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 RedBrewer83
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage aggressively poured into tulip...

A: Pours a dark amber body with a huge four finger head, almost looks like its not gonna fall, but ever so slowly it falls leaving excellent sticky thick webbed lacing behind. Head is creamy and frothy off white, gorgeous appearance!

S: Huge tropical fruit and crisp hoppy nose. Grapefruit, lime, tangerine, pineapple, toasted bread, faint booziness, nice caramel malt profile in the middle that seems to blend everything together. Very nice, if it jumped out of the glass a little more I would bump it up a little more...

T: Very tropical like the nose, but the hoppy citrus and grassyness really comes through along with the booze, very big but not overpowering or overwhelming. Caramel malt profile mid palate is very nice and as in the nose it really brings everything together. Grapefruit lingers in the finish leaving it dry and crisp...Very well balanced!

M: Medium heavy body with crisp carbonation that wakes up the tastebuds and keeps the flavors moving but doesn't overpower. Booze comes through big, but not too harsh.

D: Definitely want to drink this slow and enjoy the flavors, but it is pretty drinkable, can't wait for this to relax a bit and meld even more...give it six months.

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Photo of polygman
3.63/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2009 Vintage, drank on 12/21/09.

Poured into a tulip, a dark woody amber color, offwhite tan head. An awesome looking BW. Great head retention, a loose speckily lace over the glass. The head just sat in lumps throughout the session, awesome appearance.

Smells very hoppy, with fruits, pineapple and hints of ripe dark fruits. So fruity though almost smells like an IPA. Outstanding really.

Big hop bite to this one, as to be expected from SN. Any sweetness at first is pretty much drowned out by the bitterness. Although getting better as it warms, a nice caramelly sweet taste.

Very velvety and smooth. Wonderful mouth-feel.

I really liked this beer, an outstanding hoppy barleywine. I cant wait to try this one with some age on it. Hops should clean up really well with some time.

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Photo of DanOLeary
3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Aroma: Surprisingly up front is a moderately strong citrus hop aroma. Like grapefruit and orange peel. Subtle malts are present in the aroma with some melanoidin character, as well as a hint of alcoholic spice.

Appearance: A crystal clear ruby red that in a way borders on burnt orange. There is a small amount of sediment left in the bottle, but if this is a bottle conditioned beer it pours incredibly clear. During the pour a thick, three-fingered head formed. It faded reasonably slowly to a short and creamy off white head, though a great deal of lacing is left behind on the glass.

Flavor: Caramel malt sweetness greets the tongue at first but is quickly pushed away with assertive citrus hop bitterness that dominates the tongue and overall flavor. The oily hop character lasts into the center of the flavor profile before the beer finishes with an assertive and spicy alcoholic bite. The hops come back again once more with the bite of grapefruit rind.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with high carbonation, like pin pricks across your tongue. There is a slight stickiness in the middle but this is quickly dried out with hop bitterness before the beer finishes with a warming, in fact quite a hot alcoholic presence. In the finish there is a strong emphasis of this alcoholic presence, but the hops really come back again with a resin like character. There's quite a tenacious bitterness throughout.

Overall: This is an extremely hoppy example of a Barley Wine Style Ale. If Sierra Nevada had written "Double IPA" on the bottle instead, I'd be convinced it was such. For a Barley Wine I feel this is overly hopped and doesn't have the malt richness I expect to back it all up. The hop bitterness dominates the palate, the flavor and the nose. For a Barley Wine where hop bitterness may be moderately strong to aggressive, it misses the mark on the fact that there is very little malt character. You really have to look for it to find the barley. This beer doesn't just lean toward hops, it stands upon them.

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Photo of northaustin
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pours a classic dark amber/red with a finger and a half of bubbly off white head.solid lacing.

smell: super sweet malts hidden behind big hops and alchohol.

taste: matches the smell but with less alchohol. a nice mixture of big citrus hops, crystal malts and a bit of yeast make up the flavor of this classic barleywine.

mouthfeel: very oily, syrupy

drinkability: perfect for me.

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. Vintage 2009.

The Bigfoot pours a amber red color with a quick dissolving 1 finger fizzy head and some lacing. Smells of malts, vinegar, and sweet caremel. No hops are noticed in the nose. Taste is mostly malts and fruits up front, with lots of sweetness and not much alcohol comparing to other barley's. The finish is raisins as well as a hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel is full bodied and there is a crispness. Overall, quite an impressive barleywine from SN. It is well known that these do very well with some cellaring which I am looking forward to trying some with a few years under its' belt.

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Photo of Mosley1212
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - brown/copper color with a white head with great retention all down the glass

S - Malty with a hint of caramel and toffee. Very sweet, delicious smell

T - Biting alcohol taste at first. Once you swallow the taste is overly sweet. No middle ground with this beer it seems

M - Beer has quite a bite to it. The after taste makes this beer worth drinking, but the initial sip isn't pleasant for me.

D - I could have one, maybe two of these on occasion, but it's certainly not something I could drink every night.

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Photo of nickadams2
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A_ Deep copper brown with a white head. Nice retention and thick lacing.

S_Malt,caramel,toffee and hops.

T_ Follows perfectly with the smell with a nice hop bitterness that balances perfectly.

M_ Thick and creamy and a little sticky. Thick but easy to drink.

D_ Easy to polish off the whole sixer. Very easy drinking "Big Beer"

NOTES: If you like double bastard (who doesn't?) you will without a doubt like this.

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Photo of californiakulak
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just bought a bottle of 2010 Bigfoot from Wholefoods.

A. This beer is a dark reddish brown color. Huge head and lots of thick lacing.

S. Stong malty smell. Almost doughy. Caramel and toffee.

T. Wonderful beer. Lots of hop bitterness with an excellent malt flavor. Tastes like a Sierra Nevada beer. Lots of hops. It also has a wonderful boozy taste.

M. Warming. Thick anad smooth. Medium carbonation and a bitter bite.

D. Way too drinkable. A six pack could go down easily if you are not careful. My favorite barleywine in the world.

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

Sierra Nevada 2009 Bigfoot Barley Wine Style Ale

Glass- Riedel 6416/07

A- Bright, clear, dark copper. Expansive, fine bubbled foam, thick and dark beige. Good looking brew.

S- Malt, grapefruity hops, alcohol.

T- Big, rich malt. The tons of bitter, grapefruity hoppiness is a bit out of balance. ABV apparent. Long, lingering finish.

M, D- The malt is just at the sweetness point, but well short of sticky. The attack is divided among the malt, hops, and ABV, with the hop bitterness dominating the finish. Good flavors, but the heavy hop level keeps the drinkability down for me. Fairly high CO2, but it integrated well.

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Photo of FoodBlog
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a 2008 bottle. A bit hoppy for the style, in my opinion, but overall a valiant effort at producing the true "champagne of beers".

Aromas of freshly cooked waffles hit you before your first sip. The miniscule bubbles do not do much in the glass, but they blanket the tongue in an effervescent welcome. Definitely sweet, but balanced (perhaps overly) with an abundant dose of hops. The subtle fruitiness I like in Barley Wine (at least the ones I make) is diminished in the hoppiness. Still, flavors of caramel and maderized fruit make their way into the flavor profile.

This beer would definitely be the one to have with a nice after dinner cigar, and perhaps some lamb stew or beef with blue cheese. I used it to braise some Honey Mustard Spare Ribs, and it was perfect for that. Some might consider it a waste of great beer, but all cooks I know like to use good wine and spirits when cooking, and good beer should be given the same honor. I bet this would be a perfect way to cook some corned beef and cabbage.

Overall, I will definitely return to this beer over time, since it is so unique.

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Photo of MeisterBurger
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle.

Pours a dark, lightly chill-hazed rusty color topped by a substantial, creamy light beige head. Laces and retains amazingly.

If, like me, you have an unquestioning love of beers dry-hopped with citrusy west coast c-hops then this is the barleywine for you. Simply awesome. And yet underneath this lurks some wonderfully rich caramel notes with hints of chocolate.

The taste is a deep, richly sweet caramel malt quickly met by a massive punch of grapefruit pith and piney bitterness. This is beyond full flavored. Licorice notes and pepper are present at well. Definitely far more bitter than any barleywine I have ever had. Alcohol is present and warming but not in the least bit overpowering and well hidden by the tongue-slapping bitterness.

Mouthfeel is slick, chewy and a little syrupy but a goodly amount of carbonation helps lift that from the palate.

This is far more bitter than I anticipated, which makes it a very intense and interesting experience, but this isn't one I could drink more than a bottle of in any one sitting.

I picked up a sixer of this and I'll lay down at least three. I'd like to see how this is once the bitterness fades and the flavors meld. To be honest I can't even begin to fathom what will happen in a couple years time. Not in the least.

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

2006 bottle, rated Sep 2, 2007. My first barleywine so nothing to compare it to. A unique brew, quite complex...I may not be quite ready for this but here goes.

Pours a dark amber, very murky. Tiny head that is gone in a blink of an eye. No lacing.

Aroma of some fruit (pear), piney hops, caramel and some molasses.

Flavor is quite strong, more hops, malt, caramel, molasses, some chocolate. Rather sweet. I'm sure there is more here, too.

Initially was moderately carbonated, but as I get further into the glass, there is not really any carbonation left at all. Syrupy mouthfeel, but not quite chewy. You taste some alcohol, but it is not overbearing.

There is a lot going on with this brew, and I will definitely have to try some other barleywines.

Aroma 3/5, Appearance 3/5, Taste 3.5/5, Palate 4/5, Drinkability 3.5/5


2010 bottled 12/30/2009, reviewed Feb 5, 2010. My first Bigfoot since my original review 2.5 years ago, although I've had a number of barleywines since then. Pours copper/red in a nonic with a large 3+ finger fluffy and rocky very light beige head which maintains a foamy cap and leaves clumps of sticky lacing. Sure doesn't look like a normal barleywine.

Aroma is sweet, fruity, cherry, citrus and earthy hops, caramel malts.

Flavor is predominantly sweet, cherry and other dark fruits, caramel malts, earthy resinous hops that bring some bitterness, also a bit of a Robitussin character, ahhh yes, the alcohol, you taste and smell it but it doesn't burn.

Mouthfeel is full, rich, rather carbonated. The big foamy head threw me off at first, but I understand this is quite fresh, and will save most of these for a year or more. Even fresh, 2010 Bigfoot is very enjoyable, I'll have to enjoy at least one more soon.

Aroma 3.5/5, Appearance 3.5/5, Taste 4/5, Palate 4/5, Drinkability 4/5

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bigfoot is hazy with the dark copper of an old penny and orange highlights. A modest, creamy almond head quickly turns rocky as it leaves pronounced rings of lace on the Hoegaarden snifter.

Strong, dried figs and sweet molasses are accompanied by spruce, floral hops and some grapefruit. This one reveals raisins and brandy as it warms.

After nearly three years in the bottle, Bigfoot still puts forth a strong bitter and alcohol profile. Primarily spicy, including pepper, this one has a long, pulsating bitter finish.

A warming, medium-bodied beer with a dry, oily texture and hint of metallic notes.

As expected, this is a sure sipper with a sharp alcohol bite. The hops are aggressive, never allowing the palate to rest. This is a one-shot classic, definitely worthy of the experience but hard to consume none-the-less.

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

09 bottle, right at one year old,into a pint glass.

dark amber color, nice big head, very sticky retention.

Piney resin, woody, hoppy.

Piney Hops are first in line, but not far behind is that malt sweetness holding this in check, keeping it pretty balanced,
But the Hops are still winning the battle a bit. A bit of alcohol flavor from the 9.6%. damp earthy-ness.

sticky, creamy, sticky, burn, coating. Bold.

A good beer, and one of the best Barleywine values, but not one that knocks me to off my feet. That said, i always want to buy a case, to age and explore. worth the price any day, any week.

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Photo of SurferJ
4.16/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot Barley Wine
It's 2009 but no date stamp

Nice brown red color. garnet and ruby. A little cloudy in the middle, but lively cherry colors around the edges. Head retains a light brown color with islands floating as it breaks up. Leaves lacing around the sides.

Pretty simple here, little complexity. Like taking a big whiff of a jar of honey. Deeper down a bit of roasted malt aroma. Some floral hops and a bit of pine.

Hops and dark fruit and a little alcohol heat. Like a candied fruit cake soaked in booze. Then bitter comes through with a bit of pine, giving way to sweet and sticky honey pot. Finishes with a lingering bitterness and a bit of a medicine and dark fruit taste.

A little heavy and chewy. Light carbonation.

Very drinkable for a 9.6%. Especially now I'm almost at the end of it, I have a little buzz but not feeling overwhelmed. The bitterness clears the pallet nicely.

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

This is only my 2nd Bigfoot, brewed in 2009 probably close to 8 months old. Poured into a pint glass.

A) Nice reddish-amber, thick off-white head with tons of lacing

S) caramel, hops, fruit, floral, pineapple -- really nice.

T and M) Mild, smooth, chewey. Dark fruits stand out at first, but there is a large hops presence as well. Some pine, floral, and citrus. There is a bit of a harsh bite at first, but as it sits it mellows out. A hoppy barleywine. The dark fruit taste is present but not as strong as some others. Mellow. Balanced. Yum.

D) Good. 1 bottle is enough, especially at almost 10% ABV. But a nice tasty treat, one to seek out. Maybe next time I'll have the willpower to let it age even longer.

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Photo of manahansf
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear and light brown color with highlights of copper. The head is creamy and thick with an off white color which gives off a bold aroma of sweet grains and a hint of earthy hops. The body is as big and bold as the aroma with low levels of carbonation. The semi-viscous body of the beer is sweet and malty with a comfortable background of hop flavors. The finish is also malty and sweet but the bitterness becomes more pronounced as the brew ends with a touch of alcohol flavor.

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Photo of marksweiner
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

cracked open a 2009 Barleywine after I had a John Barleycorn to compare to. had a couple left over in the fridge from a sixer I bought back in February. By far by favorite and my baseline for judging all American Barleywines. look forward to having the 2010 along with my remaining 2009.

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Photo of SiepJones
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot 2009

Sierra Nevada was the brewery that got me into craft beer, Bigfoot 07 was my introduction to "big" beers late in 2008. I looked forward to sampling 2009 while it was fresh, and then keeping some to drink in the future. Served in a red wine glass Bigfoot has a dark copper color with a half inch head that leaves a nice pasting on the sides of the glass. The scent of the beer provides a strong nose of carmel malts and citrusy hops. Bigfoots flavor is a complex mix of malty/citrus with a crisp hops finish. The beers body has a chewy mouthfeel with good carbonation. Bigfoot is a very drinkable barleywine at 9.6%, it tastes great and warms the stomach on those cold winter nights.

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

This is my first voyage into the world of Barleywines.

Sierra Nevada 2009 Bigfoot Ale, poured into my Moretti Chalice.

The appearance is a cherry amber color with very little head.

The smell is very pleasant, pine, citrus and slight caramel/toffe dominates this one

Taste - the taste I would describe as a double IPA on steroids, great hops & malt balance, with slight pine flavor and an aftertaste of sweet caramel

This one is emminently drinkable even at 9.6% ABV, goes down rather smooth - big bodied, the alcohol is hidden rather well, a nice brew for those cold winer days.

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

A stubby 12 ounce bottle of 2006 Expedition poured into my Sierra Nevada shaker glass. The ale appears a cloudy crimson chestnut color with barely an inch of light rust colored foam. Nose and flavor consist of molasses, raisins, caramelized malts, quite bitter to say the least, floral perfume-y hops, still a bit of alcohol heat, resinous pine. Medium bodied with ample carbonation with a lingering bittersweet finish. A great hoppy (understatement) Amer. Barleywine.

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Photo of jsh420
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 edition

pours murky amber orange with a 1+ finger head that sticks around

smell - still the hops take center stage after a year

taste is good - upfront hops pine ane citrus - it has plenty of malt but it will take a few more years to balance out

mouthfeel is medium to heavy kinda sticky

drinkability - well if you can handle dipa's you will love this beer in the winter

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