Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,579 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: 7,579 |  Reviews: 3,088
Photo of cschepers
3.45/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

(January) 2009 edition.

A - Pours a beautiful ruby red, nice thick cream head. Very pretty looking beer.

S - Nose is banana bread and fruit (cherries, plums, oranges). A little bit of booziness in the background. Hmm.. sounds like a good fruitcake, doesn't it?

T - Haven't drank one of these in a few years, now I remember why. As always, the hops completely overrun this beer. It's like a triple IPA with slightly darker malt. Giant citrus hops upfront, then a bit of caramel malt and heavy booze, then orange pith and pine tree air freshener hangs around for a long time.

M - Nice carbonation, mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I think I'd expect.. but not bad.

D - For me, fairly low. I could split a 12-oz.'er with someone else and not be terribly upset. Alcohol isn't too bad for a barleywine I suppose.

I know its sacrilege to not like a Sierra Nevada beer, but this one's never done it for me. Just too heavy on the hops and the booze. I have a 3-year-old bottle in the cellar, I think I'll give it another three or four years and see if the hops have died down by then.

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Photo of shanecb
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Sort of a reddish/orange/burnt sienna color. Head a nice light tan head that was fairly predominant when poured, but did not stick around very long. Not too much lacing, but some early on when the head was around.

S - Sort of malty at first, which was ore predominant when swirled. Hints of sweetness, orange, and honey (mead) were present, but not predominant. It seemd that after a little while an alcohol aroma was very predominant. It was actually a little off-putting, unfortunately. It was sort of like vodka, and a little sweet. Maybe like triple sec or blue curacoa.

T - Very nice flavor. The bittering hops are pretty predominant in the finish. There's also a slightly roasted coffee flavor in the aftertaste. A little alcoholic flavor to it, but nothing too bad. There's some malty sweetness to it near the beginning. Slight notes of a dark cherry and maybe some other dark fruits are present.

M - Very nice! It's smooth and creamy and feels great

D - Honestly.. amazing drinkability. It's smooth, has a flavor that doesn't overpower but is enough to keep you interested. I really could drink a few of these with no problem.

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

2009 Bigfoot: Bottle code 9013 (bottled on Jan. 13, 2009)

Bigfoot pours a deep cloudy umber with a warm reddish glow. A nice tan head fades quickly to cratered bubbly froth with a creamy ring around the edges. Lacing is thick at first and then sheets back down the sides of the glass.

The nose is a big surprise! This nearly year old beer has a strong citrusy/pine hop aroma to it still backed up by a strong malty caramel with hints of chocolate licquer.

Flavor is certainly big and still rather raw for a nearly year old beer. I find the flavors a bit hard to track down. An initial sharp pungent taste fades to a thick somewhat sweet caramel malt. Hop flavor abounds and is of citrus, muted grapefruit and resin. Also noted are brandied fruit (raisins, apricots, pears) along with vague hints of chocolate noted in the after taste. Alcohol fills the mouth with warmth but does not eclipse the other bold flavors. With warming the alcohol blends nicely into the other flavors.

Mouthfeel is big, thick and chewy with a slightly creamy very smooth finish.

Bigfoot always has an initial kick in the mouth that takes me half a beer or so to really begin appreciating, after that though it just gets better and better as it warms. I've never had two in a row but I suspect No. 2 would be very good indeed. I think another six months of age would do wonders for an already very good beer.

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

Shit man, I rolled into my local 7/11 and saw this crazy thing in the corner. A 2009 barley whoozit? hells yes. It pours with a creamy head, colored like the thighs of those fine ladies who tan too much. Tastes like eating a grapefruit while walking down by the pine barrens. Breads and camel flow out too, like a party on my tongue and all the ladies say hell yeah!

It's a Bigfoot, it's fine like Beyonce. Jay-Z is a lucky man for that, and I am a lucky man to have five more of these guys in the cellar.

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Photo of CharlatanSin
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ah, Sierra Nevada. You've never let me down. Ever since your Pale Ale took me by the hand and gently guided me down the path of craft beer, I've been in your debt. After a while of searching, I finally located a bottle of the Bigfoot at New Beer Distributors. Just like old times, I poured Sierra's gift from a 12 oz bottle into my legendary Hold Steady pint glass.

Appearance: A nice dark cherry soda color, with a decent straw colored head that laces nicely.

Smell: Malty and sweet. Toasted caramel. Also some pine hops.

Taste: As I expected, this being a Sierra beer, it tastes more like an extremely well-balanced strong IPA than what I think of as a barleywine. That being said, it's delicious. The hops are strong and earthy. That earthy bitterness is nicely balanced by the malt sweetness. I'm picking up freshly baked bread, some of the caramel from the nose, and maybe a hint of bitter chocolate?

Mouthfeel: Goes down smooth. A little more thin than I'd have expected.

Drinkability: I could have a couple of these in a sitting, but it's not as deceptive as some other similar beers in terms of alcohol content. You can definitely taste the booze in this one. This is not a bad thing at all, by the way. Another extremely solid beer from Sierra Nevada, my first beer love.

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

I think when you see barleywine, most people will be turned off, or expect some odd-ball brew that is just intended to get you hammered, this is not. When I first strated drinking this I was reminded of a big IPA, but sweeter. The brew is very smooth and complicated, and considering the high ABV, this is very drinkable. This in my opinion was what the DIPA are trying to be, but then again this is a barley-wine so maybe i'm off. Good stuff, must have from one of our great California breweries.

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Photo of tang3nt
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought a 2008 6 pack of this at local liquor store.
Pours a deep hazy amber brown color with a large white head that dissipates rather quickly.
The nose is super hoppy and definitely a strong alcohol smell to it.
Sweet rich malt flavor with dark fruit flavors maybe plum followed by a long somewhat dry finish.
This beer has tons of hop flavors for a barleywine, but overall a complex well balanced body and seems it would do even better with a few more years.

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Photo of MrDanno96
3.3/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2008 "25th Expedition"

A: Pours a cloudy reddish brown with just a thin ring of off white head around the edges of the glass.

S: Sweet malt, barely, caramel, pine, and some dark sweet fruits.

T: Very complex. Sweet malts and barely up front, similar to the nose. I also taste some distinct caramel and toffee and maybe just a hint of burnt coffee or chocolate. This all adds up to a good amount of sweetness initially. This sweetness, however, gives way to a harsh bitter hop finish. Alcohol is also very apparent, perhaps just a little too much so.

M: Full bodied, moderate carbonation, and a biting bitter feel from the hops.

D: Definitely a sipper. Lots of complex flavors that I enjoyed experiencing. That being said, I would probably only drink one of these at a time. It has a high abv and I can definitely tell that it's there. Also, I don't necessarily object to bitter hops finishes, but I wasn't too big a fan of the way the hops balances with the other flavors in this one. I wouldn't say this is bad, but I'm not sure I agree with all the hype.

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Photo of happy4hoppybeer
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance= poured out of bottle straightforward into tulip glass without tilting a dark amber/red topped off with amazing head that lasts for minutes(probably more than five or ten) that leaves behind amazing lacing that sticks around long after consumed.

Aroma= Sweet barley malt, caramel, pine, fruit even some cocoa

Tastes of sweet hops which then turn to bitter hops, but a little subdued since this is aged. This is the vintage 2009 version.

Palate is medium a little thin therefore more drinkable. And dangerously so, considering the ABV and incredible flavors present throughout.

Another outstanding seasonal from SN, just as great as the previous years. Probably the best or at least one of the best BWs. Cannot wait for the 2010 version.

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

Tasted the 2008 bottle.
Served into a Bruery tulip at 45 degrees.

Pours an orangish-copper in the glass with a quarter inch thick white froth...very good lacing. (It's an aged beer, so I don't expect it to be carbonated like a fresh brew. Also, the beer isn't exactly clear...I think there might be a little bit of chill shock going on.) The nose is pronounced, sweet, & syrupy thick with aromas of caramel, toffee, a fresh hop green leaf, a hop spiciness, wild flowers, orange, subtle grapefruit, sweet-sweet alcohol, prunes/figs, green apple peel, and a little baked biscuit. There is a red jolly rancher flavor on the palate that I think it very interesting accompanied by a smooth hop bitterness, sweet alcohol warmth, syrupy malt texture, and a long finish. All the characteristics found on the nose are present in flavor. Very smooth and easy to drink. Overall, I would definitely put this in my "dangerous beer" category because it's smooth, complex, flavorful, and 9.6%! I could easily see myself happily drinking 3 or 4 of these and then the next thing I know it's morning, I'm on the couch with a half eaten meat lovers pizza, and over an hour late for work!

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Photo of Jettanbass9
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

mutter the words, american barleywine and i most likely will think you said bigfoot.

A - ruby red with chestnut highlights, creamy persistant tight knit head and crystal clear... what else could you want??

S - rich malts ooze of dark caramel, toffee, figs, raisins and fresh dough mingle between resiny, citrusy hop aromas. citrus peel marries the sharp heat of the alcohol all while reaffirming the strength of this brew.

T - sweet toffee and dark rich caramel are balanced by resiny, cedar like hop flavor. Figs and raisins linger in the background while that sweet warmth of the alcohol blends back into toffee. wonderful rich flavors bleeds complexity.

M - full bodied with a firm bitterness that balances any sweetness this beer has.

D - easy to put back, while just as easy to slowly sip. this am. barleywine is THE classic.

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Photo of bret27
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle. I admit this is a review of a fairly new '09 bottle, but I can only sit and look at a 6 pack for so long.

A: The deepest reddest amber I've ever seen on any beer. medium-low carbonation, just slightly off-white.

S: Piney citrusey spicy, good ol' PNW American hops. Also get some sweetness like berries. And some earthy graininess.

T: Now hops and malt are fighting it out. Tastes like something Lagunitas would make. Same smells as above but now w/a bitter bite. Malt holding the middle w/a strong presence as well. Pretty strong booziness and bite at the end.

M: Fairly thick and syrupy. Good for style.

D: Average to good. I'm sure older bottles would be totally different and will update review accordingly. I liked it, but the hop bite and alcohol presence do mess with the drinkability at this point.

Overall: Solid. Aside from about half of Lagunitas lineup, reminds me a bit of Old Ruffian from GD, but I liked Old Ruffian a wee bit more. Only time shall tell how they change for me.

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Photo of Lldeegan
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep reddish brown, with an off white head that is a bit thin, but expected. The head quickly dissipates a bit and changes to just a foamy surface. The beer all together is very appetizing looking in the glass.
This American barleywine smells of sweet bready malt at first, followed by a nice plum and fig fruityness, paired with some hints of licorice. There is an overtone of hops throughout. The sweet malt arrives first on the palate and almost instantly turns to a complex blend of fruit, then licorice, then all the complexity of flavor seems to disappear behind a deep hop bitterness. This has much more hop aroma, flavor and bittering than I had expected from a barleywine, this is clearly where English and American styles differ. I should have known to expect a high dose of greenery from the West coast hop heads at Sierra Nevada. The alcohol is pretty well hidden, there is low heat overall. It is a little more unbalanced than the label claims to be. Just as the Brits are subdued which I enjoyed in the Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine, the Californians bring that extreme American attitude to this beer. I liked this beer, just not at first. As it warms the hop bitterness rounds out and gives way to a sweeter, more stylistic and smooth finish. This is definitely a sipper of a beer. My opinion on the bottle, is one and done. One note is that the hops remained pretty fresh and biting for a Barleywine that is over a year old, must have been stored pretty well as it is the 2008 edition.

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Photo of OneDropSoup
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this in a case swap with some friends.

Pours a deep reddish-brown, cloudy & just barely translucent, with a great-looking honey-comb head that gets creamy at the top & leaves good lacing. Dark orange highlights, but only a few.

By the smell I would not have guessed this was a barleywin, even an American -- smells like some of the sweeter, DIPAS I've had (Otto's Double D comes to mind). Piny & citric hops, in a way that smells like slightly over-ripe orange. Some malty, cookie-like smells. A very saturated, heavy smell.

Taste is WHOA! A force to be reckoned with, complex in so many ways. I taste the sweet, malty syrup flavors, & the sugary fruits, but it's like they're being held hostage by the hops & alcohol. Woody, lemony, orange, pine. Toward the end of the sip the malt gains some strength & bursts through a little with biscuit, subtle vanilla, even a little fruity (banana?), but then are pounded down again by floral, bitter hops & hot alcohol.

Mouthfeel is big, lots of body & so many movements. Left with a twinge of sweetness around the corners of the mouth, with a broad bitterness across the tongue.

This beer is big in every way, challenging & very complex. There's so much going on, the smooth & the rough almost balance each other out, but it's more like a cycle, each gets its turn, rising & falling. A time-based beer. Can't say I love everything about it, but it's inspiring in its way. Any beer that moves me enough to write this much about it has won my heart. I'll just have the one, thanks.

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Photo of weatherdog
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage - Poured into my 20oz tulip

It pours a deep amber/ red with a small less than finger widths head after an aggressive pour.

The smell is this wonderful rich caramel sweet smell with just a little bit of alcohol presence inviting you in. The hop aroma is virtually undetectable compared to a fresh bottle.

The taste starts off with a mild alcohol bite to remind you of its strength then fades away to a sweet malty rich taste and ends crisp and on the dry side. As sweet as the aroma is it finishes well and not cloying in the least.

Mouthfeel is smooth with the exception of the upfront alcohol bite. That upfront taste is subtle though, and needed in a beer of this gravity to remind the drinker that this is a beer to savor and not a sessionable ale.

I've had this beer many times before and I will say that for being the most assessable barleywine available it is an excellent representation. It isn't mind blowing in any way but it is unoffensive and a great beer to sip to relax and unwind after a hard days work. Also in terms of bang for your buck (which is a big factor in my ratings) this beer scores very high. Not many other barley wines you can buy for $10.99/ sixer

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Photo of gford217
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

Pours a deep, clear copper with a massive creamy off-white head that sticks to the sides and recedes very slowly to a one-inch head that refuses to go away.

The aroma has plenty of hops left up front, with some oranges and grapefruit coming through up front. There is some caramel malt and toffee sweetness with lots of dark fruits as well.

The taste is more of the same with the caramel malts forming a big sweet backbone on which the citrus and floral hops are still evident, especially in the finish, where there is a piny hop bitterness lingering after each sip. There is also some wood character and plenty of brown sugar as well.

The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and sticky on the palate with hops and sugary sweetness.

One of the better examples of an American barleywine out there. It's got plenty of hops left two years on and is extremely drinkable with no hint of the 9.6% coming through.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a tulip glass. No bottled date, but it is the 2009 vintage.

(A)- Pours thick and a cloudy brown/red amber to copper color that produced a larger & foamy 3+finger off white to light yellow head that is slowly dissipating down. All the while is sticking to the sides of the glass leaving behind some sticky webbing.

(S)- Deep/rich & sweet caramel & toffee raisin figs with a piney butterscotch background.

(T)- Massively dry with caramelized pineapple and grapefruit citrus. Bits of toffee & butterscotch sum up the malt profile. Let this warm up a bit; it only gets better actually.

(M)- Very robust with a big sweetness and a dry puckered citrus. Great carbonation level with a relatively great balance between all the rich characteristics. Has a little boozy warmth as it goes down but is fitting for this beer.

(D)- Up there with the best barleywines I have ever had, especially when it comes to the best bang for your buck(value). Robust on every level, but fits the style perfectly. Put a ton of this in the cellar/fridge; it will last and age well for years and years.

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Photo of ballz50401
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Samuel Adams perfect pint. Be careful when pouring this beer because it has a beautiful thick creamy head that will spill over if not careful. This beer has a clear reddish brown look. The smell is very malty with caramel tones. The taste starts very bitter from hops then ends with a malty sweet smoothness. The mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy. This is a very delicious complex beer that is easy to drink. Just remember to eat something first or your belly will get warm.

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

Tasted the 2009 edition.

Dark amber, cristal clear, beautiful head though it dissipated quickly.

Smells malty but even the hops are present.

Malty, sweet, bitter... more bitter than I had expected from a barleywine.. and some more sweetness.

Quite drinkable, but it's quite a "full" beer and I'm not sure I would want to drink two in a row.

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

Thanks to JamnesCameron for the 2007 edition of this brew!

A: Dark mahogany brown.. hazy and thick like iced tea turned slushie. A good bit of yellowish tan head forming a soft blanket on top, which dissipated quickly.

S: A sticky sweet fruit flavor dominates.. Dried apricots, strawberry and apple. Then the hops.. bitter and earthy.

T: A nice surprise. Ripened fruit and a burnt caramelized flavor up front, which then fade into a bitter hops finish.. Ends with a bit of a mineral taste.

M: Thick, sweet, and sticky.

D: Definitely good. I thought this was going to be an overhopped mess from when I opened the bottle, but the sweetness really balances out the bitter hop flavor. Well done.

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Photo of zoso493
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a nice, deep coppery color with a one-finger head that disappears to leave a thin film over the top the beer.

Smell: Beautiful scent of strong, spicy hops, in-your-face sweet malts and some earthy grains.

Taste: Poweful sweet malts with a huge, but deliciously pleasant hop bitterness. This is excellent. For such a potent beer, it's so well-balanced and enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and not as heavy as you'd expect from the taste. The hop bitterness lingers for awihle, but in a good way.

Drinkabillity: As great as this beer is, I usually don't drink more than one or two at a time. As far as barleywines go, though, this is one of the more drinkable ones I've had.

Overall, this is one of my favorite brews and I always try to keep some in my fridge as long as they're available. It's got such powerful flavor without being overpowering, because it's so superbly balanced. I'm enjoying one with breakfast right now, if that's any indication of how good this beer is. Especially given the fact that it's so affordable, this is an outstanding brew.

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Photo of BeerForMuscle
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nice dark amber shade. Lumpy tan head.

S - This one smells wonderful. You get spicy hop aroma, fruity notes and citrus, and earthy grains in your nose.

T - Huge delicious hop flavor without being overly spicy or dry. Dark sugar, dired fruit and sweet sap are there as well. You can taste the alcohol in the finish. The combination of loads of hops, and plenty of sweet and earthy tastes make this brew complex and enthralling to the tastebuds.

M - This beer is so smooth and appeases the mouth. Not too carbonated, not too dry, not too sweet, not overbearing with alcohol flavor even amidst the high abv.

D - I'm not sure there is another beer with this abv that is as easy to drink. Bigfoot is super creamy smooth and packed with huge flavors. More than one is needed to get your fill of this brew.

Notes - I got a 6 pack of this stuff just to try something new and didn't realize what i was about to get into. I hadn't read up on it prior to my purchase and I was blown away. This beer has it all...huge flavor, complexity, drinkability and alcohol! One of my favorites for sure. Too bad it's hard to come by.

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Photo of WeedKing4
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 edition. Pours a very dark amber, somewhat clear. Tastes very malty and is quite full. Had a tough time finishing this beer myself. I suppose I was half in the bag by this point though. Its a decent beer, but again, its very damn full. Will probably stay away from this one. Was expecting more of a hop taste based on the previous reviews.

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Photo of bonsreeb85
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

A - color is a deep dark, dense and murky tawny/cherry oak. frothy head leaves sticky lacing but after an initialy good showing from a hard pour, reduces to mere film. this is exceptable given the strength of the brew.

S - oh boy! this is fantastic. oh-so-sweet candied fruits, cherry, tangerine, blueberries, righ malty toffee and caramel and plenty of floral and juicy citrus hops -very dank. this could be the holy grail of noses(at least from what i've been lucky enough to try)I wish i could pick out ALL of the nuances.

T - everything in the nose comes through and lingers like port wine. very bitter ending

MF - full-bodied and smooth, sort of rolls over the tongue.

D - IMO this is the benchmark for hop-forward Amer. BWs

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Photo of DerBayer
3.46/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is NOT and English Barleywine the way i know it but more like a Double IPA Americano style. Now I do like a number of DIPAs I ve tried such as Great Divide most notably but I thought that the brutal hop bitterness and very dry aftertaste was clashing with my concept of a Barley Wine - one of my all time favourite styles.

The malty-fruity sweetness of the style waas just all but overpowered by the hops which left me craving some J W Lees - sorry Bigfoot lovers

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,579 ratings