Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
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:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 3,023 | Ratings: 7,406
Photo of JudgeRoughneck
4.81/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a dense, deep, dark, amber- ruby colored brew with a muted glow and a big bright off-white head that fades fast and leaves some delicate lacing.

The nose is amazing. First thing that hits is hops. They are old, resinous, herbal, and quite inviting. Amazingly subdued alcohol is nicely blended with yeasty aromas. The more I sniff the more I just smell grapefruit. Continued quaffing just makes this grapefruit smell more intesne. I am very impressed at the way niether the alcohol, esters, or malt are running the show here and it avoids that vapory smell. Those qualities are left in the taste, where I feel they belong.

The taste starts off with sweet, sweet, malt and citrusy and herbal hops. Vapor alcohol and berry esters show for just a second. Next comes a sublime bouquet of dark berry, red apple, and citrus fruit flavors which are scrubbed off by a slight yeast bite in the finish. Damn that is good.

The mouthfeel is light bodied but thick feeling. It is amazingly NOT slick. It does not feel like my tounge is lifting weights like other barleywines do and it really helps this beer's dangerous drinkability.

As a rule, I'm not that into barleywine. I love this one because I think it retains all the complexity of the style, yet avoids all the things I dislike usually. My favorite barleywine easily.

ADDING ON JAN 2010 - I aged a bottle of this from 2008 beer for 2 years? The longest Michael Jackson suggests in old book of his. The nose, interestingly, developed an amazing complexity, and I have very nice things to say there. Hop aroma has taken a backseat to a host of other aromas including fig, date, sage, with candied fruit flavors intensifying in the flavor and dominating a mix which also included anise, blackberry, mint, and a leathery finish. The alcohol character became a liitle oppressive and despite all the fascinating complexity this beer developed, I felt its drinkability declined severely.

 1,939 characters

Photo of Callenak
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot was my first experience with a BIG beer. Before that, Sierra Nevada's pale ale was about the limit of my ale drinking. Boy did this open my eyes to another world. Having a roommate from Chico for two years didn't hurt either.

Pours a deep, dark amber/red. Complex smells of a fine selection of malts and hops. A sipping beer if there's ever been one. In true Sierra Nevada tradition, one of the hoppiest BW's I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. Maybe it's me, but the 2006 seems hoppier than past years, which doesn't bother me at all.

Going to buy a 6 pack and store for next year. Let her hit it's stride. Hopefully I can hold out.

 651 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
4.73/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada- Bigfoot Barleywine 2006

Appearance- dark ruby red with little floaties and a huge thick head that made a mess of the indise of my glass. The head just sits there, you got to eat it with each sip.
Smell- Strong Citric/ pine hops.
Taste- Pine followed by Grapefruit hops immediately hit you. Secondary flavors are pine and a slight cherry/ grape. Finished off with a slight wooden cask flavor.
Mouthfeel- Huge bitterness and dryness. Finishes off with a sweet warm coating on the back tongue and throat.

Overall- HOLY SH!T this was GOOD!!! A huge hoppy beer that punches you right in the mouth. This is a Barleywine?! I've only had 1 or 2 Barleywines ever and I recall them tasting very fruity even raisiny. Man this is SN Celebration on Barry Bonds steriods!

 782 characters

Photo of Birdiebeagle
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle Pours a cloudy amber with a small light brown head. Lacing is good and the small head lasts very well. Has a sweet aroma of a fruit mixture. Taste is pretty good. Has a nice aftertaste and a decent duration. A subtle alcoholness with a 9.6% abv. A lighter carbonation. Has a healthy flavor. A good beer.

 310 characters

Photo of Optimat0r
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - dark copper, deep red. no foam thank god.

taste - what do u imagine bigfoot, the pacific northwest woods, the trees, the air, the undergrowth, the weather, the atmosphere, and big foot himself to taste like? thats what it tastes like. a very good woodsy, hoppy taste. not as bitter hoppy sa a strong ipa, but much smoother. every now and then get a old penny copper meatallic taste but mostly its just really smooth and good.

drinkability - extremely good for its abv. its really smooth and the penny taste only occurs every now and then. it is an excellent follow up to a dark malty beer.

 608 characters

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

a really attractive beer, amber in color a nice foamy cap. highly fragrant, i could take in it's bouquet from arm's length. sweet, caramel malt awaits followed by a nice dose of piney and citrusy hops. plenty of carbonated activity especially with the pour. just freakin' LOOKS tasty. full-bodied and creamy, leaves little to desire in the mouthfeel dept.

a nice generous blast of hops serves to counter it's early malt sweetness, and the two meld very well here. big grapefruit flavors add a tangy bitterness.

this is the eleventh BF '06 i've had and one of the great things about this beer is i'm constantly getting something new out of it. no two bottles seem exactly the same. one will seem a little on the malty side, and still another on the hoppy side...

damn, this is a great beer.

 792 characters

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

2006 - what a punch in the mouth. An overwhelming barley wine, with more hops than most I have had. However, and I'm nothing of a hop head, I really like the beer. Just let it warm up. Too cold and you might regret it. Can't drink much of this, but i really like the one that I had. DAMN.

1994 - also had a 12 year old to compare with the '06 and I could not have had a different beer. The '94 had just a little foam around the edges, was dark ruby and cloudy, smelled sweet and fruity, tasted like chocolate with rum soaked raisins and a hint of mint in the back, although some earthy hops showed up later in the glass. A really amazing beer for the time it's been in a bottle.


 694 characters

Photo of kgotcher
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz 2006 bottle.

Poured into brandy snifter, dark amber with offwhite head.

Aroma is earthy piney hops overpowering a hidden sweet malt base. Full body with a fair amount of carbonation that helps hide some of the alcohol warming. Spicy on the tongue with a bitter finish and a nice level of alchohol warming. Taste is super hoppy, mostly earthy piney hop flavor, some malt flavor but hard to find through all the hops. Reminded me a bit of a Double IPA. Still very drinkable for the style, should age well so may update my review. Anyway a good start.

 561 characters

Photo of JasonCoop
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006. my first barley wine.
poured into a snifter, pours basically a dark brown/red. pretty hazy. good offwhite foam to it.

smells extremely hoppy. slightly citrusy, slightly fruity but mainly smells like an alcoholic hop juice. which i like.

taste is huge. huge hops, a little bit citrusy(mainly grapefruit). a little bit piney on the finish, but totally dominated by pure hops. the hoppiness almost effectively masks the alcohol content, but the alcohol comes through with warmth.
in a nutshell: dominating grapefruitish hops, subtle piney/earthiness. subtle malt sweetness tries to balance it but fails. ripe, hoppy, alcoholic, delicious, and intense.

mouthfeel is somewhat creamy with a cottony hop kick. very full and alcoholic. this beer truly is a monster, and because of this it isn't the most drinkable ale. but it is to be savoured in moderation and enjoyed for what it is, slowly and with caution. great brew.

 932 characters

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

2004 bottle (cellared for 2 years).

Glowing dark amber with a slathering head of light khaki. The head is trying to crawl out of the glass. Nose is full of caramel and butterscotch maltiness. Light wood and oxidized notes throughout. Hops are still prominent, but a bit smoother than fresh samples. The malt and hop flavors melt into each other better than I remember. The oxidized notes are most noticeable in the long, bitter finish and they give the malt more of a Scotch whiskey character. I'd still call this a very hoppy barleywine, but the aging has taken some of the edge off.

 587 characters

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

Pours out a slightly hazy, rich dark amber with a thin yellowish head; It leaves minimal lacing behind and fades after a minute or two.

The smell is rather IPAish when cold, but the rich, complex malts come out as the beer warms.

Warm alcohol fades as it warms, but never dissappears, instead blending in with the rich, toasty malts and piney hops for a full taste.

Slight warming from the alcohol and oily bite from the hops combine with smooth fullness; Minimal carbonation.

Sorry I don't have much to say about this beer at the moment. I'd rather enjoy it than document every thought!

 599 characters

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

These guys make pretty good beer. I wish we got more of it here in the east. This beer, recently bought, was an amber color with a thick tan head and some nice lacing. It had a caramel/malt smell, and a sweet grainy taste with some impressive hops. Smooth and robust in the mouth, quite drinkable.

 297 characters

Photo of lpayette
3.56/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2006 Offering

Pours a very nice dark copper. Large head for a barleywine.

Smells of tart apples and hops.

Tasts of tart apples, malts and hops. Lots of hops at the end result in a bitter finish. Slightly salty- not a fan of that.

Great mouthfeel. Moderately drinkable.

Overall a very good beer, but for me was forgetable in a field of so many other outstanding beers in this style. Maybe this just needs time to age.

 431 characters

Photo of clabaugh
3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours an opaque mahogany with a crawling, bubbly, cream-colored head. Displays fine retention, and lacing is vigorous.

Smell: Quite hoppy. Biting pine scents accented by roasted caramel. Not overwhelmingly malty in the nose.

Taste: Good balance. Bitterly hoppy with a noticeable alcohol presence. Rich, cakey malts. Sweet and sticky, and the bitterness is really quite intense. A persistent aftertaste that is a bit too much.

Mouthfeel: Relatively medium-bodied, with a certain smoothness. Sticky and warming in the mouth.

Drinkability: Take it slow! The alcohol is definitely pronounced, warming, inhibiting, while also relaxing. Overpowering flavor and an everpresent aftertaste limit the number one can drink in a sitting.

 749 characters

Photo of cdondera
3.89/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle...2006 vintage, poured into a snifter. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: A gorgeous amber color with a dense one-finger off-white head that dissapates quickly. When the glass is tilted, a small amount of lacing is welded to the side.

Smell: I'm surprised that I don't get a bit more here, but what I do get is a hint of fruity sweetness, a preview of the hops that are sure to follow in the first drink and just a bit of caramel.

Taste: Wow...my nose didn't fail me, there is the hop bitterness right up front, but it is complemented later on by the malt character that follows. The fruitiness and caramel that I detected makes its presence known in the middle (along with a bit of citrus) and the finish is where the alcohol comes to the forefront.

Mouthfeel: This beer is smooth and a little syrupy (like a good barleywine should be). As it warms, it just keeps getting better and better.

Drinkability: I'm thinking that I could probably do a full six pack, as long as I steered clear of cars and heavy machinery! Like a good imperial IPA, these go down easy and hide the higher ABV. But let's not kid ourselves...this is no session beer.

Verdict: A great beer, but a bit young and brash. This one could use a year of cellaring to mellow out if you have the willpower. Will revisit in '07 if it lasts...

 1,360 characters

Photo of leadguit1
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Great looking reddish brown, but still , transparent.
head was thick for 5 seconds.
clear surup sticks to glass when tilted (neat feature).

I was a little suprised at the lack of smell, but, what was there,was almost sweet like bannana....

Hits every part of the mouth with a different flavor, like good food would.

Hops are in the recipe, but alcohol is what delivers the complex tastes.
It is alcohol that ends up at the top of the pallet.

Very satisfying feel.
Thickness is here. "surupy" is what comes to mind, but when it's down, you forget the thickness. You are instantly ready for another swallow.

I can personally enjoy this brew for five or six, bottles in an evening, but I must warn even experienced Ale drinkers, to; beware of it's charms.
At 9.6 ABV it tastes so good that you may consume more than you had planned.

 851 characters

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

Nice clear bronze amber color. Thin off white head that drops quickly. Not much in the way of lacing. The smell is just a bomb of piney hops. First taste is all bitterness. After a few sips you can start to get the candy like sweetness up front. The dominating mouthfeel is the hops piney resin taste puckering your cheeks. A huge beer that won't appeal to everyone but hop heads should enjoy this. Like most barley wines, it is more of a sipping beer that is good for one at a time.

 483 characters

Photo of Prufrock
3.37/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle into a pilsner.

crystal clear reddish amber with bubbles dotting the sides of the glass. half inch of white head falls quickly.

bitter citrus-rind and pine hops with caramel.

tons of hop bitterness in the flavor. touch of alcohol sweetness, with a bitter aftertaste. ridiculously hoppy for a 9.6% barleywine. fairly enjoyable, but i prefer a touch more malt balance.

 389 characters

Photo of MurphyMacManus
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12-ounce brown bottle (dated 2006) into snifter.

Appearance: red-brown with a big head that stays and sticks to the sides of the glass. I looked at the beer in my glass, turned to my roommate and said "I want to make out with this beer."

Smell: Spicy and bitter hops, with more of the malt base coming through as it warms, though the hops definitely dominate. A bit of alcohol in the aroma as well.

Taste: Very highly hopped. That's the first thing I noticed; spicy and bitter hop flavours are the most obvious, with mild alcohol coming through. Slight malty sweetness makes an appearance as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Thick and creamy, with carbonation that tickles the tongue.

Drinkability: NOT A SESSION BEER! Very tasty and an excellent effort on the part of Sierra Nevada, but more than one of these would not only pummel my tastebuds with hop bitterness, but I'd be on my way to drunk too.

 908 characters

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

Another find at the Co-op in Belfast, $9.49 for a six pack, 2006 batch. Pours a beautiful dark caramel gold colorsmell is malt and hops. Taste? Well, hops. All hops though I think they may have added some pine sap too But Jesus H. Christ this is damn good and addicting. Also detect a little bit of alcohol but hops extremely dominate here. Who cares I love it!! Mouthfeel is very nice. Drinkability, well not a session beer, one to work on slowly and no more than a couple a night. Naw I changed my mind, I can have several of these a night but due to limited availability here, I will work on these slowly. Must get more!!!!

2007 Edition:

Local fish store a 5 minute walk from my place still has this in stock, still pours a nice dark amber brown, smells piney and tastes really piney hops, extremly dominates, my ratings don't change. Someday they will brew a malt free version which will be fermented hop oil. I love this stuff and will freak out once it's gone. I may do a beer trade by giving away my oldest son for this stuff (OK not really) This is for hopheads and looneys like me.

2008 Edition:

Fears of this beer being a bit pussified have been stomped on like a dead bug. Dark amber color pour, smells oh so hoppy and malty. Taste, oh yeah a perfect balance of sweet malts and tons of hops, a bit subdued i would say but definetly a winner for us hopheads. I still have a case waiting in Waldoboro for me (thanks to Todd the beerman) Life is good again!!

2009 Edition

From Todd the beerman again (thanks) Dark amber color, smells of hops hops hops and a bit of sweet malt. Taste? Big hops up front, more hops awith a bit of sweet malt thrown in the background with more hops. Overall, hell yeah. I wish it was brewed year round and was as common as the pale ale. This is my beer!!

 1,798 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.95/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass. A nice tan head forms on top of a dark bronze colored beer. Not much carbonation action to speak of.

Smell is citrusy hops. Grapefruits and pine needles abound. Freshly cut hay as well.

Very hoppy profile with this one. More hops than other barleywines I have sampled. Alcohol is very subdued with this one. Mostly fresh hop taste and bitterness and well as lemon and very tart grapefruit. This is a hop lovers dream. I was looking for a little more hop/malt balance to this one.

Bitter mouthfeel with a nice warming quality. Hop bitterness stays with you for quite awhile. The hops are about the only thing to this beer. Not balanced enough for a BW. Tastes like DIPA with all of the hops in this one. I think I will look for something with a little more balance.

As a BW this is way off. As a DIPA, pretty good.

 883 characters

Photo of Oxymoron
4.9/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 2005 version that I have been sitting on for some time. The color is a auburn brown hue with good foam with small sized bubbles. The head does creep to edges of the glass but never dissipates altogether. The lacing was good as well.

The smell is very noticeable. Quite hoppy for a barelywine with some bubblegum hops and grapefruit essence. A touch of pine and citrus around the edges as well. A good malt around rounds out the background but hops are most noticeable.

The taste has a great hop presence. The malt is much more noticeable then the smell would indicate but still the hops are more dominate. (I;m thinking if aged the malt would become more balanced). The malt is basic flavor with some sweet grain taste. A touch of caramel but mostly sweet malt. The hops are well balanced in themselves. The bittering is noticeable with piney tastes that give a good bite that isn't overwhelming. It finishes well with a sticky grapefruit taste that gives it the bubblegum taste.

The body is good. The phenol is a little strong but I think more aging would help give it more balance. Overall a spectacular beer that over time I could see becoming well balanced and fantastic.

 1,180 characters

Photo of benito
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Meditations on the 2006 expedition. A genre-bender of a beer.

Bigfoot, a self-proclaimed barleywine, explores that grey area between that distinguishes barleywines from strong IPAs, both by keeping the ABV rather low and by upping the hop ante for a barleywine.
This brew is a clear amber that shows hints of tangerine when held to direct light. The head clumps and lingers throughout a pint.

The bouquet shouts hoppiness: a citrus-filled cornucopia of aromas--lemon and grass being the most distinct odors. Similarly, the flavor itself is dominated by citrus upfront and then followed by a bitter smack on the back of the tongue. The lingering aftertaste is
dry and bitter. This is a heavy-bodied brew with lots of strength across the palate, and not surprisingly is a sipper. Though, for a barleywine I suppose the citrus adds a refreshing drinkability that is often absent in the style. Overall, truly a hop lover's dream come true.

But Bigfoot, beyond its own characteristics, asks larger questions about fidelity to style and those hazy boundaries between say a Double IPA and a barleywine. Should I think about Bigfoot relative to other barleywines? By claiming barleywine on the label, do I have a right (or maybe even obligation) to expect a certain style of beverage? Or, on the other hand is the ultimate worth of Bigfoot measured simply by how enjoyable it is in its own right? Should my review reflect Bigfoot-as-a-barleywine? Would labeling it a "Double IPA" make any difference whatsoever? Do these sorts of postmodern musings matter to anyone but the critic?

In any case, this beer--whatever it is--is one to remember and savor.

 1,658 characters

Photo of DogFood11
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a huge fresh fresh brew. Pours copper, thin perfect tan head stays throughout and provides ample uniform lacing.

Brutaly hopped, Ressinous as hell, Grapefruit citrus. Damn this is not for the feint of heart. Double bastard comes to mind as far as the over the top aggressive flavor. Where the beers become completely differnent is the Bigfoot has a somewhat sweet caramel presence that tames it enough to keep it interesting. Alcohol serves as a spiced up finish with intense and linger aftertaste.

This is one of the bigger beers I've had to date. Not in abv% but in the massiveness of the flavours. Its a beer you'll never forget. Aging seems like it would be good for this brew.

 692 characters

Photo of hustlemuscle
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The first thing I thought when I tried the 2006 Bigfoot was that this one will be spectacular after a year or so to cool down. As is though, it is pretty damn good.

Pours a pleasant clear amber, with golden highlights. Decent head, which results in some thick lacing. Smells lovely, fresh wet hops, candy, piney. The sugery candy is intriguing. A hint of what might be to come after time.

I let this one warm a hair more than I would have. But warming it really brought out some flavors slightly overshadowed in the cooler version I had the first time around.

Big big hops, but only a passing attempt at balance. The sugery candy comes out, but only after a full frontal attack on the tastebuds by a team of piney hops and grassy hops.

Oily and a bit hot. I suspect time will ease off the alchohol a bit, and produce a real winner. For those that think that aging beer is foolish, I think in a year this bottle could convert thee.

Overall, a good beer, but falls short of greatness. But lest I hammer home my ideas on aging this one, I think greatness is just over the horizon.

 1,093 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!