Sierra Nevada- Chico, CA
Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2011- 9.6% ABV. $2.99 for 12 oz.
This was purchased on April 1st at Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting. Before pouring, I noticed some sediment at the bottom, presumably from the bottle conditioning. A careful pour kept the sediment in the bottle and not in my glass. I was rewarded with a reddish color that brought along a sizeable cream-colored head 1 ½ inches high. It faded quickly, but didn’t disappear.
The aroma is a fine balance between malt and hops. It reminds me of a double IPA; hoppy, but heavy on the malt. The aroma is very piney… (Is that a word? Piney?)
The flavor is complex. First up are the bitter hops. Like a pine tree. Next is the alcohol. Definitely not unpleasant, but present none-the-less. After that is the extreme malt profile. It’s sweet with sugary notes- brown sugar, slight molasses flavors. It’s a very spicy beer. I don’t think there are any spices in the recipe, but it seems like there could be. Some faint flavors resembling ginger, cloves, nutmeg, etc. There are also some herbal notes.
Bigfoot definitely tastes “young”. It’s delicious, and I bet it would improve greatly with age. I’ve heard that Bigfoot is a perfect candidate for aging, and having tasted it, I would certainly agree. How appropriate that the bottles have the bottling year right on the label? 2011 baby… let it ride!
The mouth feel is medium –heavy and has a nice texture, almost silky. The carbonation is a tiny bit too aggressive. Drinkability is moderate. It’s too easy going down, but the high ABV is a little prohibitive. One bottle would be fine.
Bigfoot needs to be aged. Buy one to drink now, plus one or more to age for any number of years. Put them in a cool, dark place like a basement or “cellar”. Do not store it anywhere near your furnace, hot water heater or washer/dryer. Then forget about it for a few years, possibly 1 to 3 years, but preferably 5 years, and you will be rewarded.
Overall – A-