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

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3,023 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot 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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 3,023 | Ratings: 7,406
Photo of HugoGrim
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 edition: Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Rick burgundy/rosewood color to the body. An aggressive pour produced a nice thick head, which dissipated into a thin wisp of soapy foam. Epic lace.

Aroma is hop domination with hints of sweet dark fruits.

Absolute hop blast in the mouth. Very Earthy with flavors of wood and leather, but piney hops flex, and push everything else into the background. Alcohol is faint, and quite pleasant.

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Photo of dreadnatty08
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

06' edition.
Pours a dark ruby hazy brew. An aggressive pour yields just a slight fizzy head that quickly dissipates. Aromas abound, screaming out of the glass. A sweet, roasty maltiness, followed by some resinous hops and a bit of alcohol burning in the end. A syrupy, heavy mouthfeel with very little carbonation covers the tongue with some intense flavors. The sweetness is quickly entrapped by a bitter hoppy zing. Some dried fruits are noted in addition to a floralness that barely makes it over the alcohol, which makes a heavy presence. This is a style I've come to love, and wonder why anyone would want to drink wine after this.
I had the pleasure to drink this side by side a 750ml bottle of Old Crustacean (with a friend of course) and was able to appreciate the big difference (mainly the sweet, balanced flavor of Rogue's vs. the hop bomb of Bigfoot). This is an amazing digestif beer I've been able to enjoy on many a night. Holds a special place for me.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
2.96/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1


Bigfoot 2004, aged approximately 2 years. Last of a six pack purchased in early 2004 for approximately $8.99 at LaBodega in Riverside, CA. I am interested in this re-review, as I really didn't care for it before, and I know it probably has changed, and I know I have changed. Is it any better? Previous (6/2004) review copied below for comparative purposes.

Pours a dark amber with copper notes. A moderate off-white head drops quicky. Muddy looking, even though I kept the bulk of the obvious yeast particles in the glass.

Aroma is complex, deep brandy like, but better. Sweetness, brandied cherries, figs, slight chocolate notes. Flavor follows through, intense and strong. No real notice of the hops that seemed to dominate before- did I mis-identify, or have the hops character truly faded away?

Mouthfeel is rich and full, creamy when swirled in the mouth. But then there's that huge alcohol burn at the end, kerosene/jet fuel that completely ruins all the good stuff that came before. It really takes something that starts well, and just destroys it. When I first reviewed this, it was one of the first barleywines I had ever tried. Now I've had several, and I know they can be better than this.

Once again, I did not finish it.


2004 vintage, poured in 6/04. Pours a medium brown, semi-transparent with a medium head after a vigorous pour. The head dies back into a thin cover pretty quickly. Aroma is malty, with a lot going on- somewhat sweet, with dark sweet fruits, and the oils and pines of hops. Flavor was slightly sweet with a strong, piney oily bite of hops, and with a huge, overpowering alcohol profile. As it warms, rich dark sweet fruits come out too. But it continued to feel like pure grain alcohol mixed with hop oil. There was a lot of interesting things going on, but the alcohol rising through them all made me stop drinking it.

This was a beer of extremes for me. There were parts I really liked, and parts that really ruined it for me. I could not finish it. I have one more bottle that I will let age for a year or two and see what it's like. I am a big Sierra Nevada fan, and I could not do this one.

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Photo of Hautacam
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out dark, clear orange-amber....white head..drops to "gone".
Smell :Big floral hop aroma...are my eyes watering ?..grapefruit rind ..some alcohol..malt must be there somewhere ?..hint of dried fruit in background.
Tastes sweet for about a nanosecond, then the hops just punch you hard....candy-malt comes forward as it warms.Clean citus rind finish that lingers into the aftertaste....and lingers some more
Sweet syrupy mouthfeel...no carbonation.
This is a really good one, but you must want over -the -top -
hop bitter...from start to finsh...and then some.
For my taste...I would describe this as DFH 90 minute that has been intensified right to the limit.
I will get this again....but I can tell that my girlfriend who likes her hops subtle, will have to leave the room when I drink this...mmm....I won't have to share !

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Photo of beerphilosopher
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Much to my surprise, I found this one at one of my local liquor stores. This part of IL is typically quite beer-deprived, so I was very pleased ... anyway ...

Poured into the pint glass with a very red orange appearance. Head is white with little retention. Little visible carbonation. Nose is big time hops upfront. Lurking behind, however, is a pretty robust sweet malt backbone to offset the hop attack just a tad. Smells wonderful. Palate is as suspected. The hops jump out and grab you like a pissed off yeti. As the nose indicated, the substantial malt character really does work to "tame" the massive hop profile this one contains. Pine, green tea, and a little citrus mixed with sweet mollasses and caramel. Mouthfeel is biting and sweet, Again, low carbonation. Lasting bitterness of the hops co-exist with a persistent sweetness. Medium-bodied. Wow ...what can I say ... I've wanted to try this one for a while now and it didn't disappoint. I was a bit worried as this is the '06 Bigfoot and still very "young." The hops are indeed "untamed" and are a force to be reckoned with. All in all, though, this is still very drinkable (one), and promises even better things in a couple of years. The rest of the six is goin' in the cellar and won't make another appearance for a year, at least. By then, it'll have learned a little discipline. Anyway, as for the Bigfoot ... I believe.

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Photo of jamesdergen
4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Edition

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous ruby-amber with a medium tan head.

Smell: Dense piney, herbal hops and strong malty background.

Taste: A massive attack on my tastebuds! Starts out with a wall of herbal, piney very aggressive hops that fades into the caramel malt background. The hops never leave completely and come back in with the alcohol at the end, raw hop bitterness lingers in my mouth afterwards.

Mouthfeel: Very aggressive, but not overly carbonated and medium-bodied. The alcohol is ever-present, but not overpowering. Overall, surprisingly smooth.

Drinkability: Easy to sip, but I would not want to drink this any faster. Mostly as a result of the delicious taste, but also out of reverence to the alcohol content. For the style, very drinkable.

What a great brew from SN! Hoppy, malty and full of alcohol, but still well balanced and delicious. Highly recommended.

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Photo of Gusler
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006
The beer sets in the glass a clear deep mahogany After its debarking the 12-ounce stubby brown bottle, the head is modest in size, semi-creamy in texture and the color a winsome light tan, after its eventual demise the lace forms a concealing sheet to obscure the glass. Nose has a decent hop floral spiciness, sweet malt at the back, citrus like in its crispness, start is a bit sweet, the grain profile perfect and the top middling in its feel. Finish is mercenary in its acidity, the hops powerful in their spiciness, quite dry and the aftertaste long. Drinkable as it is, but give six months to twenty years then its spectacular.

Vintage 2005:
The beer dispenses from the 12-ounce brown bottle a luminous mahogany and the head, Brontosauric in size, the texture creamy and the color light tan, as the head slowly degrades the resultant lace forms a thick and sticky sheet upon the glass. Nose is hop floral, sweet and the malt obvious, crisp and clean, the start is sweet, the grain profile adequate and the top middling. Finish is mildly acidic, the hops punishing in their spiciness, droughty aftertaste, the alcohol also makes itself known is a bit of aftertaste bitterness and the nice tummy warming, a beer I look forward each year, a life long favorite.

Vintage 2004
Well, my waiting is over, every year I wait with great anticipation for the new release of “Big Foot”, one of my top 3 barley wines, well the wait is over, got my first sampling of “Release 2004”.The beer disembogues the bottle a somewhat hazy brown color, the head is moderate in size, frothy in its texture and the color a winsome light tan, as it evaporates, the lace forms a sealing curtain upon the glass. Nose is sweet malt, hints of the hop flower, a tad bit of fusel alcohol, citrus crisp and fresh, start is ambrosial; the malt a bit lean in my opinion, top is moderate in mouth feel. Finish is prickly in its acidity, the hops majestic in their spiciness, very dry aftertaste. Appears to me that this years batch is a bit light on the malt, a change I don’t like, still a fine beer, and maybe a bit of aging will help, for better or worse, I now have a case and one six pack in the cellar.

VIintage 2003: What can I say about this beer that I’ve not said many times before. Each year I wait for it to come out like waiting on a dear friend to come for a visit. As it sets in my Sierra Nevada Pounder, it’s an unblurred mahogany color, the head temperate in size frothy in texture, the color a winsome light tan, and as it disappears the lace formed a silky sealing sheet, that welds itself to the glass. Nose is floral, slight traces of fusel alcohol, citrus crisp, fresh, as a spring morning, a real treat to the nose, start is sweet and thickly malt with a middling top. Finish surly in its hop spicy bite with the acidity bruising and the alcohol domineering, the aftertaste desert dry, somewhat bitter and long lasting. Love this beer and it only gets better with age just like “Olde Gusler”!

Vintase 2002: On the pour a nice clear brown, masterful beige head and sheets of lace to coat the glass. Nose is hop floral, malt under tones, and just maybe a hint of fusel alcohol. Front begins malt and slightly sweet, the top has a fair to middling mouth feel. The finish has a brawny hop presence, intermediate acidity, aftertaste is dry, alcohol bitter and the high ABV is certainly evident in the "Belly Warming". I bought a case, and a 12 pack is being cellared as we speak, a beer that gains in flavor and robustness as it ages, and I'm sure it will be a "Hoot", 2 or 3 years down the road.

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Photo of riversider76
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours brown, with a thin tan head.This was vintage 2006. Smell is of citrus, hops,and alchol. Body is medium. Taste is big, almost sweet at the start, but finishes with a big hop kick. The citrus and alchol really come through. have a few of these,and say goodnight!

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Photo of adam42381
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle

Poured a dark brown with minimal creamy head. Faint lacing all the way down.

Smell is strong with hops and a faint bit of citrus, mainly lemon.

Taste is excellent. Very large, strong taste with a hint of citrus at the beginning. Finishes with a nice amount of bitterness. You can taste the difference in the higher ABV.

Mouthfeel is above average, not too thick but not light either. A bit sticky on the palate. Very nice.

Drinkability is quite high. Despite it's higher ABV, you could easily down a few of these.

Overall, this is an excellent product once again from Sierra Nevada. This is my personal favorite beer, at least for tonight!

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle(2006-room temp) a dark red with a medium sized head of foam that dissipated quickly.

The smell is a nice mix of hoppiness and a caramel malt.

The taste is big, huge, citrusy hoppy goodness up front that gets my palate's attention and almost puts a stranglehold on it. ;^) Mid way through, there's a good malt presence that stays right through to the finish though, right at the very end, the hops return just to let you know "who" is in command. Absolutely delicious!

Bottom line: I've had the Bigfoot many times and it never fails to satisfy. Highly recommended!!!

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Photo of Bones54
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Serving: Bottle
Appearance: A very enticing brown
Smell: Damn- smell those hops!! Mix in a hint of pine and fruit aroma.
Taste: Holy hoppiness!!! I think my palate is actually having a hop attack- I'll take that any day... I swear this is a Double IPA...
Drinkability: Proceed with caution.... This beer is very drinkable, especially with its IPA characteristics- but this sucker is high in ABV and should be handled as such

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

This is another beer I've heard a great deal about and have been eager to try. I've had a mixed track record with barley wines so far but I'm trying harder to appreciate them and this is suppossed to be one of the best.
Pours a cloudy ruby color into my goblet with no real head but a thin skullcap remains. Cloudy and very tranquil in appearance, with zero visible carbonation. Nose has the delicious waft of chocolate malt and is ringed with alcohol, unsurprising considering the abv.
I have to admit, I like this beer in spite of what it is. Too much alcohol on the tongue for me but a late kick of hops saves it from high abv hell and gives it some much needed balance and character. Texture is obviously thick and round enough under the circumstances.
I still wouldn't choose one for extended session work but this is a high quality brew. I'll definitely be looking for more of these next winter and have to admit with this one, the hype is legit.

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Photo of bashiba
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 bottling
Poured a nice dark red with lots of carbonation, when poured aggressively this led to about 4 inches of thick creamy and sticky head.

Smell is a nice mix of juniper hop odor with bits of bready toasty malts.

Wow is this a hop bomb. There are some underlying malt flavors, but it still dominated by great piney and grapefruity hop flavors.

Mouthfeel has a thick oilyness that really cotes the tongue and lingers.

Overall and enjoyable and tasty treat for hopheads.

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Photo of ReDave
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Bottling.. Wish i had kept at least two bottles (or better yet a 6-pak) of each year as i bought them... I will try with this batch this time. I’m not sure how long they age this, but it is VERY right now! Aging will mellow and smooth out the few (very) rough edges it has now. Very rich, not really overpowering in any area. Sure it’s a litle strong, but its A Barley Wine. Much more drinkable than some others i’ve had that are too sweet (cloying?) or not nearly as balanced. Great!

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Photo of Avagadro
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured into a clear glass (looked like a lowball) because no good beer glasses were available. I was able to get a good foamy head out of it, but cleared away after a short amount of time (maybe a tulip glass would have helped?) Great aroma upon agitating the beer. Nice crisp hoppy smell. The flavor followed the same trend with the hoppiness. Hoppy to begin and a slight dry after-taste. Had a great reddish-brown color when held up to the light. I suggest this to a person who likes a hoppier barley wine. This is a great beer to start out the night, but weighing in at 9.60 abv, drink with caution.

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Photo of mcallister
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

What a great frothy head and substantial lacing. Cloudy penny copper with slight browning at the edges. Smells of sweet barley and hops with molasses. Slightly hoppy. Mouthfeel leaves something to be desired. Almost to tannic. Otherwise a very good barley wine. Definitely not my favorite though. By the way it's an '05

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Photo of tattooedtolley
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 edition. 12oz bottle with cool little image of bigfoot and some campers drinking under the cap.

Appearance: Deep amber/red in color with a big head that stays for a while, long enough to let it sit and warm up a bit. Great looking in every glass I have put it in.

Smell: Super hoppy, pine aroma takes complete command of my ability to smell.

Taste: You can't miss the hops in this one. I was certainly suprised by the first tasting of this year's Bigfoot, I had no guess there would be this much hop kick. That is certainly something that I think adds to the taste of this barleywine. The piney and slightly fruity hops are great and the maltiness in the back helps add to the body and let's you know that you are still drinking a barleywine.

Mouthfeel: The body is big enough for a barleywine, not overly chewy, just about right for my tastes.

Drinkablitly: The first night I had this I opened one after already having a few others and it straight knocked me on my ass. Ever since that night I stop at just one and save the rest for another night. The beer is still extremely drinkable but you must be on your toes not to over do it.

Overall I think this is one of the best barleywines I have ever had. I love hops so the hoppiness of this one is more than welcome to my tastes but others will certainly want to cellar this one for a while. I doubt seriously if I will be able to cellar mine very long.

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Photo of amicar
4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 edition. Funny... a twist off cap. Pours reddish tinged copper with off white head, decent sized. Smell is mostly citrus hops Taste is very nice. A little coarse, but nice.. those citrus hops again. A bit of bite and burn, but very satisfying. Not too sweet- just the right touch. Also a good malty brew with nice mouthfeel. I was going to try to cellar a bit of this, but it's wishful thinking that I can save any.. no wonder this is a clasic.

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Photo of superdavex
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ok, let me preface this review by saying I have a Bigfoot in my hand and have had one consistently in my belly after work for a good month now. Why I've only gotten around to reviewing it now I won't try to explain. On with the review.

As I twist the top off and pour the liquid into my pint glass I immediately notice the DIPA like copper hue. I continue to pour and a very thick body is noticed by the lack of surface movement. As I finish the pour a very slight head developes.

I take a deep quaff and intense hops are inhaled along with a sweet alcohol smell. Wow, is this inviting!

The taste is beyond compare in my experience of barley wines. A slightly sweet malt-like entrance into your mouth followed by an INTENSE hoppy flavour. This is by far the hoppiest barly wine I've had and this is a VERY good thing.

A slightly heavy mouthfeel somehow offset by the intense hoppyness. This thing is so hoppy that it cut through the thickness.

Drinkability is outstanding as I could easily have three or four of these 10% suckers but I'd certainly be regrettin it. I'm gonna limit myself against my will and stop right now after this sip. I'd better stop typing about it too to keep it out of mind.

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

2006 edition. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into my Hobgoblin pint glass. Nice hard pour gave me a decent finger and a half of head. Amber colored with brilliant ruby highlights. As I inhaled deeply I was teased by dark fruit, and tons of fresh hops. Taste is sweet and fruity before a tidal wave of strong alpha hops crashes into my taste buds. Huge hop taste and finish with just a touch of biscuity malt in the beginning and end....which the hops just laugh at and step all over. Alcohol warmth present but nowhere neer overwhelming. Mouthfeel is just short of chewy. Big, complex mother of a beer. Definitely would try over and over again. Shows why a company like Sierra Nevada has such staying power in the market. Best Barleywine i've tasted.

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Photo of ommegangpbr
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the 2005 expedition.
Looks, smells and tastes like an American barley wine!
Go figure.
Not super duper as far as barley wines go but it gets the job done.
One decided, unique aspect about this one that I don't think I've noticed in other barley wines is a distinct note of licorice.
Intense, hoppy bitter, malty sweet, sweetened coffee...
Big Beer.
Not for children.
It might frighten them off.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. Bigfoot pours out a deep amber color with a large, dense head. Each sip of this beer seems to leave a new ring of lacing on the side of my glass. The aroma is a blast of grapefruity hops. The hop aroma becomes slightly more tame as the beer warms, but there is no doubt on which side the balance lies in this beer. Pungent hop flavor with lots of sweet caramel maltiness too. Although the sweetness is there, the taste left behind in the mouth is very bitter. The hoppiness is green, but I can't imagine this beer any other way. Smooth mouthfeel. Alcohol is present but doesn't interfere. I must admit, I had forgotten how great this beer is, a mistake I won't be making again.

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Photo of jaluria
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed a single at my local store and was excited to try it even though the weather outside seemed more like late May than early March.

Poured a dark, ruby color with hues of orange & copper at the bottom and throughout. An off-white head developed with thick bubbles on the surface; soap-like. Aromas of plums, roasted malt, honey, caramel, and alcohol. The taste was smooth and rich with malt flavors upfront and a hop finish. Really complex and flavorful; nothing too overpowering. Thick and chewy in my mouth. Slightly sour taste in the back of my throat with a mild alcohol warming sensation.
Overall, this is one of the best barley wines I've had so far. Smooth and rich without overkill on any one flavor.

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Photo of Crosling
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pure, fresh, barleywine. Perfect deep burgundy in color with a large, creamy and dense head of light tan foam. Nose of hops mainly (resin, grapefruit, pine, flowers) with a touch of caramel and dried fruits. Rich, chewy malts and a gigantic hop explosion. Pretty much exactly what I want in a barleywine. Big honey covered fruit flavors, caramel and hops, hops, hops. Quite honestly, this is pretty much a session beer for me when it is around, especially when it is 10 bucks a 6’er. Each yeah is consistently great and it ages superbly as well.

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

'06 sampled fresh

appearance: nice red color with a phat head. sheets of lacing as the glass is emptied. one the few beers that feels equally at home in pint glass, as it does in a wine glass or tulip. this particular one is in a wine glass. pretty hard to beat this one.

smell: nice reisny pine smell. more subdued than some pale ales, but here in full effect. the malts are nowhere to be found at this point.

taste: about perfect, although it can be argued that their is so much hop flavor that it sort of pushes the limit on the barlelywine style. I love the malty barleywines alot too (which this beer itself will become in a year's time), but this beer just has the perfect mix of grapefruit, pine and malt backing to make it work. Samples from a month ago had even more grapefruit, the flavors in this beer really change month to month it's the damnest thing. doesn't seem to bitter at all, although it is bitter, no doubt.

mouthfeel: light as one could reasonalbly expect a barlelywine to be, and they don't even use sugar to thin the body,(not that i care, it's just impressive from a brewing standpoint). sure, it's got some heft to it, but you want that in barlelywine i would assume.

drinkablitly: so drinkable for a bw it's scary. Old Gaurdian is a chore for me to finish, not this. Yeah, you want to savor it, but it just keeps going down.

Probably the first Barlelywine many of us had, and yet reminds hard to be topped.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,406 ratings.
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