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§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,748 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,748
Reviews: 755
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.61%
Wants: 1,013
Gots: 2,102 | FT: 181
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of §ucaba Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,748 | Reviews: 755 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of brewinglawyer
4/5  rDev -11.7%

brewinglawyer, Feb 21, 2012
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.

Arbitrator, Feb 21, 2012
Photo of ajschutz
4/5  rDev -11.7%

ajschutz, Feb 21, 2012
Photo of RyanCoonan
3.5/5  rDev -22.7%

RyanCoonan, Feb 21, 2012
Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.55/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Poured a mahogany brown/dark red color in my over-sized brandy glass from a 22 oz bottle nicely packaged in a box, with ABV and the year marked on the label. Deep ruby red hues when held against light.
The head was almost one finger and dissipated fairly quickly.

S- Aroma was heavenly; lots of bourbon upfront with notes of charred wood, vanilla, dark fruits (raisins, dates soaked in alcohol) coming through.

T,M- Smooth, very smooth, right from the start to the finish. Bourbon notes are evident upfront giving way to sweet notes in the middle. The sweetness was similar to the aroma; of raisins soaked in alcohol and mixed with some sugar. There was a hint of bitterness in the finish similar to caramelized burnt sugar bitterness. Perhaps one of the most well-balanced and smooth beers. Doesn't feel like a barleywine at all and definitely doesn't drink like a 12.5% beer. The alcohol is masked very well. A perfect sipper for a special occasion.

O- Overall, this is perhaps one of the best beers I have had, period. The craft to make this beer is truly something that needs to be appreciated. It is definitely worth a try and comes highly recommended. Cheers!!!

CaptDavyJones, Feb 20, 2012
Photo of beerman999999
5/5  rDev +10.4%

beerman999999, Feb 20, 2012
Photo of rdickey
4.2/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: The beer pours a very deep yet clear reddish brown, with a minimal head that vanishes quickly from my goblet. A very tiny stream of bubbles continues to rise from the depths.

Smell: Raisins, vanilla, bourbon, oak, caramel and a huge dose of alcohol are all clamoring to be in front. It’s clear that this is going to be a massive beer.

Taste: Everything in the nose continues through in the mouth, although the various flavors have gotten themselves a bit more organized. You would be excused, when you first sip, if you experience momentary confusion and think that you’ve accidentally picked up a nice single barrel bourbon. The caramel, joined by toffee, then takes you for a ride. I can’t say that the beer finishes anywhere close to dry, but there’s a more significant hop presence at the end than I would have expected.

Mouthfeel: This is a complex and truly rich beer. Despite the huge dose and range of the sweet flavors, it never gets cloying even though it is not terribly zippy. Instead, it seems as though the lurking hops and the alcohol burn provide an adequate counterweight.

Drinkability: I think you need to judge each beer in the context of its style, so a high drinkability score for a barleywine doesn’t mean you can knock down a half dozen of them and then operate heavy machinery (or, perhaps, stand up). I will say, however, that this is a quite drinkable beer (and I am not typically a big fan of barleywines).

rdickey, Feb 19, 2012
Photo of kiki3drt292
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

kiki3drt292, Feb 19, 2012
Photo of M27
5/5  rDev +10.4%

M27, Feb 19, 2012
Photo of beertunes
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another brew compliments of BA nomasnomore. Poured into 8oz jelly jar (for reals yo!). The beer poured a lovely deep, dark brown with just a bit of translucence and a hint of red at the edges.

The aroma was very rich and had notes of raisin and chocolate alongside the traditional grain and malt scents. On the tongue, all those aspects were present, just amplified. The flavors were all well developed and very rich and full.

The body was pleasantly full, as you'd expect for the style, but managed to not be heavy or sticky. Drinkability was dangerously good, this the rare barleywine I could drink all night. Overall, an excellent example of the style. A must try if you see it and worth some effort to get.

beertunes, Feb 18, 2012
Photo of aliving1
5/5  rDev +10.4%

aliving1, Feb 18, 2012
Photo of afrokaze
4.43/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to the nice guy who shared this one with me after I had 14 & 15 on tap and Younger earlier, what a day.

Pours a dark ruby red edging towards brown, with a finger of fluffy off white head that leaves decent oily lacing.

Bourbon & vanilla jump out at first, followed by spicy & earthy hops with a bit of citrus, tobacco, leather, wood. Alcohol is readily apparent but a bit distracting.

First taste gives impression of more hops than expected, spicy, earthy pine and a bit of dankness. The malt imparts strong caramel, dark bread & chocolate tones that mixes with vanilla, toffee, tobacco, leather, figs. Bourbon & oak character take the malt sweetness down a bit, and it finishes with Firestone's characteristic coconut barrel aging. Alcohol is definitely there but not as apparent as expected.

Medium-heavy body supports the flavors well, finishes a bit sweet and sticky but not cloying with good slickness. Definitely a bit hot but it compliments the bourbon well and keeps things from getting too sweet.

Easily the best bourbon barrel aged barleywine I've had thus far, but just a touch hotter than I remember the original Abacus being. Also quite a bit hoppier than most English barleywines, but FW once again shows their prowess at mixing classic English brewing with American creativity and flavors. I really want to try my bottle in a year or so with a good cigar, a great beer to celebrate with or just enjoy a cold night.

afrokaze, Feb 18, 2012
Photo of avaldivia
5/5  rDev +10.4%

avaldivia, Feb 18, 2012
Photo of phisigben
4.2/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a dark brown color that reminds me of rootbeer, a thin cream/off-white colored head the leaves a little lacing. A lot of bourbon in the nose followed by wisps of vanilla, oak, caramel, and smoke. Just like in the nose bourbon is up front on the taste and with the bourbon flavor is a little alcohol heat not terrible but maybe with some aging the heat will subside a little. There is also a good caramel flavor with vanilla, and some sweet dark fruits. The mouthfeel is very thick and a coats my entire mouth and it seems to stay on my tongue after each drink. Overall I feel that is is a good beer one that I would like to revisit some time in the future.

phisigben, Feb 17, 2012
Photo of furthurgone
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

furthurgone, Feb 17, 2012
Photo of nas5755
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

nas5755, Feb 17, 2012
Photo of Belize2000
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Belize2000, Feb 16, 2012
Photo of Telestic
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Telestic, Feb 16, 2012
Photo of AutumnBeerLove
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

AutumnBeerLove, Feb 16, 2012
Photo of John11486
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

John11486, Feb 15, 2012
Photo of sharpski
5/5  rDev +10.4%

sharpski, Feb 15, 2012
Photo of Jeffo
3.48/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tuesdays with Doopie turned into the Beer-In-A-Box showdown. FW Abacus vs. Parabola 002. Let the best boxed beer win!

From a boxed bomber into a snifter.
Brewers Reserve 2011

Note: Drinking an $ucaba no.002 right now and making a few comparison notes as I go. Got a couple of these from SliverX and Stupac. Thanks gents! Scores are still for the 2011 Abacus.

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, super fizzy, thinner looking, light bronze colored head with horrible retention. Head quickly fizzes down to a ring only. I think this is fizzier than Coke. Transparent dark ruby body with no carbonation evident. A ring remains until the end but leaves no lacing down the glass. Fizzy and fizzy. By comparison, the 002 has a more normal head and isn't at all fizzy. Much nicer to look at.

SMELL: Big nose on this one, with lots of barrel. Bourbon, oak, vanilla from the barrel aging, with some caramel and toffee in there from the barelywine. A hint of raisins as well. The barrel is more present but doesn’t dominate the base beer. Good nose. The 002 was slightly more mild but had all the same elements.

TASTE: Still quite hot. Bourbon barrel with oak and vanilla up front, then lots of caramel and toffee sweetness through the middle into the finish. A big dose of alcohol at the finish as well. Bold but relatively dry aftertaste of sweet caramel and toffee, bourbon, vanilla, a touch of mik chocolate, and plenty of alcohol linger mildly. Despite the boozy barrel, the base beer still shows through. Nicely done, though a bit too hot for my liking. The 002 followed suit exactly here.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. A little lighter on the palate than hoped, but creamy enough. Goes down fine with a scratch and burn at the swallow, and finishes somewhat sticky. Plenty of heat lingers. The 002 was perhaps even lighter on the palate here, amazingly enough.

OVERALL: Good thing this one came in a box. An enjoyable beer, and the base beer was still able to play a role in the flavor profile despite the big barrel presence. However, this one is till too hot to be top class in my books, being much hotter than the Parabola 002 we drank immediately afterwards. Moreover, the head on this one was just atrocious, reminding me of Rice Krispies doused in Coke. Noisy and obnoxious stuff. While this was an enjoyable beer I’d drink again if it were convenient, for me, Parabola 002 was the superiorly crafted beer in a box. Thanks again for sharing Doops. Good times! As far as the $ucuba 002 goes, it's a solid brew, but nothing worth going nuts over. I would probably still score it the same, though the scores for look and feel would be reversed. Cheers!

Jeffo, Feb 15, 2012
Photo of TATURBO
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Abacus 2011. Shared with tasting group.

Appearance: Mahogany Brown with no head.

Smell: Straight up boozy.

Taste: Sweet Caramel/Toffee with a good balance smoothness courtesy of barrel aging. Way too easy to mask the 13%

Mouthfeel: This one's a super smooth drinker. Again the alcohol is well hidden for the 13%!

Overall: A very good BA Barleywine. No longer in my Top 5 with newer BA Barleywines like King Henry, BA Naked Evil and MOAS 2011. But still a very solid beer I'd happily come back to enjoy.

TATURBO, Feb 14, 2012
Photo of Buick222
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Buick222, Feb 14, 2012
Photo of ezperkins2
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

ezperkins2, Feb 14, 2012
§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,748 ratings.