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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
240 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 | website

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: 240 | Ratings: 1,254
Photo of travolta
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Muddy, hazy water color. Nice lacing and retention.

Nose: Carmel, oak, and black pepper. A little fruit, vanilla, and grass.

Taste: Pine and some bitter hops up front, oak dryness, slight alcohol finish. Some hotness at the end. A little pepper in the middle.

Notes: Nina has not arrived yet. Reviewing this at the Fairwinds. First beer review after Mt Wilson and before Diebold. Our new chapter!!!

 425 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Chill hazed amber colored beer with a very small tan colored head.

Smells strongly of oak and caramel. Whiskey and black pepper scents and a fainter vanilla. Distinct scent of cedar wood.

Starts out sweet with a strongish whiskey taste, caramel and vanilla are long lasting after tastes. Strong oak flavor. Strong chest warming. Mild bitterness, especially compared to fresh Bigfoot which can be on the harsh side. A definite sipper of a beer.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall a very tasty beer. I don't know if it is $20 a bottle tasty but it will be savored.

 565 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice foamy and small bubbly head that dissipates quickly head. The beer itself is hazy and sort of clear. The haze is probably chill haze. The beer is a deep amber color bordering on a light brown.

The beer has a very nice complex smell. The smell has several different notes from the malt, aging, and hops that combine pretty well to create an interesting nose. The strongest notes seem to be the pine and slightly grassish hops along with the vanilla from the barrel. The vanilla smells fairly smooth and creamy instead of being an intense note along with a slight whiskey and oak barrel note. The beer still has the traditional fruity notes but are pretty subdued compared to the other notes.

The beer is much more simple than the nice smell but still provides a decent experience. The beer taste has a much stronger pine hop note than the smell. The creamy vanilla is till there but not as strong. Also, the oak note is much stronger, which enhances the hop notes a bit.

Apparently, the taste becomes slightly more complex as it warms up. As the temperature rises, the toasted coconut and burnt sugar begin to become more noticeable, which become an interesting complement to the hops.

The mouthfeel is decent but nothing different from regular barefoot. The beer has a bubbly carbonation to give more texture than it needs and the beer goes down fairly smoothly. The beer has a bit of body but less than most other barleywines.

Overall, a pretty good and worth the price I paid for it ($12ish). The smell is very good but the taste and mouthfeel aren't that different from regular Bigfoot. Whether you want to buy it is entirely up to you, but I would go for it at least once just to taste the differences.

 1,737 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
3.41/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Way harsh, a bit thin. Not really any finesse here. Burns on the way down and little to none when it comes to mellow vanilla and oak bourbon notes. Rather poorly done but relatively tasty I guess...just as long as you can get past the burning.

 243 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.33/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

750ml bottle into a teku.

Appearance: Pours a dark copper color. The head is a finger high and off-white in shade. Retention isn't particularly special, but it's 12%. At least a lot of lacing sticks to the glass (just like regular Bigfoot!) (3.5)

Smell: The barrel aging have tempered the hops well (but not entirely!), replacing them with a nice oak character. And of course, the candied malts appear in full force. It's also slightly boozy. A good aroma, but I'm not sure that the barrel aging fully coalesces with the big brutishness of Bigfoot. (3.5)

Taste: Just like the nose suggested, the hoppiness is nowhere near as prevalent as they are in fresh, non-barreled Bigfoot. It starts off with some oak barrel and malty sweetness, before transitioning into notes of oak and hop bitterness. Even taking what I said into consideration earlier, it's still fairly hoppy. I really pick up a nice lingering grassiness (at times, it reminds me of a pilsner!) in particular. So why not a higher score? Because it's harsh. Very harsh, indeed. The alcohol and oak bites the palate in conjunction with the hop profile, and it actually manages to conceal some of the complexity instead of nuancing it. A shame. (3.25)

Mouthfeel: Though it has a moderate alcoholic/oaky bite, this is light and easy to drink for the style. When I don't concentrate on how much this is biting, that is. Carbonation is expectedly low. (3.25)

Overall: This is one of those beers that need a year (or two) in the cellar to age out some of its harshness. It's drinking decently right now, but it could still stand to be a little smoother regardless. Personally, I'd prefer to drink fresh Bigfoot over this right now. (3.25)

3.33/5: Way too young right now

 1,731 characters

Photo of MacMalt
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter. The color is a nice deep red with a generous off-white head; a nice looking glass of beer. The smell is very complex: malt, spice, some hops. When sipped, the first sensation is some whiskey and bitterness and pine, but followed up with a tasty vanilla and some very slight dark fruitiness. This is a medium body brew and well crafted. Overall, I really enjoyed it but echo a previous reviewer that I prefer the barrel-aged Narwal

 457 characters

Photo of Rutager
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2013 bottle. Rich burnt-orange with a half finger of creamy thick khaki head. Vanilla and caramel, whiskey, and faint hops. Nice caramel, wood and whiskey, some citrus and a nice bitter finish. Not very hot but not as full a mouthfeel as I would like ...a minor complaint

 271 characters

Photo of deford
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 750 into a Firestone Walker Snifter.

L-Looks like Coke after the ice has melted. Nice thick head that lasts for a minute or two.

S- Definite Whiskey, hoppy pine thing going on. Maybe a sense of impending sweetness even...kinda cool...

T- Sweet vanilla to start. Bitter oaky whiskey to finish...

F- Medium to full with little carbonation feel.

0- Not as good as I'd hoped, pretty nice but not worth the cost of admission just yet...maybe some time would help??? The bitterness really attacks the back of the tongue as it warms...I wouldn't mind something just a bit smoother and sweeter....maybe I just need to open up a Stickee Monkee....

 652 characters

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Really digging this 2013 vintage. I know many people think the 2015 is a boozy mess, but time seems to have done it well. Huge toffee, vanilla, caramelized sugars. The hop presence lingers, but clearly muted in comparison to fresh Bigfoot. The finish is a bit strange with an herbal quality. A true sipper and a perfect desert beer. Buy up ur 2015 and stash away for a couple years.

 383 characters

Photo of gr0g
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle dated "012115." Mahogany color with a less persistent head than your standard SN Bigfoot. Smells pretty much like what you'd expect in a bourbon-infused Bigfoot. The usual bold hoppiness is turned down a couple notches, but there's still a noticeable citric character from American hops. It's not an aroma that I find blends very well with what you get from barrel-aging, but here, everything comes together nicely. Really nice woody, oaky notes. Light on fusel alcohol booziness.

Flavor profile is smooth, sweet at first, with bitterness increasing toward the finish. Increased sweetness and reduced hop bite vs. regular Bigfoot. It's kind of a like you took a year+ old Bigfoot and dialed up the malty sweetness a tick. Oak, vanilla, and bourbon notes present on the finish. Bourbon barrel character isn't overwhelming - no super-boozy finish here. Mouthfeel is damn near silky without being undercarbed.

Not as good overall as barrel-aged Narwhal, but this is still pretty much what I'd hoped for in a barrel-aged Bigfoot. Will definitely buy again.

 1,068 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Barrel-aged Bigfoot Barleywine-style Ale, Ale aged in Whiskey Barrels. Alc. 11.9% by Vol.

Appearance: Clear, bright and beautiful crimson coloring, lush, creamy off-white head, lazily leaving lace. Just about perfect.

Aroma: Caramel and vanilla caress the nose….no, that's not right, but I didn't want to say "assault" either. What's right? It's a passionate flowering, how about that? A gentle invasion of whiskey flavors flooding the senses. Deep and powerful, the barrel affects are pounding on the gates, and letting loose, with the proper Bigfoot Barley-wine lagging a little behind.

Taste, now: In the mouth, the bourbon blares on through once more, the caramel, vanilla, char and oak associations sound off the loudest on the tongue. And now the Bigfoot comes crawling from his cave, here comes all the flavors we've known all the rich malt, the brandy notes, the toffee and the dried fruit and the leather. And as we go on, it's growing and showing it's full flower. Increasing intensity. While Remaining mellow.

This ale moves back and forth. Now, the heat increases, now the alcohol rises. The barley-wine flavor peeks through, then the whiskey tones return. It's a complicated thing, this. Cool and hot, incredibly complex. Now, it's showing rich fruit, with high alcohol presence. Then, caramel malt resurfaces….the flavor is as full as it gets, the finish is ever-lasting.

This one goes beyond what I like to pay for a bottle of beer ($20), but it's worth every penny. It even feels cheap for quality of this magnitude. In fact, it seems necessary to buy more just to keep and cellar.

The more I drink it in, the more ridiculously drinkable it is, despite the richness, despite the high ABV. It's just damned well-done is what it is.

Time to read the bottle: "2015 Expedition. Our Bigfoot Barley-wine-style ale is a craft beer legend. Each winter, this beast of a beer appears to ambush unsuspecting palates with it's intense bittersweet flavors. We matured this special barrel-aged version in oak Kentucky bourbon casks for nearly a year before unleashing it into the wild. The result is an incredibly complex version of the classic beer. Bigfoot's notorious assault of resinous hops has mellowed and the wood's influence shifts your focus toward the malt, rich burnt sugar flavors and notes of vanilla, toasted coconut, and raisins. Grab this elusive beast while you can, it won't be around for long."

You may notice that this time I did not refer to the copy on the back of the bottle as "gobbledygook." Because it isn't. (Also notice that they weren't so shy about using the word "assault.")

 2,634 characters

Photo of Hop_God
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: medium brown to mahogany red. Thin round khaki bubbles

S:maple syrup. Raw alcohol. Dates. Dark candied fruit. Hops. Oak

T: oak. Bourbon. Some raw alcohol again but not overly boozy. Sweet fruits. Molasses. Some hops.

F: good coating but a bit thin for what the rest of this brings. Still nice aftertaste

O: I'm a big fan of this one. One of my fav BA BW not name BCBW

 377 characters

Photo of sierratwohearted
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

sooo good...smooth, smell is of candied rum. noticeable alcohol, but content is high...however, not at all overwhelming. taste is sweet dark fruit and caramelized malt.

 168 characters

Photo of CHickman
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2015 Expedition: Pours dark copper mahogany brown color with a thick creamy 2 finger tan head that was full of tiny bubbles and faded very, very slowly leaving excellent lacing coasting the sides and foamy rings as it went down. The lacing was outstanding.

Smells of whiskey up front mixed with piney hops and oak barrels where the wood notes give out vanilla, char and red wine and resemble bourbon as much as whiskey. The booze in the nose takes away from the base beer’s hoppy and caramel sweetness leaving more of the barrel and wood earthy notes, as well as bourbon, coconut, roasted nuts and some toffee. I like the standard Bigfoot nose better as the hops seem sweeter, more fresh hop oily and enjoyable to inhale.

Tastes of booze, oak, toasted coconut, roasted grains, whiskey, rye, pine needles, vanilla, dark fruit, tea leaf, charred wood, dry floral hops, cocoa powder and chalky yeast. There is some sweetness and a lot of syrup-like tones from the brown sugar, bourbon and oak character, but the liquor is so dominant that it almost erases the hops that normally control the standard Bigfoot profile. This is a completely different beer due to the barrel aging, but perhaps I popped the cork too soon since it’s still rough around the edges and too boozy at this point. Some age may mellow it and let more of the vanilla and sweetness to come through, but at this stage it’s a whiskey/bourbon centric brew that overpowers the hops. As it warms it seems that more booze and earthy barrel flavors come out.

Mouthfeel is slick and creamy even though the booze is hot and almost harsh, with a chewy, medium body, mild carbonation and a slightly bitter, boozy finish that trails off with roasted grains, toasted coconut, burnt toffee and charred and oaky barrel notes like the mash grains from a bourbon were added into the mix. You have to like hard alcohol if you’re going to take on this beer.

I cracked this open tonight to see if I’d want to get another bottle to age while they are still available in my area, but at the price point of $20-22 per bomber I’m not sure I will get another one. Overall it was a good beer, but I was hoping for a great beer. Worth a shot, especially if you like heavy booze in your barleywine.

 2,255 characters

Photo of Nife
4.56/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

First time I have tried this. A 10oz glass at SN taproom. Bigfoot hops r still there but subdued. Whiskey barrel taste complements the Bigfoot flavor perfectly. Everything is in balance. Mod malty nose with whisky barrel aroma nicely in step. Mine is a bit cold now. Hides its alch very well. Very enjoyable. Went perfectly with dinner.

 337 characters

Photo of Pencible
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: This poured a hazy mahogany with moderate light tan head.
S: It smelled like strong toasted coconut with some oak and vanilla and nutty toffee.
T: It tasted like copper hops and toasted coconut, with some oak and vanilla and earthy caramel. It had a bittersweet aftertaste with alcohol warming.
M: It was oily with a little fine carbonation. Great slick body.
D: This was a solid brew that smelled amazing, like coconut cream pie. The taste was more like standard Bigfoot with a bourbon barrel twist. The body was solid, but the finish was hot, so it must be sipped. I can only imagine this improving with age. A shame I only have this one. Still a very enjoyable drink fresh.

 679 characters

Photo of Roguer
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Brew looks mostly like regular Bigfoot: dark, nutty, and very clear. Pours with a strong fluffy beige head, decent retention, and tons of lacing.

Strong, rich aroma: tons of earthy, piney hops; caramel and toffee; whiskey and oak taking a nice back seat.

Up front, flavor is regular Bigfoot, but smoother: brown sugar, caramel, and a healthy dose of bitter hops. Whiskey starts to kick in mid-palate, slowly bringing some alcohol heat along. Finish carries notes of coconut and vanilla from the barrels. Complex, smooth, rich, deep, and with a long finish.

Silky mouthfeel; not exactly thick, but definitely a sipper. A little hot, but represents 12.2% incredibly easily. Long finish.

This is an excellent brew, with the barrel incorporated carefully to add to, vice subtract from, Bigfoot's regular character.

 814 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2015 bottle didn't have much carbonation when opened

Pours a slightly hazed orange/caramel with a pinky of tan head. Average head retention & lacing

S: Faint whisky smell, a little figgyness

T: Figgyness, leafy hops, a little bit of whiskey. Whisky, raisins & figs as this warms, a little bit of leafy hops as well, toffee and vanilla as well, plus dryness. Finishes dry, jammy with figs, raisins & cakeyness

MF: Medium bodied, damn near zero carbonation. Carbonation picks up as this warms, becomes very warming

Drinks alright, was expecting much more, perhaps tied to the carbonation? Got better as it warmed

 623 characters

Photo of bgold86
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Was disappointed, 2015 bottle, bought 2 at WF, one to drink now one to cellar, first bottle really left something to be desired. For the price paid would have been better off with other options.

 194 characters

Photo of fx20736
4.74/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Almost Garnet Port tinted amber with pecan cream head and a lace blanket.Rich Aroma of plums mixed with butterscotch, caramel, vanilla and booze.First taste is surprise grapefruit followed by rich toffee and finish with dark fruity wine. Mouthfeel is buoyant, silky smooth.This is one of the best beers I have ever tasted.

 322 characters

Photo of InkedinRi
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Very smooth.. Awesome mouth feel on this beer! And it's fresh not aged, it's a 2015, it would like velvet in my mouth after a couple of years in the cellar!

 156 characters

Photo of Apellonious
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1 pt 9.4 fl oz 2015 version poured into a tulip glass.

A - A Dark ruby/brown, dense, with a one finger tan head that dissapates within a few minutes to thin lace.

S - Bourbon, cherries, coconut, caramel, slight waft of booze.

T - Similar to the nose at first, with some back end grassy hops notes, mid swig wood and vanilla.

M - Full, carbonation is a touch below average. Becomes sticky as it warms.

O - Glad I had the patience to let it age a whole extra month after purchase. Ha! This must be similar to what an aged regular bigfoot is like, with some added bourbon /wood notes.

 590 characters

Photo of beerfootfreak
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Delicious but still a little young. You can smell the bourbon along with notes of coconut and slight vanilla. The taste is smooth without much burn. Primary taste is coconut followed by vanilla and a little dark fruit. Great version of a great beer, can't wait till next year when I open my second.

 298 characters

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2015 edition. Poured from a bottle into a Lost Abbey Teku. After the cork came free with an emphatic pop, the beer poured out fairly clear and reddish amber with a nice two fingers of wispy white head that clings to the sides of the glass as it slowly dissolves. The nose has some herbal, cedary hop notes, pine trees, grapefruit, and roses. I don't get any bourbon or vanilla or toasted oak at all. In fact, it smells like a bottle of regular Bigfoot that has sat around for a year.

Full body and a fat, chewy feel. Starts out with rich toasted malt, molasses, and a hint of vanilla. Then the proud remnants of a once-mighty hop bill rise up and add a bitter, herbal, earthy balance to the sweetness. Various flavors come and go, including black cherries, some bourbon, brown bread with honey, and coriander seed. Finishes very strong with dank hop resin and a sharp kick of alcohol warmth.

I passed on this one the first time I came across it, but didn't pass on it this time. Glad I didn't, as it's really good, but I think I prefer the standard Bigfoot Barleywine (fresh). I'm simply not a fan of bourbon-barrel-aged American Barleywines. Even if the hops don't completely overwhelm any barrel notes one might achieve, the flavors simply don't complement each other very well. I think English Barleywines, with their characteristic caramel sweetness, are much better candidates for bourbon-barrel-aging. This beer doesn't taste all that different than the two-year-old Bigfoot bottles I have in my cellar. Really good, but not quite as good as fresh and not nearly as good as I hope it will be in several more years. Still, there is obvious quality and complexity here and I can definitely taste it. I may buy another bottle of this in couple of years, just to see if I like it better after my palate has developed a bit more.

 1,832 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2015 Vintage

A: Pours a dark mahogany color with close to 2 fingers of head that fade down to a nice cap that leaves some decent lacing

S: Big maltiness and barrel character up front, including some notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Some of the hoppiness also comes through, providing some light pine and fruity notes. Definitely not nearly as hoppy as the regular

T: Starts off with the barrel character and slowly moves to the malty base. Vanilla initially, followed by bourbon and oak. Lightly sweet malts come through shorty after, followed by some light hop notes. Finishes with an increasing bitterness and more of the oak

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Definitely interesting given the barrel influence and abv

O: A nice treatment to the already amazing base beer. The barrel character definitely imparts itself to start things off, but as the taste flows, the base beer shows up more and more, with the signature bitterness finally showing up at the end. A great sipper by itself, as well as trying side by side with the regular. Definitely worth picking up for the right price

 1,105 characters

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale - Barrel-Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 1,254 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.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!