Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,029 Reviews
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style AleSierra Nevada Bigfoot 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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Reviews: 3,029 | Ratings: 7,422
Photo of Brob245
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - dark amber color, light carmel color head with very good lacing.

Smell - hints of carmel and dark chocolate.

Taste - rich malt profile with dark chocolate and coffee overtones. Nice mild hop finish.

Mouthfeel - nice and rich but very drinkable with a lingering hop finish.

Overall - great barleywine.

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Photo of Ahypercube
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, SN never ceases to amaze me.

L: Pours a rich, dark reddish caramel color, like coca cola. Two-fingers of thick, luscious, toasted cream-colored head, which builds slowly and lasts well, leaving rather attractive cocoa-colored lacing. A beautiful brew.

S: Molasses, caramel, alcohol, candied dark fruit (Plum, raspberry, cherry, etc), toasted rye bread, and a nutty whole-grain scent; a little hint of piney hops, and a clean grapefruit rind presence.

T: Those bitter hoppy flavors are much more noticeable, with the avalanche of malty, caramelly, toasty sweetness cascading over the bitter skeleton, fleshed out with a sugary blackberry-jam-on-toast flavor. Almost just like a stout, but missing the coffee and chocolate. Definitely something I enjoyed immensely. I would pair with any pastry, or a rich stew, or simply cheese and crackers.

F: Someone commented that the mouthfeel was a little thin. I'm rather blown away by this comment, as it seems as thick as could be possibly expected for the ABV. A lot like Torpedo IPA, but thicker and bitterer.

O: Excellent. If this is any sort of example, I'd say barleywines are definitely a thing I enjoy. Glad to encounter this magnificent brew and I hope to find more of its kind in the future!

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Photo of LloydDobler
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage
One of my favorites, and possibly my favorite of the style. I DO, however, prefer the fresher batches. They just have more of a hoppy "pop" to them.

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Photo of badgustav
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

The hop bite lasts quite long in this beer, months in even. The malt balances it out after a sip or two, but it remains less sweet than many barleywines. This adds to the (dangerous) drinkability of this beer

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Photo of FitnessForBeer
4.61/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage

A: Pours a golden brown color, finger worth of thick tan head, slightly cloudy
S: hoppy, malty smelling, burnt caramel, alittle grassy, theres other stuff in there but i cant seem to distinguish what
T: sweet burnt caramel, some hop bitterness, alcohol present, rich, spicy with fruity flavors, lemony,
M: heavy bodied, goes really great with this big beer
O: i really need to start aging some of this, i really want to try one with a couple years age

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 Expedition:

After a long wait I finally get to try the Bigfoot...the only bottled SN brew I've yet to try and my first barleywine as well! This pours a beautiful deep mahogany amber red with a small half inch head. Looks great in my SN snifter glass. The smell has some lovely caramel malt notes with a huge hop presence. Some candied fruit tones come through...plums..raisins. The alcohol is there as well...very complex smell that keeps my nose going back for more.

The first sip is massive!! The rich caramel malts intertwine magically with the wonderfully piney, citrusy hops. The fruit tones come through on the palate as well. Sweet and bitter play a tug of war and it seems like it ends up a tie...everyone wins. If there is a nectar of life then this may very well be it. A very complex brew that is best sipped. I love the biterness on the back of the palate. I just can't believe I haven't tried this sooner!

Mouthfeel is excellent. Not too thin, not too syrupy....this goes down smooth...almost too smooth for 9.6%abv. Carbonation is just right. As for drinkability...I'd imagine I could have a few of these on a cold night...probably no more than two..but overall it's a damn tasty brew that does not dissapoint. SN has been one of my faves before ever trying Bigfoot...and now after trying it they've just gone up another notch in my book. I got a few more in the cellar...let's see what happens...

Thanks to Ninjaworm for the opportunity to sample this fine brew.

2005 Expedition - 3-29-05:

Hops are more upfront in the nose than the 2004...citric and piney with the same strong malty background. Nice creamy two finger head. First sip brings a rush of bitter hoppy goodness...definetly "green"...but in a good way, especially for the hopheads. A nice caramel nut chewy malt background. Just a tasty, enjoyable brew again this year. Good full mouthfeel and quite drinkable. I have a sixer saved for when I go camping this summer...can't wait for that!

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot 2011 vintage. A 350ml bottle with a BB of Jan 2012 - cracked it just in time (although I imagine this one cellars well). Acquired from my local beer specialist and stored in my fridge.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. A deep reddish-amber with medium carbonation. Very hazy and translucent. Yields a decent head of creamy, light beige foam that hangs around for a few minutes before subsiding to a frothy surface layer. Intense aroma of piny hops followed by sweet malt and yeast. Notes of resin and citrus. A warming background whiff of alcohol. The blend of hops and malt borders perfection.

Tastes of intense bitter pine underpinned by a sweet malt backbone. Powerful aromatic hops - notes of pine resin and citrus. Hints of yeast in the distant background. A boozy note upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is intensely tingly and astringent, but also thick and smooth. Great body - neither too thick nor too thin. Aftertaste of pine and malt - I'll be tasting this at breakfast!

Wow - what a brew! Huge flavour and aroma, yet the hops and malt sit well together. The body is nice as well, great for the style. Overall, a world-class brew. If you have the opportunity to try it, don't pass it up!

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Photo of asabreed
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2002. Into a tulip. Here we go, ya'll.

Appearance: Amber with some dark brown, or is it the other way around? A bit of sediment floating in the bottom. Still after four years there's not much head, but it swirls up nicely, and the lacing spiders a bit around the glass. I still think after ten years, however, the beer, from the style, wouldn't really have a huge head or fantastic lacing.

Smell: Lots of good stuff from the malts over a few years. The hops take a kind of backseat, while the malt complexity is huge. Slight chocolate, then caramel, raspberries, and vanilla dominate. And atop all is a sherry-like sharpness, tartness, and alcoholic bite in the nose. I think this is maybe STILL too young; this has much potential as is. Getting better for sure.

Taste: I did not know this would happen, and it makes me think that I need to really start cellaring beers for much longer (which I'm at least attempting to do). Since the hops, as in the nose, take a backseat to the malt, that's not the only thing--the malt character has gotten insanely complex. I can describe it fairly easily, though the taste is much more ornate: silk chocolate raspberry cheesecake drizzled with vanilla and caramel. Sound crazy? Sure, and I don't even believe it myself really, in a way. But here's the thing, the hops are still in there, and though they have a slight bite to them, I'd say a six year-old bottle, or maybe seven, should be tops for this, or hell, maybe ten. But either way, this vintage four-year is amazing. Wonderfully complex things have developed, and I hope I can keep the 4 bottles of 2005 in my cellar for a while.

Mouthfeel: Still full, thick, velvety, but cloying. I don't know how this would change, especially since the carbonation's going to be less and less as the years go by. No complaints here at all, though.

Drinkability: This is the earliest vintage I think I've ever had, and I'm beyond impressed. Hopefully all the brews I decided to save will keep doing what this is doing. I like it green, but damn this gets much better, so if you have bottles that are four years old with some to spare, I'd certainly say crack one open. But if there's one left, well, you make the decision.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 10 year old cellared bottle (1995). As I work my way through my cellared beers I find alot of disappointments, and this one might just be the worst. I've had 30 and 50 year old beers that were better. This is like a bad homebrew. Or, perhaps, maybe I'm just missing that big assult of hop and malt that the Bigfoot offers? Nah, this has just gone to hell in a handbasket...

Oxidation has clearly taken full effect, and although it enhances the caramelish aspect of the maltiness to some extent, there's a sherry note in the finish that combines with the alcohol, and perhaps a bit of piney hops, to leaves a rather unpleasant aftertaste.

The sherry appears in the nose as well, along with alcohol, but it doesn't really detract there. It lends an almond note, and there's also some coconut that's quite nice as well.

It pours an absolutely crystal clear ruby brown, but it has lost carbonation, and there's not really a head to it, just a big bubbled but thin collar.

The body is somewhat thinned, and it's clear that there's a touch more alcohol. Some sublime phenols (or are they higher alcohols?) seem to be present as well.

Overall, most of the bitterness, and some of the piney hops remain, but without the malty sweetness to back it up. I'd have thought the hops would soften more, but what I got is just a shriveled corpse of the beautiful fresh hop vibrance that once was.

Perhaps this one bottle didn't hold up and there are others that are OK; but I'd say, as I've always said, Bigfoot isn't really for aging.... it just holds well. I'll take mine fresh (or within 3 years, thanks!).

That said, my score for this bottle when calculated was a pathetic 3.0; but that's not fair as it's an aged bottle, and so I've included my original scores from the bottle I had back in '02.

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Photo of Janderson91
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally a Bigfoot sighting! This one was bottled on the 348th day of 2010 at 5:05pm. Enjoyed on 03/22/11. Last year was my first Bigfoot experience so I've been looking forward to this one for a while.

A - This is a great looking beer. A deep, slightly cloudy, red color with a good one finger off-white head. A small head covering the top of the beer remains for the entirety of the bottle. Leaves a wall of lacing around the sides.

S - Piney, resiney hop aroma that I've come to expect from Sierra Nevada. Some sweet and nutty malts are there for sure but this is fresh enough that the hops are still dominant. Smells excellent.

T - Sticky sweet malts up front then a huge pine bitterness comes. Very bitter through the middle. Nice and balanced finish with some syrupy malt flavor and a nice crisp hop flavor that lingers long after each sip. Seriously toes the Barleywine/DIPA line.

M - Mouthfeel is near perfect for the style. Thick and almost syrupy but with good carbonation that balances it out.

O - Overall, this is a near perfect beer. Never had it with any age on it, so I may be revisiting this review in a few years.

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4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep brown amber body almost has a copper glow. Head is a good 2 inches thick and full of tan bubbles. Head lasts quite a while and leaves decent lace.

Nose is vibrant and wonderful, very enticing. Sweet dark ripened fruits, and a celebration of spices and hops, almost vintage port like.

Long rich malty feel is sweet as it first enters the mouth. Palate is hoppy spice filled goodness. A backround of overripe grapes and plum are present also.

An incredibley complex brew that is a joy to drink. Mouthfeel is loud but welcome. A great beer!

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Photo of umustdrink
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 bottle.
9 months later, it's definitely improved from aging.

A - Deep ruby red color, a very bright red color when held to light, some bubbly carbonation visible as well. Rocky offwhite head fades to a patchy eighth inch. Tons of lacing strips line the tulip glass.

S - Still a very pungent smell but the hops have mellowed out. Smell is now dominated by sharp caramely toasted malts, coffee and dark raisiny fruits. Alcohol is detectable but not overwhelming. Overall, typical barleywine smell but with an elevated hop character and noticeable coffee.

T/M - Taste begins with a very oily texture, toasty coffee maltiness comes in with some light fruity hops. A good hit of carbonation and we get more of the same malty and hoppy flavors as before. Hops get more intense, then lighten up and were left with an interesting finish of piny hops alternating with roasted coffee flavors.

D - A very good barleywine, not too much alcohol so it's pretty easy to drink. Also, an awesome example of an aging-friendly beer. I will be getting more of this to keep in my closet for as long as I can stand.

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Photo of donniecuffs
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Let me preface this review by saying that I do not usually care for barleywines. Not that the style is a bad one, but moreso because I find that brewers in general tend to make this style so syrupy and sweet that it makes me feel like I am drinking flavored maple syrup.

Anyway, I recently sampled the 2004 vintage on tap, and it was delightful. It poured a nice reddish-brown, with a thin off-white head, little lacing, and little carbonation, if any. The smell was a poutpourri of both dark fruit (date, raisin, plum) and citrus (red orange, lime, pink grapefruit), as well as some malty biscuit, and the flavor revealed all of these in more generous quantities. However the flavor was not overpoweringly sweet, and the mouthfeel, while thick-bodied, was not syrupy. This might be one of the only sessionable barleywines I have ever come across, but of course beware the alcohol content.

Final note...of course the five year-old nature of this brew most likely smoothened out the feel and flavor, so I'd like to try and sample a more recent vintage to discern the aging effect.

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Photo of etaggie09
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

appearance: ruby amber with a light tan head that starts out great, and dwindles to a tiny cap that won't let go.

aroma: rich, fruity, and earthy like a spicy, sweet licorice tobbaco. fusel alcohol tells you this thing's jet fuel and i can't wait to drink it. Lovely herbacious, bready scent to the whole thing that is absolutely intoxicating all on its own.

taste: sweet and fruit at first, but like a soft breeze on desert sand, the bitterness lifts away the sweetness gently and settles itself into the tastebuds, daring you to take another sip. apple and pear with grapefruit rind. It smells and tastes like a pie. Wonderfully classic American Barleywine flavor.

mouthfeel: couldn't be better. rich, smooth, and buttery. if you're going to drink a beer, drink a thick one, damnit.

drinkability: oh this is a powerful one. One of these is enough to melt away all the tension and stress of a day and replace it with pure, blissful relaxation. Thank you Sierra Nevada

notes: a great barleywine, but I still think Old Ruffian is my favorite so far.

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Photo of Fugazme
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very thick pour... dark brown/orange highlights. Head is a dense 1/2" type with tan and off-white lacing. Glass stick is tremendous with slow peaks and an awesome look.

Aroma is citrus, everywhere... some alcohol with grass and pine... some slight malt/sweet floral.

Earthly bitter and orange with pine on the taste... alcohol and caramel... bitterness lingers forever.

Creamy, smooth mouthfeel.

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Photo of bigkahunas4
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 Poured 12 oz bottle into my snifter.

A: Poured a honey brown with decent finger head. Opaque through, transparent on edgers

S: Very fruity, strong hints of honey, slight caramel. I think I'm really going to enjoy this.

T: Wow. Awesome. Very complex - lots of things happening. Begins with a bready maltiness, and fruit characteristics really just start jumping out. Finishes with a perfect balance of sweet hops. Can't stress how good the balance is. High ABV is quite masked.

Aroma is interestingly more on the malty end, with the taste more on the hoppy side.

M: Solid carbonation - I'd prefer just a touch thicker.

D: Really enjoy this brew.. though a high ABV - I could certainly sip a few of these throughout an evening.

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Photo of mjurney
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 edition.

A: Deep dark amber color with light tan color head.
S: Citrus/fruity, floral, spice, sweet caramel, hint of maple. Very nice aroma.
T: Ooh very hoppy. Strong citrus and floral flavor from the hops, sweet caramel and hint of brown sugar from the malts.
M: Medium-heavy bodied. Nice oily mouthfeel. Dry and fruity finish.

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Photo of overnightstorms
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured in a teku

2013 (fresh)

A- beautiful ruby amber, inviting carbonation. Huge head with super sticky lacing. 

S- pine, grapefruit, a bit of alcohol, slight candy sweetness (salt water taffy?).

T- hops are upfront. Fresh pine and grapefruit citrus (just like the aroma). Transitions to smooth bready maltiness. Fresh baked sour dough bread. Delicious bitter after taste hangs around. Refreshing and savory at the same time.

F- just as the lace sticks to the glass, this beer is sticky and lip smacking. Medium bodied. 

O- Just about perfect (perfect will be in a year). This is a great american barley wine. Perfect blend of traditional maltiness and alcohol mixed with delicious dry pine hop flavors. Can't wait for things to mellow out over the year, its gonna be hard to save!

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Photo of mattjv
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Pours a dark amber color with copper highlights around the edges. 1.5 fingers of foamy head with good retention considering 9.6% ABV.

S-Rich, sticky caramel malt sweetness comes out strong. Lots of hop presence as expected, big resinous pine and orange citric character. Alcohol is definitely present on the aroma but kept in check.

T-Rich caramel malt presence starts it on a sweet note, bitterness comes in quick and strong. loads of piny hop flavors reminiscent of chewing on a mouthful of needles. Lemon and orange flavors provide a citrus complement to the hop backbone, did I mention bitterness? Comes in very strong and lasts long into the finish with a mildly soapy component. As with the aroma, some alcohol spice and heat are present but it doesn't run amok.

M- Full bodied, moderate carbonation pleasantly prickles on the tongue without overwhelming any of the taste.

0-A great brew with tremendous flavor and bitterness. Steer very clear if bitter beers aren't your thing, otherwise give it a try.

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Photo of ctylinebeer
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into teku glasss. 12/4/14 bottling date.

L - dark ruby red color. Hazy hue with some yeast sediment. Two finger head, light medium lacing.

S - pine, caramel malts, fresh flowers. Alcohol gives off a Windex aroma, which is a compliment. Aromas come out when at room temperature.

T - caramel, chocolate, roasted barley, super pine hops. Slight sweetness up front but bitter pine finish

F - big beer. Velvety texture. Slight alcohol lingering in the tongue but balanced by the bitterness.

O - very bitter for a barleywine. 50/50 sweet and bitter. Not sure if keeping it refridgerated did anything to the aging but it tastes the same as a new bottle.

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Photo of Rezzin
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Born on date of Jan 06, 2006. Poured into a pint glass.

A - Deep reddish brown with a creamy 1" tan head that sits around for a while. As I drink the lacing covers my pint glass beautifully.

S - Malty and sweet. Very malty and sweet with a big hop nose as well. This smells like a rich rich beer. Fruity and earthy hop aroma.

T - Sweet brown sugar maltiness up front.. piny, resiny, fruity hop bitterness on the back with an alcoholic bite that's not all that bad which kinda surprises me. It really reminds me of SNCA which is one of my favorite IPA's.

M - Creamy and smooth. Slight dry alcohol aftertaste but not overly so for a barleywine.

D - This is the first time I've tried the Bigfoot barleywines from SN and plan on stocking each year's offerings. This is an excellent beer. I can't wait to try it again in a year or two.

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Photo of TongoRad
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2005- not too fresh, not too old? Let's pop the cap and check it out...

It pours a mostly clear rich yet vivid brownish copper color with a dense tannish two-finger head.

Aroma is big- huge hops (resiny, citrusy) dominate but they are backed up by lots of caramel malt. I also pick up a blackberry-and-cream quality, hints of cocoa and, of course, alcohol.

Flavor is powerful- tons of malt and caramel at first, but the cocoa, berries and some nuts come right on afterwards. There is a gigantic bitterness cutting right through it all and there is a lingering finish of orange peel and alcohol.

I'm loving this beer right now- some of its abrasiveness of youth is gone and that lets some more complex characteristics come through, yet there is still some fire there as well.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Picked up a 6-pack of this. 2009 vintage.

A- Pours a nice earthy brown with a moderate head.

S- Hops and malt sweetness out the wazoo. Fresh, floral hops.

T- Amazing. Hops and malt are here at 110%. With the intense flavors, you hardly notice the high ABV. I taste grapefruit hops, caramelized malts, and bitter hops in the end. Very very good... nay...great!

M- Amazing. Great beer balance helps hide the 9.6% ABV. Malts help bring the whole shebang together.

D- Moderate to insanely high depending on your preference for in-your-face brews. An intense brew.. not for the timid. Still, I think this beer goes down with ease. I've put off this one for a while, and can't for the life of me think of why. SN puts out quality beer, and this one shows it in spades. Bravo!

I plan to make this one a staple in my fridge. This is the first beer in a while to knock my socks off. Amazing!

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Photo of cratez
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle purchased at Ryan's Party Store in Port Huron, MI. 2011 Vintage.

Pours a hazy deep amber hue with one finger of frothy, cream-coloured head and several strands of lacing on the tulip glass. Great appearance.

Smell is plum, caramelized apple, toast, piney, floral and citrusy hops, toffee, ethanol, grassy earthiness, molasses, perfume, cherry, and melon. Huge aromas here.

Taste follows the nose with rich layers of caramel, raisin, molasses, toast, candy apple, toffee, melon, and a big blast of juicy, citric, and boldly bitter hops. Scrumptious.

Mouthfeel is thick, viscous, full-bodied, juicy middle, massive prickly and astringent hop bitterness precedes a bone dry finish that lingers for quite a while.

Overall, this succulent American barleywine is one of my all-time favourite beers. Bigfoot's gargantuan hop profile beautifully compliments its chewy and complex malt backbone. The alcohol provides a pleasant warming kick that never overwhelms the palate. A delicious and near-perfect extreme ale.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.63/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 Vintage. Fresh
Granted, my tastes have changed over the past few years, but this one taste the best of all of the Bigfoots I've had.
Crack the top and immediately get hit with the very fresh smell of citrus and pine hops.
Pours golden amber in the glass with a half finger of off white that melts very slowly to very, very sticky lacing. A nice map traces the drink down the glass.
The tongue is hit with sweet amber malts and brown sugar with citrus hops all at once....swallow slowly and go through phases of sweet malt, brown sugar, then grapefruit peel grapefruit....more grapefruit peel...then a nice drying with only a hint of the sugars left.
Creamy mouthfeel.
The perfect American barleywine?
Damn close.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,422 ratings.
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