Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,048 Reviews
Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale

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

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

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Reviews: 3,048 | Ratings: 7,475
Photo of pmcadamis
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - A very solid looking finger and a half of orangish-tan cream rises above a deep crimson blood-red amber brew that lets only a little light through. An enormous amount of gorgeous dry lace sticks to the glass, and the lace shows some flecks of orange too. Ok, it came to me...the head and lace are the color of the inside of the orange rind! Swirling deposits a huge amount of perfectly arced lace around the glass, and builds the head up to a full finger and a half again. The head shows outstanding retention for such a high ABV beer.

S - I could smell the mandarin orange hops before I put my nose in the glass, and that aroma only intensifies with my schnoz fully inserted cheek-deep into the glass. Has a lot of DIPA aromas, but with a dirtier malt aspect. Big sweet juicy mandarin oranges....real, not canned. Some piny aspects show the SN DNA, but this is all about hoppy sweet-citrus fruit aromas. I also smell some round sour cream notes that remind me of Orval. The malts are all fresh sweet bread with peanut butter and light caramel notes too. As it warms I get some dark fruits too, and it also becomes much more complex and boozy with warmth. I could sniff this all day. This has single malt quality aromatics.

T - Oh! There's the complexity I was looking for! Dirty, earthy, gritty, tobacco, and scotch malt grabs my attention straight away, then dark fruit and caramel in the mid-palate. Lots of hoppy citrus overlays the darker fruits, but doesn't distract from them. It's almost like singing row-row-row-your-boat and then somebody else starts singing brother-john-brother-john before you've's that complex! I also taste hints of sourdough bread, pumpernickel, sunflower seeds, pine sap, junipery gin and tonic quinine notes, and loads and loads of sweet and bitter citrus and pine (leaning towards the citrus in the beginning and leaning toward pine in the finish). There is a distinct black licorice anise twinge right before the swallow that I didn't notice at first. This is one of the most well put together beers I've ever tasted. Outstanding!

M - Big, fat, plump, full, rich, silky, and boozy. This is one of the fullest mouthfeels I've ever experienced! I can feel sugar, alcohol, and hop oils covering my mouth. The dry bitter and acrid finish reminds me of one of my favorite non-beer drinks....the dry gin martini, but it also has a lot of scotch-like qualities (scotch is another passion of mine...but I really can't afford to drink it with any regularity). This is really, really pleasant, and is pretty much the definition of full-bodied.

D - Screw the 9.6% ABV! I could drink this all day (slowly, and with plenty of water). Outstandingly complex flavors shine like a star, but the nose doesn't really advertise the greatness. A bit more pungency in the nostrils would garner this a perfect 5.0 from this fella.

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Photo of lungboy
5/5  rDev +20.8%

Just opened a 2006 bottle (this being 2014, that makes it a little more than 8 years old.) I took notes on the first bottle of this I opened in 2006, and thought it was a lesser year; it was very astringent and overly dry. Those 8 years really added some character. Dang, the caramel flavors are much more pronounced, and the astringent flavors are all completely gone. I am so glad I didn't plow through this case and have about 9 left. I have a 2004 that was still good, but probably not as good as the previous year's tasting, so I am guessing around 8 years in the cellar is the optimal aging time for this barleywine. Your mileage may vary.

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

2004 vintage. A perfect beer.

Deep amber-copper hued beer, with a nice, sustaining off-white head.

Raisins, sea air and soy in the smell. Sweet, yet not cloying. Very clean.

Slightly sweet rock candy up front. By mid-tongue the hops catch up. Raspy bitterness lingers on the back of the tongue. Much less green than the last time I had it. Light roast lingers with hops and shoots out the nose.

Rounded, almost creamy mouthfeel with ample bitterness, this is a very quaffable brew.

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

I first had this brew 3 years ago before legal in AL. Drove to Ga @ bought a six. Kept the last bottle around 6 months or longer just because. Found it today in AL & bought all they had - 2 cases. This defines beer. I am an IPA guy & a hophead but like this even more. It defines what is good about beer. My favorite beer in the worl is Sweetwater IPA but I hve been flirting. This brew can make me unfaithful - to IPA!!!

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Photo of Mises85
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Prior to drinking, I aged this beauty for 4 months in my pantry. Served in a brandy snifter at about 50-55 degrees.

Appearance: Absolute gorgeous amber cognac like color. Two fingers of head that dissipates into some thin lacing.

Smell: Very spicy, jalapeno pepper like, Plums, English toffee, western hops, touch of vanilla, cognac, Scotch like alcohol.

Taste: Big hops, plums/apricots, more milky toffee, touch of pepper, touch of cream. I even get a cognac like note. While it smelled like an imperial IPA, I felt that the hops and alcohol were well hidden and it was extremely drinkable. Maybe it was because of the aging. Medium-full bodied and creamy mouth feel

Honestly, this is the BEST beer that I have ever tasted! It has all the characteristics that I could ever want in a beer. High hop, high alcohol, big fruit flavor and smooth creamy mouth feel. This is definitely not the last barley wine I will drink. I will buy 5 bottles and age them. Too bad this beer is hard to find.

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

2004 vintage 12oz bottle served in a 16 ounce shaker style glass.

Ths beer poured a deep dark amber color with 1.5 inches of thick tan head which gradually reduced to about a quarter inch which left lacing for the entire depth of the glass.

There is not much that is mild about this beer. It announces its presence strongly, right from the get-go with a smell that exudes hops with small malty undertone. The higher alcohol content is also evident right from the beginning as well.

The first few sips let you know right away that this is a beer to sipped, not gulped. The hops come through very strongly, as does a complex blend of citrus and carmelized malts

The mouthfeel is heavy without being too over powering. While the finish is strongly hoppy, it doesn't stick around too long afterwards.

For such a strongly flavored beer with this much alcohol, it is suprisingly easy to drink and can easily catch up with those who do not treat it with respect. Drinking an entire growler at one sitting is a mistake.

At $35/case, its not cheap, but it is one of the absolute best beers around.

Highly recommended

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

They did it again ... Sierra Nevada banged out a great 25th anniversary BIGFOOT. The 2008 batch if fine.

I enjoy big beers. But this beer is HANDS DOWN THE BEST BARLYWINE out there. Hoppy palate, and a balanced malty tase that somehow masks the high alcohol content. I think I was especially anxious to get my case this year and was not dissapointed.

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

20 odd years of drinking the Bigfoot and this is the first time I've had it on-tap...where have I been?!?

Served in a pint glass, a dark copper with marginal carbonation and an ivory cream head of 1/2 inch...looks like my favorite.

On the nose is some sweet, rich malt with some heavy citrus notes that are quickly overcome by some mature piney hops...smells like my favorite. Tastebuts are watering already!

Oh yeah, sickly sweet rich malt fill the oral cavity, full and fruity. The citrus middle takes over briefly, only to be guided by a powerful, yet balanced, hop finish of bliss. More is mandantory...tastes better than my favorite, slightly aged yet still fresh!

Full body, full of flavor and full of me, it just doesn't get any better...year after year. As a major consumer of this Barleywine, I can't recommend it enough, may you get stomped by a Bigfoot, CHEERS!

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Photo of happy4hoppybeer
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance= poured out of bottle straightforward into tulip glass without tilting a dark amber/red topped off with amazing head that lasts for minutes(probably more than five or ten) that leaves behind amazing lacing that sticks around long after consumed.

Aroma= Sweet barley malt, caramel, pine, fruit even some cocoa

Tastes of sweet hops which then turn to bitter hops, but a little subdued since this is aged. This is the vintage 2009 version.

Palate is medium a little thin therefore more drinkable. And dangerously so, considering the ABV and incredible flavors present throughout.

Another outstanding seasonal from SN, just as great as the previous years. Probably the best or at least one of the best BWs. Cannot wait for the 2010 version.

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Photo of cowens22
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2009 poured into snifter. Color is deep copper colored brown with little head. Delightful aroma of hops and a little sweetness buried underneath the hopiness. Taste of sweeter hops and a little tartness after the initial hop character. Mouth feel is a little thick that as weird as it sounds, that goes away fairly fast off of the palate. A little malty, very little, in the after taste along with the hops. This beer is the definition of an American Barleywine in my opinion. Highly recommended by this guy to any barleywine fan or someone wanting to get into them. Cheers

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

Initial review: 8-9-11

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter, 2011 vintage.

I had this when it first came out and I only remember the extreme hops (something I actually enjoyed a bunch).

This pours a dark reddish color with a nice tan foamy head. With the smell I get quite a bit of alcohol and lots of caramel malts, I don't get the slap in the face of hops like I remember. Medium to heavy body, a creamy texture. Still some nice hops with the taste, there is some definite malty sweetness and I get a little alcohol heat, but not terrible, I definitely don't get any sort of overpowering alcohol, I actually think its well hidden. Overall a nice thick and creamy beer with lots of hops and malts, I liked it a little more fresh with the hop explosion, but good now. A very tasty brew. I'll try to continue to review again when I open the next one in a few months.

--- Review 8-9-11
2010 vintage.

I'm not sure how smart it is to drink two of these in one night, but here's the 2010 I had lying around.

The appearance is about the same, still has a nice head. The alcohol smell is mostly gone and I get a load with caramel / toffee / sweet malts. Feel is still medium to thick. The taste has mellowed out a bunch on the hops, I get a bunch of toffee/caramel and some hop bitterness, with the less hops, I get a hair more alcohol taste than with the 2011. It a little sweeter and more of a malt bomb also (Is this closer to a proper barley wine?). Honestly, I prefer the ultra bitter DIPA taste of it fresh, but this is still pretty good. 4/5. A fresh Bigfoot might is probably my favorite SN product.

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

I just love Bigfoot.
pours out deep bronze/brown color with a big 2 inch head that is sticky and leaves great lace throughout. Smell is a nice caramel.brown sugar malt up front with a huge earthy spicy hop.
Taste was huge hops up front that were countered very nicely with the malt profile. Smoky earthiness in the hops with a finish of caramel malt and an alcohol warmth at the back of the throat. full bodied and finishes off fairly crisp and slightly dry. A Top notch Barley Wine that I buy every year.

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Photo of Ryan805Beer
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What a great beer. The 2008 25th year expedition version. This awesome beer pours a beautiful red in my pint glass. It is meant to be savored like a good cognac, but I can't. It is too good. I took a trip to the Central Coast of CA, and I brought two 12 oz bottles home. The one bar in SLO that serves Bigfoot, the Frog and Peach they limit you to only one serving, because of the high alcohol content. You really don't need more then one. I love this beer, I wish I could get a keg for home. Bevmore please carry this beer!

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

2010 edition here. pours a deep dark amber from a 12oz stubby bottle to a tulip type pint glass. sinister fluffy sticky 4 finger head that clings mercilessly in gnarly soapy rings around the glass. the beer looks formidable. smell is very strong, very malty on the nose and very piney. maybe a bit grassy, a little toasty and sweet caramel but also a very fresh hop presence going on here. smells amazing! taste is absolutely decadent. stinging hops and wonderful deep malt character. very piney but with a big malt presence to even things out. almost has an imperial IPA feel to it but with way more malt. maybe some notes of an indescribable dark fruit. sits very nice on the tongue. carbonation is right on. drinkability is there. this IS a session beer IF you SIP it! I bought a whole six pack so i'll be a sippin' all night! ;)

A wonderful gigantic beer. absolutely beautiful

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

My all time favorite beer from my all time favorite brewery. If I can find it in the store, I'm hoarding it. The aroma, taste, mouthfeel, and look are perfection. Specifically, the taste is malty sweet candy with a wonderful piney, bitter finish that tops it off. The alcohol is there but it does not overpower the hops and malt. I was a little disappointed that it went from a 6 pack to a 4 pack but I can appreciate the business sense of this. I do wish production and distribution would increase. I could find this product easily in the past but suddenly it's become difficult to find. Apparently the cat is out of the bag now.

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Photo of taez555
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle, 2003 vintage, tasted june 2003

This beer poured a very firm 1 inch dark white/tan head. The body was a ruby red/brown color.

The nose was in your face. A sharp citrus peel hop smell. Some black pepper and even pine needles. But overall an impressive tight in your face hop smell.

The taste was very full bodied and thick. Extremely bitter going down with that intence citrus peel/slight black pepper hop attack. The malt flavors are hidden a bit by the hops but are still there with a sweet malt flavor. It's as if this beer is pale ale concentrate.
It finishes about the same, very hoppy and bitter, lingering for quite a while.

Overall this is a great beer. Not for all occasions or something to be drunk in mass quanities, but... a must try.

2008 note.

I've been buying cases of this beer for the past couple years and aging it. Fresh this beer is stellar, aged a year or more this beer is heavenly. The malt and hops all blend together perfectly. The more I drink it the more I'm convinced this is THE greatest beer being brewed. Period.

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

Heady fruity and spicey and alchoholic aromas. A very thick malt rush start, then a semi-bitter rind/citrus peel coarseness is abrasive on the palate. Alchoholic notes. Complex and overflowing with a rich character. This has been a very difficult brew to find here in Fresno, CA.

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

From Uvinum. In Teku glass. Watching Sons of Anarchy 5x01. Amazing aroma. Great taste. A bit alcoholic but with a nice touch of bitterness that compensates it.

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

2006 Edition. Case marked "Bottled 12/23/2005". I've enjoyed Bigfoot every year for at least a decade, and can say without question that Sierra Nevada has struck gold this year -- this is the best its ever been. One could say this offering is "over the (t)hop" in the best sense of the term. A wonderful blast of fresh hops seems to infuse the already classic monster barleywine, putting most other brews called "imperial" to shame. This is Bigfoot Imperial!

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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 goethean
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just had a 6 year old bottle of this beer, a gift from BA Metal. Wow! I'm not usually a big fan of the typical American Cascade hops profile which usually characterize SN products. However, at six years old, it is really nicely balanced between the figgy, date-flavored maltiness still strongly held back by the hops. I don't detect any oxidation --- a tribute to the quality of this brew.

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

Whoa! this is one of those very rare breeds that is exactly what the commercial description says and does, indeed, rate a perfect score. The interplay and balance between the hops and malt is wonderful! It's hard to tell, but I think I taste the yeast in there too. Plenty of lace although the head mostly fades after a time. Looonnnngg finish.

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

Best beer ever! Redefines complexity. I am in love.

Hooollly crap. What an amazing beer. 2009 bottle had while watching Superbowl.

Was expecting an alcohol burning malt bomb even though it was from SN. Uh, uh. Total bitter hop bomb - in a great way. Like having a bucket of hop tea splashed right in your face. But the hops are backed up wonderfully with a complex chewy solidness. The high abv is masterfully hidden by the outrageously hoppy taste.

This bad boy is hoppeee. It left me totally reeling in a great way. I wil be stocking up on this for sure. Do NOT miss out on this!

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

This guy is really one of my favorites, but I've never formally reviewed it. I guess usually my glass is empty before I have a chance to hop online...

Beautiful orangey-garnet pour (burnt umber, for you Crayola aficionados out there), creamy off-white head died quickly and gave way to good lacing and a thin film.

The aromas were elusive as all hell to me. Lovely, but tough to put my finger on. It wasn't until I had a sip that I realized I was getting an absolute blast of sugary-sweet grapefruit on the nose. Imagine slicing out wedges from a fresh fruity half and tapping demerara sugar on the top--THAT is the nose and the first taste.

The best part is how that quickly vanishes and leaves you with this meaty mouthfeel of malt, like chewing up a mouthful of animal crackers + a shot of aged rum + a couple raisins + a drying drop of quassia. The flavors just LINGER for AGES, it's fantastic. Especially the residual throaty tastes from that first sip--so if you're just popping the top, really pay attention to the first taste.

Add in that typical barleywine effervescence and chewy creamy mouthfeel, and extremely mild alcohol heat for nearly a 10%-er. It's boozy and yet (dangerously) least to this guy.

I hate to get too technical and give something a 4.5 for appearance or mouthfeel when, given the style, it couldn't be any different or better. So this one's getting 5's across the board. Brilliant brew.

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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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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,475 ratings.
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