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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,048 | Ratings: 7,477
Photo of HopsHops
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This one is very consistent. I have had this about 3 years in a row now and i have liked it the same every time it is beautifully fruity and strong under the nose as well as the tongue...HopsHops and more Hops....bitter as all hell just the way i like it...I hunt this one down when it starts getting cold outside i love it around the holidays...nice and all out favorite...2006 is great...

 399 characters

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

2002 Vintage (reviewed 2/25/02): Can I give a beer five 5.0s? If any beer deserves it it is Bigfoot. The hops are all over this beer, but it has the malt and alcohol content to balance it out. I believe Sierra Nevada was the first brewery to realize that a strong beer didn't have to be sweet (i.e. most Belgians). If you've been turned off by the sweetness of most high-alcohol beers, Bigfoot is for you. A true American classic.

2004 Vintage (reviewed 3/1/04):The 2004 vintage of Bigfoot pours with a thick creamy, hoppy, head, reaching the top of an imperial pint glass. It fades to an inch-thick head with a lot of staying power. The beer is a deep ruby red. The nose is full of piney, floral hops. Taste is full of oily hops, with a thick body presumably from malt, but I can't taste a bit of it. Maybe a brief malt hint in the aftertaste underneath a boatload of hop bitterness. Scarily drinkable. I'm yet again reminded why I consider this my favorite beer.

 967 characters

Photo of BenJames1984
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 Release poured into a pint glass.

Appearance- awesome deep ruby color with mahogany tone. This left a nice, thick beige head, leaving a LOT of lacing.

Smell- Hoppy. But not in a traditional bitter sense, but rather in a sweet way.

Taste- a complexity of malts, hops, barely, sweetness, and bitterness. A bit boozy, however.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- This beer is great, don't get me wrong. However, it's a bit aggressive. I could only drink one of these in a session. MAYBE two.

 486 characters

Photo of Symmes
5/5  rDev +20.8%

Consistent through the years. Beautiful deep malt, full bodied, robust and smooth. The 2014 release is nothing if not just as good as their previous editions. Sits well too, I just recently opened one of the 1999's I had in my cellar, and it was a life altering event. Bottle ages very well, flavors matured to add a nice chocolate/coffee punch, with little to no acidity to report on the finish. Enjoy a few now, but I highly recommend you set a few aside to age. Time does this beer very well.

 495 characters

Photo of sitarist
4.97/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Side by side 2001 and 2004 Vintage, both served in a snifter.

Both pour an brown color with amber and copper hues. There is a fat finger of off white head. There is plenty of lacing.

They both smell of toffee, nuts, tea, and dark fruit. The 2001 is much more rounded with a nice dose of butterscotch, and pecan pie. There is an earthy/funky aroma in both as well. The alcohol is more present in the 2004. WOW!!!

The aromas carry over into the palate. The 2001 really is unbelievable; it taste like a butterscotch-peanut butter-pecan pie. The flavors in the 2001 are so well balanced. The 2004 is good just not as rounded. There is much more going on than I can explain.

The mouthfeel is great. The 2001 is a perfect; velvety smooth, not overly sticky, with a nice long drying finish. The 04 still had a little tongue bite. Both were pleasant and warming.

Both were unique, intriguing, and left me wanting more.

 915 characters

Photo of jtw5877
4.97/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 edition. Pours a dark amber color with a white head. This is an excellent beer. Prominent hoppiness with a massive malt backbone. Everything I want in a barleywine. The only thing that kept this from getting a 5.0 was a quickly dissipating head, but with flavours this tasty it's ok. A great barleywine.

 308 characters

Photo of pat61
4.95/5  rDev +19.6%

Appearance: Brilliant reddish amber with a finely bubbled light tan foam cap. Lacy.
Nose: rich malt over alcohol and hops.
Palate: big malt with a hint of sweetness backed by alcohol that quickly leads to a bold, hoppy finish.
Body: extraordinarily creamy, oily, chewy and pleasantly warming.
The malt, hops and alcohol are all big but surprisingly well balanced.

 378 characters

Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.95/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (2012) has a very thick, creamy, cream-colored head and a clear, dark, ruby appearance, with sparkling bubbles and thick lacing rings left down the glass. The aroma is of of piney hops, some bread, and clean water. Taste is very hop forward: pine, bitterness, resin, and syrupy sweetness predominate, and one gets bread and caramel. This is very bitter, but in a super-nice way. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy and syrupy, and Bigfoot finishes mostly dry and surprisingly easy drinking. Even though this was like no barleywine I’ve ever tried (much more like a double IPA), it is just fantastic and world class.


 638 characters

Photo of bowersdm
4.95/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A - beautiful red/brown, copper-like color with a thick, nearly 3cm head.

S - floral hops, fruit, caramel malt and alcohol. maybe a hint of yeast too

T - at first a caramel malt sweetness and some fruit flavor, together with some hops, then a big hop finish and alcohol. the alcohol isn't as strong as I thought it would be a nearly 10% ABV beer.

M - i tend to like my barleywines on the undercarbonated side, so I took 0.5 off for what i perceived as over carbonation in this beer. it would be normal carbonation in any other beer, but in a barleywine, i didn't quite enjoy it.

D - it's a ~10% ABV barleywine, you're probably not going to put a few of these down. It's very filling, but it just tastes amazing. Without a doubt, it's the best barleywine I've ever had.

 811 characters

Photo of beerluvr
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 bottling:

Pours with a very nice rocky, foamy light tan head that settles on top of lovely crimson colored liquid with minute yeasties in suspension. Nose is a massive bouquet of fresh flowery resiny hops and bready, sweet and roasted malts. Taste is a mouthcoating melange of syrupy maltiness immediately followed by an all-out assault of hoppy bitters and then a wash of solvent alcohols. The hoppiness mixes with the malt to create a wonderful bittersweetness, then drys out to a tremendously hoppy and long finish. It doesn't get much better than this stuff right here!

 582 characters

Photo of MrHungryMonkey
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 brown twistoff 12er. Served in sniffer.

Deep ruby red, mostly clear. Yeasty guys floating around. Mild head, doesn't last long.

American hops jump out of the glass. A pleasant barrage of citric, piney, spicy, and floral bouquet. Sweet malt base: toasty nut and toffee/caramel. Light yeasty notes. Fruit character reminiscent of kiwi, banana, and grape. Simply delightful.

Full bodied, thick, and so smooth. Them hops are here and pack a wallop: all the afore mentioned flavors plus a significant bitterness. The malt base is sweet, nutty, and toasty. Noticeable warmth. Not much carbonation, mostly a smooth and thick creamy foam. Feels great. Finishes bitter and dry, the hop oils stick around. The flavors only get better as it warms.

Man, oh man. Smells wonderful, I really can't image a beer smelling any better. Tastes great: so strong and complex, thick and smooth, hop and malt. The hops are insanely strong, however they are not what I would label over-the-top. Their interlacing with the malt is beautiful and well-tuned. Mouthfeel also couldn't be much better - I've had thinner milkshakes. I would have Bigfoot any day, it really is a religious experience.

Here's to you, Sierra Nevada: you brew art.

 1,221 characters

Photo of demuzik
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

By far one of my top ten US craft brews.

Appearance is deep and rich, smell is strong hoppy complexity, and the taste and mouthfeel is where it dominates... super chewy and thick from the massive malt usage, balanced with an enormous hop and dry hop gifting. Chinook flavors dominate, definitely a "proud to be an American" moment while drinking this one.

 356 characters

Photo of jcance
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing brew. Great balance between hops and rich alcohol flavors with a silky mouthfeel. Very drinkable and deceptively sweet for the potency. Great introduction to barleywines for me, and my new favorite from Sierra Nevada. Well worth the price, even in a four pack. If I could take it overseas I would love to let some age for a few years, but something tells me customs might not be down with that. Drink it slow, and savor it, because it's very easy to put back quickly. Think Torpedo with less pungency and more sweetness, and extra smoothness. Will probably spend far more money than I honestly should on this one

 620 characters

Photo of 1whiskey
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 Vintage.

12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Huge billowing head (perhaps I overpoured) caps a brilliant copper color.

Smell is of fanatastic pine, resin, and pineapple notes. Reminds me of Stone 10th Anniversary Ale.

Taste is laden with huge hop flavor, but does not overwhelm me with bitterness the way a young 2006 Bigfoot did. In fact, I can cut through the bitterness to easily detect all of the elements in the nose, as well as date and raisin notes. A huge malt backbone holds it all together, enveloping all that hoppy goodness and propelling your taste buds into sweet oblivion.

Slick and oily on the palate, this has a pretty hefty body. Not much carbonation remained after my fitful pour, but just enough to dance around on my tongue.

Drinkability? AMAZING. Especially for how young this is. Young barleywines should not be this drinkable. I could get myself into trouble with this.

I don't know if my taste has changed this much in a year or if it really is that different, but I much prefer this to the 2006 version. This is incredible.

 1,085 characters

Photo of d4114
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 bottle 6-13-11

A- Deep red body, perfectly clear; big light tan head; Really nice looking beer

S- Big hop aroma with a equally big caramel aroma. Very rich inviting smell.

T- Followed nose closely but is more complex; Big malt flavor that has a burnt caramel to it, backed up by a huge hop presence.

M- Medium-heavy; Thick and heavy but light and smooth enough for you to want to keep drinking it.

O- Awesome beer; Really drinkable bigger beer. One of the best in the style I have had.

 495 characters

Photo of WetCoaster
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

One year:
Probably the best beer I've ever had at this point. Absolutely sublime flavor. Magnificent.

Six months:
Well, it's about six months later--let's see what's happening. In celebration of Lance's sixth TdF victory, I thought I'd pop one out of the cellar.

Appearance: Wonderful golden cherry color with fine and surprisingly active carbonation. Short lived tan head with no lacing, but thick legs on the glasswall.

Smell: Incredible. It now has a unique honeyed sweetness, a rich, smooth, balanced blend of malt, cherry, citrus, caramel, brandy, with a much more muted spruce/pine hops scent lingering in the background. There is a slight alcohol sharpness as well.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Wow. Deeply malted, slightly buttery with cherry and whiskey notes. There's still a spicy hop bitterness, particularly at the finish, but the balance is now much better. There's a slight smokiness in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is creamy and dense.

Drinkability: It's gone from undrinkable to so drinkable it's scary--it's delicious.

I am amazed that a beer could undergo such a metamorphosis in only six months. It's so much better than when it was fresh it's hard to believe it's the same beer. Should be absolutely fantastic in a year--I can hardly wait.
(Original review: 3.65)
Ah, the 2004 has arrived. I’ve put the rest away, but let’s try one “freshy” and see what happens.

Appearance: The beer is beautiful to look at; it pours an extremely deep, clear amber with ruby undertones. It has very little head, and what’s there is gone quickly. It leaves thick lacing and legs on the glass throughout.

Scent: The scent is surprisingly subdued, some green apple yeast ethers, pronounced hops, but none of the booming malt, dark fruits and spice you might expect from a big barleywine.

Flavor/Mouthfeel: As has been mentioned before, the taste can be described in one word: RAW. Right off the bat, you get huge, spicy fresh hops, pine/spruce flavors, and thick, viscous hop oils; you can almost cut it with a knife. However, that’s just about all there is. There’s a faint black cherry malt sweetness in the background, and the expected Irish whisky alcohol heat in the finish, but the balance is tilted WAY over to the hop camp.

Drinkability: As it stands now, the drinkability isn’t great; it’s a bit too rough, unbalanced and heavy for me. One is more than enough.

This is a serious, well-made beer but, in its current state, anyway, it’s not a good barleywine. With its huge green hop flavor and almost non-existent malt/black fruit/spice flavor points, this is far more convincing as an Imperial IPA.

It’s just way too fresh. If you pick some of this up, cellar it, forget about for six months or so and come back to it when the hops mellow out. It should kick ass.

 2,822 characters

Photo of Burt
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Half pour served in a wine glass.

Dark amber with red hues, thick off white head that leaves thick lacing.

Caramel, dried fruit and a big citrus nose with a little alcohol. Hops are very present in this one.

Roasted malts at first, caramel sweetness and citrus in the middle then it turns bitter and thick on the tongue with a little bit of an alcohol burn.

I have been looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint. One of the best beers that I have had.

 467 characters

Photo of MistaC
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 bottle

A: Nice rusty brown. Clear with a small, thick tan head that sticks to the glass leaving nice lacing.

S: In your face hops prevail. Some sweet nutty malts bring up the rear to provide some balance.

T: Hop bitterness blends smoothly into sweet caramel malt. Alcohol ester present specifically if one exhales through the nose.

M: Moderate body. Crisp as opposed to creamy. Refreshing and allows for the taste to represent itself.

D: Simply put very smooth. Goes down very easily. Deceptive for such a strong beer.

As a big fan of big hops, malt and strong beers, this brew hits me just right.
With more malt balance than IPAs and more kick than a stout or porter, this is a good representative of a solid American Barley Wine. This brew showcases a solid beer as a drink: thin enough to wash down some nice food while strong enough to have some personality and kick you in the face on the way down. Drink up.

 937 characters

Photo of superdavex
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ok, let me preface this review by saying I have a Bigfoot in my hand and have had one consistently in my belly after work for a good month now. Why I've only gotten around to reviewing it now I won't try to explain. On with the review.

As I twist the top off and pour the liquid into my pint glass I immediately notice the DIPA like copper hue. I continue to pour and a very thick body is noticed by the lack of surface movement. As I finish the pour a very slight head developes.

I take a deep quaff and intense hops are inhaled along with a sweet alcohol smell. Wow, is this inviting!

The taste is beyond compare in my experience of barley wines. A slightly sweet malt-like entrance into your mouth followed by an INTENSE hoppy flavour. This is by far the hoppiest barly wine I've had and this is a VERY good thing.

A slightly heavy mouthfeel somehow offset by the intense hoppyness. This thing is so hoppy that it cut through the thickness.

Drinkability is outstanding as I could easily have three or four of these 10% suckers but I'd certainly be regrettin it. I'm gonna limit myself against my will and stop right now after this sip. I'd better stop typing about it too to keep it out of mind.

 1,214 characters

Photo of CaptMaelstrom
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Bottle to tulip glass.

A: Damn beautiful. Full head of home, nice sticky lacing down the glass. A beautiful dark ruby red glow when held under the light. You can't ask for a better looking Barleywine.

S: Figgy, date-like fruit smell. Some earthy, but mostly floral hops. Subtle biscuity notes.

T: Sweet with fruity twangs at first, followed by big bold hop flavor. Subsides to a gentle bitterness. 9.6% ABV perfectly hidden.

M: Perfectly creamy/sticky. Huge body to go along with the huge flavor. Let this one breathe a little bit to shed some of the carbonation, even though it's good colder or warmer.

O: An excellent and huge beer. New personal standard for barleywines and maybe my new personal favorite beer of all time. I would like to put some bottles back, but I can't resist their temptation.

 806 characters

Photo of GreenWBush
4.9/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1998 vintage, reviewed in 2006.

When this beer was brewed, I was a gangly high-school junior a few months from meeting the girl who I would fall in love with and marry.

This well cared-for example leaves its bottle-entombment dark plum in color with yeasties a' swimmin. A large head kicks up - to my surprise - and leaves a unique, spotty, and abstract lace pattern on the glass.

Nose is potent, pungent, and absolutely untouched by oxidation or other deleterious effects of age. Dark fruit floats feet above the glass. Maple syrup, candied cherries, toasted molasses.

This is the first beer to make me vocalize my adoration...I literally moaned with pleasure upon the first sip. The once-dominant hoppiness has subsided to play a skeletal, supporting role, yet tons of bitterness still remains. To my surprise, the overwhelming sweetness found in BF has calmed to a luxurious and worship-worthy madiera dream. Toffee, vague suggestions of cinnamon. Ends earthy, with hints of oak, vanilla, and silky chocolate.

The endless depth of this beer blows my mind repeatedly throughout the twelve righteous ounces I am so lucky to have acquired. This beer instantly made me think that I am not going to touch any of my BF's until they are at least 5 years old.

This would have gotten my first 'all 5' review except for the fact that I have only one amazingly-aged example of this well-preserved vintage. Its also sort of unfair to give an all 5 rating in part to the calming effects of age.

A beer religious experience. Put a lock on your Bigfoot cellar.

The 2006 tasted like nail-polish remover after this...and looked about three shades lighter.

 1,666 characters

Photo of Oxymoron
4.9/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 2005 version that I have been sitting on for some time. The color is a auburn brown hue with good foam with small sized bubbles. The head does creep to edges of the glass but never dissipates altogether. The lacing was good as well.

The smell is very noticeable. Quite hoppy for a barelywine with some bubblegum hops and grapefruit essence. A touch of pine and citrus around the edges as well. A good malt around rounds out the background but hops are most noticeable.

The taste has a great hop presence. The malt is much more noticeable then the smell would indicate but still the hops are more dominate. (I;m thinking if aged the malt would become more balanced). The malt is basic flavor with some sweet grain taste. A touch of caramel but mostly sweet malt. The hops are well balanced in themselves. The bittering is noticeable with piney tastes that give a good bite that isn't overwhelming. It finishes well with a sticky grapefruit taste that gives it the bubblegum taste.

The body is good. The phenol is a little strong but I think more aging would help give it more balance. Overall a spectacular beer that over time I could see becoming well balanced and fantastic.

 1,180 characters

Photo of tonistruth
4.89/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2006 vintage

A- cloudy amber w/ auburn & red hues, 1 finger off white head, good hold on the head, nice lace

S- fruit, caramel, citrus, pine, spicy alcohol, malty

T- spicy w/ big malt character, toasted malts, fruit flavors, very nice balance, bitterness strong in aftertaste, piney. Alcohol in after. WOW

M- full body, some chewiness, some alcohol heat, good flow

D- complex, intense brew but so drinkable. One of the best beers i've had. Recommend must try. Masterpiece

 486 characters

Photo of frank4sail
4.88/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2002, I have saved this beer (6 pack) with anticipation for my 100th review.. and man was it worth it... Perfect color for style between copper and medium brown. Nice thick brown head. Sweet initial taste, but then bam! an explosion of balanced bitterness... the finish is one of silky smooth orange rind.

In between sips my mind is reminded (by my tongue) of campari. It is a luring seductive bitterness. Hops is a gift from god and the brewers of SN understand that fact very well.... I can't wait to taste this again in the fall when it becomes even smoother and more complex. Be careful you will not notice the killer ABV..

sweet malt nose with fresh crisp hops. Dark ruby color with a sticky beige head and lace which is lasting. Slight ripe fruit smell as well. Original bitter grapefruit taste which slowly reaches around the tongue with s sweet malty backbone. Up front it has a smooth fuller mouth. The tongue is left dry on the tip and wet and watery on the back. A liitle too up front in its bitterness but that should mellow with age.

 1,081 characters

Photo of matyp99
4.88/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2004 vintage bottle, pours a reddish-copper coler with nice 1/2-1 inch head that takes sometime to dissipate. Aroma is a rich malty sweetness that has a slight alcohol smell at the end. A nice mouthful that is not to heavy. Taste has a nice level of sweetness which is complimented by the bitterness that comes through on the finish. A slight fruitiness is detectable but is definetaly an undertoned taste, which considering the near 10% ABV helps mask higher alcohol content. The finish lasts for several minutes which includes the sweetness and bitterness. I will admit I have enjoyed this beer for many years.

 612 characters

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,477 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.