§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

4,394 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,394
Reviews: 840
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 1,227
Gots: 2,582 | FT: 249
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: SacoDeToro on 02-21-2008

2011 Reserve Series Bottle Notes:
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 1500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

2014 Bottle Notes
O.G. 27 Plato
F.G. 4.7 Plato
I.B.U. 42 units
Yeast: British Ale (House)
Cases: 3500 produced
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)

Matured for 1 year in a blend of Heaven Hill, 4 Roses, and Old Fitzgerald barrels.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,394 | Reviews: 840
Reviews by acbe:
More User Reviews:
Photo of neurobot01
4.27/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage, bomber into a snifter at cellar temp. Still a fair amount of alcohol heat, but the big surprise was the relative dominance of bitter flavors over sweet. All the standard FW flavors are there, though oak and toffee are at the fore. Very nice mouthfeel. Doesn't strike me as obviously better than fresh, though the barrel influence may have mellowed a bit.

Photo of PSU_Mike
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm generally against rating beers as 5s. I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect beer. But I'll be damned if I could find a fault in this one. It has a beautiful clear ruby red pour with a nice white head that lingers for a while. Hints of bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, and wood explode from the nose and explode on your taste buds. The bourbon is present but not overpowering like other BBA beers I've had. It still allows the other flavors of the beer to shine. It's incredibly smooth and full bodied with the alcohol incredibly well hidden.

While I am not a huge barleywine fan, I do enjoy them from time to time and I can appreciate the style. This one is head and shoulders above the rest. Hell, it's head and shoulders above anything I've had.

Photo of apasternak
4.1/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the few FW beers that gets better with age

Photo of stortore
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage, 22 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Have not had this before. As soon as you pop the hood, you know this is something special. Smells awesome- malty, coconut, pineapple. a little licorice when it warms. Tastes truly incredible. Sweet, malty, caramel, still getting the coconut. A little boozier as it warms. Nicely carbonated. Coats the tongue, but still feels somewhat light.

This is just a great beer- no surpise really, coming from FW. Hope I'm lucky enough to get the 2015. Hope you are too.

Photo of hopsputin
4.49/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 Batch. Drank 3/6/15

a: a murky dark brown color with some deep purple and ruby red notes. no real head, just some off-white bubbles hovering around the side of the glass - probably being kept there by the etching at the bottom of the glass

s: a very rich and luxurious aroma. vanilla, oak, tannins up front. baking chocolate. plums, fig, raisins. dark rich sticky caramel. dark sweet cherries, a very small hint of licorice. ends with the mellow barrel character

t: oak and vanilla tickle the front of the tongue. dark cherries, fig, prunes, raisins. sweet caramel, some of that bitter baking chocolate. there is a tingle of alcohol on the tongue, and it is there on the back end of the flavor along with the (bourbon?) barrel - but it isn't harsh, which is amazing given that this is coming in at 13.3%. very well crafted beer. if left to sit, and the the alcohol mellowed this would be taken to a whole different level

m: surprising light. its medium with a lot more carbonation than i expected. no head, but definitely a bit fizzy in the mouth

o: my impression is that drinking this fresh (as i am) i can tell this beer is extremely well-made, and on its own its really good. very nice base flavors in here that are harmonized well. also the fact that this is 13.3% and drinks as well is it does is super-impressive. well done. i would definitely recommend getting one and sitting on it for at least 1 year. if allowed to blend in the bottle further, this will be something extremely special

Photo of Pete_Simpson
3.5/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Too boozy. Need 3 more words to submit review.

Photo of MonkeyBread
4.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of my most sought after beers. Love barley wines. 2013 vintage from the bottle into tulip glass.

Look: box says dark ruby red and that's accurate. Reddish brown, some murkiness, minimal head or lacing. Darker coloring than your typical barley wine.

Smell: amazing! Vanilla, sweet caramel, toffee, coconut, bourbon, tobacco smokiness, leather, can notice a boozy note as well. Very sweet, smells like an incredible dessert laced with liquor.

Taste: burnt sugar, molasses, tobacco, toffee, vanilla, smoke, ripe dark fruits like dates, figs, cherries, bourbon, whiskey, oak. Of the barrel influences the bourbon is most pronounced on the nose while in taste whiskey and oak shines through more. The malt is almost like a scotch whiskey. Most surprising note to me is the smoky, peat-like tobacco flavor, was not expecting that. Really contrasts with the sweetness of the caramel and toffee.

Feel: tad more carbonated than expected. Nice chewy, thick mouth feel. Almost grainy. Pleasant and doesn't get in the way of the many contrasting bold flavors on display in taste and smell.

Overall: the bar was set extremely high here with the top ratings and being a staple of FW's barrel aging program. I think it met those expectations. Perhaps the most complex beer I've had. There's a significant amount of barrel influence in the nose and taste from bourbon, whiskey and oak. And there's a lot of sweetness along with a smoky tobacco flavor that I assume comes from the barrel aging. They all mesh together excellently. This is the top barley wine I've had. FW continues to astound with their skill.

Photo of guityler83
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%


A: One finger of head formed when poured from the bomber into a snifter glass and fell in under a minute leaving behind a small ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. The foam is tan in color and made of medium sized bubbles mostly. Nice alcohol legs are kicked up on the edge of the glass when swirled, but very little foam. The beer is a deep mahogany color and that color only comes through with a back lite.

S: Sweet bourbon dominates the nose with oak and vanilla right behind it, medium levels. Raisins and prunes with sweet plums come next at mild levels. A light spicy hop character. Candy raisins and toffee notes also present. Alcohol is mellow and mostly in the form of bourbon. Nicely developed after the 2 years it was cellared.

T: Wow, beautiful bourbon barrel character. Smooth and tobacco tasting bourbon with vanilla, caramel oak flavor - very developed and up front. Sweetness is kept to a minimum and seems to be reduced by the bourbon. Bitterness is medium with a more neutral hop character. Malty flavors come through as the beer warms up with prunes and plums consistent with the aroma. Some milk chocolate notes come out as well.

M: A big tingly tongue sensation from the bourbon that leads to a nice warming sensation from the alcohol. Carbonation is on the lower side and very complimentary with the style. The tannins from the wood provide a slight drying sensation on the mouth and the body of the beer is in the medium range.

O: Fantastic BA Barley Wine, The barrel is up front with tons of character from the bourbon left over. The alcohol is there, but not offensive or difficult to drink. This beer aged perfectly. I would like to try a fresh version to compare, but as it stands this was superb.

Photo of SkiBum22
4.53/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a rich, red-tinged black with a small white head. Minor lacing and retention.

S - Nice scent bringing lot of barley wine and barrel elements with other notes of goodness. Dark fruits come through the most, along with caramel, chocolate, bourbon, oak, light tobacco and alcohol.

T - Tons of maple and vanilla, a bit nutty, very similar to smell, some sips had some alcohol in the back of the nose

M - Surprisingly smooth. Packs a punch but in all the right ways.

O - An amazing barleywine and another amazing beer from Firestone. This to me is the second best barleywine behind King Henry right now. Glad I have a few extra bottles.

Photo of steelerguy
3.97/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark walnut brown, can only see a bit of light around the edges. Small head that fades quickly and ends up looking like flat cola after a few mins.

S - Lots of vanilla, chocolate, dark fruit, hop aroma absent. Can smell that this has spent some time in oak.

T - The smell translates to the taste very well. Very complex, again you can tell this has been aged in bourbon barrels, the vanilla flavor really comes through. Lots of chocolate malt and a bit of dark fruit, almost reminds me of a port. Again, lacking in hop character and bitterness which should be present in an American barleywine.

M - Nice, smooth, and warming. A little alcohol bite at the end. Wish it had a little more body to help balance the 13% ABV.

O - This is a good barleywine, would be even better if judged as an English style, but it is a bit lacking as an American style in the hop category. Definitely a barelywine to be tried by all loves of the strong style.

Photo of NWer
4.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 reserve series in a brandy snifter.
Alcohol notes overwhelm the senses from the get-go. Like a fine brandy only better.
This is why I now prefer beer to other alcohol choices.
Mouthfeel and aftertaste leave a very pleasant taste and feel that makes each sip a joy to behold.
Life is good when one of these are at hand.

Photo of mverity
4.73/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a large snifter after about 20 minutes out of the ice bucket. Deep reddish brown with a fair amount of tan, creamy head. Good lacing, and the collar was thick at the edge of the glass. Aroma of toffee, caramel, some woody earthiness, sweet medium roasted malt too. Taste is of toffee/caramel, leather, woody-earthy, very lightly smokey (perhaps because of the campfire). So damn good. Mouthfeel is all that barleywines should be. Appropriately carbonated, medium creamy body. I could drink this til the cows come home; too bad I have to trade for it.

Photo of Beerswag
4.81/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

8oz pour from Pangea in Sacramento Cali.2013 reserve stamped.
A- minimal 1/8" head, with a carmel hue. Bubbles are micro and gone around 60sec. Very nice leg-lacing, not rings, more like rivers. Walnut/milk chocolate color body, with slight transparacy, due to the darkness. Great looking beer.
S-vanilla, raisin, oak, cab sauv, coco,coffee,plum. Amazing profile in my opinion; a beer to share amongst your closest friends/relatives(who highly appreciate beer).
high alc up front as in the nose, finishes with coco, and oak. Not a sweet barley wine, earthy. Bourbon cask very apparent
M-nice smooth mouthfeel with a well balanced and conceptual approach. Starts big with the finish complex. On the light side as far as body-mouthfeel in my opinion, for a 12.5%er. Slight pepper tounge/woodsy palate feel.
O- this beer will only be appreciated for those who can handle complex flavor profiles, or pairs it with fine cheeses. Seems like a great bourbon aged BW to pair with a sharp/deep/rich cheeses. Fdub is my name for Firestone/Walker!conitnues to set a standard for me.

re-review: 2013 bottle no.003 stamped
aged in refrigerated cellar ar 53deg, aged 1.5years. pours a nice dark walnut shell; almost pitch-black atop and towards the bottom of the pour it is much lighter looking with the brown tones much more apparent. Head is still there and seems to have settled slightly however still very active. Lacing is spotty, big-pica-dot pattern left on the glass here, possibly the best looking beer/barley wine for sure I have come across to date. Smell is toffee, high quality dark cocoa, pecan. Taste is Dark chocolate first then toffee, then some ripe pear, chestnut, hazelnut, cashew, then a little roast, red wine and some bourbon with definite oak detected in the finish, with the barrel lending it's impression on this beer. heat from the abc lingers, and adds to the layers of flavor, that go well here (such as adding wine or cognac or vodka in to lend complexity, which may add to complexity and refinement). Sweet but not too sweet, medium bodied, and the malt profile here is impressive. Overall, do yourself a favor and serve this closer to room temp than not. Still and will always probably be my favorite barley wines. Merit is off the charts here. Food that pairs with chutneys, and a rich flavor complex. Nutty cheeses such as aged gouda. Black truffle is going to be a top notch match for this beer. Heavily browned or buttered, and earthy/spice-ful dishes. dried herbs vs fresh herbs; smoked or grilled vs. seared. Something that can stand up to one of the most tasty and complex beers in the world.

Photo of sbartnik01
4.87/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Simply Amazing
Can't wait for the next one

Photo of ElSid
4.6/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The Beers of California


Bottled Date: 1/9/2013

A: Deep brown to near pitch black with hues of burgundy when held up to the light. A khaki head rises up after pouring into a snifter.

S: Some hot bourbon along with toffee, marshmallows, espresso, and cocoa. There is a base of oak and bread which holds up the aromatic nose.

T: The alcohol is moderate and comes through as a bourbonesque bouziness. The alcohol is topped with toffee, coconut, vanilla marshmallow smoothness and mocha espresso notes. The oak is substantial with a charred edge. There are also raisins, plums, cherries and brown sugar which add a layer of complexity and sweetness. Strong earth bitterness rises mid palate and combines with the alcohol creating a warm, sharp finish.

M: Full bodied, creamy, and smooth as silk with a faint linger and carbonation.

O: Sucaba is a testament to the supremacy of Firestone Walker's barrel program. Rich, complex, and nuanced, this American Barleywine is at the top of its class. Will be interested to see how this beer drinks with time. Get a hold of this one while its still around.

Photo of tigg924
4.42/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 version--poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

Appearance: caramel brown in color, clear, 1/4 inch head, high carbonation

Smell: oak, vanilla, and toffee

Taste: oak, vanilla, slight citrus hops, big caramel and toffee with big alcohol burn at the end

Mouthfeel: very sweet with slight bitterness in the back and alcohol burn at the end, moderate carbonation, medium bodied

Overall: I loved this one and am curious to see this one aged. This really lives up to the hype. I love the oakiness here and the sweetness is not overpowering. A nice malty treat and one of the best beers I have had in a while.

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of a peerless BA comrade, enjoyed at a recent beer tasting. Cheers Brad! Something about a brew whose bottle is displayed in a box that instantly raises one's spirits. Fortunately, for this brew, the box was well deserved.

Poured into a goblet, our final brew to cap off the evening. Nice rich amber-copper in colour, with a thin but stable head of white foam.

The nose is eight different varieties of amazing. Rich caramel, sugar, oak, bourbon, vanilla, spice, a hint of smoke, and some terrific complexity. The first whiff is truly something else.

This is an absolutely stellar barleywine, that does everything I want a barleywine to do. Similar tasting notes as in the nose, with hints of chocolate, vanilla, cherry and some other pleasant unidentifiables that work together to make each sip something else. Traditional english hops finish things off.

Carbonation is a touch hot, but this brew has a nice body and coats the tongue with terrific each time. Alcohol is well-masked.

In three words: buy this beer. In a few more words: this is a terrific barleywine that was a real pleasure to sip and enjoy. Will be looking for this again.

Photo of 1Adam12
4.38/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark mahogany color. Strong nose. Lots of vanilla and caramel, bourbon, alcohol. Tastes very good. Vanilla and carmel, quite a bit of bourbon. Nice balance. The bourbon doesn't dominate to dissipate the flavors from the barleywine. Very creamy and full. Slightly carbonated, possibly over carbonated IMO. Overall this was very good. I love that it is balanced and that the bourbon doesn't dominate. My main quarrel with BA barleywines is that the oak and bourbon take away from the flavors of the beer itself. This is nice.

Photo of magictrokini
4.32/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tap @ O'Briens. Poured hazy copper-brown with a flat ring of white bubbles. No lacing. Earthy caramel and bread dough aroma with vanilla, oak, and whiskey. Boozy. Viscous, non-carbonated mouthfeel gave it the character of a liquer. Strong caramel and cherry flavors up front, then moves into the earthy, alcoholic oaken malt flavors. Somewhat of a mix between whiskey and cognac in the background. Long, sticky finish that tastes resiny, but without the bite. Definitely a sipper, but a great one at that.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.09/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. 2011 bottle, batch 001.

Pours a dark mahogany/red with a super small head, basically just some light lacing around the rim. Nose is boozy, malty, rich dark fruit its sweet and earthy.

Taste is amazing, smooth and crisp, not boozy at all, butterscotch all day on the finish, it's rich and complex, dark fruits and candidate sugar flavors, oaky vanilla notes as well, very good.

Photo of mjtiernan
4.31/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a Jester King Grand Opening snifter

A: Carbonation on the low side. A small cap appears and quickly fades leaving a thin ring which pretty much disappears after a while. No lacing is evident. Pours a deep reddish-brown hue.

S: Astoundingly complex. Bourbon, oak, lots of vanilla, chocolate, caramelized sugar, raisin, apple cinnamon and coconut. Wow.

T: The roasted sugar and chocolate appears first closely followed by vanilla and oak. The bourbon (and a nice portion of warm alcohol burn) comes last…pretty cool. I think this is gonna taste phenomenal with a year or more on it. I absolutely intend to find out.

M: Fairly viscous and perhaps a bit less carbonation than I would personally prefer but enough to tickle the tongue. The alcohol creates a lovely warming feeling.

O: I’m glad I got this review out of the way. I’ve got several more bottles of this that I can now sit back and enjoy and share with others, but I’ll probably wait till the cooler months. Can’t wait!

Photo of jondeelee
4.46/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Abacus (2013 release) opens to a malty, fruity, alcohol-soaked aroma that is instantly appealing. Perhaps most noticeable are the huge fruit esters, including fig, raisin, plum, prune, and date, as well as lighter bits of pear, cherry, and berry. These lie atop a heavy vanilla-soaked caramel-and-molasses body, with wildflower honey, honeysuckle, and loads of brown sugar thrown in, as well as a bar or two of good milk chocolate. The grains bring thick brown breads, toast crust, biscuit, rising wheat dough, and floury baguette, and the hops add just a touch of pine and grapefruit. The beer also carries a thick barrel-aged overtone of vanilla, oak, and bourbon, the latter notes combining with the darker fruit esters to lend a port-like quality. On the whole, the nose is fantastic, and what was obviously a very good Barleywine before the barrel aging has been transformed into a small slice of heaven, featuring amazingly well-balanced fruits, breads, alcohols, and hops; it’s hard to imagine how this beer could be made to smell any better.

On the tongue, the barrel aging is immediately noticeable, with bourbon-soaked vanilla beans and charred oak chips rising quickly to the surface. These are joined by the fruit esters, here bringing in fig, raisin, plum, prune, pear, and cherry, as well as bits of brown sugar and a touch of molasses. Thick brown breads, as well as toast crust and rising wheat dough, add earthy touches. Subsequent sips bring an even heavier bourbon, vanilla, and charred oak onslaught, along with bits of kola nut, and a hint of pine. The aftertaste is heavy on bourbon, with bits of sugar hanging on for dear life. Mouthfeel is medium to medium-heavy, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is very good beer, and I suspect with aging it will become even better. However, as young as my bottle is, the bourbon notes simply overpower many of the flavors, making the mouthful not nearly as mouthwatering as the aroma, and giving the beer a very strong Jack-and-Coke overtone. If I buy a second bottle of this—and I likely will—I’m going to cellar it for a good two years.

Photo of dogfishandi
4.57/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 vintage

Poured into a snifter.

Pours a deep dark ruby red brown color, some tan colored head that eventually turns to nothing. No lace but a little legs noticable.

Very nice aroma, boozey bourbon is immediately noticeable, caramel, toffe are a little noticable, and hints of wine barrel and dark fruits at first. As it warms it turns to a hot bourbony sweet aroma.

Sweet caramelly burnt sugar , butterscotch, molasses with lots of smmoth bourbon with booze throughout. Hints of fruity wine barrel, more initially but bourbon and sweet caramel dominate.

Very smooth, thick, caramelly, and sweet with some nice heat. Some very light carb which really compliments the beer. Leaves your mouth feeling like you were just eating some butterscotch candy dipped in bourbon. Very warming.

A very nice display of some fine barrel aging and blending. This beer is yet another reason why firestone continues to be one of my favorite breweries.

Photo of ehammond1
4.64/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle (2011)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

A deep copper and auburn with golden edges. Little carbonation and nearly no head.

A mind-blowing, exceptionally good smelling beer. A wonderful combination of vanilla, oak, caramel, citrus, sweet and dark fruits, and just a touch of warm alcohol presence. Tremendous! When is Firestone Walker coming out with this in a spray-on cologne?

A sweet barleywine with lots of cherry and orange flavor, as well as vanilla and an oaken earthiness from the barreling. It all comes together remarkably well, and is certainly the easiest beer to drink I've ever had of this strength. While still a sipper, this one finds it's way to my lips so often because I can't stop sniffing it. A marvelous effort and a very special beer.

Medium to thick beer, a touch oily, though it isn't a problem at all with a beer this style. A fine sipper.

An incredible barrel aged barleywine. The aroma is one of a kind and out of this world, while the flavor is close behind! Bravo!

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.74/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage

A: Poured into my FW Pint glass, this brew pours a wonderful, deep burgundy. The head isn't strong enough to last even a minute, which is very displeasing. I expect more in a barleywine.

S: The aroma is more complex than any barleywine I've had to date. The malt adds notes of chocolate, dark toffee, oak, vanilla, apple cinnamon all with a splash of bourbon.

T: The flavor follows suit. Chocolate and toffee coat the pallet. Rich oak/vanilla tones follow. Bourbon is in the background ever so lightly. Alcohol is evident, but very well hidden.

MF: Mouthfeel is good without being incredible. Possibly one of the only flaws, I would have liked a thicker body to this brew.

Overall, Firestone Walker always impresses me with their brews. Another offering that I just love. This one will definitely age with the best of them. I can only see this beer gaining in complexity over time.

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,394 ratings.