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§ucaba - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

4,102 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,102
Reviews: 791
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 1,131
Gots: 2,348 | FT: 225
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: 4,102 | Reviews: 791 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of siege06nd
4.54/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

Photo of brez8791
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of johnnyboy76
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Proteus93
4.37/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

Photo of tbeq00
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of FarmerTed
2/5  rDev -55.8%

Photo of RViator325
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of fjl77
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of brewinglawyer
4/5  rDev -11.7%

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.

Photo of ajschutz
4/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of RyanCoonan
3.5/5  rDev -22.7%

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!!!

Photo of beerman999999
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of rdickey
4.17/5  rDev -7.9%
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).

Photo of kiki3drt292
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of M27
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of beertunes
4.27/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Photo of aliving1
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of afrokaze
4.42/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Photo of avaldivia
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of phisigben
4.17/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

Photo of furthurgone
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of nas5755
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Belize2000
5/5  rDev +10.4%

§ucaba from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,102 ratings.