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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
92
outstanding
3,018 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
BEER INFO

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 02-06-1998

BEER STATS
Reviews:
3,018
Ratings:
7,373
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
17.63%
 
 
Wants:
395
Gots:
1,777
For Trade:
78
User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,018 | Ratings: 7,373
Reviews by IBUnit63:
Photo of IBUnit63
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of MunsonRoyE
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

We did a 2009-2015 vertical. Each vintage was delicious, yet slightly different.

The 2009-2012 had quite a biscuity flavor that the 2013-2015 didn't have.

The 2009-2011 had a hint of caramel along with the biscuity flavor.

Each year got a little hazier the older it was.

Each year still had plenty of carbonation.

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Photo of CandleGoat
1/5  rDev -75.8%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Tempestuous of late has been the climate, as has been my mood and palette. Subsequently, I approached this brew with a great deal of trepidation. Indeed, my caution was warranted. Removing the cap, I was met wish a noisome aroma of an intoxicating and noxious potion that would be best served to sate the throat of the damned. The putrid, caustic color belies a serum of the most unholy and wicked disposition. I cannot fathom for the life of me why anyone would want to consume something which so closely resembles the embodiment of pure, black evil. Waxing philosophical, one can only think of the bleakest nihilism while attempting to toss back a bottle of this repugnant liquid. For it is when we are out our lowest that we can shine our brightest, so to does a beer like this remind us of why we are alive, and that we should avoid this type of masochistic debauchery.

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Photo of elNopalero
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I find it hard to believe that I’ve yet to review Bigfoot. So for my 1450th beer I am finally entering it into my ratings.

This is THE barleywine. It’s a classic, and a standard of the style. Pours a wonderful warm malty-amber with a boquet that changes over time… from a orange/citrusy hop kick to a light toffee/toasted coconut. Big malt backing that develops toffee and chocolate notes over time as well, complementing the citrusy piney hop profile.

I’ve had this fresh and I’ve had this aged and I love it either way. Just don’t drink it out of the bottle, ok?

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Photo of nbbyrd
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

For my first official Beer Advocate beer review, I’ve pulled out a special beer for a special occasion. This is the last 2013 Bigfoot Barleywine that I have been holding on to as my first attempt at cellaring/aging a beer. Thinking back to 2013 when I first bad this beer, I remember the strong and biting bitterness of the hops and warmth from the alcohol that overwhelmed my palate at the time. As time and experience with other beers have developed my palate, I am really looking forward to what time has done to this cornerstone of a beer for me. So here we go!
Look: 12 oz bottle poured semi-aggressively into a tulip glass, a beautiful rich mahogany red with two fingers of a light tan head, a few floaties that have settled from aging. Tight and pillowy at first, the head dissipates to a half inch of larger soapy bubbles in the center and creamy froth around the rim after about five minutes, leaving wonderful lacing.
Smell: Immediately caramel hits the nose, with very ripe dark fruits following. Hints of sweet raisins and port wine. Hardly any traces of citrus or piney hops. A completely different creature after 3 years.
Taste: Caramel, cream, vanilla, leather, dark candied fruits. Maybe a nice mild aromatic pipe tobacco? The booze is nowhere to be found in such a big beer compared to its younger self. Only slightly resinous with a hint of mature pine. Really a lovely sweetness like a fresh warm fruitcake. The perfect amount of sweetness and balanced bitterness.
Feel: So very smooth and creamy. Perfectly balanced and still a great medium carbonation. Such a soft and subtle bitterness that lingers on the middle and back of my tongue before disappearing like a dream. It coats the mouth and leaves a delicate bitterness aftertaste reminiscent of citrus, like subtle grapefruit pith.
Overall: One of the most lovely beers I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. The harsh bitterness and sharp edges from 2013 have smoothed and mellowed over time, making this a treat to enjoy on a stormy February evening. It is amazing what time can do to a beer. Being my first (and only at the moment) beer to have aged, I can’t wait to grab a few more bottles of various others to store away for another few years. While I would rate the young and raw version of this beer a 3.43, the 3 year aged version has blown me away beyond my expectations 5/5.

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Photo of Todd
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001: Hell yeah! A bit raw, but expected for such a young big beer. Lay this baby down for some years and you'll have a totally different beer ... but back to this one.

Dark copper, with a nice patchy foam head. Killer aroma of aggressive hops with a citric sting. A very creamy and smooth beer. Flavour is initially overrun by hops (grapefruity, piney, salty, leafy and raw as all hell), then the big malt sweetness (a tad treacle-like) and alcohol flavours kick in to smooth things out. Fruity? yes. Oh, and by the way, the alcohol is very present, warming and dangerous.

Treat this beer with the utmost respect ... sip and savour.

Anyone look at the inside of the cap? Gotta love that image of 2 campers sitting down with BigFoot and having some brews over a campfire. Hell yeah!

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Photo of cauchonpa
4.84/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I purchased a six pack of the 2012 Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Once Upon a Vine in Richmond, Virginia, on April 6, 2012. What followed was a worthwhile test of patience. After three and a half years later, this ale is absolutely superb.

A (4.75): Poured into a tulip glass. Cloudy red amber color with a creamy white head tinged with the slightest bit of honey gold at its edges. The head dissipates quickly, leaving almost no lacing. When held to a light, the ale glows a rusty orange.

S (5.00): Incredibly complex. While pouring, the ale surprises you with a strong malty sweetness with a good bit of cherry and spice. Upon further nosing, the hops that have been subdued over the past few years become evident; mostly piney but with the ever slightest hint of citrus. Alcohol hides behind candied fruit and honey, which certainly take center stage, starting (again) with cherry and working through raspberry and raisin to a sweet almost chocolaty allspice aroma. Everything is subtle and balanced.

T (4.75): Fruit tartness is offset by a molasses sweetness. The taste is flat compared to the smell, but isn't disappointing. More candied fruit that turns into malty sweetness after warming. Molasses lingers on the tongue.

M (5): Take the first sip quickly before the head dissipates for an incredibly smooth and creamy feel that dissolves into a slight dryness. The ever slightest bit of carbonation appear on the roof the mouth but not on the tongue. After the ale settles, there's a viscosity to it that doesn't offend, like very thin syrup.

O (4.875): I wholeheartedly suggest cellaring this ale for at least 18 months. I haven't done a vertical, and I'm not sure how much longer it would have held on after 3.5 years, but it's definitely fantastic after some time to balance and mellow out.

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Photo of dd43
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have not had many barleywine style beers so I was eager to give this category classic a whirl. The beer had a pretty substantial amount of nice looking yellowed white head on top of the rich, well filtered auburn liquid below. Big boozy aromas of caramel and toffee commingled with a pronounced spruce note. The flavor was quite a bit more bitter than I was expecting. This was a fairly fresh 2016 bottle so the hop punch was definitely all up in my grill piece. I would love to get a few more bottles of this to let them age for a while. I want those hops to recede and let the malts shine a lot more. I'm also curious to know where Sierra nevada's rendition of the American barleywine fits in the style bucket. Are they typically quite bitter and hoppy or is Bigfoot an outlier? More delicious research must be done and I'm just the guy to do it.

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Photo of ezra_shroomer
4.84/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Delicious. My first barleywine brew to experience. Taste is perfect. From a bottled dated 12/11/15. Poured into a pilsner glass from bottle. Aroma, sweet floral notes, heavy malt. While my nose and palate are young and i have much to learn, this is a complex flavor and scent. I enjoyed this very much. Will probably by my local pub out and try to cellar a few. (If i can abstain from indulging in this powerful and delicious beer.) I havent had a beer from Sierra Nevada that has dissapointed and this is the cream of the crop. Beer Noob opinion, will buy again (: love it!

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Photo of Smelly
2.23/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

It's a waste to be a hater, but I gotta be honest. It's like they took a regular off the shelf mass produced Sierra Nevada Ale and threw "something" in the mix to try and make it a "Barleywine". I tried this twice to be sure my palate wasn't off....so many good reviews here. However.....it's just plain terrible. Maybe I got a bad 4-pack:(

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Photo of DaverCS
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage.

Beautiful mahogany color with 1/2 inch off-colored head.

Aroma boasts sweet malt, huge citrus, and pine.

Taste is big, strong, and forward. Big malty-sweetness up front, then a huge hit of citrusy-hop bitterness. I get a real strong bitter grapefruit taste near the middle of the palate. Carbonation carries these flavors into the finish that consists of mouth-coating sweetness and hoppiness. Finishes with a present alcohol heat and bite.

The beer is good don't get me wrong, but this isn't something one person should drink. This would ideally be split between two people, not because of the ABV, but because of thickness. It has TONS of flavor, but drinking an entire bottle can be a bit tiring on the palate. I would pair this with a spicy beef chili. It gets a 87/100

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Photo of do_ob
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 12/18/2014. Sampled and reviewed on March 2, 2015.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Pours a dark amber/hazy ruby color with lots of bubbles. 2 finger off-white head of sticky foam. Smells of malt, raisins, grapefruit, honey, with a slight hoppiness. Mouthfeel is quite dense, almost like a stout. Taste is bitter hops, caramel, bready malt, and grapes/raisins. I should add that as this beer warmed up, it became much more malt-forward when it hit my tongue. Very interesting evolution in a short amount of time. I get citrus and malt on the back end with a doughy aftertaste.

This is probably once of the most balanced barleywines I've had so far. It's incredibly smooth and easy to drink for 9.6%. Hell, I'm on my second one and I just finished my dinner. I've always been a fan of Sierra Nevada, but this is my first go at their seasonal releases. I bought 1 four-pack. Now the only choice is to finish this glass and cellar the other two, or finish it off and cellar another 4 pack. Very good beer.

Revisited in depth on 1/22/2016. Same batch (12/18/2014). Numbers adjusted.

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Photo of ch196h
4.71/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

In my opinion this is the beer that should serve as part of the new standard for an American Barleywine style ale. The hop profile on this is simply divine whether you are drinking a fresh batch beer or one that has aged in the cellar for 2-3 years. If does have minor variation for each vintage year, my favorite so far being circa 2012, but it is consistently excellent. While these are no longer sold in 6-packs and they are a bit pricey, it is certainly worth the cost to buy a couple of 4-packs. Drink 2-3 now and cellar the rest to see how they develop with age.

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Photo of VDubDJ
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Just happened to have my computer while I was drinking a glass of this, so call it fate. Here goes my first official BeerAdvocate review.

Look: Gorgeous just barely off-white and silky head sits atop. About an inch of head and isn't going anywhere soon. The liquid a deep ruby with brown tones. This is a beautiful beer!

Smell: Some alcohol phenols and hops on the first sniff. Delve a little deeper and some dark fruits and maltiness pop up. Sweet and enticing aroma.

Taste: A complex one on the tastebuds. First hit is that fresh-hop bite. As it moves over the palate the sweetness opens up and dark fruits (raisins, plums, figs) come to mind. After-taste has it giving way to how big this beer is, although well-hidden, as it warms your body.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, just right for this beer. The mouthfeel is silky and smooth and dangerously drinkable for almost being 10%

Overall: Couldn't be happier having this beer as my first official BA-review. Just a lovely offering on the style, and you can't ask for much more with how available it is. Sierra Nevada after all these years is still making some excellent stuff. Happy to store a few bottles each year to see how they age and develop.

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Photo of JackRWatkins
2.27/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

A: clear dark ruby, persistent, creamy 1 finger head
S: weak, subtle sweetness as well as a touch of salt and caramel
T: hop bitterness up front, heavy malt presence, some caramel malts, has the toasty character of a red ale, has a filling and juicy body but not a fruity character, detected a very (incredibly so, could've imagined it) subtle touch of lychee
M: subtle dryness lent by hop character
O: would likely be enjoyable with some age on it but to me there is no real pay off here, its hop character is assertive but everything else is either pushing the hop bitterness or disappointingly subdued, would not drink it fresh again

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Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, 2014 expedition bottled on 1/09/2014 and poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a ruby-amber with a slight haze and 1 finger of head

Smell: Toffee, raison, and dark fruit with with baked bread

Taste: Malt flavors of the nose combined with an earthy hop flavor that crescendos into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and slightly sticky in the finish

Overall: Such a easily attainable world class Barleywine. I really appreciate how hop-forward it is and leads to great changes with age.

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Photo of neurobot01
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 12oz into an IPA glass.

Look: beautiful amber caramel with a decent head.

Smell: pine, caramel, something almost lime-like.

Taste: wowza. Big, sweet malts reminiscent of an amped up marzen or something, but with a huge splash of juicy piney hops. Alcohol is present, but I think it adds rather than detracts.

Feel: fluffy, medium-thick, and dry. Quite good.

Overall: had this for the first time last year and didn't know quite what to make of it. Suffice to say, my palate has developed, and I think this is a damn fine brew. I'd put it alongside Lukcy Basartd in sheer kickassery, though this is a bit tamer.

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Photo of oberon
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Expedition,pours a deep rich amber with a slightly off white one finger head that leaves a light amount of laces behind as it settled,aromas of brown sugar and pine and I mean big on the pine like whole hop cones just beautiful.Very nice medium to full mouthfeel wich is still slick and easy sliding down,this is one of the defining American barley wines at least this years full and sweet up front with brown sugar and dark fruit but a big resiny/piney hop note takes over midway and in to the finish.This is comparable to my personal favorite Old Ruffian in its big hop character,it dont get much better than a big American barley wine in my opinion.

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Photo of don1481
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage poured into Mr. Pint.

Appearance: Beautiful, beautiful dark orangish color. Head is slow to dissipate. Leaves a little lacing on the glass as it dies down.

Smell: I could smell this bad boy the moment I poured it from the bottle. WOW. That is a stong, sweet nose. Raisins, for sure. Not really any hops to be detected. Complex.

Taste: That's... interesting. It's softer than last year, but definitely with a hop-forward taste that quickly goes bitter. Weird. It's not as sweet as I was hoping.

Mouthfeel: That bitterness sits around here for a bit.

Overall: I think it needs a little more aging - it's like it's in transition to something spectacular.

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Photo of Popsinc
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very nice looking dark amber pour with a small, off-white head. Semi-cloudy appearance.

The nose is sweet and malty. Hints of honey and raw sugars as well as caramel and a touch of dark, over-ripened fruit.

The taste is big and very upfront with dense caramel-fudge sweetness. Hints of maple are very prominent beneath all the over-the-top malts. Towards the finish there is a small trace of orange & lemon peel which adds a kick of bitterness and dryness on the tongue. Big hoppiness beneath all the clutter. The sweetness and itterness maintain throughout the experience and linger nice and long with a numbing effect on the tongue and a warming effect on the mind. Huge alcohol kick to this one.

The mouthfeel is both very rich and full. A drying out taste towards the finish. Sugary bitterness stays at the back of my mouth the giving this beer great staying power.

Quite an overwhelming beer. Not big on drinkability but great for the right occassion...winter warmer, apertif, dessert beer.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of aszatk01
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Simultaneous tasting of 2000, 2003, and 2006 vintages in midwinter of 2006.

Appearance: The 06 and 03 are fairly equal in terms of carbonation and head. 00 is lacking. All three are semi-cloudy, light orange/ruby brown. 00 lacks some life in color and body.

Aroma: The 06 reminds me more of an IPA than a Barley Wine. I’m still getting used to American Barley Wines so this is a learning experience as much as anything. Pine sap is oozing out of the 06. I think I could smell it clear across the room…just checked…I could. Strong alcoholic caramel notes are also present but really covered by the hops. Citrus and floral spice are strong as well. Everything hops are supposed to be and more can be found within these confines. As expected, the 03 is less blistering but still heavily hopped – actually to a degree considerably greater than I would have expected. One can tell that SN really loads the hops into this one. After three years, a lot of hop oils must have broken down yet the 03 barley wine still ranks with the hoppier of American Barley Wines that I’ve tasted. It’s pretty cool. Also as expected, the 00 has really lost most of its hops. This isn’t exactly a bad thing. I prefer English Barley Wine and I find the 00 to be just delicious. The caramel is a alive as ever. It’s deeply earthy and subtle dark fruit flavors that go entirely missed in the younger vintages are present here. I think I pick up cherries and plums.

Taste: Following aroma, the 06 is largely hops with some minimal caramel content. Hop lingering in the finish is up there with perhaps the 5 hoppiest beers I’ve had. One sip leaves a hop oil residue for a good two minutes. Intensity is exceptional. The 03 is a step down but once again surprises with some pretty discombobulating hops. Caramel flavors are more pronounced but only slightly. Some wood and sweet grains are present. The 00 vintage on the other hand is loaded with sweet caramel, earth, dates, and Japanese plum wine.

Mouthfeel: Obviously, the 06 is dry as Antarctica and blisteringly bitter. Beyond that the sweet alcohol plays a large roll as does lively biting carbonation. 03 compares as in the aroma and flavor – same as the 06 but smaller, although bitterness in the finish is considerably lessened here. The 00, despite its many fine qualities, has lost a lot of its zing here. Carbonation levels are below where they should be. A lot of the bite is gone. All that remains is a burn from the alcohol but even that seems mellow in comparison to the ass kicking tongue attack of the 06 and 03. Body is too flat and lifeless compared to following years.

Drinkability: The combination of high ABV and crazy hops in the younger vintages is a problem for me when it comes to drinkability. My taste buds simply aren’t that mature (read old and dead) yet, maybe if I started smoking… At any rate, it’s not a knock on the beer, just personal preferences coming into play. The 00 would be more drinkable for me because of the hop mellowing but the lack of vitality in the body becomes a problem.

Overall: Impressive beer that ages well and changes drastically, although not necessarily for the worse, over time. I am pleased by all three vintages and curious to try others. Peak seems to be sometime before the beer hits three years.

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Photo of DanGeo
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of tectactoe
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, copper-amber color with a light tan head; recedes pretty quickly and leaves very small amount of lacing here and there along the glass. Aroma is full of deep, sweet fruits; dates, figs, and plums, some light boozy notes on the nose, maybe some woodiness in the background.

Taste is full of what you'd expect in an American barleywine, and it follows the nose quite nicely; booze-soaked, dark fruits, dates, figs, plums, raisins. Ripe, juicy, and sweet; brown sugar, burnt caramel, light toffee. Some fairly heavy, floral hop notes travel up and down the palate to bring a fighting edge to the sweetness. The brew gets slightly bitter for a second, but remains a primarily sweet beer from the heaviness of the malt. Definitely hopped up quite a bit, though.

The booze is heavy, not quite hot, but slightly more than just "warming" - almost bourbon-like in character with a slight vanilla and butterscotch undertone. Thick, mildly syrupy, and just a little sticky on the palate, a bit on the lower side of the carbonation scale.

This is a nice take on the American barleywine style, and it's relatively cheap for a six pack. I plan on aging some of these to see how they pan out. My guess it that the hops will fade a bit and the brew will get a little sweeter, and hopefully a touch more mellow.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,018 ratings.
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