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Firestone 11 - Anniversary Ale - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Firestone 11 - Anniversary AleFirestone 11 - Anniversary Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

172 Reviews
THE BROS
91
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 172
Hads: 245
rAvg: 4.45
pDev: 6.07%
Wants: 321
Gots: 31 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Zorro on 12-01-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 172 | Hads: 245
Photo of Sammy
3.94/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a blending, elements of a strong ale, an imperial stout, a barleywine. Orange, oak wood, vanilla,booze. Black with a bubbly head. Bourbon aroma. A smooth drinker. Slightly sweet finish.
Opened at My 58th Birthday Bash., with fond memories of 2007. (252 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.12/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour courtesy of wethorseblanket at Woodshop 7 held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours a murky dark brown with a foamy tan head that fades to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, wood, and bourbon. Taste is much the same with a woody finish on the aftertaste. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is pretty tasty and easy to drink. (524 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.47/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured side-by-side with 12 and 13. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark brown color with a bit of a thin tan head. A few legs though not much retention or lacing, as must be the case (or at least I assume--never really looked for legs in the midst of ringy lacing). Nose brings forward really nice characteristics with some oak, vanilla, roast, chocolate, bourbon, and slight caramel.

Taste is just as complex and isn't nearly headed downhill, at least as far as I can tell from never having had it before. Either way, this was the best of the bunch for me that day. Mouthfeel is fairly thick and a bit dry with a very mild tannic presence. Drinks incredibly well and I'm looking forward to getting the 11-14 together at once, as I've pretty much lost all hope of having the 10. (779 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.92/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a very dark amber with a modest head that quickly shifts to a ringlet; a galaxy of dots litter the sides of the chalice

Smell: Rich aromatics of caramel, dark fruit (primarily fig), tobacco, chocolate/vanilla, licorice and wood; just tons of wood, like an antique chest

Taste: From the outset, the wood sets the backbone against which the flavors will be measured; at first, it is fruity, with the hops playing against the wood but as it settles in, the bourbon elements start to take their position, with a boozy blend of vanilla, fig, tobacco, licorice and chocolate moving to the fore; after the swallow, a coconut aspect arrives to mellow out the bold pre-swallow flavors, while the wood and alcohol linger in the background to the finish; licorice is strong at the very end

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with low to moderate carbonation; very smooth

Drinkability: I was not that big a fan of the Ten, which overwhelmed my taste buds; the Eleven, however, rules the roost; just an incredible blend of flavor

Thanks, urwatuh8, for the opportunity (1,065 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.67/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Edit: Tried this again with 6 months of age on it and found it to be hugely improved. All of the astringency disappeared and the alcohol faded into the background, while the bourbon really came to the forefront. I have a feeling that this beer will get even better with more time on it.

Appearance - Dark, translucent brown with about an inch of tan-colored head. Retention could be better, but it's about average for a high gravity, low carbonation beer. The body of the beer looks thick and viscous, clinging to the walls of the glass like oil.

Smell - Vanilla and caramel are most prevalent. Sweet, rum-like alcohol is noticeable along with notes of molasses, dried dark fruits and oak.

Taste & mouthfeel - Vanilla, caramel, coconut rum & bourbon; subtler notes of toasted nuts and dark fruit. Thick and syrupy on the palate; very low carbonation. The finish is rough and alcoholic with a sharp, astringent bitterness similar to a young wine.

Notes - It's already very good, but it has a few rough edges that need time to soften. Much like the 10, I think it will improve greatly in 8 months to a year. I probably won't be opening another bottle for at least a year - it would be a waste to drink this young. (1,216 characters)

Photo of emerge077
3.58/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

FW vertical sampling at Luda's annual cellar clearance, thanks Ben for bringing this one!
Served in a mini-nonic, quick review from transcribed notes.

A similar appearance to the 10 that preceded it, dark brown color, murky with suspended sediment, larger bubbles clustering in a ring around the edges. Minor spotty lacing after each sip.

Smells like dead (autolysed) yeast, lightly musty.

Thinner feel and a llght astringency puts a slight damper on it, dark fruit notes of plum and fig. Lightly bitter, with some nice barrel character. Hardys-esque, leather, prunes, port flavors. Overall slightly different from the 10, the sharp feel is less appealing though. (667 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.15/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burnt sienna with garnet colored highlights. I'm amazed to see that Eleven isn't quite opaque. Then again, since 82% of the blend is brown ale, maybe that isn't so surprising. The compact crown is a creamy slice of coffee milkshake that leaves no more than a few fine feathery fingers of lace on the upper reaches of the snifter.

First, the details. This 11th Anniversary offering is a combination of four different ales: 82% Bravo (Imperial brown), 7% Rufus (Imperial amber), 7% Velvet Merkin (oatmeal stout), and 3.5% Parabola (Russian Imperial stout). The various elixirs were aged for varying lengths of time in some combination of new American oak, bourbon barrels, brandy barrels and rye whiskey barrels.

The aroma simply isn't as robust as expected. What is appreciated is wonderful, so maybe a few more degrees will open things up. At the moment, the nose contains primarily bourbon mixed with cocoa and a little vanilla bean.

Eleven is definitely good beer. Whether it's special beer or not has yet to be decided. First impressions include the need for more malt and a better mouthfeel. Here's an idea... much more RIS and much less Imperial brown ale. Now *that* would have been an outstanding strong ale. Another early impression is that bourbon is front and center. Just like I like it.

The lack of heft results in a flavor profile that is broader than it is deep. Specific flavors include bourbon whiskey (brown sugar, oak, vanilla), dark toffee, black coffee, coconut shavings and a drizzle of blackstrap molasses. Complexity is present and accounted for. Sustained complexity, which all truly great beer possesses, is not.

The 11.0% ABV is appreciated as bourbon accents rather than ethanol, as it is in some beer this big. My tongue is slowly becoming numb and my belly is becoming increasingly warm and toasty. Even if I don't agree with the final proportions, the barrel aging came off without a hitch. Bourbon flavord beer is never a bad thing.

The mouthfeel is the chink in Eleven's armor. Whatever the reason, there's no excuse for an American strong ale from one of America's best breweries to be this light (actually, it's more like light-medium for the style). That's all the more disappointing because Ten's mouthfeel was out of this world. I wonder if the loud 'pffft' on crown cracking is related somehow. At no time, however, has the beer felt overbubbled.

Firestone Eleven does not deliver on the promise of Firestone Ten. It comes close, though, and probably would have gotten there with a sturdier malt backbone. I will still enjoy the hell out the remainder of the bomber and I'm still glad that I got the opportunity to drink and review it. Thanks a million, Talisker. (2,709 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.62/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So here we go. The Firestone 11th anniversary blend. I had been saving this one, until I realized, why am I saving it? So last night, just popped it open and went for it, as I figured now is just as good a time as any. The pour was a very deep dark brown, with a nearly opaque profile welcoming me in. Really quite dark and looming as it sat in the glass. A very nice two finger high head of tan lace was perched right on top and really did not hang around long, but had enough staying power to put down a fine line of side glass lace. Looked pretty big off the bat, though nothing earth shattering just yet.

The aroma was huge, with loads of bourbon and oak infused smells just wafting into the air all around me. Lots of spicy alcohol in this one, definitely going to be a big one, and that was obvious from the first whiff that hit the air. Very nice balance of smells here with a deep grain profile, that had layer upon layer of oak barrel aged goodness heaped on top of it. The flavor was smooth as silk, and really started to punch through one you let it warm up a good bit. Lots of spice rum, and dark fruit like flavors. Hints of figs, raisins, and plums were all over this one, but the oak flavor really pulled a coup here. Lots of woody alcohol flavor here. Once it hit room temperature though it really faded away quite nicely and really became a very nice mellow sipper. Big alcohol here at 11%, and you know it is every minute. Not really feasible to go for more then one in a sitting, but this was a dozy.

Overall, I really thought this was wonderful. Lots of complex flavors, and a really nice deep profile. Great carbonation that never let it feel flat, thought it looked a little bit that way as it went down. Is it deserving of its reputation? I will let you decide, but I would definitely shell out the dough to get another one of these any day. (1,866 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.17/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The pour is dark amber in color with almost no head to speak of.

S: A lot of different forms of sweetness going on here in the nose. Caramel, chocolate, and vanilla provide that sweetness which goes hand in hand with the bourbon, dark fruit, and a bit of oak.

T: The beer has stood up somewhat well, though there is a bit of oxidation present. Like the nose would indicate, brown sugar, caramel and toffee sweetness dominate, along with just a hint of dark fruit and a fairly substantial bourbon/barrel influence.

M: The body is on the full side of medium with a very low carbonation. A bit sticky and creamy.

D: Still a pretty nice beer, but I would drink this sooner rather than later. The oxidation is noticeable and I don't think it will be getting any better. (771 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
4.49/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle into a snifter. Comes with a nice looking classy box and a certificate detailing the blending of the beer. Thanks to Deauane for sharing.

Pours a very deep, dark brown (just almost black) wtih a 1/2 finger of tan colored head. Great retention around the outer rim with some thin wisps across that center that leaves a nice smattering of lace behind. The aroma just has a TON going on with it. Notes of bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, smoke, oak, nuttiness, caramel, fruit and a touch of heat. It's all in there and everything is so very well balanced together.

The taste is similar to the aroma, being so very well balanced yet extremely complex. Oak and char arrive up front first, followed by the extremely well integrated bourbon notes. Notes of vanilla, chocolate, and dark fruit sweeten things up a bit in the rear, before finishing things with a sticky and warm feel on the palette. The mouthfeel is full and viscous with a slight boozy feel that is imparted from the bourbon notes and the ABV, although for the most part, it is fairly well hidden.

Very nice job on the blending of this anniversary beer by Firestone. It's truely a work of art to find a barrel aged beer this complex yet balanced while keeping the whole thing still fairly drinkable. I'm glad I had the pleasure of trying this. (1,316 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.54/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from Solomon420, cheers Damien!

Pours a ruby tinged ebony with 1 finger of tan head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Buttery toffee, figs, dates& rum; dissipates as this warms

T: Toffee, butterscotch, a touch of booze warmth, oaky dryness & vanilla & leafy hops up front. Some booze persists as this warms, along with buttered rum; a bit of plummyness, figs & leafy hops, a bit of chocolate & licorice. Finishes with nice dark fruits, leafy hops& a touch of brown sugar

MF: Chewy with low carbonation & medium body & stickyness

Drinks easy for the style & ABV, but proceed with caution!! This damn fine American strong ale (ASA) will knock you down if over indulged. Worth seeking out, a complex. yet approachable ASA (746 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.52/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to dukedevil0 for bringing this gem over. Largadeer shared a bottle a few months ago - but it was at the end of a long list of huge beers, so I don't remember all that much. Served in a FoBAB mini-pint glass.

A - A dime of quick-dissolving light tan foam that leaves a ring and a touch of haze. Dark brown color - semi-opaque when held to the light, with some obvious suspended solids. A few spots of lace are left as the beer is consumed.

S - There's still a little heat after two years, but it's still a little less boozy than the 10. Lots of coconut, raisins and dark fruits, brown sugar, caramel, a bit of tannic tart apple flavor.

T - This has really mellowed with minimal heat in the flavor. I see what people mean by suggesting this is going downhill - it has certainly lost the alcohol presence faster than the 10, but I don't feel that the flavor has suffered in the slightest. Sweet burnt malts, caramel, milk chocolate, vanilla and light barrel flavor. The finish is surprisingly clean and the aftertaste quite mild.

M - Soft, creamy, medium-bodied, low carbonation, minimal heat. Not sure how this could get any better.

D - I had 6oz or so and I'd be happy to have more. There's a little warmth after a full pour, but it's such good stuff that that's barely an inhibitor. Highly recommended. (1,319 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.22/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to Lunch for providing this one at our Firestone Walker tasting. We did the 10-14 diagonal side by side with Abacus, Parabola, Black Xantus, and Walker's Reserve.

a - Pours a deep dark brown color with less than an inch of white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bourbon, caramel, oak, whiskey, chocolate, toasted malts, and roasted malts. Great smell, with a ton of whiskey to it, which I loved.

t - Tastes of more bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel malts, toasted malts, and roasted malts. A slight step down from the nose, but still enjoyable.

m - Full body and low carbonation. Thick and smooth, goes down easy.

o - Overall a really nice beer. I liked this one more than the 10, but not nearly as much as the 13 and 12. Lots of bourbon in the nsoe of this one; think it was a little too much for some but I enjoyed it. Worth checking out.

My order went: 13, 12, 11, 10 tied with 14. (917 characters)

Photo of orangesol
4.19/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to clockworkorange for bringing this one to Stakem's Fish Fry.

A - Pours murky brown with a small half finger tall off-white / tan head leaving very thin streaks of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells of brown sugar, caramel, toffee, bit of chocolate, vanilla, oak and a touch of bourbon. Some definite oxidation creeps in at the end of each sniff but that is to be expected.

T - Starts off with lots of sweetness - mostly toffee, brown sugar and caramel - slowly giving way to hints of chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits, oak and some light bourbon warmth. Little to no booze and only a marginal amount of oxidation present. Finish is a little sweet, lingering on the pallet for only a short period of time after consumption.

M - Full body with a nice mild sweet flavor and moderate carbonation. Very little, if any alcohol is left and only a marginal amount of oxidation.

O - This one has held up surprisingly well. It still had all of the flavors I was expecting and the oxidation, while present, wasn't overpowering. Glad I finally got to try this one. (1,074 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
3.95/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Thorpe for organizing and hosting the vertical tasting of the Firestone walker beers. Another once in a lifetime tasting experience. Right off the bat I'm going to rank the 5 vintages we had in order of preference 13>14>12>11>>10 (the >> means much greater).

Beer is black to brown with a haze to it, doesn't seem to be as dark as the others. Thin head of tan bubbles, minimal lacing apparently low carbonation.

Aroma is sweetness and a mild bourbon with a little roast.

Beer is a little more bourbony than the 10 but the malt wins out overall, a little syrupy but not as off putting as the 10 and there is no sign of that paper-y flavor I got in the 10. The finish is even a little bitter with some sort of roast, a decent beer for sure. (770 characters)

Photo of mothman
4.45/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to masterchiefmd for sharing this at DLD. Review from notes.

Poured into Duck Rabbit snifter.

Pours a light fizzy tan head. Decent splattered lace left. Color is a dark caramel brown. Some sediment in my glass.

Aroma: Bourbon and oak. Very warming. Reminds me of a BA Bwine. Toffee and caramel with sweet fruits. Very well done.

Taste: Just like the aroma: like a warm BA bwine. Toffee, caramel, bourbon, oak, and dark fruits. I also picked up some vanilla in the taste.

Mouthfeel: Very warming and smooth. Medium to full bodied withe a decent amount of carbonation. Ends hot and a bit dry.

Overall, this beer was very well done. Drinking very easy and I know I put a decent dent in the bottle. This beer was drinking pretty good at the moment and I don't know if I would want to cellar this if I had any of it. Really glad I could try this one. (858 characters)

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul!

Firestone Walker tasting, including FW 10-14, Abacus, Parabola, Walker's Reserve, Black Xantus.

Order of preference and notes: 13, 12, 11, 14, 10
Abacus and Parabola still shined. Along with FW 13, these were my three favorites of the lineup, with FW 12 not far behind.

The beer appears dark brown, transparent to a certain degree when held to the light. The head is a thin beige cap that fades within a few moments, leaving sparse lacing.

The aroma is of roasted malt, toffee, booze.

The flavor in FW 11 is certainly better and more palatable than FW 10. Everything is more balanced, and the heat is toned down a notch.

The finish still brings a boozy kick, but thankfully, lacks any harsh burning sensation.

Overall, a solid beer, good representation of the style, and worth a try if you have the opportunity. (855 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.1/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A slightly hard pour produces an initially two-finger thick, light chocolate stained, tan colored head in my 25cl tulip glass. The beer sits in my glass a near black color with deep brown hues; when held up to the light it shows a brilliantly clear, deep ruby color. Wow, what an interesting mix of flavors. I have never gotten such a distinctive note of coconut from a barrel influenced beer before; it is really quite nice and you would swear there was actual coconut added to this brew. There is lots of other things here as well though; aromas of vanilla, light cherry, brandy soaked dried fruit, hints of clove, bourbon-soaked vanilla beans, toffee malt, light chocolate, a backdrop of toasted grain / bread crust notes. Despite being so influenced by the various barrels, this beer is quite mellow and smooth for a barrel aged beer; it is really well integrated and a true sign of the blender's art.

Quite a bit sweeter and fuller tasting than the aroma might have suggested, but still quite in line with what I was expecting of this beer before I opened it. The barrel spirits are a touch more noticeable in the flavor than they were in the nose with the various whisky components being most noticeable, but also some fruity brandy notes towards the late middle, before some more spicy bourbon notes kick in for the lingering finish. A bit of alcohol warming is found in the finish as well. Coconut flavors play a role here as well, though not quite as distinctly as in the aroma. The coconut mixes with rich toffee flavors, distinct & rich vanilla flavors and a dark, concentrated fruitiness; this last reminds me of bourbon soaked dried fruit, the types one might use in a dense fruit-cake (though the fruit plays a soft, supporting role here).

The carbonation is not overly heavy here, but does provide a nice, persistent texture to this beer that just scrubs the tongue as it flows past, though not enough to really compete with the reasonably viscous body of this brew. Speaking of which, this beer is definitely not heavy for a beer of this strength, though it is most definitely a sipping brew. At times the finish takes on some bitter cocoa notes, though in a good way; just before this though can often be found a rich chocolate-cream character. As the beer warms up it really starts to pick us some interesting spiciness in both the aroma and flavor. It is hard for me to pick out individual components, but if I had to describe it I would say it is a mix of cinnamon, fenugreek, mace and allspice; these notes are all fairly subtle, but compliment nicely the mix of vanilla, molasses and fruit notes that are found in this beer. The sweet, light roasted chocolate notes really start to come to the forefront as the beer warms too.

A tasty beer, a bit more integrated than the 10, but only just barely. Still seems to be lacking in an intenseness, a richness and even a complexity that would be necessary to make this world class. Still it is an incredibly tasty brew, that really helps to showcase what can be accomplished with blending. (3,058 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
4.92/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle, bought for $18.39 at the Costa Mesa BevMo in Costa Mesa, CA, on Monday, Dec. 17. Having been severely hyped up akin to a Dark Lord or a Darkness, I had high hopes for this beer, one of my most anticipated beers ever, it did not disappoint,

A: Pours a very dark brown, clearly brown though, with a small, light tan head, but they said in the complementary letter that they minimized the carbonation, so I'll give them a break. Very nice lacing on what head is there, however.

S: Not the fullest smell in the world, but it just smells so damn good, that I'm giving it a 5. It reminds me a lot of Angel's Share, in fact that's the first thing I thought when I smelled it for the first time. Nice oak, wood, bourbon scents, along with heavenly vanilla, I just can't stop smelling it.

T: Actually, the vanilla hits first then molds into the bourbon character. Slight coffee character is there as well, and as the beer is going down, there is this great dark chocolate note. Warming alcohol as well, but it is not fusely and unpleasant, it is smooth and light and melds perfectly with the beer.

M: So silky smooth, viscous, and warming, but it has a lightness about it and an ethanol quality about it that makes it insanely drinkable for 11% abv.

D: So drinkable, a delight going down, drank the first half of the bottle in about 5 minutes, it was so easy to drink, but I held up for about 30 minutes to let it warm up close to room temperature which just added to the complexity of the beer. Stellar production, definitely worth the hype, I will be eagerly and anxiously be awaiting the 12, or another bottle of the 11, if I can find it. Easily one of the top 5 beers of the year for me. Great job, Firestone, this beer is absolutely outstanding. (1,762 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.5/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to axilla for breaking this one out...
Appears a dark crimson toned chestnut with a small, light tan head that slowly fades into a heavy collar. Scattered lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of bourbon soaked wood, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, roasted nuts, and toffee.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with dark, ripe fruit, and some coconut coming through.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, sweet, savory, with bourbon shining through. Smooth in the finish. (466 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.72/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I've had this beer on a number of occasions, but I'm just now getting around to reviewing it. Pours very, very dark brown with ruby highlights. The creamy beige head is an inch high with good retention and some nice lacing.

The aroma is just as good as I remembered. Notes of caramel and toffee are strong. The great coconut notes I remembered in this beer are still prominent in the nose, and quite excellent. The alcohol has mellowed out quite a bit, allowing the oak and rich malt ample room to breathe. Some earthy notes are present, as well as some nice vanilla and a little bourbon.

The flavor has come along nicely since I last had this. The heat has all but died, and what lingers is rich caramel and toffee. The delicious malt is accompanied by oak, vanilla, bourbon, and that unique XI coconut flavor. The mélange of flavors in this beer are harmonious and perfect.

XI is medium - full bodied with low carbonation and a creamy, full mouthfeel.

If you have this, drink it now. I believe this is at its peak, and though there's no telling how long it will maintain its current level of excellence, I think it can only go downhill from here. (1,153 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.62/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the Buellton Tap Room. $18 and change for each bottle.

[Begin Box Quote] Since founding our brewery in 1996, we have specialized in the rare art of brewing beer in oak barrels. In the fall of 2006, we released a limited edition oak-aged strong ale called 10 to commemorate our 10th anniversary.

We now present Eleven, our second release in what promises to be an annual autumn rite at our brewery. Eleven was crafted in separate lots over 18 months, then carefully blended to create this truly unique and harmonious brew.

Each of the contributing lots was aged in American oak barrels, most of which were previously used and matured by premium American spirits producers. Each barrel lent its own bit of soul to the flavor profile, including nuances of tobacco, leather, spice and molasses.

After extensive trials, the chosen components were united in the final blend. The resulting limited-production brew offers immense depth and complexity, with long, intense flavors that beg to be sipped and savored.

Eleven is built to last and will reward careful aging for several years. [End Box Quote]

From The Press Release: http://www.firestonewalker.com/sections/news_more/news_releases/11_release07.htm

"The individual lots included Bravo (imperial brown ale), Rufus (continental imperial amber ale) and Parabola (Russian imperial oatmeal stout). The technical specifications of the final blend are 11 percent alcohol by volume and 42 IBUs."

And with all that documentation done it is time for the actual review.

A clear and yet very dark brown colored beer with red highlights when held up to the light. You will need a strong light to see through this at first I thought it was nearly black in color. Small brown head forms and falls, as you would expect with an ale this strong.

From the very second you open the bottle the scent hits you, expensive Bourbon and Canadian style whisky. Sweet and very fragrant there is a lot vanilla aroma here and not the artificial kind, this is the kind you get from Bourbon. Coconut, cherry, pineapple, cookie dough, chocolate, figs are all quite strong. Traces of citrus, cinnamon, grape and black pepper.

The taste starts out a little sweet and boozy with a fairly strong French vanilla ice cream with a shot of Bourbon taste. Coconut really comes out in the aftertaste and the alcohol level makes this quite warming, a perfect holiday beer if I have ever tasted one. Black licorice and chocolate with a little lemon zest is the next level to appear. There is a bit of rum flavor here whether there was a rum barrel used or not. Cherry and grape are minor flavors here but they could intensify as this ages in the bottle.

Very full mouthfeel.

Very drinkable to me but there are some caveats that might make this a beer that you might not like. Number one this is most certainly a bourbon barrel beer, this isn't as heavy-handed as some but not everyone likes a trace of bourbon in their beer. Second this is a high alcohol beer and you can sense it, but if you are drinking Strong Ale then you are OK with that presumably. Third this beer is one of those super complex brews that is a Rorschach test in a bottle, everyone is going to taste different things in this cause some really key in on vanilla and another chocolate, both are in here.

Honestly I don't know how much of this I am going to part with; this is damn tasty stuff. (3,397 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.79/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep brown with small carbonation and a small tannish head. Nose was vanilla, oak, bourbon, chocolate and lots of it. Taste was nice and smooth with the bourbon and vanilla being very prominent. Mouthfeel was good and warming, very smooth, roasted malts were nice to have on the mouth. This brew is well balanced considering the mixes of beer here. Drinkability is good but only one of these at a time of course.

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Sixth tasting of this brew almost two years after realease and it is still going strong! Excellent, even better now than my previous tastings. (570 characters)

Photo of John_M
4.52/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

At the HOTD tasting at Dyan's the other night. I can honestly say this is a beer I never expected to see or taste. Many thanks for pulling this gem out for dessert last night Dyan. It was all that saved me after the Cantillon Classic Gueuze.

The beer pours a darkish brown color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose, there is an interesting array of dark fruits, including prunes, plums, vanilla, chocolate and light coffee. The amount of flavor in this beer, coupled with the velvet-like mouthfeel, is just astonishing. The beer gushes milk chocolate, plum and cherry, but with just a touch of bitterness in the finish, which acts as a foil for the richness and moderate sweetness. Mouthfeel is just stunning, and is incredibly light, creamy and smooth. Drinkability is amazing in this beer, especially considering the abv. Alcohol is not the least bit intrusive, and is incredibly well integrated in the flavor profile.

Time has been very kind to this gem. Would have liked to have tried it young, but now in the sunset of its years, this beer is just exceptionally fine and refined. A classic, clearly... (1,122 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.37/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Zorro for this 650 mL bomber.

A: The strong ale looks like a stout, a moonless night that envelops everything. An eggshell white head, stark contrast to the blackness underneath it.

S: My first impressions are barleywine and oak. The barleywine aspect is rich and malty, strong no doubt with ample chocolate malts, while the oak aging adds a distinct vanilla aroma. The oak is impressively rich, an enjoyable sniffing experience.

T: The barrel (or barrels) stand out from the get go. The oak barrels have a vanilla and coconut presence that screams bourbon. Their richness lingers, well into the chocolatey malt finish of the beer. Along with the oak and bourbon, the ale does have a strong dose of red wine tannins, a flavor that contrasts a bit with the bourbon and gives me awkward burps. Underneath all of the barrels, the ale doesn't skimp on stout and barleywine flavors, rich and malty with an excessive dose of chocolate. Back to the barrels, the bourbon is most dominant (btw the flavor I appreciate most), an oaky, vanilla and coconut melange. Warming with each sip, it is fantastic.

M: The mouthfeel, dominated as it is by multiple barrels, is complex and full. The oak and its bourbon strength, paired with red wine, is divine. This beer has to be near its peak, I can't imagine it being much better. Just incredible.

D: Far too heavy and rich to spend a whole day drinking, this is a special treat that has aged nicely. Complex and soothing, I wish I had a couple more bottles. (1,505 characters)

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Firestone 11 - Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
98 out of 100 based on 172 ratings.