§ucaba (Abacus) - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 2,756 | Reviews: 689 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by CrellMoset:
4.05/5 rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
22 oz. black foiled bottle picked up at Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA. Poured in to a 22 oz. brandy snifter.
Appearance: Pours a brown beer bottle, dingy, russet auburn, transparent at the offset, but - as it begins to fill up the snifter - increasing progressively in opacity until it's entirely devoid of internal light. A fizzy, bubbly, chaotic head - slightly tan, creamy and fine-bubbled albeit severely lacking in the stick and retention normally necessary to coax the descriptor "creamy" out of me - fades to an incredibly fine, thin ring inside ten seconds. An initial burst of carbonation kept the head alive for that brief time, but this burst fades to a stream of slowly creeping effervescence around the periphery of the snifter. At 13.0% with a barrel aged beer, you don't expect much more, but it's still slightly disappointing, given what you would expect to be a pretty high hop protein concentration.
Aroma: Brown sugar, maple, caramel, and toffee toastiness mingle citrus notes, tropical fruits, and a slew of astringent barrel notes. It's a little harsh and a little muddled, nicer when chilled rather than warm, with a few pleasant spicy and sweet coconut, vanillin, cinnamon notes emerging when chilled (as well as an interesting rum-like undercurrent from the booziness mingling with the dark fruits), contrasted with a much harsher nose as it hits room temperature.
Taste: An interesting taste profile - initial impressions, this is one that both soars in places but also stumbles in just a few. First, the malt profile is fat but not over the top. It's about one step past an equal-parts sweet/dry mixture - towards the sweet side, that is. Honey notes blend with intense caramel roastiness which merges seamlessly with darker toffee, brown sugar, and a hint of butterscotch which themselves meld in to a few heavier, toasty notes: cocoa, well-done toast, a few earthy, biscuity, dry notes. There's also plenty of citrus and fruit - a definite mango presence mingles nicely with a slew of vaguely tropical fruitiness, tons of hoppy citrus, pineapple, and, unsurprisingly, coconut (more on that soon). The remaining fruity notes are darker, but they seem to be more subdued - cherries, stronger dates, a little figginess, some pretty pungent raisin notes, hints of plum, and even some slightly tart prunes.
The barrels, on the other hand, are a bit ... well, muddled. Brandy fruity notes, rye spiciness, bourbon sweetness ... it's all a bit lost amidst a barrage of heat, unpleasant spice, and astringency. There are a few pleasant vanilla notes and plenty of toasted, barrel sugar-esque coconut notes that emerge from this party, but the big takeaway is that there's a lot going on here, and most of it doesn't jive with most of the rest of it.
Mouthfeel: Smooth regardless of the carbonation level, and maybe this beer's best quality. About as creamy as you'd want with the hop level and spicy spirit notes and about as erratic as you'd want with the sweet malts and barrel sugars, the end result here is balance. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good.
Drinkability: I was a little underwhelmed by this beer. It's no Parabola - it's hotter, more astringent, and a little less flavorful. And at 13.0%, it's going to kick your ass if you're not careful ... and maybe even if you are. Drink this one with food (specifically, with dessert), and don't drink it alone if you can help it. I think this beer could be a lot more if they became a little more focused with the barrel aging, and maybe even a little more focused with the baseline malts and hop profile ... thinking back on the "big picture" of this beer makes it even a little more hazy. Regardless, on the whole it's definitely an above average brew, one I'm glad to have tried, though I question its price tag.
Serving type: bottle
04-06-2011 23:28:43 | More by CrellMoset
More User Reviews:
4.81/5 rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
Nice color with a slight lacing.
Smell is oak and alcohol might be the weakest link here.
Taste oak is there, blending in very nicely with the high abv. Vanilla with light fruity taste.
Overall : English Barleywine where ya been all my life?
My first English Barleywine won't be my last. What difference does it matter what I say it is a limited production run so if you get your hands on a bottle do yourself a favor.
Overall a great beer I would put this on par with some of the finest Scotch Whiskys.
Very complex there is a whole lot going on in this bottle.
Serving type: bottle
03-08-2014 20:36:14 | More by Buannaich
§ucaba (Abacus) from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 2,756 ratings.