Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-Aged | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

248 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-AgedSierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-Aged

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

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Callenak on 12-05-2006

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 248 | Ratings: 1,293
Photo of BeerBuzzGuy
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Really tasty. On draft at brewery. Just the right amount of sweetness. The barrel adds just enough heat to this so you know you're drinking a hefty ABV without deterring from the pleasantness of a well rounded barley wine. It's not quite nectar from the gods, more like angel tears from a clear sky.

 299 characters

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear amber color with a thin film of beige foam. Clear whiskey notes with some alcoholic notes. Taste is also full on whiskey. Sweet at first and bitter on the finish. Feels a lot like an Irish whiskey.

 203 characters

Photo of BullDoza
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours translucent amber/orange-y color. Settles in to glass a deep amber/soil color. 1 finger, tight, cream head. Bubbles throughout. Not much in the way of alcohol legs.

N: Best part of the beer, IMO. Spirits from the barrel are there. Caramel. Raisin. Toasted coconut. Nice malty sweetness. As it warms, and I take a few big hearty "sniffs" the pine-y hops Bigfoot is known for are there.
*I did NOT read the back of the bottle prior to taking my notes and rating, but to my surprise...I damn near nailed what SN tells us we'll pick up on. Fairly happy with myself.*

T: Hops are more apparent; this is the Bigfoot ale I know. Whiskey/barrel character is there, but not front and center by any means. The hops steal the show. Very bitter toward middle of the palate. Finishes with an enjoyable (and needed) malt sweetness.

M: Medium. Fine. That is all.

O: I like the normal version. I like the BA version. The barrel adds quite a bit on the nose, and just enough on the taste. Solid beer and glad I picked it up.

 1,024 characters

Photo of kkleu357
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Did a vertical tasting. Started with a 2014 Bigfoot, then 2015 Bigfoot, then finished with this 2015 BA Bigfoot. Quite honestly, they basically all taste the same. Not really getting much more from the BA version, except I paid a lot more. Pretty much a sweet but very hoppy IPA that happens to have some oak and whiskey taste.

 327 characters

Photo of Jwale73
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015 vintage. 750ml corked and caged bottle served in a tulip. Pours a hazy mahogany hue with a frothy, half-inch, off-white head that dissipates into a soapy slick. Some lacing, but no legs. Nose expresses ethanol, whiskey notes, toasted oak and a trace of caramel. Taste consistent with nose - whiskey is very much in the forefront and a medicinal ethanol quality follows; sweetness is masked. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body, perhaps a little thin. Carbonation is mild, but a little too assertive. All and all, this beer needs a few years to mellow out in my opinion. Much of the complexity is masked by the alcohol. If I had another bottle, I would open it somewhere between 2018-2020.

 701 characters

Photo of Immortale25
4.56/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I feel like I popped this at the near perfect time given my preference on Bigfoot. The hops were still plenty pronounced even after 8 months of cellaring but it complemented the barrel notes wonderfully. Nice creamy feel and insanely drinkable for the high ABV. My recommendation would be to age it longer if you don't enjoy the spiciness of the hops in Bigfoot. If you like that hop character, drink it now. It's wonderful.

 429 characters

Photo of uvachief
3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle into a pint glass. Poured more brown than amber red. Big fluffy more brown than tan head as well. Smells like wet Piney hops instead of a sugary barley wine. Tastes more earthy as well. Thin like most barley wines. You do get bourbon on the front and back. Tastes like a barrel aged barley wine but needs a tad bit more sweetness for me. Not bad at all. Just not great.

 389 characters

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

This is a review of the 2015 edition.

750ml corked & caged bottle into my Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a hazy deep-amber/brown that shows more interesting reddish characteristics when held up to direct light. A fairly vigorous pour yields 1" of just off-white head that definitely lingers. Retention & lacing are both above-average.

S: Deep pitted fruit characters immediately grabbed my attention. Fig & date are both present along with hints of brighter berry characteristics. The Bourbon aspect is very subtle here on the nose, but quite pleasant. Brown sugar & what I'd characterize as roasted toffee help to round things out. The overall tone of the nose is somewhat sweet but deeply layered & mesmerizing.

T: Very similar to the nose with the addition of a much stronger Bourbon note. It leads with semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla & a healthy dose of pitted fruits that were present on the nose. The mid palate is unmistakeably boozy & Bourbony without much additional development of flavor. The finish is rather bitter & a pleasant change of pace from anything else that this brew has shown up to this point. Additional new flavors present themselves in the finish, most notably walnut, almond & cinnamon. It's really quite good save for the slightly one-note doldrums of the mid palate.

M: Arguably overcarbed yet delicate. The body presents only a portion of large maltiness that I feel would really benefit this brew. It is quite rich yet in my opinion not dense enough. It finishes slick & actually a bit crisp.

O: This is a subtle & logical improvement on the standard SN Bigfoot. This brew produces a deeper nose & a larger swath of flavor characteristics. I'm really rather impressed.

 1,717 characters

Photo of john0721
3.84/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Update: 2016 vintage.

24 oz bottle poured into a tulip.

Medium Amber, off white medium frothy head which mostly diminishes, good lzcing.

Nose is subdued. No off motes, some cherry.

Flavor: Cherry, vanilla, oak, with some hoppy bitterness

Finish is bitter, feel is creamy.

Taste and feel improved with some oxidation.

1 PT 9.4 OZ bottle, 2015 vintage, poured into a tulip.

Cast Wood and Fruit in the nose.

Sweet malty, cookie, caramel, toffee, vanilla, cast wood, with subtle whiskey.

The body was lighter than expected.

A good beer worth a try if you like Big Foot.

 658 characters

Photo of twage04
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in sierra nevada asheville's restaurant in a flight. If I had a full pint I might have been in trouble. Dark raisins and booze dominate with some hint of bourbon? Very complex and savory, I'm looking forward to saving the bottle I snatched up to see how it tastes after some aging, if I can resist opening it sooner.

 323 characters

Photo of Greasy
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015 (11.9% ABV) poured into a snifter.

A: A semi aggressive pour yields a finger of khaki foam atop deep ruby beverage that resembles a Dr. Pepper can burgundy when held up to the light.

S: Whiskey is present along notes of vanilla, burnt sugar and dark fruits.

T: Malt forward (as expected) with notes of raisin/date/fig bourbon, and alcohol. Bitterness is medium high and lingers for a bit.

M: Feels a bit thin. Alcohol burn is present too.

O: Pleasant, but the alcohol flavor is too apparent compared to other barrel aged barleywines of this ilk.

 556 characters

Photo of spark3148857
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at Sierra Nevada (Chico) taproom. Really a case here where I'm not sure if the base beer benefited from the time in the barrels. I actually prefer the regular bigfoot. The caramel sweetness and slight boozyness that bigfoot brings to the table is accentuated rather than calmed by the barrel.

 299 characters

Photo of do_ob
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 version clocking in at 11.9%. Was saving for something special, but eh. Served from the bottle at ~52*F.

Poured into a Boulevard Tank 7 tulip. Pours medium brown, very reminiscent of Jack Daniels. Settles a deep ruby-red in the glass with only a thin skirt of tan lacing on top. Very good carbonation. Huge wiskey nose on this, along with caramel, oak sap, leather, and sugared candy - cloyingly sweet aroma. Incredibly sticky, syrupy mouthfeel and possesses a medium-heavy body. Soft but vibrant notes of whiskey on the taste with blended caramel, molasses, and oak. Incredibly smooth from start to finish. The aftertaste is sweet booze with a touch of charred wood.

I had this beer once before at a beer fest, and it's just as delicious as I remember. This is pushing the limits of sweetness for me, but I still enjoy it. There's a slight booziness but nothing unmanagable. I wish I would've aged it a little longer to mute the alcohol, but that would've in turn potentially made it taste even sweeter. Decisions. Either way, an awesome BA beer.

 1,054 characters

Photo of Slatetank
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I opened this to celebrate my son's 5th birthday -poured chilled from the 750ml corked and caged bottle in a snifter allowed to gradually increase in temperature.

The color is ruddy brown with translucent clarity and thick 3 finger head that compresses with very fine bead and streamers of lace cling in a wave like pattern. This ale smells intense with lots of malt, wood and spice with slight graham cracker and dark brown sugar with slight hint of vanilla from the oak aging and bourbon influence is there with some pine from the hops with mild alcohol with slight yeast ester that is stone fruit oriented in the peripheral aroma. The smell is more malt forward than expected which is nice with light hop aroma and booze of bourbon.

The feel is thick, viscous and moderate carbonation gives the impression of levity with light alcohol influence on the palate with slight woody element and moderate full malt base with subtle sweetness level with slightly strong body and light tannin of barrel in a sort of spicy aspect with hop bitterness more toward the finish.

The taste is very good with a dried fruit taste like dates up front with spice and earthy flavor of wood with malt addding a dark sugar component and slight caramel sweetness with subtle toast and mild pine flavor mid palate. The flavor increases in depth and the lightly woody character of the bourbon with a toffee/toasted accent of malt with alcohol coming through in the finish as the wood and piney bitter hop flavor rounds out the big barleywine. his is exceptional as far as barleywine as Iconic as Bigfoot it is improvement on the base while the whiskey is magical when it marries and enhances the malt, makes it better in the finished product. I consider this great because it still has a decent amount of bitterness and hops to keep it balanced with whiskey, toasted malt and caramel in the flavor. I will admit it is not as impressive after a full 750ml as it is a strong beer but for 11.9% it drinks like a much smaller beer. I would enjoy this again if I could but one for sharing it is very good but could use some aging perhaps

 2,114 characters

Photo of mlockman
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I thought the bourbon-flavor was rather subdued; perhaps my perception as such is an artifact of having been on the Bourbon trail earlier this week, but I appreciated the attenuated hop-bitterness.

 197 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the brewery taproom in NC.
Beautiful clear copies colored body is topped by a surprisingly durable head.
This has a bit more input from the barrel aging than I prefer. The barleywine base is not completely masked but is dominated.

Feel: Too much heat in the feel; this would certainly benefit from some aging.

 320 characters

Photo of gshak
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The barrel character has blended in extremely well, in this 2015 edition of Bigfoot. A perfect marriage of barrel, and hop character is evident in this beer, the 12% ABV is evident as the beer warms up. Might be worth cellaring a bottle, if not more.

 250 characters

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

Cloudy amber/brown body with a thick, frothy tan head. A hint of light shines through and the head lingers. Aroma is big caramel malts, a dash of sweet burnt sugar, oak, a hint of toasted coconut. The barrel mellows of the typical Bigfoot hoppy flavor tremendously. Big and malty, with the barrel adding a dash of sugary sweetness, lots of toasted oak flavors and then some of the hoppiness comes though on the finish. Whisky and hops seems like a strange combo, but it works with everything else going on. The feel is full bodied, medium carbonation, lingering finish. Regular Bigfoot is a great beer. This version is very different, but you can still get hints of the unbarreled version. A solid beer, but not on close to the best BA Barleywines out there.

 758 characters

Photo of zac16125
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle into a snifter
2015 Expedition

A: Pours a very hazy, dark rust colored brown with 1 plus fingers width of light tan head. Head has good retention and leaves a few patches of lacing. 4.25

S: Big nose. Boozier than I expected, with a Scotch-like peet character. Big barrel notes with oaky vanilla, subtle toasted coconut, and bourbony booze. Sweet malts include caramel and dark fruits. Hops are much more subtle than regular Big Foot of the same vintage (although the same vintage of the barrel aged variant would have about a year of natural aging on it from the time in the barrel). There is a somewhat astringent, almost acidic character that I don’t love, still a very good aroma though. 4.25

T: Wonderful maltiness with caramel, candied sugar, dark fruits, and subtle licorice. Bitterness from the hops is present and balances the sweetness very well. Barrel notes are present, but not as strong as in the aroma, and include charred oak and bourbon booze. Excellent beer. 4.5

M/D: Full bodied but not thick, carbonation appropriate, ABV is noticeable but in a good way, drinkability is excellent. 4.5

O: Very enjoyable. Take one of my favorite beers and throw it in a barrel for almost 1 year, what could go wrong? Whatever could go wrong certainly didn’t here. A great beer that I would have anytime it was available. 4.5

 1,365 characters

Photo of antott0523
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rating this as I drink my second bottle (not consecutively, of course).

A: Pours translucent with attractive notes of caramel, ruby red and dark cherry colors. Airy beige head that settles down as the beer sits. Some lacing is left behind. No visible carbonation.

S: The barrel aging shine through with strong notes of whiskey and an oak-like wood quality. Some cola and hazelnut qualities as well. The hops peek through, but the barrel aging definitely subdues the signature hop profile of this American barley wine.

T: Sweet notes of figs and whiskey up front shifting to a more dry, bitter ale that allows the hop profile of the beer to continue shining. Nothing complex, but the sweet notes from the barrel aging play off the hops in this beer so well.

M: Moderately carbonated, smooth feel, but enough hops to provide that expected Sierra Nevada hop tingle. Finishes with a touch of heat that warms the palate.

O: Overall, I think this is a delicious barrel aged barleywine. This beer is a great illustration of how the barrel aging process improves upon, but also imparts complementary elements to the base beer. If you like Big Foot then give this a try. The hops are still present, and it is an enjoyable barley wine not dominated by sweet elements. I look forward to trying this down road knowing that the base beer looses some hop profile and sweetens up over time. The trick will be to find that equilibrium with only one bottle left!

 1,470 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A 'fresh' pour of the 2015 barrel aged BigFoot In hand, and a study as for 'should I buy more and bury them for later use'....

The pour is solid with some ruby highdlights and offered up a somewhat lingering foam cap. Nose is still slightly hoppy, and malty with muddled caramel and with a light woody edge and an occassional waft of ethanol. Aroma is a bit subdued overall with regard to expectations but decent. Not a 'wet barrel' aroma by any means.

Taste follows with more muddled caramel and stone fruit notes. Bourbon notes are minimal yet I get more fresh oak and a light touch of vanilla. Feel is a bit thin yet lingers moderately for what seems to be a rather dry finish for the style. No doubt this beer will develop more balance over a year or two but as it stands I don't think I'll be taking on any more.

Warming helps out across the board for this brew; letting more expressive notes reveal themselves on the aroma and giving the feel a fuller body.

2015 Expedition release @ 11.9%

 1,004 characters

Photo of gcamparone
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 750mL bottle into a snifter. Purchased in Attleboro, MA.

Pours a light brown muddy body with an off-white fluffy head that reduces slowly and leave good retention and lacing.

Aromas are potent and forward - lots of whiskey here, vanilla and caramel/toffee, some hops in the background.

On the tongue it's very complex and flavorful. Vanilla, butterscotch, whiskey, caramel, toffee, raisins upfront, followed by a bitter hoppiness, roasty chocolate, coffee, and a dark chocolate aftertaste. Super complex. Medium-heavy body with medium carbonation.

I was surprised at how complex, balanced and flavorful this beer was.The hoppy barleywine is really complimented well by the barrel. Really enjoyed it.

 721 characters

Photo of cjgiant
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured about as nicely as the base beer. Chestnut and auburn, with a decent amount of clarity noticeable in a half glass. Head is red-tinted tan, and does last at the edges.
The nose doesn't hide the barrel aging at all, which is fine, but also doesn't seem to offer much beyond it, either. I actually get a little blackberry scent in a warmer beer.

The taste follows the nose with bourbon, oak, some vanilla immediately coming through. The base beer tastes come out mid taste (molasses, blackberry, hint of date, followed by a green hops character), but the alcohol burn lasts throughout. That burn and a mildly thinner feel than I was expecting weighed down the feel.

I liked this better than a young regular Bigfoot, but it still isn't quite my cup of tea. Perhaps some aging is called for.

 819 characters

Photo of evanforbeer
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice chestnut-brown with off-white head

Nose: raisins, oaky caramel and toffee, bourbon heat. Nice, not over-powering

Taste: starts with nice warm vanilla and oak with dark fruitiness. Rich toasted flavors of coconut and caramel emerge and bourbon with slight orange peel hoppiness trying to bust through, dried dark cherry. Bourbon on the back end comes through clear With some more vanilla warmth

Feel: warm, delicate, heat, slightly light-bodied, rich, crazy smooth finish

Very nice. With a wonderful flavor profile, my one negative note is the body, seems pretty light on the palate for a barrel aged barleywine, though that increases its drinkability. However, the balance of barrel and beer seems to be spot on-it's there but not overpowering, brings out great nuances of the beer

 799 characters

Photo of Pete_IV
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: A crisp ruby reddish mahogany color, with a quater inch high tan head
S: instant bourbon, toffee, vanilla, maple
T: smoooooth toffee bourbon notes, no hop bite at all really, some toasted sweet malts, more vanilla flavors.
F: so creamy and smooth on the tongue.
O: Very happy with this beer. For me this is what I imagine barrel aged to mean.

 345 characters

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 1,293 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.