Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
BA SCORE
4.14/5
Exceptional
7,594 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:
Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle. Each new release or “expedition” is vintage dated. Collect your own and see the flavors develop and progress.

Added by kbub6f on 02-06-1998

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,650
Reviews:
3,094
Ratings:
7,594
pDev:
11.35%
Bros Score:
4.41
 
 
Wants:
422
Gots:
1,863
Trade:
70
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,594 |  Reviews: 3,094
Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 01.07.09. Tasted on 03.01.09.

G: Oversized snifer.

A: Pours a very dark amber with a single-finger thick and creamy head. Lacing on the glass as it goes down. Not very transparent.

S: Strong, sweet malt with a hint of alcohol. Mild fruity smells.

T: Initial malt presence with the hops coming on shortly thereafter. The flavor comes out much more as it warms up. Not as complex as some other barleywines I've had, but still a very solid offering.

M: Medium-bodied and creamy. Alcohol hits the tip of the tongue and the beer is smooth as it goes down.

D: A nice drink that I'll definitely enjoy each year, but not one I'll plan on really stocking up on--maybe one to grab a few bottles of each year to see how it changes.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: cask conditioned at Ebenezer's Pub, Lovell, ME

This was a 2002 batch, cellared for 9 years, and served on tap at Ebenezer's. It definitely picked up some interesting flavors in the cellaring process that made it distinct from the fresh batch I had the day before.

Poured a dark maroon-amber with more haze than its younger brother, to the point where it was pretty much opaque. Still sweet with rich malts, with rich coffee tones appearing, pine resin, dark fruits, a very woody quality, and a definite alcohol burn. Heavy mouthfeel, but not quite full-bodied. Strong, but drinkable...though perhaps one serving is enough.

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

Photo of REVZEB
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of smcolw
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Small amount of chill haze to an otherwise clear dark amber liquid. The head is impressive with far more lace than I ever expect from this style of beer.

Surprising amount of floral hop in the aroma. Still, the main smell is a lightly sweet malt.

Oily and rich, the greatest flavor is the powerful amount of fresh hop. The malt base is potent with a touch of malt sugar. Lots of warming alcohol. The body has the consistency of skim milk and the carbonation is quite low.

This is a pleasant beer to be slowly enjoyed. It's too powerful to quaff down but it is flavorful and complex enough to evaluate with appreciation.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a snifter. 2010 release.

Pours a beautiful looking deep clear amber, with 2+ foamy fingers of foamy off-white head. Retention is great here, with this putting up a big frothy flareup of lacing that hangs in thick swathes down the sides of the glass. The aroma mainly consists of fresh American hops that literally blow up in the nose, being full of pine and spice and a deep smelling fresh herbal tanginess. A thick malty graininess fills the back of the nose, with most of the sweetness here appearing to come for the fruitiness and earthy nature of the hops.

Resins and spice from those fresh hops just rip the mouth, while a combo of earthy dankness and bitter citrus flavor creeps along in the background. Much like the aroma, there isn't a whole lot of sweetness present (but there's just enough), with a stiff backbone of toasted gaininess holding steady across the back of the palate. Finishes with a ton of lingering dryness, spice, and some leftover herbal tang. The mouthfeel is full and chewy with a good bit of thickness to the feel; but the overall creaminess of the carbonation helps keep this smooth in the mouth for such a big beer. Even at room temp, I'm happy to report that the alcohol here is kept in check, with only some gentle warmth in the chest and throat showing itself after each sip. Well done.

A classic any way you cut it, not only because of it's great availabilty and price each year but also because this is just a damn fine American Barleywine. I personally prefer this fresh each year but aged isn't shabby either. So loosen up thee ole' belt and enjoy one of these calorie-bombs!

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Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of atrocity
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of russpowell
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Obtained from Trinity BP, bours orange/amber with a finger of sand colored head. Good head retention & insane lacing

S: Doughyness & piney hops

T: Piney & herbal hops, dryness, plus booze smack & whisper of caramel up front. Cakeyness, resiny hops, & pineyness as this warms. finishes with a bit of boozey tangerine, apricot, pine sap, grapefruit & dryness

MF: Chewy, moderate carbonation, skews hoppy, true to style. Stickyness & warming booze show as this warms

Drinks alright, if you don't like a hop smack, stay way, otherwise I'm good for a few points before getting sleepy.. I believe I prefer the bottled version, but would never say no to this hairy beast!

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Photo of woodychandler
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I am still deeply involved in the eradication of the Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody and it perplexes me as to how I have not reviewed Bigfoot before now. No time like the present, I suppose.

From the bottle: "Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold, bittersweet malt flavor and heaps of whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in 1983, Bigfoot is a cult classic prized by beer collectors. Drink it fresh or cellar it in a cool, dark place to taste as the flavors develop over time."

My first dip into this particular pool with be with a very young, very fresh 2017 bottle. Having Pop!ped the cap, a gentle pour seemed to be the order of the day. A vigorous in-glass swirl raised just under two fingers of dense, foamy, deep-tan/light-brown head with decent retention that left behind loads of sticky lacing as it fell. Color was Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity. Nose was boozy with a minty, piney quality. As I said, this bottle is young and will undoubtedly smooth out, given sufficient time. Mouthfeel was big and thick, like a dollop had been scooped onto my tongue. Ahhh! It burns! Well, kind of, anyway. It was definitely a young version of this beer, evincing a lot of fusel alcohol heat to go along with all of those piney, minty hops. Phew! The hops were really overwhelming the malts at this stage in its development, but I will agree with their mention of "bittersweet". This was definitely an American Barleywine. Finish was dry, hot, boozy & evocative of another nap. Jeez-o, man, I just awoke from one! This is no playin' around.

And now, a 2016 vintage on M, 19 June 2017.

I Pop!ped this 1.5 year-old cap and commenced the gentlest pour possible. It was clearly not done fermenting as the head just kept rising during the pour to create a finger of creamy, dense, layered, deep-tan/light-brown head with phenomenal retention. Color was Brown to Dark Brown (SRM = > 22, < 27) with NE-quality clarity. Nose had begun to take on a leathery quality. Mouthfeel was surprisingly thin-to-medium, not watery, but close. The hops, while still minty, had begun to fade, giving rise to an alcohol heat underlain by that leathery, bready maltiness noted on the nose. I felt like it was still in its early stages, much more hoppy than I would like in a Barleywine, even if it was of an American bent. The hops have to fade & die at some point, which is why I actually prefer the English Barleywines, even as a hophead. Finish was dry, mainly due to the unrelenting heat of the alcohol. I am sure that it will die down like the embers of a fire.

Next up, a 2013 vintage again on M, 19 June 2017.

The Pop! of the cap was uneventful, so I commenced a VERY gentle pour. It quickly became clear that it had lost none of its carbonation as I garnered better than a finger of dense, foamy, deep-tan/light-brown head with fantastic retention. Color was a gorgeous Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity. It had the same rusty sheen as the hair on my beloved Linda Lou who I lost to a deployment as she married another man. Sigh. Mouthfeel was medium with a carbonated quality that seemed to scrub my tongue. The taste was STILL driven by pine & evergreen, underlain by the emerging leatheriness. OMFG! How long does it take?!? Finish was still rather hot & in need of more aging! Wow.

It is now T, 20 June 2013 & Mr. Peabody's WAYBAC machine takes us to 2005!

No head, even with a swirl. Color has deepened to a Brown to Dark Brown (SRM = > 22, < 27) and the clarity is crystal-clear. Nose has an anise aspect to accompany the leatheriness that has been common throughout. Mouthfeel was soft, very lightly carbonated, but the alcohol heat was becoming very pronounced. The taste was extremely leathery with undercurrents of dried dark fruits like currants, prunes & raisins. Finish was now as dry as any sherry. Phew!

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

Photo of XmnwildX12
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Photo of mendvicdog
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of krome
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of BEER88
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage (on-tap, no less).

Appearance: Pours a hazy, dark red body with a small, dense white head.

Smell: Sweetish, malty aroma with a bit of citurs and a marked woody character that grows more piney along the way.

Taste: Dark caramel with a syrupy sweetness. Touch of citrus. As with the aroma, it starts vaguely wooden, but adopts a distinct pine flavor as it warms. Medium bitterness. Drying finish with a lil' alcohol heat to it.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Fairly easy drinking for 9.6%. For me, it's the finest member of Sierra Nevada's beer line-up.

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Photo of atlbravsrno1
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of Zaphog
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of mdaschaf
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Broke out a mini vertical after brewing on 5-21-11, including bottles from 2007-2011. Review is of 2011 vintage.

A: Poured a slightly hazy ruby/brown color with a foamy off-white head with nice retention and thick, sticky lacing left on the glass.

S: I was not prepared for the hops on the aroma, tons of both citrus and pine with a solid caramel backbone. Some tropical fruits including grapefruit and pineapple.

T: Again, surprisingly hoppy. A combination of both citrus/tropical and pine flavors with more of the former - some grapefruit and pineapple. The is a sizeable malt backbone giving a sweetness as well as a slight nutty/toasty characteristic.

M: Very smooth (the aged bottles were smoother), medium bodied, slightly filling, with moderate carbonation.

O: Very good! Typically I am not a huge fan of American Barleywines, finding them to be a bit harsh, but this one wasn't at all. Now..to resist cracking the others I have left so I can age them..

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep amber body that's pretty clear topped with an off-white head. Good legs and great lacing. I like to swirl it in the glass to make myself look sophisticated.

Smell - Pungent hops. Piney and citrusy aromas that are quickly overwhelmed by caramel. It also smells boozy, but I generally don't hold that against a beer unless it's offensive. The only thing that prevents me from rating it higher is the lack of malt complexity. Still smells awesome.

Taste - The flavor follows the aroma exactly. Piney hop flavor up front, sweet caramel midrange, and a great hop bitterness in the finish. Again, it's not complicated, it's just good.

Mouthfeel - Heavy side of medium-bodied. Viscous enough to coat the tongue and let the flavors linger. Not such intense carbonation, which makes it feel creamy. This is how I like barleywines to feel.

Overall - The only thing it lacks is complexity. A variety of flavors and it would be spot-on. As it is, there not a thing you can complain about in this beer. I started with a case and I'm down to 12. We'll see how long they last me.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. Hazy tawny that is a wonderful, multi-hued melange of orange, red, caramel and copper. The pale caramel cap is a thing of beauty as well. Creamystiff and tacky at once, its rugged surface is slowly deflating in sections and thick gobs of lace are beginning to stick to the glass. A real looker, this one.

The nose is hugely powerful and smells like generously spiced fruit brandy. Sweet caramel candy bass notes hold down the bottom end while barely disguised ethanol and floral-citric hops rampage on the top end. The slight rubbing alcohol scent keeps it from greatness.

Sweet, syrupy, bitter, chewy, malty, hoppy... Bigfoot BSA covers all the bases. Repeated mouthfuls fail to isolate a dominant presence on the palate; all of the various elements of the flavor profile are combined seamlessly. Unfortunately, that includes alcohol. I know that it's difficult to hide the alcohol in what is, essentially, a 20-proof beverage, but it seems to me that it could have been done with a bit more success.

I've been hearing for years about how hoppy Bigfoot is, especially when young, but it doesn't seem overly bitter or hoppy to me. Perhaps my 'mouthful of hop cones' expectations were misplaced or perhaps the gargantuan amount of malt and the high ABV do an effective job of smoothing out and blunting the hop flavor.

As noted in the description of the nose, melted caramel blends with brandy-macerated orchard fruit and citric hops to form a wonderfully viscous, mouthcoating, sweet sipper of a beer. The finish is seemingly infinitely long and features diminishing echoes of caramel-drizzled hops. Warming and satisfying.

Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale is good beer. It isn't as hoppy as I had hoped and it doesn't surpass Old Foghorn as far as I'm concerned, but its reputation is well deserved. I plan to pick up at least a sixer every year to see how each vintage changes from year to year and how each changes with cellaring.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes, drank on 2/16/10. Year 2010.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Poured a dark amber color with about 1 finger of white foam and a little carbonation. Looks great.

s - Lots of fruity hops, as well as some pine. Some orange is evident.

t - Again tastes of some fruity hops and pine. Alcohol is definitely evident, especially in the after taste.

m - Full bodied but goes down easier than you'd expect. A little hot.

d - Pretty good barleywine but gotta drink this one slow. Alcohol is definitely evident, but still a great smell and taste. Got one bottle of 2010 left so I think I'm going to cellar it and see what happens.

4/3.5/4/4/3.5
___

EDIT on 09/27/12: I've had this many times over the last 3 years and actually just had the 2010 vintage on tap tonigh at the Pony Bar in NYC on the UES. It was drinking great. I've found this is a great beer with 2-3 years on it to let the alcohol fade a tiny bit. Bumping up my ratings.

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Photo of Jason
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown stubby with a vintage date of 2004 on the cap. A small amount of sediment stay still during the pouring. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Thick pancake like head with a webby trail of lace all over the glass. Clear brownish garnet color is brilliant against the light.

Smell: Enthralling aroma of fresh hops hits the nose with a stiff punch of grapefruit and mild pine. Light fruity esters and a caramel like malt are in the back.

Taste: Pungent right from the beginning, not astringent just really bitter from the hops. Then lays in the malt base which is a stable foundation of caramel and toasted sweetness. Some fruity esters jump into the mix as well as a clean yeast in the back ground. Towards the end things dry out with a faint fusel alcohol tagging along for the ride.

Notes: Perhaps a bit green though still damn tasty, drink it now for a good whack to the taste buds or let it sit a year or so to mellow it out. Either way Bigfoot a sure thing.

Bottled 2003 batch.

Appearance: The head is perfection, the lace is thick and sticky with a web like trail down the glass. Deep and dark amber color with a tawny reddish hues.

Smell: Perfumy hop resin aroma with a sweetish oily floral back ground, pungent in light grapefruit and vague piney scents. Esters throw a whiff of alcohol in. Some caramel in the nose within the blanket of malt sweetness that can’t seem to cover the hops.

Taste: The body is big, strong and unwavering. Well textured moderate carbonation. Flat out the hops show who is boss, bitterness is hard but with little astringency. Oily hops make for a slick and smooth mouth feel. As the hops roll over the taste buds the flavor becomes more rustic with a bit of earthy leafy hop flavor. Lots more to go around with the hops with citric and piney flavors. Maltiness may not be the dominant one though it still gives a good sweet push on the palate. Caramel and a toasted malt sweetness swirl around the hops and seem semi melded with each other. Alcohol is certainly not to be ignored either with a slow yet steady warmth, mild esters and a fruity character of ripe figs and prunes.

Notes: A bit more balanced than previous years with that same trademark hardcore hop character. This is the Big Mamma of hoppy barleywines and you have to love the stuff. This is a well aged beer if you have the willpower.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,594 ratings