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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,531 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 7,531 |  Reviews: 3,070
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%

Photo of Schroeder
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of ONUMello
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage, 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass
A: A hazy caramel-brown color, with a thinner head than this beer had when younger.
S: Lots of malt, hops, spice- quite a bit going on.
T: The flavors match the smells. Rich and robust; the etoh is well integrated.
M: Big and bold yet smooth and balanced.
O: As others have said, a fantastic barleywine. Nice to try with a little age on it, and I've got a couple more 2009s that I'm going to try to hang onto even longer.

 473 characters

Photo of ADZA
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Love the label reminds me of a cartoon over here and it pours a clear copper hue which leaves a three finger creamy head and lacing everywhere and to be quite honest ive had this before but never this fresh it looks really nice,the smell is piney resinous hops and lots of them mixed with boiled candy and some toffee and thats it very reminiscint of an ADIPA,the mouthfeel is fullbodied without the stickyiness of a Barleywine and again reminds me of a ADIPA with tastes of Piney resinous herbal hops,boiled candy,caramel candy,light grapefruit and finished with bittersweet toffee and overall i like it but i really think its borderlining on being an ADIPA as its alot different to the Barleywines ive sampled before cheers.

 726 characters

Photo of macrosmatic
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%

Reviewed from notes. 2013 vintage reviewed. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Cigar City snifter.

A: Deep copper in color, mostly clear with just a mild haze. Forms a thin off-white head over a good amount of visible carbonation. 4.5/5

S: Bready sweet and caramel malts, toasted toffee, resin and citrus rind hops, and a bit of ethanol heat. 17/20

T: Sweet toffee malts, less roasted caramel, resin and bitter citrus rind hops. The bittersweet toffee and resin hops last into the hang. 37/45

M: Medium body and a good amount of carbonation sensation for style. The alcohol is fairly well-hidden. 7.5/10

O: A classic example of what has become a wide-spread style. There are perhaps better, or more complex, or more hyped examples. But this is tasty as always, and should be a required bottle for anyone learning about craft beer. 16.5/20

Estimated final score: 4.20
Calculated final score: 82.5/100
Old BA score: 4.13

 922 characters

Photo of Mappies
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of richmondrover
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of ZethOfTheNorth
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

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

Enjoyed this 12 oz bottle out of a snifter glass at Head Keepers in Greensberg PA.

A: Pours a copper hue with a thick, white, 2-finger head that slowly dissipates into a wispy lace leaving a nice trail down the glass.

S: Strong sweet malt aroma with hints of toffee, and hops.

T: Very sweet and alcoholic flavors with hints of estery fruits. Caramel background and finishes slightly bitter.

M: Heavy body and medium carbonation.

O: Big Ass Barleywine! Wow – strong and tasty. Nice sipping beer at 10.4% abv.

 514 characters

Photo of Hopdaemon39
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Lord Hobo- pours a dark brown color, pretty clear for the darkness, nice 1.5 finger head with excellent retention and great lacing.

Smell is somewhat subdued- big malt flavor with a little pine hoppiness.

Taste is consistent with smell- big thick malt flavor with a good dose of hop bitterness. Really full flavor. Slightly sweet, slightly bitter finish. Excellent.

Mouthfeel is very smooth- thick, full-bodied; very light carbonation. Great brew on tap- not sure what bottles are like but worth getting on draft.

 530 characters

Photo of rah1734bones
3/5  rDev -27.5%

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

Somehow I came across this in a typical non-craft beer liquor store so I decided to give it a shot. Poured an ice tea colored body with a one finger head. Smells of grapefruit, caramel, hops and alcohol. The taste however is a bit unexpected as it ends with a very bitter kick. Honey, caramel, hops, grapefruit, peach and alcohol. Low carbonation and medium bodied.

First "barleywine" that I have tried and I am impressed. I wasn't sure what i was expecting but I recommend this to anyone who hasn't tried this style. Well done Sierra Nevada.

 544 characters

Photo of mjpolzin
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A little conflicted about this beer as I liked it but it tasted more like an IPA than a barleywine to me. This isn't the first barleywine I have come across this year with a heavy hop presence so maybe I just need to realize that "IPA-like" barleywine is an acceptable form of this style of beer.

The color was a dark, reddish amber. The smell and the taste was of citrus, pine and like I said, a heavy hop presence. Tasted like a crisp, refreshing pale ale making this barleywine a possibility to drink in the summer whereas most barleywines would be saved for the winter.

EDIT-I drank a bottle of the 2012 tonight as it is just a month or two shy of having a year on it. The hops are still very heavy. There is maybe a little bit more malt character coming through but not much. This beer is the perfect candidate to age for a long time to see how it tastes when and if the hops fade away.

 893 characters

Photo of Apex
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

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

Poured a clear deep ruby red color from a 12 oz bottle (2012).
Nice one finger eggshell colored head that dissipated fairly quickly.
Visually this ale looks beautiful.
Blast of hop aroma upfront which slowly disappeared over time. The caramel malt aroma slowly takes over as the hop presence diminishes with hint of sweetness from the alcohol and some fruity esters. Lots of lacing on the insides of the glass that stays around for eternity.
On the palate, the hop bitterness is evident upfront, only to be completely drowned by caramel malt sweetness. Very chewy and almost full-bodied mouthfeel. Definitely a big beer that needs to be sipped and enjoyed. Every sip as time passed by had a slightly different taste profile. Taste just keeps getting better with time.
One of the finest American barleywines and one of the best beers by Sierra Nevada.
If you like barleywines, especially American barleywines, then this is a 'must-try. Highly, highly recommended.
Also aging a few bottles to see how it develops over time.

 1,027 characters

Photo of swetsastonic
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

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

Overall: For the 2012 edition, there is a lot going on. The hops interlace with the sour base to make a beer that leaves me to reconsider my opinion on barley wines.

Appearance: Clear mahogany-gold body with a steady stream of carbonation. Full two finger head. Good lacing.

Smell: lemonpeel; grapefruit; cloves; hops; alcohol.

Taste: A rich grapefruit flavor strikes first, followed by a rise in bitterness that is harsh on the palate. Be ready to brace yourself with this one.

Mouthfeel: Acridic and full-bodied. Lasting bitter taste.

Sampled from a pint glass.

 568 characters

Photo of Polasiuss
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Photo of Chugga06
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of smi
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

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

2012 Bigfoot poured into chalice.

A: Pours a clear ruby with a 1 finger yellowish white head. Some visible carbonation as slow rising bubbles. Head dissipates to a film that bunches around the edges.

S: Pretty good, has some hop bite too it. Dark fruits and sweet malt on the nose. I can see carmel like someone said.

T: Hoppier than I anticipated. Some sweet malt. Tastes better as it warms up. Interesting approach and I dont mind.

M: Strong and full bodied. Some burning from the alcohol but fairly well hidden. Little sticky from the hop resins.

Overall a new experience for me to have a barleywine not dominated by malt. In all what I would anticipate from a company that makes such great IPA's.

 708 characters

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,531 ratings
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