Posted by: Tyler Rippeteau
Mar. 7, 2012
The Barleywine Project here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights is that in order to be fair to each beer on The List they need to be reviewed in their current (or at least most widely available) state. Barleywines age exceptionally well, but if I were to take a Bigfoot from 2007, a fresh Old Ruffian and a two year old Doggie Claws it would be tough to compare them on equal grounds. That said, beers like Founders Nemesis are no longer being made, and therefore will have to be reviewed with some age on them.
The point is, that I strongly believe the beer I am reviewing today, the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale would do much better if it were of an older vintage, but in my effort to keep the playing field as level as possible I will be reviewing the 2012 vintage. So, now that my little disclaimer is out of the way, here’s my review:
Location: Boulder Liquor Mart
Cost: $2.39 for 12oz. bottle
Glassware: Funkwerks Tulip Glass
Brewery Location: Chico, California
Style: American Barleywine
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A/4.42 – Outstanding
My Beer Advocate Rating: 3.65/B - Good
Current Number of Reviews on Beer Advocate/Current Rank: 2,430/1st
Brewery Description: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
Bottled On: NA
APPEARANCE: (4.5 out of 5) The Bigfoot pours a deep, dark reddish brown that lets very little light through. A foamy, white head rests on top with moderate retention before it settles down to a nice coaster-sized cap. The lacing is very nice and covers the majority of the back side of the glass.
SMELL: (3.5 out of 5) A nice dose of malt hits the nose first with a helping of brown sugar and a mild roastiness. A faint hint of grassiness also lies underneath a backbone of clove and other spices.
TASTE: (3.5 out of 5) The fresh Bigfoot has a lot more of a bite than I expected with some bitter and citrusy hops smacking the palate up front and then returning to round out the end of each sip. In between is a wave of sugary malt that highlights caramel, brown sugar and clove. The 9.6% ABV is also apparent and when the hops return to close it out, they leave an intense grapefruit bitterness on the tongue that last until another sip is taken.
MOUTHFEEL: (4.5 out of 5) This is a very well carbonated beer. While it is rich and sweet, it also has some of the palate-cleansing properties more typical of a big, citrusy IPA. Each sip starts out on the creamy side and builds throughout until a pleasant, dry and bitter finish takes over and clears the palate for the next sweet sip.
OVERALL: (3.5 out of 5) As the name should suggest, Bigfoot doesn’t do nuance. Instead, this is a big, bold, smack-you-in-the-face type of beer. The hops hit with the right, then the malt connects with the left and finally the bitter, citrusy hops complete the combo with another right. Do not ever use this beer to try to turn your fizzy yellow drinking friends into craft enthusiasts. In fact, don’t use it to turn anyone on to Barleywines unless that person is a seasoned IPA drinker already. Of course, all of that is said about a fresh pour of this beer. Once it ages a few years it will be a completely different story.