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: 7,477
Photo of dem
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I first had the 2006 Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale a few nights ago on tap at MacGregor’s in Rochester, NY. At the time, it was not a proper (sober) environment to do an accurate review. Well, I unexpectedly found a six pack of it an hour ago at a dinky beverage center. The following is my impromptu review.

Pours out of the 12 oz bottle deep amber. Looks like warm malt extract. Very thin sharp head vanishes quickly. Carbonation just slightly flatter then when I had it on tap. I notice a BIG difference in the lacing. It was poured into identical chalices both at the bar and home. From the bottle there was almost zero lacing. On tap at the bar, the lacing was so thick it stayed on the glass throughout, leading me to scoop it off with my finger to savor it one last time. Too many variables to tell if it was a reaction to something on the glassware (soap) or if there’s more lace from the kegged version. I will continue my tests.

A glorious American hop aroma. Hoppy, fruity, citrusy, and sweet. Nice strong bouquet here.

I am not a fan of fruity beverages. Hell, I thought I didn’t like barleywines, but this one does it just right. Fruity, malty and sweet for juuust long enough before the hop bite kicks in and makes you feel like a man again. A great sharp bitterness in the aftertaste. Grapefruit comes to mind. Nice and complex.

Mouthfeel from the bottle seems syrupy after having it on tap, but that feeling goes away quickly. It could all be my imagination. When I had it on tap, it was FAR from being my first beverage of the night. That may have influenced my memory of this ale. Hehehehe.

Bigfoot is quite drinkable for me, but I REALLY like big beers. I do think I’d save this for a nightcap. A slow sipping setting seems appropriate here. Although, having 2 or 3 of them from the tap on a night out sounds like a real good time.

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

On tap, poured a redish tint, with a nice white head. The smell of hops and alcohol present, with complex citrus notes. Taste of hops and heavy malt with a sweet but bitter taste. Mouthfeel is smooth, with a tingling affect of the alcohol. Great beer Overall! Im a big fan...

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Photo of fingolfin72
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Sawmill Taproom.

Appearance- deep, clear copper with a creamy, persistent, palomino-colored head.

Nose- toast and sugar, but hard to tell in a smoky bar.

Palate- Big and instantly gratifying with brown sugar, piney hops, toffee, generous alcohol and bracing carbonation. Nice, rich mouthfeel, especially with swished around a bit.


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Photo of LPorter33
3.44/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2

Single bottle of 2006 batch purchased from Martignetti's

Appearance = Exceptional looking deep, dark cherry reddish/brown. Thick and delicious looking with good creamy head and excellent lacing. Tiny bubbles rise up creating a very impressive appearance.

Smell = Not particularly strong in the nose but what's there is pleasant. Very hoppy but with a lot of sweetness too, like sugar candy This smells like it's going to be a very complex brew.

Taste = Not as sweet as I remember it when I sampled a bottle in 2005. The alcohol and bitterness makes much more of a dominating presence. The flavor underneath is still pretty darn good though. Lots of hops that are quickly washed away by a very syrupy, bitter-sweetness. Alcohol is just a bit too much in your face. Still for being so high in alcohol, this is a tasty brew. Alcohol dominance just ruins it.

Mouthfeel = like liquid satin. Thick, soothing, comforting.. Really an incredibly experience inside the mouth.

Overall = a fairly good barley wine from Sierra Nevada although I think I liked the 2005 version a bit more.Not impressed with the drinkability on this one. I couldn't finish the bottle.

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Photo of jslot38
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz Stubby Bottle from '06 Spring

Appearance: Deep, hardly transparent amber. Cherry wood body covered by an eggshell head, and a large one at that after a moderatly hard pour. Never disappears, and the lacing just sticks off of it.

Smell: Pine, earth, grassy hop aromas. Slight touch of grapefruit.

Taste: Upfront pine hop blast - other earth tones intermixed throughout. Very sweet, certainly one to slowly intake. Touch of toasted biscuit at the end rounds it off.

Mouthfeel: The moderately abbrasive nature of the hops is balanced by the great slick oily feel and mid range level of carbonation.

Drinkability: At 9.6% this is a strong beer. And with this hop profile and sweetness its one to take slowly. But I don't take that as a bad thing, I like to savour my beers. For a big beer its highly drinkable.

Notes: Tasted a little green, can see why people love to lay these down for a few years. A great barleywine none the less, backs up my already strong feelings that Sierra Nevada has a great ability to implement a strong but great hop profile in their beers. Although I feel this one may use just a little too much pine inducing hops.

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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 Byeast
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My bottle of Bigfoot barleywine style Ale is a 2006.

Appearance: Poured out a viscous , deep , hazed reddish-auburn. Creamy , off-white head of about a half inch. Carbonation slowy struggling to the top.

Smell: Fresh and fierce ,piney and slightly fruity hop aromas , some alcohol

Taste: dense , rich maltiness ,strong, earthy , green , slightly floral, and bittersweet chinook hoppyness. Lingering bitter aftertaste and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: viscous and chewy

Drinkability and stuff: Damn fine barleywine. Awsome use of hops especially. Very drinkable and delicious.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.36/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 2006 vintage, so says the bottle cap.

Appearance- Pours a very small head with scant retention and no fomage. The color is a mix of red wine and plum skin. Pretty good lacing can be seen when the brew is held to the light. Pretty persistant in the bubbles ascension to the surface.

Smell- Mostly flowery hops with some viney grapes making the presence known.

Taste- Since this is such a young barlerywine, I was bracing myself for a lot of hops, and I was right on the money. Lots of grapefruity hops. But there were some sweet dark fruits and roasted malts lingering beneath the surface.

Mouthfeel- A mix of bitterness and tart. But this mox seemed rather unbalanced in presentation. The citrusy bitterness would clash with the subdued tartness/sweetness.

I know this beer recquires some more aging before its true colors show. Since I ahve a six pack of this stuff, I will leave it in my closet to be forgotten and write back when they are discovered.

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Photo of kaimcm
4.87/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

on tap at the Publick House for almost 2 months now.

This beer is a beast and very different on draught then in the bottle. Huge creamy fluffy head that leaves tons of stick all over the glass. Enormous nose of hops, oil, pine, resin, redwoods, california fog, damp bark and wet forest just to name a few. doubt me? go to chico and you'll see. extrememly balanced taste of spicy, prickly hops and sweet coating malt. flashes of fruit, brown sugar, malt backbone, drying hops. super complex and super quenching at the same time. im at a loss, this beer is just that good on tap. in the bottle its a different story and needs some cellaring for my taste. suffers slightly in drinkability cause its so dangerous and high alcohol. if youre not careful this beer will kick your ass. right on sierra. one of my all time favorites.

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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 JudgeRoughneck
4.81/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a dense, deep, dark, amber- ruby colored brew with a muted glow and a big bright off-white head that fades fast and leaves some delicate lacing.

The nose is amazing. First thing that hits is hops. They are old, resinous, herbal, and quite inviting. Amazingly subdued alcohol is nicely blended with yeasty aromas. The more I sniff the more I just smell grapefruit. Continued quaffing just makes this grapefruit smell more intesne. I am very impressed at the way niether the alcohol, esters, or malt are running the show here and it avoids that vapory smell. Those qualities are left in the taste, where I feel they belong.

The taste starts off with sweet, sweet, malt and citrusy and herbal hops. Vapor alcohol and berry esters show for just a second. Next comes a sublime bouquet of dark berry, red apple, and citrus fruit flavors which are scrubbed off by a slight yeast bite in the finish. Damn that is good.

The mouthfeel is light bodied but thick feeling. It is amazingly NOT slick. It does not feel like my tounge is lifting weights like other barleywines do and it really helps this beer's dangerous drinkability.

As a rule, I'm not that into barleywine. I love this one because I think it retains all the complexity of the style, yet avoids all the things I dislike usually. My favorite barleywine easily.

ADDING ON JAN 2010 - I aged a bottle of this from 2008 beer for 2 years? The longest Michael Jackson suggests in old book of his. The nose, interestingly, developed an amazing complexity, and I have very nice things to say there. Hop aroma has taken a backseat to a host of other aromas including fig, date, sage, with candied fruit flavors intensifying in the flavor and dominating a mix which also included anise, blackberry, mint, and a leathery finish. The alcohol character became a liitle oppressive and despite all the fascinating complexity this beer developed, I felt its drinkability declined severely.

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Photo of Callenak
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bigfoot was my first experience with a BIG beer. Before that, Sierra Nevada's pale ale was about the limit of my ale drinking. Boy did this open my eyes to another world. Having a roommate from Chico for two years didn't hurt either.

Pours a deep, dark amber/red. Complex smells of a fine selection of malts and hops. A sipping beer if there's ever been one. In true Sierra Nevada tradition, one of the hoppiest BW's I've ever had the pleasure of drinking. Maybe it's me, but the 2006 seems hoppier than past years, which doesn't bother me at all.

Going to buy a 6 pack and store for next year. Let her hit it's stride. Hopefully I can hold out.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
4.73/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada- Bigfoot Barleywine 2006

Appearance- dark ruby red with little floaties and a huge thick head that made a mess of the indise of my glass. The head just sits there, you got to eat it with each sip.
Smell- Strong Citric/ pine hops.
Taste- Pine followed by Grapefruit hops immediately hit you. Secondary flavors are pine and a slight cherry/ grape. Finished off with a slight wooden cask flavor.
Mouthfeel- Huge bitterness and dryness. Finishes off with a sweet warm coating on the back tongue and throat.

Overall- HOLY SH!T this was GOOD!!! A huge hoppy beer that punches you right in the mouth. This is a Barleywine?! I've only had 1 or 2 Barleywines ever and I recall them tasting very fruity even raisiny. Man this is SN Celebration on Barry Bonds steriods!

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Photo of Birdiebeagle
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle Pours a cloudy amber with a small light brown head. Lacing is good and the small head lasts very well. Has a sweet aroma of a fruit mixture. Taste is pretty good. Has a nice aftertaste and a decent duration. A subtle alcoholness with a 9.6% abv. A lighter carbonation. Has a healthy flavor. A good beer.

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Photo of Optimat0r
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - dark copper, deep red. no foam thank god.

taste - what do u imagine bigfoot, the pacific northwest woods, the trees, the air, the undergrowth, the weather, the atmosphere, and big foot himself to taste like? thats what it tastes like. a very good woodsy, hoppy taste. not as bitter hoppy sa a strong ipa, but much smoother. every now and then get a old penny copper meatallic taste but mostly its just really smooth and good.

drinkability - extremely good for its abv. its really smooth and the penny taste only occurs every now and then. it is an excellent follow up to a dark malty beer.

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Photo of unclederby
4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

a really attractive beer, amber in color a nice foamy cap. highly fragrant, i could take in it's bouquet from arm's length. sweet, caramel malt awaits followed by a nice dose of piney and citrusy hops. plenty of carbonated activity especially with the pour. just freakin' LOOKS tasty. full-bodied and creamy, leaves little to desire in the mouthfeel dept.

a nice generous blast of hops serves to counter it's early malt sweetness, and the two meld very well here. big grapefruit flavors add a tangy bitterness.

this is the eleventh BF '06 i've had and one of the great things about this beer is i'm constantly getting something new out of it. no two bottles seem exactly the same. one will seem a little on the malty side, and still another on the hoppy side...

damn, this is a great beer.

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Photo of NClifestyle
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 - what a punch in the mouth. An overwhelming barley wine, with more hops than most I have had. However, and I'm nothing of a hop head, I really like the beer. Just let it warm up. Too cold and you might regret it. Can't drink much of this, but i really like the one that I had. DAMN.

1994 - also had a 12 year old to compare with the '06 and I could not have had a different beer. The '94 had just a little foam around the edges, was dark ruby and cloudy, smelled sweet and fruity, tasted like chocolate with rum soaked raisins and a hint of mint in the back, although some earthy hops showed up later in the glass. A really amazing beer for the time it's been in a bottle.


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Photo of kgotcher
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz 2006 bottle.

Poured into brandy snifter, dark amber with offwhite head.

Aroma is earthy piney hops overpowering a hidden sweet malt base. Full body with a fair amount of carbonation that helps hide some of the alcohol warming. Spicy on the tongue with a bitter finish and a nice level of alchohol warming. Taste is super hoppy, mostly earthy piney hop flavor, some malt flavor but hard to find through all the hops. Reminded me a bit of a Double IPA. Still very drinkable for the style, should age well so may update my review. Anyway a good start.

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Photo of JasonCoop
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2006. my first barley wine.
poured into a snifter, pours basically a dark brown/red. pretty hazy. good offwhite foam to it.

smells extremely hoppy. slightly citrusy, slightly fruity but mainly smells like an alcoholic hop juice. which i like.

taste is huge. huge hops, a little bit citrusy(mainly grapefruit). a little bit piney on the finish, but totally dominated by pure hops. the hoppiness almost effectively masks the alcohol content, but the alcohol comes through with warmth.
in a nutshell: dominating grapefruitish hops, subtle piney/earthiness. subtle malt sweetness tries to balance it but fails. ripe, hoppy, alcoholic, delicious, and intense.

mouthfeel is somewhat creamy with a cottony hop kick. very full and alcoholic. this beer truly is a monster, and because of this it isn't the most drinkable ale. but it is to be savoured in moderation and enjoyed for what it is, slowly and with caution. great brew.

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Photo of alexgash
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 bottle (cellared for 2 years).

Glowing dark amber with a slathering head of light khaki. The head is trying to crawl out of the glass. Nose is full of caramel and butterscotch maltiness. Light wood and oxidized notes throughout. Hops are still prominent, but a bit smoother than fresh samples. The malt and hop flavors melt into each other better than I remember. The oxidized notes are most noticeable in the long, bitter finish and they give the malt more of a Scotch whiskey character. I'd still call this a very hoppy barleywine, but the aging has taken some of the edge off.

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Photo of Tupperwolf
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a slightly hazy, rich dark amber with a thin yellowish head; It leaves minimal lacing behind and fades after a minute or two.

The smell is rather IPAish when cold, but the rich, complex malts come out as the beer warms.

Warm alcohol fades as it warms, but never dissappears, instead blending in with the rich, toasty malts and piney hops for a full taste.

Slight warming from the alcohol and oily bite from the hops combine with smooth fullness; Minimal carbonation.

Sorry I don't have much to say about this beer at the moment. I'd rather enjoy it than document every thought!

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

These guys make pretty good beer. I wish we got more of it here in the east. This beer, recently bought, was an amber color with a thick tan head and some nice lacing. It had a caramel/malt smell, and a sweet grainy taste with some impressive hops. Smooth and robust in the mouth, quite drinkable.

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Photo of lpayette
3.56/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

2006 Offering

Pours a very nice dark copper. Large head for a barleywine.

Smells of tart apples and hops.

Tasts of tart apples, malts and hops. Lots of hops at the end result in a bitter finish. Slightly salty- not a fan of that.

Great mouthfeel. Moderately drinkable.

Overall a very good beer, but for me was forgetable in a field of so many other outstanding beers in this style. Maybe this just needs time to age.

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Photo of clabaugh
3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours an opaque mahogany with a crawling, bubbly, cream-colored head. Displays fine retention, and lacing is vigorous.

Smell: Quite hoppy. Biting pine scents accented by roasted caramel. Not overwhelmingly malty in the nose.

Taste: Good balance. Bitterly hoppy with a noticeable alcohol presence. Rich, cakey malts. Sweet and sticky, and the bitterness is really quite intense. A persistent aftertaste that is a bit too much.

Mouthfeel: Relatively medium-bodied, with a certain smoothness. Sticky and warming in the mouth.

Drinkability: Take it slow! The alcohol is definitely pronounced, warming, inhibiting, while also relaxing. Overpowering flavor and an everpresent aftertaste limit the number one can drink in a sitting.

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Photo of cdondera
3.89/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle...2006 vintage, poured into a snifter. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance: A gorgeous amber color with a dense one-finger off-white head that dissapates quickly. When the glass is tilted, a small amount of lacing is welded to the side.

Smell: I'm surprised that I don't get a bit more here, but what I do get is a hint of fruity sweetness, a preview of the hops that are sure to follow in the first drink and just a bit of caramel.

Taste: nose didn't fail me, there is the hop bitterness right up front, but it is complemented later on by the malt character that follows. The fruitiness and caramel that I detected makes its presence known in the middle (along with a bit of citrus) and the finish is where the alcohol comes to the forefront.

Mouthfeel: This beer is smooth and a little syrupy (like a good barleywine should be). As it warms, it just keeps getting better and better.

Drinkability: I'm thinking that I could probably do a full six pack, as long as I steered clear of cars and heavy machinery! Like a good imperial IPA, these go down easy and hide the higher ABV. But let's not kid ourselves...this is no session beer.

Verdict: A great beer, but a bit young and brash. This one could use a year of cellaring to mellow out if you have the willpower. Will revisit in '07 if it lasts...

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Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 7,477 ratings.
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