Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,600 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: 7,600 |  Reviews: 3,097
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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Photo of semibaked
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a very nice dark amber with about 2 fingers of fluffy tan head. Really great lacing.

S - Big hop aroma that I wasn't expecting but it is good, little bit of caramel sweetness, some bread qualities, maybe some acidity too.

T - Tastes like an Hoppy Amber Ale too me, the sweetness comes out when the beer warms up,

M - Pretty creamy mouthfeel, kinda like syrup but a little lighter.

D - Obviously over time the hops with fade a bit, but right now it is hoppy and good drinking.

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Photo of Thur123
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a deep woodsy red color that reminds me of tree resin. The head was light with tight small foam that exists now only as a ring at the edges. The carbonation seems to be struggling to reach the top of this thick ass beer. The smell is...grapefruit hops and pine resin and also an earthier smell... something like maple syrup or molasses as well.

Glug glug glug

The flavor is big big big on the hops, with a roasted and earthy malt underneath. The flavor has herbs, molasses, dark pitted fruits like cherries and perhaps a plum flavor....also a bit of something like dirt, which isn't bad but seems to come along the herbal flavor. The end has a bit of a boozy burn and the aftertaste has all the breadiness that malt comes with that's nearly impossible to taste anywhere but the aftertaste. The mouth feel is thick and heavy, a sipper for sure.

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Photo of ne0m00re
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12 oz 2010 bottle into an oversized red wine glass to capture the aroma.
A: Deep red honey with golden hues. Poured with a small head that died to thin lace and film.
S: Grapefruit, nutty characteristics like walnut, red bananas, and apparent alcohol.
T: Sweet with a well-balanced hops trait that comes on quite slowly to a bitter citrus peel and pine. The alcohol lingers with a flowery "green" taste. The proportion of hops is similar to an IPA.
M: Thin, but quite frothy when the beer is poured vigarously.
D: Pretty good for a barleywine. I wouldn't mind having a second.

This beer could almost come off as a DIPA.

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Photo of wedge421
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - Slight lacing,a rich dark copper color.

S - Citrus, Citrus, Citrus, MALT,MALT, MALT. Im getting huge whifs of grapefruit followed by smack me in the face malts! How a Barley wine should smell. The warmer the beer get the more malt I get with a very slight dark fruit coming out. I also get hints of the alcohol content in it as well, just enough to keep me interested

T - Amazing example of the style. The citrus hops, im guessing Cascade, hit the tongue full force with the grapefruit goodness. Chases very quickly by the sweetness of the malt used. This is a very well crafted beer. The malt and hops are balanced perfectly. As it warms up you get the bitterness of the hops but the sweetness of the malts start to shine.

D - Im a SN fan so this was not tough for me. Being a 9.6% ABV its hard to say I would drink more then 1 or 2 but again it is a great example of the style. I think this and Old Guardian from Stone are 2 of the best available Barley Wines. If you have never had a Barley Wine find this beer now! Great stuff and one of the reasons Sierra Nevada still has it!

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Photo of digita7693
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A copper color, nice white ahead that goes away, excelent lacing

S very citrusy, grapefruit some nice big malts, excellent (smell reminds me somewhat of Nugget nectar)

T nice citrusy taste with a good balance of malts and hop bitterness.

D this was very nice, but I highly doubt I would drink more than 2, probably just 1. But it is very smooth

2010 vintage, was quite happy to get this and try it for the first time. The citrusy smell and then taste with some nice hop bitterness make this an excellent beer, but I couldnt drink many.

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Photo of jdrury245
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 version. Poured into snifter.

a Lovely copper color. A nice 2 finger head. Leaves a very noticeable but perfect lace.

s- Huge hop aroma with a hint of honey. Lots of citrus.

t Bitter sweet party. A well balanced complex flavor of malt and hops. One second sweet and then huge bite of hops.

m Slight burn. Oily and creamy. Slight sticky lips from the amount of malts in this beer. Great carbo.

d Great beer! Love it! Big and flavorful! Recommend this to any barley wine fan. Just a good well balance barley wine.

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

2010 bottle poured into my CCB snifter

A- Pours a beautiful copper color. 2 inches of head that dissipates and leaves a thin layer for the duration. A sick amount of lacing is left in web form.

S- Big hops and roasted malts. Lots of citrus, mainly grapefruit. Alcohol is present.

T- roasted malts and caramel followed by a volcanic eruption of hops. Lots of citrus and a slow burn from the abv. The malts come out as this puppy warms up. The alcohol is pretty hot.

M- Very nice and creamy. Good amount of carbonation. Leaves a nice dry finish that leaves me wanting another pull.

D- Really good! However, the higher abv would keep me from pounding it all night. I would really like to put some age on this.

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Photo of jwillcourt
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap into a pint glass.

A - Clear, reddish-copper color. Half-inch latte-colored head comprised of fine bubbles. The head settles to a small cap that never goes away. There are only a few, tiny bubbles. It leaves lots of fine, sticky lace down the glass.

S - Predominantly hoppy. Toasted malt underneath pine and citrus hops.

T - Overall dry and hoppy. Initial flavor is toasted malt. The finish is hoppy and slightly alcoholic. The alcohol quickly gives way, leaving a slightly bitter, hoppy aftertaste that lingers.

M - Medium body and carbonation. It feels a little grainy in the finish. It grows more creamy as it warms. It is a little slick on the lips. There is a bit of alcohol astringency.

D - The booze is strong but not obtrusive. This is best sipped. It is tasty, and I would try it again. It is on the hoppier side of the spectrum. I was expecting a little more sweetness and a fuller mouthfeel.

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Photo of jcm8756
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2010 Edition poured into a Church Brewing pint glass.

A: Very nice looking brownish red color with a web-like lacing.

S: Smells a lot like an IPA, very fresh. This is a very new bottle though.

T: This beer is just delicious. Its that simple. Its got a hoppy bite with a fruity aftertaste. One of the best tasting beers I've ever had.

M&D: Average mouthfeel although it is a little creamy. I could definitely not drink many of these but then again who would?

All in all this is a great beer and definitely worth the money.

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Photo of HiGravShawn
3.05/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Disclaimer: I like hoppy beers. I love IPAs and their kin. I aparently have not had a American Barleywine before because I have never tasted something so hoppy with such sharp maltiness. Maybe I went in expecting th wrong thing, but this is only the second SN beer I haven't loved (other was Kellerweis).

Look and mouthfeel were fine. Smelled ok although hoppier than expected.

Taste... like a double IPA with some malt hidden deep inside. It was extremely hoppy and this is from someone who drinks DIPA and Arrogant Bastard regularly. It just didn't blend well to me. I could barely taste any malt and the hops were very bitter. I have to wonder if this is really fresh and should be aged a while otherwise I would think something is wrong with it, but I don't know of any off flavors that would do this. It's like sucking on pine needles.

I will try one again one day just to see what the deal is.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage 12 oz. into a snifter. Pours a deep red, almost purple hues, small creamy off-white head. The head retains decently eventually turning into a thick ring. Dusty sediment visible. Classic barleywine dark fruit/caramel and hoppy scents, though not as extreme as say Old Ruffian, still get the job done and mouth watering. A year of age has certainly smoothed things out here. Hops are still there, but the taste is extremely smooth and malty. I'm getting lots of pine and sweet, boozy cherry and red grape with maybe a hint of grapefruit. Surprisingly the booze is still a big part of the tastes, I was caught off guard on the first sip. Getting a bit of biscuit in the aftertaste as well. Strong booze taste unfortunately sets taste + drinkability back a notch. I still have 5 left, can't wait to try these over the next 4 years or so.

*More notes - 1/12/11 - 2009 vintage, aged 2 years (no scores changed)*
Huge 'psst' upon opening, pours with an explosive, impressive head retaining great and leaving awesome lacing. Taste has mellowed out immensely over the past year, alcohol well-hidden now, hops are still sorta strong but you can feel the malt presence much more now. It's at a good place right now, I am enjoying it more than I was at 1 year old, although the flavors still don't wow me as much as other barleywines.

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Photo of WOTO97
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: copper with clay-red hues, big thick soapy head, dense web-like lacing

S: raisins, biscuit with some sweet malt character, faint lemon, pungent hop notes

T: alcohol on the back, red apple up front, lots of biscuity malt character, surprisingly big hop bitterness on mid and back palate, slight tart grapefruit

M: dry and clean finish, light on the palate but not detracting from body, slightly thin

D: likely to age well--alcohol a little too aggressive, but great hop/malt balance

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Photo of wolfinthemirror
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a 13oz. tulip glass, mahogany to deep amber in color with over a fingers worth of a creamy head. lots of lacing in the glass.

An intense floral boquet of hops bursts out immediately in the nose.

A strong hop presence carries over into the taste, quickly complemented by a sweet caramel, roasted malt backbone, very brilliant and complex taste. There is a crispness and warming in the mouth, medium bodied with a slightly syrupy profile. The alcohol is definitely there, but it isn't blatant for a 9.6% alc. beer.

In terms of drinkability, this is definitely a sipper for me, I don't think i'd have more than 2 in a sitting. This intense brew is meant to be savored and cherished, rather than quickly consumed.

Amazingly vibrant beer, one of my personal favorites.

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Photo of koopa
3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage consumed side by side against a 2001 Bigfoot bottle amongst friends at the Coppermine Pub.

See 2001 vintage review here:

Appearance: Pours an attractive amber to garnet with a 1 finger white crown that shows moderate retention and lace. Nice glow!

Smell: Not much going on here at this time. Notes of soap and hints of hops.

Taste: Lots of alcohol, lots of slightly bitter hops, moderate malt presence and what is present certainly isn't sweet malt at this point, absolutely no chocolate notes like the 2001 sample has.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with good carbonation.

Drinkability: Fairly good considering the amount of alcohol and hops present in the taste.

Completely different from the 2001 vintage...I mean a full 180 and a prime example of what cellaring can do to a beer.

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Photo of mmva321
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

2010 brew had about a month after purchase, of course I have to age some of these.

Pours an absolutely beautiful ruby red color with a finger of off-white head that has good retention and leaves a significant amount of lacing.

An intense amount of hops along with a good amount of fruitiness represented mainly by grapefruit. It's all smoothed out by some welcomed malt and there is a good punch of alcohol mixed in. There is also a nice leafy earthines as well.

The hops really come through. The fruits are less pronounced and the alcohol sweetnes and the earthiness come through more than in the smell. (May update as I age the beer).

Creamy to say the least. Maybe could have been a little thinner, but boldness and substance is what SN is going for here.

Drinking this beer is actually a little challenging. Intense hops and the high alcohol content force you to sip this beer slowly. It loves you by kicking you in the teeth and asking if you want more. Perhaps unfortunately I always say, "Yes."

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

2010 version. Pours a slightly hazy red-orange with a creamy white head, leaving sheets of lace. Smell: loads of citrus peel, leafy, pine, background brown sugar, toffee, effervescent alcohol. Taste: lemon peel, leafy, earthy, apple peel, toffee. Medium to full bodied with a dose of alcohol and a whole bunch of bitterness. Definitely comes off as english malts vs. west coast hops and the hops are winning the battle as this one is only a few months old (12/30/2009 dating). That combination makes it come off as more barleywine-ish than some American DIPA-clone barleywines. Very nice, why didn't I age any of last year's for a side by side?

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,600 ratings