Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
7,520 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:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 02-06-1998

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 7,520 |  Reviews: 3,067
Photo of sevopie
3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Brilliant amber/ruby color with a beautifully rocky off-white/tan head. One of the most beautiful looking beers ever.

Smell - Some sweet citrusy hops are clearly evident, with a small dose of caramel malts hiding in there as well.

Taste - This one is hoppier than the beast that is celebration. Celebration walks the fine line of beauty, this one crosses it. There's also a lot of candy sweetness in here as well, with the caramel malt not hiding at all. Overall, I think things were a little too overpowering to be perfect, with that slight hint of alcohol greeting you under the bitter/sweet blend. Then again, it is a 10% barleywine.

Mouthfeel - This one just about gets about it right. Creamy, oily smooth, with a good blend of carbonation.

Drinkability - The alcohol becomes more prevalent as it warms, and the overwhelming nature of the flavors detract some from overall drinkability. As a whole though, its a very solid brew, and a damn bargain at $11 for a sixer.

 988 characters

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

2009 bigfoot.

A: Over a finger of creamy beige head; body is a reddish-brown and amber mixture with copper tones along the edges. Beautiful head retention that refuses to leave me. I've been nursing this beer for an hour and the head is still sticking at the very top of the glass. So incredible.
S: Heavy herbal aromas with the pine that is reminiscent of Torpedo. Florals deeper in the aroma though not as strong as the other scents. Some hints of malts on the nose.
T: At first, the flavors include incredibly hoppy and bitter notes, including florals that just dominate my palate. The bitter flavor is someone charred or burnt at different points in the sip. There's a malty backbone that, in the beginning, provides an intense syrupy sweetness that balances the hop and bitter presence. Eventually this sugar shop sweetness just dominates, leaving the hops to cry for attention.
M: Heavy, syrupy body that is carbonated just right and leaves a ton of malty residue in my mouth.
D: This beer is tricky. It starts out so hoppy but the sweetness just completely takes over, making this beer wonderful for dessert. Next time, I'll split a bottle for after dinner--mostly because of the immense sweetness that pulls through. I'd love to know what this beer tastes like after a couple of years. Get it while you can!

 1,316 characters

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.3/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed 2/5/2008 (bottle):

Pours a red colored body, non-cloudy, with a small white head, diminishing. Has a very hoppy, sweet, bitter, sickly piney aroma. Alcoholy. Sweet, with some candy taste. Hops, some pine, malty. Drinkable. Less alcohol as it warms.

 258 characters

Photo of StrangeBrewer76
4.68/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

With many hundreds of reviews of this beer there is nothing but my personal experience with it that could be informative at all. Even my personal story is likely repeated here a few times chances are.

I bought a case thinking I would review one, drink a few and cellar the rest for next year knowing how well they age. As you may have guessed, that was not the case. I drank the first 23 in less than two weeks while also drinking other stuff. I went out of my way to buy really good beers so I would forget about the bigfoot. This also did not work. I tried keeping them warm (room temp) so I would be less tempted, but I found myself throwing 'just one' into the freezer but when I went to drink it, I determined it to be 'too cold' and instead of waiting for it to warm up, I had the genius idea of mixing it with a warm one.

This is the first beer that I have been addicted to in a literal sense. The only solution is to review this last one and wait until next year.

 973 characters

Photo of Duhast500
4.82/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass.

The color is a deep amber with a nice foamy white head. Has some nice lacing.

The smell of citrus hops, some caramel notes, and a hint of malt.

The taste is really nice. A good barely taste with some citrus hops feel, also has a bit of a suagry sweet taste with a bit of a bitterness in the background.

The best barleywine I have had. It will be touch to surpass this. Sierra Nevada has made a really great beer and continues to impress me.

 490 characters

Photo of Bigfatbino
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A = Extra-dark deep amber color, very tight bubble structure in the head. head from a 2 bottle pour into a 22oz glass beer mug produced a 3/4 inch head, which lasted for a very long time. Beautiful lacing in the glass.

S = Spicy Hoppy scent. smells like it tastes as far as bitterness is concerned. for the %ABV, there wasn't much raw alcohol smell. Aroma is almost flowery. I'd wear this as aftershave...

T = bitterness grips the side of my tongue and lingers a good 30 seconds or more. Flowery, spicy and intensely hoppy blend of flavors. a verry small astringency from the alcohol is detected, but the bitterness almost drowns it.

M = Damned near creamy in the first few sips with the nice head on top. heavy bodied. Once the head is mostly gone (it never really seems to fully dissipate), the mouthfeel is very full. Just a sip at a time thoroughly coats every taste bud.

D = Lookout! It is tempting to sip sip sip. It does taste good, but like cheesecake, for me it was very filling.

General Comments: Possibly the best smelling beer I've come across, with a taste and mouthfeel to nearly match. The %ABV is a drawback I feel since it is so powerful it can't really be enjoyed in great quantities except for Irish or Italian people! .... Wait.... I'm Irish-Italian...Pour me another! This brew would be best enjoyed alongside a sophisticated meal requiring a palate-cleanser. Possibly Duck, Oysters on the half shell, or perhaps a Beef Wellington. Food pairings aside, for tobacco aficionados, try enjoy with your fullest flavor cigar or a very strong aromatic pipe tobacco. This beer is an excellent palate cleanser. Given a choice...I would have a hard time choosing between this brew and my holiday party faithful choice of Chimay.

 1,745 characters

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

A: A deep brownish-orange with a tall, dense, foamy and creamy light tan head. Retention is impressive, and lacing is solid.

S: Some sweet caramel malt up front. Citric hop notes, mostly orange and grapefruit. A moderate alcoholic nose as well. I get some apple peel hints too.

T: Grapefruit and orange rind up front, giving a bitter start. A nice dose of sweet, sugary caramel malts throughout the body. Rather aggressive alcohol flavor towards the finish, along with another dose of pithy, citrus rind bitterness. Some piny flavors accompany the hops as well.

M: A touch light for the style. Rather crisp, given the carbonation and the aggressive hops and alcohol. A riding, biting dry bitterness into the finish.

D: Very tasty and extremely hoppy for the style. This drinks like a hybrid between a barleywine and a robust double IPA. A real sipper, given the relatively unmasked alcoholic nature.

 906 characters

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

A- Deep amber color with a huge off white head. Head is long lasting and leaves lots of lacing on the glass.

S- Noticeable aroma of grapefruit, hops and alcohol. Subtle notes of fruit, apple, and caramel that is pretty well hidden behind the hops.

T- Hop bitterness right away then some sweetness from caramel and malt balance this out. The bitterness carries through to the finish, which is dry slightly and astringent with alcohol esters and a second burst of the grapefruit hop bitterness.

M- Light in the mouth for a barley wine, medium carbonation. Somewhat viscous but no heavy aftertaste finishes dry and clean.

D- For a barley wine this is easy to drink. The 9.6% ABV is well hidden, but you will feel it's warmth after about three sips. Due to the strength you will probably not want more than one or two in a sitting.

Review is for the 2009 vintage. For a fairly fresh barley wine this is well done. I can't wait to see what this tastes like in a couple of months or a year or two. Buy a case and put some away for the future. In this economy it could be your best investment.

 1,092 characters

Photo of nc41
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have to admit my Barley Wine experience in very minimal so I'm hesitant to pass judgment. But this is a big Ale, massive in every respect with respect to flavor. I find it un balanced, and too sweet in the middle, could use more hop bitterness to round out the sweetness. I'm not sure what the IBU's are and I really don't care this one needs a little more bitterness, and a touch more effervescence, mouth feel for me is tricky, but this one is a little viscous because of the heavy malt. Very decent in most respects, but the possibilities... just missed a HR.

The above was for the 2009 Bigfoot. IMO the 2010 is much better. Bigger hop presence, nicely bitter, massive head that held to the very end. Smooth finish for such a big beer. This one a I really love, easily a solid A type brew.

 795 characters

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

I poured this one from a 12oz stubby brown bottle into a shaker pint glass. This was the 2009 vintage.

A= With an aggressive pour, this ale appeared a very clear dark copper color with a 2" fluffy white head. The head dropped to a 1/8" cap that retained all the way down and left loads of sticky sheet lace.

S= This ale was all fresh citrus hops in the nose. Some pine notes as well as a biscuity malt aroma in there too. Modest alcohol presence.

T= This one had a load of hop bitterness right from the start. Sticky pine and grapefruit ruled the roost for sure. Despite all those hops, there was a caramel and biscuit malt backbone always hovering underneath the hops. The end was quite dry with a touch of alcohol.

MF= Medium bodied with a prickly carbonation feel.

D= This is a very good beer, but I think its a bit young still. The hops are at a DIPA bitterness and aroma level now, and the alcohol is a bit over the top. I think that some age will mellow those hops and soften the alcohol a bit. Even so, this beer will be good at any stage of its life.

 1,064 characters

Photo of surfer4life
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tumber from a 12oz bottle.

A - Golden brown with a small head, although dark still has some transparency. Average Lacing.

S - Sweet caramel and apples, cloves and raisins. Wonderful malt aromas!

T - Small sweet taste in the front, which I expected to be a little sweeter as is the case with most barleywines. Some hoppy bitterness though, a lot more than I am used to with this style. A lot of the bitterness is similiar to grapefruit rinds. None the less it's spiciness and bitterness makes it complex and tasty!

M - Fairly heavy with a thick body. Higher carbonation that expected. Still syrupy though, coats the pallet nicely.

D - Very drinkable. I could have the a few more times, curious as to what it's like on tap or aged.

 750 characters

Photo of paco1029384756
4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle reviewed.

Pours a beautiful deep clear mahogany color with two fingers of white head.

Scent of caramel, dark fruits, sugars, hops, a hint of earth, and some alcohol. Nice and balanced with well hidden alcohol.

Taste of caramel, spices, piny hops, and sugars. Finishes dry with sugars and a hint of earth. A very good example of the American Barleywine style, and the best it's tasted of the vintages I have had to this point.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth with pretty strong carbonation.

 511 characters

Photo of Yetiman420
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

10 oz pour into a plan tulip glass. Served too cold.

First barleywine review from me. I've been aging a bunch in my cellar and am excited about experiencing this style.

A wonderful copper color that became spectacular when held against bar lights.

Some let down with the lack of aroma. Even as it warmed and I swirled, I couldn't pull much out. I was expecting more hop aroma.

Flavor was very smooth and balanced. I'm not sure if it was the bar aroma (non smoking) but it came out like the aroma. Nothing jumping out at you - just very smooth and well balanced.

It's probably not fair to make this comparison, but I had a Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearlthly on draft the night before. It may be the age of imperial IPA's have passed up barleywines for impressive punch (9% bigfoot to ~11% ST).

Overall a very nice entry point for me into the world of Barleywines. I'm very excited to cellar and experiment with these over time.

 937 characters

Photo of Shaw
4.68/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I inadvertently erased my first Bigfoot review with a review of an aged bottle. So I'm giving it another go!

Pours a deep copper in color with a sticky off-white head that leaves chunks of lace in my glass.

It's got that barleywine smell: Citrus hops mix with toffee and caramel notes and a hint of alcohol. Nice.

The taste is perfect. And I give very, very few 5's. This is what I think of when I think barleywine. It's bitter and malty with lots of hop flavors and a nice warming finish. It is not just a bitter beer: This has depth.

The body is thick and smooth and almost chewy with its heft.

This is one of my most favorite beers. I could drink nothing but this for the rest of my life.


(Previous review from 2/22/07 follows)

I bought a bottle of the 2006 vintage in Feb. 2007 at Beer World in Largo, Fla. I've never had an aged Bigfoot before. Let's see how it is.

Pours a very cloudy mahogany with a nice head that reduces but leaves nice lacing in my glass. (4.0)

It still has that great, complex barleywine aroma of hops, malt, caramel, biscuit, alcohol and more things I can't identify. (4.0)

Time has done little to this beer's taste. If anything, it's even more bitter and tannic than when it's young. Alcohol flavors compete with the sharp bitterness, overriding biscuit and caramel flavors from the malt. (4.0)

Like Rogue's barley wine, this beer is better young. It is by no means bad. But I find the fresher beer is even better. (3.5)

 1,466 characters

Photo of Spikester
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 version. Very little aroma most likely due to age. Pours very dark amber with a two finger light tan head. Lacings are plentiful. Taste is sweet roasted malts with a very full earthy hop bitterness. A hint of dark cocoa from the malts. Mouthfeel is very nice with moderate carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden by the full body. Very drinkable for the style. Will probably update or edit this review when I try the 2009 version in my beer fridge.

 453 characters

Photo of MickeyHops
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

3/1/09 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass (only clean glassware available...)

Deep amber appearance, one finger of off-white head.

Hoppy and sweet smell.

Wow, what a taste. Somewhat syrupy but hoppy, sweet, and delicious! To be sipped and savored.

Fairly heavy mouthfeel, yet still somehow refreshing. It demands attention and but is not completely overwhelming.

Overall, very drinkable, especially for a nearly 10% barleywine. This year's version seems slightly more balanced than previous years. Gotta be careful with this stuff, though, considering the ABV.

Be sure to check out the artwork on the bottle and 6 pack, pretty cool.

This is definitely worth a try for any fans of DIPAs.

 697 characters

Photo of gabe23
3.33/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a deep ruby red color with a billowy off-white head. Nice retention and lacing all over the place.

S - A slight malty sweetness, but mainly it's piney/citrus hops and alcohol. Definitely has the signature Sierra Nevada aroma.

T - I'm not an expert on barleywines by any means, but I've never had one this bitter. The hops assault the tongue immediately, then the alcohol kicks in and heats things up. I can't really detect much in the way of malt sweetness, except perhaps a bit at the finish. This seems more like a boozy DIPA to me.

M - Very heavy, thick body. The bitterness and heat from the alcohol really does a number on your taste buds.

D - I can't imagine drinking more than one of these. Just too unbalanced and boozy to make this a regular drinker for me. Glad I tried it, but also glad I didn't buy a sixer.

 833 characters

Photo of jeremyd365
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown-ambery with a foamy off-white head. The smell is a barley-malty-goodness. It's got a medium-heavy body and is already bitter in the mouth. It's flavor is delightful--barley malt and alcohol. Oh and then a pretty good hop BITE! Overall thick and flavorful and bitter--drinkable..but slowly. I haven't had a lot of barley wines but it was a pretty fun experience.

 380 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 01.07.09. Tasted on 03.01.09.

G: Oversized snifer.

A: Pours a very dark amber with a single-finger thick and creamy head. Lacing on the glass as it goes down. Not very transparent.

S: Strong, sweet malt with a hint of alcohol. Mild fruity smells.

T: Initial malt presence with the hops coming on shortly thereafter. The flavor comes out much more as it warms up. Not as complex as some other barleywines I've had, but still a very solid offering.

M: Medium-bodied and creamy. Alcohol hits the tip of the tongue and the beer is smooth as it goes down.

D: A nice drink that I'll definitely enjoy each year, but not one I'll plan on really stocking up on--maybe one to grab a few bottles of each year to see how it changes.

 738 characters

Photo of bfields4
4.31/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The 2009 offering of Bigfoot.

An awesome pour. as the head and body duke it out while the heavy carbonation bubbles settle to the top. Amazing head hangs around this guy throughout. Deep clear amber body.

Smells like sweet berries. A little maltiness too.

Nice complex layering of malt and piney hops with a little of the berry sweetness coming through in this beer. The 9.6% def lets you know its there with a nice crisp finish.

My kind of barleywine. Very glad I picked this guy up.

 490 characters

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

12 oz. bottle tried 1 Mar 2008. Vintage 2008.

Pours with a large creamy light yellow head. Well carbonated. Clear mahogany color. Nice upfront aroma of a lot of hops, piney, vanilla, caramel. Piney bitterness to start, then a vanilla caramel flavor breaks through to balance the resin. Some hints of pipe tobacco. Bittersweet finish and resiny aftertaste. Medium heavy body. Ethanol is warming.

Actually did a vertical of 1999-2008 on 2 Mar 2008 but lost my freakin notes...

 477 characters

Photo of thespaceman
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Heard so much about this, glad I finally tried it.

Appearance: Dark amber in color, very nice coloring in the glass, huge rocky head, frothy and generous. Awesome lacing and retention.

Smell: No real barleywine properties in the aromas, huge floral hops explode here, nice dose of citrus, some nice spice aromas probably from the malt. Well balanced for sure.

Taste: At first you get a blast of hops, a very pleasant barelywine taste pokes through in the finish. Grapefruit, plum, and some other darker fruit are very evident. The finish consists of nice amount of coriander, grapes, and other spice properties. Taste alot like a DIPA until the finish, then you can really tell it's a barleywine styled beer.

Mouthfeel: Not overly carbonated which I liked, nice and malty and sits nice on the tongue. A bit of sour bitterness completes this excellent brew.

Drinkability: At 9.6 ABV, this is very sessionable, could be a dangerous one if you have too many in a sitting. Very easy to drink and very enjoyable. I love how SN uses their hops to their advantage, they combined 2 great styles together in this and it works. An excellent beer overall, if you haven't tried it, call your local package store and demand it!

 1,219 characters

Photo of mjl21
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. This is the 2009 edition. Comes in at 9.6%.

A-Pours a one finger head that quickly dissolves into a nice white ring. Color is caramel brown with a red hue. Nice lacing.

S-After opening intital smell of citrus hops hit, very much like Celebration. It has a really nice hop bouquet. Warming alcohol can also be detected.

T-Piney hops, grapefruit bitterness, some alcohol is in there. Not overly sweet.

M-Heavy bodied with nice carbonation. Very creamy and the bitterness stays in the back of the mouth.

D-As a fan of hops, I love it. Sweetness is limited. To me it is Celebration after a few cycles at Balco.

A very good brew by SN. As good as it is, I think for me a 12 ounce bottle is more than enough in a night. Would like to see how this guy tastes in a year after the hops have faded.

 835 characters

Photo of Chelsea1905
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice dark amber colouring with a good meringue style head that left cake-like lacing throughout the drink.

The smell is of hops upfront, then that melts away into a light malt and slightly piney nose, smell of wet leather in there too
Taste is decent, hides the alsohol well. Slightly fruity aftertaste, but hit upfront is of plasticy alcohol. Matly aftertaste too. not bad

Mouthfeel is very nice, medium bodied, you'll get a hint of foam with each mouthful too.

Drinks well for a barleywine, but these are only 12oz bottles

 528 characters

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

Poured into a pint.

A: Amber in color. Medium carbonation pours into a 1 and a half finger, off-white, foamy head. Faint carbonation continues to rise throughout. Slowly dissipates leaving a bit of bubbly foam when it's all said and done. Spotty, sticky lacing remains as you drink.

S: Malt, hops, and pine.

T: Sweet syrupy malt, sharp hops, and pine nuts.

M: A heavy syrupy feel. Strong alcohol taste. A bit cloying, and a slightly metallic aftertaste.

D: Definitely one to sip and enjoy.

Really good atmosphere. Solid appearance, and really distinctive nose. Flavor is not complex, but plenty of it. Heavy and syrupy body as you'd expect from this style, and hoppy and tinny as you'd expect more specifically from the American version. Really nice to savor. Great quaff (but you gotta like the style).

 809 characters

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,520 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.