Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

7,509 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: 7,509 |  Reviews: 3,060
Photo of zachariaIPA
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Bigfoot from the cellar. Pours an hazed-out deep copper with a lingering finger of off-white head. Medium spots of lacing.

Malty, biscuity resiny and hoppy aroma and flavor. Sweetness and bitterness accompanied by a very welcomed boozy warmth, but overall very balanced. Reminds me of Gemini/Unearthly. A very nice drink.

 327 characters

Photo of DangerDawg
3.89/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage

Thanks to Scott2269 for bringing this over. Drinking it side by side with the 2011.

A - Pours a deep cloudy brown with no head. Very little carbonation.

S - Smells like raisons and figs. The hop presence thats in the 2011 is totally gone.

T - Tastes exactly like it smells. Very sweet with raisons and figs. Not much like the 2011.

M - Without the carbonation it's not much. A little thicker than water.

Overall this is very good. Bigfoot has always been a favorite barleywine of mine, so having one aged 12 years is great.

 543 characters

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

I was expecting a lot out of this beer. Mostly because of all the hype it gets as a cellar beer I guess. Anyways here Isherwood goes:

A: pours a real nice amber color with about a one finger brown sugar cream head.

S: had a cold tonight so its hard to say but a lot of caramel and raisin/fruit is coming through to me

T: nice pine hop flavor with a little bit of raisin in the the finish. The hop lingers nicely in the mouth.

M: nicely carbonated, I bet with a few more months on this it becomes a little smoother and more delicious

Not a bad beer by any means, really enjoyed this. Like I said I expected a little more but overall I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to having some aged bottles in the future.

 725 characters

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

2006 vintage shared with friends.

A- Pours a nice caramel brown. Has minimal head and appears somewhat thin. What little head there was dissolves into nothing. This is a very translucent beer.

S- Wow. This has aged very nicely. Fresh Bigfoot has a nice hop aroma, where this vintage bottle's hop aroma has faded and all that is left is beautiful malt aromas. Lots of caramel and molasses. I get some sweet booze towards the end.

T- Nice caramel malts and sweet booze. This is how a barelywine should taste. Not as complex as it is when its fresh but still so nice. Very little booze on this one. The hops find them selves at the very end in the form of a bitter finish.

M- Goes down lovely. Just a little thin but not to thin. The age on this one has calmed the carbonation a little but still present.

O- Glad i got to try an aged version of this, thanks Brawley!! It seems to lose complexity with age but gains character. I feel it starts off as a barleywine "style" ale and becomes a barleywine over time. I love the sweetness to this ale reminds me of so many other great barleywines.

 1,093 characters

Photo of cneville
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter.

Color is a nice, deep amber that appears lighter at the bottom. Head is a light tan and leaves a nice lacing. You can definitely smell the barley here, and there's also an underlying sweetness. When you taste it, the hops are definitely there at first, but fade into a maltiness that really brings the beer together. Mouth feel is a little underwhelming, although the carbonation level is good. This is the first barleywine I've had/reviewed, but it's a style I'll definitely return to, especially with the cold months coming up.

 553 characters

Photo of damndirtyape
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz 2011 bottle (bottled 10/07/10 if I'm reading the stamp right) poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Hazy dark copper orange-red with a very thin off-white foam on top. Ring at the edge, tiny thin skin in the middle, but big sheets of persistent lacing all over the glass. Good looking beer.

Smell: Very hoppy. Pine, grapefruit, citrus, and tiny hint of mango, all smashed together and tempered with a bit of malt and just a hint of alcohol as well. More of the malt comes through as the beer warms up.

Taste: Bitter up front, quick malt in the middle, and long lingering pine, grapefruit, and earl gray tea (bergamot in here too) hop finish. Hops mellow out just a tad as beer warms up and a little bit of the malt shows through in the middle, but even then, the hops dominate. This beer is a showcase for the hops and little else.

Mouthfeel: Quick carbonation on the tongue, and then it's gone and replaced with a thick and creamy mouthfeel followed by all that hop oil sticking to the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: Quite a monster this one. Good but smacks you around the head and shoulders with the hops. A slow sipper for good reason. I wonder what it would be like aged another year since if I've read the date stamp right, it's been about a year in the bottle and it's still massively hoppy. Might try it again sometime or pick up a bottle now and cellar it a year to see if the hop profile changes and the malt comes out more.

 1,446 characters

Photo of Rhynes2
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bigfoot is a great name for such a big beer. Pours a nice amberish color with a decent head. A little bit of lacing down the sides as well. The taste definitely has some hop bite to it but nothing overpowering. The malt side of things seems to have a bit a honey with a small dash of caramel. For the price I think it is an outstanding value but as a barley wine i would much prefer a different choice.

 402 characters

Photo of ElizabethCraig
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Split with my husband from a bottle on 9/28/11. I really like barleywines but I'm not sure what to make of this one.

The color is a light to medium amber with a pale tan head, the scent is caramel with.. citrus? I think yes, citrus. I'm not sure how I feel about the combination.

The caramel flavor varies from dry to sweet, a slight carbonation is present a few seconds into tasting it, it moves to a pleasant alcohol warmth.

My husband and I talked about this one for awhile. For some reason I picked it up as very dry and bitter - and he hit the nail on the head when he described it as "APA-ish".

I'm not sure how I feel about this, as I prefer my barleywines generally not this.. .dry? But it's been awhile since I had one, so my memory of others that I've enjoyed could be off. This is a pleasant tasting beer, but not necessarily what I was expecting. I'm not used to this combination of intensely caramel but with a bitter/dry edge to it.

 951 characters

Photo of AmericanGothic
4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Peace Tree pint. 2011 vintage.

A: Pours a hazy, orange-brown color with two fingers of pale tan head. Excellent retention and lace.

S: Sweet, bready malt, some mellow citrus hops.

T: Sweet caramel mixed with mellow yet rich, spicy hops. A little molasses also. Tiny, lingering sweetness on the finish. After a while, a little more hoppy bitterness manifests itself on the finish.

M: Not too heavy, very creamy and light oil coats the tongue.

O: A great beer, it has aged well for the past few months and will probably hold up for many more. Without a doubt, one I will buy over and over again.

 632 characters

Photo of stickynotes
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2011 offering.

Pours caramel with an appealing and thick caramel head, I can cut it with a knife. Head hangs around for a while, plenty of lacing. Upon opening bottle I'm hit with earthy, citrusy hops. Sweet malts. Smells like a barleywine. Taste is caramel, sweet malts, some citrus and earthy hops. Well-rounded and tight. Some bitterness at the end of the taste. Alcohol pleasantly warms the back of the mouth. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied, I am slightly distracted by a cloy aftertaste. Overall this is a solid barleywine. I really like that it comes in a sixer so I can easily try this over time.

 599 characters

Photo of pBRale
4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From tasting notes 9-17-11
2011 Vintage
Poured into a snifter

Appearance: This beer rivals any in appearance. A surprisingly clear pour, deep amber in color, with a super creamy light tan head. The head settles very slowly and has massive retention. The lacing left behind is thick and dense.

Smell: An absolutely wonderful array of smells. From the nose, it smells similar to an IPA although there is a much more pronounced malt presence in the nose. The hops certainly dominate the nose but are not overwhelming. There are citrus, floral, piney hops smells and an incredible earthy hop undertone. The malt backbone can easily be detected and is really working up the anticipation of the taste of this beer.

Taste: The taste did not disappoint. Very bitter up front with the hop tastes blending beautifully in pretty much the same manner as the aroma, except that the earthy presence is a bit more pronounced in the taste, which lends itself beautifully to the overall quality of the taste. The initial bitterness is followed by a huge blast of malty goodness that is exceptional and really balances out the beer well. The maltiness in the finish is what sets this up as a great barleywine!

Mouthfeel: The feel is smooth and coating. Medium carbonation in a medium but full-body and a great creaminess in this beer. Excellent.

Overall: Very creamy and delicious--full bodied and smooth. The malty finish is crisp and the alcohol is barely perceptible. This is an exceptional beer that everyone should try. A true delight to all of the senses in a way that most beers cannot do.

 1,585 characters

Photo of amanofbeer
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It's your typical barleywine appearance, but with an intense head...the haze is minimal, and in fact it is inteesting to look at what sediment is at the bottom of the bottle, because there is most certainly a present sediment, yet an incredibly clear beer.

The Aroma is pungently hoppy, but a beer of this degree cannot be reduced to a mere aroma of hops. The malt backbone is everpresent with an almost burnt caramel. The hop aroma is earthy and intense. The result of whatever hopping has occured is one of a (balanced) burnt pine and citrus.

The flavor is a total party. Wild. Super dark, but at the same time sharp. The hops are not that of an IPA at all, but those of intense early addition.

Quite a unique beer. Tasty. Big. watch out.

 743 characters

Photo of jale
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Crunchy's in East Lansing.

A: Pours a light reddish brown with two quarters of off-white head.

S:Fruity and malty with a nice hop aroma.

T: Sweet malt and hops together upfront with a wonderful strong hop bitterness in the finish.

M: Lighter side of medium with good carbonation.

O: A nice barleywine.

 320 characters

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

2011 Vintage and my first barleywine ever.

A: Clear amber body with an off white, creamy head.

N: Hop resin aroma and some caramel like malt aroma as well. Nose is well balanced

T: Mild hop bitterness and a slight bready flavor from the malt. Searching for the alcohol taste and cannot find it, very well hidden.

M: Medium bodied, creamy with very little carbonation.

O: Fantastic beer, this is a great sipping beer for a cold night. I will drink 3 and age 3 and see how I like it in a year or more. This is a well balanced beer with a high abv that is hidden expertly.

 575 characters

Photo of Holland
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: pours a nice amber orange brown color with no haze. Big head at first, but the bubbles are large and it goes away quickly, leaving half of the surface area covered in fine bubbles and a thin lacing on the edges.

S: pear, sweet malt, caramel, citrus hops

T: pear comes back, then the citrus hops and bitterness, some sweetness and grain flavor as well.

M: overcarbonated with large bubbles, medium to thick body. There is smoothness at the beginning and end.

O: not super impressed with this barley wine. Solid backbone, good hop character, but the mouthfeel threw me off just a touch. Good beer, relatively cheap, could be a staple.

 642 characters

Photo of Burt
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Half pour served in a wine glass.

Dark amber with red hues, thick off white head that leaves thick lacing.

Caramel, dried fruit and a big citrus nose with a little alcohol. Hops are very present in this one.

Roasted malts at first, caramel sweetness and citrus in the middle then it turns bitter and thick on the tongue with a little bit of an alcohol burn.

I have been looking forward to this one and it did not disappoint. One of the best beers that I have had.

 467 characters

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

I think this beer goes better in a tulip.

A- Pour yields a nice 3 finger off-white head. This leaves lacing all down the glass. The brew itself is a beautiful amaretto red color with violet highlights. A good amount of carbonation is evident on the sides.

S- Plenty of caramel malts are present upfront and intertwined with the other scents in this beer. Sweet sugar cane, dark fruits such as plums and raisins, and a fair amount of hops in this brew. Fresh I'd imagine this would smell as a pine forest where the sasquatch roams...(I'm buzzed)

T- Sweet plum, raisin and date flavors begin the barleywine. There is a nice caramel malt backbone to this thing. Aftertaste is somewhat that of cheese, interestingly enough. And there is strong bitterness to the end indicating the hops are still in here.

M- Mouthfeel is medium in body, and almost syrupy. The hops and malt bill balance quite nicely in this brew. Carbonation is evident, I'd say about a 6 out of 10.

O- This is a highly enjoyable barlewyine. I havent drank much Sierra Nevada, barleywines are hard to pull off, and judging by this offer I feel that I can trust this brewery with other beers I try from them. And for the record I do think Bigfoot exists.

 1,222 characters

Photo of BigPlay1824
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed in a pint glass

A: pours a hazy mahogany color with a slight orange tinge to it, pours with two fingers of very frothy light tan colored head that lingers beautifully, leaves nice lacing
S: intense, hoppy, malty, a smokey woody scent, molasses, pine
T: just as intense as the scent, woody, slight hoppiness, a finish like the charring on a grilled steak
M: hits differently from the beginning to the end and is all over the place, starts strong and smooth then moves into sweetness then into earthiness and then finishes aggressively, intense carbonation through and though
O: a phenomenal take on a barleywine, incredibly complex but not too intense as some barleywines can be, not too filling, best barleywine I've had thus far

 738 characters

Photo of DCon
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bought a 12 FL. OZ. bottle of this from Lukas Liquor in Ellisville, MO for $2.49 & added to my Mix-a-4 Pack (forget mix-6 packs when your getting all 8%+ brews). Poured from the 2011 Labeled bottle into my 16oz Dewey's Pizza Pint Glass and has D 348 118 03 on the side (Damn you S.N.! Put a bottled on date here!).

Aroma- A great amount of spice and alcohol hits the nose at first and then has a great sweetness and caramel note at the finish. Also can detect citrus hops behind it.

Appearance- Pours 2 fingers of off-white head and has great retention. Has a copper body that is quite a bit hazy and has tons of yeast on the bottom of the glass. Leaves thick lace on the sides of the glass.

Flavor- Very sweet and malty from the first couple drinks and then a huge citrus hop taste comes in. Has a caramel taste that is very favorable. A very aggressive hop bitterness is present on the backside and is funny that an English and American Barleywine are that much different!

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Medium-High Carbonation, has a nice amount of alcohol in the finish, but not much chewiness or body like it should.

Overall Impression- A very nicely hopped barleywine! Not sure I've ever had an American Barleywine now that I think about it and this was fantastic. I'm glad I kept this one aging for a few months before enjoying it as well. I suggest getting a few of these and sitting on them for a year or two (like I am going to be doing). Might have great results.

 1,478 characters

Photo of tdm168
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a 2011 Bigfoot with little if any aging.

Pours a dark, hazy amber with 1/2" of off white, extremely foamy head. Great retention. Nose is dark fruit, piny hops, and alcohol esters. Taste is immensely piny and hoppy up front with a thick, malt character in the finish. Great, but not overwhelming, warmth from the alcohol. As the beer warms, I get hints of dark fruit; figs and dates. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and smooth.

This was an incredible beer even fresh. A little on the hoppy side, but that was expected. I have a few more of these aging so I'll revisit this review in a few months.

 605 characters

Photo of eclipse54
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A fresh 12 ounce bottle poured into a tulip glass...

Pours a deep ruby color that is a bit hazy, but still translucent. A generous, three-finger, foamy, khaki head develops and remains for a long time. Sticky, off-white lacing is left as it settles. Smells of hops (strongly, being spicy, bitter, and vaguely citrusy), faint caramel, and dark fruits. A bit of citrus in the rear makes it resemble a DIPA in scent. The similarity continues into the taste, where the hops lead the way before the malt, date, raisin, and brown sugar make themselves known. Lacking in too much else though, as the hops are really quite pronounced. Mouthfeel is heavy, with the carbonation and alpha acids cutting only slightly through the rich body. Overall, an enjoyable barleywine now, but I will certainly cellar a few away to happily age.

 822 characters

Photo of stjaernstoft
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, 2011, ABV: 9.6%.
350 ml bottle, 29.90 SEK at Systembolaget.

A: The liquid is hazy and red with a brown tone. The head is big, beige, kind of soapy, and leaves a good ring of retention.

S: An aroma with plenty of dark dried fruits, like dates or raisins, notes of citrus peels, orange, red wine, fudge, syrup, spices, rye bread and hints of roasted malt.

T: Rich, fruity, spicy, bitter, boozy and even burnt flavours, with notes of dark dried fruits, citrus peels, oranges, red wine, toffee, vanilla, syrup and brown bread. A lot. To me this is almost too much to handle.

M: Smooth when enjoyed slowly. The body and bitterness is both plus-sized.

O: I think this is the first Barley Wine I've had, and it's (of course) pretty strong stuff, but once I got past that first stroke of alcohol I felt: 'This is a warming and really enjoyable beer'. Perhaps it wouldn't've been a bad idea to get more bottles, to store, for the years to come - with time (and experience) there might be more for me to appreciate.

 1,033 characters

Photo of litheum94
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage. Aged 7-8 months.

P: Brown body with a thick, meringue-like tan head. Takes a long time to settle out, leaving nice lacing.

A: Tons of sweet aromas: toffee, pears, apples, brown sugar, caramel. Spicy alcohol and floral hops.

T: Starts off with caramel and brown sugar. Robust maltiness. Pears and toffee. Some nutty fullness. Hops build on the finish, starting off floral and finishing piney with a strong bitterness. Some coffee flavored candy on the finish. Biting alcohol lingers, warming the mouth. The bitterness actually builds a bit as the session goes. Deeply complex and rewarding.

Awesome, awesome beer. It's going to be hard to leave the remaining bottles I have in the cellar.

2011 Vintage. Aged for 1 year.

Pours a clear, bronze body. 2 finger, light brown head. Thick and foamy. Settles slowly.

Candied orange peel, wild flowers, caramel and pine. Some apples.

Caramel and some toffee sweetness. Orange peel and pine bitterness. Loads of hops on the finish, floral and woody. Long lasting bitterness, with some alcohol burn.

This hasn't been tamed much yet, even with a year on it. Still a great American barley wine, though weirdly it seems to have less complexity. I've got four more to see how this progresses!.

 1,250 characters

Photo of Ninjabrew
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great looking beer. The dark color and sticky lacing reminds me of a root bear float. This sticky head hung arond for most of the time I was drinking this beer.

Smell is piney and sweet lime others have said.

Taste is like the nose piney and sweet up front with a good dose of hops bitterness at the end. Very resinous and thick without being to thick.

Drinkability is typical of the style or and you can taste the alcohol in this one but it's a barley wine so I didn't expect anything else.

Overall I'm kind of new to this style but it's good, not as much like a dipa as I first thought.

 593 characters

Photo of clint1019
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Bottle of Bigfoot Barleywine

A - Has a amber brown color with a thick bubbly head. Great lacing as well.

S - Has a rich malty aroma and a strong piney hop aroma.

T - Rich malty flavor that has both fruity and caramel notes. Finishes with a big hop bitterness and a fairly strong alcohol presence.

M - Medium to Full Bodied

O - A exceptional beer. Probably my favorite beer I've tried by SN. Will definitly look for this one again.

 440 characters

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,509 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.
  • Our Events

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

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