Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,605 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: 7,605 |  Reviews: 3,098
Photo of jsapunor
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an Old Guardian glass. Nice dark golden color with a tight, foamy head. Nice lacing.

The smell is of piney hops, some molasses and dark fruits with alcohol mixed in.

The taste shows just what a wonderfully balanced beer this is. The hops, malt, molasses and sugar flavors compliment each other beautifully with the alcohol lurking in the background. The flavors keep playing on the palate as you drain the glass.
The mouthfeel speaks of nice carbonation. Extremely smooth and easy to drink. It's also easy to overdo given the ABV. I had one of these on draft about four years ago and the bartender said it was 12%. That was noticably different from the bottle that is the subject of this review but both were great.

This was the first barleywine I ever tried and I keep coming back to it year after year. It's a sad day when it disappears from the shelves.
I'd like to take the expert's advice and age one but so far I have lacked the discipline.

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

Appearance: A finger of head that is tan in color. Dark amber color beer. There is some lacing.

Smell: A great deal of sweet malt smell. There is definitely some hop presence here with a strong smell of grapefruit.

Taste: Wow there is a great deal of hop flavor in this beer. I am tasting a lot of grapefruit. The beer also starts out with a malt flavor and ends with a bitter taste. There is some nice balance here and the alcohol is definitely well hidden.

Mouthfeel: Really smooth tasting with a pretty large body but not quite full bodied. This beer has a solid amount of carbonation. It is on the lower side of carbonation.

Drinkability: This is one of the few beers that I stock up on. I mean I cannot session it or anything, but wow this is a good beer. This beer is surprisingly smooth for 9.6% abv.

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

Re-review. Original posted below.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into oversized snifter, 2009 vintage.

A - Translucent brown with hints of red mixed in. Cola colored. Two fingers of light brown head rise with decent retention. Minimal lacing.

S - A good deal of piney hops mingle with a strong caramel/brown sugar malt profile. Raisins, toffee, dark fruit, dark bread, nuts, and hints of anise and mace are evident as well. Alcohol-laden note on the back end with suggestions of citrus peel and black pepper.

T - Quick pine note at first followed by the complex malt profile. Lots of raisins, covered with caramel and toffee though the sweetness remains restrained due to the massive influx of hops. Anise like notes bounce in and out of soft brown sugar and indistinct dark fruit flavors. Mid to late palate the fruity flavors drop off. A dark bitter bread character persists in the background, but the hops take the stage with near vegetal flavors and bitter herbs. Some citrus peel works its way in but mostly notes from tea, mint, cardamom, perhaps rosemary(?) dance with a very noticable alcohol component. Bitterness grows and crescendos in the aftertaste with an earthy flavor.

M - On the light side of full bodied with a moderate to low carbonation.

D - A sipper to be sure, however this stuff begs to be drunk quickly. Near perfect marriage of lots of hops and lots of malt. My major complaint is the obviousness of the alcohol which keeps the flavor from carrying on flawlessly. Still, a great beer at a great price.


Original Review from 9.29.08

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into oversized snifter. 2007 Vintage. Consumed slightly below room temperature.

A - 4.5 - Dark, cola-colored brown with some transparency on the edges. A nice half inch of brown head rises with decent retention for the style. Decent lacing as well.

S - 4.0 - Very minty and piney hops ride a huge caramel/brown sugar sweetness with expected dark fruits in the background. A faint roastedness lingers as well.

T - 4.5 - Sweet malt is evident with big brown sugar and a little bit of burnt/roasted character. The hop flavor makes its entrance after the sweetness has settled some, with pine being the most obvious flavor and citrus in the background. Roastedness prevails late palate and finishes with a moderate bitterness. While I don't think the malt component even touches the English version of the style, the hops flavor is much more harmonious than other American versions I've had.

M - 3.5 - While aroma and taste increased as the beer warmed, the mouthfeel definitely worsened. A light carbonation with the medium-ish body worked well, but the warmer the brew gets it seems to thin out more than I would prefer for the style and the carbonation is next to nihl.

D - 4.0 - For a relatively intense beer this is at least an easy sipper. Great flavor and the hops aren't too loud in this one.

Overall: 4.25

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

2010 version--as of october, drinking well, the hops are not too abrasive but the brew still comes together well. getting back on the bandwagon and wishing i'd bought more than 12.

after just a few months in the fridge i'm finding the 09 bigfeet have seemed to have lost some carbonation. very odd, but bottle after bottle seems to confirm it. and despite the constant refrigeration, the hops are falling pretty flat too. (overall this is now down to about a 4.0 rating beer) maybe significant age will bring out other charms, but for now i'm thinking drink these right away.

bigfoot 09
nearly through a case so time to review.
4.5 (from 5) beautiful deep amber with hints of ruby. sticky head leaves lace everywhere. viscous enough to entertain you as it coats the glass when swirled.
4.5 potent citrus, pine, and catnip (chinook) hops and biscuity malt, now the hops again. as it warms there's a boozy stage where alcohol takes front and center, then the sweet maltiness starts to take over.
4-4.5 three beers in one. i drink the first 1/3 cold for the delicious hop bite, aroma, and heavy vibrance. the chinooks are key here. the next third plays tag, dodgeball, and a few other playground games with your palate as various traits emerge and recede. the alcohol is fighting to take over, but ultimately loses to the malt and hop flavor--the third phase has begun. sip slowly at this point, and bow silently when the glass is finally emptied.
4.5 the viscosity is just right, the carbonation ideal as well so long as you don't pour aggressively.
4 (down from 5) not just a beer i'm willing to have again. a beer that makes me sad when i realize the supply is other than infinite.
a lot of people claim bigfoot is best aged, but damnit fresh is where it's at!
inspired live rock concert vs. neutered elevator soundtrack instrumentals.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
3.43/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2009 Tasted Fresh

Aroma - Floral and Piney hops

Appearance - Red/Amber well carbonated light brown head that hangs on for a while. Really nice appearance.

Taste - Piney hops and alcohol. Sticky hop oil. A sweet maltiness is in there a little. This beer settles into a balanced beer with those hops still taking center stage. A little more malt would have been more to my liking. Those hops are still a kick in the end.

Mouthfeel - Pretty thick and chewy.

Drinkability - This alcohol and hops makes this a once in a year treat.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Popped a 2009. Nice slight beige head on a deep amber brew. Fair lacing.

Big grapefruit rind hop aroma with a whiff of malt. A second smell brings in the alcohol.

Big hops up front, then nicely balanced toasted malt sweetness finishing with some decently hidden booze bite. You know what you are drinking here. Flavors are a bit raw, but should mellow over time.

Fair carbonation but really decent body. Nothing too chewy or over the top, but just right.

Overall, this went down very easy for 9.6%, almost as if I had no idea that it was that strong. One of the easiest drinking barleywines I've ever had. Gonna lay some bottles down and revisit.

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

2009 into a sniffer

A- A little cloudy, Dark Amber, Reddish Brown, Copper. Pretty hard to see through. good size off-white/very light tan head and nice white lacing on the glass.

S- Maltness, mostly hops, some alochal sweetness,

T- Initially I get a little malt but nice really hoppy bitterness in the middle, but also a good balance of malt in there too with a sweet alcohal flavor in the end. A little boozy, and I like it.

M- Full body, nice and clean, good moderate carbonation, not too much, not too little.

D- These are so tasty, I could drink a ton of em. But the ABV says "no you don't!" Tee hee

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Photo of BZero007
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage
Friend of mine brought this brew to the beach this weekend and I have to say I feel priviledge to have had a bottle.

Pours a amber color with a copper hue to it. Head forms very nice but leaves quickly. Tiny lace is left threw the glass. Aroma is of a citrus floral combination, niether out do each other and compliment each other very well. Very hoppy with a nice malt background that keeps the hops from getting out of control. Some brews that are overly hopy can dry out your taste buds or just conquer all other flavors, this brew keeps that from hapening. Not sure how but it does and fresh it is very good. The beer is not overly carbonated and the alcohol level does not knowkc you off your feet. I can see my self drinking this a few times a session. Looking forward to aging and getting my hands on a aged brew. As I have read many posts saying the taste can differ greatly with this particular brew.

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Photo of meatmallet
3.64/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a murky reddish brown with a huge cream head. The head left lacing all up and down my glass.

Smell: Grapefruit, hops, and citrus. Overall the smell is very balanced and fresh.

Taste: Bitterness of the pine flavored hops hits me first. Has a good alcohol taste throughout. Finishes with a malt and a nice alcohol burn. The taste is better than it smells.

Mouthfeel/drinkability: Feels thick and creamy in the mouth. Has a 9.6 ABV but is easy to drink.

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Photo of hckyfn9999
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 edition. Pours an amber color with about a finger of tan colored head. Aroma is strong of citrusy hops and some caramel as well with a touch of fruit.

Loads of hops in here. More than any barley wine I have ever had. More like an IIPA, and thats fine with me. Sharp citrus and pine flavors from the hops. A bit of caramel and toasted malt are present in the background. Medium to Medium full body. Alcohol is pretty well hidden. Very good beer.

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

12oz bottle poured into pint glass. 2009 edition.

A - Pours a deep amber with a small beige head. Very beautiful color - someone else said mahogany...I agree. Head quickly dissipates.

S - Floral hops, earth, raisin, roasted malts. Not an overpowering hop smell like many other SN beers. Aroma is not very strong, but it is nice.

T - Rich roasted malt followed quickly by a bitter hop presence. Spices and citrus slightly apparent. Finishes slightly bitter, but not overpoweringly bitter, with a hint of alcohol.

M - Heavy body, medium carbonation. Lots to explore - feels nice.

D - Lots to love - doesn't feel like a 9.6% ABV beer. Great taste and although heavy, not too heavy to make you stop drinking. Certainly could have a few.

An excellent beer from SN - worth checking out! May get better with age reducing the hop character to become more balanced...but also fantastic right now if you like hoppy beers (I do).

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Photo of carp420
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 25th anniversary bottle->imperial pint glass

deep hazy mohagany in color with a foamy full finger head that leaves quickly but lays over the beer all the way down and laces quite nicely

has a wonderful malty aroma, dark grapes with the slightest amount of hops and yeast, nice earthy smell

very tasty libation, smells of malted fruit, mainly grapes, some spicyness and the hops have faded but are still there somewhat but would probably be gone in another year.

some slight carbonation that i'm sure would fade with age as well

fills out the mouth quite nicely and lingers on the tongue forever.

i can have a few bigfoots in a sitting, but any more than that and it feels like ole bigfoot will stomp a hole in your ass

i had the 2009 a few months back and the hops were very present, after only a year of aging, the malt and sweetness are very prevalent. love this beer, was my introduction to barleywines and i can't wait till winter to drink the few i've stocked up.

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

2009 vintage, poured into an 8 oz snifter.

A - Deep amber color, with a light tan head. The head fades fairly quickly into a lacing.

S - Fairly assertive malt backbone with strong hop aroma: resiny and some citrus, with a fairly strong smell of alcohol.

T - Rich and malty up front, with nice hop character following it up. Spicy, resiny, and citrus notes in the hops, and finishes semi-dry with strong bittering and a lingering alcohol heat.

M - Full bodied and rich mouthfeel.

D - Drinkable for the style. I wouldn't have more than one of these in a sitting, but it's a delicious sipping beer.

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Photo of pandashaver
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Burgundy reddish brown body deep and translucent body, just showing some slight light through it. Good 1.5 finger initial white to off white head. Leaves gorgeous lacing as it dissipates to a thin white ring. Floral.

S - Earthy and hoppy, also smells of apples (granny smith?) and perhaps berries.

T - Upfront very sweet and dry with the malts. Heavily spiced, enhanced by the alcohol (which is very present as it warms). Bitter finish. Pine, especially in the finish.

M - Medium to thick, not creamy or watery really. Warming due to the high alcohol - I can see why it's a winter brew! Demolishes the palate, but in a good way. Sticky and resiny as it goes down. Long and satisfying warm/bitter finish.

D - Low, but this is my first barleywine and I'm guessing they are all sippers. An excellent drink on a cold night, or one one where you just want to relax in front of the TV or listening to some tunes. Have to be in the right mood.

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Photo of bobsy
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage - one sampled fresh and the other laid down for posterity to see how the aging effects this one.
Nice mahogany pour with a light tan couloured head, which exhibited good retention and lacing. Far more head than a regular barleywine, which is at least partially a result of its freshness. That very same freshness is apparent in an aroma that just screams hops. Grapefruit rind and pine bludgeon the nose, with some alcohol lurking in the background.

I've heard a lot of talk about how Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot tastes great fresh, nad while it can age does not necessarily gain anything, but instead changes in character. I can see that. Off the bat this is a very hoppy beer - intensely so - and I could imagine an aged version would be markedly different. The beer is dominated by a piney-citrus bitterness, but madeira sherry apsects are peaking out from underneath, and I'd like to see them become a bit more apparent, which I'm sure time will bring about. Right now it definitely feels slightly unbalanced, with the bitterness nary reigned in by a light pervading sweetness and hints of toffee. What this sweetness does achieve, however, is to take the sharpness off the bitterness to make it palatable and drinkable. As for the alcohol, its reasonably well-integrated, and doesn't make itself felt until a warming finish moves from the mouth to the stomach.

The residual sugars make for a syrupy body. Its a touch beyond the 'chewy' I ideally look for, but it is somewhat alleviated by an active, but soft carbonation.

I still prefer the english style of barleywine, but this is decent enough. Its more of a hop-bomb, and should be approached as such.

Thanks Bryan!

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

I've been curious to try this beer for a while, since I'm a fan of Sierra Nevada and barleywines in general. I wish it was more common and affordable here in Portland. It sounds like that's often the case in other places.

Nice looks from this ale. Rich amber in color, with a decent off-white head that leaves some lacing.

Wow, huge pine oil nose on this one. My wife doesn't like the hoppy beers, complaining they smell and taste like Pine-Sol. While I disagree with her on that point most of the time, I must say there are definitely some Pine-Sol similarities in the way this brew smells. I also detect a combination of roasted and sweet malts sneaking between the hops and the definite alcohol.

Hops dominate the flavor, but the surprisingly roasty malt backbone tries to balance it out. Malts are not overpowered, but this barleywine toes the line of being one dimensionally hoppy. Speaking of hops, this beer has some of the most bittering I've had in a while. And I drink a lot fo NW IPAs. Almost punishingly bitter... I thought I was strong but this is kicking my butt.

Mouthfeel is well suited for the style, slick and oily that sticks to your mouth on the loong bitter finish.

Overall, this is the kind of beer I love to love, but for some reason it's not floating my boat tonight. I wish I had a sixer of the stuff to see what some time would do for it. If you're going to give this brew a try, do something to hype yourself up for the hops.

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

2009 bottle poured into my Duvel tulip. This one comes out looking nice - a deep amber with a big off white head. Lacing is alright, but nothing to write home about. Big blast of pine and brown sugar in the aroma department. Lots going on in the taste - big bold flavors, like a malty sweet pine bomb. I'm liking this quite a bit as I work my way through it. Very nice medium to full mouthfeel. Drinks pretty fast for a big beer, but I think one or two will do it for tonight. Got 12 of these - six to drink this year, six to squirrel away. Love how accessible this barleywine is - will stock up each year!

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Photo of bsp77
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Bigfoot

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Red. Depending on the light, it can range from an almost pinkish-maroon to dark ruby. Very thin head but nice lacing.

Smell: Dark fruits (plum) and some alcohol. Grapefruit is also evident but the smell is really not too overpowering in the hop department, despite the upcoming assault on my taste buds.

Taste: Begins with expected Barleywine profile (fruit, toffee, caramel) before being quickly overtaken by a strong spicy and grapefruit bitterness, which lasts long after taking a sip.

Feel: Somewhat thick and chewy, with moderate carbonation. Slightly warming.

Drinkability: Tastes great, but very alcoholic and unbelievably bitter. Slow sipper and I really don't want more than one.

I am excited to try this again after sitting in my basement for a year. Note: Now that I have tried it with some age, I bumped the drinkability score.

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Photo of beerbully
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a tulip glass
appearance-1/2 inch head with good lacing
smell-similar too a DIPA sweet smelling somewhat citrusy
taste-somewhat hoppy with some citrus notes and sweetness on the back end
feel- slick
drinkability-good despite the 9.6 ABV

solid barleywine that I'll be visiting time again

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

Poured into a pint glass with a off-white head and a Deep reddish amber color. Thick lacing and a nice rocky head.

smell is chinook hops and a deep barley so much quantity of scent here.

Tastes hugely of domestic hops and a rich almost ridiculous barley backbone. There is a lot to deal with here and I can't say that I can even do it justice but I get chinook hops and a array of different malt characters.

Mouth is on the heavy end of medium with a big carbonation and an oily and viscous mouthfinish. Drinks suprisingly fast for this large beer.

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Photo of slk22
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Color is garnet with a cream head that quickly dissipated. Medium lacing on glass. The aroma of this beer is huge. Fruit is very noticeable up front with white and red grapes and plum. Caramel malt is present as well as a hint of alcohol. My limited nose is probably not doing this beer justice as it seems quite complex. The flavor of this thing is also huge beginning with plum, ruby grapefruit, caramel malt. A hint of alcohol provides a nice warming sensation. The bitterness of the hops comes through in the end having a grapefruit citrus flavor. The taste is well balanced, although bitterness lingers a bit on the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation. This beer was very enjoyable although the high ABV (9.6%) makes it hard to have more than one or two.

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Photo of PatronWizard
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It seems my first Bigfoot will be a fresh 2009. Grabbed a sixer from a shoddy little liquor store.

Pours a very nice copper on fire shade of burgundy. Big fat head of cream and bubbles. Crazy retention. Looks pretty frickin good people.

Smells like a delicious IPA. Moderately strong hop presence on top of something else. Something buried deep under that head.

Big bitter hop burn in the bite. Yep. Good flavor but seems rather one dimensional at this point. Time for an aging experiment.

Medium to full body, smooth. Very likable. I think I'll try to cellar one of these. But 'twas not to be - all six have gone the way of Burgie.

Overall: big, good, want more

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

Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. 2009 bottle.

A: Pours dark amber with about a finger and half of light yellow head. I can slightly see my fingers through the glass on the other side so it is pretty opaque.

S: There is a strong smell of hops. I get a smell of oranges, it just has a overall citrusy smell. Smells similar to their Pale Ale to me.

T: It starts out kind of nutty. followed by the bitterness of orange and pine flavored hops. Alcohol is easily noticed throughout the sip. Finishes with a nice touch of maltyness and a nice smooth burn of alcohol. The taste is somewhat surprising to me from the original smell, I got a lot more flavors tasting it compared to smelling it.

Overall: Pretty darn good. And for 9.99 a sixer it will definitely be in the regular rotation.

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Photo of IMincedTheKing
3.46/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A random guy at the liqour store recommended this but said it was out of season. A little bit later, however, I saw a make-your-own-sixer hidden behind a six-pack of Brooklyn and noticed the word "Bigfoot" on the neck. I think someone was trying to hide the last few of these, but I snagged one. 2009 vintage.

It pours chestnut with an off-white head. Sticky walls of lacing.

The aroma is dominated by hops. Sweet malts back up the hops.

Citric hops on the palate with strange fruit undertones. Sweet malts try to balance out the bitterness, but the hops overpower everything. Because of the malts that do shine through, I find it both too sweet and too bitter that the same time.

The high ABV definitely cuts into the drinkability score for this one.

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Photo of drumrboy22
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle. Poured into Dogfish Head snifter. Copper color with a one-finger, thick, tan head. Heavy lacing around the glass.

Aroma was heavy citrus hops, nuts and toffee.

Taste was bitter hops mixed with a sweet, malty backbone. Long bitter finish.

Let this one warm up to get all of the different flavors. Great fresh, but definitely changes over time. Enjoy now or later.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,605 ratings