Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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3,021 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

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

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: 3,021 | Ratings: 7,389
Photo of JOldewurtel
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had been wanting to try this for a long time now. I am not a huge barleywine fan, but this is maybe the most well balanced one I've had. Another great beer from SN.

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Photo of hopphead31415
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I had been meaning to try this beer for a while as an avid Sierra Nevada fan. I should have tried it sooner as it is excellent. It does pack a powerful 9.6% ABV so be careful, but it is quite drinkable for such a strong brew and remember it is after all a barely wine. And lastly, this particular bottle pack that I picked up was almost 8 months cellared, so take that into account as you consider my review.

Look-It pours a reddish copper dark amber color that glints in the light with molten golden color hues. The head is delicate and quickly dissipates due to the sugar content. The lacing is also almost nonexistent, but that is to be expected. The color more than makes up for the lack of those other attributes.

Smell-It has a complex and strong malt-forward smell with yeast components as well as molasses, toffee, caramel, spices, pine, and maybe some bread pudding.

Taste-The hops are definitely present, but are equally balanced by a plethora of sweet dark fruits like candied cherry, plums, and smoked cedar. I also get walnuts and a nutty spice that reminds me of Christmas. The hops shine through strongest at the end with a heavy pine resin and maybe some clementine or grapefruit.

Mouthfeel-It is quite heavy, but not overwhelming and mildly syrupy with little carbonation. You get a sticky oil feeling that lingers like a hoppy resin at the end. It drinks so crisply for a powerful 9.6% brew and is really easy to finish.

Overall-This brew is excellent and belongs in front of a fancy movie scene which features a log cabin in the middle of the woods in a blizzard with a man holding a crystal goblet filled with this variety sitting in front of a big fireplace in a red leather chair perched upon a bear rug while absent-mindedly petting a bloodhound and smoking a Cuban cigar.

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Photo of mmmbeer89
3.01/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

a very bitter taste with little sweetness to offset the bitterness. you get used to the taste after awhile (i bought a 4-pack) but definately not a great tasting beer.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a wine glass. Packed on 12/18/14. This is my first ever barleywine, so here goes nothing!

LOOK: Clear, lightly reddish brown with a thin finger of off white head that leaves some lacing.

SMELL: Generically speaking, big complex malt and yeast aromas mixed with a big hop presence. Individually, I can smell molasses, caramel, toffee, some spices, tons of pine, and a hint of grapefruit and raisins. On to the taste!

TASTE: A massive intermingling of hops and malt. Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted coconut, walnuts, gingerbread, and fruit cake galore, but kept in check by just enough bitterness. There's a rich, dark fruit presence--some cherries, plums, and raisins. Finishes hoppy with heavy pine and grapefruit. I love it!

FEEL: Medium-heavy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation and a sticky hop oil aftertaste. Drinks incredibly easy for 9.6% ABV.

OVERALL: I love this beer! I'm glad my first trying a barleywine was a good experience. This beer is both heavy as all get out, yet quite easy to drink at the same time. Simultaneously super malty and super hoppy. Complex and flavorful. This beer will definitely see my fridge again.

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Photo of sammorito
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

pours a dark clear amber with an off-white head
-bread and caramel. a little bit of citrus
in the beginning i get a lot of malt and caramel. then i get a little bit of grapefruit and lots of hop at the end
medium carbonation,medium body
great beer. easy to drink.

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Photo of LloydDobler
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage
One of my favorites, and possibly my favorite of the style. I DO, however, prefer the fresher batches. They just have more of a hoppy "pop" to them.

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Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Grabbed a single 12 oz bottle as part of a mixed pack at my local Stein's Liquor. This one was packaged about six months ago. Poured at cellar temperature into my tulip glass.

L: Pours a deep burnt sienna with about two inches of dense tan head that persists for a good long while and leaves very nice lacing on the glass. Moderate visible carbonation at the edges where the light shines through.

S: Caramel and toasted malts are front and center. There are also nice notes of raisin, stone fruit, citrus rind, and pine. Just a little clear alcohol coming through. Very nice, if not especially assertive, bouquet.

T: Caramel and toasted malts provide a sweet initial flavor. The hops introduce themselves quite early, providing grapefruit rind and pine notes to complement the malts. In the middle there's also a development of some nice fruit flavors, including raisin, dried stone fruit, and pineapple. The back end is characterized by resinous hop flavor--grapefruit rind and pine. These bring a ton of bitter to the back end, though there is enough of the malts to keep them somewhat in check. Just a touch of clear alcohol at the close.

F: Medium-bodied, though perhaps not quite as heavy as would be expected from the style. Creamy and bright in turns. This one definitely has a bit of stick to it, but it's not overtly syrupy. Lots of lingering bitter on the palate from this one.

O: Having had a few very good barleywines, I was surprised to find this one as hop-forward as it is. Being a big fan of hops, I don't have much of a complaint, but I just don't think this one is quite well-representative of the style. That being said, it's delicious and well-worth a try.

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Photo of Bone53
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Rich clear mahogony color with a finger or two light beige head

Smell: The caramel, subtle dark fruits and breadiness from the malts balance great with the floral and citrus hops

Taste: Caramel malt sweetness upfront with a floral and citrus hop finish

Mouthfeel: Heavy medium to light heavy body; Goes down fairly easy for nearly 10%, but the bitterness is excessive for a barleywine

Overall: Bigfoot is hard for me to rate. It's very hoppy for a barleywine and doesnt hold up to the best beers in the style today. However, i have to put into consideration that this was first brewed in 1983. As others have mentioned, this reminds me more of an imperial red ale. If labeled as such, id easily give this a 4.5. As a barleywine, its closer to a solid 4. Very enjoyable nonetheless

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Photo of drmeto
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

-pours a clear dark red with a big,creamy,off-white head
-medium-high carbonation visible
-caramel,toffee,raisins,plums,pine resin,grapefruit
-medium carbonation,medium body
-alcohol well hidden
Overall a great Beer,but i missed that mouth-coating sweetness usually present in Barleywines.
To me this was more akin to an imperial red ale.
It also lacked a bit of body.

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

12 oz bottle, 2013 vintage, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, deep, dark, mahogany color, with a quarter of a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Strong, complex and delicious aromas of toasted malt, candied sugar, dried stone fruit such as apricots, plumbs and nectarines, as well as honey, spices of black pepper, saffron, coriander and a touch of ginger. There is also a touch of floral, piney, hops.

Taste: With two years age on it, it tastes very nice and complex! Tons of roasted malt and candied sugar up front, followed by the aforementioned spices of black pepper, saffron, coriander, ginger, as well as touches of nutmeg and all-spice. There is also quite a bit of the aforementioned dried stone fruit such as apricots, plumbs and nectarines, and finally, the beer finishes with some piney, floral, slightly resin-like, slightly bitter hops, but nothing out of balance or too assertive to muddle the other flavors. It’s a beautifully balanced beer!

Mouthfeel: Slightly chewy and pretty smooth as there is just a touch of carbonation. With an ABV of 9.6%, there is just a touch of an alcohol warmth on the palate, otherwise the alcohol is very well masked.

Overall: This was drunk with two years age on it, and it’s a very nice, very good American-style barley wine. Great flavors, nicely balanced hops. Great quaff!

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle. (2015 vintage)

A: Pours a rusty amber with a thick creamy beige head. Excellent retention the head lingers for quite awhile. Lacing is intense and beautiful on the glass.

S: Raisin, pine, caramel, and floral earthy hops.

T: Sweet malts, white pepper, molasses, raisins, apricot, with some nice earthy hop bitterness on the back end.

M: Medium bodied, lightly carbonated, smooth, peppery and bitter.

O: While not mind blowing this a great and classic example of an american barleywine. I pick up a few four packs each year and gradually enjoy them when I want a solid barleywine.

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Photo of frozyn
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 12/18/14; 2015 cap. Poured 6/14/15.

L -- Pours finger-thick head in an oversized snifter, dissipates quickly. Ruby red color at first gives way to a caramel/amber color.

S -- Raisin is the first scent I got, followed by floral hops. Nothing strong or overwhelmingly awesome, but pleasant nonetheless.

T -- Peppery malts and baked fruit. The hop flavor comes through strong, especially towards the end of the sip, as it warms. Got a bit of resin flavor on the tongue occasionally.

F -- Smooth, a bit of zing on the tongue from the peppery flavor.

O -- Great to drink, but nothing that blew my socks off.

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Photo of jclark42796
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This is my first barley wine so wasn't sure what to expect. Color and smell reminded me of a Dogfish head Red and White (not sure why that is classified as witbier), which I really like. Love the smell, but this beer is way too bitter for me. Someone mentioned a DFH 120min, probably would agree with that.

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Photo of PatrickCT
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip.

a: Opaque. Rusty cider colored body. Light around the edges presents a golden raisin color linings. Thick and even beige head. Very beautiful, very earthy looking beer.

s: Wow. Raisin and bruised stone fruit followed by a compost like pine scent. Floral and musky hops follow.

t: Malty with lots of molasses and cooked fruit like apricots and plums. Brandy soaked raisins. Spicy peppery hop finish.

mf: Smooth malts. Peppery hops that can be a bit racy.

o: This 2013 will be terrific in 2017. Very well done but right now a little raw throughout.

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Photo of Gregaroo
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've got to go 3.5. I was hoping for more. On tap at The Long Room (a great spot) in NYC. This is my 400th rated beer and I waited for what I hoped would be a spectacular one. A nice beer, just not an over the top barley wine from SN.

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Photo of craftbeersweden
3.62/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark copper color. Yellow foam that leaves lacing on the glass.

Nose: Orange marmalade, grape, soil, vanilla, dried fruit and fudge.
Taste: Dried fruit, grapefruit peel, caramel malt, brown sugar and blood orange with a great bitterness.
Body: Full body with a heavy bitterness. Medium carbonation.

I was not blown away as the first time - Still very good though!

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Photo of CNoj012
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a transparent amber brown with a one finger creamy colored head. Retention is solid and there are hanging sheets of sticky lacing everywhere. Smell is hop forward. Pine needles, grapefruit and lemon dominate with some sweet caramel and bready malts as well. Also a bit of sweet dark fruit. Very complex. Taste is similar, starts off sweet with a bitter finish. Feel is full side of medium and resinous. Overall a great beer. Certainly not my first choice of style, but this is an excellent barleywine.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Did a side by side with 2015 and 2014. Rating reflects 2015 since I liked it more. This is a big hoppy barley wine. The 2015 reminded me of 120 Minute IPA. The 2014 version was much less hoppy and sweeter. The 2015 is a fairly fruity barley wine. Not used to that since I like the sweeter maltier barleywines.

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Photo of Reedbrew
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015: Fresh:Much hoppier than I recall the barrel aged version being.
Update (June): a few months of age on this brew has done it some good. The hops have mellowed and the flavors have evened out and blended more smoothly. Looking forward to seeing the changes in the coming months...

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Photo of Sandalwood
3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

2014 version, drinking in 2015 - pours a dark amber brown color with a two finger off white frothy head. It is a little cloudy with some carbonation. The odor is very malty, sweet, dried fruits, candied fruits, honey, roasted malt, spices, slightly bread like. The taste is very malty, heavy, sweet up front, but then very spicy, clove, pine resin, sticky, but ends bitter dry.

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Photo of SublimeZero
4.64/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a solid Barleywine Ale. The color is a deep amber with a tan head giving forth to a bouquet of floral aromatics. As the deep amber liquid strikes the palate it yeals flavors of malty and a hint of sweetness due to left over malt sugars witch is quickly balanced with hop bitterness with the finish of hoppy radiance and floral tones.

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Photo of Libeertarian
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Purchased 8 Vintage 2015 in February/March. Plan on aging them and then adding onto this review once a year, as aroma and palate evolve.

05/02/15 Review:

Served at about 55°. Pours a deep, dark, semi-opaque copper capped with tapioca-colored head. Retention wasn't great, but that could just be the result of the glassware (snifter). Filming lace, on the other hand, was magnificent, sticking to the sides of the glass as well as the surface of the beer. Yeast dancing around the bottom of the glass. Hop aromas are sweet citrus, perfume, pine, and resin. Can't detect much from the grain on the nose. Caramel probably melds too much with hops, although perhaps the slightest toastiness is there. Sweet, caramel malt, some yeast character, and strong, dank fruity/floral hops in the lead. Overall, raisin-like, but bitter. Just as soon as you think these are sure bets, piney and spicy bitterness overtake them. Herbal, rindy notes and black pepper are hot on their heels as they lap and finish. Retro-olfaction brings out crushed mustard seed. A thin, metallic tasting lining of the mouth is soon all that remains. Very smooth, full-bodied, astringent and warming, with medium carbonation. A year is a long time to wait for another tasting.

05/02/16 Review:

May 2016: Served just over 60°, using same snifter. Copper with peach tones, semi-clear but hazy, thick, and dark with fine suspended particles. Beige, rocky, but even and creamy head of moderate retention. Alright lacing. Resin, raisin, pleasant perfume, spicy dankness, pepper, hot alcohol. Hops seem to have deteriorated somewhat, not a bad thing as long as booze, malt, and carbonation do their jobs. Pine, perfume, raisin, apricots to palate. Caramel with dark fruity, spirity sweetness and mild tea/leaf/leather-like bitterness throughout, with the addition of cloves and peppercorn come the finish. Medium-bodied, too well-carbonated to be syrupy, fine and tingly then creamy-smooth, plenty warming, and yet not as hot as expected. Looking forward to trying the 2015 again in another year (and 5 more after that, started with 8). Missed the 2016 so far this year, but I could still get lucky. Not as good as it was before (going by memory and past description) due to hop deterioration, but perhaps in another year or so that won’t be as much of an issue. Though I will keep my first score, for the sake of discussion, I would re-score this at 4.75, 4, 4.25, 4.5, 4.25. Improvement only in mouthfeel, with hop flavors and aromas deteriorating slightly as they would in an IPA or IIPA. Still plenty of room for improvement, as malt and yeast qualities age on alcohol in the years to come.

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Photo of stompilator
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a tulip.

A - Poured a slightly opaque, reddish copper. Medium head thickness, fairly weak lacing.

S - Tons of subtle hop aroma, mostly berry and pine,

T - Hits hard with a mixture of fruity and resiny hops, along with a fat, roasty malt body completely undetected by the nose. The hops step back for a moment and let the malts shine, ending with a nice spice and oh so slight residual bitterness.

M - Almost stoutlike, very heavy body with very light carbonation. Fairly dry.

O - Very easy to sip, but if you're paying attention, all of the elements play together wonderfully. A very subtle creation by SN.

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Photo of Trombone69
3.59/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I guess maybe I'm not a barleywine fan. It's a bit rough, too much alcohol, too bitter. Indeed "a challenge to the pallet", true to the BA style description.

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Photo of greshdoghophead
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pkgd 12/04/14 Vintage 2015 - dissapointing finish to my Barleywine season. Was really looking forward to revisiting this classic. Alcohol, hop aroma, and IBU presence were all muted. Solid but not outstanding as compared with other examples in this style. Maybe I'll shelf the rest of the 4-pack for a year but I gather that will only dull the allready muted flavors.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,389 ratings.
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