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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 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

The appearance is a dark ruby red with more head than I would have expected although still fairly minimal. I had never had a barleywine before so I didn't know what to expect. The smell is very fruity like an IPA, yet more solid. The taste is bitter like an IPA but has a much nicer taste on the back palatte than most IPAs that I have had. The mouthfeel is pretty good for a bitter beer. Considering the price, taste, and alcohol content of this beer, I would consider buying it again and possibly drinking several in a night.

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

This beer pours a complex coppery caramel amber with an off white head.

Smell: BIG! This is a big beer and it lets you know it from the start. Flamboyant floral hops lead in the nose. They are paralleled by a sugary sweet deep dark malt base, mmm.

Taste: The taste is as big as the smell. I would not consider this a balanced beer although it has a balance of flavors. It has an extreme sweet toasty malt, brown sugar and dark fruit characteristic. It also has an extreme grapefruit citrus tart and piney hop bitter. They do run parallel but not blended. The nose and the beginning of this beer seems dominated by the former, that is the sweet malt and as it passes through the middle it move to the latter that is a yeasty hop citrus pine bitter. I must admit I am not a big fan of the pine aftertaste in my beers but this does not go to extreme and I can enjoy it. I do prefer this beer with cheese as a chaser to help neutralize the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This is a medium thick beer that is smooth through the middle and has a dry finish.

Drinkability: This is a tasty beer but for me the hop bitterness is a bit much to consider it highly drinkable. It goes down enjoyable but with some effort.

Hope this is helpful.

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

This is a damn fine brew. 2006 edition is my first bout with bigfoot and it came through big time. Pours from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass with a nice, slow-to-rise two and a half finger head of both big and small air pockets The head fills a pint glass perfectly and about 1/2 and inch still remains even 10 minutes later, lacing all the way down. THe color is rich red with golden hues throughout. The smell is phenomenal, honey, citrus, BIG floral hops, spice, and some piney notes. If you hold this one out in front of you as you walk you can catch faint hints of the aroma in the air it is that pronounced. The taste is right on with the smell, some might say the hops are overpowering, and definately they are present, but there is a depth to this beer like none I have had before. The hops are just gravy. There is great flavor from citrus notes, sweet malt, organic grains and even some subdued dark fruits. An exceptional taste from this brew. The mouthfeel is nice with a tingling carbonation and smooth texture. Not everyone will like this one. But you have to admit, if you have tried it, there are so many things happening here that it cannot go without comment.

Cheers to SN on this one. Thanks.

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

This is a exceptional barlywine. I had it on-tap last night at the Olde Hickory Taproom.

The beer was served in a Chimay glass. It had little head. The color was a deep mahogony. There was really not much smell that I could pick up on. The taste was very good. It reminded me a little bit of 90 min. only better. There was a pretty big fruit taste. The mouthfeel had no bite at all. The smoothest high ABV beer I have had. The alcohol was there but just not too overpowering. I will drink these again and again. This beer affected my ability to keep a bowling ball between the gutters.

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Photo of jameaterblues
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

When, 2006 vintage, I poured the beer it was a deep amber color, with the slightish tint of read. The head was a cream color, and it hund agound for about a minute or two, but never completely disapated. Carbonation was average, but too much, but enough to keep a little of the head around. The remaining head remained on the sides of the glass while I drank.

Keeping in the tradition of the Sierra Nevada the cascade hops were in full effect. From drinking other barleywines I was not quite prepared for this, so I was waiting until I drank a second to write a review. The smell of the hops was strong. Almost an herby/fruit smell, with the slightest hint of alcohol, but the alcohol is not a bad thing in this case.

Taste wise it has a hint of fruit? as soon as it hits your mouth, but that soon turns to a slight alcohol taste, and then into the sierra signature hopps. This beer seemed to me to be medium bodied, slighty heavy on the stomach.

Drinkability....I was surprised by the first one, so I sat on it for a couple days and then drank another. I am just gettting into the heavily hopped beers, and I know thats what the brewer was going for. If you are into highly hopped beers this one is right up your alley. I liked the second one more than the first so I recommend at least drinking two. If you like Sierra Nevada in general deffinitly try it you should not be disappointed, if you don't like their Pale Ale I would not reccommend the Bigfoot for you.

I hear that the malt comes out if you let it age a year so I think that I will sit on one of these until next winter to check for a difference in taste.

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

2006 Vintage

I had the 2005 Bigfoot, last year, as my first Barleywine and first strong (~10% abv) beer. I remembered it being remarkably good and insanely drinkable. The 2006 version reminds me exactly why. This beer is spectacular.

A - Poured a beautiful clear cedar color with a quarter inch off-white head. A "thick" and "oily" pour. Light lace rings remain at stopping points as the glass slowly empties.

S - The aroma is heavenly--sweet, flowery and fruity all rolled together. Tempting, to say the least.

T - Sierra Nevada certainly knows how to do hops, and this is a showcase of their finest accomplishment in that area. A perfect strong hop bitterness combines with smooth underlying malt flavors to form a fullness of taste that ranks among the top beers avaialable for "hop heads." The best tasting Barleywine I have tasted, hands down.

M - Slick and full mouthfeel, really coats every inch of the palate with its deliciousness.

D - If there's one downfall to this beer it's that it is WAY TOO DRINKABLE. I remember going through 5 of my 6 2005 Bigfoots in one session. It should be illegal for a beer of this strength to go down so easily. AMAZING.

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

On tap at Stuffed Sandwich, I tasted the '02, '03, and '05 Bigfeet.

They were all a rich deep brown color with slight haze. Aroma was mild caramel. Hop aroma subdued in these samples.

The '02 was a bit raisiny with a stiff almost harsh bitterness. The '03 had an intense caramel flavor and was also quite bitter and piney. The '05 was perfect. Caramel was toned down quite a bit. Hops were gloriously juicy. Great finish. Definitely the '05 was my favorite of the 3.

Overall: It's impressive how different the Bigfoot is in different years. All three were very high quality barleywines.

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Photo of MSchae1017
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006

This beer was tasted in a snifter from the bottle.

This beer pours a rich burgandy color with a huge frothy off white head that holds and laces nicely. The beer smells of dark fruits possibly plums or prunes. There is also the very expected smell of hops associated with the beer. The first taste that hits you with this one is the hops. There is also a citrus (grapefruit) flavor that comes along with this one. Additionally the same dark fruit flavors that were associated with the aromas are present. Fantastic mouthfeel. Very thick, almost syrupy along with a nicely balanced carbonation. Overall, this is a fantastic barley wine that I will enjoy with the coming of each winter season.

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Photo of Fugazme
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very thick pour... dark brown/orange highlights. Head is a dense 1/2" type with tan and off-white lacing. Glass stick is tremendous with slow peaks and an awesome look.

Aroma is citrus, everywhere... some alcohol with grass and pine... some slight malt/sweet floral.

Earthly bitter and orange with pine on the taste... alcohol and caramel... bitterness lingers forever.

Creamy, smooth mouthfeel.

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Photo of SwillBilly
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 BigFoot Barleywine 12 oz bottle:

Appearance: Poured into a chalice, Bigfoot pours a deep, rich, mahogony hue. A small, off-white, foamy dissapears rather quickly leaving minimal lacing on the glass.

Smell: Sweet, dark fruits, with hints of caramel and brown sugar and rubbing alcohol.

Taste: Initial bitterness of piney hops dominate the beginning, the middle transitions to a malty, caramel like semi-sweetness. Alcohol dominates the finish, almost astringent, bittering hops make an appearance leaving a lasting impression on the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick, moderately carbonated and somewhat slick and oily.

Drinkability: The 2006 Bigfoot could use some time in the cellar. Very hot with alcohol dominating. Once this baby mellows a bit to let the other flavors through, this would be a fantastic barleywine. As it stands now its merely good. A beer to be sipped for sure. I'll put a few these in the cellar and try again next year.

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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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