Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,581 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:
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.

Added by kbub6f on 02-06-1998

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,581 |  Reviews: 3,088
Photo of hdofu
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't think Sierra Nevada brew anything that isn't hop-slovsive which is a good thing. This beer pours copper with a huge beige head. It smells like a hoppy beer. In its first taste is a noticable spicyness that has a finishing flavor of hoppy bitter bliss. Its remarkeble given it's almost 10% ABV there is no noticeable burn (which is interesting in a beer like this, the ones in the 20 range that don't burn are frightening). I could down a couple of these no problem, in fact I did last night.

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This beer was opened and tasted without any knowledge of what it was-- as per the Blind Beers BIF...

Ok-- first blind beer from Nlmartin. Thanks man!
Poured into New Belgium Globe glass

Poured from a stubby little founders-like bottle... Immediately I'm thinking Nackwoods Bastard. A rustic, murky, muddy red. Very small head. Very little lacing. The aroma of booziness is wafting up-- I'm definitely thinking this was barrel aged...

This smells so familiar. I swear I've had this before. There is a big sweetness-- burnt sugar, caramel, raisins?, boozy sweetness that reminds me of red wine?, toffee... Wow, a complex bouquet with tons going on...

The taste has some of everything i got in the nose plus sweetness and a port/sherry quality. There is a ruby red grapefruit bite towards the finish. Just a hint of something I can't quite put my finger on, perhaps... Wet paper? If it is, it is a VERY slight hint of oxidation...

This must be a Barleywine... And a good one at that. Judging by the bottle, I'm guessing this is a Bigfoot... But it isn't fresh. It must be aged.
Just miraculously good. I have this in my snifter and I am enjoying it quite a bit as I watch "Taken" on HBO.

The body is slightly less carbonated than I like, but it isn't unpleasant-- it sips like a brandy.

--reveals bottle to be 2006 Bigfoot!
Very nice!
I don't know why, but I could only think Founders the whole way... At least until I was sure it was a barleywine!
A -3
S -4.5
T -4
M -3
D -4.5
Thanks a lot for a great start (to a BIF I'm not officially not in!).

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Photo of vkv822
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle into tulip glass.

A - Great amber orange with a light trail of carbonation and a foamy, billowy toffee colored head with great retention and nice lacing.

S - Resiny pine malts at first, with some malty caramel notes as well.

T - More resiny hops, with some light citric backing. The malts are again of caramel and biscuity malts.

M - Full bodied and active, yet smooth carbonation.

D - Very drinkable and enjoyable, I can't wait to see what a few years of age does to this to really balance it out.

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

Appearance - I love the colour of this beer. The red copper sits underneath a billowy, delicate off-white head. Two fingers thick, it recedes fairly quickly, leaving lacing in rings.

Smell - a combination of wine smells, malt sweetness, and a fairly strong piny resinous odour. The alcohol comes through in a good whiff, too.

Taste - the very first thing is caramel. Not a caramel-like taste, but as if I had just put a chewy caramel on the tip of my tongue. That moves quickly into a roasty bitterness, but this is overdone, and it goes from there to a burnt taste as I swish it around a bit. The hops come on strong with the burn, and linger long after the mouthful is gone. The alcohol doesn't come through as strongly as I thought it would, but the burnt taste is off-putting, and not quite what I expected. There's some sweetness, too, but again, it isn't as pronounced as I expected it would be. It's mainly hops and the burnt taste, though the latter does fade a bit as you continue to drink it.

Mouthfeel - there is a lot of bubble to this beer. The prickly feel lends itself strongly to the burnt and pine flavours, and I think that it would seem like a rounder beer if it were dialed down a little. There's not a real drying out of the mouth while you drink it, but it doesn't coat the tongue and cheeks, either. From that perspective, it finds a good middle ground. Medium body.

Drinkability - not bad. I could have another one. The fact that my mouth doesn't feel coated with it after the swallow is nice.

The hops are overwhelming, at this point, but I think it has potential if you let it sit a while. It's probably a good one to hold onto and drink in a year or two.

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Photo of CHADMC3
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very rich copper to walnut with reddish hues beneath the dense off white head that hangs around for some time before giving way to a thin, but sticky lacing.

The aroma is massive and consists of sweet vinous aromas traditional to a barleywine, although they are secondary, floral or pine hops, and sweet malt.

Hops jump to the front of the palate, again they are woody and piney similar to the aroma. There is also some barley and malt sweetness, although not quite to the degree that the aroma hinted. There may even be some floral hops in here as well, and the hops are certainly the highlight.

This Barleywine offers generous carbonation and a thicker mouthfeel with a hop presence that has a bit of a bite.

This is a fine example of the American Barleywine. Not as vinous as its English counterpart with much more focus on the west coast hop presence.

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Photo of musicforairports
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle into a snifter.

Pours ruby, with an off-white head that leaves some lacing. Very clear.

Smells is a pretty dense bouquet of thick, sweet pine and citrus hops and some alcohol.

Taste is dense--very hoppy, and almost like a DIPA if there weren't so much caramel malt behind it. The malt flavor hits first, sweet and smooth, but then it's a big kick of hops the rest of the way. The finish is long and bitter. Alcohol is pretty decently hidden for the ABV. I'm very curious how this will taste a year or three from now.

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, but what you'd expect from a beer like this.

This is easier to drink than I expected given the level of sweetness and the ABV. I could have a few.

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Photo of imbibehour
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter vintage 2011.

Pours gold from the bottle giving a nice cream colored head. Lots of leg action and stickiness with pocked marks. Head is very resilient with staying power. Burnt orange to very dark amber body in appearance, but seems a little hazy also.

The first thing I got off the bouquet was strangely supermarket red grapes.. citrus faintness but with hop character. Interesting. Some fresh cut lawn grass sense as well. Some little tight visible carbonation from the bottom of the glass.

Hop character and bitterness shows through in a tolerable way, but missing hinted at fruit character off nose in the taste. Alcohol is masked a little, with double imperial American pale ale feel. Strange grassy feel (literally lawn cut grass) to this that doesn't translate into lingering aftertastes. Fairly alright but sort of a letdown. Palate seems to be focused on the front for me than the entire region tasting this beer.

Does this need to age perhaps? Well can't say, I don't have a time machine. Tolerable drink. Would I chose this over other recent barleywines that I have of this style the answer is no.

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Photo of rijanyoung
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Drinking the 2011 Bigfoot Barley Wine

A: This beer pours dark red with a thick head. A very appropriate color for this beer style.

S: I get a toasty aroma from this beer, I smell some hops from this beer. It is a 2011 so that is not at all uprising. I also get some dried fruit (prune) form the smell.

T: Caramel, burnt sugar and some dried raisin flavors accompanied by some dried fruit and toffee. It has a toasty backbone. I am a bit disappointed with the hops of this beer, very one dimensional in my opinion. The hop bitterness is very forward, would like to see how this beer matures with some time on it. I think the hops would blend nicely.

M: It has a nice mouth feel, carbonation is not bad but I would have done less, the body is medium.

D: It is a very drinkable beer giving its age. It is still very obvious that it is a young barley wine and with some time I think this beer will benefit greatly and increased drinkability will be observed.

Over all this is a tasty beer. Not my favorite barley wine but a great beer none the less and one that i enjoy drinking.

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Photo of n2185
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Doing a tasting of a 2010 and 2011 bottle side by side. The overall score will go to the better of the two:

A: Both pour a dark burgundy-brown with about two fingers of beige head. Both are quite clear, though the 2010 is slightly hazier. The head recedes into a ring with some decent lacing.

S: The 2010 smells of lots of sticky sweet caramel malts up front followed by a light piny hop aroma with some alcohol notes.
The 2011 is similar, but the malt is much more toned down and the hops much more pronounced. Caramel malt up front followed by a big blast of piny hops.

T: The 2010's flavors start out with lots of sticky sweet malt up front, but the hops are still packing a punch even after a year. There's a good kick of piny hops and a bitterness that coats your mouth with the heavy malt bill. There's still a noticeable alcohol burn to the beer as well.
The 2011 has a bit of the sweet malt in the flavor up front, but the hops follow closely behind and wipe out any memory of the malt. Lots of resiny pine flavors with a slight alcohol burn and the aftertaste is very bitter.

M: The 2010 has a thick body with light-medium carbonation, this beer has an oily feel to it that coats your mouth long after the last sip.
The 2011 has a lighter body again with light-medium carbonation. The oily feel is still there, but the finish is much lighter. The bitterness hangs around for much longer, though.

D: The 2010 is fairly drinkable considering how big a beer it is, but the coating it leaves in my mouth almost numbs my palate.
The 2011 has a lighter body and doesn't seem to coat my mouth with malt as much, so it goes down slightly more easily.

Overall, I think I prefer the 2010. The fresh 2011 is a bit one-dimensional as a huge hop bomb that leaves a bitterness in my mouth that doesn't seem to ever go away. The 2010 has a nicer balance between the malt and hops, though the thick body and combination of sticky malt and bitter hops leave me wanting to brush my teeth afterward.

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Photo of LuthersMug
3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Muted brown with some reddish tones noted. Beer was already poured for me, a little bit of head. Lacing was good.

S - Strong earthy notes, the malts are big and you can smell caramel sweetness, also hints of citrus and pine.

T - This beer hints you in the face, immediate huge malts, very flavourful. As the beer progresses there is a strong hop presence that lingers, maybe even a bit too long.

M - I'm torn here, I loved the creamy malty goodness up front, the hops were a little too fresh and bitter for me and they lingered a bit long. The beer leaves a bitter metallic medicine taste, but then you have another drink and get huge malts.

D - One was good with the high alcohol content and lingering hops.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Clear orange bronze color, small head, nice lacing.
S- Very hoppy aroma with caramel undertones. Very surprised by the hoppy aroma, smelled a lot like DIPA.
T- Great Balance, very tasty, a lot of hoppy flavors that stand out. Sweet malty flavors as well, again surprised by the hoppiness.
M- Nice warm feeling, well balanced smooth feeling on the palate. Well carbonated, with a bitter finish.
D- Was surprised by this beer. Hops really stood out. Really enjoyable beer that is easy to drink. Alcohol level is very hidden especially for 9.6 abv. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A-a nice reddish amber that is transparent. has a nice and thick light tan head. it really looks beautiful. has nice lacing.

S-mmm this isn't what i expected. i've had some barley wines but so far, this is the hoppiest i've smelled yet, and it is much to my liking. it smells like good robust hops and some barley. The more i smell it, the more caramel undertones i can pick up. its a fairly strong scent. definitely a nice scent of vanilla

T-it comes in with strong and possibly over-sweetened caramel and then transforms in to an extreme bitterness. I mean this is a mouth puckering, head turning bitterness. the after-taste is of caramel and hops, it sorta reminds me of syrup. this is quite unlike any barley wine i've had. it seems to be somewhere between a barley wine and double IPA. It is sort of a let down from what i was expecting.

M-has an okay creamy, medium carbonation with a very bitter finish.

D-the more i drink this, i think the more i begin to understand it. at first the tastes seem to be over bearing, but they eventually fade out and the bitterness is whats left. although i'm not a huge fan of the taste, the more i drink this, the more i seem to want another one and think that i could possible have a few of these in night...this might be the type of beer that grows on you.

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Photo of tmcelvain
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had some 2011 vintage on 2011.02.20.

I am surprised a bit by how hop-forward this tastes. Were it not for the malty backbone, I might push this into DIPA category. Alas I am content to call it merely a big, complex, dark amber barleywine. I'm a big fan of Barleywines, and this, though in some ways unexpected, is very satisfying. As mentioned above, this knocks me back with piney. slightly woody hop bitterness. I would not call this a balanced beer, but there is a caramelly, malty sweetness to the backside that adds to the complexity and satisfaction.
The look and smell of this beer is great. A bit fruity mixed with alcohol, and a great cark copper tone with a big fizzy head that dies off to a thin lacey layer. I can see why there is a lot of chatter about aging this one.

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Photo of metaltec15
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage Very Good for being fresh will be better aged. Very hoppy and a little hot tasting. A really piney resinous aroma and a little citrus. A dark ruby pour into a tulip glass. Not very much head on the bottle I poured. This is my first bigfoot and I am very impressed.

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Photo of KidsDoc
3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at my Harrika's Brew Haus. 3rd year of drinking this one - first time reviewing

A: orange/amber, lots of carbonation that settled. thin off white head, minimal

S: tons of hops but with a nice sweet malt presence as well

T: mostly tastes of piney hops but does bring a sweetness that I like about this beer. The sweet, light roasted malt comes through in the taste much more than the nose. However, the alcohol burn is too much on the finish

M: medium body. Carbonation is supringly on point - expecting more after seeing the way it poured. Finishes light with lingering sweetness

D: not a favorite style of mine which clouds my ability to call these beers "drinkable." That plus the alcohol presence takes this one down to just an average beer experience for me. A beer a will continue to try each year, but nothing I go back for seconds on

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Photo of gregshead
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasted on 2/9/11. Reviewed from notes:

A: Reddish copper cloudy color little head surfaces but dissipates quickly

S: Light on the nose but there are some toffee smells

T: Lots of dark toffee flavor with a spicy end and after taste

M: Chewy and syrupy with some interesting tinle. Lots of burn/aftertaste

D: More drinkable as it warms up but I could taste/feel the alcohol burn on this one a lot.

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

This one was from the 2010 batch.

Pours a clear golden-brown color with a fingers worth of off white head that dissipates quickly. The nose brings scents of pine/resinous hops with a sweet malty backbone. The alcohol is well hidden here. The taste is bold a rich. The bitter hop taste is still present very much so in this 2010 batch. The sweet malts are nicely blended with the hops to create an untamed beast of a brew. The mouthfeel is thick with a bit of a dry finish. The drinkability is pretty good due to a well hidden ABV and a good blend of flavors.

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

One of my favorite go-to barleywines! 2011 Vintage. Pours a very hazy reddish amber color with a somewhat large brownish white head that disappears eventually. Scent is HOPPY! Tons of piney notes and very little malt. It literally smells like a pine tree. Taste is where the hops and malts mesh a bit more, although it remains predominantly hop forward. Tons of pine flavors with some very sweet candied malt flavors. Finish has just a tad bit of alcohol with bittering hop finish. Mouthfeel is a bit syrupy, but refreshing and full bodied. Drinkability is high, as I find it to be one of the more drinkable barleywines. I could probably drink about 3 of these in one sitting. Overall, I love this beer...for the price of a six pack(9.99 at local grocery store), it cannot be beat. I've had this beer with a couple years on it though, and I prefer the older vintage. I think this is a beer that ages VERY well, and although delicious fresh, I'd take it aged any day.

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Photo of thatsfine
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My first Bigfoot of all time. 2011 vintage poured from the bottle into my Russian River glass.

A dark copper, amber color. A moderate pour gives a pretty weak head but a stronger pour gives a small head that leaves lacing down the entire glass.

The piney hops are definitely there but the sweet malts are also much more pronounced than I thought they would be. It smells very nice.

Most of what I have read about this is that it is a hop bomb (which is right). What I did not expect is how much of a malt backbone I would taste. The malts backing up the hops on this brew are incredibly sweet and delicious. This is awesome. Other BW's I have had were much less balanced than this, even so young. Well done.

Medium bodied Barleywine and very smooth.

As a Barleywine goes, this is up there with the best I have had (many of which have not been posted yet). Drinks as easy as the style can in my humble opinion. I would go on about this forever but I need to go buy a case...

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Photo of thagr81us
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage! Served from tap into an imperial pint. Poured red-orange with a one and a half finger off-white head that subsided to one finger slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, pine resin, big pine hops, and subtle alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, big pine, big pine hops, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this brew was quite excellent. I know this one gets hyped up a lot about older vintages and such, and now I can see why... Even fresh this brew is excellent. I can see it really coming to life after a few years. For right now the alcohol was a bit intrusive on the palate during the followthrough. If you like pine notes, this is for you fresh. The pine aspect in this one was HUGE. A definite must try, aged or fresh, for sure.

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Photo of gabedivision
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(2011) Poured from a 12oz bottle to a snifter glass.

A- Deep reddish plum with a thick white two finger head that sticks and slimes to the sides of the glass.

S- Smells of nice citrus hops, malts and alcohol. There are alot of scents going on in this glass, no of which are offensive but very complex and hard to pick out whats going on. All works together great.

T- Roasted caramel, bitter bitter hops, and sweet sweet malts.

M- Nice full bodied, bitter lips and tongue on the end.

D- Nice drinkability for 1 or 2 for my tastes, firmly enjoyed this beer. Cannot wait to try this batch in a year from now.

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Photo of mcgwire756
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage poured into a Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary tulip.

So let me preface this by saying I highly recommend this beer with at least 2 years of age on it. I have had it super fresh and it was way too harsh. This review is based on one 3 years old now.

It pours a deep dark red color with a fluffy 1 finger white head that does not disappear for a long time. The smell with age on it is so perfect with the smell of sweet candy and sugar. Simply perfect. The taste is a little maltier than the smell with more molasses but still a ton of candy sugar in the taste. God this beer is delicious. The mouthfeel is so much smoother than a young Bigfoot, but still not a super smooth Barleywine like a 2010 Nemesis is. It is drinkable, but in slow sips so that you enjoy it and don't overpower your palate. My 2nd favorite barleywine next to 2010 Nemesis that I have had. I am looking forward to trying 3 Floyds Behometh and seeing how it compares to my top 2 thus far.

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Photo of larsenju
3.05/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 Vintage, poured at about 60 degrees.

A-Reddish amber body with a very tall off white head, decent retention but little lacing.

S-Alcohol, some floral/fruity hops with a strong caramel malty backbone. The alcohol really takes away from the rest of the beer.

T-Very smooth caramel right when it hits picking up some lemon, and from there the hops really start to move forward leaving a pine/citrus resin flavor that comes to a point and leaves a very bitter finish. There is kind of a caramel and chocolate undertone, but the hops dominate.

M-So hot it almost stings a little bit, sugary slick with a little tingling carbonation.

D-I recently had an 09 vintage of this beer, it really needs a little age on it. Even the 09 wasn't as good as it could be, but it just is not ready to drink when fresh. Its just to hoppy and hot and the malt character is a little boring, but it develops very nicely in the bottle. That said, its certainly not what I would call a bad beer fresh, its just no where near its potential. I will re-review when I crack one of the 2010 in my cellar in a year or two.

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Photo of julian
3.51/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had this many times, finally getting around to reviewing it.

A: Nice crimson amber color, great clarity, head a bit weak but with a modified more aggressive pour it comes to life and sticks around, leaving a nice layer of thick off white head on the surface. Very nice lacing all around the glass.

S: heavy malt, nice hop backbone, some fruity hop aromas, almost DIPA/IIPA like but enough malt to push this back into the barley wine realm.

T: BAM! bitterness hits you right in the face, then coats your tongue with it's hoppy/resiny blanket of love and slowly yields way to some hidden malty goodness. Not as complex as other barley wines and not my favorite but still representative of the style.

M: Medium high carbonation. Slightly bitter aftertaste, but otherwise, good mouthfeel.

D: ABV will limit drinkability, taste is just above average. Average drinkability.

Note: I need to definitely try some of this aged. I'm wondering how my 1998 bottle is holding up. I should probably crack it soon.

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

Appearance: A hazy amber with some copper. one-finger tan head with great lacing...thick foam.

Smell: Very piny and citrusy. Particularly lemon and some grapefruit. Really smells like a DIPA.

Taste: At first I get a sweet lemon flavor with pine, then comes the barley and grapefruit. Has a caramel/ faint toffee malt. Maybe some rye in there too. The flavor really grows on you. Its good to drink this both cold and room get more out of it IMO.

Feel: Its a bit too carbonated for a barleywine, but the sticky, oily remains make up for it.

Drink: This is probably the easiest drinking Barleywine I have had. Its much more on par with a DIPA.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,581 ratings