Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,580 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 7,580 |  Reviews: 3,088
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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Photo of bosox941827
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage; 12 oz bottle poured into over-sized red-wine glass. A bit leery of this as barleywine not usually "my" style, but figured I'd be in good hands with Sierra Nevada....
A - Impressively amber, nearly opaque, but not quite. Color tells you this is a "serious" beer.
S - Hops and more hops, not what you'd necessarily expect from a barleywine, but this is SN we're talking about here...can't wait to taste this smell. Getting some sweet malt/molasses on the nose as well, as well as a bit of alcohol.
T & M - Wow...if I didn't know better (and I don't - not too familiar with this style), I would have thought this was a double/triple IPA - in Sierra Nevada's hands that may be what this is (in essence). The hoppiness is pervasive and extremely pleasant (full disclosure: hophead writing this review), run on solid backbone of malty sweetness. Alcohol reveals itself only at the end and becomes more prominent as the beer warms up, but it is balanced with the other flavors and not overpowering. But the story here is really the hops; they command the entire palate and the linger is just amazing. For those that like that sort of thing, it is just can make each sip last 10 minutes if you want. Mouthfeel is almost creamy as carbonation is appropriately low.
D - Surprisingly pretty high; don't get me wrong, this is definitely a sipper, but it's one that you could sip for quite a while and this is because of its balance.

As I said at the top, I was a bit leery of barleywines, and that probably led me to try SN's take on this to start, since I knew it would be properly hoppy. But whatever class you put it in, this is a fantastic beer, and highly recommended. Am definitely inspired to try other takes on this style....

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

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass.

A: Deep caramel and amber color. Getting close to not being able to see through. Pours about 1 finger head developing some nice lacing.

S: Sweet candied malts. Some cascade hops as well, a little piney and citrusy. Caramel and vanilla.

T: Huge bitter hop kick with a nice vanilla malt flavor to round the taste out. Very earthy and piney tasting hops. The sweetness brings this one true to style. A couple of dark fruits and maybe a little apple here.

M: Very creamy. I don't know if this is just because of it being draft but this beer was probably creamiest, smoothest barleywine I've ever had.

D: I wish this could me my go-to barleywine but we don't have it in bottles yet in AL. Lucky to get it as draft to go. Very easy drinking with only a little alcohol detected.

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Photo of Brew33
3.24/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2010 Bigfoot

I've had Fresh and Aged versions of 2008, 2009, and now fresh 2010. I can say, the 2010 batch is the weakest I've had fresh.

The aroma is very promising, hoppy, resinous, alcohol. The taste is just okay. One dimensional. Single note hop flavor and an incredibly boring malt profile for a style that generally should be a showcase for malt complexity. The mouthfeel was good for the style, not great and the drinkability was average because of the high abv and the fact that it isn't a great beer.

I tried this beer twice and let it warm to a range of temps hoping to find the temp where this beer shined and it never happened.

Overall a lackluster attempt at a Barleywine. I used to love Sierra's brews and now I feel like I'm wasting my money by buying them. Has my palate changed or have they started slipping? Not sure but the 2010 Bigfoot is weak.

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

---Fresh vintage---

12oz bottle, served in an Ommegang chalice...2010 vintage

A - poured half an inch of very tight and frothy light khaki colored foam, barely fit the entire bottle in the glass. falling down very slowly, leaving spotty lacing all over. the beer is a hazy ruby color.

S - hops! as a hop-head with only minor interest in barleywines...this is right up my alley. pungent citrus and pine met by a massive amount of sweet caramel malts. minor notes of fruits...raisins, cherry...pine and orange rind, vanilla, tobacco.

T - huge malt bomb...sweetness but also slightly bittering, accented by solid amount of hops, insanely earthy, grassy, pine...typical barleywine notes of tobacco, alcohol. have had this vintaged all the way back to 2003 and while complex and delicious then, i love the hop-forward presence of fresh Bigfoot.

M - carbonation is a bit on the hot side, but works well with the boldness everywhere else. medium bodied and syrupy...but not overdone. creamy, coats the mouth.

D - definitely in my top 5, maybe my favorite the hops when fresh, but it does age nicely. bought a case to sit on and sip through a few years, easily a great investment. quite bold when fresh, and loving it.

---6 mo. old---

No change in A, slightly dulled hop presence in the scent. At an almost unpleasant awkward stage where hops are oxidized. Rough as of now.

---1yr old---

Sweetness coming through much more now. Hops are still present and slightly oxidized, though it is melding much better. Alcohol maybe kicked down a notch as well. Getting there.

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

It's like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on steroids! For a barley wine, it's quite drinkable and not too sweet or thick.

Appearance: Clear, dark amber; minimum head

Smell: A floral bouquet, a bit sweet and piney

Taste: Burst of flavor! It tastes of barley, malt, and hops. You can taste the alcohol, but it is not overpowering

Mouthfeel: It's not thick, there is a dry sweetness, and a bitter, lingering finish.

Drinkability: For a Barley Wine, it is very drinkable, but has enough flavor that it should be sipped and enjoyed.

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

2010 Bigfoot
Drank on: 3/3/10
9.6% ABV
12 oz. in pint glass

A= Big thick 1" head of a creamy tan color. Lots of little bubble streams. Nearly translucent, deep reddish brown. Thick lace to the rim.

S= Dark roast malt aromas with a slight note of alcoholic warmth. Whifs of sweetness and perhaps cherries?

T= Dark roast malt with flavors of dark chocolate and coffee with a nice malty sweetness. Has a nice piney citrus hop flavor with good lasting bitterness. Malts and hops are quite well balanced both showing off but not overshadowing one another.

MF= Fantastic mid. bodied beer, good satisfying weight on the tongue. Nice mild warmth along with a smooth mouth coating. Great!! Quick tingle on tip of tongue.

D= Delicious. Alcohol is hidden well making this a dangerous brew.

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Photo of tigg924
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, moderate carbonation, reddish-brown in color, clear

Smell:toasted malt and grapefruit

Taste: toasted malt, caramel, earth, wood, and piney hops

Mouthfeel: mostly sweet with some bitterness, smooth, medium-heavy bodied

Drinkability: I actually really enjoyed this barleywine. It is up there with my favorites in the style so far and is one of my favorites from the brewery. This is really well balanced and tasty. The alcohol is hidden but hits fast. I would get this again.

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

I poured from a 12 ounce bottle (2010 vintage) into a snifter. Amber/mahogany in color with a big foamy white head, leaves lots of lacing. Big spicy pine notes dominate the smell. The first sip is full of sticky pine that clings all over your mouth. It finishes with lots of lingering bitterness. The beer has enough malt to keep it fairly balanced for the style. While this is a sipper, it is very enjoyable.

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

12 oz bottle into a snifter. 2010 release.

Pours a beautiful looking deep clear amber, with 2+ foamy fingers of foamy off-white head. Retention is great here, with this putting up a big frothy flareup of lacing that hangs in thick swathes down the sides of the glass. The aroma mainly consists of fresh American hops that literally blow up in the nose, being full of pine and spice and a deep smelling fresh herbal tanginess. A thick malty graininess fills the back of the nose, with most of the sweetness here appearing to come for the fruitiness and earthy nature of the hops.

Resins and spice from those fresh hops just rip the mouth, while a combo of earthy dankness and bitter citrus flavor creeps along in the background. Much like the aroma, there isn't a whole lot of sweetness present (but there's just enough), with a stiff backbone of toasted gaininess holding steady across the back of the palate. Finishes with a ton of lingering dryness, spice, and some leftover herbal tang. The mouthfeel is full and chewy with a good bit of thickness to the feel; but the overall creaminess of the carbonation helps keep this smooth in the mouth for such a big beer. Even at room temp, I'm happy to report that the alcohol here is kept in check, with only some gentle warmth in the chest and throat showing itself after each sip. Well done.

A classic any way you cut it, not only because of it's great availabilty and price each year but also because this is just a damn fine American Barleywine. I personally prefer this fresh each year but aged isn't shabby either. So loosen up thee ole' belt and enjoy one of these calorie-bombs!

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Photo of steelerguy
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Very clear mahogany, can see right through it. Big and sticky off white head that has some lasting and lacing power.

S - Big malt and hop aroma. Not going to bowl you over but you can smell right away this is a barleywine. Lots of malt sweetness and citrus hops.

T - The malt and hops hit hard and early which is good, the balance lasts throughout. Bitter finish as the sweetness of the malt and then the alcohol makes itself known.

M - Rich and creamy, goes down smooth and the warmth of the alcohol finishes each sip off nicely.

D - Smooth, balanced, and dare I say safe? I can have a couple of these but I like my barleywine over the top. It is the style to go over the top and I feel like it could use a little more complexity.

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Photo of jbone78
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an 09 and today is 3.8.10. Pours slightly hazy Mahogany color with a big frothy off white head. Figgy, caramel, nutty aroma with esters hidden well. Taste still has a slight hop flavor, but blends with the rich malt character. I have four left. I will hang on to them.


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Photo of gromis
2.66/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours an amber color with a pretty good head considering the strength of the beer. Good lacing.

Nose is piney hops.

Taste is piney hops with slight orange.

I'm not a hophead, so I rated the taste and drinkability lower. I've had other barleywines that I have enjoyed that were not so hoppy.

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Photo of Shamgar
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 bottle poured into a Guiness pint glass.

appearance- mohogany redish/brown color. Little carbonation. Nice head when first poured, but dissapates to a thin bubbly head. Looks okay, but not much lacing going on.

smell- hops are very present. Would be Sierra Nevada be Sierra Nevada without Cascade hops?? Yet there is a deep malt here as well. Seems like a yin and yang between the hops and the malt here.

taste- hops up front, malt kicks in not to long after. Malt vs. hop wrestling match with hints of sweetness and bitterness giving the palate all it can handle. The finish has has a bitter hops finish that lingers for a bit. Nice brew.

mouthfeel- Thick, syrupy, oily, but not at all offensive. I can't really pick up that 9.8 until I put one down. I feel it before I taste it. Well done!

This is my second most faovrite brew of the winter, and by far the best Barley Wine I have tasted to date. Barley Wine isn't for everyone, but if you like a big beer with complex flavor and a bit of kick then I suggest you give it a try... You just might like it.

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

A: Pours dark amber red with a large off white head. The head recedes slowly leaving great lacing.

S: Piney hops and malt sweetness.

T: Lots of bitter piney hops up front that blend into sweet caramel malt. Finishes bittersweet with some alcohol warming.

M: Pretty full bodied with quite a bit of carbonation which I really enjoy in this beer.

D: Drinkability is good even considering the high ABV. Nice flavor and good mouthfeel make this a really enjoyable barley wine.

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

12 OZ bottle 2010, Reviewed from notes

A- Deep copper color, good head, lots of lacing

S- Hops, roasted malts

T- Roasted malts, dark fruit, raisins, and piney hops

M- Chewy with just the right amount of carbonation

D- This is my favorite beer to date, I think it is the most flavourable beer I have had and I do not know if I will be able to let my last few age

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Photo of scottyshades
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 variety

A: Pours a transparent rich mahogany color with a fluffy, thick eggshell color head that retains very very well. In fact, it lasted throughout the entire session, releasing all those delicious aromatics. Each sip reveals a notch in the glass- pretty awesome.

S: Very nice nose, raisin, fig, with an overall sweet dark fruit note. Hops are definitely present; piney, resinous, floral. An overall sweetness from the dark fruits and an earthy hop presence that balances nicely with the pale and caramel malts. Apparently this recipe calls for the "three C's" hop variety- cascade, centennial, and chinook and I must say that this combination works for this style.

T: Definitely a big beer. Hops are intense, bittersweet, earthy and resinous. The hops and malts are not very balanced, in fact the malts play a very small role. Again, dark fruits (raisin, fig), molasses, caramel lay beneath a massive hop-dominant profile with an overall bitter-sweet flavor. Huge underlying bitter bite...kind of takes away from the balance, and what is more surprising is that this brew has 90IBUs...I would have guessed more.

MF/D: Body is medium for the style, prickly carbonation (a little too carbonated for my liking), chewy feel, and a bittersweet hop finish and aftertaste.

Definitely characteristic of the American version of the barleywine style- lots and lots of hops, and this one seems to be less balanced than others, but still an OK drink, especially as an aperitif. I had this alongside some baked apricot brie and it was and amazing pair!!!!

I cannot really figure out what I do not like in this beer...its either not malty enough, or too hoppy and bitter, maybe both..OR maybe its too young, so I'll cellar one for a while and edit accordingly

EDIT: I figured out what I don't like...There is a distinct taste that really resembles dextrose (priming sugar) and I've noticed it in a few other of SN offerings. It almost tastes like chewing on an aspirin

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

Pours a dark amber color with an off white head.
Smells like citrusy hops typical of Sierra Nevada.
Taste like smooth malt over powered almost imediately with the hops. Small alochol taste on the back end.
This beer is very drinkable even with the alochol at the end.

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

pours a clear deep mahogany with an enormous fluffy light tan head. great lacing.

smells like a whole bunch of citrussy, piney hops, with a neat slightly caramel like malt profile.

bitter and sweet in great amounts at the same time. grapefruit like flavor with a very dry finish.

mouthfeel is very creamy with an average body and a dry finish.

the drinkability is actually fairly high even though this is such a big beer. not to heavy but a little strenuous on the palette.

another great beer from sierra nevada. i'm not the biggest fan of barleywines but this one is really something else.

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Photo of johnnybgood1999
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep amber and honey color with a small to medium sized head.
S: Malt, bread, and a pleasant dose of spice.
T: Starts out sweet and pleasant, then warms with a deep pleasant spiciness rounding out the end. It is a little boozier than most barleywines, but not ovewhelmingly so.
D: What can you say, it's a barleywine. I could drink maybe two in a sitting as long as some lighter brews were mixed in.

Overall: I've heard good things abouty this and was not disappointed. Another solid brew from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of hooliganlife
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours a deep ruby brown, creamy head that lingers around. bits of lacing.

not much on the nose, light malts, touch of honey and pine

lots of bitterness. hops really steal the show. tons of pine up front and big bitter citrus through the finish. the grainy malts start appearing midway through. lots of flavors though out, such as tangerine, pine, white grapefruit, malt bitterness. little bit of booze

very full bodied, not chewy but very full. carbonation has a lot of bite but in a good way. lets you know what you are drinking. gums tingle afterwards, a bit of booze burn.

this is delicious. i can see why many age this, i had a 2008 last year and it really mellowed over a year. i loved it but i think i prefer it fresh. drinks easy but ABV is high.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,580 ratings