Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
BA SCORE
4.14/5
Exceptional
7,600 Ratings
Bigfoot Barleywine-Style AleBigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
sierranevada.com

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,659
Reviews:
3,097
Ratings:
7,600
pDev:
11.35%
Bros Score:
4.41
 
 
Wants:
424
Gots:
1,865
Trade:
70
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,600 |  Reviews: 3,097
Photo of mayorwalda
1.87/5  rDev -54.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

I review this the way I have because I have a number of expectations when cracking open a "barley wine" and this brew fulfilled almost none of them.

Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barley Wine Style Ale
Man, I love Sierra Nevada! Let’s pry the cap off this thang (12 fl oz bottle).

Here comes the aroma! More like “ah-ro…what?” Do I smell hops? Weird. I really do, I smell hops; and basically no malt. Smells can be deceiving sometimes, I guess.

Let’s move on.

On the pour, Sierra Nevada’s barley wine looks like a barley wine, at least. It has got that dark red, unfiltered beauty which signifies to me, visually, “Hey, man, good job picking that barley wine.” But my nose is calling the bluff here, “Hey, guys, I smell hops. Just hops.” We’ll let senior Palaté (I have no clue how that would be pronounced) mediate this discussion.

And, so, on the first sip, well, my nose had this brew’s number from the start.

Holy hell, are there hops in here! There are really, really a lot of hops in here. So much so, that I am not getting any sense of maltiness at all—certainly nothing from our subtle, sweet, amazing friend, barley. No malt/barley sweetness frolicking across my tongue this time around. What a bummer.

Instead of the smooth, round tastes I’m used to, I’m getting the taste of something a lot more hop-centric. Something like an imperial IPA. I know Sierra Nevada loves their line of pale ales, but it still surprises me that they’d overwhelm this style with the tank full of hops they must have used to make this. I find that it’s a strange decision as a person smitten with this style of beer.

All the things I love about barley wine seem to go ignored in this. The sweetness is not there. While on your tongue, this brew drinks like an IPA. Very green, resinous and slightly floral. After gulping it down a bit you get that typical IPA trail of bitterness on your tongue which waits eagerly for you to reinforce it. There isn’t a moment in the process of enjoying this brew that you do not taste hops.

Word on the street, though, is that this thing perks up—or rather mellows the ‘eff’ out—with age. This is the 2012 release I’m drinking, so, if this thing needs age, well, I haven’t given it that. To be honest, I’ll have no trouble shelving two or three of these for a year or two. I would like this beer to really live up to the sweet mellowness “barley wine” signifies to me. If it takes a year or two, I guess it’s an investment I’m willing to make.

At any rate, the skinny is like this. (I promise from here on out I’ll be less whiny.)

A(ppearance): Well, Sierra Nevada’s got the barley wine style down in this department. This brew most certainly has the dark, red, copper color of the beloved barley wine. The head gathers tightly and eagerly. This brew’s head has a piney, resin texture.

S(mell): This is where things seem to deviate from expectation. The bouquet from this beer is completely composed of hops

T(aste): As far as taste is concerned, this beer is green and hoppy. There is little in the way of malt taste. I mean to say that it must be there, but it is completely overwhelmed by the hop intensity that it’s not present in a way that can be appreciated. It’s probably only serving, at this point, to keep us from going cross-eyed from bitterness. I will say one positive thing about this brew, though. This beer comes with an ABV of 9.6. That will serve as a surprise to anyone who doesn’t do their homework before cracking this thing open. The booziness of a 9.6 ABV is totally hidden in this brew. Kudos for that, Sierra Nevada.

M(outhfeel): The mouthfeel is a bit tacky, with lasting bitterness that asks to be endlessly refreshed. A great quality for an IPA; not, in my opinion, a good quality for a barley wine.

O(verall): Well, as this review is part of my ongoing Quest for the Best Barley Wine Under $14.99, well, I have to totally fail Sierra Nevada’s offering. As a beer in general it’s nice. I’d like to see it called something different because I don’t think it lives up to the qualifications they put to it… At any rate it’s a quality, high ABV ale and deserves a lick. You should try it if for no other reason than, it’s another good hop-centric beer from Sierra Nevada. But, again, it doesn’t even qualify for a rank in my quest…

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Photo of ChrisBuster
1.9/5  rDev -54.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

07' Bigfoot

So I think I must have stumbled on a bottle that had somehow soured in one way or another. The color was excellent however a nice amber red, bright yet opaque. But a very small head that dissipated in an instant. Smell was hard to explain yet very pleasing...everything else was just bad. Strong alcohol taste that gave me no room to even really taste anything else...in all honesty tasted like cheep booze to me. Also everyone is raging about the hops yet i didn't smell or taste even a hint.Something had to be wrong with this brew...

 549 characters

Photo of ABH
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of NOLANDMAN
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of mwar
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of magoover
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of StoughtonGuy
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of thatdirtymick
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of lostinfla
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of Rpreskenis
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of SoupKitchenBeerSnob
2/5  rDev -51.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I told myself I'd never drink another Sierra Nevada beer, but saw this and thought, ok, they're doing a barley wine-- maybe this one will be different. Nope. Just more hops than ever before. I mean really... Sierra Nevada takes the IPA model and makes every damn thing they brew taste like just another version of an IPA. Did I happen to mention that I detest IPA's? Cramming a brew full of hops does not equal a great brew-- it just shows a profound lack of imagination. But for all you hop-heads out there, you'll love this stuff. Personally, I'll pass, and thank you very little.

 582 characters

Photo of MOVERTON1284
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Photo of ralree
2.06/5  rDev -50.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

A: Head is a little weak, but that's almost expected from this style. 1/2 finger at best. Color is reddish-orange and murky. Laces nicely.

S: Grainy and pretty fruity. Will probably be good.

T: REALLY bitter. I wasn't expecting this level of bite. It's not my style, so I'm going to give it a lower rating than some others might. The alcohol is very evident as well. Has a bready finish.

M: A little thick - a little astringent.

D: Had to pour it all out. Completely undrinkable.

 483 characters

Photo of NODAK
2.12/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1

Nose has an assault of piney, floral hops upfront. Very potent. But after that subsides, a very boozy quality comes out...hints of sherry and raisins are present. It leaves me wondering which of these two sides are going to dominate the taste.

The taste leaves no confusion about that. It has abrasive bitterness from the start on through the finish, increasing in intensity and lasting well on into the aftertaste with stinging astringency. It's one of the most bitter beers I have ever had. Yes, there's some raisin, toffee, and booze on the taste as an undercurrent that shows through on the finish pretty well....but absolutely nothing approaches the hoppiness here. It left me grimacing after each swallow. I know I'm not the biggest hophead on the planet, but the lack of balance here just turned me off.

In the end, it's just not my type of beer I suppose. More balance would have been appreciated...as it is, it's just too strong and one-sided for me.

 961 characters

Photo of sugit
2.15/5  rDev -48.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

2010 Bigfoot.

A: Cooper color pour with big long last head. Great lacing.

S: Some hops, but mostly a nice carmel malt aroma. Faint raisins and other dark fruit. Damn, this is going to be good.

T: Bamboozled!! Man, nothing like the nose. A hops assult on the palate. I really don't like this beer. I love good hoopy beers, but this one has a way of jut blasting you in not a good way.

I get very very little of sweet malts from the nose. The aftertaste is like waking up after a night of beer and cigars. Terrible.

M: Full bodied. Feels like gritty hops stuck to my teeth and tongue.

D: Drain pour. Such a harsh tasting beer I couldn't even finish a serving.

This is the second time I've tried 2010 BF and it just does not do it for me. I'm coming to realize I like English Barleywine, but don't like American Barleywine at all.

I'll leave the rest of my 6-pack in the cellar for another year and see what happens.

So far, I equate BF to a hot stupid blond. Got the looks and smell, but everything else that counts is terrible.

 1,038 characters

Photo of voraciousalky
2.16/5  rDev -47.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

I just bought a four-pack of 2013 Bigfoot at a nearby beer shop. I tried this ale several years ago and didn't really like it. I thought maybe I would appreciate it a little more now that I'm older and more experienced. I was wrong.

This beer doesn't taste good, and taking a big swig is a wholly unpleasant experience. Some folks pick up the taste of fruit; I pick up the flavor of OTC cough syrup. I know good and bad are subjective when it comes to beer, but I can't figure out why everyone thinks Bigfoot is worthy of a score in the nineties. Am I just unsophisticated? Maybe. But then again, there might be a lot of groupthink supporting Bigfoot's high average rating. For the record, Busch, Budweiser, Miller High-Life, etc. are all better than this beer. (Yes, I said it.)

Now that all that's out of the way...

This is certainly an interesting brew, despite the off-putting taste. A lot of reviewers note the strong bitterness and hop aroma, but I was surprised that a beer with an IBU of 90 was so well-balanced. When I drink Bigfoot, I'm not overwhelmed at all by the smell or bitter taste of the hops at all. It is truly well-balanced.

Then there's the alcohol. Bigfoot does a far better job of masking the taste of alcohol than other brews, such as Hoptimum, with similar ABVs. I don't know how they did it, but I've had beers with substantially lower levels of alcohol that were far more "boozy" tasting than Bigfoot.

 1,434 characters

Photo of nicnut45
2.21/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Presentation: 12 oz bottle poured into Chimay chalice/2011

A- Deep red brown color, slightly hazy with sediment swirling around. Superfine off white head.

S- Smell is very muted upon a vigourours pour, perhaps it needs to warm up a bit. Upon warming up there is very little scent to this beer. What is there, smells like fruitiness from the yeast with a slight rubbing alcohol scent.

T&MF- This is just plain bitter without the finer qualities of hops. Malts are underwhelming and over attuenated resulting in hot rubbing alcohol flavors. This overly overly dry in my opinion. There is a faint glimmer of sweetness to this beer and it reminds me of burnt sugar but it is soon overpowered by alcohol and bitter hops.

O- I will be laying down at least one of these bottles in hopes that it gets better with age. The others will go to enemies.

 845 characters

Photo of PatYoda
2.22/5  rDev -46.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

2005 Version

Appearance is perfect. Nice clear mahogany with a perfect 1 finger creamy head of miniscule bubbles. Leaves lacing all the way down the glass, which is very unexpected for the style. Smell is almost all hops, and I'm not talking the nice citrusy hops that I love. Pure pine needles. There is actually some caramel malt smell underneath everything, just barely. Unfortunately it doesn't show up in the taste. At first the hops bite hard. Like eating pine needles. Then you wait for the initial hop bite to subside and for the malt to smooth things over...and you can wait all day if you want, but it never happens. The finish is even worse - it's pure bitterness. There is absolutely no flavor that lingers in the mouth, just bitterness, and linger it does! Mouthfeel is actually pretty good. Nice and thick and creamy like I like my barleywines. Right now I don't care how good this will taste in 10 years, it's nearly undrinkable at the moment.

 961 characters

Photo of Smelly
2.23/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

It's a waste to be a hater, but I gotta be honest. It's like they took a regular off the shelf mass produced Sierra Nevada Ale and threw "something" in the mix to try and make it a "Barleywine". I tried this twice to be sure my palate wasn't off....so many good reviews here. However.....it's just plain terrible. Maybe I got a bad 4-pack:(

 345 characters

Photo of PeterOlfe
2.23/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.25

Photo of Apeloquin19
2.24/5  rDev -45.9%

Photo of Damian74
2.25/5  rDev -45.7%

Photo of rudy0908
2.25/5  rDev -45.7%

Photo of Anvilfarm
2.25/5  rDev -45.7%

Photo of skaboom420
2.25/5  rDev -45.7%

Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 7,600 ratings