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: 7,476
Photo of Bryanjpg
4.88/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2010 bottle opened in 2014 (aged 4 years)

A- Nice medium brown and great head retention

S- Amazing aroma of caramelized sugars, maple, malt, brown sugar, that is well balanced with a nice floral character.

T - Dried plums and currants, low hop comes through just enough to balance the malts, the finish is focused on the caramelized sugars brown sugar and maple. Heat is noticeable but pleasant.

M- heavier bodied but not syrupy, moderate effervescence

O- Overall great beer. the malty maple nose is balanced in a very unique way with the floral hops. The taste is complex and layered. Definitely going to invest in this years for some ageing.

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

This is the 2012 vintage, so this is very young. Poured into a chalice. Pours a dark, reddish brown with a one and a half finger length tan head. Carbonation appears to be plentiful and the head does not dissipate quickly like you would expect from something greater than 9% alcohol. Some lacing gets left on the glass. This looks very appealing. The aroma is of slightly sweet dark roasted malt and the piney hops are very forward. The hops explode in the mouth on the first sip and the malt character is also very detectable. It's slightly sweet. There's some citrus in the taste as well as some alcohol in the aftertaste. As the beer warms even more, the sweetness from the malt comes out even more. The hops flavor bursts in mouth, providing even more balance as this beer warms. Wow. The mouthfeel is full and it's very smooth. The beer coats the mouth well and the carbonation helps the drinkability of this beer. This becomes even easier to drink as it warms even more. This was my first American style barleywine and I have to admit that I was impressed with Bigfoot. This is simply an excellent beer and one of the best I've ever had. If you haven't tried this beer, try it immediately. I would love to try this beer with more age on it.

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

2008 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale. Bottling code (on bottle) was 7349 making it a mid-December 2007 bottling. Purchased fresh from a well-stocked store today with three months of bottle conditioning.

My only criticism is a slightly soapy aromatic noticable from the head. No biggie.

Poured a dark amber (I'd call it Chris-Craft red) with burnished gold highlights. The look in a glass stein is clear with all of the head you could possibly want and curtains of lacing.

I think this 2008 Bigfoot is one of the best West Coast brews available right now and is not to be missed. First taste will hit you with a SN hops smackdown that will weed the men from the boys. About halfway through the glass your staggering tastebuds will relay the sublime balance of hops and powerfully rich malts. Caramelized sweetness, tartness, and floral accents are all in abundance is spite of constant whacking from iron strength hops. If you like steroid level hops and want to taste malt that stands up to it ... Bigfoot is the name.

Surprising good drinkability, just be prepared to ride or weave your way home after two.

The body of this barleywine-style is big. But the look will fool you: you're gonna walk away with sticky lips. Dang.

Thank you Sierra Nevada. Bigfoot is real.

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Photo of kaimcm
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at the Publick House for almost 2 months now.

This beer is a beast and very different on draught then in the bottle. Huge creamy fluffy head that leaves tons of stick all over the glass. Enormous nose of hops, oil, pine, resin, redwoods, california fog, damp bark and wet forest just to name a few. doubt me? go to chico and you'll see. extrememly balanced taste of spicy, prickly hops and sweet coating malt. flashes of fruit, brown sugar, malt backbone, drying hops. super complex and super quenching at the same time. im at a loss, this beer is just that good on tap. in the bottle its a different story and needs some cellaring for my taste. suffers slightly in drinkability cause its so dangerous and high alcohol. if youre not careful this beer will kick your ass. right on sierra. one of my all time favorites.

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Photo of rtratzlaff
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on-tap as one of my first big beers soon after NC popped the cap several years ago. I haven't tried it since. I remember enjoying it enough, but I don't think I could fully appreciate it then. So here it goes:

2008 Bigfoot on tap at Flying Saucer

Appears deep and dark with ruby edges along the edge of the glass. 1/2" creamy head that stays throughout and floats along leaving rings and lace to make any beer jealous.

Smells are dark fruit such as raisins and figs, and grapefruit citric hops.

Taste is liquid candy up front. My tongue is telling me I just filled my mouth with sugar coated fruit in liquid form. Quickly Hops come and kill the sweetness with wonderful grapefruit bitterness that stays on the tongue about as long as you'll let it.

Mouthfeel is full and luscious. Have one, sip it and savor every drop.

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Photo of mirish72
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

My brother in law dropped off 3 bottles of Bigfoot from last weekend and I am impressed with myself that they lasted until last night.

I think this is one of the best beers I have ever tasted. From the initial pour the hops are overpowering and the taste is full bodied and amazing. It literally made my mouth water thinking about the next sip.

I hadn't has a Bigfoot for several years, but this brew is amazing. I don't have any way to compare it to previous vintages, but I am now hooked and will be buying it every spring.

While it is high in ABV it is amazingly drinkable and after 2 in a row I could definitely feel it. I save the last one for last night and am planning on picking up a case
to hide away in the basement.

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Photo of beerceller99
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2002 bottling from Nov.' 03 notes.
Pours a dark brown reddish hue with a slight head that leaves a decent lace. Still a big floral alcohol smell though not as pronounced as a " fresh " bottle.The taste is huge and chewy; caramel dark raison sweetness with a big hop and alcohol presence.
The huge hop intensity and raw alcohol taste has refined since this was bottled some 22 months ago. This makes it a much more drinkable brew. One of the best Bigfoots of any age or bottling.

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Photo of karst
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured 2005 vintage and watched as its viscus liquid fortold an awesome mouthfeel. A one finger head with 9.6%ABV - very respectable over a beautiful color. The 80+IBU level fills the room. Lasting CO2 begins to fade after an hour - smooths out as it warms on this Feb 65° day. Plan on laying down a dozen of these in the cellar.

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Photo of metallistout
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have been hearing about this beer for so long.

Pours a red ruby, maybe slightly lighter, but the room is kind of dark. THe head is very foamy and thick, suprisingly for a beer with a huge ABV.

Hints of floral scents and sweet malts. A little bit of a fruit smell, and a definate alcohol smell.

Very strong and powerful, something you have to drink kind of slowly to appreciate all of the different flavors going on, plus it will knock you on your ass if you slam this one.Tons of hops biting your tastebuds and holding on as the sweet malt kind of passes by. Definately taste the fruit, alcohol and the malt, but mostly dominated by the hops.(I'm in Heaven)

This beer is only for the serious. I would not try this if you have never had a barley wine or a strong ale.

Good damn job Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of Suds
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

In spring 2001 I bought two cases of this beer and set several bottles aside. It was terrific then, and has only improved with age. Deep burgundy color with a single finger tan head and beautiful, clingy lace. The aroma is sublime. Intense malt and intense hops. The forceful hop bitterness has mellowed with age, and seemed to merge with the overall character of the beer. I love the hop finish....still goes on forever. Alcohol is more hidden than when the beer was young, but still provides warming. What a wonderful beer!!!!!

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Photo of ypsifly
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle dated 2005.

DEEP amber with lots of bubbles and a 2" off-white head that leaves a coating of fine bubbles down the glass.

Smells strongly of piney citrusy hops and lots of 'em. Really gets the saliva going in my mouth. No alcohol detected.

As expected, lots of hops upfront, then a taste of malt, then its back to the hops. This one was designed for hop heads. Long dry finish with some warming, but that's all the alcohol that registers.

The mouthfeel is thick and almost oily, but that's a good thing. A person who craves hops and loves a full profile in the body will have no problem drinking a few more until the abv gets on top of them.

I have enjoyed this barleywine for 11 years and always look forward to late winter when it becomes available. This year it took a while for the Sierra Nevada truck to make it to SE Michigan, and I was growing apprehensive. This afternoon I stopped at Bello Vino in Ann Arbor and found cases stacked as high as I am tall. I just about fell over and prceeded to drain my wallet. It would be nice to cellar some of this, and I have tried, but once its out of season that becomes very difficult.

2004 12oz sampled on 3/13/05

Same deep amber color with a smaller head, a bit less lacing but still a damn fine looking brew.

There's not as much hop in the nose as its now paired with a creamy malt. Still pretty strong overall, but more mellow and balanced than the younger bottles that are available now.

Upon tasting, the hops don't come on near as strong, neither does the malt. Its amazing what a year can do. So much smoother and balanced. No where near as dry in the finish.

I was lucky to find an '04 sixer that was kept in a cooler at a store I frequent. I've always wanted to let this stuff chill for a year to see how far it can mellow. The results so far have been impressive. Now if I can just hold on to the other five long enough to see what this brew can do over a couple more years...

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Photo of bonsreeb85
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

A - color is a deep dark, dense and murky tawny/cherry oak. frothy head leaves sticky lacing but after an initialy good showing from a hard pour, reduces to mere film. this is exceptable given the strength of the brew.

S - oh boy! this is fantastic. oh-so-sweet candied fruits, cherry, tangerine, blueberries, righ malty toffee and caramel and plenty of floral and juicy citrus hops -very dank. this could be the holy grail of noses(at least from what i've been lucky enough to try)I wish i could pick out ALL of the nuances.

T - everything in the nose comes through and lingers like port wine. very bitter ending

MF - full-bodied and smooth, sort of rolls over the tongue.

D - IMO this is the benchmark for hop-forward Amer. BWs

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Photo of steelreign
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is as close as it gets to perfection for me - classic barleywine style, high ABV, great drinkability that you never tire's all there. And what a presentation right out of the bottle! A dark, heavy brown, with a noseful of wonderful notes consisting of pine, fruit, roasted grain, alcohol, raisins, malt...mmmmm!

First sip, I was in love. No, make that lust. I will scour the ends of the earth for this one, and after tasting it, you will know firsthand just why that is if you are a fan of this style. Supreme body and bursting with flavor, hops, malt, and alcohol; all the things that make the barleywine style not for the faint of heart. Rather, one that is uplifting and almost spiritual in its own right! I have yet to find another example of this style that has the flavor, ABV and drinkability of this fine crafted brew. Do NOT pass this one by if you see it. If you find it, try it, then find that you don't like it, email me and I may just buy the remainder of it from you! :)

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Photo of budgood1
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2002 vintage. sampled close to room temperature.

a cellared treat for me. it's with much anticipation that i finally get to try a bigfoot!

bigfoot pours out a thick and murky brownish amber colour. a half inch foamy head quickly settles down to a fine lace. aromas of mostly fruited malts dominate, followed by those delicious northwest hops. surprisingly enough, my nostrils aren't pierced by the hop load. upon tasting, i'm met by an amazingly balanced fruity and caramel malt load, backed up with some bitter hopping that tingles the taste buds and provides a pleasant hop taste treat. the only evidence of alcohol is the quick warming sensation i perceive after a few sips. malty up front, smooth creamy body in the middle, mellow hop bitterness in the end, and a bitter hop and a slight alcohol kick in the finish/aftertaste.

i am blown away in how delicious this is. big and bold, mellow and balanced. a great brew!

a huge thanks to frank4sail for sending this my way!

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Photo of Herrless
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this beer on tap at the Firkin of Libertyville in Illinois. I must have bothered them every week to see if it had come in. I was not disappointed. I had this in a pint glass. It did not have a lot of carbination, there is a sweet yet alcholic smell to it (but not in a bad way). Nothing stands out as being prominent, it wasn't very hoppy or very sweet etc. Even though it does have a sweet, hoppy, malty, caramelly flavor. It was a very well balanced, very complex beer. Also, this beer has a very addictive quality to it, when you were done all you want to do is have another you don't even think about trying something else. But you have to beer carefull this beer can pack a little punch.

I have since purchased 2 cases to age it. I hear that it ages very well and mellows with age. I hope it's lasts long enough for me to enjoy the improvement

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Photo of SSSBR1509
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Smell: Very hoppy floral notes, Quite a bit of sweet toffee notes and a slight breadyness, not too boozy smelling the alcohol smell is there but the hoppyness and the sweet toffee notes are definitely on the forefront

Mouthfeel: Its pretty thick it kinda coats your mouth and has a chewy feel too it

Taste: very strong hopness through out the whole beer but is balanced by caramel toffee sweetness , it doesn’t taste as boozy as it smells,

Overall: I love this beer Sierra Nevada has never let me down most definitely my favorite beer by them so far

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Photo of billybob
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours redish dark copper color , tan two finger head, holds fairly well with sheets of lacing with each sip. smell roasted malt, citrus, pine hops. taste is toasty, caramel, citrus, almond nut. mouthfeel is medium, light carbonation, but thats the style for this beer. drinkability, all night long, but i don't know how long i would be standing.

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Photo of Colt4540
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint mug. 2009 Edition.

A- Pours a clear garnett color with a huge light tan head the hangs around for ever finally ending in a one finger head that stays for the entire beer. Leaves great lacing. It's just a very pretty beer.

S- First thing is the citrusy floral hops. It has suttle fruity sugary notes. You can smell the barley malts really well. It's very complex and I'm sure I'm leaving some smells out.

T- Nice bitterness that mixes with a burnt sugar taste that sticks to your lips. It finishes with a malty kind of fruity taste. It all blends well with the hop sticky bitterness causing all the flavors to stick around for a long time. Just like the smell it's very complex and hard to point everything out.

M- It tingles when it hits your lips from all the alcohol. It's crisp from all the hop bitterness which causes it to be fairly thick and extremely sticky. If held in your mouth it almost feels like a shot of liquor in you mouth, but it isn't unpleasant like you would think.

D- It is an easy drinking beer but would probably make you loose your mind if you drink too many of them.

Overall this is an awesome beer and I'm going to struggle storing some of it to drink at a later date.

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Photo of Manosbeeroffate
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another find at the Co-op in Belfast, $9.49 for a six pack, 2006 batch. Pours a beautiful dark caramel gold colorsmell is malt and hops. Taste? Well, hops. All hops though I think they may have added some pine sap too But Jesus H. Christ this is damn good and addicting. Also detect a little bit of alcohol but hops extremely dominate here. Who cares I love it!! Mouthfeel is very nice. Drinkability, well not a session beer, one to work on slowly and no more than a couple a night. Naw I changed my mind, I can have several of these a night but due to limited availability here, I will work on these slowly. Must get more!!!!

2007 Edition:

Local fish store a 5 minute walk from my place still has this in stock, still pours a nice dark amber brown, smells piney and tastes really piney hops, extremly dominates, my ratings don't change. Someday they will brew a malt free version which will be fermented hop oil. I love this stuff and will freak out once it's gone. I may do a beer trade by giving away my oldest son for this stuff (OK not really) This is for hopheads and looneys like me.

2008 Edition:

Fears of this beer being a bit pussified have been stomped on like a dead bug. Dark amber color pour, smells oh so hoppy and malty. Taste, oh yeah a perfect balance of sweet malts and tons of hops, a bit subdued i would say but definetly a winner for us hopheads. I still have a case waiting in Waldoboro for me (thanks to Todd the beerman) Life is good again!!

2009 Edition

From Todd the beerman again (thanks) Dark amber color, smells of hops hops hops and a bit of sweet malt. Taste? Big hops up front, more hops awith a bit of sweet malt thrown in the background with more hops. Overall, hell yeah. I wish it was brewed year round and was as common as the pale ale. This is my beer!!

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Photo of doho95fu
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am not the biggest barleywine fan (or so I thought), so I was not even going to buy a six pack of this beer when it came in at my local beer store - but luckily I did. The color is deep reddish brown with a tan creamy head and minimal lacing. The beer appears slighly cloudy and lower in carbonation. The smell is of hops, alcohol and maybe peaches, surely some sort of fruit. The flavor is hoppy as well, with fruitiness and some citrus tones in there. The alcohol level does come out in the taste department, but not in a negative way. There is that little heat sensation from the ABV and then its back to the flavor. The brew is smooth with a long and obvious hops finish. Great brew!!! Cool bottlecap too.

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Photo of Brad007
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewing the 2007 vintage. I also have a bottle of 2006 vintage but I'd rather age that one a while longer.

Pours a brownish-amber color with a one-finger head that doesn't last much long. Aroma is a mix of malt and hops with strong alcohol scent. So far, I think this will be decent.

Taste is hoppy upfront, almost an overload. Fades into a strong alcohol aftertaste with the hops and malt following along. A second sip confirms much of the same. It's still quite strong and hoppy and may need more aging over time.

So far though, I'm enjoying this beer for what it is and I recognize that it needs more aging. Great sipping beer though and reminds me much of 120 Minute IPA in terms of hoppiness and strength.

I like. I'm hoping to age the 2006 vintage for much longer and acquire more of this beer.

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Photo of becktone
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vertical tasting of Bigfoot 2006 and Bigfoot 2007

2007- Nice large head with great retention and great lacing. color is light brownish and crystal clear. Some light ruby hues.
2006- Creamy head, not much retention or lacing. I think this is due to the glass-I've never had a good head in this snifter....never been washed in the dishwasher either...nothing that could damage it..weird. Color is much different. Dark ruby-Garnet. I prefer the color of this one over the 2007.

2007-Very very hoppy supported by strong malt background-notes of alcohol in the nose.
2006-Much different from the 2007 vintage. Hops in comparison are almost non-existent. Very very the least it can't be missed. Strong malts are dominant in the aroma though they seem to be behind the alcohol in potency. Smells more like a hard liquor such as whiskey.

2007- Large influence of hops in the 2007 vintage. Under that alcohol is easily noticed. Strong malt backbone supports the strong hops.
2006- Obviously hops are toned down. Malts are much more in the foreground than the 2007 vintage. Alcohol is more evident than in 2007. Bitterness is more harsh, it definitely balances the malts out, however as my first vertical tasting it seems odd to me to to have a lot of bitterness with out the hop flavor, I'm quite unused to it.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability:
2007: In all aspects of the beer-flavor and aroma especially pretty much the same as 2006 when it was fresh from what I can remember. However, right now side by side I feel that the body of the 2007 is a bit fuller. It also goes down much easier than the aged 2006-prolly b/c it is less alcoholic in taste. I will always be a fan of fresh Bigfoot. I prefer it fresh and I will probably discontinue to cellar Bigfoot b/c I prefer it fresh. This is a brew I could drink any time, however I see this brew as being harder to drink when aged-thats just me-and also being harder to drink in hot weather. Luckily there's a cold front producing snow in Cincinnati right now making conditions right for me to drink this.
2006-In my opinion harder to drink than the fresh Bigfoot. It drinks more like a hard liquor but it doesn't have quite the high alcohol content. Definitely drinks better than hard liquor. I find the body of this brew to be lighter than the 2007. Carbonation has toned itself down quite a bit.

All in all the difference in aroma and flavor is quite large. I didn't expect the flavor to be all that much different but I was surprised. Aged it is good, actually at this point I am beginning to get used to its flavor. I like it much more than I did, yet still I prefer the fresh, being a hop head and all.

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Photo of wages
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Crown Valley "fluted snifter" as I call it.

appearance - 4.5/5 - Three finger reddish cream head with a deep red color. At first it appears lightly cloudy, but upon further examination, it's just a dark red. Leaves lots of lacing.

smell - 4.5/5 - Rich sweet aroma with big alcohol nose. The alcohol smell overwhelms most other scents.

taste - 5/5 - Raisins and alcohol are at the forefront. Huge malt flavor. Bitterness is there, but not real prevalent until after the swallow.

mouthfeel - 5/5 - Fairly high carbonation to balance the malt & alcohol. Everything feels "smooth" as it goes down. Very full bodied.

overall - 5/5 - Very tasty. I wish I could remember the 2010 and 2009 vintages that I had tried for comparison.

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Photo of trg
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 12oz. bottle. No expiration date. ; )

A Burnt umber and ruby hues. Creamy tan head of fine bubbles that coats the glass.

S Fruity English yeast character drives the nose with rounded sweet maltiness giving support to an immense minty, sprucey, juicy hoppiness.

T Taste follows the nose. Caramelly sweet malt, fruity yeast, and beautiful hoppy blend.

D Remarkably balanced for a beer of this strength and mass. There a a ton of "really big beers" out there. Few are able to deftly balance and showcase the qualities of a "really good" really big beer like Sierra' Bigfoot. Balance is a beautiful thing.

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Photo of Viking
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautiful beer with a reddish-amber body and full, creamy lace-bearing head. Major hops in flavor and aroma (seems to be a 'trademark' of Sierra Nevada). Nice malty flavor evident within the hops. Exactly what I crave in a barleywine! Taste of alcohol is also evident under the hops and malt.

This is the first year I've been able to find Bigfoot, and I finally understand why everyone eagerly awaits the release of this beer each winter.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,476 ratings.
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