Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Barleywine - American
Ranked #28
Ranked #2,252
4.17 | pDev: 11.27%
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Notes: Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle. Each new release or “expedition” is vintage dated. Collect your own and see the flavors develop and progress.
Reviews: 3,176 | Ratings: 7,829 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Limazulu
Limazulu from Idaho

4.22/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-beautiful dark caramel color with substantive head and lacing that lasted a long time
S-Moderate roast and hoppy notes
T-With the heavy hops, this almost seems like a boozy, not as roasty Black IPA. Which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Above average bitter for the style.
M-Medium(+) body, a little chewy, pretty dry finish. Moderate carbonation.
O-unexpected, different, really good.

Jun 22, 2021
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rudiecantfail from Pennsylvania

4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass. 2021 Vintage, so quite fresh, not aged.

L---Mostly clear, dark amber color. Frothy, off-white head with excellent retention. Beautiful lacing.

S---Sweet & malty. Caramel, dried fruits. Vague hoppiness.

T---Caramel, toffee, dried fruits.

F---Medium bodied, but I was expecting it to be fuller. Good carbonation, which I didn't expect.

O---I was super excited when I saw this one. I was not disappointed. It's freaking good. Wifey thinks it's freaking good, too.

May 31, 2021
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KingCalMan from California

3.87/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

L- Nice amber color
S- Bit of toffee, clear hop aroma
T- Has an initial sweetness and caramel taste that is quickly overtaken by the aggressive hop and malt flavors. Becomes very bitter at the finish.
F- Has a medium body, the effervescence really adds to the bitterness to ensure a dry tongue after drinking.
Big Grain, Big Hop, Big Malt. This is a Big Beer and it achieves the goal of having a lot of taste to it. Not the most enjoyable for me, but I really appreciate what it does.

Mar 26, 2021
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Sayb from Arizona

3.92/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

L : Slight hazy red , thin head that dissipates slowly .
S: Toasted grain with caramel , slight hops .
T: Slightly hoppy with caramel , molasses finish .
F: Not as heavy as anticipated . Sips well .
O: Quite enjoyable . Nice outdoor fireside brew for a chilly night .

Mar 23, 2021
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sulldaddy from Connecticut

4.52/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Im sampling a cellar temp 2017 bottle poured into a snifter. received in part of a trade, but I forgot from whom, sorry...and Thanks!
The beer pours a slightly cloudy amber color with some deep garnet highlights on the edges. A dense fluffy head of 2.5 cm foams up and slowly fades to a cotton candy like surface foam. Great dense lattice clinging to the glass as it slips down toward the surface.
Aroma is some chocolate and caramel mixing with a bit of toasted grain and brown sugar, but also still a good hop bite. The hops show up with some pine sap and and black tea scent, but the booze is pretty well hidden.

The first sip on this beer is amazing, very creamy and soft texture, which I didnt expect. Fine gentle carbonation that fizzes up in my mouth when swished. Medium body and this beer drinks pretty easy for the physical traits.
Flavor is what I expect after the aroma, but a little more hop focused than the nose which was more balanced.
I get some dark chocolate, bakers type here, a bit of caramel and some light brown sugar. This rolls to herbal hop notes and again some pine sap and a bit of general bitterness. Booze isnt present in warmth or bite or flavor. I do get a little coating on my palate but the beer dries out on the finish.
Quite a nice overall experience and glad to have finally checked this box officially! As you know, worth the purchase!

Mar 19, 2021
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Peach63 from New York

4.49/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours amber with a 1 1/2 inch cream-colored head, which lasts. Moderate lacing to the end.

Aroma is caramel, toffee, pine, fruity, floral.

Taste is toffee, grapefruit, raisin, caramel malt, pine, earthy, resinous.

Medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Dry, resinous finish.

Outstanding! One to try before you die.

Mar 18, 2021
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Mark-Leggett from Missouri

4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle. Dark caramel in color with a foamy tan head. Smells of dark fruit, malt and caramel. Taste of dark fruit, malt, hints of molasses with an earthy herb finish. Very good.

Mar 09, 2021
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RedBalloon from Washington

4.46/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz can dated 12/29/20 poured into a Teku on 3/6/21.

Pours 1" of creamy, light tan head. Dark amber, slightly transparent.

Aromas of molasses, dried fruit, pine, cola, and caramel.

Taste follows the nose with an emphasis on dried fruit, caramel, molasses, and pine. Sweet and bitter.

Medium-heavy bodied. Sticky and slightly astringent.

Bold aromas and flavors. A less sweet Scotch ale. Big on the pine and bitter characteristics of Sierra Nevada.

Mar 08, 2021
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Cashbail from New Hampshire

4.05/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2021 Vintage. Poured about 6 oz into a snifter. Same color as a flat Coke. Spicy alcohol on the nose. Hop burn first on the tongue and sweet aftertaste. A different experience than most barleywines I’ve had. Will be interesting to see how this ages.

Mar 04, 2021
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1BrewBacca from Georgia

3.73/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Look: Amber/Ruby, nice thick creamy head and good lacing on the glass.
Smell and Taste: Pretty high on the bitter end yet with a malty balance. Bitter sweet, I'd say. Flavor improves as it warms.
Feel: I'll call it a pleasant Carbonated Spike Rush while sipping.
Overall: 3.5 on the overall. I'm not to crazy about bitter beers or maybe Barleywine Style Ales aren't for me. I would drink it again if someone else is buying.

Feb 27, 2021
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Iamaskier from Idaho

4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Appears brownish amber, fairly opaque, has a nice even head. Smells of hops and malt, dark fruit, more hops. Taste is initially a soft sweetness, quickly becoming Hops! Heavy, bitter hops. But of course, there’s more— figs, carmal, spices, and a boozy malt background that holds hands with the hoppiness oh so nicely. The residual malt really reminds me of a nice barrel aged scotch ale. Feels quite nice, not over carbonated, not too smooth. Overall.... it’s a punch to the senses at first, but there’s a lot going on when you take a closer look. I would love to try one with a few years behind it.

Feb 24, 2021
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CBlack85 from South Carolina

4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a New Belgium globe glass.

2021 vintage

The beer pours a clear reddish amber (almost brown) color with with ruby highlights. A light tan frothy head lingers for a while leaving behind a small cap and quite a bit of lacing.

As soon as you remove the cap the aroma fills the room. Lots of citrusy (grapefruit) and piney hops dominate the aroma with impressive amounts of caramel, toffee, raisin, and to a lesser degree roasty and toasty malts . Small hints of brown sugar and molasses round out the nose.

The flavor is a very nice mix of piney hops and tons of grapefruit. This beer is all about the hops at first (one of the benefits of a fresh barleywine). Once you get past the hops you will find a big malty mix of caramel, toffee, roastiness, dark fruits, molasses, and a boozy undertone.

Overall, this is a quite a nice beer. I look forward to seeing how this vintage ages

Feb 05, 2021
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KRug from Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2021 bottle, very fresh on this one

Closing out the virtual Barleywine tasting event with this classic. I have been looking for this beer for quite some time, but I never see it in my area. Shoutout to Half Time in Mamaroneck NY for hooking me up with this one. Let's dive in

Pours a clear ruby tinged dark amber with a finger of tan head that fades to a thin cap and leaves minimal lacing

Good lord, the aroma definitely sells the freshness of this American barleywine, it's all about the hops! I'm picking up on aromas of oily dank hops, pithy grapefruit, pine, sweet caramel, dark bread, molasses, and a touch of black cherry

This is incredibly balanced in taste, constantly mingling the best expressions of hops and malt. On the front end of the sip, I'm tasting dark toffee, molasses, lightly piney hops, and toasty malt. The swallow is a different beast, at first bringing notes of dark fruits, thick molasses, orange zest, and brown sugar, before leaving lingering notes of spicy pine and alcohol

A medium full body pairs with soft carbonation resulting in an insanely smooth and easy drinking beer. Finishes almost entirely dry because of the hops, creating a rather refreshing barleywine, if there's such a thing

This is a classic for a reason. Highly drinkable and so delicious, I could have way more of this. I want to find more to cellar, but this is great fresh

Feb 01, 2021
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mikeinportc from New York

4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Let sit out until barely chilled. 55F?
Doing a side-by-side with a 2019 (bottled 12/05/18) & a 2021 (12/04/20)

L :
2019 : Lightly hazy medium amber, with a slight touch of reddishness. 3/4 finger of light tan head, that leaves a thin ring, a thin center sheet, and a few spots of lacing. (3.75)
2021 : Same as above, except for slightly darker, and longer lasting head. (4)

2019 : Toffee, dried figs ,prune, caramel, a little leather, and slight doughy malt. (4.25)
2021 : Resinous piney hops - smooth/rounded, not sharp - , light fruitiness somewhere between cherry pie filling (but less sweet) and brandy , & light fresh bread aroma. Definite difference , that I could smell as I was pouring. (4)
2019: An initial kiss of sweetish toffee, followed by dried figs, though less sweet and with a woody tang - similar to when getting a bit of stem within the bite of fig , finishing with light, dryiing bitterness . (4.25)
2021: Brown bread (think ginger bread , minus the ginger/spices), but lighter , slight caramel, a light, vague fruity/floral flavor (hops, I assume) finishing with light bitterness, and a bit of very light lingering pine. Given the greater hop presence in the aroma, this fresh one comes across as less hoppy/bitter, and not as dry of a finish. (4)
2019 : Medium , moderately oily/slick, with light-medium , soft carbonation tingle. Lingering drying finish that leaves the tongue with a scrubbed-clean feeling. (4)
2021: Similar to the older version, but a bit more oily/slick feeling, and less of a dry/stripped feel on the tongue.(4.25)

Overall, a pleasure , at either age. If I could choose only one, it would be the older version. The fresh one feels better, but the aged one has more complexity. Guessing that the flavors need time to develop, and the hop presence in the fresh version masks some of what is there. My conclusion : get multiples, have one(at least) now, and set some aside for later.

Jan 31, 2021
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Reef from South Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle dated 12/3/20

Clear ruby hue, a finger's beige head, styling to a full cap and lacing.
Strong hop pine and toasty malt aromas.
Pine, light citrus, brown sugar, ginger flavors.
Bracing bitterness make this more of an imperial IPA than barleywine when fresh. As such, very good.

Jan 30, 2021
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.54/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Muddy, dark ruby-tinted brown with a half finger of tan foam with remarkably good retention, slowly giving way to thick lacing.

Fig, orange marmalade and stale earthy hops show in the nose, with flashes of vanilla and leather behind.

Way drier tasting than expected; nothing at all like the aroma. It has thin mushroomy taste, with extremely strong piney bitterness in the finish.

On the thin side of medium bodied with fairly strong carbonation.

It’s amazing how little malt plays into the the taste of this beverage. Not really to my preference. 2017 bottle.

Jan 29, 2021
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TheBricenator from Oregon

4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Dark reddish amber with a huge, billowing light tan head that refuses to settle past a one-finger pillow and leaves sticky lacing coating the glass
Aroma: Grapefruit-led citrus fruit, pine sap, resinous and earthy hops, raw bread dough, floral notes, and bready malt
Taste: Starts off with freshly baked bread, dough, and flowers before an onslaught of sticky pine sap, earthiness, and grapefruit rind land an uppercut to the palate. Chewy hop flowers and earthiness linger as light ethanol wafts into the picture and closes with a huge hop bite, booze, and chewy malt
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, big and chewy, medium-high carbonation, bold, hoppy, and very dry on the finish along with more alcohol heat
Overall: This is freaking incredible and not at all surprising that it is. What can I say, I love this huge, beastly, bold, and boozy American Barleywine. One of my favorite beers to kick off any/all new calendar years and probably my personal gold standard for the style. Raw citrus fruit and bitter peel, floral and resinous components, a huge, bready malt bill, earthy, dry, and noticeable alcohol heat sum this up quite well in my opinion. Not for the faint of heart or palate - especially when it’s young/fresh. Outstanding and highly recommended

Jan 23, 2021
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blazerkor from Nevada

4.19/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

t smells sweet like extremely fermenting bread.  It may be the beeriest smelling beer I've smelled. I do also get a little hit of peppery hops when I smell it long enough.
The bitterness comes in first. It's closely followed by the sweet malts I smelled but the bitter hops come back.
It's not too thin, maybe a medium mouthfeel. Smooth with a lot of little bubbles. It finishes both sweet and bitter. It lasts for a long time, I can still taste it.
It's a different kind of beer. I've had barleywine before but this one is unique. Usually they are this sweet but that sweetness has more complexities of sugars and grains whereas this one has just the bitter hoppiness of an IPA competing with the barleywine. I give it a 4.9 out of 6.

Jan 16, 2021
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beergoot from Colorado

4.39/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2020 release (PKGD 12/12/19 19:56)

Clear, dark amber body; incredibly fine and slow rising carbonation; dense, creamy and sticky light tan head. Heavy malt nose; excellent blend of caramel and roasted grains with a touch of nuts in the smell. The taste amplifies the smell qualities; richer, boozier flavors; low-key suggestion of brown sugar; fantastic dull bitterness to counterpoint the sweetness. Heavy body; thick and oily; buttery smooth; some alcohol bite and heat (very muted).

This beer definitely exudes decadent, boozy sweetness. And it all works. One is pressed to find any issues (definitely no significant) issues. It is awesome in its magnificence!

Jan 15, 2021
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o29 from Texas

4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2021 (fresh)
Look: Pours a deep mahogany with good head and lacing. More red, less brown and slightly better head retention than the 10 year aged variant.
Smell: Smell is still malty and hoppy, but much, much hoppier. Much of the dark fruit and fig found in the 10 year bottle are subdued by the hops here.
Taste: Similar to the nose, very very hoppy, and many of the complexities are hidden by the intense hopping. I can see the criticisms of this as a barleywine, though to my palate I still find this very enjoyable fresh. Dark fruit is still found somewhere buried beneath the hops.
Feel: Well carbonated and full.
Overall: This is a much hoppier beer than the aged bottle, which I still thought was hoppy compared to an English Barleywine. Still a fantastic beer, and amazing how different its qualities change as it ages. Truly one of the best beers for aging, and still just as impressive (though different and perhaps less true to style) fresh.
2011 (10 year vintage)
Look: Pours a dark copper with decent head and lacing.
Smell: Smell is dominated by heaps of malts and hops. Caramel, fig, dark fruits.
Taste: Similar to the nose, big on hops and caramel malts. Quite sweet with a big hop presence to "balance" the heavy malt bill as you'd expect from a Sierra Nevada barleywine, though it's understandable that this is not everyone's preference.
Feel: This 2011 bottle is still a thick beer, though I think a fresher bottle would score better here.
Overall: For a 10-year-old beer it's still delicious all things considered, but I do think it would have been better if enjoyed a few years sooner. In terms of the beer itself, it's a big beer that can certainly be polarizing particularly to those who prefer milder versions of the American barleywine style, but it's one that I personally find quite enjoyable from time to time.

Jan 09, 2021
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RobertB412 from Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bigfoot 2021

Poured the 12 oz. bottle (packaged 11/25/20) into a chalice with a deep amber (dark red in sunlight) color with very little head and minimal lacing. Smells of piney hops, dark fruit and sweet malt. Flavor follows the aroma with bitter hops, raisins, earthy bread and strong malts. Full bodied with good carbonation. Pleasantly warming with a balance toward the hops, similar to a strong IPA. Very good hoppy BW.

Jan 08, 2021
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BubbleBobble from New York

4/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle a rich, clear mahogany, 1" creamy head that slowly recedes leaves some moderate lacing. Nose off the bat is strong resinous hops, pine, grapefruit, citrus peel, rounder sweeter malts, fresh baked brown bread, baking spice, a hint of green bell pepper. Taste is very hop forward, with rich, resinous, hop oils drowning out nearly all other flavors. There's a strong tannic, bitter aftertaste that lingers as well, blocking any sweeter, maltier flavors out. In many ways, this is plays like a TIPA with its hoppy intensity. As it warms, the bitterness remains dominant, but the sugars play up a bit more. Mouthfeel is full and unctuous, but the lively carbonation prevents it from becoming a slog to drink. Not much balance to this, but as a hop-dominant sipper it does the trick.

Dec 20, 2020
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hoptheology from South Dakota

1.53/5  rDev -63.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Re-review 2020. This is a 2017 vintage I'm having tonight, and I figured 3 years would have tapered off the harshness of the hops, and helped this beer mellow out a bit, even as a very hoppy American Barleywine.

Pours a dark oxidized caramel color with an egg foam yellow head of 1/2 finger.

Aroma of hop oils, perfume, alcohol, golden raisin, dark raisin, and caramel.

Flavor is candy vitamins, oxidized hops, raisin, resin, hop oils, and yellowed hop leaves.

Feel is hot and scathing, medium bodied and thinning out on the palate. Heat remains.

Overall, I have never liked this beer, got it as an "extra" in a trade, and figured I'd give it one more shot. It turns out this is still an awful hoppy mess - and I'm a huge hop head now. It's not balanced in any regard, and is on the lowest of the low for barleywine beers. So gross. I can drink the heaviest triple IPAs, but this thing is just a fucking gross mess. It is a total drain pour. Zero balance to this beer whatsoever. Like drinking straight hop oils. It's the biggest head shaker for me on highly regarded commercial craft beer.


Year : 2016.

It starts off great with a pour of mahogany and burnt caramel. The head is egg foam yellow and towering above the woody body.

On the label it talks about a lot of cone hops, but that's about all I smell when nosing this particular BW. This comes off more as a quadruple iPA in the aroma. Onion, grapefruit, garlic. Hits of caramel.

SN's Barleywine drinks like a hoppy, oily mess. I realize the American Barleywine style is hoppier than the English counterpart, but this is just a cop out. Dump a bunch of hops into the boil and use a touch of caramel malts along with the huge pale malt bill and there you have it. It's total vidalia onion, awful grapefruit, and a garbage-caramel gross sweetness. Awful.

I just can't quit disliking this beer. Feel is slick and oily, all the way down. Not boozy, not alcoholic, just a resiny mess.

Overall a very disconnected, one trick hop-blasted beer that drinks more like a super hop infused malt liquor. It's disgusting. I'll probably never return to this beer since it's turned me off so badly! To style? This beer is a fat ass F. It's an IPA if anything, and barleywine-ignorant-hopheads with scrubbed palates are the only reason this beer gets any credit.

1.69 / 5

Aug 10, 2020
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gatornation from Minnesota

4.1/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a mahogany color with some black cherry highlights. Smell is malts dark fruits ,citrus and caramel. Taste is hoppy with grapefruit and pine finishes with malt and caramel. Mouth feel is hoppy and malty,its boozy and has some sweetness.

Jul 21, 2020
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CraigDeMoss from Kansas

4.04/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glowing amber with little buff whit head.

Hoppy and malty, caramel and cascade hops, warming and boozy. Good bitterness.

Creamy and bitter With a medium full body. Good carbonation.

Not my thing really but still a good brew. West Coast IPA on steroids.

Jun 12, 2020
Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 7829 ratings