Sierra Nevada's 'Bigfoot"

Once a year a near mythical creature edges from the fringes of the beer world.

It is at once abrasive, warm & elusive.

Every year since 1983 the annual release of Sierra Nevada’s Barley Wine style Ale “Bigfoot” is a cause intrigue and celebration.

The Barley Wine or Barleywine style refers to a high alcohol, Strong Ale that was originally designed to imbibe 18th Century English upper classes.

English Barley Wines offer big, flavourful characters on a thick malt driven base. These beers are famous for toffee and fruity malt sweetness that are low in carbonation; real late night, fire side sippers.

During the 1970’s early American Craft beer pioneers like Anchor Brewing drew on the English style and ramped up the hops for a spicier take on the style.

Bigfoot Bottle Cap
Barley Wines have excellent cellaring potential because of the higher alcohol content and quality of ingredients.
Sierra Nevada’s “Bigfoot” represents an affordable cellaring beer. While the recipe which includes whole hop cones remains the same, the flavours evolve as this beer is aged much like Red Wine or Port.

While delicious when fresh, some believe Bigfoot is its best at five years when all of the flavours come together. That said, it could be aged for up to 10 years.

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot Pack

For this piece the past three years vintages have been reviewed to see the affects of cellaring.

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot 2014

SIERRA NEVADA – Bigfoot 2014
Barley Wine Style Ale
9.6% ABV

The 2014 pours a brilliant port wine colour with an assured cappuccino coloured head that quickly thins.
Viscous, sticky and resinous with burnt caramel, fennel, pine needles and tangerine pith flavours.
Bitterness is forward with a late warming alcohol which is a little out of balance. Time should settle this.
At times the 2014 feels like a Double IPA.
Really good but I’m interested in how this will age.


Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot 2013

SIERRA NEVADA – Bigfoot 2013
Barley Wine Style Ale
9.6% ABV

This looks a deep ruby or cherry colour with a quickly receding head.
Muted pepper nose with a very faint anise.
The hops have mellowed still have a bite. In contrast the caramel malt is starting to be more prominent.
Plumy characters are present with a pepper, burnt citrus rind & pine aftertaste.
Not as viscous as the 2014 but with a welcome rummy warmth.
This is taking on a more English Barley Wine character although the hops are still present.


Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot 2012

SIERRA NEVADA – Bigfoot 2012
Barley Wine Style Ale
9.6% ABV

The appearance is a little cloudy but still presents a deep burnished orange colour.
Fortified Muscat, rich leather box honey & hints of burnt toffee fills the air after opening.
The mouth feel seems full at first but thins through the palette.
Plenty of toffee and burnt citrus notes support a resinous marmalade undercurrent.
Hops are still very present but are now more rounded and the alcohol seems to be more prominent.
The sweetness subsides with a dry finish back palette finish.


Drink better. Be good.

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