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

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3,023 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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 3,023 | Ratings: 7,406
Photo of MacMalt
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip glass. It pours a hazy reddish-brown with a small, milk-white head and minimal lacing. It smells of caramel, raisin, and malt, with some floral hops.You can also smell the alcohol. The first taste is dark, sweet fruit (raisin, cherry), followed by malt, pine, and then a very hoppy, bitter finish. This ale is quite thick and syrupy in its feel and it seems boozier than its 9.6% ABV would indicate. Overall, it is a good example of an American Barleywine, although I prefer the less bitter, English style.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy, Amber orange with a small, white head. No carbonation.
Citrus hop an Carmel malt smell. Maybe some dark fruit like cherry and dates and also spice.
Bitter hop with some sting that is softened by armed malt. The fruit I smells sneaks in. Booze is present.
A big mouthfeel in which warming is felt. Funk is present. Obviously a complex beer. Very enjoyable.
Gets smoother as warms. Excellent brew!

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Photo of BigDaddyWarbuxx
3.84/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First barleywine-style I've ever had, and man is it an experience. Very dark and bitter fruit notes, with a syrupy texture and high alcohol flavor. This is the closest I've come to finding a beer that reminds me of liquor.

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Photo of Marraybay
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: Attractive amber honey color: minimal off white head.

Smell: A little nondescript; Not really getting strong notes
of pine or citrus. Maybe a bit of dankness.

Taste: Wow; This is really good....Almost a reverse DIPA,
in that the initial notes for me are immediately bitter
citrus-pine/booze, then a strong/lingering malty/syrupy
sweetness follows.

Feel: Syrupy; thick.

Overall: Homerun: (at least as of this initial tasting.) Reminds me
of a pumped-up version of my fav DIPA that's been crossed
with a strong, malty wee heavy.

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Photo of tillmac62
3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 4

BOD 12/4/15. Beautiful clear rich dark ruby pour. World class head volume, lacing and uber world class retention.

Outstanding nose of fruit (plum, raisin, grape), caramel and light citrus hops over a subtle spruce spiciness. As it warms, notes of alcohol emerge.

Light medium body with a smooth texture. Below normal carbonation with very little effervescence even in the finish.

The flavor profile is outstanding with balance being the strongest suit. The flavors are rich and deep beginning with bitterness that flows into a nice caramel sweet middle. As the sweetness fades, fruit flavors emerge but don't separate very much. The finish is reasonably astringent as the alcohol becomes uncovered but never becomes dry. A mild pine centered bitterness lingers.

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Photo of stratusjeans
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber color with one finger creamy head.

Smells like bitter hops. Some toffee underneath.

Tastes like bitter hops, surprise! Surprisingly unbalanced although it changes a bit as it warms.

Medium, not heavy but full mouthfeel. Extremely long lingering bitterness on the finish.

Certainly the hoppiest Barleywine I've ever had. It's a great representation of how far you can take the style but to me the most interesting thing about this beer is how it will change over time as the hops melt away. Looking forward to one every few months.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.39/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2016 - bottled 12/04/15

Pours a rich amber red with a dense creamy khaki colored head. Smells like stewed plum, dried dark fruit, candied grapefruit and orange citrus, molasses, caramel, vanilla, mild spice, and piney grass. Tastes sweet and bitter with fresh pine, dried fruit, stewed plums, candied caramelized grapefruit and orange citrus, molasses, caramel, vanilla, spice, brown sugar, and dank earthy grass. Feels medium bodied, smooth with moderate carbonation. Overall a real nice brew.

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Photo of dd43
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have not had many barleywine style beers so I was eager to give this category classic a whirl. The beer had a pretty substantial amount of nice looking yellowed white head on top of the rich, well filtered auburn liquid below. Big boozy aromas of caramel and toffee commingled with a pronounced spruce note. The flavor was quite a bit more bitter than I was expecting. This was a fairly fresh 2016 bottle so the hop punch was definitely all up in my grill piece. I would love to get a few more bottles of this to let them age for a while. I want those hops to recede and let the malts shine a lot more. I'm also curious to know where Sierra nevada's rendition of the American barleywine fits in the style bucket. Are they typically quite bitter and hoppy or is Bigfoot an outlier? More delicious research must be done and I'm just the guy to do it.

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Photo of The_Snow_Bird
3.66/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Very dark amber in color with a thick white head on top. Can smell sweet fruits. Taste is very sweet caramel, roasted barley and hoppy bitterness at the finish.

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Photo of tlema1
3.4/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: muddy brown, thin white head
S: not much nose, some malt
T: caramel, malty sweetness with a bitter aftertaste
F: long finish
O: I know this is the gold standard for American BarleyWines, so maybe this style isn't for me

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Photo of dmgallag
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very hop forward barley wine. Not bad, just not what I expected. Not a lot of sweet here, mostly hoppy bitterness. Not an easy drinker, more of a sipper.

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Photo of THSdrummer
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a rich burgundy, with a foamy white head. A little bit of lacing left behind. Citrus and piney hop notes mingle amidst sweet barley aromas. Very sweet, but bitter. Sweet barley grains and malt notes open up the front end, with bitter, piney hop notes biting off the end. Mouth feel is a little harsh as far as carbonation, but finishes smoothish. A little bit lacking here. Overall, a solid barleywine style ale. The hop presence is notable. Not incredibly sweet due to the hop presence. Still worth trying.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of clalalive
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Without knowing too much about barley wine, this has to be one of the more surprising beers from Sierra Nevada. Very tasty despite bitter. Well balanced in its own way in sweetness and bitterness, thats why surprising.

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Photo of twage04
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark red or ruby with medium or slightly slower than medium carbonation. The smell is of booze, bourbon, figs, resinous piney hops. Taste is much of the same, with some deep bitterness and some dark fruit, bourbon and booze there too. I really wouldn't compare this to a double ipa, the hop flavor really doesn't dominate here and the other qualities for this beer remind you of old ales, belgian dark strongs just with an intense bitterness and resinous hop flavor. Very enjoyable, complex beer to sip on. This one was fresh, from 2016. Compared to the bourbon barrel aged one I tried at the sierra nevada restaurant, this one had sharper flavors. The barrel aged version was still fairly bitter but the bourbon and dark fruit were center stage.

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Photo of LAp
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter shaped wine glass. Pours a clear ruby-russet, with a one finger tan head, which quickly recedes, leaving trace lacing. The nose is very hop-forward...perhaps too much so. Present also however are medicinal elements of raspberry and grape. This beer at first smells closer to an APA than a barleywine, though deeper smells more congruent with the named style emerge after a little time. The palate opens with the boozy malt of a barleywine, which is at first surprising, as the nose indicates anything but a classic English barleywine, but these grape, malt, and booze elements are quickly accompanied by the classic Sierra Nevada hop taste: the same as is found in their signature Pale Ale, in Hop Hunter, and many of their other more astringent ales. These hops don't do the beer any favors, but as I've progressed through the four-pack this week, I find them less noticeable, and less distracting from a good barleywine that hides underneath. In that way, it's not dissimilar from Devil's Milk from DuClaw - an equally (perhaps overly) hopped barleywine. Mouthfeel is an appropriate medium-thick, creamy that accompanies the high ABV and deeper flavors well, though there's perhaps a little more carbonation hiding in this beer than I find ideal for the style. Overall, not a bad beer, and a reasonably priced 4-pack.

More generally speaking: I was very underwhelmed with this beer when I had the first bottle of the four pack - it tasted like a barleywine made by a company who doesn't know how to make anything without "pale ale" in the title. The more I've had though, the more the beer has grown on me. As the beer warms, the hop presence recedes, and reveals a quality, dark fruit, boozy barleywine underneath.

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Photo of ScottJJ
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I looked this up expecting a less than perfect rating for two reasons; it's Sierra Nevada which overall isn't a favorite of mine, and barleywines are for us sophisticated drinkers and most people think they taste like a foot in your mouth-hence the name. I am pleasantly surprised. This is a world class beer, no shit. And for $10/4pk!!

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Photo of Beginner2
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I should recognize success when I drink it. And, it is in this bottle.
But the different drummer in me wants to say that hops, ultimately, are the servant of malt... especially in this style.
Not here. Not in this barleywine. I'm not flowing with the mainstream, in part because the hops dominate and prevent the ale from helping most foods.

I thought I should cellar part of the six-pack I bought and drank one a year. I noticed mellowing in the ale, but not in my palate. I could not get my mind open to this one. After the fifth, I gave the sixth away to a hop-head.

Bigfoot is on the "1001" list, but I still beg to differ.
Bigfoot also is reviewed in Roger Protz' CAMRA classic "300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"
MJ's 1990s review gave this 4 of 4 stars (maybe 2% in his book.)
Maybe, I'll approach another Bigfoot differently.

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Photo of dee4maine
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Really hop forward barley wine from sierra nevada. Doesn't feel like the classic English style but then its SN! Great brew to age for few years and see a vertical taste extravaganza!

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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 The-Adjunct-Hippie
1.97/5  rDev -52.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

Year : 2016.

My first experience with Sierra Nevada's Barleywine.

It starts off great with a pour of mahogany and burnt caramel. The head is egg foam yellow and towering above the woody body.

On the label it talks about a lot of cone hops, but that's about all I smell when nosing this particular BW. This comes off more as an IPA in the aroma than any sort of Barleywine. Onion, grapefruit, garlic. Not on point - not at all. A stinge of caramel malts keep it from completely tanking in this category.

The flavor delivers a touch more maltiness, but I'm still drinking a very strong IPA here. A bit of welcoming alcohol burn, but that's the only variation. Powdered sugar and toffee-like saccharine sweetness meets a hop assault of Vidalia onion and grapefruit. This is very much a hop forward IPA. I mean Barleywine. Resins everywhere. Everywhere. No balance. Just a hoppy, oily mess.

Feel is slick and oily, all the way down. It leaves an undesirable coating on the palate that makes it easy to continue disliking this beer.

Overall a very disconnected, one trick hop-blasted beer that drinks more like a super hop infused IPA than any type of BW. I understand the style, I know some people like their Barleywines hoppy - but there is no fruit, no malt backing, no fluctuation in flavor. I feel I wasted money and will not be returning to this particular SN offering.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 12/11/2015. I bought it on 2/11/2016. It took two months just to get to store shelves from Chico! DHF Snifter.

Appearance: Pours a brownish-red, with half a finger of light tan head that fades to islands of froth with a big bubbly mass of froth in the middle. Some carbonation visible, with a little haze and a little sediment. Lacing is modest, retention is pretty good for the style.

Smell: Immediate burst of hops, alcohol, and malt. Smells very sweet and chewy. Like an orange marmalade jelly donut. Hints of strawberry and caramel. Perhaps less hop here than I expected, but that is by no means a criticism.

Taste: Immediate sweetness on the arrival, turns to a hoppy malt center, then immediate taste of alcohol is present. Smooths out to a caramel and malty ending, then a firm bitterness that is not quite as medicinal as other American barleywines I've had. Finish carries some lingering resin and pine, but not nearly as potent as one might expect, and not unpleasant at all. More bitter/resiny and less fruity than Lagunitas Olde Gnarlywine.

Mouthfeel: Decidedly full-bodied, but not heavy. Remarkably clean, little slickness. Moderate carbonation.

Overall: This is what I was in the mood for, and this is what I got. The alcohol is strong on this one, but I imagine that will settle down with time - three in the cellar settling down. This is far more hop-forward than other strong ales or English barleywines I've had, but is also more drinkable than many. Very nice, and I look forward to seeing this develop.

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Photo of pwlong19
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 pkgd 12/31/16. Poured into snifter. 1 inch of foam with good lacing left after a minute of settling. Color is dark amber with slight haze. Smell is fruity and floral notes. Flavor is boozy (my first barleywine) with hoppy bitterness and malt sweetness hitting first then boozy. Will be getting more to age for summer enjoyment.

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Photo of dleigh
4.77/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Beautiful amber color. Smells like hops and rain, with a tinge of sweetness to it. Tastes dank and fresh--sweet and bitter at the same time. A little like honey as it warms up and oxidizes. This is a little like a floral double IPA, but with more maltiness to it. Very little malt char--just sweetness. 2016 vintage.

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Photo of ezra_shroomer
4.84/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Delicious. My first barleywine brew to experience. Taste is perfect. From a bottled dated 12/11/15. Poured into a pilsner glass from bottle. Aroma, sweet floral notes, heavy malt. While my nose and palate are young and i have much to learn, this is a complex flavor and scent. I enjoyed this very much. Will probably by my local pub out and try to cellar a few. (If i can abstain from indulging in this powerful and delicious beer.) I havent had a beer from Sierra Nevada that has dissapointed and this is the cream of the crop. Beer Noob opinion, will buy again (: love it!

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2016 Bottle...

Look has a dark, hazy copper body and khaki head that drops to a fat-rimmed film, leaving Jackson Pollock on the way down.

Smell is sweet dark fruits, candy caramel and piney hops.

Taste is candied fruits, malts and hoppy finish. Really complex, layered flavors that I can't really pin down, but it works really well.

Feel is full, sticky and lingering. Bitterness shows up late, but hangs on for a while.

Overall, this is easy to drink and a nice sweet treat to end the night. This is not something to session, and patience will payoff as it really opens up as it warms.

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Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,406 ratings.
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