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

3,018 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 02-06-1998

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Reviews: 3,018 | Ratings: 7,375
Photo of RJLarse
2.36/5  rDev -43%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I went to a local craft beer shop and picked up two of these for tasting. I’ve never had a barley wine before so I wanted to give it a try. This one comes highly recommended. I poured this beer in to a pint tumbler.

A medium dark copper color in the glass, with a creamy off-white head. The head is resilient, and left a medium to heavy lacing on the side of the glass while drinking.

The smell is strong, fruity and hoppy. I also think it smells a little like bourbon or whiskey.

The taste is fairly neutral at first, a little sweet and malty, but once you allow air to join the brew in your mouth it turns quite bitter. The taste of alcohol is present, which gets back to the bourbon/whiskey aroma. The aftertaste is quite strong and bitter as well. The aftertaste lingers for quite a while, and seems to be revived from to time in the mouth even without drinking more of the beer.

The mouth feel of this beer is sharp and biting.

This beer is not particularly drinkable. I found myself drinking this one slowly, and frankly not enjoying it very much. It might go well paired with some sort of robust food to quell the aftertaste. I can’t see myself drinking more than one of these in a blue moon. Perhaps barley wine is an acquired taste? It was better at the end of the glass than the beginning, but I’ll put the other one away for a while.

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Photo of monkeybutler
3.18/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Just bought this case at the beer yard, and it says it was bottled January 2006. This might be the freshest barleywine I've ever had. The bottle says it's 9.6% abv.

Pours a dark amber with a mild head, moderate lacing and weak carbonation.

The smell is predominately citrusy hops with very mild malt undertones.

The first taste is WHOA bittering hops for this American barleywine, and a weak malty sweetness barely holding on for dear life and some alcohol notes creeping in at the very finish.

As I finished the glass, the malt came through a bit more, but it was still predominately hops.

Mouthfeel is sticky and cloying, with the hops stuck in the back of my mouth.

I have a feeling I won't be able to drink more than one or two of these in a sitting.

I know it's an American barleywine, but it's just too hoppy. Sierra Nevada is often guilty of just throwing hops at their beers, and it works about 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, the result is that the hops mask the other flavors, and the beer has poor hop/malt balance.

At least with this beer, I can sit it in my basement and wait a couple years for the hops to die off.

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Photo of FLAbeergutinMASS
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The best commentary about this beer is that this is my second six-pack and I have yet to review it until now. Is it the srtength of the beer? The delicousness of the beer? Or have I simplybeen too busy? the answer is a little bit of them all.

A wonderfully complex BW, spicy on the toungue, sweet on the nose and hoppy on the mouth. Cinammon tooth pick, sickly sweet at first, then mellowing, finishes with a hop blast. The alcohol is a little unbalanced, almost tongue numbing after a while. Definaltey a sipper. It will be interesting seeing how this is at this time next year.

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Photo of ABV
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2006 Edition. Case marked "Bottled 12/23/2005". I've enjoyed Bigfoot every year for at least a decade, and can say without question that Sierra Nevada has struck gold this year -- this is the best its ever been. One could say this offering is "over the (t)hop" in the best sense of the term. A wonderful blast of fresh hops seems to infuse the already classic monster barleywine, putting most other brews called "imperial" to shame. This is Bigfoot Imperial!

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours copper in color, a little darker than maple syrup. An off-white/maize colored head layers the top of the glass.

The aroma is full of hoppy citrus scents. A bit piney and resiny as well. Very appealing smell.

The taste is awesome. SN Bigfoot aint no wimp, thats for damn sure. Very piney up front followed by a tart fruity flavor, and finishes nicely without too tremendous of an aftertaste. The mouthfeel is thick and syrup-like. The alcohol content has an intense warming effect. This is definitly a sipper.

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

2005 bottle from hero27. Many thanks.

Nice dark copper light brown appearance. Aggressive pour yields one finger head with little retention. Lots of web-like lacing. Leafy hops and grapes make up the nose with some thin toasted malt in the back and a very very faint hint of alcohol. This beer hits the tongue with smooth toasted malt and fruity taste but soon attacks the buds with lots of hops. I can't believe this bottle has been sitting down for a year. There is plenty of hop taste to this. This is far more exciting than barleywines I've had in the past. Look out mouth! Very smooth feel to this beer. A little warming on the way down. Damn tasty. Grab a pint of this ale and enjoy it! I can't wait until next year when I have a bottle of this with another year on it!

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

Bottle poured in a pint glass. Dated 2006 on the cap.

Pours very nicely, cloudy with a nice head. Darkish red tint.

Smell: smells pretty hoppy, moreso than most barleywines I've tasted.

Taste: Very tasty brew. Lots of hops, and still has a nice carbonation to it. Warming to say the least.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth for so much alcohol. I really love the flavor of this beer.

Drinkability: I wouldn't want to have more than 2 of these in a night, but has a very smooth and flavorful taste. I really enjoy this year's beer.

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

1998 Edition, 8 years old at time of consumption.

Appearance: Still has a clear brown body, head is very small, just a little 1/4" of tan foam.

Smell: Smell is very deep and malty, oh so sweet and rich. Grapes and vinous smells permeate, fruity and full.

Taste: A little drier than I was expecting. The malt has an edge, but is mellow overall. The hops are a little subdued, but the alcohol provides a sharp backside. Mellow, yet still a strong sipper.

Drinkability: I can't say that this beer is past it's prime, it's very, very good. Fresh or aged, Bigfoot is a favorite and easy to recommend, whatever the vintage.

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Photo of phisig137
3.04/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A fresh 2006 bottle that I decided to try a bit early. Pours a copper amber color, with a substantial head, that takes a while to die down. Leaves considerable lacing on the glass.

Being fresh, this has a super hoppy nose, it is so hoppy that perhaps it isn't even hops I smell, but pure alpha acids. It almost has a slightly metallic hop smell, which is pleasant, but very strong.

The flavor of this beer is much the same as the aroma, hops, hops, and hops, with only a slight hint of malt. The hop tingle lingers on your tongue for quite a while. While it is somewhat creamy, this is borderline undrinkable right now, due to the very harsh hops, and prevalent alcohol.

I've had some 4 year old bigfoot on tap that was incredible. It's almost hard to believe that it started this way. I'll be sure to stash the rest of this sixer away, and re-review it in about 3-4 years.

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Photo of KyleVick4
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle, I didnt like the fact sierra nevada uses twist off caps, seems kinda shoddy and cheap, but hey as long as the beer is good I guess.

A: A thick rocky white head that clings to the glass made up of different sized but kinda big bubbles. The color is deep red with hints of orange.

S: Lots of piney hops. I like it. In the background there is a sweet malty smell.

T: Superb. A thick sweet beer that has a strong hop aftertaste. Slightly alcoholic but not that much. I taste malt goodness and maybe a little citrusy hop flavors. It begs for you to take that next sip, not in a minute but NOW.

M: Thick and syrupy. Chewy maltiness. It coats the back of the tounge and throat. Not bad but I am biased a little since I am more of an IPA guy.

D: Eh, I wouldnt want more than two of these bad boys in one sitting, but its so tasty that the first one goes down faster than youd think.

Another very good beer from Sierra Nevada. Kinda tough to find but if you do for sure buy a sixer.

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Photo of nickss
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage

Pours a bright redish-orange hue with a glorious 2" cap of very bubbly and very rocky foam... seems to be quite active if the carbonation is at all telling. Lacing is a thing of beauty... huge swaths appear on the glass.

Big piney citrusy aroma. The hugely unbalanced hop presence that is so familiar in this style is so well played out in this brew. A bit lacking in complexity, but I'm not so sure I care with this brew.

Huge initial bitter taste, almost like unsweatened tea, but with a sweetness to the back end. Glorious hops!... tremendously unbalanced as the aroma would suggest... barely perceptable malt, but simply dominating hops. Some definite lemon-zest becomes noticeable as the beer warms.

Tight and puckering mouthfeel... moderate thickness.... i could actually use it a bit thicker, but its a small complaint.

While this beer is fantastic, I think the drinkability is limited by its harsh hop profile and its abv.... that being said... god I love this beer... its a slap to your palate in the most absurd of ways. I never thought I'd actually say this, but I think I might enjoy it more after some aging... this brew humbles me =)

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

2006 version

A nice, deep, thick ruby orange color with a frothy ¼ head laces well throughout the pint glass. The smell is intense – caramel malt, some citrus and a hearty punch of hops. The taste is just an intense – chewy malt with molasses, orange zest and yup, there’s hops up in it. It’s thick and syrupy and full of body and character. The alcohol warmth is soothing as it makes it’s way to the back of the tongue, leaving a sweet resin. It even has a sharp bitter aftertaste that follows.

This is far more hoppy than the previous years. That brings something unique and it’s quite welcome.

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Photo of Higravity
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Bigfoot of the year 06.

A- Nice dark complexion gives a a good head and lots of lacing.
S- Alcohol and hops with sweet malt dripping down the back of my throat.
T- Big up front bitter that is softer that the past or maybe I have gotten harder. Lots of malt flavors and a little syrupy with alcohol popping out all over the place.
M- Chewy and syrupy yes but still thinner than I remember.
D- Good for a few most anytime, best as a night time sipper, but I will drink this all year, and with some in the cellar the following years too.

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

'06 Version. I had an '05 last night. Is this really the same beer? Aroma was DIPA hoppy. Not much of a maly smell, at all. Rocky, light-brown head, excellent lacing, and the head lasted a long time. Moderately sweet early and long. Really does taste/smell more like a DIPA than "classic" barleywines". Body was light to medium. Really can't taste the alcohol. This has made me re-think whether I want to age an entire case for future consumption. Hmmm I think I'll review after 6 months and see what happens.
2/17/06 Update. Had the '06 on tap last night. Now I'm really confused. I expected big hoppiness, but was dissapointed. Malt characteristics were much stronger than hops. The waitress assured me that this was the '06 version, not '05.

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Photo of poluti
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours creamy tan head with great retension (plenty of carbonation bubbles up the side). It's a dark copper color skewed towards the red side. Overall, a great looking beer. The alcohol is definitely noticable in this beer. It was very fruity in aroma. The taste is balanced extremely well. The chewy malt and the hop kick go side by side for a great session. The mouthfeel is thick with a pleasant lingering on the back of the tongue. Overall it's a pretty strong beer. I will definitely drink it again but stay to one or two a night.

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Photo of LordChesterfield
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is a royal brew. Big in every way and elegant at the same time. The smell is a wonderful piney smell that resembles boulevard's nutcracker ale. The taste is very bitter but easy to get used to and is complemented with a slick oily mouthfeel. Hop oils? Dark copper in color and a head that can be incited to stand but will soon diminish to a lacing. This beer is one of the strongest in terms of ABV I've had and I can't even taste the alcohol because of the hops. As far as I'm concerned, every bit of hop bitterness is needed to balance the otherwise cloying sweetness. Drinkability of course is subjective but at 9.6%ABV so much hops, two of these goes a long way. Complex and tough, this beer has too much class for you.

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

A: Gorgeous ruby color topped with ½ inch of off-white head. Even with a vigorous pour, only a small head. Head fades quickly, but lacing clings to the glass like there is no tomorrow.

S: Balanced and big smell. Lots of malt at first with a good smash of piney hops. Need a Bigfoot air freshener for my car.

T/M: Thick malt taste while beer dances on my tongue. Lots of sweet flavors (carmel?) that are difficult to identify. Big/piney hop taste washes the palate clean.

D: Lots of alcohol, but still very drinkable. Thick and enjoyable mouthfeel that makes it fun to drink. Could lead to a lot of trouble (almost 10% abv) if I didn’t have a big meal in my stomach.

Notes: Been looking forward to this beer for a long time, and it does not disappoint. Will go through a few 6-packs while it is in stock and put one away for some aging.

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Photo of Backer2004
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow, was I excited when I asked if this pub had anything new and they told me Bigfoot just came in at $4 a bottle. Everything I was looking forward -- Sierra Nevada hit the nail with this one. Surprised it was a twist off top. Chewy malt goodness, this is the best tasting barley wine I've tried so far. Nice lacing and copper tones with caramel notes. Not for eveyone - - I'm just getting used to the style myself. Keep 'em coming.

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a brillant deep amber with a nice tan head that retains well for a barleywine. The aroma is bursting with hops, citrusy, piney and resiny with a big fruit component (tangerine, lemon, and grapefruit), nice molasses sweetness, toasted bread, esters and some alcohol. The taste is initially sweet with caramel and molasses flavors, but quickly segues into an intense hoppines (grapefruit, orange peel, pine resin, floral), chewy toasted bread and molasses, fruity esters and some warming alcohol. The mouthfeel is rich and chewy, with moderate carbonation, and a waming, bitter finish. Drinkability is good for a barleywine. A very nice barleywine, fresh its quite the hop monster but the alcohol is well concealed, im curious to see how this develops in a couple years.

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

06 expedition pours out deep chestnut brown with an initially thick beige head that retains surprisingly well for a BW and leaves delicate trails of whispy lace.

Aroma is a cornecopia of chewy, thick malt notes, burnt molasses, dark caramel, with PLENTY of fruity, grapefruit, tangerine peel, and green pine hop.

Flavor is a tug of war between massive malt chewiness and oily hop bitterness. Hop oils are piercing and tongue coating, with notes of grapefruit skin, orange, fresh bitter herbs, and oozing pine sap. So damn hoppy, but achieves great balance and huge drinkability regardless. Good as ever and ever good!

Body just shy of being big, with an oily, chewy texture and expansive mouthfeel. Hop flavors provide a long, complex finish. As sessionable as a barleywine gets.

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

2006 edition this time around. It's still as great as I remember it, much like my last review. Huge citrus, piney hops with a massive malt profile to balance it out. A little alcohol at the end, but well hidden for a brew of this ABV. All in all- one of the great barleywines, I should say, beers out there.

I look forward to this one every year, and I would be completely happy to drink only this on a regular basis. A truly incredible beer.

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Photo of drunkmonk
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz. 06 expedition. Have heard so much great stuff about this beer, hope it doesn't dissapoint. Love the artwork on both outside and also comic on inside of cap.
Pours nice rich dark amber shade, nice quarter inch head quickly dissapates to just an oily patch in the middle of my snifter, but nice ring remains around the outside.
A nice aroma of hops and bisquity malt, some oily pine resin present but not overwhelming. A more subdued aroma than I was anticpating.

Wow, the malt and hops both very aggressive upfront, me likes. A very bitter finish, warms the back of my toungue and throat. I quickly want to quaf this again...here we go. An excellent balence of intense hops with a strong malt backbone. A definate medicinal bitterness is left warming your mouth long after you swallow..The alcohol is there but not overpowering. Yes, this is a great barleywine. Will return to one next year and there year after.

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Photo of Drew966
4.68/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The 2005 edition of Bigfoot Ale pours a hazy orange with a small tan head. The aroma, while good, doesn't even begin to hint at the bomb of taste sensation that is about to go off in your mouth. This is definitely an American take on the barleywine style with aggressive hopping that makes for a very tasty brew. Higly recommmended, worth seeking out for those who like a hoppy version of the barleywine style.

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

2006 edition.

The beer poured into the glass clear medium amber with an off-white and frothy head which rose well and fell slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was fruity and fresh with a piney and resinous citrus hop presence. The hops were fresh and even a bit floral with a background of maltiness, caramel most notable. The fruitines was orange and grapefruit hop characteristics.

The flavor was nicely achieved with a strong malt backbone of caramel malt. The bittering was resinous and piney with more citrus fruity character. While the balance of the flavor was decidedly bitter, the malt presence was very well done and made for a great flavor profile.

The finish was dry with lasting piney and resinous hop bittering and flavor long into the aftertaste. The body was full. The carbonation level made for an easy drinking beer and alcohol only really played a factor in the warming that occurred after consumption.

12 ounce bottle.

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Photo of ILiveOffHops
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Bigfoot: First point, I am partial to barleywines as a style. Even with that said I love this beer as a hopped-up, strong full barleywine.
Leaves some lacing. slightly sticky bittersweetness, warm with alcohol (9.6% ABV), very full bodied, still drinkable. I recommend you pick some up. Enjoy with food.
Could be good as a base in a food recipe? I smell a separate post...or are those ribs??

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,018 ratings.
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