Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
BA SCORE
4.14/5
7,518 Ratings
Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
BEER INFO

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

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
Ranking:
#1,499
Reviews:
3,066
Ratings:
7,518
pDev:
11.35%
Bros Score:
4.41
 
 
Wants:
419
Gots:
1,837
Trade:
69
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 7,518 |  Reviews: 3,066
Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had the 2004 edition on tap a Buckye Brew Engine, in summer 2011 an it was very nice. It has muted, but was still a very nice beer despite the temperature and it likely up in abv by now over 10%. Orange coloured body, a lace sheet. Taste as if dry hopped. Very smooth and mellow, and a full mouthfeel. An American strong ale, with a citrus character.

 352 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: 2 finger head, nice and thick with a decent lacing. Copper/amber color.

S: Fruit, very piney and hoppy. Expected a sour, wine odor and was caught off guard. Liked it.

T: Very strong on the front end, especially the first sip. Malts, caramel, tons of hops, bitter fruit,

M: Thick, oily, full bodied and moderate carbonation.

Overall: Drinkability is the downside. I see many people say this is drinkable and for a heavy beer and they may be right but this is still a tough one at the beginning.

 501 characters

Photo of acurtis
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of jaydoc
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours a murky dark iced tea color with a small 1 inch khaki head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Nice rings of lace lin the glass on the drink down. Smells of biscuits, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and citrus zest. Taste is very similar but in the reverse order of the smells: citrus zest hops, brown sugar/caramel/toffee, with the biscuit like malt coming through at the end. Medium hop bitterness on the palate after each sip. Thick and chewy in the mouth with each sip. Slight alcohol burn in the throat. Overall, this is a good barleywine that packs a hop punch. One of the hoppiest of the style that I have tried.

 647 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 Bottle. Notes from January 2009 and now review two years later, tasting in January 2011.

Pours a medium dark copper red with white thick head when fresh and very little head after two years.

Citrus hop/lemon nose when fresh that, after two years, goes to a maple whiskey - big maple whiskey character carries through flavor profile and finish.

Mouthfeel is big and rich and well balanced with lots going on. You can't help but want to put more in your mouth.

I was not a fan until I again tried it after it spent two years in my cellar; I'm a fan. Complex orange peel lemon/lime hop flavors when fresh that, again, goes to a maple whiskey flavor profile; lots of burnt toast and bitter burnt orange; very complex overall; lots of hops; long hop finish that, after some age, retains complexity and goes to a bitter burnt orange/burnt toast bitter maple whiskey. This is something that I will continue to try, both fresh and with some age.

A nice experience with a beer that I aged for two years. It was worth it.

 1,023 characters

Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

another colossal beer from sierra nevada. pours an absolutely magnificent glowing dark amber color with a 1.5 inch rusty tan colored head. smells is a kick in the face of booze and hops. smells all of its 9.6% abv. flavor is malty and sturdy without being sweet, it moves toward a hoppy finish with an alcohol burn. its a nice pine hop flavor which works really well here. perfect for this time of year. feel is a little heavy, and its not a beer you can do a sixpack of, thats for sure. a lovely sipper on a weeknight in mid february as the sun starts to hang around just a little longer with each passing day...

 613 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of Knapp85
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is pretty freaking intense, Had a new bottle of this back in 2008 and it was really potent to me. The appearance of the beer was a muddy golden color with some brown in there. The head was white and had some good retention. The aroma of the beer was really hoppy for a barley wine. The other aromas if any where difficult to pick out. The flavor was big and bitey. There was a lot of complexity in here there were hops and malts colliding, there was some dark fruits in the aftertaste lingering around it was pretty different from anything I had tried prior to this. It's an impressive brew, wish I would have aged one from years ago to see if it mellows out over time.

 679 characters

Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of t0rin0
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have tried 06 and 07 Bigfoot both on tap and in the bottle. I heard a lot of people say that its more bitter this year but I can't notice the difference. That may be because it had been a year since I had it last.

The appearance is amazing. Its an awsome red color with a dark head. Hold it up to a light, its really a nice color.

It has an intense malt smell with a considerable hop presence. The only downside is that one can almost smell the bitterness. I am not saying that bitterness is bad, just that when it comes out in the smell it doesnt bode well for the beer.

This beer is remarkably well balanced in sweetness and bitterness. Despite my initial predictions based on the smell it is one of the best flavors ive tasted in a beer. The first sip almost hurts its so bitter but after that its really quite delicious and after 1 or 2 bottles in an evening you wont even notice the bitterness.

Bigfoot is fairly heavy bodied as it should be considering how much unfermented sugar there is in the beer. It has a low-medium carbonation but it doesnt matter because its just as good once it gets flat.

It is drinkable but it must be sipped and enjoyed. The 6 pack challenge has a become a ritual in my group of friends. If you want to "chug" a 6 pack, which still takes a few hours, be prepared to wake up the next morning in a strange place. Otherwise enjoy it with a meal or on tap somewhere.

Overall: a great beer even warm and/or flat. Well worth the cost.

 1,484 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a top notch barleywine. Very hoppy, tastes almost like a double IPA to me. Definitely a sipper as there's some alcohol kick but definitely not as harsh as Brooklyn's Monster Ale. I liked this beer a lot and will be trying it again the future.

 251 characters

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of metter98
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a light to moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of piney hops in the nose along with notes of alcohol and hints of caramel malts and citrus hops.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and finishes with a moderate amount of bitterness from the hops. There are some hints of malty sweetness in the initial taste.
M: It feels full-bodied and a bit sticky on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation. The finish has a bit of dryness and warming sensations from the alcohol.
O: This beer is a good sipper. It's a bit easier to drink compared to other barleywines because it has a moderate amount of bitterness (instead of stickiness and sweetness).

Note: 2011 vintage

 890 characters

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

With the release of this annual Barleywine, I am aways taken back to the firt time tasting this massive beverage. With extremes of hops colide with extremes of malt, you don't see the finess of balance comming....

This godfather of the American Barleyine style jumps out of the bottle and lands with a masculine viscocity that's caught somewhere between viscous and crisp. Deep bronze in color, the beer is quite clear for such a hop-forward flavor. Froathy off-white foam blankets the surface of the beer and much of the glass, making it difficult to know where the head character ends and the lacing begins. It's to be expected of a richly malted beer with a generous hop contingency.

Molasass and toffee malt aromas reach the nose, along with an abundance of pine and grapefruit scented hops. Esters of cherry, plumb, and currant help to bridge the hop-malt divide, and to give a sense of meldedness to the nose.

Malt dominance is evidence with the very first sip; with the strong sweetness of black strap molasass, barley sugars, and sturdy malt taste. But the hops provide an attack of white grapefruit, citrus piths, pine resin, and a smooth pang of bitterness... Nether allowing any ground to the other- somewhat combative in taste, but strikingly harmoneous in balance. (Kinda like tango with Fred and Ginger).... Meanwile, back at the ranch- The strong brandy-strength esters of cherry, berry, plumb, grape, and dates begin to sew the flavors together for an intense dichotomy in the mouth.

Strong and matly early, but with the dryness of hop and alcohol late tells the tale of two halves: malty rich and velvety smooth to mid palate then turns IPA-ish with malty-dry textures and alcoholic warmth leading to a strong and dense beer that's way more drinkable than it should be.

A long, dry linger of barley and hops continues to develop in aftertaste making this beer as drinkable as you want it to be, and as savory as you want it to be. That's the beauty in this classy ale!

 1,990 characters

Photo of biboergosum
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle at Bar Volo (adjacent to the sunny windows on a surprisingly gentle winter's day in Toronto) - not exactly a common brewer to find on this side of the 49th.

This beer pours a clear, dark burnt orange-brick amber colour, with three fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and rocky beige head, which leaves a mess of chunky lace around the glass upon its leisurely retreat.

It smells strongly of fleshy citrus, bready and doughy caramel malt, a hint of biscuity toffee, some testy spruce pine, free-range brown sugars, ephemeral earthy yeast, and a mild, but still threatening boozy edginess. The taste is pungently citrusy and piney hop oils, a solid caramel/toffee malt backbone, dry vanilla pods, a hint of tanned leather, and some subtle earthy mustiness, all with a buzzing booziness hovering in the background.

The carbonation is nice and reserved in its merely supportive frothiness, the body rather smooth, thick, and kind of viscous, even with all that hoppiness flitting about. It finishes well off-dry, and yet clean - sweet, yes, but still damned hoppy for a barleywine of any ilk.

Overall, a patently enjoyable, and dare I say drinkable American barleywine, especially if you're into that sort of palate-abusing treatment. Well balanced, yes, but in a war of attrition sense, among all the extreme flavour elements. Glad I got to try it - thanks CIBC!

 1,377 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.21/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

01/23/12

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Disney thistle glass. Reviewed live in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California.

A: Pours a three finger head of nice cream and thickness, and great retention - especially for the high ABV. Colour is a caramel auburn. Nontransparent.

Sm: Quite malty, with some yeast and cream. The toasted malts are nice. Some moderately strong hop notes are present as well. A mild to moderate strength aroma.

T: Actually quite hoppy. I'm surprised. Some toasted malt aids the foundation. It's simple and strange for the style - to its detriment. Boring and bland, but not without redeeming characteristics. Candied sugar fills out the body without adding much flavour. It's too sugary overall, actually.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but too thick and heavy on the palate.

Dr: Decently drinkable. Okay for the style, but in major need of work. The hoppy approach just feels wrong. I wouldn't have it again. Another disappointment from Sierra Nevada.

I initially asserted this wouldn't age well in contrast to most other barleywines due to its reliance on the hoppy flavours, but GoodBeerFan2006 wrote in to let me know it does indeed age quite well. I hadn't considered that potential hop death/hop flavour demulsification would actually round out the balance better. It's a valid point; thanks GoodBeerFan2006! Consider cellaring it if you desire the best experience possible with this beer.

C+

---
12/10/12

I decided to revisit an aged version of this after questioning my initial (fresh review). 1995 vintage Bigfoot served into a New Belgium stem-goblet. Expectations are above average. Cost was ~$8.00 at a vintage bottle shop. Cap reads "Bigfoot Expedition 1995". Label is quaint and reminds me of craft beer history; so this is what Sierra Nevada looked like when Pearl Jam was popular.

Poured with substantial vigor because undercarbonation is anticipated.

A: Pours a weak tan floater. No head at all. Body colour is a dark brown. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Heavy caramel, fermented dark fruit including plum and fig, oxidation notes, malty sweetness, and dominant raisin. Not as musty as expected, but it certainly isn't fresh. No hops are detectable in the aroma. An assertive, moderate strength aroma. Not a particularly appealing one either.

T: Raisin, caramel, dates, plum, and malty sweetness on the finish. Oxidation notes ruin the balance and distract. No hops whatsoever. Rich and surprisingly full-bodied. Lacks complexity or subtlety. Not a great flavour; it's definitely past its prime by a long shot. Still, it's not vinegary - quite an achievement at 17 years old.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and weak. Sugary. Cloying, even a bit astringent. Lacks good present. Age has taken its toll.

Dr: Hard to drink on account of its poor quality. Boy, I'm not going to enjoy finishing this glass. The ABV is decently hidden, but this beer has long passed prime. Maybe this would be better about 7 years younger.

D+

I might have overshot the whole aging bigfoot thing; fresh it seems was too young and 17 years was too old. I'll revisit at different vintages in-between as my budget allows. My current score reflects the fresh review.

---

02/20/13

Final revisit. 2008 vintage (25th expedition/anniversary). It's five years old; this should be peak. Review below will be truncated. 9.6%. Heard a crack upon opening; still carbonated.

A: Pours a half finger khaki head of nice cream/thickness and above average (~2 minute) retention for the high ABV. Body colour is a murky nontransparent opaque dark caramel. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Fruity and evocative. Rich appealing biscuity malts. No hops. The malts are quite refined; age has done this well. Port-like richness and sweetness. Caramel. Toffee. Bread. Candi sugar. Quite nice, actually. Maybe I've finally found what Bigfoot is cracked up to be. A pretty strong aroma. Right on the money for a barleywine.

T: Okay. Caramelized malts with a light port-like sweetness. Refined biscuit malts. No hoppy character or yeast. Definite fruitiness; perhaps over-fermented (think depleted) fig. Plum on the finish. Licorice. Raisin. It's sweeter than anticipated, with lots of malty sugars. Balanced but simple. This is definitely better than fresh or 17 year old Bigfoot, but it's still not great. Solid for a barleywine, if a bit underwhelming.

Mf: Good coarseness. Wet. Good carbonation. Suits the flavour well.

Dr: I do like this. 3-5 years definitely seems to be the sweet spot for Bigfoot, but I'll give up the ghost after this review. I kept wanting it to be as good as I'd heard it was, but it just isn't. Bigfoot just isn't a great barleywine, but you can't say I didn't try. I'd try it again at three years, but I've lost hope that this will satisfy the hype. My current review reflects the score I gave it fresh.

High B-

 4,935 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 batch just arrived, this deserves a new review.

High clarity ruby color, it just glows. Poofy soufflé head, raised in the middle with striated sheets clinging to the sides.

Pungent pine and herbals in the aroma, also a rich and sweet toffee malt element. Looks and smells the part of a good barleywine.

Smooth with a dry bitter edge, this is very balanced but hop-forward. It's big all around, but the sum of it's parts fit well together. Sticky toffee and caramel laced with pine and resinous hops. Rich and not too boozy. Probably not for the hop-novice, but i've come to appreciate it more as a full fledged hop head.

I'm liking this more fresh I think, based on the previous review, and drinking last years batch.

12-07-2007
A- / 4.15
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4

A blustery winter night calls for a monster Barleywine...

2006 bottle, pours a deep ruby brown, with a ton of offwhite foam, leaving a halo crown of intricate lacing. As the foam settles, there's a perfect island of bubbles in the center. Nice overall retention too.

Rich aroma with very herbal hops, subdued nutty caramel.

Velvety smooth across the palate. Hops are ever present, somewhat mellowed, still leafy and bitter. Some citrus rind, spicy with clean heat, and sprucey touches at the end. Long finish of herbal hops that coats the throat. Not the full-on palate spanker I was anticipating, but it still packs a big punch. Alcohol is pretty well hidden for the style.

 1,491 characters

Photo of dmorgan310
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of brentk56
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 Vintage

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with a modest head that leaves good lacing

Smell: Spruce pine aroma with a bit of wood and alcohol esters

Taste: Starts out with a toasty caramel flavor that is quickly stepped on by the piney hops; after the swallow, the bitter pine flavors overwhelm everything else and cruise to the finish , where they are joined by a touch of sweetness on the tip of the tongue

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with modest carbonation

Drinkability: Like all Bigfoots, this is a bit raw when young; give it a few years to mellow out

 572 characters

Photo of oline73
5/5  rDev +20.8%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,518 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

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