Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

7,491 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

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Ratings: 7,491 |  Reviews: 3,055
Photo of callmescraps
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2010 Vintage (fresh). Was curious, surprised I hadn't reviewed this yet.

Appearance- A lovely deep amber color. Sort of a deep ruby. Lots of tan, thick, foamy head. Laces very nicely. An excellent looking beer.

Smell- Burnt sugar. Lots of maltiness. Some spicy hops as well. A little boozy.

Taste- Great gobs of burnt sugar. It's quite sweet, balanced by the hoppiness on the finish. Tons of caramel. Lots of malt, plenty of hops. Honestly chewy. Certainly hot. Sweet, bitter, burnt follow.

Mouthfeel- A little too syrupy.

Drinkability- One or two, tops.

This is an interesting beer. Certainly hoppier than expected. Just a ton of burnt caramel maltiness. Very bitter finish, and plenty of raw alcohol. A real burn on this one. Not my favorite. Will certainly be interested in some nice aged ones.

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Photo of mjaskula
3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

2009 vintage: Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. A thick lightly tan head develops over an amber red beer. There is heavy lacing as the beer is drunk. This is my first barleywine, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It smells hoppy and sweet. The taste is sweet with hints of apple followed by a huge hop assault. The strong hop bitterness and dryness remains on the palate almost unpleasantly long.

2010 vintage (2010/03/31):
Appearance is the same as 2009. Aroma is full of fresh hops and sweet molasses. Flavor has plenty of hop flavor and bitterness. Sweetness has some apple sweetness as well as some darker molasses flavor. There is a touch of alcohol warmth. Mouthfeel is somewhat syrupy but dries up well. It's a heavy beer, so I wouldn't want to drink that many of them in a sitting.

After almost a year in the fridge the 2010 has smoothed out nicely compared with a fresh 2011. The hop flavor and aroma are disappearing, but bitterness is still strong. Aroma in general is sweeter.

2011 vintage (2011/03/11):
Seems basically the same as i noted in previous years, but I didn't think 'apple' this time.

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

2010 Vintage

Pour - beautiful auburn liquid fills the glass with tiny effervescence streaming upwards forming a luxurious head that I am tempted to float that cap on for the sake of science. When held to the light it is a sight to behold, some truly great colors come out.

Aroma - sweet and tart green apples, canned pears, sticky piney hops, burnt sugar, caramel candies and some nose tingling alcohol all come out. As this is a fresh bottle there is no oxidization smell and it is not overly sweet.

Taste - nice crisp and bitter flavors abound from the first sip. My mouth is full of strong hop flavor, warming alcohol, burnt sugars, astringent pine and grapefruit along with dark sweet fruits (plums especially).

Overall - I love this beer fresh, its hoppy and has some nice dark fruit flavors and lots of complexity but yet is so easy to drink and enjoy without too much thought. Easily my favorite beer from Sierra Nevada (sorry Torpedo). After some age it mellows and the harshness of the alcohol and the hops really get smoothed out. Fresh or cellared, its a wonderful brew.

Would I buy more of it? - I will buy some every year and I will forever try to save some for more than one year. That seems to be something I can not accomplish.

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

my first barley wine!

pours an amber color. an off white one finger head that froths. laces well.
a good malt aroma, with dried fruit, a little grape.
taste sweet, malty, and fruity. from the name barley wine, i didn't know what to think other than it would taste completely different from other styles, however its not terribly unique. its sweet, and i can taste the alcohol, and the mouthfeel is alright, a little more carbonated than preferred.
good experience for my first barley wine. to be honest i thought i wouldn't like it because i don't like wine... but it isn't like wine.... obviously.

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Photo of BeerGodz
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Look: Med amber color, big frothy head, sticky lacing

Smell: Dried fruit, malt, citrus, wood

Taste: Up Front: Brown sugar, caramel, orange, pine, grass, bread, cinnamon. Finish: earthy, hoppy, spicy, dates, alcohol

Mouthfeel: Creamy, chewy, slight carbonation

Drinkability: At 9.6 ABV, it's not the most potent barley wine out there, but that's OK with me, cause I might have another!

Overall Impression: WOAH! This is one complex beer! It's malty up front and has a nice hoppy finish, but there is so much going on here! This is one beer that makes me wish winter would never end! I might have to sneak one of these on a cool summer night!

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

Reviewed from my notes. I was served a 22oz chalice from a keg dated 2008. The beer is a very dark ruby color; it's almost brown. It's opaque and hazy. A tan head of small bubbles rests atop the beer. It has a sweet malty alcohol aroma. I'm picking up notes of raspberries and toffee. There is still a lot of hop and alcohol in the taste, even after two years of aging. There is a kiss of bitterness, but it doesn't linger too long. There is some sugary sweetness still present, but not nearly as much as fresh strong beers. There is a biscuit-like quality up front, but it is different from the Belgian wheats that I associate with this trait. It has a medium to heavy body. Not much carbonation is left, but a lot of stickiness remains. The alcohol in the aftertaste limits my drinkability. This is a large pour and I'll have a hard time finishing it. This is a beer that is better to focus on; make it the only beer of the evening, or least only pair it with easily sessionable beers.

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

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle with 2010 on the cap. On the case box it has bottled on date 12/30/09. This beer is still quite fresh. Poured a dark amber color with about a half finger of head. Heavy sugary, brown sugar smell. Heavy hoppy flavor. Very warming flavor from the alcohol. Malt flavor makes this somewhat balanced. Very drinkable. Pairing well with some homemade BBQ ribs.

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

I'm reviewing a 2008 Bigfoot that was had on tap a few days ago.

A - Pours a clear amber brown color with a half finger of toffee colored head and mild to no carbonation.

S - Smells of raisins, fig, butter toffee, and mild amounts of caramel.

T - The tongue is immediately greeted with bittersweet flavor of chocolate, figs, dates, brown sugar, and mild amounts of toffee. The hop bitterness stays underneath throughout the sip. Also is a little fruity and a little earthy. The alcohol produces a moderate amount of warming in the back of the throat as well.

M - Mild prickliness, finishes dry, and leaves a lingering sticky bittersweetness.

D - One of the hoppiest barleys I've had and also one of the best beer Sierra brews. Absolutely enjoyed this glass full.

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Photo of NefariousR
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

My first review! I think I picked a good one...

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a tulip pint glass. The vintage year (2010) is marked on the bottle cap.

A - Pours a beautiful orange-amber, with a huge, creamy head -- a good two inches that leaves a lacy web all the way down the glass. The beer itself is a bit hazy, with a little sediment present.

S - Light, flowery smell. Some notes of citrus -- possibly grapefruit?

T - Very full taste. The citrus notes are strong, and the alcohol is very present, warming as it goes down. There is a definite hoppy, bitter aftertaste.

M - Thick and oily, sticks to the tongue and cheeks. Carbonation is noticeable with a slight tickle on the throat, but not high, and certainly not overpowering.

D - While very tasty, the boldness of flavor and high alcohol content prevent this from being a beer I would drink too frequently. I can see it being a wonderful dinner beer, or something to warm up with in cold weather.

Overall a great beer, not something I'd drink incredibly regularly, but certainly worth having.

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Photo of cnally
3.67/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours with a nice tan head, sticky to the glass, and a mahogany orange color in the body.

Aromas of Concord grape, piney hops and very floral.

Flavors are more true to an IPA than to what I expect from a barleywine. The dominant flavors are piney bitter hops, with only a slight taste of the musty butterscotch towards the finish. This is actually a hop bomb.

Feel is dry and sticky.

Very dry and bitter. Kind of one note, which is a shame for this style. I love ya, Sierra Nevada, but this is not one of their best.

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

Bigfoot 2010- Poured a clear orangish teak. Smelled very floral with notes of grass, lemon, citrus and not too much hop character. It tasted like bitter grapefruit, citrus, pine and leaves a large hoppy bitterness on the back of the tongue. Pretty good drinkability.

Bigfoot 09- poured the same orange brown with a shade darker than the 2010 version. It smelled hoppier than the 2010, more malt flavors, grapefruit. It smelled the best out of all three.
It tasted of hops, bitter grapefruit skin, citrus, some light toffee and malt flavors.

Bigfoot 08- the darkest color of them all- dark copper orange. It smelled of more malt characters than hops- toffee, vanilla, caramel and light citrus. It tasted more bitter than the 09 with more flavors of bitter grapefruit skin, light malt and citrus.

Overall, my favorite was the 2009 Bigfoot for it's fantastic malt/hop balance. The 2010 is great for a fresh barleywine that is still $10 a six pack, which is amazing. It's a good barleywine to start with if you have never had one before. It's also a good beer to have your first vertical with, as it is not too expensive and you can definitely tell the difference in the age of each.

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Photo of MPLS
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle : vintage 2004. I couldn't resist from drinking after having several aged beers earlier in the week.

A: Dark copper in color with a faint residual head that takes a great deal of time to fade away before it leaves a ring around the top of the glass. Good lacing and mellow looking.

S: The over the top hops from a fresh batch aren't there. Hops still come through but underneath an almost chocolaty and sweet caramel layering.

T: This is probably near the ideal aging for this beer. The hops are naturally faded, but still have a floral and a tad of a resinous kick to them. The sweetness is great and this could only improve with a couple of years on it as the hops progress further into nonexistence. Nice rounded caramel sweetness that is layered with some other flavors to create a great tasting brew. I can see why people are obsessed with having this beer aged.

M: Mellow carbonation that allows it to be full bodied and very smooth and oily going down.

D: Not a big surprise, but the caramel sweetness coming from this beer is phenomenal.

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Photo of jas0n50
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip. Poured a clear ruby or burnt orange color with a big pillowy muffin top of a head and lots of sticky lacing on the sides of the glass.

Bright, crisp citrus smell with a touch of malt sweetness. the Taste is a bit boozy initially before the piny, resiny hops attack the tounge. Not as malty as some barleywines caramel, maybe a touch of vanilla. This beer is clearly hop forward and hop dominated, though, It has a warm finish with the hop bitterness lingering on the mid palate and alcohol warmness persisting in the back of the throat and chest.

Full, big, oily mouthfeel, yet very drinkable. I like this beer, though I think it could just as easily pass as an imperial IPA as a barleywine

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Photo of alkemy
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 model
Hazy mahogany pour with about 1/8th inch thick tightly packed beige head. Piney, citrusy hops at first...lots of orange. Then you get some toffee and brown sugar from the malts. Silky smooth, yet sticky feel. Floral hops up front on your tongue that blend into pine and finish with brown sugar sweetness. Alcohol is warming going down, but this really doesn't taste boozy. I had this a few years back and didn't care much for it. However, I find it pretty tasty now...I'm guessing my palate has evolved somewhat.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
3.44/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12fl oz bottle poured into my sniter

This pours a very dark brown color but fails to produce any head at all. A mere little ring of foam is left on the edges of the beer. No lacing noticeable at all either.

Aroma is full of malts. I get toffee, caramel, plums, grapes, leather, cedar. Overall this is one of the sweetest smelling beers I have ever smelt.

Sweet ppfront taste of caramel that leads way into roasted malts and a pretty strong bitterness. Flavors tasted of molasses, brown sugar, plums, and black malts. Pretty intense bitterness if you ask me.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, not thick but very bitter taste all throughout and way after you have taken your sip.

Overall I prefer other barleywine beers over this one. Recommend to try, but there is better beers of this same style.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage
A - Red amber hues on the glass with very minimum head
S - Smells like fruit, toffee, and yeast from the barley wine
T - Not bad! I can taste slight fruit and honey with a bread backbone
M - Bold and filling but smooth for the ABV
D - This is the first Sierra Nevada I had and consider it was mix and match worthy I can see why it moved off the shelf so quickly. Very solid brew!

Wow this finally hit around my area and I am excited to see if my palate has changed over the past year!

A - An explosion of carbonation leads to a good inch of light tan head. The color is an amber but more like a darker amber.

S - Hops from the bottle neck love it! In the glass playful dark fruits and a caramel or toffee tone with little yeast smell.

T - Hops start but are taken away before bitterness can occur with a nice malt sweetness. It doesn't finish hoppy bit it does cling to the back of the throat which is awesome. Yeast is low and subdued but is there right along with hop bitterness with a mild chalk. Overall smooth barleywine.

M - The warming is what I love about a good barleywine. Medium to high body so take small sips not chugs.

Overall for the price of 10.99 is is one of the cheapest and most drinkable Barleywines I ever got my hands on (most being 4-6 dollars a single bottle!) Hoppy, strong alcohol but only warming not in taste and little cloying yeast make it a winner in my book. Glad I have two more to enjoy whenever I need to get warmed up. Cheers Serria Nevada!

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Photo of sitarist
4.97/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Side by side 2001 and 2004 Vintage, both served in a snifter.

Both pour an brown color with amber and copper hues. There is a fat finger of off white head. There is plenty of lacing.

They both smell of toffee, nuts, tea, and dark fruit. The 2001 is much more rounded with a nice dose of butterscotch, and pecan pie. There is an earthy/funky aroma in both as well. The alcohol is more present in the 2004. WOW!!!

The aromas carry over into the palate. The 2001 really is unbelievable; it taste like a butterscotch-peanut butter-pecan pie. The flavors in the 2001 are so well balanced. The 2004 is good just not as rounded. There is much more going on than I can explain.

The mouthfeel is great. The 2001 is a perfect; velvety smooth, not overly sticky, with a nice long drying finish. The 04 still had a little tongue bite. Both were pleasant and warming.

Both were unique, intriguing, and left me wanting more.

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Photo of trg
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 12oz. bottle. No expiration date. ; )

A Burnt umber and ruby hues. Creamy tan head of fine bubbles that coats the glass.

S Fruity English yeast character drives the nose with rounded sweet maltiness giving support to an immense minty, sprucey, juicy hoppiness.

T Taste follows the nose. Caramelly sweet malt, fruity yeast, and beautiful hoppy blend.

D Remarkably balanced for a beer of this strength and mass. There a a ton of "really big beers" out there. Few are able to deftly balance and showcase the qualities of a "really good" really big beer like Sierra' Bigfoot. Balance is a beautiful thing.

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

A very nice dark and slightly murky amber/orange color

Smells like a robust IPA. Very citrusy with small hints of pineapple, papaya, and pine. The empty bottle has a strong pine aroma.

Tastes hoppy and slightly fruity. Not very bitter for 90 IBUs.

Has a sticky medium body.

A good robust and interesting beer. It, however, does not pair well with food.

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Photo of ken2cart1
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 2010 bigfoot into a sam adams perfect pint glass

a-dark clear mahogany with a wicked nice 2 inch frothy head with great lacing
s-all sweet malt...dark fruits, plums and raisins
t-just like smells..malt bomb, veryyy slight earthy hops
m- soo smooooth
d - good barely wine...very drinkable for what it is...wish their was some hops but this one is all malt

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

drank from a tulip glass
A: color is a dark amber nice head 2 finger head

S: hoppy malty smells inviting and clean makes you want to taste

T: taste is very good well balanced full of flavor smooth finish one of the most tasty Barleywines I have had.

M: mouth is good not over carbonated

D: dangerously drinkable for 9%

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Photo of Phelps
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage, poured into my perfect pint glass. This'll be my first beer after a week at sea drinking nothing but light lagers. I needed something hoppy!

In the appearance, a plethora of shades are visible. Light orange to deep crimson to dusky ambers. Like looking into a tiger's eye stone. Frothy tan head that has the consistency and retention of ocean foam. Head gets about halfway down then settles in for the night. Mostly clear, but with some cascading sediment that dances from top to bottom. Ribbons of bubbles rocket to the top. One of the most beautiful beers I've ever seen.

In the nose, heavy citrusy hops. Lemons, grapefruit, almost edging on IPA hoppiness. But then I get the maltiness: sweet caramel.

Holy bitterness. This thing is so hop heavy. The resin clings to the tongue; it stings the nostrils. Oranges, grapefruits. I'd be tempted to categorize this as an IPA/DIPA if not for a honey sweet, grainy character. Oddly, I even pick up some fruity red wine notes as it warms. Alcohol is there, but not distracting.

Mouthfeel is just what I expect from a barleywine: syrupy, warming. Medium/high carbonation. Boozy. Nom.

I've had the 2009 and 2010 versions of this beer, and each has been a sensory adventure. I wouldn't say it's the best barleywine I've ever had (that status still belongs to Mirror Mirror) but it's an extremely solid example of the style -- and a welcome return to craft beer.

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

After discovering bigfoot, he was a cloudy burnt orange/copper with, may I say.... a Sasquatch sized head. Slowly popping large bubbles left nice ornate lacing on my snifter.

The aroma had the sweet and spicy barleywine character, with a nice bright hop balance. Sweet citrus, bitter pine, and grapefruit pith collaborated for a nice hop profile. Sweet malt, caramel, brown sugar, and spice made up the brunt of a complex nose. 9.6%?... doesn't seem like it, well hidden. However, towards the end of the beer - when I could really get my nose in the glass - it was much more evident.

The flavor was expected, an extension of the nose. Sweet ripe fruit and tannin all melded together well leaving a dry resiny finish. Maple syrup, caramel, and woody tones do a pretty good job of masking the, still apparent, alcohol.

The body was viscous, and slithered down leaving a dry chalky finish. The carbonation was quite sharp initially, but tamed as it sat. Great beer, watch the alcohol though.

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Photo of BillyBoysPie
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage into a snifter.

Pours a dark orange color with an eggy-tan inch and a half head. The head dissipates away leaving tons of lacing floating on the glass.

Very hoppy, typical of the SN style. Plenty of the Cascade and Centennial hops SN is famous for. Not bad, but it's more "SN" than "Barleywine." There's some malt presence, but not enough for the style. Floral with hints of citrus. A hint of alcohol burn.

Dense and vicsous - it's a little syrupy. Not too syrupy, but the characteristic is there. It's bitter and hop-heavy, as expected from SN. I'm a little disappointed. It's like a very strong version of the SN Pale Ale. I'm not knocking it - it's good. But, like many American Barleywines, it misses the integral part of the style - Barley...

Slightly syrupy, but easy to sip on. Works OK with food, but it's really a beer that you should drink on it's own. Like I said earlier, it's not bad. It's good. But, it's not anything special in the Barleywine entries.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
3.24/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This review is for the 2010 version, so that I have a baseline for subsequent reviews of earlier "vintages" (brewtages?). Pours deep copper with a ruby tinge and only a slight veil. A generous light tan head makes it seem as if you could use Bigfoot as a pillow. The head dissipates slowly, leaving impressive latice work on the side of the glass.

The smell is surprisingly restrained given the flavor profile. The hop smells are all at the front (mango/pine etc.) but some of the toffee and burnt cream notes are allowed to make an appearance as well.

Mouthfeel is also appropriate for the style. It's moderately thick, with just enough light carbonation to emphasize some of the hop notes to come.

When consumed fresh, this beer is a full-fledged fundamentalist hop assault. If your world view is "Hops uber alles," then this is your barleywine. What I'm missing here is complexity. The hop flavors are perfectly fine: we've got the big three properly represented (pine, citrus rind and spice/pepper). The problem here is that there is little balance: the brief carmel sweet note is restrained and dominated by the prolonged, one-note bitter finish.

Now, it's essential to keep in mind that Bigfoot is two beers in one. When aged, the hops moderate, revealing the immense malt complexity that is held backstage when fresh. If reviewed after 3 years, I would give this beer a much higher grade.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,491 ratings.
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