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

3,035 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

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Reviews: 3,035 | Ratings: 7,442
Photo of clalalive
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Without knowing too much about barley wine, this has to be one of the more surprising beers from Sierra Nevada. Very tasty despite bitter. Well balanced in its own way in sweetness and bitterness, thats why surprising.

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Photo of twage04
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark red or ruby with medium or slightly slower than medium carbonation. The smell is of booze, bourbon, figs, resinous piney hops. Taste is much of the same, with some deep bitterness and some dark fruit, bourbon and booze there too. I really wouldn't compare this to a double ipa, the hop flavor really doesn't dominate here and the other qualities for this beer remind you of old ales, belgian dark strongs just with an intense bitterness and resinous hop flavor. Very enjoyable, complex beer to sip on. This one was fresh, from 2016. Compared to the bourbon barrel aged one I tried at the sierra nevada restaurant, this one had sharper flavors. The barrel aged version was still fairly bitter but the bourbon and dark fruit were center stage.

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Photo of LAp
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter shaped wine glass. Pours a clear ruby-russet, with a one finger tan head, which quickly recedes, leaving trace lacing. The nose is very hop-forward...perhaps too much so. Present also however are medicinal elements of raspberry and grape. This beer at first smells closer to an APA than a barleywine, though deeper smells more congruent with the named style emerge after a little time. The palate opens with the boozy malt of a barleywine, which is at first surprising, as the nose indicates anything but a classic English barleywine, but these grape, malt, and booze elements are quickly accompanied by the classic Sierra Nevada hop taste: the same as is found in their signature Pale Ale, in Hop Hunter, and many of their other more astringent ales. These hops don't do the beer any favors, but as I've progressed through the four-pack this week, I find them less noticeable, and less distracting from a good barleywine that hides underneath. In that way, it's not dissimilar from Devil's Milk from DuClaw - an equally (perhaps overly) hopped barleywine. Mouthfeel is an appropriate medium-thick, creamy that accompanies the high ABV and deeper flavors well, though there's perhaps a little more carbonation hiding in this beer than I find ideal for the style. Overall, not a bad beer, and a reasonably priced 4-pack.

More generally speaking: I was very underwhelmed with this beer when I had the first bottle of the four pack - it tasted like a barleywine made by a company who doesn't know how to make anything without "pale ale" in the title. The more I've had though, the more the beer has grown on me. As the beer warms, the hop presence recedes, and reveals a quality, dark fruit, boozy barleywine underneath.

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Photo of ScottJJ
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I looked this up expecting a less than perfect rating for two reasons; it's Sierra Nevada which overall isn't a favorite of mine, and barleywines are for us sophisticated drinkers and most people think they taste like a foot in your mouth-hence the name. I am pleasantly surprised. This is a world class beer, no shit. And for $10/4pk!!

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Photo of Beginner2
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I should recognize success when I drink it. And, it is in this bottle.
But the different drummer in me wants to say that hops, ultimately, are the servant of malt... especially in this style.
Not here. Not in this barleywine. I'm not flowing with the mainstream, in part because the hops dominate and prevent the ale from helping most foods.

I thought I should cellar part of the six-pack I bought and drank one a year. I noticed mellowing in the ale, but not in my palate. I could not get my mind open to this one. After the fifth, I gave the sixth away to a hop-head.

Bigfoot is on the "1001" list, but I still beg to differ.
Bigfoot also is reviewed in Roger Protz' CAMRA classic "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"
MJ's 1990s review gave this 4 of 4 stars (maybe 2% in his book.)
Maybe, I'll approach another Bigfoot differently.

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Photo of dee4maine
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Really hop forward barley wine from sierra nevada. Doesn't feel like the classic English style but then its SN! Great brew to age for few years and see a vertical taste extravaganza!

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Photo of ctylinebeer
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into teku glasss. 12/4/14 bottling date.

L - dark ruby red color. Hazy hue with some yeast sediment. Two finger head, light medium lacing.

S - pine, caramel malts, fresh flowers. Alcohol gives off a Windex aroma, which is a compliment. Aromas come out when at room temperature.

T - caramel, chocolate, roasted barley, super pine hops. Slight sweetness up front but bitter pine finish

F - big beer. Velvety texture. Slight alcohol lingering in the tongue but balanced by the bitterness.

O - very bitter for a barleywine. 50/50 sweet and bitter. Not sure if keeping it refridgerated did anything to the aging but it tastes the same as a new bottle.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
1.97/5  rDev -52.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

Year : 2016.

My first experience with Sierra Nevada's Barleywine.

It starts off great with a pour of mahogany and burnt caramel. The head is egg foam yellow and towering above the woody body.

On the label it talks about a lot of cone hops, but that's about all I smell when nosing this particular BW. This comes off more as an IPA in the aroma than any sort of Barleywine. Onion, grapefruit, garlic. Not on point - not at all. A stinge of caramel malts keep it from completely tanking in this category.

The flavor delivers a touch more maltiness, but I'm still drinking a very strong IPA here. A bit of welcoming alcohol burn, but that's the only variation. Powdered sugar and toffee-like saccharine sweetness meets a hop assault of Vidalia onion and grapefruit. This is very much a hop forward IPA. I mean Barleywine. Resins everywhere. Everywhere. No balance. Just a hoppy, oily mess.

Feel is slick and oily, all the way down. It leaves an undesirable coating on the palate that makes it easy to continue disliking this beer.

Overall a very disconnected, one trick hop-blasted beer that drinks more like a super hop infused IPA than any type of BW. I understand the style, I know some people like their Barleywines hoppy - but there is no fruit, no malt backing, no fluctuation in flavor. I feel I wasted money and will not be returning to this particular SN offering.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 12/11/2015. I bought it on 2/11/2016. It took two months just to get to store shelves from Chico! DHF Snifter.

Appearance: Pours a brownish-red, with half a finger of light tan head that fades to islands of froth with a big bubbly mass of froth in the middle. Some carbonation visible, with a little haze and a little sediment. Lacing is modest, retention is pretty good for the style.

Smell: Immediate burst of hops, alcohol, and malt. Smells very sweet and chewy. Like an orange marmalade jelly donut. Hints of strawberry and caramel. Perhaps less hop here than I expected, but that is by no means a criticism.

Taste: Immediate sweetness on the arrival, turns to a hoppy malt center, then immediate taste of alcohol is present. Smooths out to a caramel and malty ending, then a firm bitterness that is not quite as medicinal as other American barleywines I've had. Finish carries some lingering resin and pine, but not nearly as potent as one might expect, and not unpleasant at all. More bitter/resiny and less fruity than Lagunitas Olde Gnarlywine.

Mouthfeel: Decidedly full-bodied, but not heavy. Remarkably clean, little slickness. Moderate carbonation.

Overall: This is what I was in the mood for, and this is what I got. The alcohol is strong on this one, but I imagine that will settle down with time - three in the cellar settling down. This is far more hop-forward than other strong ales or English barleywines I've had, but is also more drinkable than many. Very nice, and I look forward to seeing this develop.

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Photo of pwlong19
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 pkgd 12/31/16. Poured into snifter. 1 inch of foam with good lacing left after a minute of settling. Color is dark amber with slight haze. Smell is fruity and floral notes. Flavor is boozy (my first barleywine) with hoppy bitterness and malt sweetness hitting first then boozy. Will be getting more to age for summer enjoyment.

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Photo of dleigh
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Beautiful amber color. Smells like hops and rain, with a tinge of sweetness to it. Tastes dank and fresh--sweet and bitter at the same time. A little like honey as it warms up and oxidizes. This is a little like a floral double IPA, but with more maltiness to it. Very little malt char--just sweetness. 2016 vintage.

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Photo of ezra_shroomer
4.84/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Delicious. My first barleywine brew to experience. Taste is perfect. From a bottled dated 12/11/15. Poured into a pilsner glass from bottle. Aroma, sweet floral notes, heavy malt. While my nose and palate are young and i have much to learn, this is a complex flavor and scent. I enjoyed this very much. Will probably by my local pub out and try to cellar a few. (If i can abstain from indulging in this powerful and delicious beer.) I havent had a beer from Sierra Nevada that has dissapointed and this is the cream of the crop. Beer Noob opinion, will buy again (: love it!

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2016 Bottle...

Look has a dark, hazy copper body and khaki head that drops to a fat-rimmed film, leaving Jackson Pollock on the way down.

Smell is sweet dark fruits, candy caramel and piney hops.

Taste is candied fruits, malts and hoppy finish. Really complex, layered flavors that I can't really pin down, but it works really well.

Feel is full, sticky and lingering. Bitterness shows up late, but hangs on for a while.

Overall, this is easy to drink and a nice sweet treat to end the night. This is not something to session, and patience will payoff as it really opens up as it warms.

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Photo of shaneerickson
3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On draft in a glass

L - a really nice amber hue. the reds and oranges gives off a beautiful glow. very little foam head, light lacing around the glass. a little bit of haziness in beer

S - lots of sweet caramel smells. kind of reminds me of walking into a pastry bakery. bread malts and sugary glazes

T - i can definitely taste the alcohol on my tongue. the bitterness of the hops stick to my palate long after i've a drink. the malt gives the impression of pie crust. sweet but still very attenuated

F - mildly syrupy and oily. there is almost no carbonation that i noticed. relatively thin for a barley wine

O - quite delicious!! pretty drinkable at 9.5%. all the characteristics of a barley wine are present. Sierra Nevada did a good job of creating a big bad barley wine thats not only palatable to people who don't normally drink this style but also keeping it at an affordable always. good stuff

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Photo of MJSFS
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage 12oz bottle poured into a Dogfish Head snifter L: dark ruby and slightly opaque, finger of thick pillowy head that slowly receded, and left decent lacing A: dark fruits, caramel, and hops T: sweet malts, dark fruits, and a strong bitter hops finish M: incredibly creamy O: I love this beer, and at $10 for a four pack I have a hard time not buying it every time I see it.

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Photo of Myotus
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 bottle
Poured at 48°F from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Allowed to warm up to 50°F before consuming.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a quarter fingers worth of off-white foam within 45 seconds. Ruby in color with a hint of cloudiness. Rising bubbles are medium in size and scarce in quantity. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: Strong aromas of piney hops, mangos, papaya, apricots, and peaches entangle with subtle caramel and plum aromas.
TASTE: The initial taste is a simultaneous bombardment of all the aromas, but as strong flavors. Unexpected and nearly overpowering, but my taste buds love it. Strong flavors of brown sugar (weren't detected in the smell) and mild flavors of bitter hops enter act 2 as mango, papaya, apricot, and peach flavors grow slightly stronger.
FEEL: Full-bodied and moderately carbonated. Goes down somewhat smooth while clinging to the back of the throat like syrup. Finishes horribly dry.

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Photo of nbbyrd
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

For my first official Beer Advocate beer review, I’ve pulled out a special beer for a special occasion. This is the last 2013 Bigfoot Barleywine that I have been holding on to as my first attempt at cellaring/aging a beer. Thinking back to 2013 when I first bad this beer, I remember the strong and biting bitterness of the hops and warmth from the alcohol that overwhelmed my palate at the time. As time and experience with other beers have developed my palate, I am really looking forward to what time has done to this cornerstone of a beer for me. So here we go!
Look: 12 oz bottle poured semi-aggressively into a tulip glass, a beautiful rich mahogany red with two fingers of a light tan head, a few floaties that have settled from aging. Tight and pillowy at first, the head dissipates to a half inch of larger soapy bubbles in the center and creamy froth around the rim after about five minutes, leaving wonderful lacing.
Smell: Immediately caramel hits the nose, with very ripe dark fruits following. Hints of sweet raisins and port wine. Hardly any traces of citrus or piney hops. A completely different creature after 3 years.
Taste: Caramel, cream, vanilla, leather, dark candied fruits. Maybe a nice mild aromatic pipe tobacco? The booze is nowhere to be found in such a big beer compared to its younger self. Only slightly resinous with a hint of mature pine. Really a lovely sweetness like a fresh warm fruitcake. The perfect amount of sweetness and balanced bitterness.
Feel: So very smooth and creamy. Perfectly balanced and still a great medium carbonation. Such a soft and subtle bitterness that lingers on the middle and back of my tongue before disappearing like a dream. It coats the mouth and leaves a delicate bitterness aftertaste reminiscent of citrus, like subtle grapefruit pith.
Overall: One of the most lovely beers I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. The harsh bitterness and sharp edges from 2013 have smoothed and mellowed over time, making this a treat to enjoy on a stormy February evening. It is amazing what time can do to a beer. Being my first (and only at the moment) beer to have aged, I can’t wait to grab a few more bottles of various others to store away for another few years. While I would rate the young and raw version of this beer a 3.43, the 3 year aged version has blown me away beyond my expectations 5/5.

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Photo of Jtbennett
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First of this year's release. Pours dark red with an off-white head. Great lacing. Hops up front, then opens up with some....damn this is a good beer!

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Photo of VDubDJ
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Just happened to have my computer while I was drinking a glass of this, so call it fate. Here goes my first official BeerAdvocate review.

Look: Gorgeous just barely off-white and silky head sits atop. About an inch of head and isn't going anywhere soon. The liquid a deep ruby with brown tones. This is a beautiful beer!

Smell: Some alcohol phenols and hops on the first sniff. Delve a little deeper and some dark fruits and maltiness pop up. Sweet and enticing aroma.

Taste: A complex one on the tastebuds. First hit is that fresh-hop bite. As it moves over the palate the sweetness opens up and dark fruits (raisins, plums, figs) come to mind. After-taste has it giving way to how big this beer is, although well-hidden, as it warms your body.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, just right for this beer. The mouthfeel is silky and smooth and dangerously drinkable for almost being 10%

Overall: Couldn't be happier having this beer as my first official BA-review. Just a lovely offering on the style, and you can't ask for much more with how available it is. Sierra Nevada after all these years is still making some excellent stuff. Happy to store a few bottles each year to see how they age and develop.

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Photo of Wer34truh
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Has a moderately light brown color, with a almost non-existent head.

Smells of sweet malts, subtle tones of citra, and dried fruits.

Taste is surprisingly subtle. There are clear notes of pine, grainy sweetness, dried fruit, and grapefruit. But for the most part, this is an incredibly drinkable barleywine. Almost intimating so for being 9.6%. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light and it has a distinctly creamy body.

I have to admit that this is very much still a style I'm growing accustomed to. Yet, every sip of this makes me long for more. This is an absolutely incredible beer, which combines the malty characteristics of most American strong ales, with the nuance and sweetness of a juicy harvest IPA. This is cool.

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Photo of Bruno74200
4.74/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is my first barleywine ever, and well... It wans't what I was expecting at all!! It's insanely hoppy, I thought it would be more and toffee and malt forward but it's really hop forward!

Amazing stuff!!

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Photo of geodonnokepyo
3.89/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

bottled 12/31/14

look: hazy amber/brown, frothy head, good retention
smell: caramel, pine, citrus
taste: caramel, wood, slight fruitiness
feel: fullish body, finishes really bitter

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

Bottled on 12/11/15
LOOKS: Poured into a snifter, gets a bout a half inch of tan foamy head that dissipates quickly. Very dark amber to almost mahogany in a appearance. Great carbonation when you rock the glass from side to side. Leaves alcohol legs down the glass. Spotty lacing.
AROMA: Floral, alcohol, sherry, port wine like. Brown sugar, a little citrus, dark dried fruit, and some bready malts.
TASTE: Sherry like. Dried fruits, and fruitcake. Bitter citrus rind. Very wine like. Good blend of sweet and bitter.
MOUTHFEEL: Very dry all the way through the sip. Very good carbonation, not overkill.
OVERALL: A very nice sipper. Has a very pleasant taste that reminds me of sipping a fine sherry or dessert wine, but that carbonation really helps bring out the flavors.

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Photo of Bonkinishwa
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale. 9.6% ABV. 12oz bottle into a snifter. 2015 edition.

Look: Body is a rich amber hue, with a two finger tan head from an aggressive pour.

Smell: Floral hops balanced by sweet malts, with some tones of caramel, sour fruits, and molasses.

Feel: Medium bodied with a lot of carbonation, while still being pretty smooth.

Taste: Sweet malts and sour fruits up front, but soon drowned out by bitter hops and caramel, which all blend into the aftertaste. Some minor alcohol taste is present, without being boozy, and without burning.

Overall: This is my first Barleywine style of beer, without being barrel aged. Pretty enjoyable, with a great balance of bitter hops and sweet malts. The ABV of this beer is concealed pretty well, although still noticeable.

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

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

L: Pours a clear deep ruby mahogany color. Thick creamy off-white head with delicate lacing.

S: Brown sugar and molasses mingling with piney hops.

T/F: Malty and smooth... caramel, brown sugar, and raisins. Strong hop presence so fits right in with the West Coast barleywine's. Evergreen and mild citrus. Creamy on the mouthfeel and warming. High ABV and it shows... but enough balance to keep it tasteful.

O: A big west coast barleywine that stacks up with the best of them. Great for a cold winter night and looking forward to seeing what a year in the cellar does for this guy. Great beer from a top-notch brewery.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,442 ratings.
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