your focus toward the malt, rich burnt sugar flavors and notes of vanilla, toasted coconut, and raisins. Grab this elusive beast while you can, it won't be around for long."

You may notice that this time I did not refer to the copy on the back of the bottle as "gobbledygook." Because it isn't. (Also notice that they weren't so shy about using the word "assault.")

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Photo of sierratwohearted
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

sooo good...smooth, smell is of candied rum. noticeable alcohol, but content is high...however, not at all overwhelming. taste is sweet dark fruit and caramelized malt.

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Photo of CHickman
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2015 Expedition: Pours dark copper mahogany brown color with a thick creamy 2 finger tan head that was full of tiny bubbles and faded very, very slowly leaving excellent lacing coasting the sides and foamy rings as it went down. The lacing was outstanding.

Smells of whiskey up front mixed with piney hops and oak barrels where the wood notes give out vanilla, char and red wine and resemble bourbon as much as whiskey. The booze in the nose takes away from the base beer’s hoppy and caramel sweetness leaving more of the barrel and wood earthy notes, as well as bourbon, coconut, roasted nuts and some toffee. I like the standard Bigfoot nose better as the hops seem sweeter, more fresh hop oily and enjoyable to inhale.

Tastes of booze, oak, toasted coconut, roasted grains, whiskey, rye, pine needles, vanilla, dark fruit, tea leaf, charred wood, dry floral hops, cocoa powder and chalky yeast. There is some sweetness and a lot of syrup-like tones from the brown sugar, bourbon and oak character, but the liquor is so dominant that it almost erases the hops that normally control the standard Bigfoot profile. This is a completely different beer due to the barrel aging, but perhaps I popped the cork too soon since it’s still rough around the edges and too boozy at this point. Some age may mellow it and let more of the vanilla and sweetness to come through, but at this stage it’s a whiskey/bourbon centric brew that overpowers the hops. As it warms it seems that more booze and earthy barrel flavors come out.

Mouthfeel is slick and creamy even though the booze is hot and almost harsh, with a chewy, medium body, mild carbonation and a slightly bitter, boozy finish that trails off with roasted grains, toasted coconut, burnt toffee and charred and oaky barrel notes like the mash grains from a bourbon were added into the mix. You have to like hard alcohol if you’re going to take on this beer.

I cracked this open tonight to see if I’d want to get another bottle to age while they are still available in my area, but at the price point of $20-22 per bomber I’m not sure I will get another one. Overall it was a good beer, but I was hoping for a great beer. Worth a shot, especially if you like heavy booze in your barleywine.

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Photo of Nife
4.56/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

First time I have tried this. A 10oz glass at SN taproom. Bigfoot hops r still there but subdued. Whiskey barrel taste complements the Bigfoot flavor perfectly. Everything is in balance. Mod malty nose with whisky barrel aroma nicely in step. Mine is a bit cold now. Hides its alch very well. Very enjoyable. Went perfectly with dinner.

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Photo of Pencible
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: This poured a hazy mahogany with moderate light tan head.
S: It smelled like strong toasted coconut with some oak and vanilla and nutty toffee.
T: It tasted like copper hops and toasted coconut, with some oak and vanilla and earthy caramel. It had a bittersweet aftertaste with alcohol warming.
M: It was oily with a little fine carbonation. Great slick body.
D: This was a solid brew that smelled amazing, like coconut cream pie. The taste was more like standard Bigfoot with a bourbon barrel twist. The body was solid, but the finish was hot, so it must be sipped. I can only imagine this improving with age. A shame I only have this one. Still a very enjoyable drink fresh.

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Photo of Roguer
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Brew looks mostly like regular Bigfoot: dark, nutty, and very clear. Pours with a strong fluffy beige head, decent retention, and tons of lacing.

Strong, rich aroma: tons of earthy, piney hops; caramel and toffee; whiskey and oak taking a nice back seat.

Up front, flavor is regular Bigfoot, but smoother: brown sugar, caramel, and a healthy dose of bitter hops. Whiskey starts to kick in mid-palate, slowly bringing some alcohol heat along. Finish carries notes of coconut and vanilla from the barrels. Complex, smooth, rich, deep, and with a long finish.

Silky mouthfeel; not exactly thick, but definitely a sipper. A little hot, but represents 12.2% incredibly easily. Long finish.

This is an excellent brew, with the barrel incorporated carefully to add to, vice subtract from, Bigfoot's regular character.

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Photo of russpowell
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2015 bottle didn't have much carbonation when opened

Pours a slightly hazed orange/caramel with a pinky of tan head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Faint whisky smell, a little figgyness

T: Figgyness, leafy hops, a little bit of whiskey. Whisky, raisins & figs as this warms, a little bit of leafy hops as well, toffee and vanilla as well, plus dryness. Finishes dry, jammy with figs, raisins & cakeyness

MF: Medium bodied, damn near zero carbonation. Carbonation picks up as this warms, becomes very warming

Drinks alright, was expecting much more, perhaps tied to the carbonation? Got better as it warmed

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Photo of bgold86
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Was disappointed, 2015 bottle, bought 2 at WF, one to drink now one to cellar, first bottle really left something to be desired. For the price paid would have been better off with other options.

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Photo of fx20736
4.74/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Almost Garnet Port tinted amber with pecan cream head and a lace blanket.Rich Aroma of plums mixed with butterscotch, caramel, vanilla and booze.First taste is surprise grapefruit followed by rich toffee and finish with dark fruity wine. Mouthfeel is buoyant, silky smooth.This is one of the best beers I have ever tasted.

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Photo of InkedinRi
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Very smooth.. Awesome mouth feel on this beer! And it's fresh not aged, it's a 2015, it would like velvet in my mouth after a couple of years in the cellar!

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Photo of Apellonious
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1 pt 9.4 fl oz 2015 version poured into a tulip glass.

A - A Dark ruby/brown, dense, with a one finger tan head that dissapates within a few minutes to thin lace.

S - Bourbon, cherries, coconut, caramel, slight waft of booze.

T - Similar to the nose at first, with some back end grassy hops notes, mid swig wood and vanilla.

M - Full, carbonation is a touch below average. Becomes sticky as it warms.

O - Glad I had the patience to let it age a whole extra month after purchase. Ha! This must be similar to what an aged regular bigfoot is like, with some added bourbon /wood notes.

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Photo of beerfootfreak
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Delicious but still a little young. You can smell the bourbon along with notes of coconut and slight vanilla. The taste is smooth without much burn. Primary taste is coconut followed by vanilla and a little dark fruit. Great version of a great beer, can't wait till next year when I open my second.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2015 edition. Poured from a bottle into a Lost Abbey Teku. After the cork came free with an emphatic pop, the beer poured out fairly clear and reddish amber with a nice two fingers of wispy white head that clings to the sides of the glass as it slowly dissolves. The nose has some herbal, cedary hop notes, pine trees, grapefruit, and roses. I don't get any bourbon or vanilla or toasted oak at all. In fact, it smells like a bottle of regular Bigfoot that has sat around for a year.

Full body and a fat, chewy feel. Starts out with rich toasted malt, molasses, and a hint of vanilla. Then the proud remnants of a once-mighty hop bill rise up and add a bitter, herbal, earthy balance to the sweetness. Various flavors come and go, including black cherries, some bourbon, brown bread with honey, and coriander seed. Finishes very strong with dank hop resin and a sharp kick of alcohol warmth.

I passed on this one the first time I came across it, but didn't pass on it this time. Glad I didn't, as it's really good, but I think I prefer the standard Bigfoot Barleywine (fresh). I'm simply not a fan of bourbon-barrel-aged American Barleywines. Even if the hops don't completely overwhelm any barrel notes one might achieve, the flavors simply don't complement each other very well. I think English Barleywines, with their characteristic caramel sweetness, are much better candidates for bourbon-barrel-aging. This beer doesn't taste all that different than the two-year-old Bigfoot bottles I have in my cellar. Really good, but not quite as good as fresh and not nearly as good as I hope it will be in several more years. Still, there is obvious quality and complexity here and I can definitely taste it. I may buy another bottle of this in couple of years, just to see if I like it better after my palate has developed a bit more.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2015 Vintage

A: Pours a dark mahogany color with close to 2 fingers of head that fade down to a nice cap that leaves some decent lacing

S: Big maltiness and barrel character up front, including some notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Some of the hoppiness also comes through, providing some light pine and fruity notes. Definitely not nearly as hoppy as the regular

T: Starts off with the barrel character and slowly moves to the malty base. Vanilla initially, followed by bourbon and oak. Lightly sweet malts come through shorty after, followed by some light hop notes. Finishes with an increasing bitterness and more of the oak

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Definitely interesting given the barrel influence and abv

O: A nice treatment to the already amazing base beer. The barrel character definitely imparts itself to start things off, but as the taste flows, the base beer shows up more and more, with the signature bitterness finally showing up at the end. A great sipper by itself, as well as trying side by side with the regular. Definitely worth picking up for the right price

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Photo of hardy008
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful mahogany brown color with a one finger beige head. The aroma has dark fruit, wood, vanilla, coconut, toffee, and Bourbon.

Has a sweeter flavor than regular Bigfoot with dark fruit, wood, vanilla, coconut, toffee, Bourbon, burnt sugar, and citrus and pine. There is some hop bitterness to counter the sweetness.. I think this would age nicely, and I do have another bottle..

Full bodied and creamy, with low carbonation. More complex by far than the regular Bigfoot, which is also a great beer. I'm glad I was finally able to get a couple of bottles.

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Photo of ajm5108
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very smooth for the high abv, but it loses some of the malt kick from the normal variety. Definite bourbon aroma. Burnt vanilla and cream notes, with a kick of the bourbon at the end. Not too much "beer" flavor but that is fine, not every brew has to dial-up the hops & malts.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.31/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

look: Clear bronze. Foamy beige head.
smell: Bourbon up front wrapped in vanilla and dark fruit.
taste: Much like the nose. a bit of sweetness and spice. Finish is decidedly dry and bitter.
overall: damn good barley and barrel treatment.

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Photo of neurobot01
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml (2015 edition) into a snifter at cellar temp.

Look: bottle opened with no 'pop', but pours with some mild carbonation. Dark ruby brown, very minimal head.

Smell: whisky, barrel, mild hops, malt. Smells great—reminiscent of DDBA or the like.

Taste: whisky and bitterness. Reminds me of last year's Southern Charred in how raw it is. Very little sweetness—a bit of coconut and molasses up front, but the dominant flavor is bitter.

Feel: surprisingly thin. Just a bit unsubstantial, somehow. Pretty dry.

Overall: I really love a good, complex, challenging BA strong ale, including beers that started off extremely hoppy. This just doesn't quite come together somehow in the way I'd hoped (having recently had aged Bigfoot for the first time and seeing the potential). I may grab another bottle to see if another year or so helps this realize its potential.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 236 ratings.