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

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3,021 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: 3,021 | Ratings: 7,398
Photo of garymuchow
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This sample is a 2001. I find the newer samples, i.e. not cellared, a little too sharp. I prefer the aged ones.
Aroma is a nice mix of rich matl with fruity undertones, and surrounded by hops.
Pours with a large firm head that becomes rocky. Dark amber in color (reds to brown). Some setiment. Looks good.
Initial taste notes the cloyness of the malt. This is intense and flavorful. Hops first present in the dryness at the finish and with bitterness. Fruitiness from the malt finishes with a sourness and a dryness. Alcohol hidden well.
Feel has a rich softness despite the cloyness. I like that. Very good ale smoothness.
If a guy can tolerate the intensity this is quite nice. The older I get the more I enjoy these.

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

I got a 6-pack of this for $8.50. I thought that was pretty cheap for this area. I have had this before but wanted a fresh taste in my mouth before I wrote a review.

Poured a dark, fiery, amber with a white head that laced well down the glass. Very hoppy aroma with some fruity hints. Also the alcohol is present in the smell. Very hoppy taste but the fruity hints make it less bitter than one would expect. Goes down smooth. 9.6% is a decent abv. Very drinkable in my opinion for a beer of this caliber. Would recommend highly, especially if you like barley wines.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I find it hard that after 450 odd reviews I have never tried this West coast legend..so here goes.
I poured the bottle into a Chimay chalice..and have to say it looks gorgeous in it..its murky yet at the same time glowing brown ale..with a nice sized tan head that eventually fades to rather luxuriant laceing.
The aroma of this is excellent..strong fragrant spicy hops, some floral aspects, a great whiff of cultured alcohol Scents of dark fruits and plums.
Lovelly complex taste ..first a lovelly malty sweetness, then a intense yet welcoming bitterness..followed by more creamy sweetness minglefd with alcohol. The alcohol bitterness stays at the back of the throat..and warms slowly all the way down to the stomach..were it leaves a content and satisfied heat.
Very nice on the palate, quite an adventure in every sip!
Despite the biggish alcohol content i found this pretty drinkable, even on a muggy warm night..in the winter this would be superb.

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

2004 version

Appearance is an opaque brown with red glints. The off white to beige head is about 1 finger thick at the pour and quickly settles down to a thin layer coating obscuring the beer. More head than other barleywines I've had.

The smell is hops and sweet malt. Integrated very well for me.

Taste is heavenly! Hops and malt in an incredibly well balanced integration. This is a WOW beer in my book. Nice to have one of these every once in a while to let me know I can still be wowed by a beer. I love the way the bitter hops and sweet malts come crashing down in alternating waves. Complexity!

Mouthfeel is thick and the carbonation surges out of the beer when it hits my tongue. Almost syrupy in texture.

Drink this one over an hour and taste all it has to offer as the beer slowly warms to room temp. Each temperatures changes the nuances of this beer for a great experience. Not for the faint-hearted or those used to drinking flavorless beer.

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

Presentation: 12 oz. short bottle - 2004 edition.

Appearance: Dark amber color. Pours with a nice, rocky head. Beautiful lacing.

Aroma: Intense hops with some fruity esters. Alcohol is quite prominent.

Taste: There is an upfront hop punch with a fusal alcohlic finish. Any maltiness is almost completely dominated by hops. The beer is full-bodied and very smooth going down. A bitter hoppyness lingers on the palate.

Overall: This is a great barleywine, though quite a bit more hoppy than I like my barleywines to be. The reminds me more of an Imperial IPA than a barleywine. But overall, this is a topshelf beer from start to finish.

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

2004 edition.

Red, chestnut-amber in color with a frothy beige head that leaves a nice lace on the glass, this Bigfoot may be young, but I couldn't resist cracking it open. The aroma is soft with hops and citrus. The flavor has a great complexity: a nice, almost understated hop presence layered among a lattice of soft, bready malts and interlacing of the strong alcohol content, leading to an excellently balanced, round flavor.

Best of all, I now have a basis of comparison for aging...

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


Big grapefruit citrus hop aroma, some candied floral hops, all on a solid malt base. Light resinous brown head left a bit of lace as it faded to a film. Mahogany colored beer with a brilliant ruby hue. Butterscotch malt flavor up front followed quickly by an infusion of hops. Finished with an incredibly hoppy bitterness. Lots of potent flavors in this tasty young beer.

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Photo of bnuttz
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 vintage bottle

appearance: a ruby copper color with a nice head

smell: malty goodness, a very nice floral hop aroma, smells of raisins possibly

taste: hops overload! wow, sweet on the palate with a definite hop bite, this is a very good barley wine, a little too hoppy for what i like in the style, but very good nonetheless. alcohol is definitely sneaky here, one must be careful.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brand-spanking-new 2004 bottle. Pours a dark chestnut with a long-lasting beige head. Nose reaches me from several feet away, candy-sweet malt and fruit, raisins. Lots of lacing on the sides.

Initially, taste is rather dry and hoppy. Deep roasted, caramelized malts appear in the background but the fresh, bitter, floral hops dominate the flavors. Have to admit, the rating took a nose-dive here.

Better flavor balance approaches as it warms, almost a different brew altogether. Sweetness emerges, more malt and pine spiciness comes out to level the playing field. Some light orange citrus in the aftertaste, no detectable alcohol tastes at all.

Mouthfeel is lighter than expected for the style, a bit of a bitter hop shock but smooth enough to drink easily. Overall, a bit of a brandy nature with some dry hops thrown in. Needs to lay down for a year or two to let the hops subside a little.

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

Apperance at a new store in town is greatttt. My first Bigfoot 2004 model and my first barley wine. Deep copper color with nice cream color head that falls to nice ring of foam. Smells of wondeful floral hops and a touch of malt. Tastes great mmm beer big malt body complemented by hop flavor not overly bitter perfection in balance, tastes smooth and wonderful. Mouthfeel is heavier then it looks this could be dangerous think I could finish the whole six now. Wish I had opportunity to compare other years this is one great brew. Will be buying atleast a 12 tomorrow if not more they only had 2 cases. Love this beer.

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

2004 edition
This poured a dark orange color that brightens around the edges. The one finger head dissipates rather quickly with only a swirl cloud remaining in the center looks like the Milky Way galaxy, and a ring around the edges.
The smell is fresh hops, both citrus and pine here. With another swirl, it showed that it has a nice floral bouquet.
The flavor is definitely bitter from all of the hops, but there is a faint malt backbone. The hop dominate here...no question about it, it ends a little dry and very slightly phenolic.
Nice thick, chewy mouth feel. Drinkability is high, because the alcohol isn't prevalent in the flavor; this is deceptive, because it catches up latter on.

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Photo of BadBadger
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice. A 2004. Dark amber in apperance. Nice off-white foamy head of an inch or so at initial pour. A quarter inch head hangs around for the duration. A floral smell and taste. Taste is on the roof of the mouth. Lingual taste buds feel some what ignored.A floral taste comes to mind. Plenty of ABV but not noticeable to the palate. Enjoy this fine Barley Wine.

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Photo of psyco1
2.59/5  rDev -37.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This was an '04
It pours a dark red-brown with a tan head, almost like a brown ale.

The smell's just too darn hoppy for me.

The taste was similar to the smell. Hops with sweet and a lot of bitter. Reminded me of some soap I've tasted.

Ok, there's a substantial feel to it, more full than most beers.

I could only drink about half of one.Maybe barleywines aren't for me. I'll hide away the rest of the six for a year and see what that does for it.

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

In my growing appreciation of barleywine brews, this seems to be a very good one. I really liked the dark bronze appearance with the tannish head that was medium lasting. The aroma is one of very hoppy, smell with a very definite under smell of citrus. The taste is of one very strong hops with a citrus undertone but it is all overwhelmed by the big malt taste and strong alcohol content at the end. It feels creamy and thick in the mouth. It is drinkable from first sip to last, but this is a deceptively strong beer, and some care is needed.

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

2004 vintage

Finally, a chance to try a legend.

Dark crimson, decent bubbly head.

Big piney aroma, tons of hops. Very light sweetness noticable as well.

Full body, lots of carbonation. Tons of hop bitterness up front that mellows and becomes slightly sweet. Turns into a piney-citrus hop prickle as alcohol flavors show up to round out the finish. Piney aftertaste that lasts quite a while.

Definitely enjoyable, but I think letting a couple sit for a while will do them some good.

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Photo of Boto
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 12 oz. bottle, sampled 4-14-04: The beer is a cloudy mahogony color. There was quite a bit of head immediately after the pour, but it went down quickly. Aroma has notes of grapefruit hops, maybe a hint of maple syrup too? The taste is actually a bit harsh: I had expected it to mellow more. Strong hop taste with a huge malt body evening the taste out. There was a hint of an almost burnt roastiness of chocolate in the background. Good, but I expected it to be better.

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

Bought this on Valentine's Day. Tried it soon after. Decided to shelve the stuff. The first bottle was just not balanced and the hops were rather edgy.

Now: Pours a nice dark brown but clear. Head is nice off white and the lace stays til the end. Nose is not the best at first, but as it breathes the hoppy floral aroma is outstanding. Taste is much more balanced. The hops are still there in a big way but you can also taste some of the subtleties of the brew. I recommend drinking this fairly warm. 55F.

This is a fine representative of the barleywine genre.

P.S. I will continue to age the rest of this. I think it is just beginning to shine.

I just tried the 2008 version. A cut above the previous offerings. A beer this good comes around on rare ocassions. Another update: AS I finish this sixpack, the hops are too overpowering. I must reduce my rating.

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Photo of masterbruewer
3.34/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a dark golden amber with a little head that faded quickly. Light steady carbonation.

The smell was a nice malt scent with solid hops in the background.

The flavor was a lot more hops than I expected, strong pine presence. There's some malty sweetness in there, but mostly hops up front with a bitter hops kick.

The mouthfeel was substantial and forceful. You know your drinking some powerful stuff when this hits the tongue.

Overall an interesting blend of flavors, but a little harsher than some barley wines I've had. Drinkability is OK, but not great.

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

A very nice looking dark amber pour with a small, off-white head. Semi-cloudy appearance.

The nose is sweet and malty. Hints of honey and raw sugars as well as caramel and a touch of dark, over-ripened fruit.

The taste is big and very upfront with dense caramel-fudge sweetness. Hints of maple are very prominent beneath all the over-the-top malts. Towards the finish there is a small trace of orange & lemon peel which adds a kick of bitterness and dryness on the tongue. Big hoppiness beneath all the clutter. The sweetness and itterness maintain throughout the experience and linger nice and long with a numbing effect on the tongue and a warming effect on the mind. Huge alcohol kick to this one.

The mouthfeel is both very rich and full. A drying out taste towards the finish. Sugary bitterness stays at the back of my mouth the giving this beer great staying power.

Quite an overwhelming beer. Not big on drinkability but great for the right occassion...winter warmer, apertif, dessert beer.

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

I have had the previous 2 years issue of this beer and absolutely loved them so I was definitely looking forward to this year's edition.

This beer poured a beautiful copper/amber color with a nice bubbly tan head that dissapated rather quickly. The aroma was dominated by fine west-coast hops and a hint of caramel-like malt.
There was also a nice fruit scent present. As the ale hit the tastebuds, I could taste raisins, figs, grapes, and apples as well as the chocolate and molasses tasting malts. The mouthfeel is very smooth as the carbonation is right on. Overall, this is a great beer that is remarkably smooth for a barleywine. I could definitely sit back and drink several of these.

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

Presentation: 12 oz brown stubby with a vintage date of 2004 on the cap. A small amount of sediment stay still during the pouring. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: Thick pancake like head with a webby trail of lace all over the glass. Clear brownish garnet color is brilliant against the light.

Smell: Enthralling aroma of fresh hops hits the nose with a stiff punch of grapefruit and mild pine. Light fruity esters and a caramel like malt are in the back.

Taste: Pungent right from the beginning, not astringent just really bitter from the hops. Then lays in the malt base which is a stable foundation of caramel and toasted sweetness. Some fruity esters jump into the mix as well as a clean yeast in the back ground. Towards the end things dry out with a faint fusel alcohol tagging along for the ride.

Notes: Perhaps a bit green though still damn tasty, drink it now for a good whack to the taste buds or let it sit a year or so to mellow it out. Either way Bigfoot a sure thing.

Bottled 2003 batch.

Appearance: The head is perfection, the lace is thick and sticky with a web like trail down the glass. Deep and dark amber color with a tawny reddish hues.

Smell: Perfumy hop resin aroma with a sweetish oily floral back ground, pungent in light grapefruit and vague piney scents. Esters throw a whiff of alcohol in. Some caramel in the nose within the blanket of malt sweetness that can’t seem to cover the hops.

Taste: The body is big, strong and unwavering. Well textured moderate carbonation. Flat out the hops show who is boss, bitterness is hard but with little astringency. Oily hops make for a slick and smooth mouth feel. As the hops roll over the taste buds the flavor becomes more rustic with a bit of earthy leafy hop flavor. Lots more to go around with the hops with citric and piney flavors. Maltiness may not be the dominant one though it still gives a good sweet push on the palate. Caramel and a toasted malt sweetness swirl around the hops and seem semi melded with each other. Alcohol is certainly not to be ignored either with a slow yet steady warmth, mild esters and a fruity character of ripe figs and prunes.

Notes: A bit more balanced than previous years with that same trademark hardcore hop character. This is the Big Mamma of hoppy barleywines and you have to love the stuff. This is a well aged beer if you have the willpower.

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

I've had this before, and I thought I had already reviewed it. Oh well, I'll do it now. Pours a dark brown, with a foamy head. Some sticky lacing and head retention. Aroma of grapefruit and malt leaps out of the bottle. Strong, bitter and "green" tasting (reminds me of home grown!). As strong tasting a beer (this side of WW2002) as you'll find, right up there with Old Crusty in that regard. A blast for the tastebuds. Also, a boot in the arse (alcohol doesn't dominate the taste, but it's in there!). I'll have to grab a few more to keep around for when the mood strikes me. You gotta love this brewery for consistent quality.

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Photo of kmo1030
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

deep coppery red color with a tan head. fresh hops anda berries dominate the smell, there is also cocoa and a little bit of alcohol. i taste raspberries, a little pear, caramel, a dry chocolate flavor, something buttery, brown sugar, and some piney hops kick towards the end, but are present throughout with a lingering bitterness. not syrupy thick like some barleywines, with a good amount of carbonation, i realy can't ask for anything more from a mouthfeel when coupled with the taste of it. sierra nevada does it again.

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

2004 edition. Hey guess what? It's a Sierra Nevada brew, and there are lots of hops. But anyway, this is actually a pretty well balanced beer. I was expecting to be blown away by hoppiness, especially for a barleywine, but that was simply not the case. Sure there were strong hop characters to this barleywine, but it is also nicely malty. Bigfoot pours a nice dark slightly cloudy reddish brown with a very nice head with good lace. The smell is equal parts hop and malt with just a touch of alcohol to tickle the nose. As the ale hits your tongue the warming and molasses like malt flavors dominate and then there is a hint of the alcohol sweetness only to be followed up by the hop bitterness and citric flavors. Good full body and carbonation also enhance this beer. All in all a very good barleywine, especially for one so young. I look forward to aging another and giving another go of this in the future.

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Photo of jonnylieberman
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A beutiful beer to behold. Poured from a 12 oz TWIST OFF (who would of think...barleywine in a twist off!) bottle into a pint glass. Gorgeous, archetypal amber/copper color. Looks like a beer is supposed to look. Killer head filled with tiny bubbles.

The smell is excellent. Malt, alcohol and hops. A little citrus, a little honey, some sugar... almost maple-like. Hops give off a nectarine scent.

The taste is world class. Totally delicious with hops all over the tongue. Alcohol shows up only at the end. Raisins, prunes, figs, grapes, cocoa and a slight roasted flavor are all present.

Mouthfeel is even better. Big, smooth, luscious. Very fruity, plum and pear, even apple flavors abound. The hop kick at then end is sublime.

I could drink several of these. I have several in my beer cave waiting to be drank. The alcohol will probably get you in the end, but so what? A phenomenal beer.

Notes: 2004 edition. For a barleywine to taste this good this early is a testament to how excellent the brewery is. To me, this is nearly the perfect beer. Don't be scared off by the high alcohol content. More beers should be just like this. I love it!

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,398 ratings.
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