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§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
§ucaba§ucaba

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

802 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 802
Hads: 4,472
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 8.11%
Wants: 1,234
Gots: 2,624 | FT: 263
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 802 | Hads: 4,472
Photo of Sammy
3.9/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at City Beer Store. Good barleywine aromas, creamy mouthfeel, A tad of creamy off-white head on brown. Carbonation was a tad fizzy. Decent drinkability, I could have much more in a meal. A decent barleywine,British in character though not exceptional on this day. (270 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.84/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a dark crimson red/dark brown with a very, very small tan head that fades to nothing. The head came out very fizzy, much like a soda. No lacing whatsoever on the drink down. The smell coming off this beer is absolutely fantastic. Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, brown sugar, cherry, coconut, earthy woods all come out of the glass. I spent about 5 minutes just smelling this beer before I even took a sip. Not surprisingly the taste is out of this world. The first taste that I get is toasted coconut. This is followed by sweet caramel/toffee, candied cherries, and very subtle hints of chocolate. There is an aftertaste of some woody notes from the barrels. This beer has a good level of carbonation which I think helps it from being too thick and cloying. This is by far the best barleywine I have ever had. The 13% ABV is really not noticeable at all. The aromas and flavors mesh together amazingly well. I have 2 more of these in my cellar and I can't wait to see how these age. I am going to seek more of these out for sure. (1,034 characters)

Photo of metter98
4.44/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is very dark reddish brown in color. It poured with a thin beige ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass and a small patch of bubbles in the center.
S: There are moderately strong aromas of bourbon, oak toffee and vanilla in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste is somewhat sweet and has complex flavors of bourbon, caramel, toffee and vanilla.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and smooth on the palate and has some hints of stickiness. There is a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is a great beer to sip because it continually keeps your taste buds interested due to its complex flavors. It definitely tastes quite strong but the alcohol does not detract from the taste. (704 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.7/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap as a guest draft at Dark Lord Day 2009.

A: Fairly dark--especially for the style. Some reddish highlights with a light, cream-colored head.

S: Oak, roasted malt, chocolate, and bits of vanilla. The oak definitely came through, as I had this not too longer after sampling the Oak Aged DL.

T: Fairly-roasted malt with some caramel/toffee taste as well as a certain earthiness to the underlying malt. On top of this lies some of the oak/wood flavors as well as characteristics of chocolate and hints of vanilla. A bit of bourbon in there, too.

M: Very chewy and quite heavy. Fairly low carbonation.

D: Quite drinkable, as the alcohol is hidden, but not too much. (671 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.55/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

this is as good as a barleywine can get for me, a style of beer I don't always rush to score because of the heavy fusel alcohols and mess of grains usually accompanying American versions. this however, is a masterpiece! thanks to claystation for hooking it up. 2013 release. it pours a deep mahogany color, dense but not particularly cloudy, with a tall and fairly long lasting off white head. the nose is very complex, but also mellow. I definitely get red wine, charcoal, bourbon, rye malt, caramel, and alcohol. the different barrel blends really come out in the nose and the taste, giving a lot of layers to this monster. the flavor features some vanilla and some toffee, brown sugar, but its not too sweet, and some dried fruits in the date or fig range. again, the complexity is stunning. furthermore, the alcohol content of this beer in not caustic or hot like I expected it to be. its in fact quite tame, just warming, appropriate. this is also oddly drinkable for its magnitude. its soft in feel, but very well carbonated, and the body is full but not filling per se. I cant say enough about this one, everything is dialed in, and its a beer only firestone walker could pull off. its got their signature all over it. I was hesitant and skeptical to see a barleywine so high in the BA rankings, but this makes perfect sense now that ive had it. I will look forward to my next bottle with great enthusiasm! a must try. this is pretty much the end all and be all of the style for me. (1,489 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.42/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: With a 13% ABV, it is a rare beer that will produce much of a head, so it is not surprise that this one fades quickly, leaving the caramel-colored liquid denuded

Smell: What it lacks in head, it makes up in aroma, with a rich combination of fruit (hints of fig, date and black cherry) and spice cake (brown sugar, toffee, cinnamon and vanilla), ensconced in the Bourbon barrel

Taste: Spice cake favors, up front, followed by the fruit and budding vanilla/brown sugar elements; earthy hops add some balance, at mid-palate, with the Bourbon barrel adding complexity to the finish

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied with low to moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: This is a really nice English Barleywine that is brimming with complexity and hides the alcohol mysteriously well

Thanks, jodan, for the opportunity (835 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.76/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Another big thanks to jzeilinger for cracking a bottle of this brew for us to try. This was one I've wanted to try for a while and I'm honored to say that I finally had it. The beer poured out as a deep amber color with some brown hues to it. The head was white and actually stuck around for a little while. There was a light lacing on the glass too. The smell of the beer is sweet and earthy, lots of caramel and toffee notes along with some hops too that I am a bit surprised to pick up. The barrel aging also comes in on the nose too. The taste of this beer is awesome. I can't even explain the kind of flavors I experienced here. There is some serious complexity here. The mouthfeel is very good too, it's super smooth with a nice subtle carbonation to it,. Overall this was great, There is no doubt that I will buy this for myself one day to have it again. I miss this beer already and it's only been a few hours since i had it. Very very good stuff. (955 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.62/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Extremely complex, powerful, and gentlemanly, this Barleywine carries a plethora of flavors but without the heavy body that's normally associated with the style. Warm body with amazing drinkability sets this one apart.

Deep garnet in color, the beer allows for only the most supple of light to announce it's ruby-like glow. Low carbonation, the beer forms a creamy light head that disipates early in the session- seemingly very port-like.

A potpouri of aromas erupt from the glass, with the shape of maple, toffee, chocolate, plumbs, grapes, figs, walnuts, oak, bourbon, sherry, vanilla, cherries, and currants- the independent notes seem endless.

Sweeter malty notes show in flavor first with the maple syrup, toffee, vanilla, and chocolate. Very savory and succulent before the alcohol ushers in the powerful flavors of bourbon, rum, cherries, berries, light coffee, mild toast, and oak. Late flavors of alcohol and fruit bring about the strong estery notes and balance of oak, walnut, and bitter alcohols.

Rich and sweet early, the low levels of carbonation allows the full weight of the beer to rest on the taste buds- seemingly heavy and chewy. But the beer's thinning alcohols lighten the brunt of malty character and give a warm and numbing effect on the mouthfeel. Powdery woods and mild tanins give balance late for impressive dryness and palatable weight.

A world class barleywine that makes a statement with intense alcohols and a remarkably dry finish and smooth variety of flavors. Where a mystery flavor seems to emerge with each sip, so does the intensity of alcohols that seem to distract from time to time. This the only reason to keep it from top scores.

Thanks given2flybrewing! (1,703 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.85/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a medium clear amber color ale with a small foamy head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of bourbon and corn is very deep with some sweet caramelized malt notes. Taste is a very rich mix between some bourbon notes with light corn ester and some deep caramelize sugar. Bourbon is intense though not too much too ruin the balanced though vanilla notes are harder to distinguish. Residual sugar is also not too overwhelming and some attenuation remains to keep some kind of balance into this big beer. Well done and something I would have again. (567 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.42/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a tulip, 2011 batch. Clear ruddy brown in the pour, more foggy in the glass. Seems a shade or two lighter than batches of Abacus I've had on tap in the past, more of a traditional barleywine color than a near opaque dark brown. The off-white head doesn't last long, receding to a crown after a moment.

Smells good. Really good. Plenty of brown sugar and toasted coconut, with a leathery, earthy note of oxidation. Some alcohol is evident, but not much considering how fresh this is. There's a lot of barrel here, contributing the expected caramel-vanilla richness, and beneath that I pick up subtle dried fruit sweetness, somewhat date-like.

At this point, it tastes even better than it smells. Alcohol again is noticeable, but pushed aside by layers of caramel, coconut and and roasted nuts. Oxidation isn't as present on the tongue as it was on the nose, I only get a faint trace of cocoa and leather. It's a rich, sweet beer, but remarkably easy to drink - maybe because it isn't terribly syrupy or hot, but I find myself drinking this a lot faster than most barrel aged barleywines.

There is a slight heat to the finish, especially as it opens up, but it's nothing that a couple months of age won't solve. Toffee and tobacco linger in the finish, along with a slight woody/tannic note.

Overall, yeah, this is awesome. At $15 per bottle, there isn't much to complain about here. I wish it were easier to find, but that isn't the beer's fault. World class stuff. (1,480 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.64/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 edition.

Poured into a tulip glass, served at 52º cellar temperature.
Frothy spotty lace around the edges, sturdy collar of foam and a wispy broken skim across the surface after a few minutes. Glinting highlights of saturated crimson where the light gets through.

Aromas of English toffee with crushed almonds, maple syrup and freshly toasted creme brulee. Traces of oak and sweet vanilla. Spec-fucking-tacular.

Flavors of toffee, toasted almonds, syrupy maple, caramel, almond toffee. Light woody bitterness on the back end. Chewy, fudgy, decadent... smooth and luxurious. This is some serious stuff to get lost in. Full bodied and packing a punch, the alcohol heat is well integrated but still lurking in the periphery. A frostbitten winter beast that's a real treat to sit with and sip over an hour or two.

Far from "fallen off" this is as good as it was 8 months ago when I had it last. (902 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a dark, dark burgundy color with a small, off-white head of foam. Nice retention with a soapy residue of lace.

S - It smelled of sweet caramel malt with some floral notes and sweet citrus fruits.

T - It tasted spicy with a sweet caramel maltiness. It had a nice toasty flavor, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry, snappy finish.

O - This is a really good barleywine. Delicious on tap. (447 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.54/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had the pleasure of splitting this one with calton last night and what a great beer, poured into my pint glass and enjoyed on 5.24.11

great look here with a nice hazelnut brown color and a smooth and even head of light tan that really seemed to show quite nicely how well it would be.

aroma was to die for with rich vanilla tones, tons of barrel and just a huge oaky and caramel presence. this was a monster for sue. it seemed each sip became more complex then the one before and soon i was totally sucked into its workd and just beaten down. nice light feel , a bit different then what i would have thought but overall i think it was quite nice.

an outstanding ba barleywine for sure! (688 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to LtDan (from RB) for a sample of this one.

A: The pour is a dark, rich amber color with a small off-white (perhaps beige) head.

S: The nose has an incredibly rich fruitiness to it which I really was not expecting. Plenty of sugar, caramel, bourbon, vanilla and oak in the nose as well.

T: The nose gave this one a lot to live up to, and I'm happy to say the flavors delivered! A lot of caramel and toffee sweetness, obviously, but also some really great barrel character as well. The bourbon, vanilla, oak, and even some hop bitterness really round this beer out.

M: The body is very full with a low level of carbonation that works well here.

D: Normally you don't associate barleywines with easy drinking, but this one is so smooth and delicious that it's easy to keep going back for more. I can't wait until this is bottled. (845 characters)

Photo of nickfl
4.35/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - poured with a small head of off white foam on top of a black body with clear amber highlights showing through. The head settles quickly and leaves little lace.

S - Earthy aromas of chocolate and cinnamon with lots of toffee and a hint of pine hops.

T - Sweet, dark caramel and toffee up front. Spicy cinnamon and chocolate flavors come out in the middle. The beer finishes with fruity notes of red apple and licorice with molasses and thick caramel. Pipe tobacco and brandy linger in the aftertaste.

M - A thick, slightly oily body, moderately low carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - Complex, interesting, and intense. This beer is very drinkable for done thing of this strength, though it really should be served in a small snifter. I imagine that this is the sort of beer that would continue to improve for years, though it didn't seem to need any age when I had it. (885 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tulip glass.

Big thanks to Alpar for sharing this bottle!

I haven't busted out an abacus since seventh grade math class. Let's hope this beer tops those memories (not much of a challenge, really). It pours a dark garnet-brown topped by a finger of dirty off-white foam. The nose comprises sharp caramel, mild cocoa, graham crackers, and butterscotch. The taste reunites all of these elements, while simultaneously introducing them to a few newbies: ruby red grapefruit, orange peel, and mandarin orange flesh. The body is a solid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and an oily, sorta syrupy feel. Overall, a more-than-solid b-wine, though I'm not sure it deserves all of the praise it gets. Don't get me wrong: this is some tasty stuff, but there are many better barleywines more readily available. (819 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.37/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a reddish amber color with a layer of off white head that goes away completely as the beer sits.

Smell: This is a sweet one with some vanilla, bourbon, dark fruit and caramel notes. There is some warmth that you pick up when you smell it.

Taste: Lots of vanilla from the barrel along with bourbon, raisins, and caramel. The beer is a bit hot, but this is a fresh bottle, so I was expecting as much. Even with the head, it's still a pretty smooth drinker.

Mouthfeel: Medium to slightly thick body with tingly carbonation and a slick finish.

Overall: Very sweet and smooth. The notes from the barrel are very nice. This is a delicious beer and I would be happy to have another. (736 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.42/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tap at Armsby Abbey

Fluffy 1/2 finger head fades at med pace over super dark brown color

Nose lots if aged soft malts, dark malts, crystal, caramel, molasses, toffee, some dark fruits, lots of aged malt aromas, very light earthy hops.

Taste aged malts, dark fruits, light fig and raisin, light fluffy malts, crystal and caramel, molasses, toffee, bit of minerality but not much, bit of a very dark roast, some booze but not much for 12%, light earthy hops. Chewy, soft, light choc, tasty. Finishes a bit bitter, light minerality, aged malts lingering, drier, it gets a nice earthy and slight spicy hop on the finish.

Mouth is a bit heavier bodied with decent carb.

Overall great, cross between old ale and barleywine. Very soft, delicate and tasty. (753 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.13/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap 4/3/2011 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark reddish brown color, large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains candy sugar, dark fruit, caramelized malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out very sweet with strong flavors of brown sugar, caramel & dark fruit. The malt character is very hearty and there's some chocolate in the background. There's also a mild alcohol sting which is to be expected with a 13.00% ABV. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings some balance. The after-taste is likewise sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, slightly filling, very strong kick, good representation of style, for a high-gravity sipper this is a good beer to drink for as long as you're able to handle it. (927 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.45/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011

Real thick malts on the nose of this one. Figs are in there as well, but as an accent. Flavor is nice. Smooth and fairly sweet with a bit of a boozy thing to it. Maple seems evident on here as well. Smooth, certainly. But as it's a 2011, it could probably use some age to harness some complexity. As it stands now though, it's quite good. Few barleywines are able to get to this point so fresh. And that is worth noting. After several beers before this, and drinking them "too fast," I wanted a sipper. This is that. Something to relax with, savor, and enjoy. A notable beer. (581 characters)

Photo of russpowell
4.11/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one kenm1228, cheers Ken

Pours a chill-hazed chestnut with a pinky of khaki colored head. Nice viscosity with minimal lacing & no head retention

S: Vanilla, bourbon, dark fruit (cherries), a bit of booze

T: Follows the nose, rich cakeyness to go with some butter rum notes as well up front. Jammy notes mix with raisins & figs as this warms, along with dryness, some woody & herbal hop presence as well. Finishes dry, fruitty, with some rich oaky notes

MF: Chewy, low carbonation, nice balance, warming booze there as well.

Started strong, but faded a bit as it warmed; still a keeper (599 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Deepak for breaking out a batch #1 at a recent tasting.

Deep darker amber pour, with a small beige head that retained as a thin ringlet. Nice sugary nose, toffee and brown sugar, raisins, bourbon, and surprisingly, quite a bit of the wood/barrel profile remained even after aging for a couple years. The aroma was reflected in the taste, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, hint of vanilla, bourbon barrel, raisins, herbal and earthy hops in the distance. Chewy mouthfeel, full body. A great barleywine overall. I have a few bottles of other vintages that I'm looking forward to sampling soon. (598 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.11/5  rDev -30%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Served on-draught into a snifter at Firestone Walker's taproom in Paso Robles (NOT tasting room) on its grand opening day. This was my first beer there as I was really excited to try it given its reputation. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours no head at all. Not even a floater about the edges. Colour is a murky dark caramel brown-black; maybe black cherry (though that makes it sound far more appealing than it is). Not horribly appealing.

Sm: Fruit esters - perhaps cherry. Mulled wine, spice, a bit of vinegar, and fresh yeast. An attractive aroma. Mild in strength.

T: Black cherry alongside almond, alcohol, caramelized malt, and other clean malts. Decently balanced but far from impressive. Decently built, but nothing to write home about. How did this beer get such a good reputation? Very strange as a barleywine, and not in a good or experimental way. Warm alcohol comes through. Neither complex nor subtle.

Mf: Smooth and wet, suiting the flavours okay. Far from good. Not tailored to the flavours by any stretch. Way too thin for the style. Fails to adequately support the flavours.

Dr: Drinkable but not exceptional. Hardly hides its ABV at all. I expected far better given its reputation. I wouldn't have it again. People pay $20.00 a bottle for this? Trade your bottles away, lads. Get something worth your time.

I really hope this gets better with age. This isn't worth seeking out. As a fan of barleywines, I'm very disappointed.

C+ (1,458 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.86/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Brown color brew with a decent off white head. No lace, though.

Semisweet with an alcohol kick. A bit of berry to the nose as well. Closer to an apertif in the smell than a beer.

Strong alcohol, almost a Chambord taste. There's a slightly burnt flavor to the swallow. Rich body with a diminished carbonation. Think brandy with carbonation. (344 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.62/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Toronado a couple times - got a preview before the big party thanks to an extremely generous and amazing bartender. Served in a small tulip glass.

A - One and a half fingers of tan foam with surprisingly good retention that dissipates to a ring - pretty impressive considering the alcohol. Attractive hazed dark red/brown color, although I think it gets darker as one nears the bottom of the keg.

S - Burnt sugars, dark fruits, vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, wood, cocoa, molasses, a touch of booze. It's amazing - the only knock is the slight harshness of the alcohol as it warms up.

T - Thankfully the alcohol heat doesn't show up at all in the taste, which otherwise is just as good, if not better, than the aroma. The complexity and depth of flavor is immaculately preserved. When I think of barrel-aged barleywines, this flavor is my reference sample.

M - Low carbonation, medium-thick body, some light alcohol heat as it goes down. Pretty much spot on for the style.

D - It's a slow sipper, and at 12% it can quickly wear down my sobriety, just as fast as the intense flavor wears down my palate. Just a touch less drinkable than the awesome 10, as this batch seemed a little younger and hotter. (1,214 characters)

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§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
98 out of 100 based on 802 ratings.