Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

3,048 Reviews
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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Reviews: 3,048 | Ratings: 7,475
Photo of WanderingSwede
2.9/5  rDev -30%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It has a deep amber body, small off-white head with good lacing. Fleeting pine resin and citrus aromas that really didn't last very long. Very hoppy flavor, which my wife liked, but more like an IPA than barley wine. Somewhat thin and slippery feel. It has a lingering citrus back end, with the ever-present hops and a bit too much alcohol for my taste.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
2.93/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The guy at the beer store said that if I had an inkling for a barley wine I should try a Bigfoot. It had a 2005 date on the bottle cap. While my barley wine experiences have been brief, this was definitely different than all the other barley wines drank until now. It poured copper in color without any significant head, but there was a thin film on top of the beer. The aroma is purely of malts and hops. The flavor made me think of crab grass, ery sour with a spicy bite. But not sweet spices like other barley wines I have partaken of, but pepper and cumin. More spicey spices. A lot of really good cooking recipes (or so I think at least) come to mind as I drank this beer. The mouthfeel was fairly crisp but there was a very present alcohol burn. The sourness was a bit of a turnoff and I am not sure I will want another any time soon. I may throw the four remaining bottles into the beer closet to see if it improves with time.

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Photo of purplesugar
2.94/5  rDev -29%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I felt that this beer was pretty smooth for having higher alcohol content (and I realize that's how barley wines come), but it didn't excite me. I think that this ale is great, but not for the price. If you want a Sierra Nevada at a great value, go with the Torpedo.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
2.95/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass. A nice tan head forms on top of a dark bronze colored beer. Not much carbonation action to speak of.

Smell is citrusy hops. Grapefruits and pine needles abound. Freshly cut hay as well.

Very hoppy profile with this one. More hops than other barleywines I have sampled. Alcohol is very subdued with this one. Mostly fresh hop taste and bitterness and well as lemon and very tart grapefruit. This is a hop lovers dream. I was looking for a little more hop/malt balance to this one.

Bitter mouthfeel with a nice warming quality. Hop bitterness stays with you for quite awhile. The hops are about the only thing to this beer. Not balanced enough for a BW. Tastes like DIPA with all of the hops in this one. I think I will look for something with a little more balance.

As a BW this is way off. As a DIPA, pretty good.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
2.96/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1


Bigfoot 2004, aged approximately 2 years. Last of a six pack purchased in early 2004 for approximately $8.99 at LaBodega in Riverside, CA. I am interested in this re-review, as I really didn't care for it before, and I know it probably has changed, and I know I have changed. Is it any better? Previous (6/2004) review copied below for comparative purposes.

Pours a dark amber with copper notes. A moderate off-white head drops quicky. Muddy looking, even though I kept the bulk of the obvious yeast particles in the glass.

Aroma is complex, deep brandy like, but better. Sweetness, brandied cherries, figs, slight chocolate notes. Flavor follows through, intense and strong. No real notice of the hops that seemed to dominate before- did I mis-identify, or have the hops character truly faded away?

Mouthfeel is rich and full, creamy when swirled in the mouth. But then there's that huge alcohol burn at the end, kerosene/jet fuel that completely ruins all the good stuff that came before. It really takes something that starts well, and just destroys it. When I first reviewed this, it was one of the first barleywines I had ever tried. Now I've had several, and I know they can be better than this.

Once again, I did not finish it.


2004 vintage, poured in 6/04. Pours a medium brown, semi-transparent with a medium head after a vigorous pour. The head dies back into a thin cover pretty quickly. Aroma is malty, with a lot going on- somewhat sweet, with dark sweet fruits, and the oils and pines of hops. Flavor was slightly sweet with a strong, piney oily bite of hops, and with a huge, overpowering alcohol profile. As it warms, rich dark sweet fruits come out too. But it continued to feel like pure grain alcohol mixed with hop oil. There was a lot of interesting things going on, but the alcohol rising through them all made me stop drinking it.

This was a beer of extremes for me. There were parts I really liked, and parts that really ruined it for me. I could not finish it. I have one more bottle that I will let age for a year or two and see what it's like. I am a big Sierra Nevada fan, and I could not do this one.

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Photo of Lawl3ss
2.97/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lightly chilled 12 oz. bottle poured into a Troegs stemmed tulip. Bottling date 12.30.11 (2012 vintage.)

Look- Mostly clear deep amber with a reddish tint, three fingers of soapy-looking beige head that settles fairly quickly, leaving a thin film. Lacing is weblike and dense.

Smell- Freshly peeled tangerine and evergreen boughs, reminiscent of fir needles. Second take reveals light bubblegum and mild bready malt, maybe a hint of brown sugar. Swirling brings out a bit of lime and peppermint oil, accompanied by a dose of fusel alcohol. Smells like a sweet DIPA, which could be good or bad.

Taste- Starts and finishes with a sharp grassy hop bite. In between, I get touches of toasted sourdough, citrus zest, and toffee. Plenty of flavor, but nothing particularly surprising or even individually discernible. Finishes like SN Torpedo, but lingers longer and exhibits more amber malt. I'm not really getting the "barleywine" this year, unfortunately. Alcohol is well hidden.

Mouthfeel- Medium to full body, moderate carbonation distributed evenly through the sip and swallow. Creamy feeling, distinctly cottony warming finish. Very drinkable for the style.

Overall- I have to say that I'm disappointed with the brewery's offering this year, it feels like a *slightly* fruitier bottle-conditioned Torpedo, rather than the more complex, maltier version I remember, and I've definitely had it a few months out of the gate. Little in the way of developed malt or fruit character, though the high-alpha-crazed hop heads will undoubtedly like it. Rated as a barleywine, American or otherwise, I feel that it falls short, and if I wanted Torpedo I could pick up a twelve pack for what I paid for this sixer. I'll give it a few months in the fridge and give it another go once it has mellowed out a bit.

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Photo of TheDeuce
2.99/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark brown, minimal carbonation results as this beast simmers down, smell is of alcohol and grapefruit style hops. Taste is thick, warm and coated with explosive hop flavor but its a rash bitterness that isn't that well balanced, alcohol is still there in burning sensation and at times this beer was tough to coax down. Unlike other barleywines this one is sort of one-dimensional, a sipper beer that will knock you out if not careful. Overall its not bad but as stated before one-dimensional and I'm not sure if I'll get it again.

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Photo of Jstewart6
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not a bad beer, just not my cup of tea. The bitterness for me was overwhelming and there wasnt really anything else to the flavor for me. The smell was deceiving. It smells like heavenly fruit but has about the opposite taste. The color and lacing are all accurate as to what the other reviewers said.

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Photo of Cresant
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a becker glass. 2006 vintage. Cloudy/chill hazed (cleared later) golden brown body with a pillowy manilla folder colored head.

Smell was strong. Sweet malts, fresh grains. Baked brown bread.

Taste was alcohol, sugar, and mellow hoppiness. Hops were very present but they were far from being harsh. Barleywines are not my favorite style but I enjoyed this one. I believe I would like a fresh sample better due to my hop-headedness.

Mouthfeel was smooth and somewhat oily. Mildly carbonated.

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Photo of goblue3509
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an amber color with a two finger head. The aroma is of piney and earthy hops, it is a big hop smell almost like a double ipa. There is a little sweetness to the smell. The taste is much like the smell, a big earthy hop presence up front, no taste of alcohol at all. At the end you get a little malt taste but not very much. The mouthfeel was medium bodied and moderately carbonated. Overall it is solid, but I felt it was more along the line of a double ipa than a barleywine. You really had to search for any type of balance from the malt. One was a good drink, but I couldn't go two.

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Photo of Bogforce
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Heard people say this years batch drank like a DIPA but I didn't get that at all..

A: Pours with a big creamy head, the color is a dark brown with a some almost ruby red but not quite.

S: Smells of big hops, getting more hops in the nose than malt

T: Get some refreshing hops but the malt and hops don't meld well together

M: Leaves a bad malty taste in my mouth, don't like this at all

D: Don't think I could have more than one of these

Overall this thing seems overhyped to me, maybe I got a bad batch or something

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Photo of jbsteiny
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Sorry to hate on Sierra Nevada today, but this 2007 Bigfoot I find to be way over the top. It looks pretty -- a reddish-brown with a thick off-white head. It smells interesting -- intense hops almost make my eyes water -- grapefruit & pine, like an IPA -- and there's a bit of toasty/roasty malt in there to boot. I just find the taste as really unbalanced with hops and alcohols dominant (and I'm a bit of a hophead myself, preferring strong ales!). I assume this will be much better after a couple of years -- I drank two out of my sixpack and will be cellaring the rest.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a deep and hazy ruby red, chunky with light visible carbonation. Head is rather big. Nose is alcohol, caramel and sugar, maybe some toffee and dried fruit, plenty of bitter hops. Flavor is full-bodied, and hoppier than expected and more bitter than I expected, somewhat obnoxious on the taste. As it warms, the finish takes on some licorice flavors. Mouthfeel is thick, bitter, off balance, tingly with alcohol and warming. That bitterness leaves it off balance to me. This thing need some age to mellow out and kill that hop bitterness. I know that American Bwines are hopped to Hell but sometimes you have to find common ground. To bitter and unpleasant to drink. I like SN but not giving it an A just because of the name or label. Sorry, average Bwine at best.

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Photo of mmmbeer89
3.01/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

a very bitter taste with little sweetness to offset the bitterness. you get used to the taste after awhile (i bought a 4-pack) but definately not a great tasting beer.

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Photo of yankeepride
3.02/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.75

2013 bottle. It poured a really nice-looking garnet which opened up in the Chimay goblet I chose. Didn't have a lot of carbonation at first, rather lots of little bubbles that kept coming for a while. Smelled hoppy, but in a deep, imperial kind of way. Floral, not fruity. Interesting taste; taking a gulp, it has a bit of a not-well-hidden sweetness to it, but the hops are there to let you know who's boss. I enjoyed the initial taste, but thought that the hops lingered far too long afterward, and left a sticky, unpleasant coating behind. Overall, I was expecting some more malt presence, and was disappointed by how quickly the big hops came in and dominated the slightly sweet flavoring. It made me long for the quick burst of raisin/date sweetness that remained just out of reach.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.03/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Wonderful dark ruby red color, about a fingers worth of head, nice lacing that sticks around.

S: I'm catching a great deal of hops, some faint hints of something wine like and some pine and malt.

T: Boy this is more hoppy than I thought it might be.... it really kicks you in the face.. Hops, Malt, dry bitterness.... and alcohol. Not my up of tea!!

M: Full bodied with a creamyness, very filling.... little to no carbonation.

D: This one is a one beer type for me.. The high ABV is right there and being full bodied makes it very filling. This is one of my first Barleywine beers and it is really not for me.

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Photo of FoundersFanatic
3.03/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- amber colored with sediment

S- not much smell, but hoppy

T- decent, but nothing special. Is definitely on the hoppy side for a Barley wine. Not much depth, don't taste much of anything. Kind of bitter and dry. Some malts, some spice, some pine flavor, pretty std Barley wine except more bitter and hoppy with almost no depth or complexity

M- very thin mouthfeel, not all that great

O- was once again let down and not impressed by yet another beer that is supposed to be "epic" and the "std" for the style. It was alright, I'd drink it again, but Brooklyn Monster is better and it's cheaper. At 12 for a sixer, it's a decent deal, but there are MUCH better Barley wine beers out there

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Photo of WaltTrombone
3.04/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2003 vintage, served at cellar temps, 50-55F

Dark copper body, with a rocky tan head that subsided quickly, leaving a light wispy lace.Malt, alcohol, caramel and hops aroma.

The taste is bitter, way too much hops for my taste. Small notes of caramel, malt, prunes, cardboard, with an alcohol bite. Nice mouthfeel, a smooth, light creaminess.

The finish is hops, hops, and more hops. Mouth-puckeringly bitter hops. Did I mention hops? Oh, yeah, it's got some hops, too!

I have another bottle of this, and I'm going to put it away for a while. The general wisdom on the forum is that it'll mellow out after about a year, so I'll try it again later. As it stands right now, I'm too afraid of it now, this Bigfoot has big hoppy fangs, and a nasty disposition. We'll see if a stay in the klink improves its attitude...

10/10/03- Even after only 5 months, this beer has mellowed out a bit. That, plus I've been exploring some IPAs this summer, and have recalibrated my palate a bit. It had pretty much the same aroma, taste was about the same, except I noticed a cola flavor. Overall, the hops bitterness got toned down quite a bit in the taste and finish. The moral of the story is: this beer NEEDS to be cellared! If you're one of those impatient types, try to shop at a place that doesn't turn these over so quick, or be warned...

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Photo of phisig137
3.04/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A fresh 2006 bottle that I decided to try a bit early. Pours a copper amber color, with a substantial head, that takes a while to die down. Leaves considerable lacing on the glass.

Being fresh, this has a super hoppy nose, it is so hoppy that perhaps it isn't even hops I smell, but pure alpha acids. It almost has a slightly metallic hop smell, which is pleasant, but very strong.

The flavor of this beer is much the same as the aroma, hops, hops, and hops, with only a slight hint of malt. The hop tingle lingers on your tongue for quite a while. While it is somewhat creamy, this is borderline undrinkable right now, due to the very harsh hops, and prevalent alcohol.

I've had some 4 year old bigfoot on tap that was incredible. It's almost hard to believe that it started this way. I'll be sure to stash the rest of this sixer away, and re-review it in about 3-4 years.

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Photo of HiGravShawn
3.05/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Disclaimer: I like hoppy beers. I love IPAs and their kin. I aparently have not had a American Barleywine before because I have never tasted something so hoppy with such sharp maltiness. Maybe I went in expecting th wrong thing, but this is only the second SN beer I haven't loved (other was Kellerweis).

Look and mouthfeel were fine. Smelled ok although hoppier than expected.

Taste... like a double IPA with some malt hidden deep inside. It was extremely hoppy and this is from someone who drinks DIPA and Arrogant Bastard regularly. It just didn't blend well to me. I could barely taste any malt and the hops were very bitter. I have to wonder if this is really fresh and should be aged a while otherwise I would think something is wrong with it, but I don't know of any off flavors that would do this. It's like sucking on pine needles.

I will try one again one day just to see what the deal is.

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Photo of larsenju
3.05/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 Vintage, poured at about 60 degrees.

A-Reddish amber body with a very tall off white head, decent retention but little lacing.

S-Alcohol, some floral/fruity hops with a strong caramel malty backbone. The alcohol really takes away from the rest of the beer.

T-Very smooth caramel right when it hits picking up some lemon, and from there the hops really start to move forward leaving a pine/citrus resin flavor that comes to a point and leaves a very bitter finish. There is kind of a caramel and chocolate undertone, but the hops dominate.

M-So hot it almost stings a little bit, sugary slick with a little tingling carbonation.

D-I recently had an 09 vintage of this beer, it really needs a little age on it. Even the 09 wasn't as good as it could be, but it just is not ready to drink when fresh. Its just to hoppy and hot and the malt character is a little boring, but it develops very nicely in the bottle. That said, its certainly not what I would call a bad beer fresh, its just no where near its potential. I will re-review when I crack one of the 2010 in my cellar in a year or two.

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Photo of jbwrb
3.06/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Was my first experiance with this style of beer and I was not impressed at first taste. Being someone who will almost never pour a beer out I continued to drink until the glass was gone. As the beer warmed I was able to get over the high hop and alcohal flavor

I may have this beer again on a cold day, but the high alcohal content is something I tend to stay away from in my beer.

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Photo of gonzo46and2
3.06/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a 2009 vintage consumed at the peak of freshness.

Pours a ruby copper color with a pillowy tan head. Big head on this one. Pour carefully.

Aroma is very hoppy with a slight balance of caramel. Full of grapefruit tones, lemon rind, brown sugar, not finding much malt.

Taste is pretty bitter and harsh. Drinks much like a double IPA at this stage. I'd like to get some age on this one and try it after a year when the hops have mellowed.

Mouthfeel is bitter and dry.

Drinkability: Not really for me.

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Photo of OttoPeeWee
3.08/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Wow. Hop-bomb. It tastes like spruce needle tea more than beer. I can't imaging drinking this now. I'm wondering if it will be better in a few years when the hops level gets to a more balanced state. I'm not really tasting/smelling much else than the hops, maybe some chocolate. Rather disappointing considering I bought twelve.

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Photo of Briken
3.08/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bigfoot is a clear but dark amber with some red highlights and a huge tan head. Aroma is mostly barley with a bit of sweetness. Taste up front is barley without too much of a bite too it, although it does increase as you finish. Good smooth feel with only a light malt coating. There's not much complexity, maybe a hint of dark fruit sweetness but mostly just an alcohol taste. It's sticky on the lips but still pretty smooth.

This barleywine reminds me more of a strong ale. It has very light barleywine characteristics and not much in the way of complexity. It's fairly easy to drink for something so high in ABV but if I'm in the mood for a barleywine, I'll reach for something else.

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,475 ratings.
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