Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

7,501 Ratings
Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot 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:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,501 |  Reviews: 3,058
Photo of derekblank
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

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

355ml bottle poured into tulip 15/4/12 2011 vintage

A clear reddish amber with a massive three finger beige head with great retention leaving a few pencil thin rings followed by some loose soapy rings further down the glass

S lots of sweet caramels and toffee, with a little rum raisin cake, there's still some hops in there with a little booze

T more hops in the mouth with a little piney rind, a little more booze too but its pretty mellow, the caramels not quite as strong as the nose but still quite strong

M nice and thick with the perfect amount of carbonation, quite bitter with a little left behind to savor, just some slight heat to complain about other then that it feels perfect

O great stuff for a fairly fresh BW, everything about this beer is at the very least quite good, I think some age would make it great

I finally got my chance to try this classic thanks to the most awesome Rutager, I could see this doing very well after a few years, I'll keep my eyes out for more of this one

 1,009 characters

Photo of axres
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of antoines15
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of DrFunkenstein
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of Rozyravens
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of PGVG
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of RepMichigan
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of Rekrule
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of YogiMN
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of Troville1990
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of match1112
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a dark copper with a finger of tan head that slowly settles after a couple of minutes, leaving nice lacing. taste and smell are sweet malty body with the usual hop presence from sierra nevada. a clean warming alochol presence add to the experience. mouthfeel is full. nice carbonation and a warming finish. overall this is a great beer.

 342 characters

Photo of writingjesse
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of SiflandOlly
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

Photo of 11millsown113
4/5  rDev -3.4%

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

A- Dark amber body with a reddish rue. Thick light tan head that lingers and leave good lacing.

S- Caramel malt, sweet malts and some dried fruit.

T- Very malty up front with some of the sweetness in the back. Some of the dried fruit comes through on the finish with a sweet malt and light hop aftertaste.

M- Has the signature crisp body that Sierra Nevada beers possess. Remarkably smooth and crisp for such a strong beer.

O- Another great offering from Sierra Nevada. Complex, but smooth and drinkable. Terrific barleywine.

 529 characters

Photo of PEIhop
4/5  rDev -3.4%

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

A: Deep ruby red hue with a thin but steady and bubbly head; lacing is okay

S: Fresh citrus hops--almost a bit tropical--on top of a sweet boozy bready base; so much nice hops, malty goodness, and sweet boozy notes

T: When this beer is fresh those hops mingle so well with the toasty, slightly burnt malts; there is a subtle sweetness but not nearly as much as the aromas hinted at; there is also some dark fruits seeping through the booze though the alcohol is fairly well masked overall

F: Such good sticky and viscous mouth feel

O: This is the quintessential American barleywine; I love it with a few years on it too but mmm is it good fresh; almost a completely different brew

 684 characters

Photo of Riverared
3/5  rDev -27.5%

Photo of dbell23
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of pierceska
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of BraatenBrew
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of mayorwalda
1.87/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

I review this the way I have because I have a number of expectations when cracking open a "barley wine" and this brew fulfilled almost none of them.

Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barley Wine Style Ale
Man, I love Sierra Nevada! Let’s pry the cap off this thang (12 fl oz bottle).

Here comes the aroma! More like “ah-ro…what?” Do I smell hops? Weird. I really do, I smell hops; and basically no malt. Smells can be deceiving sometimes, I guess.

Let’s move on.

On the pour, Sierra Nevada’s barley wine looks like a barley wine, at least. It has got that dark red, unfiltered beauty which signifies to me, visually, “Hey, man, good job picking that barley wine.” But my nose is calling the bluff here, “Hey, guys, I smell hops. Just hops.” We’ll let senior Palaté (I have no clue how that would be pronounced) mediate this discussion.

And, so, on the first sip, well, my nose had this brew’s number from the start.

Holy hell, are there hops in here! There are really, really a lot of hops in here. So much so, that I am not getting any sense of maltiness at all—certainly nothing from our subtle, sweet, amazing friend, barley. No malt/barley sweetness frolicking across my tongue this time around. What a bummer.

Instead of the smooth, round tastes I’m used to, I’m getting the taste of something a lot more hop-centric. Something like an imperial IPA. I know Sierra Nevada loves their line of pale ales, but it still surprises me that they’d overwhelm this style with the tank full of hops they must have used to make this. I find that it’s a strange decision as a person smitten with this style of beer.

All the things I love about barley wine seem to go ignored in this. The sweetness is not there. While on your tongue, this brew drinks like an IPA. Very green, resinous and slightly floral. After gulping it down a bit you get that typical IPA trail of bitterness on your tongue which waits eagerly for you to reinforce it. There isn’t a moment in the process of enjoying this brew that you do not taste hops.

Word on the street, though, is that this thing perks up—or rather mellows the ‘eff’ out—with age. This is the 2012 release I’m drinking, so, if this thing needs age, well, I haven’t given it that. To be honest, I’ll have no trouble shelving two or three of these for a year or two. I would like this beer to really live up to the sweet mellowness “barley wine” signifies to me. If it takes a year or two, I guess it’s an investment I’m willing to make.

At any rate, the skinny is like this. (I promise from here on out I’ll be less whiny.)

A(ppearance): Well, Sierra Nevada’s got the barley wine style down in this department. This brew most certainly has the dark, red, copper color of the beloved barley wine. The head gathers tightly and eagerly. This brew’s head has a piney, resin texture.

S(mell): This is where things seem to deviate from expectation. The bouquet from this beer is completely composed of hops

T(aste): As far as taste is concerned, this beer is green and hoppy. There is little in the way of malt taste. I mean to say that it must be there, but it is completely overwhelmed by the hop intensity that it’s not present in a way that can be appreciated. It’s probably only serving, at this point, to keep us from going cross-eyed from bitterness. I will say one positive thing about this brew, though. This beer comes with an ABV of 9.6. That will serve as a surprise to anyone who doesn’t do their homework before cracking this thing open. The booziness of a 9.6 ABV is totally hidden in this brew. Kudos for that, Sierra Nevada.

M(outhfeel): The mouthfeel is a bit tacky, with lasting bitterness that asks to be endlessly refreshed. A great quality for an IPA; not, in my opinion, a good quality for a barley wine.

O(verall): Well, as this review is part of my ongoing Quest for the Best Barley Wine Under $14.99, well, I have to totally fail Sierra Nevada’s offering. As a beer in general it’s nice. I’d like to see it called something different because I don’t think it lives up to the qualifications they put to it… At any rate it’s a quality, high ABV ale and deserves a lick. You should try it if for no other reason than, it’s another good hop-centric beer from Sierra Nevada. But, again, it doesn’t even qualify for a rank in my quest…

 4,378 characters

Photo of Buggies
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Photo of MumboJumbo
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,501 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More