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

BA SCORE
92
outstanding
3,035 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
sierra-nevada.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
3,035
Ratings:
7,443
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
11.35%
 
 
Wants:
414
Gots:
1,809
For Trade:
71
User Reviews
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Reviews: 3,035 | Ratings: 7,443
Photo of blitz134
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A fresh 2005 edition…my first Bigfoot…thank you new Georgia beer laws.

Pours an attractive caramel color with a decent off-white head on top. The smell on this brew is amazing. Its loaded down with hops, fruit and pine totally dominate. There is a bit of malt sweetness in the background. Both compliment each other extremely well. Taste is again dominated by hops with a pretty dry tasting finish, very unbalanced, but for me this isn’t a huge deal but I would like to see a little more balance. Hops are mostly pine and resin with sweet citrus in the background making this beer a little sweet. Many people compare this to Celebration, but the hop profile is definitely different. The flavor is much sweeter than its resin dominated counterpart. I don’t pick up much else from this in the malt area. No alcohol flavor to speak of, but it does warm as it goes down. Mouthfeel is full and oily while drinkablity is a thing of beauty. These could get you in trouble.

For a hop lover this is a good beer, even if it doesn't follow the typical style profile of most barleywines. Very typical Sierra Nevada.

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

2005 expedition.

Came in a 12 oz. bottle; served in a pint glass.

Pours a brownish amber color with an off-white, one-finger head. Leaves little lace. Smells herbal, hoppy, and slightly piney. Tastes like it smells. Has such a full-bodied mouthfeel, and is mighty/dangerously drinkable.

Oh, Bigfoot--good stuffs, indeed. Still great even though Sierra Nevada changed the hops around. From what I remember from last year's batch, this year has almost more of a dark [Sierra Nevada] Celebration Ale taste mixed in. 2 parts Pale Ale, 1 part Celebration Ale. In a good way. Still an awesome brew this year around.

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Photo of mattcrill
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: bottle cap says "Bigfoot Expedition 2005". I'm already interested.

Appearance: Pours brick red with a ruby background and a nice cake-like appearing tan head.

Smell: I smell citrusy and pine-like hops. I've not experienced that in a barleywine before. Although, I've only had two and this is my first run in with Bigfoot (I knew he existed....)

Taste: Interesting...it tastes like a buffed up Celebration. Hop profile is pretty prominent with a grapefruit-like twist to them. A slightly bitter lemon zest finish to it. Light alcohol notes definitely coat the palate.

Mouthfeel: Medium to thick and creamy.

Drinkability: On the heavy side but not bad.

Notes: I must admit...this didn't meet my expectations. I expected sweeter, more malt presence, and more alcohol notes. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the hop presence of this beer. I was just lamenting the other day that I got the last sixer of SNCA but if I close my eyes, I can't tell much difference b/t Bigfoot and SNCA. I can see myself getting into a lot more barleywines if they are like this however I think this is the exception and not the norm....

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

01/25/05- Purchased at Beverages and More in Sacramento, CA

2005 Edition

Presentation- 12 oz bottle with no bottling or expiration date. Poured into my Duvel glass.

Appearance- About an inch creamy white head, excellent lacing and a brown-amber colored elixer. It even had those small ufo circles that you sometimes (if you are lucky) find in your belgiun or higher abv beers.

Smell- Very sweet and frutiy. Lots of hops (pine, grapefruit and maybe some melon) and a decent amount of malts. A pleasure to smell.

Taste- I have never tasted this many hops in a beer with this high of an abv or actually in a barleywine. Bitter grapefruit hops in your face with a nice warming 9.6 abv feeling in my tummy. Sweet malts polish off this beer.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation, a bit higher than expected. Chewy and resiney.

Drinkability- ABV is the only thing holding me back from having more than three of these (yeah, I'm a lightweight). An excelent beer to have on a day just like this (cold and rainy). Looks like I will be getting a few more six packs of these. Another score for Sierra Nevada.

Version 2006....

Appearance exactly the same. Smells a touch hoppier and a bit less malt. As for the taste....needs some time in the cellar. Very light in the malt department with a huge hop bite and a very long lasting bitter hop aftertaste. Still a great beer, but needs some time to mellow, unlike the 2005, which was incredible a week after production.

Version 2007-

This version IMO will mask the 2005 in maybe a years or less time. Much more mellow out of the gate than the 2006 (which still needs plenty of time before it's great). Hops are fairly intense, but the malt plays much more of a role in the '07.

Version 2008-

Same appearance as always. The scent has changed to a more caramel malt dominant one than hops (even though they are still there). This vintage has a very bold caramel malt base that is actually equal to the hops! IMO this is very drinkable right now. I actually like balanced barleywines much better than the hop bombs that everyone is producing these days. Probably the most drinkable Bigfoot yet, at least right off the production line...gets some competition from 2005 though.

Version 2009-

The scent is the least in your face out of all the vintages. Hops seem a touch lighter and maybe just not as much flavor overall. Smoother than most years. Definitely not harsh. Drinkable right now.

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Photo of jed
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bigfoot Barleywine 2004

Presentation: Comes in a brown, 12 oz bottle with Sierra Nevada logo and an amusing illustration of a prospector following bigfoot tracks. Snowprint cap with 2004 on it. No best by date. Poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a warm, chestnut brown with some lighter brown areas throughout the beer. Nice color. Good size head, which fades quickly and leaves almost no lacing behind.

Smell: Bigfoot explodes with sweet, pine and citrus hop notes. A quick whiff of raw alcohol esthers, along with some smokiness, but then back to the main hop aroma. Excellent aroma.

Taste: Initial smoothness fades to carbonation and extreme citrus bitterness from the hops. Hints of tobacco, grainy hops. Very little malt, but some caramel-like sweetness. Some alcohol esthers in the back, but nothing major — a year of aging has definitely moderated the alcohol in this beer. Finish is dry, with astringest citrus bitterness from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, if slightly thin mouthfeel. Solid, but not amazing.

Drinkability: Surprisingly high. While a beer with such a high ABV and hop profile would normally be relegated to sipping, this beer has mellowed to the point where the flavor is extremely smooth and drinkable.

Bigfoot is a staple that I've enjoyed but never gotten around to reviewing, the beer that first got me into the barley wine style. After a year of aging, the drinkability of the 2004 is perfect, and the flavor is nicely developing. Believe in Bigfoot — stock up, drink a few, and let the rest hibernate in the cellar.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage. Hazy tawny that is a wonderful, multi-hued melange of orange, red, caramel and copper. The pale caramel cap is a thing of beauty as well. Creamystiff and tacky at once, its rugged surface is slowly deflating in sections and thick gobs of lace are beginning to stick to the glass. A real looker, this one.

The nose is hugely powerful and smells like generously spiced fruit brandy. Sweet caramel candy bass notes hold down the bottom end while barely disguised ethanol and floral-citric hops rampage on the top end. The slight rubbing alcohol scent keeps it from greatness.

Sweet, syrupy, bitter, chewy, malty, hoppy... Bigfoot BSA covers all the bases. Repeated mouthfuls fail to isolate a dominant presence on the palate; all of the various elements of the flavor profile are combined seamlessly. Unfortunately, that includes alcohol. I know that it's difficult to hide the alcohol in what is, essentially, a 20-proof beverage, but it seems to me that it could have been done with a bit more success.

I've been hearing for years about how hoppy Bigfoot is, especially when young, but it doesn't seem overly bitter or hoppy to me. Perhaps my 'mouthful of hop cones' expectations were misplaced or perhaps the gargantuan amount of malt and the high ABV do an effective job of smoothing out and blunting the hop flavor.

As noted in the description of the nose, melted caramel blends with brandy-macerated orchard fruit and citric hops to form a wonderfully viscous, mouthcoating, sweet sipper of a beer. The finish is seemingly infinitely long and features diminishing echoes of caramel-drizzled hops. Warming and satisfying.

Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale is good beer. It isn't as hoppy as I had hoped and it doesn't surpass Old Foghorn as far as I'm concerned, but its reputation is well deserved. I plan to pick up at least a sixer every year to see how each vintage changes from year to year and how each changes with cellaring.

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

2004 vintage. Poured a clear red that was very rich in color with a white head that lasted for an amazingly long time for a brew of this gravity.The aroma was very nice with a strong hop aroma that seemed a blend of pine and citrus. The taste was excellent as a strong hop presence was immediatly made which segued smoothly into a sweet carmelized malt flavor and finished with a lingering hop flavor and an alcoholic warmth. This ale seems like it recieved a full amount of aging and the yeast finished this beer very cleanly. The body complements the alcohol wonderfully as it is viscous and the light carbonation provides a touch of carbnic bite which offsets the sweetness of the malt and the differently assertive hops flavor. Very drinkable I try to save some of this every year but it rarely makes it through the summer.

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

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2003):

Not sure what I can add to the Bigfoot-body-of-knowledge. An in your face barelywine…not for the meek. Big hop bite that, when at cellar temperature, tenderly dominates a cognac inspired oily body. As good as this is, it seems to have a bigger hop profile than, say, my introduction to Bigfoot in 2000…but, in the end, who the fuck cares? This is damn fine drankin’ and if you think you may be a “hophead” but are not really sure, this is one brew that will settle any confusion.

Cheers…

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Photo of xforce
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. 2004 bottling.
nice 1/2 inch bone head, slowly dissipates, although never goes away. nice brilliant hop nose, mixed with grapes, dates. aroma gradually mellows out to a nice woody aroma and a fresh leaf hop. the flavor is wonderful, with a nice full, yet low carbonated mouthfeel. a bit of a cookielike flavor added to a nice malty foreward and a wonderful hop finish. slight chocolate notes, along with a fruity datelike taste in the middle. an awesome beer, a little too strong to have as many as i would like, but its an incredible beer.

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

12 oz brown bottle.

2004 expedition.

Creamy 1" lightly tan head with very good retention. This leads to a thin, whispy sheet that remains until the last sip. Layered and condensed lacing with solid strength. A murky light garnet in color; noticeable sediment throughout.

Strong ripe fruity-esters with a big hop nose. A light caramel malt sweetness along with a faint chocolate aroma. The main aromatics are driven by cherry, plum, and apple hints.

Very complex in flavor! At first, the fruit: apple, grape, and cherry flavors are very evident along with a toffee, high malt sweetness. This is followed by a big hop bitterness with plenty of alcohol flavors. The aftertaste contains a touch of chocolate as well.

Full bodied; heavy and a bit grainy on the palate.

What a great barleywine! The 9.6% abv makes this one tough to drink as a session beer, but it is certainly a treat for the winter months. Probably my favorite Sierra Nevada offering and one of my favorite versions of the style.

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Photo of ken3c
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2004.

Cloudy medium brown. Decent head resolves to a thin ring.

Smells Very malty and very hoppy with a slight sense of alcohol.

Taste is very strong malt and very strong hops. There is a pleasant grapefruit finish. This will age well.

Mouthfeel is thick, bubbly, and dry, everything I could possible expect in a barleywine.

Drinkability is DANGEROUS. I could easilty drink myself into oblivion with this one.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 batch. This beer pours a very hazy dark reddish brown. About a half inch of bubbly head on top, though it doesn't leave much lacing to speak of. Quite aromatic... hops up front but also a big presence of ripe fruits like apircots and pears. Bigfoot is certainly an appropriate name for this brew. Big all-around flavorful taste. A grapey sweetness hits the palate first, folowed by more fuity malts and finished with a piney hop bitterness. A lot of beers seem to put the hop taste out front, but I like that bitterness as sort of an afterthought in this beer. This beer is a perfect example of a well balanced beer. It's not too over the top in any particular feature, but it's extremely flavorful and has a wide variety of complex tastes to be sought out by the drinker. Exellecent smooth and full mouthfeel. Although a lot of people generally give these bigger beers a fairly low drinkability score I think this is a very drinkable beer, as long as you can handle the %10 ABV. Personally, I feel up to the challenge!

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Photo of newyawker
3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brown in the glass, a bit hazy with a tan head. Smell is sweet and hoppy. Also a bit like biscuits baking in an oven. Frontal hop assault! Yeah! Not too bad, althougth a bit hard to drink a lot of. It tastes good, yet harsh on my tounge. I have to take drinkablity points away because I am only having a bit of this one. All in all, I can't say I recommend it, yet its got something going on.

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

Bottled vintage 1998, thanks mat. Pretty tasty stuff. My memories are pretty vague, and a remember spilling about a quarter or so of the contents of the bottle (sorry everyone). Just really tasty. mapley,hoppy, the length of flavour is great. Great to have such a an old beer, great experience. Sorry for spilling some of it guys :(

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Expedition:

After a long wait I finally get to try the Bigfoot...the only bottled SN brew I've yet to try and my first barleywine as well! This pours a beautiful deep mahogany amber red with a small half inch head. Looks great in my SN snifter glass. The smell has some lovely caramel malt notes with a huge hop presence. Some candied fruit tones come through...plums..raisins. The alcohol is there as well...very complex smell that keeps my nose going back for more.

The first sip is massive!! The rich caramel malts intertwine magically with the wonderfully piney, citrusy hops. The fruit tones come through on the palate as well. Sweet and bitter play a tug of war and it seems like it ends up a tie...everyone wins. If there is a nectar of life then this may very well be it. A very complex brew that is best sipped. I love the biterness on the back of the palate. I just can't believe I haven't tried this sooner!

Mouthfeel is excellent. Not too thin, not too syrupy....this goes down smooth...almost too smooth for 9.6%abv. Carbonation is just right. As for drinkability...I'd imagine I could have a few of these on a cold night...probably no more than two..but overall it's a damn tasty brew that does not dissapoint. SN has been one of my faves before ever trying Bigfoot...and now after trying it they've just gone up another notch in my book. I got a few more in the cellar...let's see what happens...

Thanks to Ninjaworm for the opportunity to sample this fine brew.

2005 Expedition - 3-29-05:

Hops are more upfront in the nose than the 2004...citric and piney with the same strong malty background. Nice creamy two finger head. First sip brings a rush of bitter hoppy goodness...definetly "green"...but in a good way, especially for the hopheads. A nice caramel nut chewy malt background. Just a tasty, enjoyable brew again this year. Good full mouthfeel and quite drinkable. I have a sixer saved for when I go camping this summer...can't wait for that!

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Photo of diablo14
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the name bigfoot is well earned for sure. its not hairy but its massive and certainly gave me a kick i wont be forgetting in a hurry. not convinced its a barley wine compared to others ive tried, but whatever it is its still a marvellous brew in anyones language.

delightful rich, deep ruby color with mahogany panes, and a dense but not huge white head which held forth till i was done. the smell alone is enuff to sit you on your ass. mammoth piney hops and caramel malt aromas erupt from the bottle the second its opened. on decanting it also exudes some lovely citrus and dried fruit notes and a hint of chocolate. extremly rich in body, it has big ticket characters, caramel, chocolate, fruit, and something a little smokey in there. all backed with some mindblowing sprucey hops, the bitterness of which fair popped the shoes right off my feet. not usually big on hops of this magnitude, but the beers different elements called for it. i suppose having said all this it was quite complex, like a fine wine, and could cellar well for several years. perhaps ive just talked myself into this being a barley wine without question haha.

no matter, big foot is a dead set ripper of a brew that i just didnt get to have enuff of. one of the best ive had the pleasure of consuming this year. thanks to malto for the sample (and recommendation)

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Photo of beerceller99
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2002 bottling from Nov.' 03 notes.
Pours a dark brown reddish hue with a slight head that leaves a decent lace. Still a big floral alcohol smell though not as pronounced as a " fresh " bottle.The taste is huge and chewy; caramel dark raison sweetness with a big hop and alcohol presence.
The huge hop intensity and raw alcohol taste has refined since this was bottled some 22 months ago. This makes it a much more drinkable brew. One of the best Bigfoots of any age or bottling.

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Photo of sutcliff
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Barley wine, in a word, yum. I can only handle a few of these full-bodied brews. The alcohol is noticeable in the aroma and on the tongue. The color is a warm brown with a hue of red. The malts and hops are well balanced and can only improve with age. In all, Bigfoot is a personal favorite.

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Photo of brewer27513
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 2004 vintage sample of this great barleywine.

Appearance is a clear brown with reddish tints.

Aroma is a mix of malt and hops...showing its great balance.

Taste is wonderfully balanced -- the rich and intense malt content is balanced with the high hops. Aftertaste is a hop bitterness.

Overall, this is a very well balanced barleywine...flavor is leaning towards the hops with a complex maltiness to balance it out.

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

2004
Mahogany red with orange highlights. The head is a beige/yellow with low retention and sticky lace. The aroma is hoppy and fruity with caramel. Full bodied, syrupy and creamy with a biting finish. Flavor starts very hoppy with a sweet middle and a heavy hop finish.
IMHO: Heavy and hoppy. Could be a little green. Better over 60f.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a light dark beer with a huge head with excellent retention. Aroma is comprised of sweet plums and some nice malt. Taste is quite wonderful with again the plums/raisins sweetness being noticeable. It ends with a wonderful warm feeling. Overall, this is a very good barley wine and would like to taste this again on a warm winter night.

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

1999

5 years and this baby still pours with a nice tan head. Sticks around longer than I expected. Sweet smelling, I can tell now this beer is big on flavor. Sure enough, the malt stands up and smacks me right across the face. Do they dip nuts in carmel? Bitterness is much more subdued than in the fresher samples I have enjoyed. Piney, taste turns piney after the initial blast of sweetness.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed 2004 12oz bottle in mid August 2004. Poured into a big wine goblet (it's wine, right?!), the tan head quickly diminished into the beautiful hazy reddish-copper liquid below. I couldn't stop taking whiffs of this beer. It smelled divine. All of the following were detected by my mere novice nose: sweet caramel malts, sour and dark fruits like raisins and cherries, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, honey, pepper and spices, bourbon and with a big enough sniff, straight up alcohol (how's that for a bouquet?). I dove right into it to find extremely complex tastes... it seemed that right off the bat, my taste buds experienced a candy-like sweetness that was almost immediately punched in the face by a powerhouse of spicy, bitter hops. It's a pretty amazing taste experience. The finish is so, so bitter but eventually I warmed right up to it (literally). Tastes included raisins, tangy and sour fruits, toffee and grapefruit (typical of Sierra Nevada). The mouthfeel is absolutely incredible... extremely smooth but thick and chewy with just enough carbonation to keep your taste buds from falling asleep. Drinkability... well, I'd definitely have another but not in the same session. This is an amazing beer that allegedly gets better with a little age. Apparently, its hoppiness mellows out over time and for someone like me, that's a good thing.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This 12 oz. 2004 vintage bottle was provided to me as an undeserved bonus by a fellow Georgian BA, Southernbrew. The hazy copper red appearance with a steady carbonation that fed a generous head that left oodles of lacing while dissipating made this is one beautiful looking beer. The initial aroma was a wave on piney cascade hops that nearly singed my nostrils. Deeper sniffs revealed layers of caramel malt, vinous and spicy alcohol, and ripe tropical fruit. The taste was sweet plums, raisins, chestnuts, caramelized sugar, and grapefruit that softened up the palette up front for an unrelenting assault of hop bitterness and peppery alcohol zing that lingered long after each sip. Surprisingly, the finish on the beer was again quite sweet, with a toffee like aftertaste. The mouthfeel was thick and chewy and quite soothing despite the dance of flavors going on in the mouth. This is one marvelous brew that should improve tremendously with age. Although I did not have the patience to save the one bottle I acquired this year, come 2005, I will surely be jumping all over this one when I see it. Thank you Southernbrew.

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Photo of beertaster13
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a nice dark mahogany red with a thick cream off white head that is gorgeous. The smell is a blast of citrusy pine hops with hints of spices and sweet caramel malts. The taste is strong up front with citrus pine hops, blends well with the apple crumb center and the thick syrup ending. The spiced malts perfectly blend with the bitterness, wow really gives the tatebuds a kick. Medium to full bodied and will call you back for more, damn good.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,443 ratings.
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