2012 vs 2013 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot AleWe’ve been looking forward to this comparison for a while, and we’d like to share our thoughts about how the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine style Ale has aged!

Both beers pour a deep amber color, bordering on mahogany and likely over 20 on the Standard Reference Method scale. They have a large white head, but here’s where we find our first difference between the two vintages. The head on the older beer dissipates much more quickly than the head on the younger beer. The older beer becomes a thin ring of foam on the surface, while the younger beer remains at about 1/4 inch for the duration of the session.

The differences continue to mount in the nose. While the younger beer has quite a hop forward aroma, supported by a rich, caramel backbone, the older beer has lost nearly its entire hop aroma. Phenolic character is more apparent, with oxidative qualities manifested in dark fruits and mild papery notes. The older beer has taken on some sherry-like notes, with vanilla and alcohol becoming more apparent as it warms. Our notes indicated that the 2012 reminded us of old books. In the younger version, the hop aroma dominates but caramel and dark fruits are present as well, some phenols, lemon, mild vanilla and as it warms, roses.

The younger Bigfoot is a quite full-bodied and rich. It’s mildly carbonated, with a very smooth body. It’s rich-malt forward body does its best to support the aggressive hop bitterness, but is somewhat overwhelmed. The alcohol character is evident, and it coats the tongue fully. The caramel sweetness is there if you look for it, but the over-riding character of this beer is the assertive hop bitterness.

The elder Bigfoot is a much more subdued beer. The aggressive hop bitterness apparent in its younger brother is almost gone. It’s still nicely carbonated, and the body is quite rich, malty and creamy. With the bitterness downplayed, the malts are given the chance to shine. Rich and caramel, the sherry-like qualities carry over from the nose. Dark fruits shine through, some negative qualities of oxidation (papery, cardboard notes) show themselves as the beer warms, but they’re negligible and don’t really detract from the beer. It remains soft and expressive as the beer warms.

Overall, we preferred the 2012 Bigfoot to its younger brother. It’s developed quite a few interesting nuances that either weren’t there in the 2013, or was overwhelmed by the intense bitterness. It’s quite remarkable how much this beer has changed in only a year. We wish we tried one of the 2012 about six months ago, to see how it tasted and if the hops still played any kind of substantial role. We strongly suggest carrying out this experiment yourself, it’s really quite interesting.

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating 2012 Bigfoot: 4.5 Pints out of 5

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating 2013 Bigfoot: 4.0 Pints out of 5

If you like this, try: Brooklyn Monster Ale, Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot, Anchor Old Foghorn

Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory

Categories: BarleywineTags: , , , ,

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