Bigfoot | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 

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
Reviews: 3,130 | Ratings: 7,714
Photo of McFinniganOfTheFinnigans
2.84/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Bigfoot 2018.

The overall appeal of Sierra Nevada has never been for me. Bigfoot is a bland example of what a Barleywine is. Oh wow. Hops. Celebration is better and that ain't saying much by any means.

I'd say chalky, but I'd attribute that to the overall hop character and a drastic lack of maltiness. Sad really.

I'd never ask for my money back, but if you handed me this beer and called it good? Probably going to judge you really hard.

What do I think this is closer to? A dubble passed off as a Barleywine if that makes any sense.

 540 characters

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

This '18 version pours a deep mahogany with a lot of lacing . Quite a bit hoppier than I remember ,haven't had one in years. Unmistakably Sierra Nevada -familiar malt and yeast profile. Quite nice for as fresh as it is , a late evening sipper.Will drink a couple more fresh and age the other 3 for something to look forward to. A robust and tasty beer.

 352 characters

Photo of AyatollahGold
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pouring from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass, this beer pours out a beautiful mahogany brown in color with bright rose highlights. It forms two fingers worth of dense and creamy, well held, tingy yellow colored crown. Heavy lacing. Couldn’t look better.

The nose brings a prominent element of pine. It smells like I’m in the mountains looking for Bigfoot. It brings a sweetness of caramel as well and some apple skin present.

The taste comes in more malty than the nose with the pine playing as a nice background. Toasted malts, caramel, apple skins and toffee all backed by the pine hop presence. The pine is almost so present that it resembles a woody element.

The mouthfeel is bitter with the pine. Dry, woody. Medium-full bodied on the body but great with carbonation. An alcohol presence in some warmness that could make you think it might even be more than the stated 9.6%.

Overall, this is one of my favorites of the American style barleywines. I usually much prefer the English style, but I love the pine in this and how it melds with the malts.

 1,068 characters

Photo of wanderingwheelz
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drinking a ‘14 and I’m surprised how much hop presence is still there. If someone told me this was an double IPA I wouldn’t have doubted them. Tastes great, but I was hoping more would have happened since fresh. I can’t say it’s any different.

 253 characters

Photo of hman43
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: It pours brown with a bit of cloudiness. It has a light brown head that has a soft pillow head. Head retention is excellent.

Smell: It has a Malty Rich aroma that is Bready and caramel. Orange aroma is low. The aromas are well defined.

Taste: It is malty rich with bread and caramel. There is a bit of a citrus flavor with orange being the most prominent. It also has a low level of spice.

Feel: It has a moderately full body that is not quite chewy. The bitterness is moderate and the malt and hops last long into the finish.

Overall: This is an excellent combination of flavors and aromas that makes me want to drink this like a session ale.

 654 characters

Photo of ICTguy21
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage bottled 12/31/14

Look: murky brownish orange, bubbly with a thin tan head that sticks around, foreboding

Smell: deep malts with a citrus hoppiness thrown in for good measure

Taste: huge, complex, in your face but subdued all at the same time. A deep sweet malt, toffee, slight molasses flavor pervades but there is also a sizable hop bitterness present that manifests itself in citrus and a bit of pine flavor.

Feel: thick, smooth, and enough carbonation to balance things out. Would be terrible in an IPA for instance but it's exactly what you want in a barleywine

Overall: an exceptional beer, fairly well balanced but still more hop presence than I expected. Would like to put a few more years on one of these bottles and see how it shakes out.

 769 characters

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

It pours a viscous maroon with a very thin dissipating head. The aroma is bitter and floral with some hints of caramel. The taste is intensely bitter. More floral notes and some slight balance offered by the malts. I'm very surprised by the level of hoppy bitterness given that this is a 2-year old bottle.

 306 characters

Photo of aclockworkchris
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Trust me, let this one warm up for a few minutes before drinking; it will rid the bitter aftertaste in the back of the mouth and allow the sweetness to come through.

 165 characters

Photo of TheDoctor
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving: Bottle
2016 version (Packaged Dec-4-2016)
Consumed: Oct-12

Pours a fairly clear ruby-copper-brown color with an inch-plus of creamy khaki head that slowly drops to a relatively decent film with confetti lacing. (4)

A rich layered malt front with assertive hops behind. Layers of brown bread, white chocolate, wood, cinnamon and brown sugar. (4.5)

Follows the nose but with a faintly sweeter malt body and stronger hop bitterness. (4.25)

Full body with medium carbonation and a slow-rolling malt/hop bittersweet finish. (4.25)

Really an excellent beer.
I have historically said I didn't like Barleywines. Damn you for proving me wrong, Jacob!!! This is a beautiful beer.
It has an amazing aroma that pretty much covers the spectrum of malt flavors. The hops are a nice, bracing contrast to this. The flavor follows suit with a medley of toffee, oak and fruity notes with a bitter bite that cleans up your palate. This one gets great as it warms (and as you warm with it).
A real treat! Looks like I'm going to have to stop avoiding this style. (4.25)

 1,080 characters

Photo of bbtkd
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, 9.6% ABV, 90 IBU. Poured deep brown with a two finger off-white head. Nose is sweet moleasses and fruit, taste follows with a strong bitter close. Excellent mouthfeel, and despite the overpowering bitterness, still excellent.

 251 characters

Photo of NyBeerBro
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot is a fantastic Barleywine that weighs in a 9.6% ABV but you would never know it based on how smooth and mellow this brew trickles down the back of your throat. Sierra Nevada has done a great job once again.

 215 characters

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

I've had a 2 year old and 1 year old bottle, pretty good but not as good as Anniversary Barleywine in my opinion.

The look/smell/feel was excellent but what bothered me about this beer is it tasted too sweet for my liking.

 223 characters

Photo of Holderness
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Had this one with 5 years of age on it (2012 vintage)

Surprisingly robust and long-lasting head given the age and ABV. Great lacing. Aromas are very sweet -- mostly molasses, maple, brown sugar, and caramel. Some grassy hoppiness as well. Tastes retain a good amount of tea-like/grassy hop character and an intense barley malt presence that borders on being cloying. Good amount of tannins. Somewhat velvety mouthfeel. Medium carb. Long-lasting, bitter finish. Overall I don't like the way the hops age on this one as much as on other sweet barleywines like Old Ruffian -- it's pretty one-dimensionally grassy


 618 characters

Photo of BergBeer
2.91/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

@sierranevada 2016 Bigfoot. An American Barleywine. 9.6% ABV Chico, CA

Look: A murky caramel brown with a medium khaki head. No activity visible.

Smell: Sticky and boozy on the nose. Notes of dried figs, golden rum cake, tree sap, pine cones, golden raisins, toffee, and big floral hops. The alcohol is strong and vaporous. Reminiscent of a tawny port with pine cones and bitter hops.

Taste: Intense. Upfront there is a brief sticky attack of golden raisins and toffee. Then the palate is put into what I can only describe as a choke hold of bitter pine hops. This bitterness dominates the palate until the end of the body where hints of golden molasses, whole wheat bread, and dried dates are able to poke through. However that is quickly overwhelmed again by the finish which is a heavyweight wrestling match of sharp astringent booze and more floral hops bitterness.

Feel: Big, chewy, resinous. This beer takes hold of the palate and gives no reprieve. High bitterness. High alcohol. Medium carbonation.

Overall: The quality of this beer is immediately apparent. It’s drinks “clean” as in there is no real flaws to speak of. However this works against this beer for me. This is seemingly how the brewers want this beer to be experienced. Yet, this beer isn’t exactly pleasant to drink. It’s so bitter and chewy. The bitterness absolutely dominates to the point that doesn’t let the rest of the the beer shine. This should balance the stark sweetness of a barleywine. You could even do it in an out of balance way to match the American style but it goes too far in in the hops. This one has almost 3 years in the bottle. Might have to age it even further to let some of those hops drop out. Can’t see myself drinking this very often. Maybe checking up on it every few years.

 1,800 characters

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

I was glad to find this one from Sierra, as they are one of my favorite breweries - and I love barleywine so the joy was double. It is from 2015 so by today (2017) it is already somewhat vintage.
Actually it is a barleywine-style ale the bottle says and right, it is not as syrupy as a normal barleywine would be. It is rather like a heavily hopped ale and Sierra are masters of this kind of beer. Along with heavly caramellized malts I feel loads of hops, especially perhaps bittering hops? because the aftertaste is quite bitter with quite a complexity. Very good that the body is lighter than a usual barleywine, but the remarkable taste is still there both in the nose and the feel. Makes me feel like a very very rich IPA... the richness of the hops is amazing, perhaps with Sierra's trademark Cascades? If I had to compare it to something, perhaps it is similar to the Arrogant Bastard Ale - and this should tell it all: it is amazing!
An excellent beer this is, Sierra did a great job again. It is a piece of art.

 1,020 characters

Photo of poisoneddwarf
3.97/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

2009 backlog. Beer rating # 100 on Ratebeer. 12 oz bottle. 2009 vintage. Ah, Bigfoot! For beer #100 I had to review the beer that got me hooked on craft beer about 10 years ago. This vintage isn’t as great as past years. That first year (1998 or 1999) was a standout. So was 2008, their anniversary edition. This year’s isn’t as exceptional as those examples, but it’s pretty damn good. Aroma is of bananas, spiced apples, caramel--strong malty presence. Pours a huge head with good lacing. Dark copper hue. Light carbonation. Initially sweet, turns bitter. The bitterness and strong alcohol presence linger. This is still my favorite barleywine. ----- 2/14/10. Vertical tasting of the 2009 and 2010 vintages. This is my re-rank (and comparison with the 2010) of the 2009 vintage. 7/5/8/5/17 (4.2 total score). 12 oz bottle. Aroma of caramel, Christmas spices; malty. Murky amber hue. Medium dissipating head with nice lacework (better than the ’10). Mellow, awesome maltiness on the tongue. Starts out sweet, finishes bitter. Medium carbonation. ----- Ranking of the 2010 vintage (and comparison with the 2009): 7/4/9/5/17 (4.2 total). 12 oz bottle. Much hoppier aroma than the ’09. Lots of citrus. Not as murky as the ’09, but the same hue. Way hoppier than the ’09. Not as complex. Medium carbonation. ----- In summary, drinking these two beers back to back, I prefer the ’10 because it’s hoppier, although it’s really freaking close. I think the ’10 will mellow in a year and be much like the ’09 tastes now. The ’09 is more complex, and more interesting, but not as drinkable. This beer is meant to be aged, though, so I’m thinking the ’09 is closer in taste to what the brewers want it to taste like in the end.

 1,749 characters

Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

It pours a dark red/brown in my chalice. No head forms, but a slight white film clings to the sides of the chalice. Spider-web like lacing graces the sides of the chalice. The smell has the hops up front, coming forth in an earthy/woody way, some light citrus comes out as the beer warms. The taste is bitter with the previously mentioned flavors adding a bit of a tobacco flavoring in a boozy sort of way. It becomes slightly sweet as the beer warms. The palate is heavy with some slight harshness on the tongue, still smooth and slightly creamy. I’d say this isn’t exactly that drinkable, ABV aside, but it is an American Barleywine, so its expected. Overall, though the hops come forth strong in the smell and taste than most barleywines I’ve had, I still liked this. The normal complexities of a barleywine come out to make this a great offering from Sierra Nevada.

 875 characters

Photo of EmeraldMist
2.8/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25

Bottle from 2017

Look - Clear ruby color, a short and sudsy off white head, minimal lacing.
Aroma - Dried mango, pine sap, maraschino cherry.
Taste - Resinous and bitter. Up front there's a ton of pine, marmalade, malt tastes like simple syrup and plays second fiddle to the hops. Sweet grapefruit and long bitter aftertaste.
Feel - Medium bodied, sticky, ample carbonation, alcohol well hidden.

Overall - This one is for the hop heads. More IPA than barleywine.

 464 characters

Photo of Red5StandingBy
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12oz short bottle into Snifter glass. Bottled on February 23rd 2017.

L: Beautiful clear mahogany color, finger width beige head has great retention. Gorgeous lacing.

S: Hop forward aroma, citrus and pine with a toffee like malt backnote. Faint fruity and alcoholic esters.

T: Very hop forward at first, citrus and pine blasts the tongue with a strong bitterness. Roasted malt sweetness wrestles its way back in keeping this beer very balanced. Fruity esters and even a yeast backnote add complexity.

F: Chewy, like you are gnawing at a fresh picked hop. Medium body, crisp carbonation, hop residuals linger on the tongue.

O: Wow this is a great beer. Took me quite by surprise. Highly recommend.

 730 characters

Photo of craigbelly
4.16/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Drinking 16 and 17 back to back. Rich, robust, aromas are popping with this one. 16 seems to have a little of the hop mellow out. Very sugary and boozy. Nice full body and great carbonation.

 190 characters

Photo of outdoor7or24
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass, 2017 brew I'm reviewing.
A: pours a dark ruby red brown body, one finger white foam head, carbonation
S: soft sweet malt, undertones of vanilla, candy sugar, oak, slight boozy aroma
M: full thick body, juicy finish on the tongue
T: oak, sweet malt, burnt char, earthy hops, grainy, slight herbal taste inn the finish, alcohol is well hidden
O: always a staple to get one each year, aroma is well done! Cellaring for a bit would help mellow out the earthy hop.

 499 characters

Photo of NickSMpls
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Aged 1 year after a buy of the High Altitude Series at the local Costco. A thick, almost viscous, pour with vestigal head and light lacing. The aroma catches the nose right away with a blast of bourbon and smoke. Very nice taste, complex and deep. The first impression is that your're having a shot of Kentucky bourbon, then it mellows out to a heavy malt, sweet and boozy. Aging is a necessity for these SN ales. Buy it, then give it a year.

 448 characters

Photo of wmartin
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Obtained a 2014 bottle from a bottle shop. As this had probably sat on the shelf at store temp for 3 years, I was a little unsure about buying it, but decided to give it a try as this beer should age well.

The previous copy of this beer I had was fresh from the brewery, and I found the extreme bitterness too strong for my taste. The barrel-aged version; however, is one of my favorite beers. Upon trying this 3-year shelf-aged sample, I found the extreme bitterness tamed quite a bit; not quite to the barrel-aged level, but very, very good!

Poured into Teku at 47F. On first sip, I got a dark oily flavor that I didn't really appreciate, but that mostly faded as I proceeded through the glass. The strong, but mellowed bitterness leaves a strong, long lasting aftertaste that wears very well. I drank this yesterday, and am still thinking about it. This was very similar to the barrel-aged version, just without the wood flavors.

Barley wines have great bitterness, without the hoppy flavor of an IPA; which is one of the reasons I like this style. They are also high ABV, which stimulates the toungue, and adds a dreaminess to the flavor.

Now, back to the store to buy the rest of their 2014 stock.

 1,214 characters

Photo of BJB13
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2017 release.
12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic style pint glass.

Look- A clear, deep red amber body topped by one and a half fingers of tan foamy head with some lacing.
Smell- Moderate strength but a little one dimensional. Dominated by resinous hops with a hint of caramel malt.
Taste- As with the nose, very hop forward. The bitterness is rather high, but good front to back. There is just enough malty sweetness to keep the hoppiness in check.
Feel- Medium bodied but definitely to the high side, it has a nice weight to it. Smooth with good medium carbonation.
Overall- Good stuff. The alcohol isn't very noticeable in the nose or taste. It makes sense that if cellared the hoppiness would diminish bringing hop and malt to more of a balance. It's pretty good as is though and I needed to make a conscious effort to sip, not drink it.

 841 characters

Photo of Beerme124535
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

poured from bottle into tulip glass
look: dark red, rusty, pencil thin head, dissipates quick okay lacing.
smell:malty maybe grapefruit a bit of alcohol.
taste: lots of hops, malts, grapefruity, bitterness, warming alcohol finish
somewhat dry on the mouth feel.
overall: really liked it alot! ive heard good things and was not disapointed at all!
if you like strong heavier beers with lots of alcohol this perfect for you!

 424 characters

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