Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,601 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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Ratings: 7,601 |  Reviews: 3,097
Photo of Wisconsinality
3.2/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

A- Pours a deep cherry red with a big two finger head that sticks around for a long while and leaves some decent lacing on the side of the glass.

S- At first whiff, I get a big hint of funk and cinnamon. The more it warms, the more the dark fruits come out but so does the alcohol. I was expecting a little more out of this one. Hard to really pick anything else up.

T- This is unlike any barleywine I have had. There is a big spice presence combined with malt and something else I can't put my finger on. Maybe a little pumpkin.

M- Medium bodied with a very sprite like carbonation. Almost stings the tongue. A little warming from the alcohol and a spiciness on the back of the throat. A little thin for my liking in barleywines.

D- The alcohol is pretty well hidden but I see this beer going in a bunch of different directions and makes it seem as though they couldn't decide on a single purpose. I may have to revisit this beer with some age on it or make sure I didn't have a bad bottle.

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Photo of liquidcraft
3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010. Rich copper color with noticeable carbonation. Fragrant hops balanced between pine and citrus with a sweet malt background.

Nice hop bite, sweeter malts and hints of honey with alcohol at the tail end. The hops make this one of the more bitter barleywines I've had lately, but it still packs a distinct sweetness. The viscosity coats the mouth in a sweet, sticky way. Got a little boozy as I finished the glass, easy to drink one, two would be another story. I'm a fan of the beer's value though, and overall thought it was pretty good. Have also heard its great after year in the basement.

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Photo of DrewHodges
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes from 5/6/10 tasting; bottle poured to German stange.

A--dark copper brown, light foamy irregular head, incredible lacing

S--lots of citrus hops aroma and some honey

T--bitter hops and sweet malt taste, really sweet as it warmed, candy sugar and caramel

M--a little sticky and cloying mouthfeel and a little high on the carbonation

D--wouldn't drink a 2nd back-to-back, but this will be nice to enjoy on occasion

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

2010 issue. Served in a snifter. Bottle was left out of the fridge 20 min. before opening.

The head slowly billowed up out of the pour, lingered momentarily to peer around, and sedately settled back down, resting at around a 1/4 inch for awhile thereafter. Gleaming, ruby-brown, vinous shade. Light passing through gave it a plump, fruity brightness.

Piney hops jet out through the nose. Lightly toasty with hints of malted milk ball and black cherry jam. The body was somewhat smooth, thinned-out syrupy sweet, and of moderate maltiness. The hops are surely the centerpiece to the flavor and finish - a tiny tad over the top for an American barleywine.

The alcohol was a little too present in the nose, taste, and finish. There's other barleywines I've had, namely Victory's Old Horizontal, for one, that are more well-balanced, hiding the alcohol better while packing an even bigger punch. That said, Bigfoot is still dangerously sessionable, and the potent hop character sets it apart from the rest of the pack.

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

Liked their IPA, figured what the hell. Happens to be my first barleywine ever as well. Pours a blurry rust orange, 2 inches of thick stubborn head (doesn't go away on its own). Gives off a smell somewhere between pear & lemon.

First swig takes out the rest of the head, flavor matches the smell plus just enough spicy bitterness to cut through. Relatively thin on the way down, though considering the sweetness on the back end that isn't bad.

Considering it's 9.6, the character of this is a shock. The ABV says sipper, but the flavor suggests having a 2nd or even 3rd would be acceptable. Beers like this are why you either know moderation or know the floor...

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Photo of Kaiser777
4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Off to Nevada we call it Serria Nevada and where hunting Bigfoot!

A- Volcano of foam with a light brown tint to it that is to lovely for words, and the way the foam coats the glass is like soap coating a cherry red 57' Chevy, like we say where I'm from off the hook, and the almost chocolate color of the beer with a symphony of bubbles that is beautiful to the eye.

S- The smell is of the best barley's, hops, and chocolate that is beyond a masterpiece.

T- Is a gift to the taste buds it's called a barley wine for a reason, it has a beautiful mixture of barley, hops, malt, and chocolate, if I meet a person that doesn't like this beer they must be from another world, it might be one of the best tasting beers I have ever had.

MF- Coats the mouth and stays there for a while that I love and appreciate with a passion that is un explainable.

D- This is very hard for the fact the longer it ages the better it is, so when you buy a six pack you can let it set for five years which is hard to do because the beer even in it's first years is above and beyond, and I fell in love with Serria Nevada when I first tasted there pal ale, and when I tasted the Bigfoot I was in beer extasy, so to all my brew masters in Cali that helped create this masterpiece much love ta ya, west side till we die!

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

Pours a clear reddish mahogany with a towering light tan head. Retention is excellent, with textbook layers of lace.

Aroma is of booze, molasses and overripe fruit.

Flavor is huge and bold, though not as insane as some barleywines. I love the enormous malt backbone-- it's sweet, luscious and thick. The hop bitterness is also huge and actually overcompensates, making this a very hop-forward barleywine, at least when fresh. The first thing I noticed was the piney American hop character of this beer. Though, there is a tea-like flavor in the aftertaste that I don't love. The carbonation is ample, but doesn't get in the way of the quaff. This beer leaves a hairy, chewy and lupulin loaded prehistoric footprint on your palate... I can see where it gets its name.

Delicious barleywine and something I will seek out in the future.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. This bottle may be off since the beer was only filled up to the top of the label. It didn't taste oxidized or flat, so I am reviewing it.

Pours a reddish-amber color with a white head. The aroma is brown sugar, alcohol and caramel malt. Pretty basic barleywine aroma. The flavor is brown sugar, toffee and piney and citrus hops. Even with the big hop flavor, the bitterness is not too high. The alcohol is definitely detectable and is front and center in the flavor. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation

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

A - Pours a clear amber with a 1 inch creamy mocha head. Thick rings of lace last through the first half of the beer.

S - Big whiff of hop resin(almost stings the nose), dark chocolate, heavy toffee malt. Sweet alcohol notes. Candied fig.

T - A plethora of strong hops off the top, then melts into cream buttery toffee malt bomb. Finishes off with a heavy dose of crisp bitter hops along with a mild dark chocolate flavor. WOW! The aftertaste is a nirvana of malt and bitter hops. Mouthfeel is creamy and sweet(not sticky) but finishes quite dry. The hops sticks around for awhile.

This is my first taste of this style but I'm blown away. I didn't expect it to be as hopped. This beer just has giant flavor everywhere. Although it is very aggressive on the hops it also has a big assertive & established malt presence. It's really not that complex. It's just intense without going overboard in one direction. It's like the American "comfort" beer. Lot's of hops, big buttery malt, and plenty of alcohol. I can't think of anything wrong with it. I gambled and bought 2 six packs of it just in case I liked it and I wish I would have bought more. This review is sadly the last one I have. I will defiantly look for more so I can age it.

Also a BIG plus for the 6 pack! Thank you SN for that.

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Photo of RickS95
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark bronze and orange-y in color, with a fluffy beige head. Beautiful cascading head formation with nice retention. Very creamy up top of a thick, cloudy liquid.

Flowery hops dominate the nose. Hints of citrus, but you can tell from the smell this is a strong beer. Massive pine scent, you can smell the Pacific Northwest. With such a hop presence, it needs and packs a serious malt punch. Very bready nose. Some char and oak.

Certainly a manly beer. The hops are ever present, but the malt is the key ingredient in the taste category. A bit of orange peel and some pine as well, but it's got an earthy malt backbone that really steals the show.

Hops, hops and more hops. Extreme bitterness is all I can say. It starts off bitter and does nothing but get more bitter. The citrus notes are completely overwhelmed and do nothing to soothe the bitter. That said, it's an amazing bitter. For such a beast of a beer, it's so creamy and smooth. Extremely full bodied. The piney resins coat the tongue and never really let go. This thing gets better every year.

Such a good beer. I've been drinking Bigfoot since 2010 and it gets better every year. It's one of my favorite Barleywines and probably the easiest to drink. Another home run for Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a reddish brown. Head was a yellowish white 1 finger that clung well with big bubbles on the bottom and small foam on the top. Aroma was slightly hoppy with a small touch of citrus sweetness. Taste was strongly of hops with tangy bitterness. Very prevalent at the tip of the tounge, mellowed out on the back of the tounge. Slightly sweet as it warmed up. Coated the mouth well very, nicely carbonated, maybe a bit to sticky in the mouth. A good beer to drink, worth savoring.

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Photo of Lolli1315
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- A very hazy orange copper color with minimal head, but its retention is rather decent. Nice sticking lacing on the side of the glass helps to bring the look of this beer together.

S- Smacked in the face with bitter citrus and earthy hops on this one as it almost scorches the nose. Sweet caramel malt is apparent sparingly throughout the beer as a small hint of alcohol lingers in the background.

T- Wow, that is a hop punch. Strong hints of the earthy hops that were available in the smell coupled with a combination of citrus hops and grapefruit and orange flavors. The alcohol is more apparent in the taste than in the smell as it sticks around in the aftertaste. Sweet malt is detectable in moments as it jumps in and out of the taste only to be overcome by the hope bitterness each time. Back end of the beer fades into a stagnant bitter aftertaste with a trace of alcohol.

M- Medium bodied beer starting to move the thicker side, but not quite reaching an in between section. Great carbonation in the mouth that makes this quite the refreshing beer.

D- Well, this beer packs quite the punch, but the complexities of the tastes have me reaching pack to unravel more of it each time I put the glass down.

Notes: Could be the cornerstone for American Barleywines and quite enjoyable. Putting one down for a year, can't wait to see how different this one tastes as the hiding malt backbone comes to life.

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Photo of Briken
3.08/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bigfoot is a clear but dark amber with some red highlights and a huge tan head. Aroma is mostly barley with a bit of sweetness. Taste up front is barley without too much of a bite too it, although it does increase as you finish. Good smooth feel with only a light malt coating. There's not much complexity, maybe a hint of dark fruit sweetness but mostly just an alcohol taste. It's sticky on the lips but still pretty smooth.

This barleywine reminds me more of a strong ale. It has very light barleywine characteristics and not much in the way of complexity. It's fairly easy to drink for something so high in ABV but if I'm in the mood for a barleywine, I'll reach for something else.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass
Copper/amber in color, with a nice big head of fluffy off-white foam
Aroma-Subtle citrus and hop notes, faint malt
Taste-Bold,citrussy hops and malt, caramel notes-Big flavor, nicely balanced, smooth and drinkable, high ABV well-hidden.
Caution! Do not gulp!

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Photo of irishking1977
3.14/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark ruby red, with a huge, frothy white head, that leaves a great deal of lacing. Nice, not your average looking barleywine.

S: Dominated by hops and a hint of caramel.

T: Woah. Okay, folks. I get it. American craft beer drinkers like their beers hoppy, regardless of style. I like some beers hoppy to a point, but I also like my beers to have some degree of balance too. I'm waiting for Bud, Miller, and Coors to start producing their macros with tons of extra hops, then they will get the American craft beer drinkers on their side. This one is another one of those beers that took me by surprise at how intensely hoppy, piney, and citrusy it is. I was expecting some degree of hops bitterness and perhaps a decent malt background, but this doesn't have a malt background. Not enough to hold off the intense hops. Dark fruits, including raisins are also detectable, but are overridden by the amount of hops. I am a bit disappointed, to be sure.

M: Fairly oily, and thick. Moreso than your average barleywine. Tries to hold up to the intensity of the hops, but still loses out. Hops bitterness lingers on the palate for practically an eternity.

D: Barleywines usually aren't session beers, and this one is no different. The style in itself seems to be hit or miss with me; sometimes I find one that is really good, (Weyerbacher's Insanity) and there are some that miss the mark for me (this one, Blithering Idiot). I can understand the appeal to a degree, since this one looked really good on the pour, but otherwise, not enough of a balance, and it screams "Hello, I am a typical suped up hoppy beer from an American brewery, trying to add more hops bitterness because that's what the majority of our drinkers want." Too bad, because this one could have been pretty good with more of a balanced flavor.

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

2010 12 oz. poured into a snifter

A - Dark brown with bits of red; very nice yellowish head and lacing

S - Grapefruit, floral hops, and a touch of honey

T - Sweet malts are coupled with hops from the get go, but it's a bit too sugary up front. As it warms, I taste caramel, oak, and some undetermined spice. More time passes -- the hops grow in strength and work to balance this multifaceted, slow-sipping gem. The bitter finish is amazing.

M - Very good structure; not sticky, well carbonated; creamy, yet abrasive

D - Quite drinkable for a fresh barleywine. I'm loving this now and will be intermittently over the next few years.

This is an annual favorite, and it always delivers. If you're into barleywines (or simply hops, for that matter), you've likely already had this; if not, pick some up ASAP. Drink a couple of bottles now and cellar the rest for the coming months and years.

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

Had at Madison, WI BA Tasting #2

This is an '05 bottle, so aged 5 years.

appearance - golden, but cloudy
smell - citrus hops still there, candied fruit.
taste - booze is definitely mellowed, but still there.
mouthfeel - very dense.
overall - very good! the guy who brought it says 5 years is about the max he thinks it should be ages and is drinking his '05 bottles this year.

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Photo of claminat420
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 on cap

A- poured a light brown almost yellowish head with a medium to heavy lacing behind.

S- caramel malt blended nicely with some light citrus. alcohol is hidden nicely.

T- same as smell.

M- medium to heavy bodied. nice carbonation.

D- three out of the six and you're good!

Overall- for being a hophead this american style barleywine is a thumbs up. my definition of a lumberjack's sort of brew. if you come across this definitely pick it up. the best thing to come out of sierra nevada since their anniversary ale.

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

An aggressive pour is definitely not needed with this one, but will produce a thick 2-3 finger head. Color is a clear, deep mahogany...looks great in the glass.

Nice aroma, loaded with hops...not overwhelming citrus, but still smells great.

Taste is right up my alley...nicely bitter, but smooth and not overwhelming. Really good finish that leaves you wanting more.

I had this recently at a Beerfest, and this is immediately my favorite Sierra Nevada "flavor." Just a great beer.

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Photo of misinformed
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

A- Poured with a very impressive 3-4 finger head that was off-white bordering on a very pale orange-brown. The head settled down to less than a finger pretty quickly. Thick curtain-type lacing. Nice columns of carbonation with a bit of sediment floating around. Beer itself was clear reddish-brown.

S- Malt and roasted grain. Dark roasted coffee. Citrusy hops.

T- Wow. Sweetness and malts upfront. Some spice followed by citrus and a nice lingering hop finish. Balance definitely leans towards the tart, bitter citrus and hops. I could not taste any trace of alcohol like some reviewers noted.

M- Medium bodied and creamy. Not really syrupy in my opinion. Good bit of fine bubbled carbonation. Surprisingly smooth and crisp. Dominated by the long hop finish which coats the mouth.

D- I was ready for a second bottle before I finished the first. Really good. Like previously noted I could not detect the alcohol at all which was a surprise. I will definitely enjoy the 6 pack I bought now and I look forward to trying it again next year.

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Photo of TCgoalie
3.28/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Notes from 4/30

This brew has a dark ruby red color with a snow like covering of off white head. Lacing on the glass is a map of where the initial head pour was.

I'm picking up a lot of lemony pine hops and some caramel malts when taking a big whiff. It is difficult to pick up the subtle notes since I am in a bar.

This tastes like pine tree juice. I can hardly believe this is a barleywine, it tastes like a double IPA. There is a lemony characteristic in the hops with some malt trying to show its face in the beginning, but the pine forest flavor takes over. The aftertaste shows some booze, evidence of its ABV.

I would say this is medium full in regards to its mouthfeel. It is smooth considering the hop bite, but I cannot get over the I just ate a handful of grass and pine needles.

This isn't the most drinkable beer nor is it the best barleywine I've had.

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Photo of Axic10
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Expedition. Poured from bottle into a Maudite snifter.

Appearance: Pours a nice dark brown/ruby/amber color with nice half finger of fluffy foam.

Smell: Alcohol, hops and malt. Sugar, toffee and fruit.

Taste: Bitter at first then the malt back bone hits and balances things out. Caramel from the malt, toffee, brown sugar. Very tasty. I can't wait to see what age does to this.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and chewy.

Drinkability: Definitely a beer that you won't drink more than 1 or 2 in a sitting, but a pleasant treat to enjoy for sure.

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

2010 Vintage

In the words of Ron Burgandy, "rich mahogany" comes to mind with this one along with a finger of head that leaves lots of lacing

Almost sherry-like aroma, like sherry with a definite hop presence. Sweet alcohol is definitely the front runner.

Sweet cherry upfront that changes to hop bitterness then seemingly to oxidation, with is acceptable, but the oxidation seems too much. We'll see how it mellows.

Sticky, coating, medium carbonation.

A great beer fresh or for aging.

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

2010 vintage
Apperance: opaque mahogany, Medium head with lots of sticky lace.
Smell: fresh bread, citrusy hops, some fruit esthers are present as well.
Taste: good hop kick with a residual bitterness. Bread like yeast qualities is present. The alcohol burn is noticable.
Mouthfeel: crisp good carbonation.
Drinkabilty: slighty too much alcohol presence in the fresh Bigfoot. Can definatly use some time in the cellar.

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Photo of larryi86
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter

A- A very nice amber color with a tan 2 finger head.

S- WOW, very fruity in a good way. I picked up hints grape, cherry and citrus.

T- It has nice hoppy bitter taste up front followed by a smooth hint of the fruit notes in the smell. After it warms up a little it give away the 9.6% ABV with a warming feeling as it goes down.

M- Smooth and fairly refreshing. Only down falls are the bitterness lingers and the alcohol is not hidden.

D- This is a good barleywine and very enjoyable. It does not always leave me wanting a second, but it is good to have extras in the fridge. The one think that stops me from grabbing another is the alcohol because I have had other barkeywines with higher ABV that hide it better.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,601 ratings