Bigfoot | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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

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.

User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 3,129 | Ratings: 7,714
Photo of BeerBobber
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A very dark ruby mixed with copper color on the pour. Very hard to see my finger on the other side of the glass. Tall two finger thick and creamy tan head topping the beer. Thhead looks like the topping on a root beer float! Heavy lacing on the glass just slicks down as you drink it.

The smell is very complex so give me a second here. Smells like toffee and roasted malts. Also picking up stone fruits like raisins. A bit of alcohol on the nose.

Hops, raisins and oh my! Picking up some roasted malts and a touch of sweetness. The hop bitterness is very pronounced at the front and back of the taste. The sweetness is kind of like a toffee unlike any I have tasted, like a bitter toffee.

Mouthfeel is full and that bitterness lingers. Finish seems a bit long and somewhat slick but crisper than what I thought.

Overall this is not a crushable or easy drinking beer. This is more of a sipper. The beer lover in me is trying to pull all I can out of this beer as it seems so complex. By the way this is the 2018 offering. The biigest thing I can pull out of this is the craftmanship that goes into this beer. It seems like it is so complex and wants to give the beer drinker so much more to enjoy. The heavy 9.6% ABV picks up on the tounge with a touch of a burn but very suttle. I cannot wait to see how this changes with time. Cheers!

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Photo of melikeymybeer
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A great diversion from my usual. Nice head and lace. Malty and bitter. The alcohol is quite noticeable with no apparent effort to mask it. Would happily drink again.

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Photo of MoreBeer4me
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bought a six pack a few days back...never had this before...tried it last night. Can't say I was overwhelmed. It was good but was expecting more from an almost 10% ABV beer. I think they could have cut back on the bitterness just a tad as it was a bit overdone. The extreme taste transition from slightly sweet to very bitter was a bit much. Still have five left so I'll let those sit a while and revisit this one in the fall.

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Photo of Siebert
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Never thought I would see this one again, but here it is in a 2018 version. This is a type of beer that is larger than life, a gigantic malty IPA with a bite. It reminds me of an Italian bitter liqueur called Cynar, which is made from artichokes and claims to "make everything that follows taste sweeter." Just one bottle of Bigfoot in a drinking session changes everything. More than one is not advised!

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Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2018 bottle into my trusty Big Eddy shifter. Beautiful reddish brown color with red highlights around the edges, with a very light tan head and some spotty lacing. Pine, citrus, toffee & fruit aromas. Taste starts out sweet and ends with a bitter finish. It has a medium body, and nice carbonation. Very nice beer.

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

2018 vintage poured, at cellar temp, into a large tulip glass. Ruby red in color with an off-white head that quickly fades to a solid cap. Visible carbonation with tiny bubbles rising around the edge of the glass.

Nose is hoppy, herbal, pine, citrus. Some caramel & alcohol.

Tastes follows the smell with a strong bitter bite on the finish. Dark fruit, candied citrus peel.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied & slightly sticky. Carbonation not noticeable.

Overall, a solid american barley wine that I can see benefiting from some time in the cellar. It will be interesting to see what develops.

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Photo of Brew_42
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours rust/brick red with a white head that disappears wuickly

Smell is not nearly as good as I am used too. Big hints of alcohol and faint maltiness.

Taste is much better than the aroma suggests. Candied sugar, caramel, malts, and a boozy punch. This is a really good barleywine.

MF- Mouthfeel is warm and the body is medium.

Oveerall a really solid barleywine. Good for a cold night.

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

Bought a 6-pack $9.39 Tamura's 2018 batch
Smell of alcohol, molasses
Clear reddish brown color
Heavy mouthfeel
Medium carbonation
Sweet then bitter finish. Malty, caramel tastes.
Overall a complex beer for a cheap price. Nice to sip and enjoy the flavors.

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Photo of UtahBeerPleb
3.34/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This is my first ever barleywine. I am very...hesitant about this style now. This was a lot hoppier than I was expecting - hops aren't bad of course, I do love my IPAs - but to me it was too overpowering on the bitter, piney hops. The malts do give it just a bit of a bittersweet flavor to it, and there's an interesting almost raisiny after-taste, but to me it feels unbalanced and too intense on my palate. It does look awesome - a deep red color with a head that never dissipated as I sipped it down. It also hides the alcohol well for 9.6%. I couldn't possibly say this is bad. I don't know how well it represents the style, but it's obviously a well-made beer. I just don't think it's for me.

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Photo of laketang
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2018 12 oz bottle, 12/01/17
Poured out brilliant red with an off white head, not much retention.
Candy like notes, malt, spicy.estery. taste is a bit of a bitter note, spicy
Caramel perhaps.notes of candy like sweetness.good beer a bit hot.
Alcohol present. and will put 3 or 4 aside for future review tweeking.

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

2018 Vintage, poured into a sample size snifter.
Aroma is caramel sweetness at first followed immediately by the hops with citrus and spice. Flavor follows the aroma with some really intense bitterness like a punchy IPA. Warming mouthfeel, medium body and medium carbonation keeps it from sitting heavy on the palate. Barleywines, IPAs and hoppy beers are not my go-to in most cases, but I've had this in the past (fresh and aged) and I enjoy both for different reasons. This is a huge and aggressive beer fresh, looking forward to having another next year for an entirely different experience.

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Photo of scream
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Maybe it is my having so many barrel aged beers recently, but I think the 2018 version of this falls a bit short of what I can recall from previous bottles. Don't get me wrong, it is still a fine beer. I just think it is lacking in the overall depth I can recall from previous versions.

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Photo of dcotom
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Review of the 2018 vintage, Poured cold from 12-ounce bottle into a large snifter. Clear toffee-brown colored body, with a light tan head that took a few minutes to settle into a nice cap. This was allowed to warm to cellar temperature in the glass. Malt-forward aroma, mostly caramel and dark bread. The alcohol is very prominent on the nose as well as the palate. As aggressively hopped as this is, there is a ton of resiny bitterness that coats the tongue and lingers on the finish. Some cellaring might mellow this out somewhat. As is, it's still a very good beer.

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Photo of Buck89
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 batch poured into a snifter. Beautiful on the pour - a clear amber-ruby color in the glass with a thick off-white head that lingered and slowly receded. Caramel, toffee, pine, and resin on the nose. The taste was rounded out with pine, bitter orange peel, caramel, and toffee all mingled together. A full bodied malty finish. Outstanding.

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Photo of TerryMills
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not as much sweetness left over as most barleywines , still a big flavorful beer but very balanced malt to hop ratio and finishes a tad dry .

Different than other barleywines but very good in its own way..

Will buy again.

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Photo of vikinggary28
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First off let me say I'm not a big fan of barley wines. They are usually too malty, too heavy, and not usually my style. So I reluctantly bought a six pack on the cheap because of my love for Sierra Nevada brewing and I can honestly say I enjoyed this one. Poured from bottle to glass mug. Dark amber / red with you dark head. Smells of slightly sweet malts and caramel. Very smooth taste for a barley wine "style", and "style" may be the key word here. Great taste and mouthfeel. Not overly malty at all. Prost!

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Photo of Sauced4life
4.64/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Drinking a 2016 so my numbers are based on 2 years aged. Delicious sauce either way and only gets better with years on them. Had a 2013 the other day and that was by far the best BF I've had so far.

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Photo of andrewh995
3.67/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a slightly hazy ruby red with a small off white head. Smells of malt and caramel. Tastes of sweet caramel, booze, malt, hops, and dark fruits. Medium-heavy creamy body with medium carbonation. Overall this is a good barleywine but flavor is very muted compared to most barleywines that I am used to drinking.

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Photo of Snowcrash000
3.71/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep amber, coppery coloration with a medium, creamy head. Smells of caramel malt and grassy hops, with a hint of toffee, dark fruit and pine. Taste is a nice balance of caramel, bready malt and citrus, piney hops, with a certain grainy, grassy, earthy quality. Notes of toffee, dark fruit, chocolate and pine. This is my first Barley Wine, and I'm not sure what to make of it, to be honest. It kinda reminds me of a strong American Amber Ale, but a little more mellow, with more earthy, grainy notes. Its high ABV is actually hidden rather nicely, except for a slight warming presence, but balance is not quite to my taste. Not bad, but not really for me either.

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Photo of beercat11
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2018 version. Have had this offering every year the past 10 years and still look forward to it's release. The main reason I go out of my way for the SN barley wine is the hop profile of course. Might not be as traditional as many other barley wines but that is exactly why I like it so much. It pours a nice reddish brown with a nice fluffy head and leaves a nice sticky lace all the way down the snifter as it's consumed. I like to swirl the sediment on the bottom of the bottle to get that hazy appearance and add a little more head potential from the yeast, also puts some bread dough in the mix if you look for it. The balance of the hops and the malt is just right for my taste, Sweet caramel with a touch of pine seems perfect and almost too easy to drink. Alcohol is almost non present. I chill the beer cold like any other IPA and take my time sipping it to enjoy the other flavors that unravel as it warms. Molasses and candied yams come to mind later on. Not too heavy going down due to the mid range tiny bubble carbonation profile. Bitterness is present somewhere in the middle to end. Balance is the key to this treat and that's why it works in the this years version as well, as it should and as it has in all earlier vintages. Cheers

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Photo of BenHoppy
4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Having had this many times but currently having a 2018 fresh bottle poured into a snifter:

L: more amber ruby, cherry red than remembered but still looks delicious. Also is brown but depends on angle and lighting. Minimal head that turns to super thin lacing

A: deathtone hoppy alcohol faint malts with a bit of sweetness

T: citrus caramel, earthy hops mixed with floral nutty toffee along with grassy, malts, pine notes. But on the sweet side yet can clearly tell you're dealing with a Bigfoot monster.

F: pine bitterness, medium to heavy, smooth subtle warming booze

O: delicious and have amother 2018 as well as a 2017, 2016, and 2014 barrel aged in my cellar. But even fresh this beer is amazing.

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Photo of SABERG
4.16/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle labelled 2017, bottled on 12/28/16 into the test glass
A - Beautiful copper color, excellent clarity, rather aggressive carbonation. The cap of off white is creamy and last forever.
S - Hot hops in the nose, cascade and burnt butter, notes of toffee, and light charrd oak
T - Follows the nose well, no surprises, add to the nose some orange reduction and a bit of light tobacco
M - Medium in body, just right in slick feel, Carbonation does an excellent job cleaning up
O - A classic for sure, I expect this will simmer down with a year or two resting.

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Photo of huthuty
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A deep amber with a medium head
Smell is sweet with some piney hops detectable
Taste is extremely dense with hops and alcohol
Apart from the hop element it seems light for the alcohol content, this is like a hops liquor as opposed to a malt liquor

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Photo of Gasp262
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Disappointing. Hoppy, astringent, very unpleasant aftertaste and mouthfeel, even for sipping. This did not grow on me over the course of the bottle.

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Photo of ntraft
1.58/5  rDev -61.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

2018 Edition

I had this many years ago (2008) and it was a major milestone on my journey into the world of beer. It was unlike anything I had ever tried before and even in years hence I continued to regard it as a remarkable example of barleywine. Today I saw it while in the checkout line, and on a whim decided to grab a six-pack.

With this latest effort, Sierra Nevada has utterly destroyed this previously-cherished offering.

The description on the bottle already had me a bit worried: "heaps of whole-cone, Pacific Northwest hops." Huh?! What do hops have to do with a barleywine?? They're an afterthought.

Look: Head sticks to the glass, and color is the deep reddish hue that I would expect. Does not bear the same cloudiness that I remember from previous iterations, however.

Smell: Fairly unremarkable. There's a hint of the old Bigfoot deep down somewhere in there, with vanishingly faint notes of raisin and dark fruits under the cacophony of hop oils. I practically have to touch my nose to the liquid to sense it.

Taste: It has not a trace of the sweet raisin flavor I originally fell in love with. The previously rich, syrupy malt has been utterly demolished by an astringent, choking load of hops that has me clearing my throat and chugging water. And for that bitterness I'm not even rewarded with the citrus earthiness of the typical IPA.

Feel: Doesn't have the rich creaminess that it had in previous years. Otherwise unremarkable.

Overall: Literally, what is the point of this beer?? It is literally pointless. It has no place in the world. There are plenty of double IPAs in the world. Why did they need to make one that didn't have the malty sweetness to backup those hops?? They should be ashamed of themselves. They have destroyed something that used to be a cornerstone of Great Beer. This is on the order of the destruction of Palmyra, the ancient World Heritage site which has has recently been ravaged by Syrian conflict.

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Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,714 ratings