What Yeti is to Great Divide Stouts, Bigfoot is to Sierra Nevada Barleywine. They are both brewed with the same goal in mind: big, bold, flavorful. And the team at Sierra Nevada has done just that. If you like the flavor of the Pale Ale and Celebration Ale (it’s closest in hop quality to the latter) you will enjoy this beer. It is definitely an American version of this style as the hops are still very evident.
After a little over a year of aging, the hops in this beer did not drop off. The dry-hopping (cascade, centennial, chinook) all contribute to the resinous pungent nose. Seriously, at 9.6% abv I don’t smell that at all. It is well masked, by the hops and earthy caramel/biscuit-like malt aromas. Hints of rum, coconut, orange, dates and oak are all supporting layers. The hops give a very evident pine, spruce herbal quality that is dank and pungent right up front. The finishing hops (cascade and centennial) provide a floral component that heightens the malt sweetness…honeyed and slightly citrus.
The appearance is outstanding. The creamiest head I have seen! A dense light beige formation looked like a topping for a pie. It laced wonderfully, leaving many rings around my glass as I enjoyed this finely crafted beverage. A warm bronze-amber hue with golden edges was clear after my first pour, but the second produced a slightly hazy glass (I made sure to swirl the sediment at the bottom).
Wow! Almost two years later and this beer is still hoppy, resinous and sticky. The Chinook hops provide a great woody, pine-like quality that stays with you each sip from front to back. The hop profile is bitter on the finish, honeyed at the start, which then leads to a somewhat citrus middle. Not to be one-upped, the malt lends a fine balance of toffee and caramel sweetness. This malt component is present in the aftertaste, just enough to provide some relief to the resinous drying hop quality. I’d say the 2010 vintage (sampled 2/6/12) held its freshness.
Bigfoot is a great beer to do vertical tastings with. I’ve seen people do a few years or a plethora of vintages. Either way, you will not be disappointed if enjoyed fresh or aged.