Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
Liked This Beer
4.14 w/ 7,514 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

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Ratings: 7,514 |  Reviews: 3,063
Photo of Bighuge
4.82/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice looking burgandy. Although not necessary, there is a light tannish head. Smell is beautifully bitter. First indication: this beer has been dry hopped abundantly. When that first drop of beer hits the tongue you know you're in for an amazing brew experience. The malt backbone in this fairly evident even though this brew is insanely hopped. Great citrus hop tones. Great bitterness that lingers for a while and then fades gradually. This is the kind of hop bite that I love. (Maybe centenial or nugget??) This was the first barleywine that I tried (2 years ago) and remains my favorite after tasting many, many more.

2001 bottling: Pours a deep burgandy which is a bit murky. Oily bitter hops on the nose. The slight off-white head has some retention and laces nicely. Even after a year, I can still perceive a HIGH OCTANE bitter bite and some alcohol on the tongue. A bit surprising it's still this intense. This baby could age easily for several more years. As with most Bigfoots that I have tried, this beer does have good balance. There is a solid malt backing, but the hops are the entree here. This is a Top Tier Barleywine.

2000 bottling: Pours a clear mahogany with a very slight head. Beautiful bitter hop notes mixed with sweet caramel malt on the nose. This beer is medium to full bodied. It has a nice refined bitterness and hoppiness. Not nearly as over-the-top bitter as fresh samples of this same brew. The malt tones are really starting to show. And they are really nice. Sweet caramel malt. There is still some noticeable alcohol on the palate as well. Don't be fooled however. Even after 2 years of cellaring, this beer is still all about the hops and bitterness.

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Photo of mickeymac
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is happiness in a glass. It starts with a big beautiful head. The color is a nice deep ared. The aroma and taste of the hops seems a bit overwhelming at first, but everything starts to work together very well after a few sips. The 2002 is my first Bigfoot. However, this one doesn't seem to leave much room for improvement.

I just tried the '03 BF and found it to be similar to a young '02. Recently, I've had a chance to sample some leftover '02 Bigfoots and they've aged very well. The hop bitterness is still very much up front, but it has mellowed a bit, as has the alcohol smell and taste. I imagine that the '03 will hold up as well.

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Photo of sprinkle
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hop heads delight,This beer is huge on the nose,by using the four C's of hops minus Columus.Nice copper/garnet in color.The powerful taste goes right along with the nose,rich hops,toffee and a nice balancing sweetness that does a pretty good job of masking the 9.6% abv

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

IMHO, it doesn't get much better than this. I didn't find this too bitter like some of the other reviewers. Make no mistake the hops are huge, but they're countered with big malt and alcohol. This was an awesome nightcap and I'm looking forward to my next. The time is right for this fine brew.

2001 Vintage: Had this on tap recently. Flavorful, deliciously strong but very drinkable.

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Photo of marc77
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beautiful ruby hue w/ good clarity. The thick initial head settles to a modest but creamy and persistent off - white one that leaves lace all down the glass. Gorgeous & appetizing in appearance. Citrusy, piney, bold American hop nose from the four C's (minus Columbus) dominate the nose, but caramel malt, fusels, toffee, subtle fruitiness and a touch of diacetyl add considerable complxity to the aroma. Superlative in all aspects of hops-- bitterness is high but clean, and the hop flavor and aroma is wonderfully assertive. Although the hops hit hard, there is considerable malt complexity & sweetness that contends well w/ the hop profile, but, alas malt does lose in the end. Bigfoot finishes with hop bitterness and a bit of residual sweetness on the tongue, plus mellow alcohol warmth in the throat. Just delicious & intense. There is a wonderful bittersweet taste you get when you lick your lips after each sip. I am satiated and my taste bud receptors are saturated.

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Photo of cokes
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003. I'm a little less keen on Sasquatch this year. Nevertheless, this is a quintessential BW in terms of price and availability.

Condensed notes:
Chocolate and caramel dipped toasted pumpernickel bread covered in pine (or should I say PINE PINE PINE) needles and salt. The saltiness is what catches me here. Good heft. Alcohol is noticed but nearly flavorless, as it blends its gin-like bitterness with the masking hops. Good stuff still.

Since last year, I have been convinced that Bigfoot and Sierra Nevada are overrated. Things began to change recently when I had their stout (again) and realized I liked it. Perhaps my crusade against SN was flawed??
Bigfoot was a must buy in order to figure out where I stand on this matter. As I said, I hadn't been too excited about it in the past (not that I DIDN'T like it previously, I just thought it was overly praised).
Well, keep the praise coming for the 2002 batch. Nostril- and taste bud-exploding goodness. Pine and citrus and all sorts of other flavors prancing about widely both in the aroma and in the mouth. The malt keeps things in check, but not too strickly, there is alot of room for the flavor and alcohol content to fool around. That is what makes this beer so tantalizing: there is so much going on in it.
That sound you hear is me jumping on the SN (and Bigfoot) bandwagon.
It will be fun to see how this batch ages (if I can keep my hands off them for long enough).
rating 2002: 4.7

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

2002 Vintage (reviewed 2/25/02): Can I give a beer five 5.0s? If any beer deserves it it is Bigfoot. The hops are all over this beer, but it has the malt and alcohol content to balance it out. I believe Sierra Nevada was the first brewery to realize that a strong beer didn't have to be sweet (i.e. most Belgians). If you've been turned off by the sweetness of most high-alcohol beers, Bigfoot is for you. A true American classic.

2004 Vintage (reviewed 3/1/04):The 2004 vintage of Bigfoot pours with a thick creamy, hoppy, head, reaching the top of an imperial pint glass. It fades to an inch-thick head with a lot of staying power. The beer is a deep ruby red. The nose is full of piney, floral hops. Taste is full of oily hops, with a thick body presumably from malt, but I can't taste a bit of it. Maybe a brief malt hint in the aftertaste underneath a boatload of hop bitterness. Scarily drinkable. I'm yet again reminded why I consider this my favorite beer.

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Photo of QXSTER1
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I had this on draught at one of what has to be the premiere beer bar in Pittsburgh, Fathead's. It poured dark reddish gold with a dense, creamy white head, which I find unusual for a barleywine. The aroma spoke of a hopheads dream exploding with Cascades and grapefruit. To try and balance this beer must have been a daunting task but Sierra Nevada succeeded in my mind. Toasted malt, apricot, some toffee sweetness over the aforementioned hops and then the alcohol kick. Superb.

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Photo of Viking
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beautiful beer with a reddish-amber body and full, creamy lace-bearing head. Major hops in flavor and aroma (seems to be a 'trademark' of Sierra Nevada). Nice malty flavor evident within the hops. Exactly what I crave in a barleywine! Taste of alcohol is also evident under the hops and malt.

This is the first year I've been able to find Bigfoot, and I finally understand why everyone eagerly awaits the release of this beer each winter.

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

Beautiful winey amber color, exactly how I imagine a barleywine should look. Very hoppy as you may have guessed. I have to say it is actually too abrasive fresh out of the bottle; the hops are overwhelming and the flavors are unbalanced. I can't wait to try it again after I shelf it for a while. Unmistakable trademark Sierra Nevada flavor (read: hops). I didn't have any goblets so I poured it into a brandy snifter - I would suggest not just dumping it in a pint glass. It mellows nicely in the glass. There is something really interesting going on hidden under the hops but it is indistinct at this point. Withholding full judgement until it matures. Buy it now though, it goes quickly. (11 weeks later: Ohh, it's good. I'm kicking the smell up to 5. The smell is AMAZING!)

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

I just drank my last 1999 Bigfoot at Christmas, 2001. I am surprised by the similarity of the fresh 2002 batch. Almost three years of cellaring gave the '99 version a softer, rounded flavor that far outshined my recollection of it when fresh. The 2002 is practically there at the outset while displaying better carbonation. A beautiful clear dark amber with really tiny bubbles rising almost champagne-like, a nice light tan head that leaves a gob of lace all the way down the glass, a vague maltiness up front that pops through the incredibly ever-present citrus-tinged hoppiness, and a medium-to-heavy oily body. One of the best Bigfoot batches in years.

1999 bottling: As I just wrote in my review of the new 2002 Bigfoot batch, I had my last '99 Bigfoot at Christmas, 2001. Very impressive. The cellaring gave the flavor a softness and rounded-ness that more than offset the slight loss of carbonation and head. I've read that the hops flavor is the first to go when one cellars beer, but you couldn't tell that from this brew. Wow!

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

Ahh, my annual gift from the hop gods. This is one of the best looking beers in a glass, beautiful deep amber. The aroma is intoxicating, with incredible pine, grapefruit, and floral scents. The first sip causes your taste buds to stand upright out of sheer hop shock, but they soon catch on and realize that they're experiencing one of the true pleasures of life. Once that happens (about half-way through the glass), you can really focus on the complexities: a slight malty sweetness, the alcohol (not overpowering, but definitely there), the lingering pine and citrus. It's terrific now; it'll be out of this world after it ages a bit.

2001 bottling: Something magical has happened over the last couple months. My 2001 has aged and mellowed perfectly. The trademark hoppiness is still there, but is now balanced by just a hint of sweetness (like caramelized fruit). Outstanding. Unfortunately, I have only one left, so I can only hope my 2002's age as well (and I exhibit a bit more patience than I did with the 2001's). I marvel at Sierra Nevada's craftsmanship.

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Photo of mattmaples
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Hops, Hops, Hops, Hops, and Hops. This is what making barley wine in the west is all about. The hops. Sure it has great caramel maltiness to it, if you can find it behind all of those hops. The sheer hop bitter edge is too high at this point but that should age out fairly soon. If you are the kind of hophead that liked the Stone fifth anniversary IPA or sucking on hop cones then enjoy this beer now. For the rest of us, give it about 4 months and this beer will make any beer lover snap to attention and solute the SN banner. I love it, it is just too too green for me at this point.

2001 bottling: Ok I give it this high of rateing with one caveat, and that is it has to age. I my opinion it is the best Bigfoot in the last 4 or 5 years. Sure the hops were too agrressive when it first came out and maybe they still are but it has enough malt going on this year that it will age out to perfection. Another 4 months and I will crack anotherone open. It has the potential to be a truely GREAT beer.

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

Presentation: 12oz short brown twist cap bottle, with a mountain landscape and some looney hick pulling a donkey. 1998 Vintage.

Appearance: Dark-red amber, with an off-white sticky head.

Smell: Loads of hop aroma (loads), and a strong alcohol vapor that is almost perfume like.

Taste: Rich, ripe and fruity. The extreme hop bitterness and high malt sweetness blend together nicely, providing a well balanced barleywine. A pronounced hop flavour strikes with every sip, and lingers to the point where you can taste the raw hop leaf.

Notes: A deceivingly powerful brew, that is sure to sneak up on you during a session. At 9.6%(abv) and roughly $11 a six-pack this is by far, one of SN's best brews. Find it, buy it and savour it with respectful sips.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 88% out of 100 with 7,514 ratings
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