by Arkaidy Wisniowska
|Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale
|Great Divide Brewing Company
Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
|Style: American Barleywine
Alcohol by Volume: 9.6%
Color: Reddish-Brown Amber
Location: Chico, California
|Style: Imperial Stout
Alcohol by Volume: 9.5%
Color: Dark Brown, Almost Black
Location: Denver, Colorado
The story of Bigfoot is something of a tall tale that has been recounted for decades, and based on some records, dates back more than a century! These stories have emerged in varying degrees of believability all over the world time and time again. Wild recollections of 9 foot tall, ridiculously hairy, ape-like creatures have been reported by the THOUSANDS. Some of these reports are just folks swearing up and down that they indeed saw this…thing. Others, however, get downright creepy and even deadly.
One story I remember hearing about happened in England WAY back in 1765. Ya, that’s not a typo, 1765. A group of men was documented as having been attacked by 3 giants “covered in fur”. These documents of proof are rumored to have been “lost” as they made their way to America years ago. Hhhmmm, how convenient.
Alternately, in 1985 a little boy from Oregon was put on display because he was born completely covered in fur…..does someone have some explaining to do here??? Despite this, and a much, much longer and amazing history of purported Bigfoot sightings, remnants have yet to be found! Neither real bones nor fossils have been identified as belonging to Bigfoot. What the heck gives?
And more importantly…do YOU believe in Bigfoot? As a dear friend of someone who solemnly swears Bigfoot is the real deal (and even displays a replica cast of Bigfoot’s footprint on his front door), I am obligated by the oath of friendship to say that yes, I believe.
So given the iconicism of this elusive creature with big feet – it seems quite fitting to utilize his or her big, grumbling, mysterious likeness on a beer; especially if it’s a dark one. I affectionately remember drinking Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Ale for the first time. If you aren’t familiar, Bigfoot Ale is a barleywine style beer that has actually been in production longer than this brew-fan has been around! (That’s going on 30 years). I first tasted it somewhere-abouts 2001 and remember it being very wine-like and pungent, for a lack of a better words. Giant deep fruit aromas hung about the thick slurry of alcohol floating around that kickin’ 9.6% ABV. My barely-legal palate had no idea what to think of it then! As I’ve ehh, matured, I have a much more respectable palate for what Sierra Nevada was and is trying to do with this pairing of punchey barleywine and a fabled mysterious creature like Bigfoot.
More recently though, I’ve gotten my hands on a few generously sized 22oz bottles of Great Divide Brewing Company’s Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. Say that 3 times fast. This brew is an even darker ode to this mysterious creature. Now, the argument of whether a Bigfoot is a Yeti or if a Yeti is a Bigfoot might have to wait until next time, but there’s a very familiar silhouette on the front of this Yeti Stout and I have surveyed many fellow aficionados to concur that Bigfoot prevails, even with an alias.
Yeti Stout is much less astringent than its Sierra Nevada counterpart. Being that one is a barleywine and the other a stout, this is kind of a “duhh” notation. Yeti Stout is richly dark, almost black, and delivers deep, chocolatey, roasty coffee flavors that mix well with the dosing of bitter hops that are present in its aftermath. I can easily see how it gets its name, as the solid alcohol content creates big flavor and gives you something to remember. Add the fact that in 2013 Yeti Imperial Stout was voted as one of the Top 50 Beers in the WORLD by Ratebeer, there’s not much to lose by having faith that Mr. Bigfoot Yeti-man does indeed exist somewhere out there in the uncharted wilderness.
So, regardless if you believe in Bigfoot or not, you have to admit it’s a GREAT way to describe a really big, dark, frothy imperial stout or a heavy, strong, wandering barleywine. Either way you go, be prepared for a drink with quite a bit of strength and a little bit of mystery right on the label!