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§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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3,441 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,441
Reviews: 739
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.17%
Wants: 960
Gots: 2,015 | FT: 175
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
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)

(Beer added by: SacoDeToro on 02-21-2008)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,441 | Reviews: 739 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of leeswagerty


5/5  rDev +10.4%

03-04-2012 06:24:19 | More by leeswagerty
Photo of arizcards


4.45/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber of batch no 002 today from Bevmo for $14.99. I have a bomber of 001 in the wine fridge and look forward to comparing them!

Beer poured a reddish-brown with some head that quickly went away.

Nose is a little boozy with some oak, vanilla, and some hints of chocolate - quite nice!

Taste was hugely warming upon initial sip. Flavors picked up include chocolate, vanilla, light bourbon, and some raisins. The finish is very clean and not cloying at all.

Mouthfeel is full viscosity which helps make this brew satisfying for me. It is pretty smooth as well.

Overall this is a solid brew, i look forward to trying batch 001 with a year behing it!

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2012 00:13:47 | More by arizcards
Photo of otrejo


4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

03-02-2012 22:07:57 | More by otrejo
Photo of WankelEngine


4.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a murky dark brown with a light tan head. The head fades quickly to form a ring of foam around the edge of the glass.

S: The smell is malty and fruity. Toffee, brown sugar, raisins and alcohol. A little bit of oak.

T: Similar to the smell. Sweet fruit and malt dominate. Bourbon flavors come through clearly and give the finish a nice alcohol heat. Smoky oak flavor is more prominent than in the smell. Fairly sweet with molasses and toffee rounding out some of the bourbon.

M: Thinner than I expected with more carbonation than most barrel aged beers.

O: A fantastic example of what barrel aged barleywine should be. Warm, fruity, and with delicious notes of bourbon.

Serving type: bottle

03-02-2012 02:22:00 | More by WankelEngine
Photo of todisht


4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

03-01-2012 03:26:38 | More by todisht
Photo of ArchEnemyBrew


4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

02-29-2012 16:34:03 | More by ArchEnemyBrew
Photo of SalukiAlum


4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

02-29-2012 01:05:01 | More by SalukiAlum
Photo of jdprmd


5/5  rDev +10.4%

02-28-2012 07:01:37 | More by jdprmd
Photo of mdaschaf


4.45/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Shane for trading me this one! 2011 Vintage.

A: Pours dark reddish/brown color with a small tan, foamy head on top. Not much retention, leaving a ring on top. Minimal lacing.

S: Lots of caramelized sugars, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Some dark fruits come out as well as some molasses.

T: The bourbon is not as pronounced in the flavor profile, but there is still a lot of vanilla and dark fruits, mostly raisins, prunes, and plum. Some caramel, toffee, and butterscotch.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. No sign of the 13% whatsoever. Drinks incredibly smooth.

O: A fantastic beer, one of the best barleywines I have had. A slow sipper that I enjoyed over the course of the evening.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2012 03:40:43 | More by mdaschaf
Photo of mjaggers


4.55/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a St. Bernardus chalice

A- Mahogany, almost no head that dissipated quickly, fantastic color to this beer

S- Fantastic. Bourbon, vanilla, oak. Everything to love in a BA beer. Touch of caramel.

T- Sweet. Decent alcohol heat as expected. Great flavors with the vanilla and bourbon at the front as expected.

M- Might have a bit more carbonation than I expected but sits really well.

O- Terrific beer. May get better with age as the carbonation mellows a bit.

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2012 00:02:22 | More by mjaggers
Photo of SiflandOlly


4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

02-27-2012 23:09:03 | More by SiflandOlly
Photo of pirmannt1


5/5  rDev +10.4%

02-27-2012 17:43:00 | More by pirmannt1
Photo of DustinSmall


4.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass

A- Dark ruby, mahogany, red notes on the curves, small head maybe a half of a fingers worth, it left quite quickly, but its just a great looking beer

S- The smell is amazing right off teh bat you get huge oak, and bourbon flavors, some vanilla is there, along with toffee and caramel, as it warmed up the bourbon became more up front it smells amazing

T- This taste amazing, plenty of bourbon, caramel, toffee flavors, but there is a nice underlying sweet fruity flavor that does a great job to cut some of the bourbon heat

M- Perfect for this beer, medium feel not too heavy but not to thin either, the carbonation is on point there is enough there to enhance the flavor but it didnt assault the mouth

O- Great great beer, awesome mouthfeel, appearance, smell, and taste were all there and blended perfectly together

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2012 16:28:54 | More by DustinSmall
Photo of morningthief


4.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into an oversized wine glass. Special thanks to a non-BA friend for the hookup!

Color is dark ruby as described, with little semblance of any head and no lacing. Little darker than I'd prefer from a barleywine, but still very rich in color.

Smell from the bottle is all bourbon and oak, with some cookie thrown in for good measure. In the glass the heat and bourbon are more prevalent, but there is lots more going on here. With time, more maple and cookie flavors develop, with vanilla being the dominant characteristic. Smells amazing with each sip.

The flavor that follows is intense caramel malt, with plenty of toffee, oak, maple, and vanilla to back it up. Some fruitiness is present in the finish that counteracts the heat quite nicely. Hop flavor is non-existent but some faint bitterness is present. Nice balance, amazing flavor. With warmth, the vanilla comes out in full force. I'm typically no fan of vanilla flavor in beer, but it's well balanced, and presented here as more of a vanilla one would experience in a red wine. Masterfully done and always welcome.

Overall, this is a beer that every craft beer fan should try if given the opportunity. Firestone Walker really sets the bar with their barrel fermenting/aging profile, and they are certainly masters of their craft.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2012 23:18:52 | More by morningthief
Photo of siege06nd


4.53/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage

A. Pours a cloudy, dark ruby brown. A quarter finger of light brown head quickly dissipates to a dusting around the edges. Faint lacing.

S. Excellent. One of the top examples for style. Ripe plum, cherry, dark fruit, and some raisin. Fairly assertive vanilla, wood, and bourbon. Little bit of chocolate in there as well.

T. Chocolate, oak, bourbon, vanilla. Ripe fruit is a little more subdued in the flavor profile. The barrel is very assertive right now, with the wood and char dominating. Very very good, but I suspect this will improve with a few more months on it.

M. Smooth and silky. Quite a bit of heat and barrel character that needs to be evened out. Full bodied, light moderate carbonation.

O. It's doesnt eclipse Mother of All Storms and I wont do it the disservice of comparing it to King Henry, which is really a stout as opposed to a barleywine, but Sucaba is one of the very best barleywines out there. It is hot and rife with barrel out of the box, but I am eager to see what age does to this. Excellent now, could be ridiculous later. One of my very favorites.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2012 18:11:57 | More by siege06nd
Photo of brez8791


4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

02-26-2012 17:59:18 | More by brez8791
Photo of johnnyboy76


4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

02-26-2012 04:56:10 | More by johnnyboy76
Photo of Proteus93


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

Okay, so §ucaba or Abacus... whichever works, I suppose. This is the 2012 release. Picked up at my local Whole Foods, where I'm finding a better beer selection on every visit.

A: Deep mahogany, topped with a rather pale head. It doesn't last long, but leaves a thin collar around the top. There's something oddly 'still' about this beer. Calm before the storm?

S: Dark fruits, followed by the vanilla nuances and woodiness. Often times, these types of beers will have an incredibly potent whiff of vanilla / bourbon aged wood... this has a nice balance and is a little more subdued.

T + M: Big and sweet... flavor is quite rich, and full of the same dark fruits that were noted in the nose. Body is big and chewy. Some nice, spicy notes from the alcohol content, blending in quite nicely with the malty, caramel sweetness and fruit flavors.

D: A very well balanced and enjoyable brew. A quality brew, perfect for a relaxing evening of sipping and reading or just getting lost in thought.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2012 02:57:21 | More by Proteus93
Photo of tbeq00


5/5  rDev +10.4%

02-25-2012 18:33:15 | More by tbeq00
Photo of FarmerTed


2/5  rDev -55.8%

02-25-2012 15:15:58 | More by FarmerTed
Photo of RViator325


5/5  rDev +10.4%

02-22-2012 05:14:25 | More by RViator325
Photo of fjl77


5/5  rDev +10.4%

02-21-2012 23:29:15 | More by fjl77
Photo of brewinglawyer


4/5  rDev -11.7%

02-21-2012 22:53:44 | More by brewinglawyer
Photo of Arbitrator


3.45/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Re-review, batch 2.

I've left my comments for the original batch below. I tried approximately 18 bottles of it from release to September 2011, and I decided I do not like how this beer ages. Yes, you could make the argument that it hasn't finished aging, but since it fell off so quickly, I don't anticipate the trend reversing. On a general note, I don't think most barrel-aged beers need age, and I've found that Firestone Walker beers have nowhere to go but down, so this is how I've reached my conclusion.

That being said, batch 1 was spectacular fresh, so I picked up a couple of bottles of batch 2 to consume immediately.

A: The body is a clear chestnut color, though in the center of the glass it darkens and becomes murky. The head is a half-pinky finger of tan head that collapses quickly into a thin collar.

S: Bourbon, vanilla -- that rich barrel-forward character is back. Coconut, raisins. The beer is all barrel, carrying a noticeable heat that singes the nostrils. If you're looking for some of the base beer to shine through, look elsewhere.

T: Mild contributions of caramel and toffee suggest some of the base beer is coming out. But as in the nose, this is all barrel. Nutty bourbon with raisins (not the treacly, sharp profile of sherry oxidation, but rather the sweeter, fleshier end of the spectrum that suggests a dessert wine). Was this partially aged in wine barrels? Vanilla, oak, and heat in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied. It doesn't have the thick richness of something like King Henry, but its heat is quite brash and noticeable, with a strong warming effect. In my first review of batch 1, I predicted that the heat would die down and the flavor would be in balance. I was wrong; the heat lasted for the better part of a year, with the flavors becoming more mellow and less expressive as time passed. So I expect similar things here. I didn't get any bottles for aging.

O: This is quite good, but it's outmatched by other barrel-aged barleywines, such as Wooden Hell, King Henry, Arctic Devil, BA Hi-Fi Rye, and Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barleywine. I found King Henry especially rich and barrel-forward, as well, but it had enough base beer contribution to seem more substantial. I like Sucaba, but it's not in my top tier for the style. I enjoy it more than Mother of All Storms, at least.


Original review of batch 1:

Chilled bomber into a glass. It's not like we often have bad weather in CA to enjoy some of these big beers, so I make do. It's raining a bit. TIME FOR A WARMING BEER.

A: The pour is a clear, caramel brown, though the beer in the glass looks substantially darker (still brown, and still clear at the right angle). Against the light, it glows with ruby tint. Tan head on the beer.

S: Bourbon, coconut, vanilla, raisins. I've noticed coconut in several barrel-aged beers from FW. They're doing something right in this regard. It's unique and very pleasant. There's a mild heat that reveals the big nature of the beer. It's obvious that Abacus is very barrel-dominated; I'm not even sure what the base beer is supposed to smell like, because I'm not picking it up. It's great if you're a barrel fanatic, though.

T: Like the nose, this is very barrel-dominated, though some hints of the base beer some to come through. Lots of brown sugar and bourbon. Some coconut and vanilla. The raisin flavors might be some wine barrel contribution, but they taste more treacly than wine grapes to me. Caramel, nuts, and a touch of toffee. Again, this is great for the barrel lover. I like barrel aged beers, but I'd love for the base to emerge more strongly than it does.

M: Carbonation is low-medium. It's just right for a beer of this size. The body is hefty; I'd peg it at medium-full. There is a very noticeable heat to this beer. I like my beers silky-smooth, but I'm not suggesting this is a deal-breaker. With time, I see the mouthfeel reaching perfection.

O: Wow. Hell yes. This one could use 2-3 months to cool off, but it's damn near ready to drink right now. It's very fairly priced and it's absolute quality. Get it.

UPDATE 06/12/2011: Either there's some bottle variation, or the bottles are falling off quickly. I still enjoy the beer, but I find it a little more one-note than I previously did, and the heat is more bothersome. It's still good, and I'm still enthusiastic about it, but I bumped my scores down a notch. In retrospect, I prefer the approach that Arctic Devil brings to the style, and this follows a little behind.

UPDATE 09/27/2011: Bottles are continuously falling off. Gone is the rich vanilla and dark fruit character, leaving a general sweetness with some bourbon, while the heat remains. This beer was awesome when it came out. It fell off a cliff. I will only buy 1 or 2 of the next batch, and drink those quickly.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2012 22:40:57 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of ajschutz


4/5  rDev -11.7%

02-21-2012 17:56:45 | More by ajschutz
§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,441 ratings.