Bigfoot | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.60%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle. Each new release or “expedition” is vintage dated. Collect your own and see the flavors develop and progress.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 3,130 | Ratings: 7,714
Photo of Thrasher
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful winey amber color, exactly how I imagine a barleywine should look. Very hoppy as you may have guessed. I have to say it is actually too abrasive fresh out of the bottle; the hops are overwhelming and the flavors are unbalanced. I can't wait to try it again after I shelf it for a while. Unmistakable trademark Sierra Nevada flavor (read: hops). I didn't have any goblets so I poured it into a brandy snifter - I would suggest not just dumping it in a pint glass. It mellows nicely in the glass. There is something really interesting going on hidden under the hops but it is indistinct at this point. Withholding full judgement until it matures. Buy it now though, it goes quickly. (11 weeks later: Ohh, it's good. I'm kicking the smell up to 5. The smell is AMAZING!)

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

I just drank my last 1999 Bigfoot at Christmas, 2001. I am surprised by the similarity of the fresh 2002 batch. Almost three years of cellaring gave the '99 version a softer, rounded flavor that far outshined my recollection of it when fresh. The 2002 is practically there at the outset while displaying better carbonation. A beautiful clear dark amber with really tiny bubbles rising almost champagne-like, a nice light tan head that leaves a gob of lace all the way down the glass, a vague maltiness up front that pops through the incredibly ever-present citrus-tinged hoppiness, and a medium-to-heavy oily body. One of the best Bigfoot batches in years.

1999 bottling: As I just wrote in my review of the new 2002 Bigfoot batch, I had my last '99 Bigfoot at Christmas, 2001. Very impressive. The cellaring gave the flavor a softness and rounded-ness that more than offset the slight loss of carbonation and head. I've read that the hops flavor is the first to go when one cellars beer, but you couldn't tell that from this brew. Wow!

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Photo of mophie
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Ahh, my annual gift from the hop gods. This is one of the best looking beers in a glass, beautiful deep amber. The aroma is intoxicating, with incredible pine, grapefruit, and floral scents. The first sip causes your taste buds to stand upright out of sheer hop shock, but they soon catch on and realize that they're experiencing one of the true pleasures of life. Once that happens (about half-way through the glass), you can really focus on the complexities: a slight malty sweetness, the alcohol (not overpowering, but definitely there), the lingering pine and citrus. It's terrific now; it'll be out of this world after it ages a bit.

2001 bottling: Something magical has happened over the last couple months. My 2001 has aged and mellowed perfectly. The trademark hoppiness is still there, but is now balanced by just a hint of sweetness (like caramelized fruit). Outstanding. Unfortunately, I have only one left, so I can only hope my 2002's age as well (and I exhibit a bit more patience than I did with the 2001's). I marvel at Sierra Nevada's craftsmanship.

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Photo of mattmaples
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Hops, Hops, Hops, Hops, and Hops. This is what making barley wine in the west is all about. The hops. Sure it has great caramel maltiness to it, if you can find it behind all of those hops. The sheer hop bitter edge is too high at this point but that should age out fairly soon. If you are the kind of hophead that liked the Stone fifth anniversary IPA or sucking on hop cones then enjoy this beer now. For the rest of us, give it about 4 months and this beer will make any beer lover snap to attention and solute the SN banner. I love it, it is just too too green for me at this point.

2001 bottling: Ok I give it this high of rateing with one caveat, and that is it has to age. I my opinion it is the best Bigfoot in the last 4 or 5 years. Sure the hops were too agrressive when it first came out and maybe they still are but it has enough malt going on this year that it will age out to perfection. Another 4 months and I will crack anotherone open. It has the potential to be a truely GREAT beer.

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

Presentation: 12oz short brown twist cap bottle, with a mountain landscape and some looney hick pulling a donkey. 1998 Vintage.

Appearance: Dark-red amber, with an off-white sticky head.

Smell: Loads of hop aroma (loads), and a strong alcohol vapor that is almost perfume like.

Taste: Rich, ripe and fruity. The extreme hop bitterness and high malt sweetness blend together nicely, providing a well balanced barleywine. A pronounced hop flavour strikes with every sip, and lingers to the point where you can taste the raw hop leaf.

Notes: A deceivingly powerful brew, that is sure to sneak up on you during a session. At 9.6%(abv) and roughly $11 a six-pack this is by far, one of SN's best brews. Find it, buy it and savour it with respectful sips.

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Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,714 ratings